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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pieper & Luther: No public ministry now? (Paul McCain) (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I quoted Franz Pieper and Martin Luther about a possible time when the Public Ministry of external Christendom preached only from unbelief, false doctrine or as Luther put it, "epicurean outrage".  Pieper and Luther stated that the pure Gospel would only then be taught and held by the fathers of the household.  Indeed, heads of the household have the final responsibility given by God to see to a true Christian education for their children.

I then proposed that that time has arrived. The pure preaching and teaching of Christian doctrine, doctrine that has it's basis in Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ), is largely gone from external Christendom.
- - - - - - - - - - - 
To bring this up-to-date, there is a current affair emanating from the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) that again brings to the fore the doctrine of Objective Justification.  According to some reports, a pastor has been suspended from the WELS and other reports indicate it was because of false teaching against "Objective Justification".  As stated before, whenever this topic comes up, I immediately sit up in my chair and investigate.  Why?  Because of my hope that there will be true supporters and defenders of it, not only detractors. And because it is the true Gospel.

And what do I see?  Paul T. McCain is defending against false teaching against Objective Justification.  Hmmm, let us see about this. Rev. McCain is the Publisher of Concordia Publishing House (CPH) of today's (English) LC-MS.

Yes, it was Paul T. McCain who commented on my lack of attending a church and rebuked me when he said:
If you are not attending the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament, all these blog posts are useless to you, and for you.  Repent and return to Christ.
McCain's rebuke loses it's bite when seen in the light of what Luther and Pieper said in my blog post Part 1.  McCain implies his LC-MS does not preach "epicurean outrage", especially himself who rebukes a pastor in a forum for teaching against Objective Justification.  Although I am glad to see this of McCain, yet his synod is a fellowship where not all the pastors are preaching this pure Gospel, that is Universal Justification and Objective Justification (UOJ).  And his rebuke of me indicates he is also weak on this doctrine, for he places the Public Ministry above this doctrine, the doctrine that I believe, the Gospel... the Gospel message that brought me back to the Church, the Church of believers.

And now I see reported that the WELS has evidently suspended this pastor that was teaching false doctrine, teaching contrary to UOJ.  One wonders how this came about... did McCain inform the WELS about this false teacher or were they aware of it themselves?

My response to Paul T. McCain is this: 

1)   If the LC-MS is so orthodox in it's teaching on Justification, then why has the LC-MS not rebuked Herman Otten on this same basis? ... for Herman Otten is definitely weak on this doctrine for he does NOT preach it... yes, he may even hold to the same error as this false teaching pastor in the WELS.  Otten confirmed it again when his advice for the WELS on this matter was to "Cool it". (Christian News, Oct. 15, 2012, pg 6, col 3).  Cool it?  Otten is telling the WELS to "cool it" on the Gospel!  To be sure, the LC-MS has rebuked Otten many times and for many reasons... but not for the main reason – his great weakness on the Doctrine of Justification.  Not even President J.A.O. Preus II rebuked Otten for this reason as he should have, since he was a defender of Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ).  Nor did your leader, conservative President A.L. Barry, rebuke Otten for this reason.  Again, what reason?  The teaching and preaching of the pure Gospel – UOJ! (Steve Stranghoener, a layman, did rebuke Otten.)
  •   *** Update Nov. 6, 2012: My statement on President J.A.O. Preus II may need retraction as I reviewed this article in Christian News, March 3, 1997, top of column 4.)
2)   If the LC-MS is so orthodox in it's teaching on Justification, then why does CPH value so highly the endorsements of heterodox teachers such as these in it's Endorsements for the New Series of Luther's Works
  • Mark U. Edwards, Jr. – Academic Dean, Harvard Divinity School (Unitarian?)
  • Carter Lindberg – Professor of Church History Emeritus, Boston University School of Theology (United Methodist)
  • James Estes – Professor Emeritus of History, Victoria College, University of Toronto (United Church of Canada – Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian)
  • Amy Nelson Burnett – Professor of History, University of Nebraska—Lincoln (who knows what denomination?)
  • Scott H. Hendrix – Professor Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary (Presbyterian)
  • Jane E. Strohl – Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA (Jane?)
  • David M. Whitford – Professor of the History of Christianity, United Theological Seminary, Trotwood, Ohio; Associate Editor, Sixteenth Century Journal (United Methodist)
  • Paul R. Hinlicky – Tise Professor of Lutheran Studies, Roanoke College (ELCA)
  • Susan R. Boettcher – Department of History, University of Texas at Austin (state school, non-denominational)
  • Kirsi Stjerna – Associate Professor of Reformation Church History, and Director for Institute of Luther Studies, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, PA (ELCA)
  • Mickey Mattox – Associate Professor, Theology Department, Marquette University (Jesuit, Roman Catholic)
  • Robert J. Christman – Assistant Professor of History, Luther College, Decorah, IA (ELCA)
  • Knut Alfsvåg – Associate professor of systematic theology, School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger, Norway (non-denominational, originally Lutheran)
  • Cornelis P. Venema – President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary, Dyer, Indiana
  • Randall C. Zachman – Professor of Reformation Studies, University of Notre Dame, Indiana (Roman Catholic – papist)
  • Joel R. Beeke – President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Jeannine E. Olson – Professor of History, Rhode Island College (state school); Visiting Professor, Boston University (United Methodist)
... or these endorsers of some of your "current peer review titles" that CPH  lists on page 15 of it's "Professional and Academic Resources 2012-2013 Catalog":
  • David F. Aune, Walter Professor of New Testament & Christian Origins, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame (Roman Catholic)
  • Stephen Burnett, Associate Professor of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (state school, Jewish sympathy writings along with Amy Nelson Burnett)
  • Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Dallas Theological Seminary ("Evangelical"?; "Bible conference movement")
  • Kirk Freudenburg, Department of Classics, Yale University (Congregationalist beginnings, non-denominational?)
  • Michael S. Heiser, Academic Editor, Logos Bible Software (Reformed?; non-Lutheran)
  • Dennis H. Magary, Chairman, Department of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Evangelical Free Church of America -  free from Lutheran roots?)
  • Eugene H. Merrill, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary; Distinguished Professor of O.T. Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Nicholas Perrin, Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College Graduate School (Reformed?, Methodist?, Presbyterian?, "Evangelicalism?")
  • Andrie du Toit, Emeritus, Professor of New Testament, University of Pretoria; Former President, Societas Novi Testamenti Studiorum (non-denominational - Anglican?)
Rev. McCain, what do these endorsers (scholars!) say about the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification - a justification that is Objective (apart from our works or our faith), a justification that is Universal – for everyone?  If these endorsers do not teach and preach Universal, Objective Justification, then why are they so important to you and your LC-MS?  I tell you, Rev. McCain, that all these endorsers preach or teach an "epicurean outrage" in theological matters.

3)   If the LC-MS is so orthodox in it's teaching on Justification, and only some "lovable" knuckleheads are causing such general unbelief and confusion, then why do most Lutheran forum pastors (let alone laymen) either not get the message of the Gospel, or indeed fight against it?  Even the forum moderator is weak since he had the offending sermon posted on the web.  Does he preach the Doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification (i.e. the Gospel) himself?

I could go on questioning the orthodoxy of McCain's LC-MS and CPH, but could it be, Rev. McCain, that you have picked up enough of the "lingo" of UOJ from those members of the Preus family who actually preach and teach this doctrine, that you want to make your precious LC-MS appear like them, as they seem to have the power of the Spirit?  I pray that you are not like Simon, the sorcerer of Acts 9:18-19, but are indeed seeing the true Gospel.

But Rev. McCain, if all your LC-MS pastors are not preaching this doctrine, if all your professors and teachers are not teaching this doctrine, then how is it that they can preach and/or teach the Gospel?

OK then,
Paul T. McCain – The Great Defender of Objective Justification!
May it be so!  But I will give you a terrible warning Rev. McCain, from the Mouth of Truth:
Matt. 7:22-23 – Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
In the next Part 3a, I will comment on the Wisconsin Synod , the WELS, in this situation (and more on today's LC-MS).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pieper & Luther: No public ministry now? Only fathers in homes? (Part 1)

In a previous post where I reviewed an essay by Prof. John T. Pless, I was a bit stunned when I quoted from Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics.  Pieper gives a true perspective on the doctrine of the Public Ministry where Pless goes astray.  How was I stunned?  When Pieper said this (Christian Dogmatics, volume 3, page 449):
There have been times – and such times may come again – when unbelief and false doctrine so overran external Christendom that orthodox Christians had to depend on the preaching of the Word in the homes
Pieper then backed up his statement with a quote of Luther:
It may happen that the world will become so utterly epicurean that we shall have no public ministry in all the world and the preaching will be solely epicurean outrage and that the Gospel will be preserved only in the homes by the fathers" (St. L. VI : 938).
This quote of Luther is from his exposition of the Book of Daniel, chapters 11 and 12 (St. Louis Edition, volume 6, pages 917 - 940) and pertains to verses Daniel 12:11-12. Although Luther's preface to Daniel is in the American Edition of Luther's Works (volume 35, pages 294-316), his exposition of Daniel 11 & 12 is not, nor will it be in the New Series to come.  (Regular readers may notice that Luther not only used the Book of Daniel for biblical chronology, but also for other teachings.)  I am presenting below a translation of the full paragraph of Luther's point, again from St. L. VI: 938-939:
But I would like to interpret the daily sacrifice there spiritually, that it was the Holy Gospel which must remain together with the faith and the Church to the end of the world.  Nevertheless, it may happen that the world will become so utterly epicurean that we shall have no public ministry in all the world and the preaching will be solely epicurean outrage and that the Gospel will be preserved only in the homes by the fathers; and this will be the time as was between the words of Christ on the cross: "It is finished" [John 19:30] and "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" [Luke 23:46].  For as Christ after such Consummatum lived a little, so the church can remain a little under public silence of the Gospel.  And as the Jews daily sacrifice was probably in the seventh week done away by the apostle council [Act 15], and yet [column 939] remained afterwards up to the destruction of Jerusalem and was also held by the apostles where they wanted (nevertheless, without need), so may well also the gospel be publicly silent in the pulpit, and yet be obtained by devout Christians in houses.
Wikipedia says of epicureanism that it "emphasizes the neutrality of the gods, that they do not interfere with human lives".  Such was the charge of Martin Luther against Erasmus of Rotterdam (see here).  Such has been my charge against today's (English) LC-MS.  Such is the result of preaching that does not have at it's heart the doctrine of UOJ (Universal, Objective Justification).

Then I, BackToLuther, stated in my blog:
These times are now.  I have found that unbelief and false doctrine have so overrun external Christendom... 
In my earlier blog post "Who Am I?", I stated that I was not attending any church now.  I have not attended a church for over 10 years.  But the decision to not attend any external fellowship was not an easy one.  There was Walther himself saying:
When a person does not desire to hear God’s Word, does not attend church, not even read the Scriptures, but rather pokes fun at divine matters,.... God cannot save him. (Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther - Convention Essays, CPH, 1981,  page 65)
But this quote from Walther clearly shows the other points Walther makes along with "does not attend church":
  • does not desire to hear God's Word
  • does not even read the Scriptures
  • pokes fun at divine matters
I searched diligently among the former Lutheran church bodies who were members of the old Synodical Conference to find one who not only seemed "conservative", but more importantly held up the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification – front and center – and was not the least afraid to proclaim it because it "made the listeners too secure".  But the message of the Gospel, as properly distinguished from the Law, is indeed a message "too good to be true", at least to man's way of thinking.

Indeed, Professor John T. Pless, the Public Ministry is important , but not more important than the pure teaching of the Gospel.  Without the pure preaching of the Gospel (i.e. Universal, Objective Justification), the  pulpit is "epicurean outrage".

In my next blog post, I will present Part 2 of this... where it applies to events of today... and Paul T. McCain.

- - - - - - - - -  Table of Contents  - - - - - - 
Because this series achieved several posts, I am including this TOC for ease of reference.
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Paul T. McCain?
Part 3a – WELS – the case of a suspended pastor over the Doctrine of Justification
Part 3b – WELS – review of essays on Justification (UOJ)
Part 3c – WELS and Doctrine of Justification (and LC-MS) – conclusions and an appeal
Part 4 – Do I demand too much?
Part 5 – Parable of Talents (and Public Ministry)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Luther's Chronology, Part 8 (Concluding comments)

This post concludes the series on Biblical Chronology – Table of Contents in Part 1.

Practically no one today mentions, let alone follows, Luther on Biblical Chronology.  How it struck me that the modernist James Barr could see through today's Lutherans... those who claim the Lutheran name, who supposedly follow Luther's faith,  and yet who have so completely ignored Luther on this subject – a subject that causes many to doubt their faith,  yet a subject that Luther wrote on and did it in a way that builds the Christian faith and sets Scripture on a pedestal.
Could it be that all the comments of modern theologians and scholars have caused today's Lutherans to abandon Luther's Chronikon?  Could it be that from the editor of the Weimar Ausgabe, F. Cohrs, to the most recent Prof. James Barr, these "theologians" have made Lutheran scholar/theologians too embarrassed at Luther for his "unscholarly" work of biblical chronology?  Is that why Luther is virtually unknown on his biblical chronology today?

Not so the old (German) Missouri Synod.  Franz Pieper praised Luther's work on his Chronikon and repeatedly quoted from Luther's preface to it, not only in the pages of Lehre und Wehre, but also in his Christian Dogmatics textbooks (volume 1, page  (here, St. L. XIV: 491).

Why should we throw off those who
  • refute Luther or 
  • ignore Luther or
  • rely on modern "scholars" who follow "textual criticism" and "historical criticism", or
  • rely on "scientific" chronology?
Because Luther believed the Bible, God's Word.  It is because the Bible is a book of faith, not a textbook of science.  And therefore only those who believe that the Bible is God's Word to man for his salvation can understand any "data" from the Bible, e.g. Creation, chronology, ancient history, etc.

Dear Lord! We have no other assurance of our salvation except by thy precious Holy Word, the Scriptures!  Thou has said, Search the Scriptures!  Lord, grant that thy Word may again be held up to believe as Martin Luther did, for the salvation of blood-bought souls.  I pray this in the name that is above all names, Jesus.  Amen! Amen!

Back To Luther!... even on Biblical Chronology, let the modern world and "science" say what it will.  May we say with the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 6:20-21, O Timothy!:
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: [21] Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
I may revisit this subject again, especially because I believe Luther's work can be presented in a more modern graphic way, just as AnswersInGenesis.org has presented Ussher's work in graphic form.  What a great work it would be if someone would do this... a work to the glory of God!

Luther's Chronology, Part 7c (WELS – Siegbert Becker)

   This continues the series on Biblical Chronology – Table of Contents in Part 1.  In the last Part 7b, I reviewed WELS Prof. John C. Jeske and his questionable analysis of biblical chronology.  Now I will finish this short sub-series on the WELS teachers with perhaps their greatest light in modern times – Siegbert Becker.  Prof. Jeske attempted to use a quote of Becker to bolster his questionable essay.  This indicates he considered Becker to have a strong reputation in his synod.
   I recall Siegbert Becker very fondly.  He was one of the greatest lights for the Doctrine of Justification in the later part of the 20th Century.  The details of this are worthy of a complete blog post at a later time.  Anyway, in my previous blog post Part 7b, Becker is quoted by Jeske in an article of Becker entitled "Is Evolutionism the Answer?".  Since the article's subject matter was on the Theory of Evolution, I decided to research other articles of Becker published on www.wlsessays.net. The following is a listing with comments:

1) Verbal Inspiration and the Variant Readings 
    Becker is also one of the greatest defenders of Verbal Inspiration in the late 1900s with this essay.  How beautiful it is for defending the Christian faith, a faith that has no other basis than the Word of God, the Bible.    This essay speaks like Franz Pieper.  I only wish he had given credit to the 20th Century teacher in the Missouri Synod who was the most responsible for maintaining this precious doctrine to his time - the Twentieth Century Luther (and The Second Walther).
    And because of it's strong stand for divine inspiration, Becker would not have immediately rejected chronologies that based themselves on information from the Bible.  It would have been even better had he brought out the fact that Martin Luther wrote about biblical chronology (Chronikon) and did not shy away from putting some actual dates on biblical events based on the Bible.... that Luther put the Danielic Prophecy to work in dating Bible events.  It is a mystery to me why Becker did not do this.  Perhaps he only followed what was being translated into English by Fortress Press and Concordia Publishing.  Perhaps it was because his early training was at the University of Chicago (liberal Baptist) and the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, not a solid basis for Lutheran doctrine.  I don't know.
2) Evolution and Genesis
Again Becker presents a solid essay against Evolution, and from a Lutheran teacher so Lutheran people don't have to be forced to go to non-Lutherans such as Ken Ham (AnswersInGenesis.org) or Carl Wieland (Creation.com).
3) Exegesis of Genesis One and Two (1966)

This essay, like the previous one, provides a wonderful Christian defense against Evolution.  But Becker goes beyond Evolution and deals with the aspect that Prof. Barr supported – the "mythological" nature of Genesis.  Becker states (page 8):

In recent years, however, an entirely new approach to these early chapters of Genesis has begun to make itself evident also in the Lutheran Church, and this new theology is a thousand times more dangerous than the old attempts to bring Genesis into line with the theories of Darwin and Laplace, by interpreting a few words in a loose and unjustified way. In large areas of modern Lutheranism, the stories of Creation and the all, of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, of the Flood and the Tower of Babel are treated as myths of a primitive age which we must learn to outgrow, or which we must at least learn to understand lest we, by accepting these accounts as historical records, make ourselves and the Christian religion ridiculous in the eyes of modern, educated, and sophisticated men.

How distressing it is to read of "large areas of modern Lutheranism" in 1966 calling the Bible a myth.  What distresses me most is that this did not just come from the ancestors of the ELCA, but also from today's (English) LC-MS!  Someone will say that this isn't true today, but try to find a prominent teacher in today's LC-MS who teaches like Siegbert Becker did.  It is distressing when one gets tired of today's modern teachers and wants refreshment by going to their Lutheran teachers and finding little help from them.
. . . . . . . . . . 
As good as these essays are, yet I wish Prof. Becker had given credit to the fathers of the Missouri Synod and the Synodical Conference, for it was Walther, Franz Pieper, etc who most emphatically taught the doctrines of Verbal Inspiration, Inerrancy, etc, who best defended the basic doctrines of Christianity.  They are the ones responsible for Becker's strength in Christian teaching.

I will leave Siegbert Becker for now and will perhaps return to him in a later blog post regarding his 2 essays on the Doctrine of Justification.

The next Part 8 will be the last post in the entire series... I will offer concluding comments.

Luther's Chronology, Part 7b (WELS - John C. Jeske... and Cainan)

This continues the series on Biblical Chronology – Table of Contents in Part 1.  In the last Part 7a, I began this series of reviews of various essayists from the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) with Prof. John Brug who had something to recommend him for our faith.  Now I come to the essay by Professor John C. Jeske, – "Old Testament Chronology" which was delivered in 1980.

Unfortunately I find reviewing Prof. (emeritus) Jeske's essay to be much more difficult than Brug's essay.  I thought I would find  in the WELS someone who knew of Luther's Chronikon and would at least mention it, who would maybe encourage his readers to read of Luther on this topic.  But I was sadly disappointed for there was no mention of Luther.  Prof. Jeske only wrote about the work of James Ussher.  Why?  Because our generation has so thoroughly become "English", that all we know is our King James Bible (KJV) and subsequent English Bibles.  And along with the English Bible came an "accepted" chronology of the Calvinist Presbyterian (and English-Irish) James Ussher.  Jeske even points out that early LC-MS authors Rupprecht (Bible History References, WorldCat / Amazon ) and Paul E. Kretzmann (Popular Commentary of the Bible, WorldCat / Amazon / Concordia Pub. House CPH ) used the chronology of Ussher.  So Prof. Jeske concentrates on reviewing Ussher's work of chronology.

Now the modernist, liberal Prof. James Barr faulted Ussher for his holding to the "biblicism" of Protestantism, the notion of "scripture interprets scripture", the doctrine of Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.  These characteristics of Ussher are all quite "Protestant", yes, Lutheran.  But does Jeske mention these characteristics of Ussher?  No.

Rather Jeske undercuts practically all the work of Ussher.  How?  These quotes serve to portray his methodology: 
Page 2:
   Ussher used as raw materials for his OT chronological system the two Genesis genealogies (chs 5 and 11), and approached them with two assumptions:
1. that the genealogies are complete; they omit no names; and
2. that the periods of time listed are consecutive.
   To evaluate Ussher’s conclusions we shall have to question the premises on which he proceeded.  As the accompanying chart shows, Genesis 5:1-32 lists ten patriarchs from Adam to Noah; Genesis 11:10-26 lists ten patriarchs from Shem to Abram. But are these lists complete, as Ussher took for granted?  When St. Luke (Luke 3:36) lists the genealogy of Jesus, he adds a name (Cainan) which is missing in Moses’ genealogy.  Moses’ statement (Gen. 11:12) that Arphaxad was the father of Shelah (KJV: “begat”) is clarified by St. Luke.  Arphaxad was Shelah’s grandfather
If one actually compares the accounts of Genesis and Luke chapter 3, one notices the vast agreement between the genealogies.  There are the major names one is familiar with: Adam, Methusaleh, Noah, Shem, Abraham.  Ah, but now our Prof. Jeske attempts to pull the rug out from under a Christian reader of Luke chapter 3 for he says (paraphrasing):
Aha!.. see, there is one extra name in Luke's list than what is in Genesis!  Don't you see this?  Take a good look at it... there is a difference between Luke and Genesis!  And so we must assume that Genesis is clarified by St. Luke!
Does Jeske make note of the fact that the two listings of genealogies are practically identical?  No.  He must point out the one difference.  Well, to Bible believers who believe that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, Jeske presents quite a jolt.  How is this to help Christians in their faith, Professor Jeske?

This is very tiring for me... I smelled something amiss in Jeske's analysis for my upfront question to myself is this:
Does the essayist build up the Christian faith... or not?
For Prof. Jeske's essay, I must say No!  It caused me to try to figure out what is going on here.  Before I even started to figure this out, before I even attempted to look up the passages that Jeske (and Gleason Archer) point out, I must immediately freeze in my tracks and I had to ask myself this:  
Could the great scholars of Christianity not read their Bible well enough to figure out this basic discrepancy between the New Testament and the Old Testament?... indeed in the very early chapters of both Testaments?  
The evangelist Luke in chapter 3 is said to plainly offer evidence of a discrepancy that all these scholars including Martin Luther missed in their chronologies.  This idea is so preposterous to me that I have to pause for a moment and turn the tables on Professor Jeske and ask this very question of the reader: Do you believe that all believing ancient fathers and scholars and even Martin Luther did not compare the genealogies of Luke (and Matthew) with the genealogies of Genesis?

Ok, so I did do some research. 
  • A quick Google search showed first the Wikipedia article which indicates the anomaly that the Hebrew ("Masoretic") text in Genesis does not include Cainan and that Irenaeus and Eusebius considered it to be a copyist error in Luke.
  • Then I looked in a copy of Luther's German Bible as published by Concordia Publishing House in 1899. And I find this:
    Luke 3:36 – (Der war ein Sohn Cainans,) der war ein Sohn Arphachsads, der war ein Sohn Sems, der war ein Sohn Noah, der war ein Sohn Sohn Lamechs,
    The parenthesis around the Cainan phrase clearly shows that this portion is considered suspect as a possible copyist error
  • Then came the article that gave me a  most wonderful relief – the article "Cainan: How do you explain the difference between Luke 3:36 and Gen. 11:12?" on Creation.com that beautifully gives a true harmonist's answer to this anomaly.  I encourage all to read this whole article because it builds up the Christian faith. Author Dr. Jonathan Sarfati uses the same Bible verses as Franz Pieper to bolster the Doctrine of Inspiration (especially John 10:35). He also presents Franz Pieper's point that divine inspiration applied only to the original texts, not the copies.  Then he goes on to present very plausible suggestions of how this portion in Luke 3:36 could be a copyist error.
So where does this leave the point made by Professor Jeske?  It leaves it in the dust.  It leaves me angry that I have to go to a non-Lutheran source to get a truly Christian (that is Lutheran) answer.  I am angry that a supposed "conservative" Lutheran church body would present such an article to cause anxiety for my Christian faith.  I am so angry that I will not address Jeske's next point about another anomaly in Matthew 1:8.  Why?  Because I suspect Jeske has fallen hard for modern "scholarship".

Now Jeske pauses to answer a question that may come into the minds of the pastors he is delivering this essay to:
Page 3:  The question may then legitimately be asked: “If we decline to view the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 as teaching a strict chronology, haven’t we thrown the door open to wild speculation about the age of the earth?   Haven’t we then allowed for the possibility of gaps totaling hundreds of thousands of years?”
Jeske then attempts to answer this question by giving some of his biblical evidences that the gaps in time are surely not large.  But to present a paper that even brings up this question in the pastors' minds does not recommend Jeske as a great promoter and defender of the Christian faith.

Now Jeske brings in the testimony of two of his fellow teachers at his seminary:

Page 3: Many of you will remember how reluctant Prof. John Meyer was to set a date for the creation of the world. When students used to ask him: “Is it possible that Creation may have occurred between five and ten thousand years BC?” he would smile and say: “Yes, that may be possible.”

Jeske's report of Prof. John P. Meyer is quite distressing – what kind of a "smile" was that?

But now Jeske brings another witness, one whom I respect highly for his 2 essays defending "Objective Justification" and "Universal Justification".  It is Siegbert Becker:
Page 3:  In a series of articles that appeared in the Northwestern Lutheran fifteen years ago [1965?] under the heading “Is Evolutionism the Answer?” Dr. Siegbert Becker wrote: “True Biblical scholarship ... will never make the Ussher chronology a test of orthodoxy. Where God has spoken, the issue is settled, but where God has not spoken, we must allow for a difference of opinion.”
This quote of Becker by Jeske is quite different than what is said of Prof. Meyer.  Ussher could indeed be suspect in some of his chronology because he admittedly made heavy use of extra-biblical sources, not just biblical information.  And Becker's statement does not say that Ussher's work had no use.  And there is this: neither Jeske, Meyer or Becker made any reference to the work of Martin Luther on biblical chronology.  But even Luther would say his chronology could not be taken as absolute truth for he stated that other true scholars could work on this same subject area to improve on it.  No, rather Becker's testimony does not uphold Jeske on this essay of his.

As for the rest of Jeske's essay, the following points can be made:
  • He follows a solution by Edwin R. Thiele (Seventh Day Adventist) solution to a discrepancy between 1 Kings and 2 Kings.  But John Brug identified Thiele as one who accepted the idea of "historical errors" in the Bible.
  • He gives great weight to the sciences of archeology and astronomy, so much so that one wonders he would accept them over the biblical record.
No, I am angry at Jeske's essay.  Rather I must say to Christians today to go back, back before Rupprecht and Kretzmann, before James Ussher... and read Martin Luther and his biblical chronology (in English here).

Yes, today's Lutherans: ==>>  go Back to Luther!

In Part 7c, I will review Prof. Siegbert Becker's essays that relate to this topic – a much happier task.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Luther's Chronology, Part 7a (WELS - John Brug)

This continues the series on Biblical Chronology – Table of Contents in Part 1.  In the last Part 6L, I concluded my review of the criticisms of the modernist, liberal Prof. James Barr against biblical chronology in general and Martin Luther's Chronikon in particular.

In this Part 7a, I start a short series of reviews of various essayists from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the WELS.  In researching the vast information on biblical chronology recorded on the Internet, almost none of which draws on Luther's work, I came across a website with a listing of resource links that included an article by Professor John C. Jeske of the Wisconsin Synod, or the WELS.  This church body has ties to the original Synodical Conference first formed in 1872 and is considered by some as conservative in it's doctrine and practice.  This caused me to look into various essayists on the www.wlsessays.net website concerning the topic of biblical chronology.

   The first essayist I will review is Prof. John Brug, perhaps the longest serving current faculty member of the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.  I recall in past readings that Brug built up my Christian faith and so I had some hope that his writings on biblical chronology would do the same.

John Brug wrote the following essays:
2. Scientific Dating (Carbon Dating)
These first 2 essays deal with Brug dabbling in astronomy and carbon dating, both of which would be considered "scientific", but not based on Scripture.  It appears by these that Brug is fascinated by "science", and trying to synchronize it with the Bible, which does little to build a Christian's faith.  Perhaps Brug is attempting to equip future pastors to defend against the onslaught of "scientific" objections to the Bible, but both of the above essays seem rather more interested in what help "science" can provide.

The third essay of Brug is the following of which I provide quotes and some comments that follow the quotes:
Page 1: One of the most vexing problems of Old Testament chronology is establishing the dates of the reign of Hezekiah. There seem to be irreconcilable differences within the scriptural data concerning this reign, especially when an attempt is made to synchronize this biblical information with dates derived from Assyrian and Egyptian records.
*** Prof. Brug is quite interested in resolving extra-biblical "data" with biblical "data". Why not just read Luther? He might say that Luther did not have the advantage of our modern discoveries of ancient histories, or perhaps modern astronomy or even carbon dating. Will it ever be possible to synchronize secular non-biblical "data" with the absolute truth of the Bible? Luther accepted the authority of the Bible unquestionably. Interestingly, Brug offers a resolution to the "problem" that is the same type as Luther's solution – coregencies. Did he perhaps read Luther's work to get this? He does not say. He goes on to say the following in his conclusion:
Page 7:  This solution [coregencies] is not entirely satisfying since it is based on several assumptions which cannot be proven at the present time. It also requires the acceptance of several improbabilities. However, improbabilities are not impossibilities, especially in extraordinary times.
Why does Brug say that his solution is "not entirely satisfying"?  Is he hinting that he would only be satisfied if his solution of coregencies could be "proven at the present time" by scientific methods?  But his suggested solution is exactly the point that Franz Pieper, Chemnitz, and Luther teach as Pieper so wonderfully wrote of which is in my earlier blog post of Pieper's defense again Objections to Inspiration, Part 2. Pieper quotes Chemnitz who offered "the probable when he could offer nothing certain". Pieper quotes Luther as saying "our faith is above all reason, ..., if the people will not believe, then be silent; for you are not held to compel them to receive Scripture as God's book or Word; it is enough if you give the reason therefor."  Why isn't Brug entirely satisfied with the biblical record?  Chemnitz and Pieper were entirely satisfied.   And so was Martin Luther. Could it be that Professor Brug has a touch of the illness of the great LC-MS which questions Luther and even condemns him?  Could it be that today's modern (English) LC-MS has so poisoned even "conservative" Lutherans into dissatisfaction with Martin Luther and... the Bible?   But dear Prof. Brug, you do at least answer your dissatisfaction with your own followup comment –> "improbabilities are not impossibilities".

As I have said before and will repeat again later: why have today's Lutherans either ignored or forgotten Luther's work of biblical chronology?

In Part 7b, I will review Prof. John C. Jeske's essays on this topic – a much more difficult review.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Luther's Chronology, Part 6L (Barr – Bible's "literal intention")

In the last Part 6k of this series (Table of Contents in Part 1), I reviewed the objections of Professor James Barr († 2006) to biblical chronology based on Barr's second "gotcha" – that Luther "followed" historical forgeries.  As stated before, James Barr seems to be the only theologian / scholar, Lutheran or otherwise, who has even mentioned Luther's Chronikon since the 1960s.  Today's world only knows of James Ussher's biblical chronology.
Again, these reviews of Barr make use of his four essays:
  1. UBC – Ussher and Biblical Chronology, 1985
  2. BCLS – Biblical Chronology: Legend Or Science?, 1987
  3. LBC – Luther and Biblical Chronology, 1990
  4. PSC – Pre-scientific Chronology, 1999
In this concluding Post 6L to the series of reviews of Prof. Barr, I will cover his grand notion of the Bible's "literal intention".  Prof. Barr attempted to put the last nail in the coffin of the Doctrine of Inspiration (and biblical chronology) with his grand idea to attempt to rescue Holy Scripture with this idea – that the Scriptures should be given some weight because they were "literally intended" even though they are not historically true.  I highlight in yellow the pertinent wording and in some cases I follow with some comments of mine directly afterward highlighted in green:
BCLS, pg , pdf page 6:
We have to distinguish between literal intention and historical, factual truth. The figures are not, to us, historically, scientifically or factually true, but they were literally intended. A year to them was the same period as it still is to us. The figures do not correspond with actual fact, that is, they or some of them are legendary or mythical in character, but the biblical writers in overwhelming probability did think that they corresponded to actual fact. When, in modern times, people began to say that these passages were ‘not to be taken literally’, this was really a cowardly expedient which enabled them to avoid saying that, though they were literally intended, they were not literally true. They were literally intended: they were chronological statements of numbers of years and made no sense otherwise.

BCLS, pg 17, pdf page 20:
... it is time that we recall ourselves to a sympathetic attempt to understand it [the Bible] as a literary form and a mode of theological expression.
*** Barr makes a grand attempt to appear as a friend of the Bible, to be in sympathy with the Bible against the "liberal" trend in modern times to dismiss it as only legendary.  But Barr is sadly mistaken for it goes directly against what Christ himself said and as Franz Pieper stresses:
John 17:20 ... pray I for ... them ... which shall believe on me through their word
Whose word?  The words of the Apostles and Prophets. Ephesians 2:20

PSC, pg 8:
...the Bible’s figures should be taken literally, because it is when they are taken literally that it becomes clear that they are not historically or scientifically true.
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Prof. James Barr takes a rather devilish approach here – he wants to appear to be a friend of Scripture.  He implies we are to believe something that is not true, at least not entirely true.  That may work for the American Philosophical Society but what comfort is there for a Christian who needs assurance from God that his sins are forgiven?  None.

Not so with the old (German) Missouri Synod... and Martin Luther.  Because they upheld the Doctrine of Inspiration, Christians can take comfort in knowing that when they read their Bible, it is the voice of our God where he speaks to us.  And because Martin Luther's great scholarship was tied to his towering faith, we can give great credence to his biblical chronology, more so than the Calvinist James Ussher.

There is a clear difference between the positions of Prof. James Barr and that of Martin Luther and the old (German) Missouri Synod.  Either you believe the Bible because it is ancient and "literal" or you believe the Bible because it is divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible – truth.

Who are you going to believe?  God or modern theologian-scholars?

In the next post Part 7a, I will review certain essays that have come from the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) regarding biblical chronology; the first of these is on Prof. John Brug.

Luther's Chronology, Part 6k (Barr – Annius of Viterbo forgeries)

In the last Part 6j of this series (Table of Contents in Part 1), I reviewed the objections of Professor James Barr († 2006) to biblical chronology based on Barr's demand for extra-biblical information or secular histories a true biblical chronology.  As stated before, James Barr seems to be the only theologian / scholar, Lutheran or otherwise, who has even mentioned Luther's Chronikon since the 1960s.  Today's world only knows of James Ussher's biblical chronology.
Again, these reviews of Barr make use of his four essays:
  1. UBC – Ussher and Biblical Chronology, 1985
  2. BCLS – Biblical Chronology: Legend Or Science?, 1987
  3. LBC – Luther and Biblical Chronology, 1990
  4. PSC – Pre-scientific Chronology, 1999
In this Part 6k, I will cover Barr's second "gotcha" of Luther's Chronikon - Luther "followed" historical forgeries.  I highlight in yellow the pertinent wording and in some cases I follow with some comments of mine directly afterward highlighted in green:
LBC, pg 58: Fundamental to the understanding of Luther in this period [after the end of the kingdoms] is his dependence on the literary product of the humanist Annius of Viterbo (Giovanni Nanni was his real name).... Aware of intense contemporary interest in the ancient world, and of the sense of loss caused by the disappearance of numerous important works of ancient authors, Annius removed the problem by writing these works himself.  He had a fertile imagination, ;  ... important for Luther, Annius wrote texts which purported to be by the Mesopotamian Berosus, the Egyptian chronicler Manetho, a supposed writer 'Metasthenes' (there had been an actual Megasthenes who wrote on Persian affairs), and Philo (a text which was called the breviarium de temporibus).  The significant portions of these are conveniently printed in the introduction of the Weimar edition (WA,17-21).

LBC, pgs 58-59:
He was aware that 'almost all' place Alexander about thirty years earlier, but he made it clear that it did not matter very much to him where Alexander, Antiochus and other persons are located by historians, so long as he knew the one absolutely vital fact, namely, the date of the second year of Darius Longimanus, from which point the 490 years of Daniel are reckoned. 
This was a cavalier remark, for Luther was in fact highly dependent on the information that 'historians' furnished.  It was [page 59] 'Metasthenes' who listed the five kings of Babylon from Nebuchadnezzar to Balthassar (in English normally Belshazzar).  ... Luther, however, slightly modified the guidance of 'Metasthenes' here, for he thought that Jeremiah 27:7 indicated three monarchs rather than five.
*** Barr carries on as if Annius has Luther by the nose and leads him down the path of forged imaginations of histories.  But even Barr had to admit later (see next quote, LBC, page 59):

LBC, pg 59:
Wild as some of the figures used by Luther are, it may be felt that they were somewhat closer to the truth than pure fictions would have been.  And this is so.  Although Annius forged the writings of 'Metasthenes' and 'Philo', he obviously used within them such pieces of information as humanists of his time had available, whether from classical sources or from the Bible itself
***  Too little, too late Professor Barr.  You have already destroyed any credibility of Annius the forger, and now you  want to save a little of his reputation by claiming his "humanist" knowledge?  Rather it was Luther who said "in the histories, good people by their ability, their diligence..." and so claimed some ability of the "historians", even for the "humanists".  ***

LBC, pg 60:
The Persian emperors were always a source of confusion: how many were there, and how often did different names attach to the same one among them?  The scheme inherited from 'Metasthenes' and followed by Luther was as follows:  [Luther's listing of 9 Persian emperors follows]
This is a mixture of partial truth, confusion and total rubbish; some of it derives from classical sources, some from the poor understanding of the Persian empire current in Jewish chronological tradition.
*** Barr gets a little red faced here (total rubbish!) and is on a tirade against Luther's scholarship by trying to tie it to forgeries... and spouts off about "Jewish chronological tradition" and "Jewish calendrical reckoning" – rather obscure reasoning against the Bible's clear indication of "years".  Rubbish indeed!... but not Luther's work, rather Barr's anti-biblical stance. ***

LBC, pg 60:
In the Greek period Luther largely follows 'Philo'...
***  Barr continues his dreams of judging Luther, not only on Luther's scholarship, but also his theology. ***
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Barr reveals to us a great "gotcha", that not only did Luther follow the Talmud, but he also followed forged histories of Annius of Viterbo.  How did Barr get these great findings?  From the editor, F. Cohrs, of the  Weimar Ausgabe (WA) edition of Luther's Works, printed in 1920 in Germany.  We see by this the pivotal role of German theologian-scholars for today's modern scholars.  Barr is pleased that editor Cohrs "conveniently" included the texts of Annius' writings in the Weimar Ausgabe. Today, the Wikipedia article on Annius confirms the general opinion that Annius did indeed forge several histories.  But a search on the Internet finds that John Calvin also used "Metasthenes" in his commentary on the Book of Daniel.  So the so-called forgeries had some reputation among various scholars of Luther's time.   But Annius' writings were also being questioned in his day (see Johann Funck here, page 97).  And so I question Barr's statement of a "fundamental understanding of Luther is his dependence" on Annius' writings.

In Luther's preface to his Chronikon, (see my blog post here) he said the following two things:
  • Therefore I find it necessary, reluctantly, to reject Philo who in another place inserts eighteen years too many in the middle of the weeks of Daniel.
  • I also find it necessary to depart from Metasthenes over twelve years,...
 We see from Luther's preface that he did two things:
  1. Held Scripture as authoritative over the historians and would not contradict the Bible
  2. Rejected and departed from portions of at least two of these "historians" ("Philo" and "Metasthenes") that were probable forgeries of Annius of Viterbo.
Barr is incorrect in stating that Annius held the key to Luther's chronology.  Holy Scripture did.  Even another author, Anthony Grafton in his book Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science - page 98, says Luther did not follow Annius where another Wittenberg scholar (Johann Funck) did. 

What is so difficult for Professor Barr is that anyone would actually believe the Holy Scriptures to the extent that Luther did.  But Luther's theology was different than Professor Barr's theology... Luther believed God at His Word, just like Abraham:
Romans 4:3 – Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
In the concluding post in this series of reviews of Barr, Part 6L, I will cover his grand notion of the "literal intention" of the Bible.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Luther's Chronology, Part 6j (Barr – extra-biblical information, historians)

In the last Part 6i of this series (Table of Contents in Part 1), I reviewed the objections of Professor James Barr († 2006) to biblical chronology based on comments against Luther's use of Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27) to date the period between the Old Testament and New Testament.
Again, these reviews of Barr make use of his four essays:
  1. UBC – Ussher and Biblical Chronology, 1985
  2. BCLS – Biblical Chronology: Legend Or Science?, 1987
  3. LBC – Luther and Biblical Chronology, 1990
  4. PSC – Pre-scientific Chronology, 1999
In this Part 6j, I will cover Barr's demand for extra-biblical information or secular histories to have a true biblical chronology.  I highlight in yellow the pertinent wording and in some cases I follow with some comments of mine directly afterward highlighted in green:
UBC, pg 579-580:
It is impossible from the Old Testament, taken alone, to know how far back its events had lain in history. At the end of the Old Testament, e.g. the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, no firm dating is given. The construction of any biblical chronology required a synchronism with profane history, with extra-biblical data, at some point or other. Ussher himself tells us (viii.6-7) what the essential synchronism for him was.... According to the "Chaldaean" historical tradition, which means through Berossus (Josephus, C. Ap., i.146-50), this took place in the year which from Greek and Roman history can be reckoned back to and fixed as 563.

UBC, pg 581:
From the classical side he [Ussher] could follow a chain of historical sequence right back into the Persian period and up to before 500 B.C. Any biblical chronology had to dovetail into that network of classical information. ...  The classical side is important also for our estimate of Ussher as a scholar. He was no 'man of one book', no scholar who never looked beyond the pages of his Bible. On the contrary, far more space in the Annales is taken up by Greek and Roman history than by biblical and Jewish;
***  Professor Barr reports that Archbishop Ussher "was a strong Calvinist... including absolute predestination" pg 576  Barr skirts the actual meaning of this term which is that God unconditionally elected some to damnation - a damnable heresy. So we see Ussher was from the sect of Calvinism and so had a severe weakness in believing the "one book".
Very good Professor Barr... maybe this was Luther's failing since Luther must have been what you call a 'man of one book' and a "scholar who never looked beyond the pages of his Bible".  But this would be a fallacy for Luther himself gave some weight to extra-biblical historians for he said in his preface:
I use the historians in such a way that I am not made to contradict the Scriptures. ... in the histories, good people by their ability, their diligence, and their faithfulness prove (but as human beings), or at least that the copyists, can err.
Did you get that?  Luther did use the historians, but only as subordinates to the Holy Scriptures.    ***

UBC, pg 599:
An apocryphal book of the biblical tradition like IV Ezra fared worse, as we have seen, and its data were branded as mere fictions.
*** Now we see where we should get our "data" – from apocryphal books. ***

UBC, pg 603:
This very openness of Ussher (and others) to extra-biblical truth was, in the next half-century, to alter the balance: by then the pressure of extra-biblical truth was to begin to cause men to think differently of the nature of biblical truth.
*** Barr is saying that "historical criticism" and/or "textual criticism" were gaining ground in the late 1600s, spurred on by "extra-biblical truth".  And so the sects and even Lutheran theologians began to stray not only in the doctrines of the Bible, but also the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  We must give weight to "extra-biblical truth" over biblical truth! ***

BCLS, page 8, pdf page 10:
...that all biblical chronology,when practised from after biblical times, necessarily depended on non-biblical data for an entry into the biblical.

LBC, pg 58:
... all biblical chronologies have to depend on extra-biblical information.
*** Although the Bible is not a book intended for chronological data, yet it does give chronological information that is absolutely true.  Even Barr's own statement belies his own stance: There is no true biblical chronology.  ***

LBC, pg 58:
If Luther had placed the end of the Hebrew kingdoms too late, the same happened with the rise of Alexander and the end of the Persian empire, placed in 3655 AM or 305 BC, close on thirty years too late. He was aware that 'almost all' place Alexander about thirty years earlier, but he made it clear that it did not matter very much to him where Alexander, Antiochus and other persons are located by historians, so long as he knew the one absolutely vital fact, namely, the date of the second year of Darius Longimanus, from which point the 490 years of Daniel are reckoned. This was a cavalier remark, for Luther was in fact highly dependent on the information that 'historians' furnished.
***  Barr points out Luther's stated purpose to set Holy Scripture as inerrant, over the "good people" of the histories that can err. Barr then introduces his second "gotcha" over Luther – the person of Annius of Viterbo in the next paragraph.  He makes use of the writings of the editor of the Weimar Ausgabe (German Weimar Edition of Luther's Works, 1920).  I will address this subject of Luther's "dependance" on historical forgies in my next Part 6k.  ***

LBC, pg 59:
Historically, of course, Luther's reckoning is far astray: 496 BC is over forty years too late for Cyrus's establishment of the Persian empire.
***  Barr, of course, is using his modern history to make a statement that we are to believeHis version is the one we are to believe.  It is important that we believe Barr, not Luther (or the Bible).  Why?  Because of his modern "scientific" history.  ***

LBC, pg 65:
The historical accuracy of the one scripture [Holy Scripture] was therefore a major reason for belief in its divine inspiration. No other book gave a historical account from the absolute beginning of the world down to events knowable within ordinary human record. (Footnote 21): The Greeks, supposedly the epitome of natural human wisdom, had nothing to match this. Their great historians were vague about times and chronology. The first [Greek] historians had no notion of an era and little sense of time in its larger aspects', writes J. Forsdyke, Greece before Homer: Ancient Chronology and Mythology (New York: Norton, 1964), 36. And such feeble chronologies as they had scarcely went back beyond the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries BC at most.
*** This is perhaps one of the most valuable writings Prof. James Barr ever had, but it is rather oblique in it's praise of Holy Scriptures.  It is rather an apologetic argument, also used by ancients, that the Jewish record (Hebrew text of the Bible) was the most reliable of all ancient texts.  Helpful for the Christian, but not authoritative.  And so Barr is not authoritative for Christians, but may be helpful in this case.  Rather, read Luther and your Bible.  ***

LBC, pg 66:
[Luther's] handling of the early chapters of Genesis is a thorough historicization, which reads into them a pattern like that of the Reformation, a content of which the text itself is quite devoid.
*** The Bible, including Genesis, is authored by the Holy Spirit and Luther's faith provided this "historicization".  Hebrews 4:12 states this:
The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
So Luther's "historicization" recognizes that the Word of God is a Living Word from the Living God.  Luther's "historicization" follows the faith of the Bible, a faith that is unchanged since Genesis 3:15.  Barr's Bible is indeed "quite devoid" for it seems to be dead for him, not living, not powerful, not sharper than any twoedged sword, not a discerner of the thoughts of the heart. And so it is Luther, not Barr, who is the true biblical scholar. ***

PSC, pg 382:
... in a certain sense one cannot make a biblical chronology without going outside the Bible, not one by which one can reckon back from later times.  The chronological scheme of the Hebrew Bible in the end fades away: it works fairly well from Creation down to the end of the Hebrew kingdoms, but after that it has only vague and scattered hints, and in the Persian Empire, though it mentions various Persian emperors, no one can tell from the Bible alone how many Persian kings there were or how long the Persian Empire existed.
***  Part of what Prof. Barr states here (and elsewhere) is true.  The biblical chronological information becomes more sparse after the book of Genesis.  But how can you tell what is true with Barr and what is false?  God says in His Word that we must believe Him for "Thy Word Is Truth". (John 17:17) ***
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Indeed, extra-biblical information is interesting for me: biblical archaeology and biblical research such as the works of David Rohl, John J. Bimson, David Livingston, and others.  But I do not spend an inordinate amount of time with them because their research is not the authoritative basis for my faith.  No, my faith is the same as Luther's:
I use the historians in such a way that I am not made to contradict the Scriptures.
This can only be done by being first firmly grounded in the Scriptures.  Jesus said (John 5:39):
Search the scriptures ... they are they which testify of me.
In the next Part 6k, I will cover Barr's other major "gotcha" for Luther followers – Luther's use of Annius of Viterbo and "Metasthenes" for his chronology.  I mentioned this name above in my comment on LBC, pg 58.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Luther's Chronology, Part 6i (Barr – Daniel's 70-Weeks Prophecy)

In the last Part 6h of this series (Table of Contents in Part 1), I reviewed the objections of Professor James Barr († 2006) to biblical chronology based on his insistence that Scripture be "reasonable" and "sensible"... for him.
Again, these reviews of Barr make use of his four essays:
  1. UBC – Ussher and Biblical Chronology, 1985
  2. BCLS – Biblical Chronology: Legend Or Science?, 1987
  3. LBC – Luther and Biblical Chronology, 1990
  4. PSC – Pre-scientific Chronology, 1999
In this Part 6i, I will cover Barr's comments against Luther's use of Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27) to date the period between the Old Testament and New Testament.  I highlight in yellow the pertinent wording and in some cases I follow with some comments of mine directly afterward highlighted in green:

LBC, pg 52:
According to him [Luther], the death and resurrection of Jesus fell in the year 34 AD (= 3994 AM), and this ushered in the final 'week' of the seventy weeks of Daniel. This final week, being seven years, brings us to the year 4000 from creation, or 40 AD. ... The year 40 AD was thus 4000 from creation; it was also the completion of the seventy weeks, or 490 years, of Daniel. This momentous quatermillenary, bringing the end of the law and freedom from it, was a marvellous chronological illustration and vindication of Luther's own theology.
*** Ah, but you have a trick up your sleeve, Professor Barr, for you are going to raise questions on Luther's chronology -- could it be you don't see "Luther's own theology" as the true doctrine?  Maybe there isn't quite an end to the Law... maybe we still need something of the Law for our salvation? The reality is the Law Shows Our Sin, the Gospel Shows Our Saviour.  ***

LBC, pg 56-57:
Such creation of interregna and co-regencies, as a device for the overcoming of discrepancies and difficulties, is not uncommon in Luther's work. The overriding motive, visible several times, lay in the seventy-week or 490-year prophecy of Daniel.  It was of supreme importance to ensure that this fitted in...

LBC, pg 58:
Here again we see the centrality of the Danielic prophecy.
*** "Danielic prophecy" does not seem to be as important to Barr as it is to Luther.  But Daniel's prophecy is Scripture, and the prophet Daniel's other prophecy was given great weight by Jesus in the N.T. (Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14) ***

LBC, pg 58:
He was aware that 'almost all' place Alexander about thirty years earlier, but he made it clear that it did not matter very much to him where Alexander, Antiochus and other persons are located by historians, so long as he knew the one absolutely vital fact, namely, the date of the second year of Darius Longimanus, from which point the 490 years of Daniel are reckoned.
*** Yes indeed, it was important to Luther to not ignore God's Word in Daniel's Seventy Weeks. ***

LBC, pg 65:
...one of the most powerful forces governing Luther's chronological thinking, the Danielic prophecy of the seventy weeks.
*** Very good, Prof. Barr, you got the message – that the Danielic prophecy of seventy weeks was indeed a powerful force in Luther's thinking of biblical chronology. ***

PSC, pg 381:
The major place that offered figures was the Book of Daniel, but these were figures of days and not of years: “From the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1290 days. Blessed is he who waits and comes to the 1335 days [Daniel 12:11–12, right at the end of the book].
*** But what about Daniel's seventy weeks... did Barr forget these?   Surely not, for he is a great scholar.  Why did he omit Daniel's seventy weeks when writing to the American Philosophical Society?  Didn't he remember Luther's great use of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel? ***
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The reader may notice that only Luther and not others like Ussher are spoken of as using Daniel's Seventy Weeks prophecy.  I have not yet studied any of the biblical chronologies in detail, yet Luther's use of Daniel's prophecy gives enormous weight to it's use for the intertestamental period, so often spoken of as the "Silent Years" by today's scholars.  Why do even today's Lutherans practically ignore it?  Too touchy to talk about?

In the next Part 6j, I will cover Barr's demand for extra-biblical information or secular histories to have a true biblical chronology.