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  • Direction: Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes Through the Lens of Contemporary Film
    insistence that the conversation between Bible and film go both ways aligns with the polarity sometimes articulated in theological studies between theology from above and theology from below These expressions identify different starting points either in a theological understanding rooted in a creed or statement of faith or in human experience From these starting points Scripture is engaged for theological construction The above position seeks to make sense of human experience in the light of what is already constructed theologically the below position seeks to confirm deepen or modify a particular theological position Some would choose one of these starting points as preferable over the other but Johnston s advocacy of dialogue emphasizes that the Spirit gives insights through both procedures He places film in the position of human experience from which a theological exercise from below might begin His method of film analysis takes into account not only 1 the movie itself but also 2 the filmmakers lying behind and expressed through it 3 the viewers with their own life stories that help interpret it and 4 the larger universe or worldview that shapes the story s presentation Reel 115 cf Useless 187 88 These four elements relate easily to a common schema of biblical interpretation which evaluates matters 1 4 within the text 2 behind the text and 3 in front of the text Films may be criticized in four major areas or foci genre culture auteur and theme Reel 124 Johnston offers a brief but helpful overview of the history of Ecclesiastes scholarship Useless 17 21 179 82 and his knowledgeable references to ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature strengthen his discussions at several points For some time a view of Ecclesiastes as the assertions of a pessimist has motivated comparisons with existentialist thought e g the work of Camus and Woody Allen But it was pleasing to this reviewer to discover that Johnston finds his own position among more recent work on the book which in his words seeks to provide a narrative context in which life s uselessness and its God given beauty might be concurrently embraced 182 cf 188 89 This is a fairly accurate description of the cutting edge in Ecclesiastes scholarship although more of the interpreters Johnston cites in his overview would fit this description than he recognizes The overall success of the book is evident in discussions such as these Monster s Ball which demonstrates how an awareness of death can promote life Eccles 7 2 4 Signs which dramatizes a witness that in spite of life s apparent random alternation between trouble and prosperity God is at work behind the scenes 7 14 Election and About Schmidt which demonstrate the futility of the belief that hard work will bring both success and happiness 1 3 2 11 and particularly the consequence of loneliness 4 8 11 As much as I enjoyed this book there are a few quibbles One is the use of the Good News Bible translation throughout From my

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  • Direction: Current Research
    for Jesus Movement 1970 87 Journal of Pentecostal Theology 12 2 2004 247 75 CMU Epp Tiessen Dan Praise and Lament in the Face of Death Vision A Journal for Church and Theology 5 spring 2004 33 39 CMU Geddert Timothy J Apocalypticism part of larger article with coauthors D E Aune and C A Evans In Dictionary of the New Testament ed Craig A Evans and Stanley E Porter 66 67 Downers Grove IL InterVarsity 2004 MBBS Beginning Again Mark 16 1 8 Direction 33 fall 2004 150 57 MBBS The Treasures of Luke a nine part Bible study series for Mennonite Brethren Herald 24 September 2004 to 11 March 2005 MBBS Walk on By Christian Leader January 2005 14 15 MBBS Der Weg zum zweiten Glück Family May 2004 74 77 MBBS Zwei Söhne und ein Rennender Vater Die Ethik eines Gleichnisses Jesu Die Brücke March April 2004 4 7 MBBS Gerbrandt Gerald Scholars as Servants of the Church Direction 33 fall 2004 133 42 CMU Gilbert Pierre A Change of Allegiance Who Is This Christ We Claim to Follow Christian Leader August 2004 15 16 Mennonite Brethren Herald 5 November 2004 4 5 The Voice Official Newsletter of the Evangelical Anabaptist Fellowship December 2004 1 2 CMU Guenther Bruce L Evangelicalism In Encyclopaedia of Protestantism ed Hans J Hillerbrand 2 709 11 New York Routledge 2004 MBBS The Road Less Traveled The Evangelical Path of Kanadier Mennonites Who Returned to Canada Journal of Mennonite Studies 22 2004 145 66 MBBS Slithering Down the Plank of Intellectualism The Canadian Conference of Christian Educators and the Impulse Towards Accreditation Canadian Among Bible Schools During the 1960s Historical Studies in Education 16 2 2004 197 228 MBBS Training for Effective Christian Service The Contribution of Covenant Bible Institute in the Life of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Western Canada Covenant Quarterly 61 2 May 2003 2 26 MBBS Heidebrecht Doug The Hermeneutical Task Crossing from the World of the Bible to Our World Today Mennonite Brethren Herald 9 April 2004 4 7 BC Reading 1 Timothy 2 9 15 in Its Literary Context Direction 33 fall 2004 171 84 BC Holm Jim Extinguishing Burnout Christian Leader October 2004 10 13 MBBS Isaak Jon Baptism Among the Early Christians Direction 33 spring 2004 3 20 MBBS Jost Lynn Mennonite Brethren Theology of Baptism Direction 33 spring 2004 21 32 TC Proper 6 Year C Preaching Word Witness 13 June 2004 TC Kyle Richard Family of Love Synanon The Way International and Worldwide Church of God In Encyclopedia of New Religions ed Chris Partridge 86 88 396 99 74 77 64 65 Oxford Lion 2004 TC Martens Elmer A Cultural Perspectives on Creation Mennonite Brethren Chinese Herald August 2004 12 13 MBBS Taking the Yawn Out of Reading Scripture Christian Leader November 2004 21 MBBS Miller Douglas B Bible Resources for the Nonspecialist Direction 33 fall 2004 207 11 TC Rempel Valerie Where We ve Been Christian Leader September 2004 4 7

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  • Direction: From the Editor: Biblical Scholarship
    introduce and perhaps guide our thinking Gerald Gerbrandt provides reflections and insights upon the issue of scholarship more generally and the only partly comfortable ways Mennonites have appreciated scholars in their midst Following his essay five New Testament scholars offer careful theses from five different literary traditions in the canon three of the Gospels and two epistles Gary Yamasaki finds significance in a little noticed distinction of terminology in one of Jesus well known parables in Matthew Tim Geddert defends a thesis concerning the difficult textual matter at the ending of Mark s gospel George Shillington argues a new thesis to account for the Fourth Gospel s narrated translations of Hebrew and Aramaic terms into Greek Doug Heidebrecht offers a new way of listening to the difficult text of 1 Timothy 2 9 15 on the question of women in ministry leadership Finally Jerry Truex explores the cultural context of temple and household language in the epistle of 1 Peter In a think piece Teshome Abebe and Zenebe Abebe present a challenge to those responsible for curriculum planning in the Christian college Ministry Compass introduces The World s Most Dangerous Bible Study whereby pastor scholar Eric Elnes has motivated excitement

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/33/2/editorial.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Scholars as Servants of the Church
    the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind Notwithstanding all their other virtues however American Evangelicals are not exemplary for their thinking and they have not been so for several generations 10 In order for this to change in order for the church to be prepared to meet the intellectual and practical challenges of the twenty first century it is necessary that both the church and its scholars especially but not only those of its own institutions recognize this responsibility The church will be the big loser if this does not happen 137 3 Responsibility to the church and academic freedom should not be pitted against each other I have spoken of the responsibilities of the scholar thus far without using the phrase which has come to represent the protection of scholars to fulfill these responsibilities namely academic freedom I now introduce it into the conversation Academic freedom is not an inherent freedom nor a constitutionally protected freedom neither in the U S or Canada but a tradition or convention developed to protect scholars from undue interference in their fulfilling the task of advancing knowledge Unfortunately it is a frequently misunderstood tradition especially outside of the university but sometimes also inside the institution Anthony J Diekema former president of Calvin College has done some very helpful thinking about academic freedom in Christian institutions Academic freedom he suggests is a fundamental principle of the academy designed to protect professors from those forces which tend to prevent them from meeting their obligations in the pursuit of truth 11 As such Christian institutions should work hard to protect it since only then will they be free to do what they are called to do to search for truth and advance our knowledge and understanding 12 Diekema goes on to nuance in considerable detail what it means to practice academic freedom in a Christian setting Yet his central point remains that academic freedom is not in tension with serving the church but rather a necessary convention so that the Christian university can fulfill its responsibility to the church To pit academic freedom against responsibility to serve the church is logically problematic and strategically unhelpful I refer once more to the debate resulting from the decision of the board of EMU that all employees were to affirm and uphold their commitment and support of the confession of faith and the school s official statements The initial action may not have been about academic freedom yet quickly that became the issue Some of the twenty letters which appeared in The Mennonite made some excellent contributions yet all too often the debate came across as a dispute between those who maintained that it was only logical that the church should expect its employees to uphold the church s positions and those who defended academic freedom for faculty The editorial for example was titled Church Beliefs vs Academic Freedom When the debate is framed this way the tendency is to create a straw person on the other side There were those who through reading the letters in The Mennonite received new light on the subject But my fear is that the debate may have contributed to a hardening of 138 positions or the confirmation of what might be called a straw person mentality Academics are those people who believe in absolute academic freedom who defend a right to think and say anything they wish regardless how unreasonable or irresponsible it may be Church leaders are those people who believe in unchanging dogma which cannot be questioned in any way and which the church s educators even in colleges and universities are expected to pour into the heads of the next generation When set up in this way the debate tends not to produce light but rather to hide it 4 The advancement of knowledge is a communal task Despite the central and leading role of scholarship in the ongoing search for truth and its practical implications and the need for academic freedom to protect scholars in fulfilling this responsibility scholars are not the sole or final arbiters of truth for the church The Anabaptist emphasis on the hermeneutical community is a helpful reminder here The debate over the authority of Scripture is often really a debate over who is able to give authoritative interpretation of Scripture In this debate the Anabaptist tradition has represented an alternative to the usual models though how different could be debated At the risk of oversimplification authoritative interpretation does not lie simply with the scholars perhaps the tendency of historic Reformed and Lutheran traditions nor with the church hierarchy the historic Roman Catholic tradition nor with the individual perhaps at one time the tendency of Evangelical groups but now prevalent in most contemporary North American congregations Rather authoritative interpretation of Scripture as well as other reflection about God the world and how Christians are to live in the world takes place in the community as it practices faithfulness to God This tradition and these alternatives also come into play in the relationship of scholarship and the church The temptation for scholars is to see themselves as the ones who through their scholarship determine new insight and knowledge whether as part of some disciplinary structured scholarly guild or as influenced by an individualistic understanding of academic freedom Ironically at this point defense of academic 139 freedom sounds very much like defense of the individual s right to interpret Scripture The temptation for church structures even in Mennonite denominations is to become a kind of magisterium pronouncing what truth scholarship is to confirm Both temptations are understandable but both are problematic Rather the Anabaptist tradition would suggest that Christian scholars should do their research in continual dialogue with the larger community in the church Scholars in their scholarship serve the church as they fulfill their unique mandate of being the critical thinkers within the hermeneutical community On the one side the mandate of scholars should be clear on the other

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  • Direction: Broken Parallelism in Matthew's Parable of the Two Builders
    images of winds striking houses at one level this parable also depicts at another level a difference in the actions of the winds as they come up against the houses PROSPIPT What type of distinction does Matthew wish to depict through his choice of the verbs prospipt and proskopt The choice of the verb prospipt is curious As mentioned it can be used with the sense of strike against It is questionable however whether it is used with this sense in any of its twenty three occurrences in the Septuagint and it is unquestionably not used this way in any of its seven other occurrences in the New Testament Rather its other occurrences in the New Testament and almost one third of its usages in the Septuagint 7 carry the sense of fall prostrate before 8 This usage pattern suggests that by the time of the New Testament era prospipt had become a technical term within the early church for the action of falling down in obeisance 9 This being the case Matthew s use of this verb in the first scenario yields striking imagery In addition to producing the straightforward image of winds striking a house firmly founded on rock this parable also produces the image of winds when faced with a house so firmly founded finding themselves compelled to admit that they have met their match and so fall down in obeisance before the house This interpretation does face some challenges First when Matthew elsewhere indicates the action of falling down in obeisance he chooses words other than prospipt In fact Matthew even changes Mark s use of prospipt at 7 25 to describe the Syrophoenician woman s actions as she approaches Jesus to proskyne in his own account see 15 25 a verb that he uses on three other occasions as well to indicate the action of falling down in obeisance 10 Though this evidence could appear fatal to the proffered interpretation it is so only if Matthew has here the one goal of projecting a single image of winds falling down in obeisance before the house built on rock As suggested above however Matthew s goal here is to project images at two levels a straightforward depiction of winds striking a house on the one hand and a more 147 stylized depiction of winds falling down in obeisance before the house on the other For this purpose proskyne would not suffice for it is capable of supplying only the second image prospipt is needed here for the purpose of supplying both images Second the theological implications of this interpretation are at first glance troubling The understanding of the parable proffered here could suggest the following interpretation just as winds facing a house built on rock recognize that they have met their match and so fall down in obeisance before it so also disciples who obey the words of Jesus have foundations so solid that the trials of life will fall down in obeisance before them This

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  • Direction: Beginning Again (Mark 16:1-8)
    proposed ending of Mark s Gospel That means nothing is gained by attaching one of the proposed endings to 16 8 It just imports the problem into Mark s Gospel itself Everyone including presumably Mark must have known that the women eventually overcame their fear and reported the good news But Mark is content to report their initial silence And since every manuscript contains verse 8 everyone has to come to terms with that verse no matter how they think the Gospel really ended 153 Now there is one easy solution to the problem of 16 8 if only it worked Some interpreters have tried courageously to reread the Greek text and then interpret Mark 16 8 as a description not of the women s panicky disobedience but of their awe inspired obedient haste to do exactly what they had been told to do 2 They went out and fled from the tomb is then interpreted to mean they immediately left and in great haste ran to obey The next line for terror and amazement had seized them is taken to mean for they were filled with awe and wonder They said nothing to anyone is understood as they even avoided the normal custom of greeting people along the road and finally for they were afraid is read as that s how awestruck they were with the good news This attempt to account for 16 8 is valiant but unfortunately it works even less well as an interpretation of the Greek text than of the English In Mark fleeing pheug is virtually a technical term for abandoning discipleship becoming a deserter cf 14 29 50 52 and fear phobeomai phobos is in fact the enemy of faith cf 4 40 5 36 A PROPOSAL FOR THE ENDING OF MARK The following are the conclusions I have reached about the ending of Mark Mark 16 8 is indeed the ending that the author intended It is an ending that combines a great promise with a serious challenge It is a subtle ending but one perfectly suited to the kind of Gospel Mark wrote It is an ending that wraps up Mark s Gospel perfectly tying up loose ends that Mark has deliberately left dangling along the way Mark s last chapter reports that three women come to Jesus tomb on Sunday morning intending to honor him by anointing his corpse For all their good intentions they really do get everything wrong First their timing is wrong another woman discerned the times and anointed Jesus body earlier cf 14 8 Second they worry for nothing about a stone too large to move when they arrive it has already been rolled away Third they respond with fear at what they find inside and are immediately told that their reaction is wrong The reader is actually quite well prepared for their final reaction their disobedient silence A young man likely a divine messenger though Mark does not tell us it is an angel announces that the crucified one has risen The women 154 are invited to see where the body had been and then told to report to the disciples that Jesus is waiting to meet them in Galilee So far so good But then the shocking ending they ran away in fear and remained silent The reader who has come with them to the tomb is left standing there bewildered what now But there is only silence What does it mean Sometimes Mark s Gospel is interpreted as though it was designed to undercut the authority of the first apostles Mark makes them look bad all over the place and then in the end denies them a resurrection meeting with the risen Jesus If the women never reported the messenger s announcement presumably the disciples never went to Galilee And that is why you just can t trust those apostles in Jerusalem Mark is understood to say under his breath 3 But I do not accept this argument No scholar has proposed that in history there was an attempt to discredit the apostles But some have seriously interpreted Mark s narrative that way Others modify the theory slightly claiming that Mark is not discrediting the historical apostles rather he is discrediting other church leaders in his own time first by caricaturing them in the Gospel as the mostly uncomprehending disciples of Jesus and then hinting at the end that they have never truly met the resurrected Jesus I also find this theory unconvincing The proposal that Mark could have loved Jesus and hated the apostles is simply untenable and that he used the apostles as literary foils for his own theological opponents is a theory for which there is no evidence Some better solution to the problem of Mark s ending will have to be found I propose the following WHY THIS PROPOSAL IS BETTER First let us note that Mark in his conclusion did not incorporate everything he knew That is clear from the fact that the great commission and the ascension of Jesus are alluded to earlier in the narrative see above Further Mark s readers can be expected to have known enough of their own church history to realize that the women eventually told and that the followers of Jesus eventually met the resurrected Jesus in Galilee and elsewhere Our task here is to interpret the narrative Mark wrote and not to make a list of all the other things that happened after Easter Second we know that according to Mark Jesus followers did in fact meet Jesus in Galilee We learned in 14 27 28 that such a meeting was a prerequisite to future faithfulness and future faithfulness is 155 assumed in texts like 9 9 10 39 and 13 9 13 Our task is to understand the meaning and the challenge in a Gospel ending that does not include a report of the Galilean reunion Third we dare not overlook the importance of 14 27 28 in Mark

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  • Direction: Significant Translation: Exchange as Literary-Theological Pattern in John
    interprets the term to mean Greek didaskalos a Teacher of Wisdom 1 41 Andrew first found his brother Simon and said to him We have found the Messiah which is translated Anointed Only in John do we find the Aramaic title Messiah 11 The word denotes smearing a person with oil to affirm their right to perform a special religious political function within the community of 161 Israel Judaism The Greek term that corresponds with this idea is christos which is usually transliterated in English as Christ Here the NRSV translators decided rather to render the Greek term with the English Anointed 1 42 Andrew brought Simon to Jesus who looked at him and said You are Simon son of John You are to be called Cephas which is translated Peter Cephas derives from an Aramaic word meaning rock The Greek equivalent is petros which is generally transliterated into English as Peter 4 25 The woman of Samaria said to Jesus I know that Messiah is coming who is called Christ Here we find the second citation of the Aramaic title Messiah which the narrator again translates as before with christos Oddly enough this time the NRSV renders it Christ rather than Anointed 9 7 Jesus spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man s eyes saying to him Go wash in the pool of Siloam which means Sent The Greek term used to translate the name of the pool is apostell from which we have the title Apostle one who is sent or commissioned as the disciples of Jesus were The sending theme is prominent in this Gospel e g 13 20 14 26 15 26 16 7 17 8 20 21 11 16 cf 20 24 21 2 Thomas who was called the Twin said to his fellow disciples Let us also go that we may die with him One might think the Twin is a nickname but it is a translation The Hebrew term tē ôm rendered Thomas means twin as does the Greek didymos Of the seven times this Hebrew name Thomas occurs in John three times it is translated into the Greek equivalent see refs above The translation can hardly be for the pragmatic benefit of Greek readers who do not understand the meaning of Thomas Thomas is a proper name which as noted above is not translated four of the seven times it appears in this Gospel The three translations have 162 the effect of signaling the transposition of the original Palestinian disciples such as Thomas with their Hebrew names and context into a Greek context In the same way the gospel of the Aramaic speaking Jesus has moved out of its original Palestinian setting into the larger context of the Greek speaking world Perhaps it bears mentioning here that the disciple Thomas is mentioned only once in each of the other three Gospels and that without translation Matt 10 3 Mark 3 18 Luke 6 15 20 16 Jesus said to her Mary She turned and said to him in Hebrew Rabbouni which means Teacher Rabbouni is another Aramaic form of Rabbi translated here as in 1 38 didaskalos Teacher THE THREE TRANSLATIONS IN THE TESTIMONY The question before us now is this How does the concentration of translations in what is generally called the testimony 1 19 51 relate to what is happening overall in the texture of that particular text We shall examine each of the three translations in turn The first one 1 38 appears in the context of two spheres of discipleship each one having a recognized leader teacher from whom the followers learn wisdom for living in the world in relation to God The first recognized leader is John the Baptist He is first in the sense of predating the leadership of the second Jesus But it is clear from the texture of the text which includes his own confession that the Baptist does not rank first His interrogators are from the heartland of Palestinian Judaism priests and Levites from Jerusalem sent by the Pharisees 1 19 24 The Baptist makes a three fold negative confession each one diminished from the former thus I am not the Christ I am not No However well appointed the Baptist s leadership might be within Palestinian Judaism his is merely forerunner to a better one coming after him namely that of Jesus So it is in the texture of the text that the Baptist is standing with two of his disciples when Jesus walks by He points to Jesus as the Lamb of God 1 36 Thereupon the disciples of John the Baptist begin to follow Jesus and address him as Rabbi At that point the narrator inserts a translation of the Aramaic honorific title 1 38 which translated means Teacher didaskalos It is time now to ponder the sense of the word translated in this text which appears also in the other two texts At 1 38 and 1 42 the verb used is hermeneu from which we derive our English word 163 hermeneutics the study of the theory and practice of interpretation It has to do with making sense out of that with is otherwise opaque or foreign Hermeneu applies particularly to making one language form meaningful by changing it into another form The notion of change is stressed particularly in the second instance at 1 41 where hermeneu becomes methermeneu a composite of the preposition meta and the verb hermeneu Meta in composition signals change or exchange in this case the change from an Aramaic language form to the Greek form Now how does this change of language form tie in with what is happening in the sphere of discipleship It seems to me the translation corresponds to the change of discipleship from the Baptist to Jesus from the lesser to the greater Jesus must increase but the Baptist must decrease 3 30 So also the language of restricted Aramaic must give way to the unrestricted world language of Greek Jesus has become the unrestricted world Teacher Gk didaskalos not merely Rabbi of Palestinian Rabbinic Judaism But that does not mean that the Baptist and the Jewish Palestinian setting he represents are condemned thereby On the contrary they are acknowledged as belonging to the unfolding drama of salvation in the divine plan But as the drama unfolds the former gives way to the latter the lesser to the greater the Aramaic to the Greek The second translated term in the testimony the middle one of the triad comes at 1 41 the context of which is still that of discipleship One of the two disciples who transfer their allegiance from John the Baptist to Jesus is Andrew Simon Peter s brother 1 40 Andrew brings his brother to Jesus Curiously the narrator calls Andrew s brother Simon Peter even though Jesus has not yet given Simon his new name Peter 1 42 The reader within the Johannine community however like the reader of this essay knows ahead of literary schedule the new identity of this Simon brother of Andrew In any case Andrew found his brother Simon and said to him We have found the Messiah 1 41 12 The Messiah figure in Judaism has its roots particularly in the Davidic monarchy Samuel anointed David God s king of Israel 1 Sam 10 1 cf 2 10 35 12 3 5 David would be God s vice regent on earth one empowered to deliver Israel from its enemies and one endowed with the resources to provide a good life for the people of God Such a messianic king was not in place in Judaism at the time of Jesus and even less so at the time of writing this Gospel Nor is Jesus in the Gospel of John that kind of Messiah Yet Andrew calls him Messiah in his testimony to his brother Simon Immediately the narrator slips in the translation of Messiah not 164 merely to inform his readers of the meaning of the term in Greek christos He has used the Greek term already in chapter one assuming his readers to be familiar with the Jewish background and current sense of the term in Greek 1 17 1 20 1 25 Yet the narrator makes a point of translating this loaded Aramaic title from its home language into the world language of his readers And with that translation comes also the implication that the meaning of the title has changed No longer is Messiah a Davidic deliverer and political provider for Israel 13 The Johannine Messiah is translated out of the original messianic context of Palestinian Judaism into the Christ for the world he came to deliver from sin John the Baptist s testimony to the people upon seeing Jesus coming to him is a messianic one Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world 1 29 14 Similarly the woman of Samaria knows from her particular Israelite tradition that Messiah is coming Again the title in that Samaritan context is translated into Greek 4 25 and later the woman uses the Greek term in her testimony to her fellow Samaritans 4 29 In the end when the Samaritans come out to see Jesus for themselves they make their own magnanimous confession this is truly the Savior of the world 4 42 Moreover Messiah whether of Judaism or Samaritanism has changed from its original restricted sense to the larger world scale And the translated title from Aramaic to Greek gives a linguistic nod to the change Once again the change from the former to the latter is not a judgment on the earlier idea of Messiah but a recognition of the emergence of a new understanding of the way God delivers all his people in the world whether in Judaism or in the other nations of the world More on the exchange of messianic titles shortly in an examination of Nathanael s testimony below THE TERM CEPHAS The third translated term in the testimony is Cephas translated petros Peter 1 42 Jesus gives the Aramaic name to Simon son 165 of John Andrew s brother The Apostle Paul aware of the Aramaic origin of Simon s given name uses the Aramaic name eight times in two of his letters 1 Corinthians and Galatians but without translation However in Galatians he uses the Aramaic Cephas and the Greek Petros interchangeably not to signal change so much as vacillation of this original disciple between Palestinian Jewish requirements Aramaic Cephas for inclusion of Gentiles and the more open Pauline practice Greek Petros Gal 1 18 2 9 11 14 Back to the setting in John 1 42 Jesus looked at this Simon son of John and thereupon called him Cephas an Aramaic word meaning rock It is not clear what Jesus in John might have seen in Simon to prompt the new name Nor is it clear in John whether rock is a positive or negative designation On the positive side it could mean solid dependable always there But in John this Simon does not measure up to that description Unlike the Beloved Disciple in the Fourth Gospel Simon Cephas denies Jesus at a time when Jesus needed support from his followers On the negative side rock could mean hard cold heartless uncaring In John it is simply not explicit what the name Cephas rock implies about the character of the man thus named This much is explicit however Cephas is translated Petros Peter The two terms mean precisely the same thing But the narrator is quick to translate the Aramaic name into Greek The point surely is not to help his readers understand He could simply have used Petros rock and his readers would be on track immediately But he translates I suggest the point is in the translation itself Here again this original Aramaic speaking disciple with such an established reputation in the church at the time of the writing of this Gospel 15 is pictured as one whose given name has become part of the larger world community of faith represented by the Greek language Before leaving the translations in the testimony of chapter 1 brief attention should be given to the testimony of Nathanael A disciple called Philip a Greek name from the city of Andrew and Peter found Nathanael an Hebraic name gift of God Philip s announcement to Nathanael has strong messianic overtones We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth 1 45 Nathanael finds it hard to believe that Nazareth of Galilee could produce such a messianic figure Then he meets Jesus who has the power to peer into his guileless Israelite life when he was sitting under the fig tree 1 48 50 Nathanael believes and confesses His confession is particularly poignant with respect to the subject of change Rabbi you are the Son of God You are the King of Israel 1 49 What is unusual in this confession is not the Aramaic honorific title Rabbi One might expect that in the mouth of a true Israelite It is unusual rather to find this two fold confession of messiahship King of Israel represents the Israelite Palestinian Jewish notion distinctly whereas Son of God is the more inclusive title fitting well into the larger Greek world of thought together with the Israelite cf Isa 9 6 Pss 45 6 89 26 27 2 Sam 7 4 The two stand together not in tension 166 with each other but in agreement King of Israel is also Son of God for the world including Israel THE PATTERN OF CHANGE EXCHANGE Signaled in the texture of the translated terms is a more pervasive phenomenon within the literary theological fabric of John A full exploration of this element of change or exchange would take more space than this essay allows Citation of some examples must suffice The first appears at the end of the Prologue in 1 16 17 At verse 16 we find the puzzling phrase grace upon grace charis anti charitos The sense in the preposition anti upon is that one grace is replaced by another grace not that believers receive more and more grace in life Verse 17 explains The law indeed was given through Moses grace and truth came through Jesus Christ The Fourth Gospel does not juxtapose law and grace nor is this juxtaposition but an explanation The law was a gracious gift of God but that grace has been exchanged for the greater grace having come in Jesus Christ When Jesus changed water to wine it was not merely water from any source 2 6 11 It was water from six water pots used for Jewish purification rituals That water in particular becomes new wine better wine the kind used in the community of the Beloved Disciple to celebrate the Lord s Supper 16 The water rituals of Palestinian Jewish religion have been exchanged for the wine that Jesus makes possible for his people at their wedding banquet Nicodemus of Israel must be born anew of water and Spirit 3 3 10 This teacher of Israel must come to understand that the kingdom of God requires a birth beyond the natural birth flesh 3 6 into the kingdom of Israel To enter the kingdom of God calls for an exchange of vision and life an exchange of the lesser for the greater by the Spirit of God 17 The Samaritan woman drawing water from Jacob s Well finds new living water in Jesus Messiah 4 7 15 She has to leave her Samaritan water jars in exchange for a relationship with the greater water of life that Jesus gives The paralytic man beside the Hebrew healing pool Bethzatha finds a more powerful healing water in Jesus 5 2 9 Jesus does not put the man into the Hebrew pool with its five porticoes but gives him new life in exchange for putting him into the water when the water is stirred up The pattern continues throughout the Book of Signs chapters 2 12 traceable also in the Book of the Passion 13 20 But the climax 167 comes I think when Jesus speaks from the cross His earthly life is finished as is his work of salvation The time has come for a transfer of relationship When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her he said to his mother Woman here is your son Then he said to the disciple Here is your mother And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home 19 26 27 The significance of this exchange is far reaching The anonymous disciple whom Jesus loved is ideal in John representing all that true discipleship and church should be in the name of Jesus the Christ In this final transfer from the cross Jesus passes his responsibility over to the Beloved Disciple He and his kind will carry on the life relationship in the world that Jesus had while he was in the world From now on Jesus mother has a new home with her new son a community of the Beloved Disciple of Jesus Messiah If anyone wants to find the eternal life which Jesus offers they will henceforth find it in that new community THE TRANSLATABILITY OF THE GOSPEL What does the foregoing exploration of change and exchange evident in the Gospel of John say to us in our time and place Much in every way I suggest Briefly put the gospel of Jesus Messiah Christ is translatable I first heard the phrase the translatability of the gospel in 1988 in a series of lectures Professor Lamen Sanneh delivered at Mennonite Brethren Bible College Material from those lectures was later published under the title Translating the Message The Missionary Impact on Culture 18 The Christian gospel

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  • Direction: Reading 1 Timothy 2:9-15 in Its Literary Context
    Paul s instruction 1 Tim 1 4 6 4 1 174 2 Tim 2 15 4 4 Several individuals are named presumably because they are known by people in the church 1 Tim 1 19 20 2 Tim 2 15 17 18 Concern about the character and behavior of leaders within the church 1 Tim 3 1 13 5 17 22 Titus 1 5 9 alludes to Paul s earlier warnings that some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them Acts 20 30 The danger that some leaders may fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil appears to be very real 1 Tim 3 6 7 Third this deviation from the truth reveals an emerging division between teaching and lifestyle evidenced by the rejection of conscience 1 Tim 1 5 19 4 2 Titus 1 15 Those who teach differently hold to an outward form of godliness but deny its power they profess to know God but they deny him by their actions 2 Tim 3 5 Titus 1 16 They appear to be motivated by the lure and love of money imagining that godliness is a means of gain 1 Tim 3 3 9 6 5 10 2 Tim 3 2 Titus 1 10 In contrast Timothy and the church are called to express godliness which reflects a true knowledge of God demonstrated by a corresponding lifestyle 1 Tim 2 2 4 7 8 6 3 6 11 12 Fourth Paul characterizes the different teaching that is pervading the church as meaningless talk disputes about words and profane chatter 1 Tim 1 6 6 4 20 2 Tim 2 14 16 This idle talk which breeds senseless controversy and promotes speculation is furthermore described as contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge 1 Tim 1 4 6 4 20 2 Tim 2 23 Titus 1 10 3 9 On the one hand Paul asserts that those promoting this different teaching do not really understand what they are saying on the other hand this idle talk is a direct result of deception 1 Tim 1 7 4 1 2 Tim 3 13 Titus 1 10 This inability to understand the truth is likened to being caught in the snare of the devil and held captive to do his will 1 Tim 6 5 2 Tim 2 15 26 Fifth the different teaching appears to have had a significant influence upon entire households Titus 1 11 Certain women have been captivated by this teaching but despite their desire to learn they have not been able to comprehend the truth 2 Tim 3 6 7 The profane myths of this different teaching are also likened to old wives tales 1 Tim 4 7 The description of the different teaching that emerges from the Pastoral Epistles themselves must provide the overarching context within which the individual passages are to be interpreted Not surprisingly significant parallels are apparent between this larger context and the two texts that address women in 1 Timothy 175 LITERARY PARALLELS WITHIN 1 TIMOTHY AND WITH THE PASTORAL EPISTLES Two sections in 1 Timothy use the household structure as a framework for addressing relationships and behaviors within the church that have been affected by the appearance of the different teaching The evident parallelism suggests that these sections should be read in light of one another 1 Timothy 2 8 3 13 1 Timothy 5 1 6 2 2 8 Men 2 9 15 Women 3 1 7 Overseers 3 8 13 Deacons 5 1 Men 5 2 16 Women 5 17 25 Elders 6 1 2 Slaves Furthermore the use of matching words and similar ideas in both sections addressing women in the household of the church suggests that the same situation underlies both sets of instructions 13 1 Timothy 2 1 15 1 Timothy 5 2 16 2 2 godliness 5 4 godliness 2 3 pleasing in sight of God 5 4 pleasing in sight of God 2 1 supplications prayers 5 5 supplications prayers 2 9 braided hair gold costly attire 5 6 self indulgent 2 10 good works 5 10 good works 2 10 profess godliness 5 12 abandon former faith 2 11 let a woman learn 5 13 learn to be idlers 2 11 quietly with all submissiveness 5 13 idlers gossips busybodies 2 11 do not permit a woman to teach 5 13 going house to house 2 14 woman was deceived 5 15 strayed after Satan 2 15 saved through childbearing 5 14 bear children The introduction and conclusion for the first section 1 Tim 2 8 3 13 identifies Paul s overarching concern that behavior within the household of God must continue to support the realization of God s desire that everyone be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth 1 Tim 2 1 7 3 14 15 The effect of the different teaching within the 176 church presumably was undermining this objective Prayers offered for everyone especially those in high positions will result in a quiet and godly life that reflects what is pleasing in God s sight and witnesses to God s offer of salvation through Christ Jesus In light of this overarching concern Paul s call for men to pray in every place corresponds to his earlier call for the church to pray for everyone 1 Tim 1 1 8 cf Mal 1 11 1 Cor 1 2 The implication is that such prayers should lead to a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and dignity in contrast to the quarreling and anger that arises from the different teaching 1 Tim 6 4 2 Tim 2 23 Titus 3 9 Interestingly these same concerns are also found in Titus 3 1 11 where the parallel progression of thought leads to a discussion of the impact of the different teaching instead of addressing the behavior of men and women This suggests that Paul in 1 Timothy 2 is also addressing the quarrels and controversies that have arisen because of the different teaching 1 Timothy 2 1 15 Titus 3 1 11 Kings those in high positions Rulers and authorities lead a quiet and peaceable life be gentle and show every courtesy God our Savior God our Savior desires everyone to be saved he saved us I desire I desire good works good works Pray without anger or quarreling Learn in silence with submission Avoid stupid controversies dissensions quarrels divisions became a transgressor is perverted sinful self condemned INSTRUCTIONS FOR WOMEN With this same purpose in mind Paul addresses women and calls them to also live in a quiet peaceful godly and dignified manner likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self control not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire but with what is proper for women who profess godliness with good works 1 Tim 2 9 10 177 The characteristic of self control frames the entire set of instructions for women thereby highlighting the underlying concern 1 Tim 2 9 15 Self control or moderation is not viewed restrictively as a female quality but as a virtue that must characterize all people within the church 1 Tim 3 2 Titus 1 8 2 4 6 Caution regarding the lure of wealth corresponds to the danger facing older widows whose practice of offering prayers and supplications to God is contrasted with self indulgence in luxurious living 1 Tim 5 5 6 While the love of money is a peril that Paul deals with later in the letter 1 Tim 6 9 10 the distinction between exorbitant expressions of adornment and the inner qualities of a gentle and quiet spirit is the focus here cf 1 Pet 3 3 4 Women who profess godliness cf 1 Tim 2 2 need to demonstrate good works just as the widows who set their hope on God must be attested for their good works 1 Tim 5 5 9 10 The prevalent concern for good works in the Pastoral Epistles does not undermine an understanding of salvation by grace but recognizes the inextricable link between belief and lifestyle 2 Tim 2 21 2 17 Titus 1 16 2 7 14 3 1 8 14 The public promise or profession of godliness by women recognizes its lasting value 1 Tim 4 8 and is contrasted with the younger widows who have abandoned their former faith 1 Tim 5 11 12 as well as those who profess a false knowledge 1 Tim 6 20 The theme of quietness continued from 1 Timothy 2 2 frames the next few verses again highlighting the underlying concern for a gentle peaceable response a woman in quietness I let learn in all submission but to teach a woman I do not permit nor to have authority over a man but to be in quietness 14 1 Tim 2 11 12 The contrast between living a quiet life and being idle and a busybody 1 Thess 4 11 2 Thess 3 11 12 corresponds with the concern about younger widows who are active idlers gossips and busybodies 1 Tim 5 13 This parallel suggests that the activity of these younger widows may underlie the following prohibition Rather than learning to be idle women are called to learn in all submission While the object of learning is not stated here learning in the Pastoral Epistles is coupled with a knowledge of the truth 2 Tim 3 6 7 cf 1 Tim 2 4 and a devotion to good works Titus 3 14 cf 1 Tim 2 10 both ideas present in this context Submission is used to characterize relationships when 178 there is a concern about ensuring that the church not be discredited with people in the wider society 1 Tim 3 4 Titus 2 5 9 10 3 1 2 THE SOUNDNESS OF TEACHING The content which a woman is not permitted to teach is not stated Paul s purpose for writing 1 Timothy is to combat the emergence of a different teaching in the church which he contrasts with the sound teaching that corresponds with godliness 1 Tim 1 3 10 6 3 Paul s contention that he taught the church both publicly and from house to house church to church parallels the activity of the younger widows who go about from house to house spreading idle talk Acts 20 20 1 Tim 5 13 To prohibit women from teaching within this context implies that what they are teaching is not sound for elsewhere women are encouraged to teach what is good Titus 2 3 The prohibition of teaching is precisely Paul s response when he encounters rebellious empty talkers and deceivers they must be silenced since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach Titus 1 10 11 This muzzling of errant teachers is in direct contrast with Paul s call to hold on to sound teaching so that one may be able to refute those who contradict it Titus 1 9 15 Paralleled with the restriction on teaching is the call for a woman not to exercise authority over a man The single use of this rare term in the New Testament has led to vigorous debate over its exact meaning and whether the concept of authority is used in either a positive or negative sense 16 Grammatically both terms teach and authority should together be rendered either positively or negatively 17 It is the context that must determine the best choice from among the following probable options to control to dominate to compel to influence someone to assume authority over to flout the authority of 18 It would appear that in light of the larger context of Paul s concern about the promotion of different teaching in the church that the restriction of teaching error and an unhealthy use of authority was necessitated 179 CONCERN FOR THE SALVATION OF WOMEN Paul then appeals to the relationship between Adam and Eve as a rationale for his prohibition of women The emphasis on the relation between being formed and being deceived is underlined by the parallel structure The climax of the sentence is not the sequence of creation but that despite being formed second Eve was deceived and as a result she became a transgressor The conclusion drawn is that she will be saved not from her subsequent creation to Adam but from her state as a transgressor due to her deception For Adam was formed first then Eve and Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor yet she will be saved through childbearing 1 Tim 2 13 15 Paul does not spell out why the relation between being formed and being deceived is significant because the line of reasoning seeks to address how the woman s state as a transgressor can be remedied with the possibility of salvation This alludes to the earlier connection between knowledge of the truth and salvation 1 Tim 2 4 which points to the significance of Eve s deception for the situation facing the church in Ephesus The themes of salvation godliness and knowledge are all found in the serpent s claim You will not surely die For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil Gen 3 4 5 Clearly deception was a characteristic of teachers who were promoting the different teaching in the church 1 Tim 4 1 2 Tim 2 13 Titus 1 10 and Paul feared Satan s continuing ability to influence those in the church 1 Tim 3 6 7 2 Tim 2 26 In particular some of the younger widows who have violated their first pledge have already strayed away after Satan resulting in their alienation from Christ 1 Tim 5 11 12 15 Interestingly in the only other reference to Eve in the entire New Testament Paul uses her deception by Satan as a warning against following a different gospel and the possibility of being led astray from one s devotion to Christ 180 I feel a divine jealousy for you for I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a pure virgin to Christ But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted you put up with it readily enough 2 Cor 11 2 4 emph added The concern for woman s salvation returns to the earlier assertion that God desires everyone be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth 1 Tim 2 4 In light of the possibility of being deceived by Satan this concern understandably follows and reflects the broader affirmation in 1 Timothy that salvation in Christ Jesus challenges the different teaching 1 Tim 1 15 2 5 6 3 16 4 10 While to be saved through childbearing most likely includes a reference to eschatological salvation the idea of being kept safe or protected is also suggested by the parallelism with 1 Timothy 4 16 cf 2 Tim 4 18 1 Cor 3 15 7 16 Paul instructed Timothy to train himself in godliness 1 Tim 4 7 which is demonstrated by setting an example for believers in his lifestyle 1 Tim 4 12 and by paying attention to his teaching 1 Tim 4 13 Believers are saved kept safe if they follow his model 1 Timothy 2 15 1 Timothy 4 16 yet she will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self control Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching Persist 19 in this for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers This does not imply that salvation is by works Titus 3 4 7 but that the danger of wandering away or missing the mark of faith because of deception by the different teaching can be counteracted The concern for remaining firm in the face of deception is also the context for the only other call to continue in the Pastoral Epistles while evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived But as for you continue in 181 what you have learned and have firmly believed 2 Tim 3 13 14 emph added Continuing in the true teaching of the gospel and demonstrating a lifestyle consistent with that teaching will keep one safe from the menace of deception The danger of being led astray by Satan for younger widows who are idlers gossips and busybodies is thwarted when they marry bear children and manage their households 1 Tim 5 13 15 Similarly women are saved kept safe through childbearing because it reflects a practical expression of their profession of godliness through good works which contradicts immodesty lack of quietness and deception 1 Tim 2 10 5 10 The list of characteristics women are called to continue in parallels the broader concern for the maintenance of character and a lifestyle that is consistent with the gospel 1 Tim 1 5 2 2 15 4 12 6 11 20 CONCLUSION The literary context of 1 Timothy in particular and of the Pastoral Epistles in general provides the best interpretive cues for understanding the meaning of Paul s instructions to women in 1 Timothy 2 9 15 Rather than looking outside the text for meaning this approach calls us to read the passage within the flow of the entire conversation of the larger context The context provides a check on the perspective we bring to the text in

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/33/2/reading-1-timothy-2-9-15-in-its-literary.html (2016-02-16)
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