The PostBarthian

The Resurrection Account in Tatian’s Diatesseron


Parchment 24

Tatian (120-180 CE) wrote a famous harmony of the Gospels called the "Diatesseron" and it was so popular that early manuscripts still exist that are based upon it, such as Parchment 24 and Papyrus 25. The following a long quotation of the Resurrection accounts as they were harmonized by Tatian in his Diatesseron. 

Tatian's Diatesseron LII:24-LV:17

Section LII.

And when the evening of the Friday was come, because of the entering of the sabbath, there came a rich man, a noble of Ramah, a city of Judah, named Joseph, and he was a good man and upright; and he was a disciple of Jesus, but was concealing himself for fear of the Jews. And he did not agree with the accusers in their desire and their deeds: and he was looking for the kingdom of God. And this man went boldly, and entered in unto Pilate, and asked of him the body of Jesus. And Pilate wondered how he had died already: and he called the officer of the footsoldiers, and asked him concerning his death before the time. And when he knew, he commanded him to deliver up his body unto Joseph. And Joseph bought for him a winding cloth of pure linen, and took down the body of Jesus, and wound it in it; and they came and took it. And there came unto him Nicodemus also, who of old came unto Jesus by night; and he brought with him perfume of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. And they took the body of Jesus, and wound it in the linen and the perfume, as was the custom of the Jews to bury.



And there was in the place where Jesus was crucified a garden; and in that garden a new tomb cut out in a rock, wherein was never man yet laid. And they left Jesus there because the sabbath had come in, and because the tomb was near. And they pushed a great stone, and thrust it against the door of the sepulchre, and went away. And Mary Magdalene and Mary that was related to Joses came to [Arabic, p. 199] the sepulchre after them, and sat opposite the sepulchre, and saw the body, how they took it in and laid it there. And they returned, and bought ointment and perfume, and preparedit, that they might come and anoint him. And on the day which was the sabbath day they desisted according to the command.

[40, 41] And the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered unto Pilate, and said unto him, Our lord, we remember that that misleader said, while he was alive, After three days I rise. And now send beforehand and guard the tomb until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him by night, and they will say unto the people that he is risen from the dead: and the last error shall be worse than the first. He said unto them, And have ye not guards? go, and take precautions as ye know how. And they went, and set guards at the tomb, and sealed that stone, with the guards.

And in the evening of the sabbath, which is the morning of the first day, and in the dawning while the darkness yet remained, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and other women to see the tomb. They brought with them the perfume which they had prepared, and said among themselves, Who is it that will

remove for us the stone from the door of the tomb? for it was very great. And when they said thus, there occurred a great earthquake; and an angel came down from heaven, and came and removed the stone from the door. And they came and found the stone removed from the sepulchre, and the angel sitting upon the stone. And his appearance was as the lightning, and his raiment white as the snow: and for fear of him the guards were troubled, and became as dead men. And when he went away, the women entered into the sepulchre; and they found [Arabic, p. 200] not the body of Jesus. And they saw there a young man sitting on the right, arrayed in a white garment; and they were amazed. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear ye not: for I know that ye seek Jesus the Nazarene, who hath been crucified. He is not here; but he is risen, as he said. Come and see the place where our Lord lay.

Section LIII.

And while they marvelled at that, behold, two men standing above them, their raiment shining: and they were seized with fright, and bowed down their face to the earth: and they said unto them, Why seek ye the living one with the dead? He is not here; he is risen: remember what he was speaking unto you while he was in Galilee, and saying, The Son of man is to be delivered up into the hands of sinners, and to be crucified, and on the third day to rise. But go in haste, and say to his disciples and to Cephas, He is risen from among the dead; and lo, he goeth before you into Galilee; and there ye shall see him, where he said unto you: lo, I have told you. And they remembered his sayings; and they departed in haste from the tomb with joy and great fear, and hastened and went; and perplexity and fear encompassed them; and they told no man anything, for they were afraid. And Mary hastened, and came to Simon Cephas, and to that other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said unto them, They have taken our Lord from the sepulchre, and I know not where they have laid him. And Simon went out, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. And they hastened both together: and that disciple outran Simon, and came first to the sepulchre; and he looked down, and saw the linen laid; but he went not in. And Simon came after him, and entered into the [Arabic, p. 201] sepulchre, and saw the linen laid; and the scarf with which his head was bound was not with the linen, but wrapped and laid aside in a certain place. Then entered that disciple which came first to the sepulchre, and saw, and believed. And they knew not yet from the scriptures that the Messiah was to rise from among the dead. And those two disciples went to their place.

But Mary remained at the tomb weeping: and while she wept, she looked down into the tomb; and she saw two angels sitting in white raiment, one of them toward his pillow, and the other toward his feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. And they said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She said unto them, They have taken my Lord, and I know not where they have left him. She said that, and turned behind her, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? And she supposed him to be the gardener, and said, My lord, if thou hast taken him, tell me where thou hast laid him, that I may go and take him. Jesus said unto her, Mary. She turned, and said unto him in Hebrew, Rabboni; which is, being interpreted, Teacher. Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I have not ascended yet unto my Father: go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.

And on the First-day on which he rose, he appeared first unto Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.

And some of those guards came to the city, and informed the chief priests of [Arabic, p. 202] all that had happened. And they assembled with the elders, and took counsel; and they gave money, not a little, to the guards, and said unto them, Say ye, His disciples came and stole him by night, while we were sleeping.

And if the judge hear that, we will make a plea with him, and free you of blame. And they, when they took the money, did according to what they taught them. And this word spread among the Jews unto this day.

And then came Mary Magdalene, and announced to the disciples that she had seen our Lord, and that he had said that unto her.

And while the first women were going in the way to inform his disciples, Jesus met them, and said unto them, Peace unto you. And they came and took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Fear not: but go and say to my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there they shall see me. And those women returned, and told all that to the eleven, and to the rest of the disciples; and to those that had been with him, for they were saddened and weeping. And those were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the rest who were with them: and they were those that told the apostles. And they, when they heard them say that he was alive and had appeared unto them, did not believe them: and these sayings were before their eyes as the sayings of madness. [Arabic, p. 203] And after that, he appeared to two of them, on that day, and while they were going to the village which was named Emmaus, and whose distance from Jerusalem was sixty furlongs. And they were talking the one of them with the other of all the things which had happened. And during the time of their talking and inquiring with one another, Jesus came and reached them, and walked with them. But their eyes were veiled that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What are these sayings which ye address the one of you to the other, as ye walk and are sad? One of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered and said unto him, Art thou perchance alone a stranger to Jerusalem, since thou knowest not what was in it in these days? He said unto them, What was? They said unto him, Concerning Jesus, he who was from Nazareth, a man who was a prophet, and powerful in speech and deeds before God and before all the people: and the chief priests and the elders delivered him up to the sentence of death, and crucified him. But we supposed that he was the one who was to deliver Israel. And since all these things happened there have passed three days. But certain women of us also informed us that they had come to the sepulchre; and when they found not his body, they came and told us that they had seen there the angels, and they said concerning him that he was alive. And some of us also went to the sepulchre, and found the matter as the women had said: only they saw him not. Then said Jesus unto them, Ye lacking in discernment, and heavy in heart to believe! Was it not in all the sayings of the prophets that the Messiah was to suffer these things, and to [Arabic, p. 204] enter into his Glory? And he began from Moses and from all the prophets, and interpreted to them concerning himself from all the scriptures. And they drew near unto the village, whither they were going: and he was leading them to imagine that he was as if going to a distant region. And they pressed him, and said unto him, Abide with us: for the day hath declined now to the darkness. And he went in to abide with them. And when he sat with them, he took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to them. And straightway their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he was taken away from them. And they said the one to the other, Was not our heart heavy within us, while he was speaking to us in the way, and interpreting to us the scriptures?

And they rose in that hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered, and those that were with them, saying, Truly our Lord is risen, and hath appeared to Simon. And they related what happened in the way, and how they knew him when he brake the bread. Neither believed they that also.

Section LIV.

And while they talked together, the evening of that day arrived which was the First-day; and the doors were shut where the disciples were, because of the fear of the Jews; and Jesus came and stood among them, and said unto them, Peace be with you: I am he; fear not. But they were agitated, and became afraid, and supposed that they saw a spirit. Jesus said unto them, Why are ye agitated? and why do thoughts rise [Arabic, p. 205] in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that I am he: feel me, and know that a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me having that. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his feet and his side. And they were until this time unbelieving, from their joy and their wonder. He said unto them, Have ye anything here to eat? And they gave him a portion of broiled fish and of honey. And he took it, and ate before them.

And he said unto them, These are the sayings which I spake unto you, while I was with you, that everything must be fulfilled, which is written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their heart, that they might understand the scriptures; and he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it is necessary that the Messiah suffer, and rise from among the dead on the third day; and that repentance unto the forgiveness of sins be preached in his name among all the peoples; and the beginning shall be from Jerusalem. And ye shall be witnesses of that. And I send unto you the promise of my Father. And when the disciples heard that, they were glad. And Jesus said unto them again, Peace be with you: as my Father hath sent me, I also send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit: and if ye forgive sins to any man, they shall be forgiven him; and if ye retain them against any man, they shall be retained.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Thama, was not there with the disciples when Jesus came. The disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen our Lord. But he said unto them, If I do not see in his hands the places of the nails, and put on them my fingers, and pass my hand over his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days, on the next First-day, the disciples were assembled again within, and Thomas with them. And Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood [Arabic, p. 206] in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be with you. And he said to Thomas, Bring hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and spread it on my side: and be not unbelieving, but believing. Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus said unto him, Now since thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen me, and have believed.

And many other signs did Jesus before his disciples, and they are they which are not written in this book: but these that are written also are that ye may believe in Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God; and that when ye have believed, ye may have in his name eternal life.

And after that, Jesus shewed himself again to his disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and he shewed himself unto them thus. And there were together Simon Cephas, and Thomas which was called Twin, and Nathanael who was of Cana of Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of the disciples. Simon Cephas said unto them, I go to catch fish. They said unto him, And we also come with thee. And they went forth, and went up into the boat; and in that night they caught nothing. And when the morning arrived, Jesus stood on the shore of the sea: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. And Jesus said unto them, Children, have ye anything to eat? They said unto him, No. He said unto them, Cast your net from the right side of the boat, and ye shall find. And they threw, and they were not able to draw the net for the abundance of the fish that were come into it. And that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Cephas, This is our Lord. And Simon, when he heard that it was our Lord, took his tunic, and girded it on his waist (for he was naked), and cast himself into the sea to come to Jesus. But some others of the disciples came in the boat (and they were not far from the land, but about two [Arabic, p. 207] hundred cubits), and drew that net of fish. And when they went up on the land, they saw live coals laid, and fish laid thereon, and bread. And Jesus said unto them, Bring of this fish which ye have now caught. Simon Cephas therefore went up, and dragged the net to the land, full of great fish, a hundred and fifty-three fishes: and with all this weight that net was not rent. And Jesus said unto them, Come and sit down. And no man of the disciples dared to ask him who he was, for they knew that it was our Lord. But he did not appear to them in his own [37, 38] form. And Jesus came, and took bread and fish, and gave unto them. This is the third time that Jesus appeared to his disciples, when he had risen from among the dead.

And when they had breakfasted, Jesus said to Simon Cephas, Simon, son of Jonah, lovest thou me more than these? He said unto him, Yea, my Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus said unto him, Feed for me my lambs. He said unto him again a second time, Simon, son of Jonah, lovest thou me? He said unto him, Yea, my Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He said unto him, Feed for me my sheep. He said unto him again the third time, Simon, son of Jonah, lovest thou me? And it grieved Cephas that he said unto him three times, Lovest thou me? He said unto him, My Lord, thou knowest everything; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus said unto him, Feed for me my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast a child, thou didst gird thy waist for thyself, and go whither [Arabic, p. 208] thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch out thy hands, and another shall gird thy waist, and take thee whither thou wouldest not. He said that to him to explain by what death he was to glorify God. And when he had said that, he said unto him, Come after me. And Simon Cephas turned, and saw that disciple whom Jesus loved following him; he which at the supper leaned on Jesus’ breast, and said, My Lord, who is it that betrayeth thee? When therefore Cephas saw him, he said to Jesus, My Lord, and this man, what shall be in his case? Jesus said unto him, If I will that this man remain until I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. And this word spread among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: but Jesus said not that he should not die; but, If I will that this man remain until I come, what is that to thee?

This is the disciple which bare witness of that, and wrote it: and we know that his witness is true.

Section LV.

But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but there were of them who doubted. And while they sat there he appeared to them again, and upbraided them for their lack of faith and the hardness of their hearts, those that saw him when he was risen, and believed not.

[Arabic, p. 209] Then said Jesus unto them, I have been given all authority in heaven and earth; and as my Father hath sent me, so I also send you. Go now into all the world, and preach my gospel in all the creation; and teach all the peoples, and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and teach them to keep all whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you all the days, unto the end of the world. For whosoever believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but whosoever believeth not shall be rejected. And the signs which shall attend those that believe in me are these: that they shall cast out devils in my name; and they shall speak with new tongues; and they shall take up serpents, and if they drink deadly poison, it shall not injure them; and they shall lay their hands on the diseased, and they shall be healed. But ye, abide in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed with power from on high.

And our Lord Jesus, after speaking to them, took them out to Bethany: and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And while he blessed them, he was separated from them, and ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. [14, 15] And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and at all times they were in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.

And from thence they went forth, and preached in every place; and our Lord helped them, and confirmed their sayings by the signs which they did.

And here are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written every one of them, not even the world, according to my opinion, would contain the books which should be written.

- Tatian, "Diatesseron", Section LII:24-LV:17,

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Hans Urs Von Balthasar on Dare We Hope for Universal Salvation


Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Hans Urs Von Balthasar's short book, Dare We Hope: That All Men May Be Saved (With A Short Discourse On Hell)is an excellent introduction into the question Universal Salvation. Balthasar argues that Hell is a 'real possibility', however, there is good reason to hope that in the end, all people may be saved. The book is helpful to understand how to approach the Bible and the Church's teaching on these topics considering his conclusion. In his chapter in on the New Testament, Balthasar made a provocative, yet helpful statement on how to approach the teachings on Hell and Universalism in the New Testament:

"It is generally known that, in the New Testament, two series of statements run along side by side in such a way that a synthesis of both is neither permissible nor achievable: the first series speaks of being lost for all eternity; the second, of God’s will, and ability, to save all men. Before approaching particular texts, it is necessary to consider the fact that particular words of Jesus can be attributed with a high degree of probability to the pre-Easter Jesus, because in them he uses a language and images that were familiar to the Jews of that time (which does not mean, of course, that these texts, which have been preserved by the synoptic evangelists, are of lesser significance to us), whereas certain reflections by Paul and John clearly look back upon all that happened to Jesus—to his life, death on the Cross and Resurrection—and, in so doing, consider and formulate this totality from a post-Easter perspective.", - Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Dare We Hope,  pg30

Balthasar provided and excellent visualization of these two parrallel statements in his comparison of Michelangelo's and Fra Angelico's depiction of the Last Judgment in art:  Continue reading...

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Karl Rahner on why Genesis 1-11 is not an Eyewitness Account

Karl_Rahner_by_Letizia_Mancino_CremerOften it is alleged that Genesis 1-11 is an eye-witness account, and even if Adam was not there in the beginning of Genesis 1-2, then God was certainly there as an eyewitness. But this will not do! Karl Rahner explains why it is a travesty to treat the proto-history of Genesis 1-11 as merely an expressive eyewitness account in this excellent quotation:

"Negatively it can probably be said quite simply that the account of creation in all its parts is not an 'eye-witness report' of what happened, by someone who was there, whether it be God or Adam who is thought of as the reporter. Or, to express it in more learned fashion, the account of creation does not depict the event which it reports with the actual observable features of its occurrence. Consequently it is not the report of someone who is describing and is in a position to describe a visible event of an historical kind because he was present and saw how it happened. If that were the case, then the figurative trappings and modes of expression which are present would be meaningless there. Nor would a reader expect them, if the occurrence to be reported had its own actual observable historical and therefore at all times intelligible and communicable features and provided the reporter were present at the event. Nor are the figurative modes of expression simply to explained as didactic devices designed to assist a primitive hearer's comprehension, for even to him much could have been differently said without prejudice to his understanding. To put the matter once again negatively, we can and indeed must of course affirm that what is contained in the account of creation as a proposition actually affirmed, is true, because God has revealed that content. But that statement does not imply the proposition that what is narrated there is reported by God in the manner in which it is expressed, because he was present at the event reported and is giving an eye-witness account even if it is one with some rather metaphorical features" -Karl Rahner, Homisation: The Official Teaching of The Church on Man in Relation to the Scientific Theory of Evolution, pg 34-35

Karl Rahner is one of my favorite Roman Catholic theologians, and he has written an excellent book discussing the controversial questions regarding Origins and Evolution. Read the complete book online: "Homisation: The Official Teaching of The Church on Man in Relation to the Scientific Theory of Evolution."  (mirror)

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Jonathan Edwards on Infant Baptism

Wilbur_JE_bustJonathan Edwards is deeply loved today and widely admired by Evangelicals, and it may come as a surprise and shock to many, especially his Baptists fans to discover that he affirms Infant Baptism as the true and correct form of Christian Baptism! First, I will share a bit of background on Edwards and then a few quotations from his Miscellanies on Infant Baptism.

There has been a watershed of work due to the rediscovery and reawakening of Jonathan Edwards, who was a Puritan Congregational Reformed minister in the early 18th century. He is one of the greatest theologians in American history and in time will be considered among the great doctors of the Church. He was largely unknown and forgotten, and suffered with a horrible stigma as a fire and brimstone purtianical (tyrannical?) preacher due to his famous sermon that ignored the Great Awakening, titled: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". However, there has been an Edwardsian Renaissance due to the infamous book infamous book "Jonathan Edwards" by Perry Miller, a Harvard University historian. Edwards became widely popular among Evangelicals through the preaching and myriad of writings by Baptist pastor John Piper such as, "God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World)". In last last decade that has been a watershed of work done on Edward's advanced ideas that had hitherto been buried in old notebooks in chicken-scratch writing, but is now freely available at the Yale Jonathan Edwards Center (and the following quotations are from that website).

The Miscellanies 911. BAPTISM OF INFANTS.

God, in his institutions in his church, has respect to the state of his church in its future ages, many times. Thus baptism is calculated for the state of the Christian church in the millennium, when parents will truly give up their children, and so fully, that they shall generally be accepted, and their children will be sanctified in their infancy. That is the proper, appointed season of the application of redemption, the elect season, wherein there will probably be an hundred times more of the application of redemption than in all preceding ages put together; and therefore, the ordinances and means of application are especially calculated for that season.

- Jonathan Edwards [1740], The "Miscellanies," 833-1152 (WJE Online Vol. 20) , Ed. Amy Plantinga Pauw


The Miscellanies 932. PROGRESS OF THE WORK OF REDEMPTION. (Add this to No. 911.)

The glorious times, the proper and appointed season of the APPLICATION of redemption. This is spoken of as the proper time of the first resurrection, Revelation 20:6, and also the proper time of the marriage of the Lamb, and the bringing guests to the marriage supper, Revelation 19:9.

- Jonathan Edwards [1740], The "Miscellanies," 833-1152 (WJE Online Vol. 20) , Ed. Amy Plantinga Pauw

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B.B. Warfield against Amyrauldism (Hypothetical Universalism)

Moïse_AmyrautMoïse Amyraut (1596 – 1664) was a Huguenot, as my own ancestors were as well, and this name means French Calvinist. Moses Amyraut was of the school of Saumer, and this man is interesting because of his modified Calvinism, that allowed for Hypothetical Universalism and hence became the eponymous founder of Amyrauldism.

A favorite theologian of mine, B.B. Warfield, consider Amyrauldism an "a logically inconsistent form of Calvinism and therefore an unstable form of Calvinism." I found Warfield's harsh dismissal of Amyrauldism provocative, regardless of whether I agree or not with Warfield, what he wrote in his "Plan of Salvation" against Moses Amyraut is famous. 

I've had renewed interested in Amyrauldism, after learning that Jürgen Moltmann had studied him for his doctorate, and I've had great interest in the universalistic forms of Calvinism due to the influence of Karl Barth.  Continue reading...

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John Calvin on Errors in Scriptures (Quotations from Calvin’s Commentaries)

505px-Johannes_calvinAt many times, John Calvin's describes the ontology of Scripture using the same vernacular as contemporary statements such as the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, as well as dictation theories such as Plenary Verbal Inspiration that makes strong assertions about the Scripture's inerrancy, infallbility, and identity with the Word of God. Despite the similarities at times, when reading Calvin's voluminous commentaries, there are many times when Calvin makes conclusions that these statements and theories would never allow. This is especially true in that Calvin is willing to identify and work through certain kinds of errors he encounters in the scriptures, and is comfortable understanding the Scriptures being both human writings and the divine Word of God -- where these modern statements and theories strive endlessly to deny that any errors, as such, exist. Among the categories of errors in Scriptures, Calvin includes intentional and unintentional misquotations, technical inaccuracies, historical errors, scientific errors, cultural accommodations and even theological errors! All of these types of errors do not undermine or discredit Calvin's firm belief that although the Scriptures are a human document, they are also the inspired Word of God, and working through these difficulties are matters of little consequence to him and do not undermine or disable the Word of God revealed in them.   Continue reading...

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B.B. Warfield on how Calvin’s Doctrine of Creation is an Evolutionary One

B.B. Warfield

B.B. Warfield is famous for his endorsement of Evolution from within the Reformed Church Tradition, and his ability to distinguish the agnosticism of Charles Darwin from Darwin's work as a Naturalist. All of Warfield's writings on Evolution have been assembled in an extremely helpful book edited by Mark A. Noll and David N. Livingstone, "B.B. Warfield: Evolution, Science and Scripture (selected writings)".  The book contains Warfield's review of Darwin's letters and selections of his writings on the topic of evolution. One of the most helpful articles is Warfield's essay, "Calvin's Doctrine of Creation" where Warfield claims that "Calvin's doctrine of creation is [...] an evolutionary one." Continue reading...

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Calvin on Genesis 1 as an Accommodation to the Ordinary Custom of Men

John Calvin

How are we to understand the two famous Creation narratives in Genesis 1-2, considering the scientific knowledge we have of the cosmos today? If we were to read Genesis 1-2 as a straight forward scientific account, we'd come to conclude that the Sun is the greatest luminary in the cosmos, and that the Moon is the second greatest, and both of these luminaries exceeding all the stars in the universe? Is such a literal torchering of the text necessary when exegeting Genesis? John Calvin says of course not! 

RSV Genesis 1:16, "And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also."

In a provocative, famous and illuminating selection of John Calvin's commentary, we encounter Calvin's extremely helpful approach to Genesis 1-2. I've quoted this at length below with some [...] omissions, and the most interesting words in bold below.  Continue reading...

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Emil Brunner and Alister McGrath on the Doctrine of Creation

Genesis-Chapter-1-1Should Genesis 1-2 be used to define our Doctrine of Creation? Alister E. McGrath's excellent three volume study on the relationship between Theology and Natural Science contained an excellent quote demonstrating that beginning with the first two chapters of the Bible, due to it's prime real estate location in the book of the Bible has caused problems in the development of the Doctrine of Creation that has not been a problem for other Christian Dogmas. McGrath uses an excellent quotation by Emil Brunner to demonstrate this point, and concludes that if we began our study of the Doctrine of Creation in John 1:1 instead of Genesis 1:1, we would have avoided much of the controversies in this Doctrine of Creation that we haven't encountered by avoiding this path with other Dogmas.

Scripture, when rightly interpreted, leads to Christ; Christ can be known properly only through Scripture. As Luther put it, Christ is 'the mathematical point of Holy Scripture', just as Scripture 'is the swaddling cloths and manger in which Christ is laid'. John Calvin made a similar point: 'This is what we should should seek . . . throughout the whole of Scripture: to know Jesus Christ truly, and the infinite riches which are included in him and are offered to us by God the Father.'

Considerations such as this raise a question of considerable importance. Emil Brunner raises this in a very focused form - namely, whether Genesis 1-2 is the foundational statement of a Christian doctrine of Creation:

"The uniqueness of this Christian doctrine of Creation and the Creator is continually being obscured by the fact that theologians are so reluctant to begin their work with the New Testament; when they want to deal with the Creation, they tend to begin with the Old Testament, although they never do this when they are speaking of the Redeemer. The emphasis on the story of Creation at the beginning of the Bible has constantly led theologians to forsake the rule which they would otherwise follow, namely, that the basis of all Christian articles of faith is the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. So when we begin to study the subject of Creation in the Bible we ought to start with the first chapter of the Gospel of John, and some other passages of the New Testament, and not with the first chapter of Genesis." (Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Redemption. pg6.)

- Alister E. McGrath, "Scientific Theology: Volume 1: Nature", pg143

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Review of Karl Barth and Evangelical Theology

karl-barth-and-evangelical-theology-convergences-and-divergencesKarl Barth and Evangelical Theology: Convergences and Divergences, edited by Sung Wook Chung, arrived via Interlibrary Loan, and after reading it, I have some comments about the best essays in this book, and will politely skip over the ones that I graciously that I did not, so to speak, enjoy. The hallmark of this book is Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer's essay, "A Person of the Book? Barth on Authority and Interpretation." I recommend buying this book, even if it were for this essay alone, because I appreciated it so much! Additionally, the essays by Alister E. McGrath, "Karl Barth's Doctrine of Justification from an Evangelical Perspective" and Oliver D. Crisp's essay, "Karl Barth on Creation", were also almost as helpful as Vanhoozer's essay. And one surprisingly good essay, by an Assemblies of God minister, Frank D. Macchia on "The Spirit of God and the Spirit of Life: An Evangelical Response to Karl Barth's Pneumatology" concludes my list of excellent essays in this book. There were many things that helped me in the other essays, however, these four were the most useful, in this order.  Continue reading...

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