November 14, 2010
“The United States debt, public and domestic, was the price of liberty.”
-Alexander Hamilton, quoted at the top of the web page for the US Treasury’s bureau of public debt.
The key word there is “was.”
Some interesting facts related to the US debt:
-Between the years of 1943-1970, the ceiling on the US debt rose from $300 billion to $395 billion.
-From 1970-1981 it rose from $395 billion to $985 billion
-From 1981-2006 it rose from $1 trillion to $8.9 trillion (a 25 year period, so roughly a trillion every 4 years)
-From 2007-2009 (December) it rose to $12.3 trillion
-In 2010 (February) it rose to $14.2
-U.S. official gold reserves, totaling 261.5 million troy ounces, have a book value as of 30 November 2009 of approximately $11 billion.
-A total of 161,000 tonnes of gold have been mined in human history, as of 2009. This is roughly equivalent to 5.175 billion troy ounces, which, at $1000 per troy ounce, would be $5.2 trillion.
-The national debt equates to $30,400 per person U.S. population, or $60,100 per member of the U.S. working population, as of February 2008.
-In 2008, $2.5 trillion was the total amount of money collected by the US government in taxes. 9.6% of it–$242 billion– was spent on interest payments servicing the debt.
-The 2009 net worth of the 400 richest U.S. citizens is $1.27 trillion.
*Click HERE for statistics
It would seem, then, that the price of liberty is becoming quite expensive, in fact, almost too expensive for Americans to hold on to.
November 14, 2010
My wife and I have a bag of potatoes sitting on our kitchen counter. As we were waiting for our supper to cook, I looked at the label on the bag and noticed that some of the words were translated into French. I read the French words out loud, butchering each one to the utmost of my ability, “Pommes de terre rouges” (my pronunciation: “Palms dee terry rugs”). After chiding me for my pronunciation, HJ explained that the French could literally be translated as “Apples of earth reds.” I looked up the word “pomme” in a pocket-french dictionary, and sure enough, the word is glossed as “apple.” A more in-depth, online dictionary renders it “apple” or “potato.”
This is a great example of the type of difficulties encountered when translating from one language to another. For one thing, words can have several meanings. So, are we dealing with apples or potatoes? Second, this example shows the problem with those who aim for literal translation. If one were to translate the French as “apples of the earth reds,” an English speaker would have no idea that you were talking about red potatoes–he might think you were talking about apples that had fallen to the ground, begun to rot, but still retained some of their reddish coloring. In order to translate the phrase in a way that makes sense in English, you must drop the French words “de terre” since in English we do not speak of potatoes “of the earth.”
This shows: (1) that those who translate super-literally can actually obscure meaning; (2) that the better translation is often the one which renders the meaning, not always the exact, word-for-word equivalent; (3) a translator should not be faulted when he must omit or add words for clarity. This in no way shows he has a low view of the original words with which he is dealing. Rather, those who hold to the importance of the original should understand the difficulties and limitations faced by the translator and not content themselves merely with a translation but examine the original for themselves.
November 12, 2010
15 And so it is even more obvious that another priest would arise in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 one not according to the law’s small fine print about ancestry, but according to the power of an indestructible life. 17 For this is proved by the words:
You are priest forever according to the class of Melchizedek.
18 For, on the one hand, the former command is set aside because of its weakness and what it was unable to accomplish, 19 (for the law made no one perfect) and was replaced by a much more secure hope through which we are drawing near to God. 20 And, what’s more, this did not occur without oaths, but the previous priests definitely served without oaths. 21 This one, however, had oaths through the one speaking to him:
The Lord swore and will not regret it,
you are priest forever.
22 So Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 23 Whereas before many had become priests because death hindered them from living on, 24 but because this one remains forever, he has a priesthood that never falls to the wayside. 25 He is able, therefore, to save to the very end those drawing near to God through him, since he is always living for the purpose of representing them before God.
26 It was fitting for us to have such a high priest, since he is untarnished and unstained by sin, set apart from sinners, and exalted to the highest heights of the heavens, 27 who does not, like those past high priests, have to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins and then for the people’s. No, he did it once for all when he offered himself. 28 The law appoints men full of weakness as high priest, but this word, accompanied by the oath, coming after the law, appoints none other than the eternal, perfected son.
15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
15-19 But the Melchizedek story provides a perfect analogy: Jesus, a priest like Melchizedek, not by genealogical descent but by the sheer force of resurrection life—he lives!—”priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek.” The former way of doing things, a system of commandments that never worked out the way it was supposed to, was set aside; the law brought nothing to maturity. Another way—Jesus!—a way that does work, that brings us right into the presence of God, is put in its place.
20-22 The old priesthood of Aaron perpetuated itself automatically, father to son, without explicit confirmation by God. But then God intervened and called this new, permanent priesthood into being with an added promise:
God gave his word;
he won’t take it back:
“You’re the permanent priest.”
This makes Jesus the guarantee of a far better way between us and God—one that really works! A new covenant.
23-25 Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.
26-28 So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself. Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice. The law appoints as high priests men who are never able to get the job done right. But this intervening command of God, which came later, appoints the Son, who is absolutely, eternally perfect.
November 11, 2010
1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham when he was returning from the victory over the kings and blessed him. 2 Abraham gave a tithe of all the loot from battle to him, whose name “Melchizedek” means “king of righteousness,” while “King of Salem” means “King of Peace.” 3 He is without father, without mother, without genealogy, and has no beginning of days nor end of life, just like the Son of God! His priestly dynasty remains always intact and uninterrupted.
4 So you all see how amazing he was, that even Abraham the Patriarch tithed the most valuable things of his loot to him. 5 Even those amongst the sons of Levi who receive the honor of being priests are instructed in the law about gathering the people’s tithes—their own relatives, the very children of Abraham. 6 But him shares no genealogical connection with them took a tithe from Abraham and blessed the very possessor of the promises. 7 And without dispute, the greater blessed the lesser.
8 So then, these men over here who die receive a tithe, but the one over there, as is shown, lives on. 9 So it could be said, then, that through Abraham even Levi who received tithes paid tithes. 10 For he was still a wink in his father’s eye when Melchizedek greeted Abraham. 11 So, if there was any hope of perfection in the Levitical priesthood, through which the full ramifications of the law took effect upon the people, why then was there still need for another priest to arise like Melchizedek, and not another like Aaron? 12 For with a changing of priesthood comes a changing of the law.
13 Because of what has just been said, he belonged to another tribe, one from which no one was allowed to approach the place of sacrifice. 14 For it was obvious that our Lord would arise from Judah, a tribe about which Moses spoke nothing regarding priests.
1 This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. 2 Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” 3 There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.
4 Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized this by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle. 5 Now the law of Moses required that the priests, who are descendants of Levi, must collect a tithe from the rest of the people of Israel, who are also descendants of Abraham. 6 But Melchizedek, who was not a descendant of Levi, collected a tenth from Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God. 7 And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed.
8 The priests who collect tithes are men who die, so Melchizedek is greater than they are, because we are told that he lives on. 9 In addition, we might even say that these Levites—the ones who collect the tithe—paid a tithe to Melchizedek when their ancestor Abraham paid a tithe to him. 10 For although Levi wasn’t born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham’s body when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him.
11 So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron? 12 And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. 13 For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests. 14 What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe.
1-3 Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Highest God. He met Abraham, who was returning from “the royal massacre,” and gave him his blessing. Abraham in turn gave him a tenth of the spoils. “Melchizedek” means “King of Righteousness.” “Salem” means “Peace.” So, he is also “King of Peace.” Melchizedek towers out of the past—without record of family ties, no account of beginning or end. In this way he is like the Son of God, one huge priestly presence dominating the landscape always.
4-7 You realize just how great Melchizedek is when you see that Father Abraham gave him a tenth of the captured treasure. Priests descended from Levi are commanded by law to collect tithes from the people, even though they are all more or less equals, priests and people, having a common father in Abraham. But this man, a complete outsider, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him, the one to whom the promises had been given. In acts of blessing, the lesser is blessed by the greater.
8-10 Or look at it this way: We pay our tithes to priests who die, but Abraham paid tithes to a priest who, the Scripture says, “lives.” Ultimately you could even say that since Levi descended from Abraham, who paid tithes to Melchizedek, when we pay tithes to the priestly tribe of Levi they end up with Melchizedek.
11-14 If the priesthood of Levi and Aaron, which provided the framework for the giving of the law, could really make people perfect, there wouldn’t have been need for a new priesthood like that of Melchizedek. But since it didn’t get the job done, there was a change of priesthood, which brought with it a radical new kind of law. There is no way of understanding this in terms of the old Levitical priesthood, which is why there is nothing in Jesus’ family tree connecting him with that priestly line.
November 10, 2010
Those, however, who have moral virtue are drawn to the exercise of virtuous works for the love of virtue, not on account of some external penalty or reward. And the New Law, consisting primarily in spiritual grace itself implanted in men’s hearts, is called the law of love; and it is said to contain spiritual and eternal promises, which are the objects of virtue, especially love. And so men are drawn to them intrinsically, not as to what is external to them but as to what befits their very being. That is why the Old Law is said to restrain the hand, not the soul . . . and the New Law, which is the law of love, restrains the soul.
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae XXX, Latin Text and English Translation, New York: McGraw, 1972, AB’s Trans, p 25.
November 10, 2010
Along the way we stopped at the Town Cleaner’s to pick up HJ’s wedding dress (we finally got around to having it preserved). While there we made a new friend named Kim. Kim has a love of music and asked HJ to perform.
I am now going to spare you from the next part of our birthday adventure. Let’s just say it involved shopping, several stores, and searching for just the right purse for HJ (purses are her weakness, and for her bday she wanted to pick one out). So let’s skip to the good part:
Meanwhile, we continue to prepare for Melody’s imminent arrival. The nursery is ready and waiting. I’ve been working overtime to make sure we are ready for the hospital bill (This week I will have worked 18 hours of overtime, or 58 hours total; the week of Thanksgiving I plan on working 33 hours of overtime, or 73 hours total).
November 9, 2010
Book review: Why Four Gospel? 2d ed. By David Alan Black. Gonzalez, Fla.: Energion, 2010.
David Black in his Why Four Gospels? condenses a complicated problem into a bit-size, digestible piece. The argument underlying the book is that Matthew was the first Gospel written, its purpose being to meet the needs of the jewish-christian church in Jerusalem. Luke, then, was the second Gospel written, composed to meet the needs of the many Gentiles coming to Christ through Paul’s ministry. Next was Mark, which was Peter’s oral commendation of Luke alongside Matthew. Finally, John wrote last, composing a Gospel for a second generation of believers needing confirmation about the nature and person of Jesus.
This book is worth reading for numerous reasons. Black convincingly demonstrates that his thesis is supported not only by early church history, but also by early patristic evidence. Also, the book sorts out the issue of the ending of Mark, providing a convincing solution to the befuddling text-critical issue (cf., pp. 66-67).
Readers of all levels will benefit from this book. Students will find Black’s clear discussion a manageable introduction to an often overwhelming and tangled subject. Christians desiring a better understanding of the origin of the Gospels will do well to begin with Black’s work. Scholars will not come away disappointed either. The bibliography provides thorough and up-to-date material for further research; Black’s thesis will prove insightful and convincing and not easily dismissed.
Black’s skill as a writer shines in this book: he successfully puts the pieces together in what many have considered an unsovable jig-saw puzzle. Black demonstrates that the solution need not be complicated by far-fetched hypothecating of fanciful theories about lost sources. He accomplishes this in a straightforward, clear manner which allows the reader to easily work through his book in one sitting. Black shows that one need not be voluminous to be persuasive. In a world when arguments are circular, complicated, lengthy, and just plain boring, Black keeps the reader’s attention from page 1 to page 100. One would be ignorant to think that such a book can be dismissed merely on the basis of its length. Rather, one often finds that the more simple and straightforward the explanation, the more likely it is to be correct, or, as Occam’s razor states, “All things being equal, the simpler is to be preferred.” Indeed, Black’s insightfully simple thesis proves to be a sharp razor daring to be disproved.
Black’s work is an important advance in Synoptic studies. In 2001 a book was published as the result of a symposium held on Southeastern’s campus. Some of the top scholars in the world delivered papers about the origins of the Gospels. One of them, William Farmer, argued for a position similar to Black’s. The final response to the papers was delivered by Grant Osborne, who admitted that Farmer’s argument was very persuasive, and even voiced, “Almost though persuadest me!” (Rethinking the Synoptic Problem, 140). In the end, Osborne stated his reasons for not being won over to Farmer’s arguments:
(1) Why would Mark have left out such huge chunks of material found in Matthew and Luke if he wrote last?
(2) Why would Luke have scattered Matthew’s material in such a way if he was truly dependant on that Gospel?
(3) The hypothesis cannot provide a reason why Mark was written
(4) The patristic evidence contradicts the thesis
Black easily provides explanation for each of Osborne’s points. Thus, it should rightly be asked what further objections remain. If the thesis is convincing, if it best accounts for the evidence, if all the major objections have been aptly refuted, what further remains but a recognition that Black’s theory stands as the best in Synoptic studies?
By way of the book’s weaknesses, two minor points caught my attention. First, Black discusses Mark’s weaving pattern (pp 61-62). A visual depiction in the form of a chart would have been very helpful to enable the reader to better comprehend Mark’s manner of weaving. Second, Black’s description of Mark’s circulation sounds strangely similar to his own personal testimony about writing. For, according to Black, Mark circulated his Gospel because Peter’s hearers were delighted with his speech and requested copies (pp 15, 67). This, however, is exactly how Black describes the publication of his own book–eager students requested copies of his teaching on the Synoptics (p v). Similar statements are found in several of Black’s works. Has Black unwittingly conceived of a Mark in his own image? I don’t think so, but the point should be raised.
Beyond these two points, Why Four Gospels? strengths far outweigh any possible hesitations. Why Four Gospels? is a must read for any student of Scripture. The book ties up whatever loose ends remained in the Synoptic Problem. The reader will be left with much to ponder and will surely be stimulated to further study. One final statement mentioned by Black will hopefully prompt much discussion in the future:
Matthew is thus the blueprint or handbook for all future expansion, and the church it was written for was the model for all the churches of the world that issued from it, including those established by Paul . . . . Thanks to Luke we have a great deal of information about the churches Paul founded and about the gospel he preached, and in their writings we have a priceless contemporary account . . . (Why Four Gospels?, 59, emphasis added).
November 7, 2010
I thought I’d list my blogging goals for the week. Something about writing down goals always helps me.
1) Translate Hebrews 7
2) Review Why Four Gospels?
3) Update and show pics from the week: family, personal, other
4) Whatever else catches my fancy
November 6, 2010
Let me see if I understand this week’s news correctly: the government’s decision to plunge another $1,000,000,000,000.00 (okay in reality they’re only spending 900 billion, but you may as well round-up) in debt to stimulate the economy is good news? Such good news that the stocks have risen to their highest point in 2 years? I’m no economist but it seems that debt and lots of it is never good news. I did some quick addition and If I’m correct, this stimulus alone will cost each tax payer and extra $ 9,000 dollars, or for households filing jointly, $ 18,000. THAT’S BAD NEWS!
November 4, 2010
“Under the Eastern sky the gospel was first preached, and there was Jesus Christ as Lord first worshipfully esteemed. Jesus and Paul were sons of the East. The Amen of our daily prayers, the Hosanna and the Hallelujah of our songs, and even the titles Christ and Gospel, call our thoughts back again and again to the Eastern origins of our fellowship . . . . A gift of the East is the book that maintains an echo of the preaching of Jesus and his Apostles–the New Testament. We are accustomed to reading it under our Northern sky . . . [where] the great contents of the gold-shimmering letters are clear even in the dim light of the sanctuary.”
-Adolf Deissmann, Licht vom Osten, AB’s trans., 1-2.
Deissmann comments that our faith is rooted in the customs and culture of Israel and Greece. Oh, how I would love to travel and stand under those Eastern skies some day!