Right Use of Seminary Education

I agree completely with a recent post by Jim Hamilton on the right use of a seminary education. I will continue to emphasize that the student who desires to be a pastor must be able to access the Bible and in order to do that he must learn the languages, and a seminary is the primary place to learn Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek.

Some students love history and theology courses and spend all of their elective hours on these subjects. I understand that desire, and it is a good one, but students must realize that they will be feeding their flock from the Bible primarily, and therefore, they should devote numerous hours in seminary to the learning of the languages. The church needs competent pastors who teach from the Scriptures, not pastors who are good at reading secondary literature and who can report on it (note: this is an important skill too).

I will pass on some advice regarding course distribution, which I followed as a seminarian. Begin with the languages and continue with the languages (regular exegesis courses after beginning language courses). Take history classes alongside these ones. Add biblical theology courses near the middle to the end. View systematic theology classes as summative courses and take them near the end of your time in seminary. Make sure to sprinkle the general required courses all throughout, so that you are not stuck taking allot of those courses in one semester (I speak from experience on this one).

Stephen Wellum’s Southern Seminary Faculty Address

Southern Seminary has a wonderful tradition of having select faculty members give formal addresses to the faculty and seminary community at large. This semester Dr. Wellum gave an address entitled “What does the Extent of the Atonement have to do with Baptist Ecclesiology: an Experience of Doing Theology.” This address embodies what systematic theology should be and it is a great example of sound theological method. I encourage all to listen to it here.

The Three and the New Testament

I have been thinking about ways in which the Three (Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion) provide an extra layer of Jewish Greek background for the study of the New Testament. There may not be direct influence of the Three on the NT authors, although, if Theodotion is first century, then his influence may be more direct than the others. What may be more plausible to claim is that the Jewish readings, which find their culmination in the Three, may have influenced the NT authors. The following is one example.

In 1 Cor. 15:54 Paul cites a version of Isaiah 25:8a: κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος, but it is not the LXX. The LXX reads: κατέπιεν ὁ θάνατος ἰσχύσας, which is not a very close translation of the Hebrew. Paul’s citation, therefore, is not from the LXX. Is this an ad hoc rendering of the Hebrew Bible on Paul’s part? I think not, for Paul’s text aligns with what we now know to be Theodotion’s version. Theodotion read the Hebrew verb (vocalized as a Piel in the MT) as a Pual (was swallowed) and he translated לָנֶצַח (“forever” in biblical Hebrew) with εἰς νῖκος (“in victory”; cp. Job 36:7 et al). For the latter translation, Theodotion has read the Hebrew with the Aramaic meaning “victory” as he does in many places. There is great discussion about the dating of Theodotion. I am persuaded that he worked in the first century, despite some patristic testimony which places him at the end of the second century. His translation technique fits the typology of translation/revision activity during 1 BC- AD 1. Also, Jerome comments that he lived after the time of Jesus, which may place him earlier than other testimonies. Furthermore, how do these texts, which are attributed to him, find their way into the NT, if he did not live at this time? Some want to posit Ur-Theodotion or Proto-Theodotion. It is time to place a moratorium on these categorizations and work within a context of historical Theodotion in the first century.

Back to Paul. The word “victory” is rhetorically important for Paul here, since he is talking about Jesus’ victory over death in the resurrection and therefore the church’s victory through Jesus Christ. The Hebrew Bible and LXX also have generally mean YHWH’s victory, but they are not as clear as the Theodotion version. Paul’s choice of this text is deliberate, for it uses the catch word νῖκος, which in turn becomes the ultimate meaning of the resurrection: victory over death. In this case, the doctrine of the NT has benefited from the revision of the LXX accomplished by Theodotion. Hopefully, in weeks to come I will be commenting on a couple of other cases, which are not as clear as this one, but which may still be important for this topic.

Home from Goettingen Safe and Sound

I arrived home on the 28th and then my wife and I swiftly departed from the airport to Cincinnati for a little R&R and to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary (the official date is July 5th, but Mama was in town and watched the kids for us).

The trip to Goettingen was a success in my mind. To list a few things, I retrieved pictures or scans of the most significant manuscripts for  my project, worked on the collation of Ms RA476, incorporated the relevant hexaplaric fragments from ms 709, began a thorough revision of my earlier chapters [they really need it!], met the Hagedorns in person, met other scholars who work at the Septuaginta-Unternehmen or who were passing through, and gained a better appreciation for German culture.

As usual, it is great to be home, but I am already thinking of ways to go back!

Goettingen: Day 10

My time in Goettingen has been very profitable thus far. I have scanned or photographed most of the necessary manuscripts (mss) for my project (of course one can’t have too many, but I think I have the important ones).

Dr. Gentry and I took a trip to Koeln (Cologne) on the 20-21,  in order to meet Professor Hagedorn and his wife Ursula Hagedorn. They would probably not approve of my high praise of their hospitality and help, so I will keep it brief. We arrived in Koeln and were met by the Hagedorns, who happily drove us to our hotel so that we could check in. Then we drove to their house, where they served us one of the best home cooked meals I have had in Germany. Then we proceeded to “talk shop,” and for me and the Hagedorns, that means the Catena of Job 🙂 [catena: chain in Latin, the comments from the church fathers are “chained” together]. Their work space is in the upstairs of their house. They have one room for work (Kollationen!) and another room where they store the microfiche of the manuscripts and other relevant sources. It was very clean and everything was in its place when we arrived. I asked questions and received valuable answers to them. Midway through the visit, they wanted to make sure that I had all I needed to complete my project. They loaned me the microfiche of their ms U (Ra 3005), which is a very important ms for the project, since it is an accurate witness to the oldest catena of Job and the hexaplaric readings contained therein, and it is not available at the Septuagint Institute in Goettingen. They then proceeded to ask if Dr. Gentry and I had their works on the Job catena, published by De Gruyter. Dr. Gentry had the first of the four volumes, and I had the ones from Southern’s library :). Amazingly, they gave me volumes 2, 3, and 4 (they did not have any copies of volume 1 left) and Dr. Gentry volumes 2 and 3. This is an amazing gift to a poor PhD student. When I thought they could not do any more for us, they invited us to dinner on the Rhine river and bought us dinner. We only spent a day with them, but I will never forget them nor their generous hospitality to me. I hope our paths will cross again.

We also had a chance to give them Ra 476 (a catena ms containing Job), which Dr. Gentry had acquired, and they were very happy to have it. I’m sure I will have questions about it in the weeks and months to come, which I will send to Professor Hagedorn, and I’m sure he will be more than happy to respond.

One closing reflection is in order. During our time with the Hagedorns, it was absolutely evident that they wanted to encourage and help a young scholar such as myself. They were excited to see someone studying and using their materials, which they had worked so hard to produce, and someone who was trying to bring more light to some of the same old questions. Let’s be mindful of the shoulders we stand on, and when, Lord willing, we are in that position, let’s be very quick to encourage young scholars in their work in any way we can. I will never forget my visit with the Hagedorns in June 2011. I hope I never forget the measure of encouragement they have extended to me since I began corresponding with them.

In Göttingen Safe and Sound…Hard at Work

I arrived in Göttingen yesterday safe and sound. It was not an easy day of travel, since I came down with a stomach bug or virus 4 hours before going to the airport. My wife contracted this virus before me and so we were both very tired and not at our best mentally or physically. Long story short, I missed my first flight to Cleveland (I know, I know you’re not supposed to miss the first one!). As bad as this was, it worked to my advantage. I was supposed to take two domestic flights (Lou. to Clev. to Washington Dulles), but instead I took one flight to Newark and one to Frankfurt, which was much better for me especially given more poor health.

I made it in time to take a train to Göttingen. In Göttingen, I am staying for two weeks at the Baptiste Kirche. The accommodation is very quaint and suitable. I will post pictures later.

At the Institute, I was able to start collecting the resources for Job. I have scanned Ms 257 and photographed Ms 740. This is a very good start. I work from collations of the Job materials, but these two mss are usually recorded a silencio “from silence,” and as such one cannot be sure of their exact contents. I can now check these two mss myself. I have several more mss to photograph during my time here. I hope there is time to do it all.

Today, Dr. Gentry and I ran the errands (I had forgotten the joy of taking a daily walk to get the day’s supplies). We also bought our train tickets for our trip to Köln to meet Professor Hagedorn.

I will continue to post updates of the trip. I hope to take and post pics. as well.