Printed from http://tektonics.org/calvino.php
Here we have some thoughts (and my counter thoughts) to a letter writer about our essays on TULIP, particularly the U (link 1 below). I'll call our correspondent "Calvino" as a convenience and with his agreement. It turns out that we don't have many disagreements, and much of what Calvino offers will serve well as clarification. 2/24/05: On this date I have reviewed our past correspondence in preparation for our next round of discussion. If I have anything new to say, or any changes of mind, I will note them with a date reference like this one.
My question for Calvinists in this context would be, does it deny the sovereignty of God, His freedom to do as He pleases, to say that at times He may accomplish what He pleases through the most minimal of actions, and then allows what follows to take its natural course, because it likewise suits His purpose and will to do so? If so, how does this denigrate Him? As yet no Calvinist has written me with an answer.
The difficulty we might have here ('we' being Calvinists) is the idea of "natural course," which, as you have distinguished here from the action or will of God, seems to hint at the kind of deistic god who winds "nature" up at the beginning and lets it go, except for occasional interventions that "break" the laws of nature. Typically, however, we would consider that God is intimately involved at all times, so that it is in fact true to say that He sends the rain, provides for the animals, oversees every sparrow, etc. (as you yourself note in reference to Acts 17:28 and Col. 1:17). What we would do is suggest a different quality to His will or action, much as one might give a different quality to His omnipresence and His presence with His people (I'm sure you've had to deal with the presence/absence issue from skeptics). It's not a perfect answer, but we are talking about understanding the mode of God's sovereign will as clay trying to understand the potter--we're not going to get a perfectly satisfactory solution, since our satisfaction is often contingent upon our desire to be gods ourselves, i.e., to know everything perfectly...I don't know if that's a helpful response, but I thought I would at least fill the silence initially.
That actually seems to fit more or less my point in citing the "want of a nail" poem, though differing by degree. It does not at least claim I denigrate God by minimizing His level of action; indeed it allows for different categories itself. There is of course a mystery for we will never know to what level God is involved in any given action. So the variation remains one of judgment and supposition.
Also, I don't know what Calvinists you've read, but it's a fairly standard point to discuss the sovereignty of God in terms of permission (as you say: The decision to do nothing is itself a sovereign decision.), and it is in fact a distinction that some Arminians get mad at us for, saying that it doesn't really change anything, that God is still in total control and we are all like puppets. You also say that Sproul "comes close" to saying this, but it's a pretty standard point in Reformed circles (at least the churches--including Calvinistic Baptist, Presbyterian, Christian Reformed--I've attended, not to mention a Reformed seminary!). I should note that the reprobate are often to be considered to have been "passed over" in election--all are considered in their state of sinful rebellion, and God chooses some to be His possession and leaves the rest, i.e. simply fails to save and leaves them with the earned consequences of their sin.
I have read Calvinists ranging from Palmer (who would find my comments objectionable if not heretical) to White (by appearance, a middle voice) to Sproul (who says the same as our friend does, as noted). I hear that Palmer is on the fringe of Calvinist thought in this regard. Perhaps so. This is one reason why I eschew finding labels first to decide where someone fits.
Your example of Abraham, now, doesn't take the required step indicated by God's sovereignty as Creator: you have God choosing Abraham because Ab. fit God's plan better than anyone else, but it was in fact God who made Ab. and his whole situation. This brings it back again to God's operation being the fully decisive one, according to His nature--it's not as though He looked around and said, "I need an old descendant of Noah somewhere in Babylonia whose wife is past childbearing years...oh, look! This Abraham fellow will do just nicely...Of course, there's Umma and his wife, but no, I think Abraham will fit better..." In fact, the genealogies of early Genesis indicate that God was preparing this particular line of Noah's...
I actually agree with this; my example of Abraham was intended to be facetious (as I did say).
As to the question of temporal vs. logical order, this is also a standard distinction in the discussions. No one thinks that there is a linear order in God's decrees, just as you point out. However, the decree of God to create the world needs to be logically prior to His decree to elect Israel, for example, or His decree to permit sin prior to His decree of salvation. There must be people and a world before (logically) you can choose some of them! So, there is some kind of order that is important, so that God is not conceived of as capricious, ordaining a certain number for salvation logically first, then making all the rest afterwards as dead weight (this is the infra- vs. supra-lapsarian debate within Calvinistic circles, for which we are often chided--thus, this issue is well known to us!). I haven't read Geisler or White or Palmer--my sources include Calvin, Luther, Beza, Turretin, the framers and expounders of the Westminster Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism, Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, etc. (not to mention the medieval theologians like Aquinas, Ockham, Bradwardine, Gottschalk, Augustine, etc.), and they dealt with all these kinds of issues at various times (I would also recommend D.A. Carson's Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension to see a Calvinist look carefully at the Biblical data). Further note: the logical/temporal distinction is also used in understanding the order of faith and regeneration--it's not known whether there is a temporal order, but one is in fact dead, then the new life must come before the offer can be taken (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14, or Jesus on His sheep hearing His voice--the identity precedes accepting the call).
"No one" I think may exclude some extremists like Palmer (!), and the note of intermural debate suggests as much! I have heard it said that Calvin would not have been a Calvinist by some standards. Again, I wouldn't be surprised.
I would like to point out one other set of distinctions that I find important in this discussion. Luther articulated a twofold will of God, at least in relation to us: the hidden will and the revealed will (this may have roots in medieval scholasticism), cf. Deut. 29:29. Can you guess which one we have any real right to talk about? One of the criticisms the Reformers had of previous theology was the mystical theology that wanted to look direction on God's unmediated essence, which involved knowing all kinds of secrets that He has not given to us to know. With Deuteronomy, the Reformed tradition has emphasized what God has revealed and tried to make some sense of it, all the while recognizing its true purpose (as in Deut.), that we would follow God. Beza, who is credited by some with leading the transition from a kinder, gentler, exegetical Calvin to the logic-chopping, deductive, proof-texting Protestant Scholastics (which characterization of the latter I heartily reject, BTW--most of the scholastic were pastors as well as theologians, and their sermons and prayers are robust examples of love and faith applied), in fact looks explicitly to expound the doctrine of election for the same reason Paul did, i.e. pastorally, to give comfort to those who knew they could not please God fully and to inspire gratitude for God's unmerited (indeed, dismerited) favor so that they would follow Him out of love rather than servile fear or greed. It is also important in worship, as Luther held in his Bondage of the Will: the credit for salvation goes with the work done, so if we think that we had something to do with it, in a meritorious manner, then some of the glory will be rightfully ours, but "let he who boasts boast in the Lord..." It is also, related to this, standard to claim that God ordains the means (often revealed) as well as the ends (not revealed in detail). This is how the Reformed approach prayer, evangelism, planning for retirement, etc. We have been given certain instructions and blessings from God which we are to follow, and this is what He uses to accomplish His ends (Aquinas referred interestingly to God giving us the "dignity" of secondary but real causation). We know that God will call all of His elect and bring them to glory (He has told us so, e.g. Rom. 8:29-30), but He declares that He will call them through preaching, and we don't have access to the Book of Life, so we don't know which names are there. So, we follow God's instructions to preach the gospel, providing the external call and relying upon His Spirit to renew those whom He wishes to receive that call, rather than relying upon the increasingly manipulative techniques of "revivalism" (it has been suggested that Charles Finney, the great "evangelist" of the early 19th century, was in fact the forerunner of modern advertising, with its emotional manipulation). We know that God will in fact work all thing for the good of His people, even though we don't know what that good is exactly, but we are told to pray and given specific instructions, and we are told that our prayers will be efficacious (e.g., 1 John 5:16a). The fact that it is God who ordains all things, then, does not give us an excuse to say that He will call whomever He wants to even if no one preaches to them or that He will do what is good even if we never pray--this is setting up the hidden will as taking priority over the revealed will, which is exactly the reverse of Deut. 29:29 (and which happened in the 1924 controversy in the Christian Reformed Church over common grace--one party said that because we know that the gospel will not truly save the reprobate, but rather they will suffer more for rejecting it, then it is not really graciously offered to them; that was the minority party both in 1924 and in the historic Reformed church). Another standard in the Reformed discussions was to point out that God deals with His creation according to its created nature, and so He does not call or elect human beings as "stocks and blocks," but rather as human being, operating in such a way that they still act as such, with mind, will, and heart intact.
I have no comment or disagreement here; suffice to say it fits well with my own perceptions that early evangelism was in fact what we call apologetics, rooted in the factual basis of Jesus' life and death and resurrection, and not in any emotional manipulation. Calvino offers this personal view:
Years ago, when I first became Reformed, I had a long series of conversations about this very issue, revolving around the question of whether God ordains that I will choose green socks tomorrow (it became known as the "green socks question" as a result). I have to say that since then, this matter has become much less important, at least in trying to figure how God's sovereignty and human choice operate together. Heck, I don't even know how my unconscious and conscious minds operate together to produce genuine choice (if I am dispositionally disposed to like green less than blue but more than red and to be too lazy to do laundry more often than once a week, am I really choosing to wear the green socks instead of the red ones tomorrow?), so I'm not terribly concerned with working out the details. The central point here is to give God absolutely all the credit, which is not easy to do (nor was it in the Bible--Israel and Nebuchadnezzar both thought they were responsible for all the gains that God had given them). For this reason I haven't followed all of the recent discussion over middle knowledge and so forth (although I've followed enough to know that the open theists tend to grossly mischaracterize classical theism and have severe problems of their own, like a god who--rather than having a secret will that is still according to His good and loving character--isn't able to avert disaster, or even to save people), so I don't have much of an opinion on W.L. Craig's approach, except for saying that it seems not to accord with the divine action as portrayed in Scripture: God is not merely one who sets the stage so that everything will play out just right, but rather the One who calls His people by name. Also, there is no Scriptural warrant for the "election on the basis of foreknown acceptance": the language is of God acting, not responding to our action, and the verse in Romans on foreknowledge is not a knowledge of a decision, but a relational knowledge of the person ("the ones He foreknew"--and the context is of suffering, glory, and love, not decision).
I have some issue here; a "green socks" choice is one of the sort I'd see as most likely God "letting" happen in sovereignty (unless one can imagine some means whereby the choice of sock color would have some serious effect). God does get credit; even if all He does is choose to allow us to make our choice free of influence. That this may not accord with actions portrayed in Scripture really does not affect this -- choices made in Scripture are not green sock choices, but instead are matters of earth-shaking importance! Beyond this, I of course do not accept the simple "election on the basis of foreknown acceptance" -- for me, election has occurred at a much more primal stage, at that point of primary causality. Thus, indeed we have relational knowledge of the person -- just not the same sort certain Calvinist writers claim.
I would suggest some care in glossing mercy as "gratitude," at least with respect to God (cf. Job. 41:11). Our modern temptation is not to think too little of ourselves (is it ever?), but rather to think that God owes us something (as your experience with skeptics shows, we don't ever think that it might be judgment!)--as I coined the phrase in college, we treat God as the great vending machine in the sky: you put in the right amount (working hard and taking care of your family, praying in tongues, having "faith," doing penance) and God just has to give us something in return. As to it being personal obligation, I think you are correct in your description of God's covenant with Abraham (the Reformed tradition has, in fact, recognized and utilized the category of God's covenant with man as a set of freely self-imposed obligations for several hundred years!), but I don't think that changes the force of Romans 9, nor does your hypothetical number of the saved. In fact, it is the social context that comes to our aid here! The sons of Isaac were already under the covenant, which provided the context of the patron-client relation, and those kinds of treaties normally followed primogeniture. Than means that under the strict terms of "obligation," Esau should have received the favor of God. But that would be, according to your definition, "mercy." However, Paul's point is exactly the opposite, which means that "mercy" has a much freer and more sovereign sense than even "personal obligation of a patron to his client." As to the hypothetical number of the saved, I don't think that the passage really admits that kind of explanation. First, if that is the way God operates, why did He harden Pharaoh? That would have been the sensible choice in a numbers game! Second, and more telling, is Paul's own recognition of the transcendent nature of the claim here--he knows that to what he has said, some might reasonably ask the question of v. 19, and his reply is a "white flag" of his own, not an answer that reason will accept, but an insistence on God's authority to make some pots to hold fruit and others to be toilets (possibly the "dishonorable uses") out of the same clay (no difference of constituency between them beyond the Potter's own design!). While I don't think I would agree with Roberts in other places you've quoted him, nor do I like the terminology he uses here, this is one place where our reason cannot penetrate the hidden will of God, nor is it supposed to (cf. Job 38 ff.).
Of course, I cannot agree that the treatment of "mercy" is a gloss -- it is a contextual treatment established through knowledge of the social and literary world of the New Testament. The matter of Esau does not alter my point -- Esau himself treated the covenant with contempt; he rejected the gracious patronage of YHWH, and so, all sense of "mercy" (obligation) by YHWH was also abandoned.
Why did God harden Pharaoh? I do not think that by the numbers game, this is insensible at all; the acts preserved Israel, and from Israel would come the Messiah, and through him billions would be saved - versus, at best, only a handful of Egyptians in contrast. I do agree that Paul is reacting as Calvino describes -- that is a "book of Job" response that highlights the absurdity of men claiming, indeed, "it would be better not to have hardened Pharaoh." For a Jew who accepted God's omniscience and wisdom prima facie, such a response is automatically absurd!
Calvino closed here, but later offered more comments we now look at, which also included comment on our essay on the "I" part of the TULIP acronym (link 2 below).
1. On Rom. 9: Looking at the passage, my point about the covenant context is strengthened: Paul emphasizes that Isaac was a child of promise, and thus true offspring of Ab. He then points out that Jacob and Esau were, in fact both sons of Isaac; this takes its strength from the fact that both of them would have been considered in the covenant, and so Esau was the first in line to inherit the blessings. In fact, he was, as far as Isaac was concerned, but God's previous choice won out, through the machinations of Rebecca and the soft dweller in tents. Thus, in terms of strict patron-client (or suzerain-vassal in ANE terms), Esau could have claimed obligation to receive the blessing had he not given it away, but here, mercy then means something besides patron obligation, and God's choice, separate from any action of the twins (even Esau's selling of his birthright for a pot of lentils), was the decisive factor.
As I have noted above, however, Esau's open disdain for his covenant agreement would have cancelled all obligations by God for "mercy" in the sense described, upon Esau. God owed obligations to the family -- not to a particular individual within the family. 2/24/05: We now have an exegesis of Romans 9 at link 3 below.
As to why "not" should not be taken in the same way that it is in Jeremiah, we are first of all changing languages, and you present no evidence that ou is used in Greek the same way that lo is used in Hebrew. Granted, there may be similarities in the background mindset, and Paul obviously knew Hebrew, but the function of negation in the different languages may in fact be different. Also, there is no contextual evidence for "not" being taken this way here. With Jeremiah, sacrifice was absolutely central to the whole Hebrew mindset in a way that "willing" and "running" are not; thus, for Jeremiah to deny sacrifice is very different from Paul rejecting willing and running. Finally, even if it is not totally excluded, the point seems still to be that we are to focus on God's actions and operations rather than our own efforts.
The change of languages should make little difference here. Paul remained a Hebrew and his thought patterns remained Hebraic/Jewish. The use of the negative in this fashion remained a constant in Semitic languages all through this period and into this day. In terms of contextual evidence, the only such evidence would have to be philosophical; which is sufficient -- it is enough to say that the coherence that the negation brings to the text is enough justification (along with the Hebrew precedent) for seeing it there. I would not doubt that focus should remain of God here; that remains so with primary causality, just at a different stage.
2. I'm not sure that I would agree with the way White puts it, but rather say, as I said in reference to Luther in the previous email, that it is a question of temptation. We need to be reminded to ascribe all glory to God, because we naturally want some of it for ourselves (at least in our own eyes, rather in God's, since He does glorify His people and we should desire that; we sinfully want to claim honor on our own terms, rather than on His, as the cases of Israel and Nebuchadnezzar show). So, this claim does not allow us to legitimately share glory with God, but it could tempt us to; again, I would emphasize the pastoral use here. See also the famous Eph. 2:8-9, which seems to indicate that those who truly receive faith will not boast about having but rather will boast in God. Thus, the ascription of all the glory to God is a mark (though not the only one) of truly having that faith. On a personal note, this is why I am dubious of those churches that have "Free Will" in their titles (I looked into moving to North Carolina, where there are hundreds of churches with that title); not grace, Christ, Trinity, or anything pertaining to God, but rather an emphasis in their very names on their own role in salvation.
I have no comment here, other than that this seems a more judicious explanation than White's. This next section is extensive and must be divided.
3. I am waiting for an explanation of how receiving grace somehow equates with "deserving" it. I have no idea how this is a response to the quote from Sproul...With regard to the question of grace (from the irresistable grace essay), I find myself quibbling with the social scientist once again, not denying them a certain point here, but I don't think they do justice to the NT here. Even if all gift language must be interpreted in terms of the patron obligation, which I would not admit (one of the issue with the soc-sci guys is that they don't seem to allow for contemporaries to subvert common categories or mean anything different with them--this plagues Malina on, e.g., Jesus' meaning of the kingdom of God), there is a social aspect that needs to be noted in addition. As part of the gift of salvation, God adopts us (J.I. Packer's Knowing God has a marvelous chapter on this aspect).
Here Calvino and I must have fundamental disagreement. I find the plea for Malina, et al. to allow for "subversion" to be a begged question in context; one that asks to see a desired meaning against what the evidence points towards. It is the burden of the dissenter to show why terms must be read in different ways than they would have been most clearly understood by the predominant reader. Here I would trust Malina over Packer without reservation, the latter not being well-trained in the social world of the first-century Mediterranean. In terms of being a response to Sproul, it is not so much a response as a question of Sproul's premise.
Now, I could be mistaken, but I don't see how that could be construed as somehow an obligation of the patron, to legally adopt the client so as to make him or her a full heir with the natural son. Of course, this was often done because the client or slave had done something spectacular for the patron or master, but there is no indication of this anywhere in the NT, that we have done something so extraordinary beyond our normal obligation that God should adopt us. Indeed, quite the reverse: we were still sinners and rebels when God took the decisive action of sacrificing His Son. Thus, this adoption is a true gift, well beyond the normal duties to a client.
The normal relationship between client and patron was automatically one of mutual obligation -- whether something spectacular was part of the process or not. God's obligation comes out of His own honor and glory and nature -- His love for us. The adoption is thus also within what would be God's normal "duties" prescribed for Himself, by His own nature and the very character of His divinity.
Furthermore, in Ephesians the audience is Gentile, and they in fact did not stand in a patron-client relation with God (they were without God, being outside of the covenants of promise), and so their inclusion in the benefits of salvation could not by any means be an obligation upon God, since He was not their patron, but rather went right from being their Enemy to being their adopted Father. So, this turns the patron-client argument on its head: the Gentiles in Eph. 2 were not in this relationship with God, so "faith" in v. 8 is not referring to God's action as their patron, since He wasn't (see v. 19, where the status of the Gentiles is changed based upon the work of Christ and the Spirit, creating the relationship which previously was not there--they were aliens and foreigners, not fully included in the community of God). This brings the view of faith here in line with how you yourself view it in Phil. 1:29--we depend upon God, but He has given us the ability to do so (this is why it follows from the total depravity point, cf. 1 Cor. 2:14); this makes Paul's point so striking in Eph. 2.
This is not quite correct in terms of the patronal process. They did not have to stand in such a relationship prior to their salvation; it only had to be the terms upon which the relationship was manifested. I have noted above how and where God's "obligation" comes to men (by His own loving nature). (**Update 11/12/04 -- I have now added more about adoption in this period, which is clearly a type of patronage. See below.)
I should point out that you have not understood the Calvinist's true view of faith when you refer to it as "cognitive assent"--that's the same mistake Rome made in condemning justification by faith alone at the Council of Trent. True faith, saving faith (which is what is in view in Eph. 2) is in fact trust in the promises of God (the Reformers distinguished three aspects of faith: notitia, which means the things believed, e.g., Rom. 10:9; assensus, believing them to be true; fiducia, which means trusting in them for yourself unto salvation.
Actually, I have this very definition of faith (see link 4 below), to a great extent; note that the trust is rooted in performance evidence. Since I have seen this view of faith in Calvinist writers, perhaps it may be as well to say (yet again) that some Calvinist writers themselves do not present Calvinism correctly!
It was only the last element that gave saving faith: the previous two could be held by demons--they know that Christ died for sinners and they know that it is true, but their response is hatred and enmity (this is where Milton got his motivation for Satan, who knows he has lost but refuses to repent). One could put this in terms of the patron-client relation: one would have to know who the patron is, name him, describe the basis of the relationship, etc. if asked for an account (as a representative was required to do in Roman judicial proceedings sometime, or in cases of military service); one would have to be able to acknowledge that yes, so-and-so is my patron; and one would have to rely on that relationship to receive any benefit. If I can describe my patron's looks and character and achievements and acknowledge that he is my patron, but I never go to him for protection or whatever, then that relationship is only there in words and no one receives any benefit from it.
Under the rubric described, such a person would never have been the client of their alleged patron at all. However, this does merge well with what I have written of faith as defined best by loyalty and corresponding trust.
Also, the question as to what the primary meaning of faith is in the NT is important, since that is the more specific context for Paul. Given that the verb "to believe" and the noun "faith" occur so often with a prepositional phrase (e.g., in Christ, into Christ, on Christ, etc.), the primary meaning in the NT is one of our act of belief in Jesus, rather than something else. This certainly seems to be the case in the context of Eph.: 1:13, "having believed"; 1:15, "your faith in the Lord Jesus"; 3:12, "through faith in Him." Thus, the context would indicate that Paul is talking about faith as the Christian's belief in Jesus Christ, and so even that is given by God.
I did not ask Calvino if he read my article linked above on faith. I of course must regard it as more than just "our act of belief" but rather, our continuing decision of loyalty.
To round out the discussion of grace, I would like to lodge a complaint about your treatment of the Reformers. Frankly, I think you dismiss Calvin too quickly in his understanding of key concepts (have you read Calvin, BTW? You certainly don't cite him...). First, the 16th century was still a time of patrons and clients, even though it was shifting to the modern nation-state (e.g., Luther's relationship to the electors of Saxony; Calvin had wealthy acquaintances who had supported him during his travels or had helped the cause of the persectued Hugenots in his native France to whom he felt it his obligation to write letters of encouragment and exhortation; the policy of "whose the region, his the religion" in the German states; the development of "covenant theology," which put the Christian faith in terms of binding legal and personal relationships not unlike patron-client ones), so they were not totally unfamiliar with the concept. Second, Calvin was intimately acquainted with the original languages of Scripture and with vast amounts of classical Greek and Roman sources that could very well have informed him of these kinds of contexts (indeed, his early training as a lawyer would have brought him into contact with the Roman legal tradition, which had thing or two to say about patrons and clients!), or with the Hebraic way of thinking (since he also knew Hebrew extremely well; Calvin may, in some ways, have been closer to the Scriptural mindset than even the rabbis, given the fact that he did recognize Israel's Messiah which the Old Testament was all about). Third, he had a vast knowledge of the Church Fathers, who wrote in a time of patron-client activity, and of the medieval theologians, who had their own brand of that in feudalism (see, e.g., a book called The Binding of God, which looks at Calvin's view of the covenant in the context of medieval thinking). So, we would do well not to make modernist assumptions about the ignorance of earlier thinkers just because we don't find terms like "patron-client obligation" or "Hebrew block thinking" in their work. They were at least closer to the ancient world, both in virtue of the remnants of feudalism and in their knowledge of the classical sources, than our modern individualism. For example, read the Westminster Confession's chapter on Providence (esp. section IV): it sounds remarkably like the description of "block logic": perspectives held in tension, rather than resolved in a drive-through manner (here is the link: http://www.opc.org/documents/wcf05.html).
I will say that I have not indeed read Calvin, though I find it peculiar -- if indeed this was all in his range -- that modern Calvinist writers seem so little aware of it. I would have to ask for specific verification of his familiarity with these concepts. One thing that seems peculiar is that a book such as The Binding of God could be written at all, if Calvin indeed had enough knowledge of the first century culture to speak with authority. I also am aware that this is something of an important difference between feudalism (itself a slippery term!) and patronage. As far as Westminster's seeming awareness: I consider this to be more of an accident of the Confession seeking a resolution for a dilemma, and arriving at a reasonable solution by common sense, much as the authors of Christ the Lord answered the faith-works dichotomy with something that sounded just like the Semitic Totality Concept, without knowing what it was.
4. The issue of ergon: first, you ask whether making a decision is a work, but the issue here is faith, not making a decision. That is pretty much a modern view of faith as a one-time act of belief. I should note that Rom. 9:16 refers literally to "the one who wills," which would be indicate that what is decisive is not an internal act of the will, nor an external act ("the one who runs"). This is also probably a pair meant to be exhaustive of the whole range of human activity, internal and external (as, e.g., "heaven and earth" means "everything"). Even if we take the "not" in the soft sense, then, the emphasis still winds up on God's actions, rather than our own, whether in terms of the will or the actions. So, we should not describe our salvation as "I asked Jesus into my heart," or "I made a decision for Christ," or anything else about our activities (which is in my experience usually how salvation is presented), but rather about God and what He has done in Jesus Christ. It is important to notice that faith in the NT is referential--it always has a direction away from the person and all his own resources (which makes the modern "have faith in your faith" utterly nonsensical in NT terms), e.g., Rom. 4:19-20, Phil. 3:9. The point here is not that we don't do anything, but that what we do is not what we should be talking about, but rather about what God has done in Jesus Christ. A personal note: it was this emphasis that brought me to the Reformed tradition out of a general evangelicalism in which the focus was my own internal state of emotion--did I feel at peace? And when I did not, I was to remember what? Not the greatness of Jesus' sacrifice, not the eternal love of God, but rather the time when I made a decision or when I did feel "connected" or "close" to God. This is simply out of step with the ethos of the NT, which emphasizes the work of God in Jesus Christ (cf. my comments earlier about "Free Will" churches).
Once again, my article on the definition of faith comes into play; faith by definition is an act of decision. And yes, I can agree with the emphasis still even with the soft "not" -- as it would be absurd for a person rescued from a burning building to brag of their decision to let the firefighters help them! In terms of presentation -- one can certainly agree that too much has been placed on the decision of the person in modern personal testimony; this is not representative of the missionary preaching of Acts. Indeed that faith is loyalty is a piece with that it is not self-referential, since the object of the loyalty is the one who has done all that is needed to earn it, and does make the whole "have faith in faith" rubric nonsense. The latter part is hand in hand with what I have written recently about repentance (though I posted this long after receiving Calvino's comments -- link 5 below).
5. As to the dragging question, now who's bringing in their contemporary culture to interpret Scripture? ; ) C.S. Lewis had the feeling of being dragged into the kingdom completely against his own will, but the Reformed usually put it in terms of God changing the heart so that it does in fact will to trust in Christ...This brings me to the "wild card" of human choice. The problem is that human choice is not a wild card (taking that to mean a card that can be used to complete any hand and thus, by metaphorical extension, to mean that the human will can make the "hand" go either way--what has been called "liberty of indifference" or the "ability to will the contrary"), but is rather dead in sin or enslaved to sin. Now, neither of these important ideas indicates that a man could go either way, indeed, Rom. 3 argues exactly the opposite (no one seeks after God). Again, the point is that we were enemies up until we were made sons--there was no "wild card": to extend the analogy, it wasn't as though we had the ten through king of spades and the wild card could make it a royal flush or nothing at all; rather, we need a royal flush in spades and we have all five of our cards, nothing higher than a 6 and no spades at all. There's not an in between: we've already got a losing hand! We already stand under judgment as rebels who have attacked the honor of the king by taking it for ourselves. As Bob Dylan once put it, "There's faith and unbelief, and there ain't no neutral ground," or "Well it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody." (That's his 1979 album "Slow Train Comin'"). To go back to your favorite arena, the ancient context, slaves did not free themselves--they had to be freed by an act of their master.
I don't think there's much cultural difference over time when it comes to people not wanting to be taken places against their will, especially unpleasant ones. In terms of the whole "dead in sin" paradigm, I find this to be merely literalist overreading of hyperbolic language (Rom. 3 is quoting a Psalm, after all!) And no, slaves did not free themselves -- but they still had the will and desire to be free and find their freedom. If we wish to take the "dead in sin" picture to the logical analogical conclusion, then the person is still "alive" as a bodiless spirit and able to make a decision when asked. If we wish to press the Biblical metaphor into service, why not do it the whole way?
6. With regards to libertarianism: I actually agree with libertarianism relative to the natural world (i.e., our actions are not determined by any of the spatio-temporal causes studied by the natural sciences), but not with regard to God...The sovereign control of human actions is not merely generalized from a number of examples, but is also given explicit general form in Prov. 16:1, 9, 33 (actions we consider 'chance'); 21:1.
I think it is enough for me to note here that the cited passages all come from (ahem) Proverbs...which are not absolutes.
That is all for now. I have found Calvino's comments insightful and stimulating, and we will gladly continue.
And now indeed, we have some more discussion from our earnest friend, by points.
1. Sorry I missed the note that the Abraham example was facetious. One little word... Once again, then, we seem to agree on that.
Agreed. No further comment necessary.
2. You keep referring to "primary causality" in a way that seems to suggest that Calvinists don't have the same view of causality (e.g., where you say: election has occured at a much more primal stage, at that point of primary causality. Thus indeed we have relational knowledge of the person -- just not the same sort certain Calvinist writers claim.) What, then is the difference you are seeing here? I think I'm so used to the way we discuss the issue in Reformed circles that our categories aren't matching up...
Perhaps so, since as I have noticed, there is much discussion over what exactly Calvinism is (and whether indeed Calvin was a Calvinist!). I would actually assume from my readings of professed Calvinist writers that they believe in both primary causality AND a more direct election, which is to say, God not only chose the world, but chose people specifically to be saved and damned as well. It's subtle, but a very important difference that I see. And I have to say that I have never seen any Calvinist writer speak of primary causality. Indeed, James White and Steve Hays have been patently offended by my insertion of the idea!
3. Your treatment of mercy is in fact a gloss: "A brief explanatory note or translation of a difficult or technical expression..." (American Heritage Dictionary) It's not a term that denigrates the authority of the gloss in itself, as your somewhat prickly reply seems to indicate you inferred. But as to the substance, Paul's point is that mercy was extended to Jacob in that the elder would serve the younger (this is in vv. 12-13, serving as an example of the principle he expounds from Exodus in vv. 15-16), before either of them did anything, i.e., before Esau sold his birthright in the covenant for a mess of pottage. So, God's mercy was operative, according to Paul, precisely in subverting the standard birth order before the elder forfeited the "obligation." So, I would suggest, that this does directly affect your point...
Once again I must disagree. Mercy (obligation) was owed to one of Abraham's descendants before either Jacob and Esau were born. It was going to go somewhere, because the deal has already been made, chronologically speaking. Paul's point of the elder serving the younger reflects perfectly that it was Jacob as child of promise and covenant, not Esau the child of effort outside the covenant, and thus the obligation was fulfilled to exactly who it should have been.
4. Greek is not a semitic language, and languages do in fact function very differently, so the point about the "not" still needs to be confirmed with respect to the Greek language itself--the evidence that you brought to bear was all from Hebrew, which does not automatically apply, even if Paul was a Hebrew. In terms of contextual evidence, the only such would have to be philosophical; which is sufficient -- it is enough to say that the coherence that the negation brings to the text is enough justification (along with the Hebrew precedent) for seeing it there. Now, the Hebrew precedent is a non-starter, and the philosophical justification has to do with a coherence that you yourself have said is not necessarily what an ancient near eastern writer would have required, so you still have not addressed the point.
Once again I must simply disagree. The work of Maurice Casey here, concerning the effects of bilibgual interference, shows that there is indeed NOT a burden with respect to the Greek langauge. Paul's native tongue(s) would rather constantly impose upon his use of Greek; thus indeed the application is automatic.
5. Now the "fundamental disagreement"...You claim that I'm reading in a meaning that I want to find (which is what I could easily claim about your view of the negation discussing in 4, so it proves nothing), and that the burden on me is to show how a word could be used differently than the general usage. First, this is the fallacy known as "illegitimate totality transfer": the idea that wherever a word occurs, the entire range of its conceptual meaning must always be present. The way NT exegesis of individual words proceeds is on a case-by-case basis, not by assigning the same totality every time the word occurs (Carson makes this point in Exegetical Fallacies, as do writers like Silva and Cotterell in their books on biblical linguistics), so your placing of the burden on me is not entirely accurate. Second, I am questioning the definition given by the soc-sci folks as not appearing to take into account specific usages that don't obviously fit into their schema. Given the way that Paul argues here, it is not at all clear that "mercy" has anything to do with obligation--in fact, given the context, it seems quite the opposite, since the point is God's freedom to favor whomever He wishes to give it. Now, Malina et al may have addressed this specifically in their argument for this understanding of mercy, but I haven't found that specific argument, and I'm not sure that I will, since they tend to make broad claims without citing specific evidence (at least in what I've been able to find and read). That means that I'm not simply going to accept an argument on authority, especially given some of the howlers I've seen Malina especially make (1. The view of Jesus' question about his identity to the public and the disciplines; 2. His claim that the kingdom of God in the 1st centry could only mean a geo-political kingdom; 3. His assertion that true monarchial monotheism was invented not by the Jews but by the Christians--and they stole the idea from the claims of the Roman emperor!), particularly where I do have some knowledge (e.g., Greek and Roman philosophy and literature; Greek and Hebrew language, linguistics, and hermeneutics; the actual content of the Old Testament) Finally, I was not putting up Packer as an authority against the soc-sci folks, but rather pointing out that he has a good discussion of how central the idea of adoption is to Paul's view of salvation, which then takes the discussion out of the realm of client-patron into that of inheritance and adoption, which is different.
First, I cannot agree that the transfer is illegitimate, for the biblical world was one in which extreme language, hyperbole, and black and white thinking were the norm. By this reckoning, extreme language must first be regarded with caution as not meaning an absolute and the burden is on those who claim an absolute. Second, Malina et al. have not dealt with this passage directly (though I am told a volume on Paul is forthcoming); but my defense rests above. Third, I obviously take issue (grin) with the "broad claims" retort -- the work of these writers is well-documented and rooted in the broader range of social science lit. Of the three "howlers" listed I have not seen 2 or 3 claimed (I'd be interested in where?) but have seen 1, and happen to agree with it...(***Update: 11/12/04 -- more below, on how adoption was indeed a patronage relationship.)
6. I don't think you really addressed my point about adoption ( and I haven't been able to track down much on the nature of adoption in the ancient world, which could really flesh out our understanding of NT soteriology): adoption is mentioned frequently by Paul, but never "client" or "patron." To be sure, those concepts would have been in the background, but also need to be sure to deal specifically with what is in fact stated, not merely what is implicit. Hellenistic adoption was certainly a high-context concept, so further work on what it entailed would be helpful...
I won't have much to address until we get to some material on adoption from back then; but I would note that the high context makes a demand for more than "implicit" indications somewhat unreasonable. In addition Paul's "frequent" adoption mentions amounts, from the looks of it, to five verses; three of these in Romans, and two in "sidelight" contexts. I would put against this the massive detail of correspondence found by the soc-sci writers (deSilva, Malina, et al) that show the client-patron relationship in some detail. What I am left to wonder is if adoption language is not itself something used to express the patronal relationship. Given the familial language used by social ingroups, this strikes me as a distinct possibility; patrons were called "father" and the description of what is done by the paterfamilias sounds just like the role of a patron. Furthermore, clients were ideally comparable to loving and greateful children. (***Update: 11/12/04 -- more below, on how adoption was indeed a patronage relationship. I found what seems to be the one extended dissertation on the topic.)
7. You make a good point about any of God's obligations to us being entirely dependent upon His own nature, although His freedom in choosing to save rebellious creatures is also important. It is important that He bound Himself, as an act of a truly sovereign will rather than as some compulsory entailment from His nature. However, your response to my point about the Gentiles is pretty thin (They did not have to stand in such a relationship prior to their salvation; it only had to be the terms upon which the relationship was manifested. I have noted above how and where God's "obligation" comes to men (by His own loving nature)). I'm not sure what you mean by it being the terms upon which the relationship was manifested. It seems to me that the NT (particularly Ephesians) indicates that with respect to the Gentiles a relationship was created where none existed before (Eph. 2:19), so it wasn't merely a matter of manifesting a relationship. Furthermore (see #6), the NT does not describe the relationship between God and His people in terms of client-patron, but rather of adoption, which is certainly a step up from client-patron in terms of privilege and intimacy. Finally, God's "obligation" does not come to all men indiscriminately, but only to those with whom He has entered into a covenant, which in the 1st cent. was only the Jews; this is why it was such a big deal to have the Gentiles included, since then were precisely those to whom nothing was due, being outside the covenants.
I am afraid I do not see why it is "important that He bound Himself, as an act of a truly sovereign will rather than as some compulsory entailment from His nature," other than to preconceptions of what is required to honor God. If indeed "God is love," if indeed He embodies it, then some act of love was indeed compulsory on His part; it was as much required as God's not being able to lie. One may suggest that the particular act of love chosen was decided sovereignly.
By "terms upon which the relationship was manifested" I wish to emphasize that in the patronal relationship there was always a prior point when a patron was not a patron to his client; hence the matter of the Gentiles and the argument made from Ephesians is moot in the context of my arguments. So likewise in a client-patron relationship, it was always a case of, "a relationship was created where none existed before". We have already discussed the matter of adoption versus client-patron. I agree that the "obligation" does not come indiscriminately; it comes because God is love, and because God loved the world. That in itself compelled the offer of a covenant relationship (grace) in the first place -- bearing in mind that there was priorly a covenant relationship with Adam and Noah, the forebearers of all Gentiles. (As an aside, a covenant is itself an example of patronal relationship. **11/12/04 -- as is the adoption; see below.)
8. As to faith, I did read your essay and agreed with it--I may have expressed myself badly in calling it "an act of belief." I should say that there is a range of meaning in the NT useage: sometimes it occurs in the aorist or perfect tense, which describe a completed action, so that one could point to a time when he first believed/had faith, and thus to an act of faith. Obviously, however, this is not the end of the story on faith in the NT (contrary to some of the extreme sinner's prayer Arminians I've known, where all you have to do is make a one-time decision and you're in)--in the Reformed tradition, sanctification is by faith as well as justification (appealing to Paul's "the just will like by faith," "by faith from first to last," etc.). I should also point out that you later refer to faith as "an act of decision," so I'm not sure what your quibble with my "act of belief" is!
The connotation of the word "belief" in many of our churches is one of mere mental assent; whereas "decision" implies action. Arminains of such belief obviously lack knowledge of the conceptive unity of genuine belief and works in the Semitic anthropological tradition.
9. On Calvin, if you're going to critique something with his name on it, you may want to read something of his (I would say the same to defenders of Calvinism, many whom do not in fact seem to ever have read him or anyone in the formative years of the tradition). I find it interesting that you want specific verification of his acquaintance with those ideas for two reasons: 1) you take skeptics to task for demanding specific verification of individual knowledge of general background conditions, but yet you demand exactly the same thing here (and I've already mentioned some background evidence)...2) are you demanding that terms like "Hebrew block logic" and "client-patron relationship" be found in Calvin? If so, that is a really atrocious piece of anachronism. What I was suggesting was that their social context shaped their thinking in channels much closer to those of the ancient world than the modern one, which means that their insights cannot be dismissed simply because they didn't know the modern terminology or were not acquainted with 20th century sociological methodology. So I was not saying that Calvin was an expert on the first century, but rather that his way of thinking may very well have been closer to that of the first century (given the influences on him) than you seem to think. A book like The Binding of God needs to be written, just like a social-science commentary on the gospels might need to be: to explain the background of the writer in a way that he did not think necessary, simply because it was the air he breathed (the 16th century was, in its own way, just as high-context as the first!). I'm sure there are differences between feudalism and patronage, but they were certainly much closer than the modern rootless self is to either--both were based fundamentally in a relationship of personal obligation which was recognized to be asymmetric and sanctioned in terms of honor and shame, as opposed to the modern paradigm of perfectly equal actors in an institutional setting sanctioned by laws and the government. My point about the Westminster Confession is similar: I was pointing out evidence of a way of thinking, not familiarity with anachronistic terminology. Perhaps just as the authors of the book you mention, they knew what it was and how to think that way without knowing our modern terminology for it. This may not be "accident," but may rather be the product of being shaped by the worldview of the Biblical writers (including the OT, which Malina has apparently not read) and by a social context more similar to the first century than we realize. All this is just to say that their insights are not to be dismissed, certainly not for some kind of chonological snobbery that suggest that just because they didn't have the 20th century's knowledge of sociology that therefore they didn't know what they were talking about.
Actually, my point not so much to demand proof, but that as more that I was surprised to hear the suggestion that Calvin would know of such things, since indeed it seems so obviously lacking in the works of Calvinistic defenders -- for a reason that is astonishing (defenders of Calvinism do not read Calvin themselves?!). The restraints of communication compel me to nevertheless use the term "Calvinism" for convenience; at any rate, that indeed a "book like The Binding of God needs to be written" and that Calvinist defenders often do not read Calvin, suggests that the camp has a ways to go to get its house in order! (And perhaps the other side does as well!)
10. I'm not reading the "dead in sin" passage literalistically (that term is not in Rom. 3 and it is not taken from a Psalm), but rather arguing what I see the rhetorical point to be: that of inaction and of inability on both parts (i.e., I was unable to do what was good, and what was good could by itself not gain my loyalty--cf. the interesting claim that while we were slaves to sin, we were free from righteousness in Rom. 6:20) that required direct action on the part of God Himself to fix in the same way that He solved the problem of Jesus' physical death, i.e., direct resurrection (Eph. 2:5). I appealed to Rom. 3 to demonstrate the non-neutrality of the will with respect to righteousness, which is Paul's point (even though he is using poetic language, he is clearly making a didactic point, and in this case the negative "no one seeks after God" has to be considered exhaustive, given his reference in vv. 19-20 to "all the world" and "no flesh"; also where the context is framed by the Jew-Gentile distinction, which was entirely exhaustive). Your persiflage about disembodied souls doesn't answer the point: obviously, Paul is not using a metaphor for no reason, so why does he use the metaphor of death if not for the reason I'm arguing? Also, slaves certainly could long for freedom, etc., but they were not free and thus powerless with respect to freedom: they could do nothing freely, the rights of free men and the laws governing free men simply didn't apply to them.
The use of exclusive language in the passages cited -- "no one" and "no" and "all" -- reminds us again of the cautions needed (as noted above, and despite the Jew-Gentile framing, which categorically, is not the same sort of thing) before taking them fully literally; on the other hand, since I accept a model of prevenient grace anyway, the point is perhaps moot. The obvious answer to why Paul uses the death metaphor is that it follows from the tradition of what happened in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve "died" -- not literally. "Death" and "life" are referenced in terms of the relationship with God. Since again I accept prevenient grace as a factor it does not matter anyway; I am merely making the point that if indeed the Calvinist wishes to press this metaphor into service, it can be got around by the same means -- taking the metaphor any way that is needed.
The point about slaves only magnifies my point. "[T]hey were not free and thus powerless with respect to freedom: they could do nothing freely, the rights of free men and the laws governing free men simply didn't apply to them"? Of course they "could do things freely" -- but there would be consequences if they did. The analogy only breaks down the closer one looks at it.
11. With regards to the passages in Proverbs I used, how then, if they are not at least general maxims, do we take them positively? I should note that proverbs in general cannot be useful or meaningful unless there is some wisdom in them: e.g., "he who hesitates is lost," has to have some kind of general applicability, or no one would ever have remembered it and made it into a proverb. Also, though, general statements about the way that God governs the world are on a different level than good advice about how to deal with fools. How do we qualify those passages in a non-absolute sense? "Sometimes the heart of the ruler is in the hand of the Lord, but sometimes it's not"? "Occasionally the Lord directs a man's steps, but not always"? Did Solomon really mean that adultery is destructive only some of the time, but not absolutely? "The Lord has made all things for Himself, even the wicked unto the day of evil, but actually only some of them"? "He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the just are both an abomination to the Lord, some of the time"? Shall I multiply examples of proverbs that seem to be pretty much absolute? I think you need to work a little more on your explanation of wisdom literature.
We take these positively with the caution that exceptions are possible and that they are therefore only used for doctrine (absolute rules by design) with the same caution. I see no reason to suppose that "general statements about the way that God governs the world are on a different level than good advice about how to deal with fools" in a genre sense, merely because they are on a different level on a subject sense. The qualifications for the examples stated would be:
It is well to qualify by saying "pretty much absolute". The exceptions may be subtle and rare, but that is really all that I am saying as well. And if I need to "work a little more on [my] explanation of wisdom literature" then so do the OT scholars from whom I got it.
We once again appareciate this discourse with Calvino and look forward to more.
And now we have another installment.
Does this mean that you would limit God's election to primary causality, so that he did not choose specific people to be saved (I take reprobation to be a passing over, a withholding of saving grace rather than an active choosing of damnation--I'm also an infralapsarian, so that works!)? I don't know that they do speak of primary causality as such, although Turretin's questions on God's government of the world include addressing the question of God's relationship to secondary causes, which implies primary causality.
It might not be right to say that I think primary causality is a "limit" in this case -- I would say it accomplishes all that needs to be done for election; which means that to speak of a "limit" is like saying, grass is "limited" to being a plant. Primary causality is and would be inclusive of all other actions by God, for it assumes that any specific acts of God were "built in" to the original plan.
In general, it seems the Reformed tradition assumes God's primary causality, which was fairly extensively discussed in the medieval period (cf. my reference in the last email to Aquinas' expression of the "dignity" of secondary causation bestowed on us by God). That might explain the lack of a direct reference, even in the more technical Reformed theologians I looked at (Berkhof, Hodge, Turretin, as opposed to the popular works you refer to).
Obviously I cannot argue this point; it is gracious, albeit gratuitous in my opinion, to suppose that primary causality is assumed in these writings.
Back on point: if God's activity is only primary causality, choosing the world in general, how then is there a personal involvement as you state? I think this is a point where we're not quite understanding each other, as opposed to some of the others where we really disagree!
In my view, personal involvement is practically negligible; this in light of that "personal relationships" as we know it were practically unknowns in this society. Patrons were generally distant from their clients, and remote. One may fire back that God was intimately involved in the life of Israel and His people; yet as I have told some Skeptics, taken all together God's involvment amounts to interaction with .0001% of all people who have ever lived, and then actively in only .001% of their total lifetimes.
Esau was not the child of effort outside the covenant: you're thinking of Ishmael as opposed to Isaac, the child of the promise (Rom. 9:7-9). Esau and Jacob were twins, born to Isaac; in fact, they were both children of promise, since they were Isaac's children (Rom. 9:7).
Correct. I mixed up Isaac and Ishmael. Oops! However, my general point --
Furthermore, God gave them to Rebecca as a relief for her barrenness, which is a sign of the futility of effort outside of God's work (cf. Sara's and Rachel's barrenness--slightly differing circumstances, but the same point being made: it is of the Lord's giving, not of the procreative effort of man, cf. John 1:13); the removal of barrenness is explicitly related to the covenant promises in Ex. 23:26 and Deut. 7:14). Esau only gave up his part in the covenant later, whereas God's decree came before either of them was born.
...would remain the same. God owed mercy (covenant obligation) to the family of Abraham. One way or the other, someone in that family was "owed" it. But it is here where Calvino and I have a particular disagreement:
I would also like to point out that God's self revelation (I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, etc.) is, in linguistic context, a question of his taking pity on man's helpless or lowly estate, rather than viewing his obligation: the second part of the declaration (I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion) is closely tied to the first (via standard parallelism), and the terms used refer to an emotion (the cognate noun of the verb for "have mercy"--eleao--is used with the term splanchna--bowels--as a very graphic and concrete idiom for pity: the KJV's "bowels of compassion", cf. 1 John 3:17, Luke 1:78) felt for someone in need or in trouble (oiktiro--see Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, or the references in Liddell & Scott's lexicon of classical Greek). In Greek, then, the concept of mercy--eleos--is connected with feelings of pity for someone in need, not with any context of obligation.
I consider the first argument fallacious: It tries to associate "mercy" with "compassion" merely by proximity. However, even so, Malina and Pilch note that "compassion" in the Biblical world was "a value rooted primarily in kinship obligations."  It relates to the value that family, as a bonded group, ought to have the greatest consideration for one another. Thus any association of pity or feelings is beside the point, and even an anachronism: The word still denotes obligation within a familial bond. (Of course, all who are God's creation are in some sense God's offspring (Acts 17); hence indeed, any person could be the object of God's familial compassion, but those with whom He has a covenant would qualify most closely.) Pilch and Malina note these very words (oiktiro and splanchna) and note that the latter is what describes Jesus' motivation to heal people, for example. There is no evidence that "pity" is a motivator -- this is read into the text as a modern value. 2/24/05: Perhaps due to my own error in writing, Calvino may have read more importance into my dismissal of feelings when it comes to pity than I intended. By no means do I deny that pity can be inspired by feelings. However, I also submit that pity is capable of being expressed objectively and without feeling. In this regard I asked what Calvino's view on the emotions of God would be. Some Calvinists I have encountered would regard God as so transcendant that He would not have human feelings. Calvino replied:
Since I follow Aquinas in considering the usage to be analogical (as distinct from univocal or equivocal), I would say that God has an experience that is not entirely dissimilar to that felt by humans--i.e., it is similar enough that human terms for compassion do not fatally distort the reality of God's inner life (which is a hard thing to get at anyhow). As Louw & Nida point out (and as the biblical understanding of faith and works reflects), internal states are closely connected with external action, so the focus here is not on some internal emotion per se, but rather on the motivation and the actions issuing from it as almost one essential unit. To paraphrase James, compassion without an act of saving is dead, and since God is all life, His compassion necessarily issues in action. Of course, this is more of a philosophical issue on the relation of language to the essence of God. If we agree on the form of inerrant revelation (viz., God's use of historical linguistic and cultural human forms which shape the presentation of His truth, but do not impair communication), then the issue is not so much this philosophical one as the material one on what the ancient context actually indicates.
What Calvino says of focus being on "motivation" seems more or less to cohere with what I was driving at. In light of this, some of the citations Calvino provides below tying pity to emotion I will not dispute but merely comment on. Now back to the primary discussion:
If you could refer me to Casey's work, I'd appreciate it. I would point out, however, that as a native of a city outside of Palestine (Tarsus), Greek would have been Paul's native tongue for all contexts except the synagogue and thus his thought forms in Greek would reflect that language, particularly to a Greek audience that did not know Hebrew (see the following article on language modes in bilinguals: http://www.unine.ch/ltlp/pub/langmode.pdf ). So, I still don't think your point is made, given that Hebrew had only the one particle (lo) to indicate negation, while Greek had several. This means that the Hebrew negative had a much broader range of meaning than the Greek negatives. Besides, the negative can also be absolute, and its useage here must be determined contextually. The evidence you cite does not require the looser meaning of the negative, but only permits it, which cannot be decisive.
Casey's work is Aramaic Sources of Mark's Gospel. I can not agree that Greek would be Paul's "native" tongue. Jews of the Diaspora were usually highly insulated from the surrounding pagan culture, and the disctinctive of a native language such as Aramaic is hardly one that would be abandoned, unless Paul became someone like Philo or Josephus, which I don't think anyone would argue. I do agree that the usage needs to be determined contextually -- however, neither side of this debate has much context to go on; what it ends up with is either side having to read the negation within their own paradigm. In that light. I would appeal to what I regard as Calvinism's unwieldy claims which require them to read the negation as absolute: Romans 9:16 is one the passages that leads inevitably to fatalism (hence Palmer's white flag).
2/24/05: Calvino in correspondence directed my attention again to the link. This item consists of 24 pages of closely-argued text which sums up as, yes, bilinguals talk differently to other bilinguals than they do to monolinguals. But even if this could be said to have a direct application to Paul, Romans was to a mixed audience of Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians (and maybe even Jews, if Nanos is correct). I would have to ask Calvino to explain what part of this article he thinks rebuts my point. One may point out that where exegesis is concerned, Paul would have been most likely to have been thinking in the language he learned it in, in Jerusalem -- Hebrew (or Aramaic, perhaps).
I fail to see how the use of a perfectly normal term, mercy, can be construed as an example of extreme language. Furthermore,I think you've got this argument mixed up with the one on wisdom literature: I'm not making a claim about absolute meaning vs. relative or qualified meaning, but rather about the definition of the word (does "mercy" mean "obligation" or something else?). If anything, I'm arguing here for a meaning of the word qualified by context, while you are claiming an absolute meaning of "obligation" regardless of the context. I also have to amend my complaint: it's not really an example of illegitimate totality transfer, since that refers to the sense of a word. What is under discussion is the concept of mercy, or, better, of the concept referred to by eleos. I would place the burden of proof on those who want claim a meaning for this concept that appears nowhere in the linguistic authorities. What I've seen from the soc-sci folks never deals at all with linguistic data, but rather usually simply asserts the idea of obligation.
I am afraid some miscommunication has occurred; my point about "extreme language" refers to the use of the word not, not to the use of the word mercy. But in terms of burden of proof, I feel the soc-sci folks have done their job -- reviewed the requisite background literature and cultural context -- and that it is the burden of the doubter to upend their findings. 2/24/05: I will add as well here that the linguistic authorities may be regarded either as in no position to disagree with what social scientists say; or, alternatively, if presented with the data, may not disagree with it. Malina et al. have an understanding that has to do more with how mercy and compassion are applied, not what it means.
Let me exposit it this way, as I did to Calvino in email. The mindset of the persons of this day was collectivist. in this setting, mercy and compassion would first and primarily be directed towards those who were within one's ingroup, and less to those who were less "connected", on a sliding scale. "Outgroup" members would have no expectation for mercy or compassion from others outside their group. This does not mean it would NEVER be shown to an outgroup member; but in such cases, we would say that the outgroup member is pleading to be treated as an ingroup member. More on this later.
2 and 3 are both claims made by Malina in his article in the volume Authenticating the Words of Jesus, ed. by Evans and Chilton. In this article he also insists that Jesus expected a literal cosmic being known as the son of man to literally descend from the sky and implies that the kingdom of heaven should be read kingdom of the sky. This is a line he continues in his book on Revelation, on which see this review: http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/2364_1579.pdf (see also some criticisms of the social science perspective in this review: http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/2230_1370.pdf ; for your own work, see the favorable review here: http://www.carleton.ca/~zcrook/MalinaReview.htm ).
I will not dispute this nor check back on it. I have found error in the work of Malina, et al. where issues outside social science are concerned (for example, they claim in a commentary that Mark 7:31 contains a geographic error) and that is where these sorts of claims fall. On the other hand:
As for 1, perhaps we understand their point differently. As expressed in Malina and Neyrey's book on Luke-Acts, Malina's The New Testament World, and the soc-sci commentary on the synoptics, however, the point is absurd. There, they cite Matt. 16:13 as an example of the dyadic personality, who defines himself not by some inward, private criterion, but by a public one, i.e., he is dependent upon other for his own sense of self (see, e.g., the following definition: http://moses.creighton.edu/malina/ntstudy/person/slide2.html ); thus, Jesus' question is not a test of his disciples, but rather an honest question: "Would someone please tell me just who I'm supposed to be?" Even in the context, however, this is nonsense, since Jesus is given a variety of contradictory answers: clearly, he could not model himself on all of these. Now, I can just here the soc-sci response: "Yes, and that is why he turned the question to his fictive kinship group, the disciples, in order to seek his self-definition and his honor." This has a first name, and it's O-S-C-A-R. Clearly, Jesus had a sense of his own identity long before, and it was an identity contrary to what everyone else expected of him (cf. Luke 2:49-50). In fact, this identity had to be prior to his calling of the disciples in order to create a new "fictive kinship group" (which is not what he was doing: another example of the abstract system getting in the way of the biblical data and background, as noted in the two reviews above), even if one doesn't think he was the Messiah and was thus re-constituting Israel by choosing 12 disciples (as Wright concludes). Furthermore, if he was turning to this f.k.g. for his identity, how come they didn't understand him? They said he was the Christ, but as a whole range of later interactions demonstrates, they meant a geo-political leader who would throw off the burden of the Romans and the Herodian usurpers and restore a pure, earthly Davidic kingdom based in the earthly Jerusalem (and would destroy the Samaritans with fire from heaven along the way). But, this is not what he did! Unless he didn't really teach what the Gospels claim he did (which Malina would seem to think), and then we're right back to the flatulence of higher criticism. I'm curious to know how you see this perspective on Matt. 16:13 agreeing with your other claims about the reliability of the Gospels...
Unfortunately, I have to say that this criticism is one that is typical, and it involves a rather significant misunderstanding of what Malina, et al. are saying. Whne it is said that one is "dependent upon other for his own sense of self" this does not mean that Jesus does not know who he is and needs to ask; rather, the individual certainly has ideas about themselves, but socially is limited in expression to the self that others recognize. The slide says the personality "needs another" -- but this is not to know, but to enact. Thus Jesus' question is not, "Would someone please tell me just who I'm supposed to be?" but, "Would someone please recognize what I am so that I can enact my role?" In context, a slave might want to be a rock star, but unless others acknowledged him as one, his "rock star" self would be suppressed at the behest of others who regarded him as just a slave. Therefore, this does not claim that Jesus did not have "a sense of his own identity".
Actually, adoption involves sonship and inheritance (cf. Rom. 8:15-17), which brings the references to around 30 verses just in Paul, not to mention Hebrews. In addition, I don't think that Galatians 3-4 is a "sidelight" passage, or that adoption and inheritance is a "sidelight" issue there, whichever you meant (nor, for than matter, in Ephesians). Inheritance also, of course, has a long background in the Old Testament, so it is pretty darned important.
Of course if we bring other words into the picture, the count does go higher. However, I would suggest that one need not be "adopted" to inherit. But:
Note that the role of the paterfamilias, though, was particularly to those in his household, so far as I know (I would have to check with Steve Baugh of Westminster: his knowledge of the 3,000+ inscriptions from 1st cent. Ephesus would help). Also, the question of inheritance, which is closely connected to adoption in Pauline thought, is not by any means a subset of the client-patron relationship (the well-known example of Julius Caesar's adoption of Ocatvius as his heir is a good example of the special significance of this): inheritance gave a claim to position and an identity with the interest of the grantor of the inheritance that a client could never have had.
The limit to household is simply not sufficient. Patronage was the relational model that governed the overwhelming majority of ancient human relationships. It would stretch credulity to suggest that Paul and the NT used the language and the structure of patronage, the most prominent form of social relationship (especially among social unequals), but was not actually reporting a patronal relationship. (***See more below.)
The preconceptions, as you put them, are grounded biblically, as God is portrayed as free to do what he pleases (Psa. 115:3; Psa. 135:6; Job 41:11--but wait, let me guess: those are from poetry and thus don't really mean that God whatever he pleases, but that sometimes he does what he pleases and sometimes he doesn't?
That is one point, but another is that God is NOT free to "do as He pleases". He cannot lie, as Hebrews says. He cannot not be God. He cannot make 2 and 2 equal 5. Thus:
God's self-revelation to Job is about the utterly absolute transcendence of God; if he withholds his hand, it is still because he pleases). An act of love, however, toward a rebellious creature was not compulsory, even by his own nature, since God's nature as love is fulfilled by the eternal love and perichoresis of the Trinity. This may be semantics, though, since it is the idea of "compulsion" that doesn't seem quite apt, implying as it does some kind of movement contrary to God's will (e.g., "Obligatory, enjoined by authority"--Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary; "An irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation"--American Heritage Dictionary). I would perhaps employ the more elegant language of St. Anselm, who says that it would not be fitting or beautiful for God to leave the world in sin. That is a good point that you make about the particular act of love being chosen sovereignly: whatever God does is loving, because that is who he is, but he could have chosen to show his love some other way, e.g., the Father could have judged the entire world out of love for his Son...I think, that, semantics aside, we are pretty close to agreement here...
My proposition, however, is that God's expression of love is, bound within His nature, as His inability to lie. That love is fulfilled in the Trinity is beside the point: It fulfills the object of love within that relationship, but once other actors are created whom God loves, the same obligation within His own nature comes to the fore. Perhaps "compulsion" does have poor connotations in English for this purpose.
But at a point prior to the patron being a patron to a particular client, there is no patron-client relationship, so that is not a point in the relationship! I'm not sure why this argument from Ephesians is moot: my point is that there election cannot be in terms of a client-patron relationship, since there was no relationship, and therefore the concept of mercy as expounded in Ephesians (while it is not mentioned much, it is in the background, cf. 2:4; in fact, all of chapter 2 is an explanation of this characteristic of God named in 2:4) cannot be the obligation of a patron to his client, which means that mercy cannot always mean obligation. It doesn't seem moot at all...Note that neither the covenant with Adam nor with Noah were salvific, however, neither in their original contexts nor in Paul's inspired interpretation, so they are more moot than the Ephesians argument (unless we want to get into the law/gospel distinction, but that's more of an internecine Reformed debate of the moment). Again, I don't like the term compelled (for the reasons given above), and I know that a covenant is a type of patronage, or more aptly a suzerain-vassal treaty in the ANE context: a fair amount of the work in that, particularly on Deuteronomy, was actually done by a Reformed professor at the seminary I attended (M.G. Kline)!
Nevertheless, the obligation to patronize those in need of patronage existed before this. Thus that there was "no relationship" is beside the point. Mercy as obligation did not require a specific object (though if we follow Paul in Galatians, it did exist towards whoever would be the Israel of God); though it may be added that for the omniscient God, there certainly would be no barrier to knowing who the objects of His mercy would be! Either way, "there was no relationship" is not a barrier to understanding a patronage paradigm here.
You actually mean "conceptual," and it's not just in the anthropological tradition (which is a modern social science), but in the NT documents and in the theology of the Reformed tradition.
I have not yet seen it reported by any Reformed commentator, but that could be a limit of my reading (as much as I have done, there's always a lot more to do!).
Note: I wasn't saying that he "knew of such things," but that his own cultural milieu was such that his background concepts were functionally closer to those of the ancient world than modern concepts. I guess you could say that he "knew of" such things, but only in a very Michael Polanyi-esque personal, or Dooyewerdian pre-theoretical way. I should point out that Paul didn't "know of" things like "dyadic personality" or "Semitic totality concept" either!
Agreed; Paul would take them for granted. I'm afraid the Polanyi, etc references escape me.
You need to clarify your linguistic terms: the issue is not whether words like "no," "none," or "all" are being used literally or not (since the opposite of literal is metaphorical or figurative, but a negation is neither of those), but how far they extend.
As far as I can see, two options present themselves that are of relevance: 1) they are exclusive and total; 2) to some degree, they are not. I do regard a negation as a figure of speech.
My point here is the same one above: even if I grant the non-exhaustive use of "not" in general, that does not mean it is required here, and so the context must determine whether it is exhaustive or not. If it's not exhaustive, then some do, in fact, seek after righteousness, some, in fact, are justified by the law, and some are not, in fact, guilty before God (all considered apart from the gospel, which is mentioned as a new thing in Rom. 3:21). Please explain to me why the Jew-Gentile distinction isn't a factor, since that is the division that Paul has made in Rom. 1 and 2 and was central to the Jewish understanding of the world, which was made up of Jews and everyone else, thus being universally exhaustive (speaking of social contexts). Why does prevenient grace make these things moot?
Here is an operative question: When Paul says, "none are justified by the law," does he mean, "none ever perform ANY act of the law which provides justification" or, "none, in the long span of their lives, end up in a position in which the law does enough for them, because whatever justification may be achieved is negated by sin"? The latter seems more likely; the former would be an absurdity (and would contradict James). It is for this reason that I must regard the "not" as non-exclusive -- or else, say that it must be modified by the context of the whole life, in which case it is also non-exclusive, but in another way.
My point about Jew and Gentile is only that this framing ultimately makes no difference in terms of whether one indeed can in any sense receive any sort of justification from deeds. The Jew had a more clear road, but it was no less theoretically possible for the Gentile.
Prevenient grace moots the issue for me because the "dead" person by this model gets a shot of "life" that enables them to see past their own deadness.
And we agree that life and death have to do with a relationship with God--I simply explained what that means: to have no relationship with God and no ability to have a relationship with God or even to understand what he is saying (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14). In the legal metaphor that Paul uses, righteousness does not even apply, just as the marriage law does not apply to one who is dead (cf. Rom. 7). I'm not taking the metaphor any way that is needed: I presented an argument in the context of Paul in order to explain what he meant by the metaphor, and you haven't replied to this, just said that the analogy breaks down, that I'm using the metaphor any way necessary, and that life and death mean a relationship with God. Of course Paul uses the idea death to refer to what happened in the garden (see Rom. 5, which we could have another argument about, I'm sure!), but my point is that, since it is metaphorical, what does it mean? What does spiritual death mean, or death with respect to God?
I think we agree on what "death" means here; but prevenient grace would again moot this point for me anyway, so I will not engage it further.
No, they could not do things freely, not in a legal sense (which is what I meant, not a moral sense). From the perspective of Roman law, slaves had none of the prerogatives of the free man and thus could not act freely--this was even taken to a moral level in some philosophers who considered slaves to be naturally incapable of free action (in a moral sense, not simply a legal sense). For example, a slave couldn't vote legally: he might be able to put a stone in the ballot box, but it could legally have no bearing on the verdict--the action has no effect. In the same way, those who are slaves to sin can do all they want, but because they are disconnected from righteousness, it has no effect. It would be like me trying to get the Canadian national healthcare system to pay for my surgery: I could try all I want, but it would have no effect, since I am not a citizen (another analogy used in the NT, e.g., Eph. 2:19; Phil. 3:20--although connected to the legal/slavery question, because the application of the laws had to do with citizens, not slaves).
Here again, this does not state that they could not do things freely; it merely indicates that if they took the liberty to do them, they'd be punished! The voting example merely shows an example of the consequences -- the slave can still commit the act of voting. The melding of freedom to act, and the effects of the act, are being incorrectly combined here.
Clearly, the qualification here would actually be that of John 1: all things that have been made. You're reasoning like Dan Barker here.
Barker, actually, would insist on the absolute sense and complain that indeed the Spirit was not made...
On the rest of the question, though, I'll swing some more your way: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge...most of the time...";
That's correct. Knowledge never actually literally starts with the fear of the Lord; babies do not learn that first thing in their knowledge base. This proverb expresses the importance of fear of the Lord but is not an accurate delineation of a chronology.
My son, if sinners entice you [to sin--not to go to the grocery store], do not consent...but sometimes you can consent...";
The qualification makes exactly my point. It is not ALL enticement.
"For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding...but sometimes he says stupid things...";
No; sometimes the Lord says things that are topically other than "knowledge" and "wisdom". But not stupid things; just things that are of a different category.
"Do not let kindness and truth leave you...except for when they go on vacation...";
Rather, when you go to war and work in espionage.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart...but sometimes don't trust him...";
It needs to be finished: "And lean not unto thy own understanding." Did Solomon consult the Lord for his math quizzes? Or use his own understanding?
"My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord...okay, sometimes you can reject it...";
Needs to be finished: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Yet does God correct every error every person makes?
"Get wisdom! Get understanding...okay, you don't really have to get them..." and I'm only into chapter 4.
The nature of the advice is not absolute, as though wisdom and understanding were ALL we were to get.
My point is that you dismissed my appeals to the verses in Proverbs by saying: oh, those verses are in wisdom literature and therefore not absolute. My point is that that does not follow: there are verses in wisdom literature that are absolute, understood correctly.
I have to disagree. In full contexts, every proverbial statement allows for exceptions. But even if we find a small number, the nature of proverbial literature as a whole places the burden upon those who demand an absolute. We agree that:
So, it comes down to the individual verses and their interpretation, not simply a whole genre, which means that there can be variation due to the subject matter, and, since God is sui generis, his actions would seem to necessarily be likely to be on a different plane than human actions (they are also grammatically different: statements about what is rather than what one ought to do, and these must be interpreted differently).
...and in that respect, the contradictions involved in certain degrees of Calvinist thought, along with the relevant social data, are what, as I see it, supply the context which require a proverbial, non-absolute edge. The point about God being sui generis is not a logical one; it is something of an emotional, "glory to God!" appeal that arbitrarily changes the rules.
I've got more to say, I suppose (mostly on the problems with the soc-sci perspective, which seem to mount every time I look at their works), but I should leave it here for now. Let me summarize my main arguments on our central disagreement (the meaning of mercy):
1) the linguistic useage shows that eleos is associated with a feeling of pity for those in need (occurring with oiktiro in Rom. 9:15 and with splanchnon in 1 John 3:17 and Luke 1:78), not with a particular relationship of obligation.
2) God's expression of his nature as merciful (Eph. 2:4) is precisely that he brings the Gentiles into covenant relationship with him; mercy, therefore, creates a relationship where none existed previously and thus cannot be the obligation created by that relationship.
I have addressed these points above and have nothing new to add.
3) As Al Plantinga might put it, I'm proposing a defeater for your argument from the authority of the soc-sci crowd by identifying some major flaws in their work: their claims about the meanings of certain terms cannot outweigh the linguistic data in the absence of particular, cogent arguments which address that data, and they make absurdly elementary errors in other areas. Note that they may still be correct (error in one point does not entail error in another or in all), but these errors undermine their position in your argument as a definitive authority (which so far is what they have been: you haven't presented particular arguments from them on the idea of mercy, but simply said that they say so and their work is well-documented--which, by the way, is not a legitimate response even if there weren't severe errors that call their accuracy into question, since broad reliability does not entail inerrancy in every argument).
This is mostly too general for comment, but in research circles, good documentation is a good response that requires an equitable one. Calvino proposes the following, which is general, but not equitable in terms of documentation:
As a final note on their work, I should point out their perspective on the dyadic personality (which doesn't enter directly into our discussion, but does apply to the general reliability question) is quite flawed, possibly because they rely more heavily on modern anthropological constructs than on actual evidence. That is to say, there is a substantial tradition of introspective, psychologically-oriented philosophy, often in explicit opposition to popular values of honor, that can be traced from Socrates onward, with representatives from a variety of backgrounds (including the first century slave Epictetus and the Jew Philo of Alexandria). Paul was undoubtedly familiar with these traditions (cf. his Athens apologetic discourse), Apollos was from Alexandria (and thus may have been aware of Philo's work), and many of the early Christians were from the upper class, who would have had the leisure to pursue philosophy. Thus, even if this view was not in the majority, it would have been present in the cultural milieu, while the soc-sci perspective claims that it is completely absent.
Without specific arguments, I can't really comment; however, the one critical view I have seen, in a book titled Paul and the Salvation of the Individual, showed a serious misunderstanding of the social science data. None of this proposes that introspection was impossible; this is a great misunderstanding of the point. But this would still not be the leading method of thought; it would still not be the sort of people Paul and the early Christians preached to; and it would require a significant shouldering of burden to prove that these tentative steps are amenable to the full-blown perception present in modern thought.
Furthermore, you can also find aspects of an introspection in the Old Testament: 1 Sam. 1:13; Psalms 4:4; 10:6, 11, 13; 14:1 mention "speaking with/in the heart"; in Psalm 13:2, the psalmist reflects on the sorrow in his heart and in his soul; in Psalm 42:5, the psalmist addresses his soul; there is an awareness of internal motivation in the "kidneys" (translated by the KJV as "reins," by others as "mind") and the "inward parts," (sometimes "innermost being") which are where God desires truth (Psa. 7:9; 51:6; Jer. 11: 20, 17:10, 20:12; Wis. 1:6), or are the source of learning (Psa. 15:7); the "heart" is famously distinguished from the outward apprearance in 1 Sam. 16:7 and from words in Isa. 29:13...My point with all of these is simply that there is some kind of recognition of an inward, private self that may be very different from appearances and words, is where truth should be truly found, and can even be communicated with in poetic dialogue (the earliest example of this I've found is in Egyptian literature, in fact--"A Dispute Between a Man and his Ba," from the 12th dynasty). This is also the case in the New Testament: Isa. 29:13 is quoted by Jesus; the famous sermon on the mount makes a clear distinction between outward actions and inward attitudes in the discussions of adultery and murder; it is the heart that is the source of all sin, Mk. 7:21; Peter, through the Spirit, discerns that Ananias has lied in his heart in Acts 5:4...Anyhow, while the ancient world was certainly much more concerned with outward norms, the kind of absolute exclusions of introspection and psychological reflection made by the soc-sci folks seem to be overstated.
I would only need to state again that it is not held here that introspection of some sort was impossible or did not exist. Rather, it would be held that it was significantly subservient to external factors, which is indeed what Calvino acknowledges. The soc-sci folks do not make any "absolute exclusions" -- this is an overstatement of their work.
Calvino has noted that he may not respond for a while due to obligations. We apprreciate the continuing dialogue!
Update 11/12/04: I have recently got hold of Allen Mawhinney's Yiothesia (Adoption) in the Pauline Epistles which has clarified greatly the nature of adoption in the ancient world. Mawhinney's descriptions of the adoption process in the ancient world - whether by Hebrews, Greeks, or Romans -- clearly indicates, as I supposed, that adoption was indeed a form of patronage. Mawhinney notes the dearth of literature on adoption [3 -- explaining perhaps why Calvino and I have seen so little on it!] and then explains the background data. In Greek culture, adoption served as a way to perpetuate familial obligations and rites [15ff]; for example, a son might be adopted in order to ensure that the adopter had someone to perform his funerary rites and bury him. In other cases adoption was performed to ensure a succession, or pass on a trade. (Indeed, there were also cases of posthumous adoption, in which the family of a man who died without an heir selected one from among them to designate as his heir.) Adoper and adoptee alike had legal responsibilities and privileges [23 -- i.e., the adopter would provide the adoptee with a home and sustencance, and in turn the adoptee was responsible for providing for the parents in their old age, and burying them when they died], which make it clear that this was a relationship within which there was an interaction of obligation -- in other words, patronage.
One question Mawhinney does not address is whether one could be "unadopted", which would have ramifications for the doctrine of perseverance (link below) However, given the contractual/obligational nature of the relationship, the P petal of TULIP would be hard to maintain; and Mawhinney does note a case in which an adoption could be annuled  by the adoptee, if he had a son of his own, in which case he could "return to his own family and resume his position" while leaving his newly born son in his place.
Roman adoption had some differing processes, but the ultimate purpose  of it was the same. In the ANE, adoption is established by means of contracts  which clearly show that it is a relationship of mutual obligation -- again, patronage. The purposes were much the same (provide for parents in old age; have someone to perform a burial). Indeed Mawhinney says of one such adoption contract, "Contracts such as this almost seem to make an adoption a bargained arrangement. The son agrees to care for the parent in old age and in return receives the inheritance." [35-6] This is clearly a form of patronage -- a binding set of duties and rights between two parties.
With all of the hubbub with White and Hays, we have not had time of late to return to what has been a more qualified opponent in this realm, he who we have called "Calvino". We now return to his comments; mine original in bold, his in italics.
Here is something that seems odd to me: you have read pretty much only the popularizers of the Reformed tradition and none, as far as I know, of the technical exegetical or systematic works, yet you decide to post your definitive criticisms of the system on your website. If I were to come to you have read Josh McDowell's work and the Authorized Version and claim to overthrow Christianity, you would simply laugh. I find this to be a parallel situation (although, obviously, of less dramatic import, since I don't confuse the Reformed tradition with the faith per se). Primary causality, as I have pointed out at least twice, was well-discussed throughout the middle ages as a standard point of theology, and this was well-known to the Reformed systematicians as well as the magisterial Reformers. Thus, the assumption is not at all gratuitous, but rather reasonable based upon a knowledge of the intellectual background (and the implications of "secondary causes" as used by Turretin). Since you want it, though, Turretin refers to God as the first cause in Topic Six, Question Four, Part Six of his Institutes of Elencitc Theology; Charles Hodge and Louis Berkhof also explicitly refer to God as first cause in their works.
This is all fine and dandy. Yet it is clear that none of these used primary causality as I have, for if they had, it would have come out in the wash, and White for example would not be bellowing so loudly about how I inserted it into the text. Unless White is indeed someone who has not read the texts referred to himself! Is he indeed comparable to Josh McDowell, I wonder? Is that a suitable compliment; would White accept it? Would Palmer? All of this is really a distraction from the main issue, not the issue itself: Whether my use of the concept is appropriate or not.
In my view, personal involvement is practically negligible; this in light of that "personal relationships" as we know it were practically unknowns in this society. Patrons were generally distant from their clients, and remote.
By personal involvement, I don't mean the modern, touchy-feely, "personal-as-opposed-to-legal," "Christianity-is-a-relationship-not-a-religion" perspective that drove me out of mainstream pop Evangelicalism. I mean involvement by a personal God, as opposed to an impersonal fate or even the barely personal Allah; this means a God with a knowable character which includes love, knowledge (e.g., speaking to Moses "as with a friend"), concern, etc. Even if patrons were remote, they still had some personal relation, i.e., the relation of persons (not of a person to his house or his slave). If they were distant, however, then we may need to reconsider the application of client-patron relation to the relation between God and His people in the NT, since a major point is that God is no longer distant (e.g., John 1, Eph. 2:14, the name of Immanuel being fulfilled, the image of priesthood and entrance into the Holy Place in Hebrews 10 and the tearing of the veil).
"Distance" of course is a relative concept. Yet "knowable character" also applied to patrons. What is described here is not beyond what I hold of the patronage relationship described in the NT. But the appeals are also misplaced. John 1 is about the Logos, Jesus, the hypostatic incarnation in the role of broker -- not about the Father, the patron. So likewise the other passages. (Moses, as well, acted as a broker; not merely a client.)
Then there is John's relation to Jesus, as the beloved disciple, who has the privilege of close personal proximity to Jesus, which would certainly not have been granted to a client, or perhaps Peter's very bitter sorrow, carried out in private with no witnesses to establish any kind of social role for his mourning.
And once again: Jesus is the broker, not the patron. Close relations certainly were not beyond a client; and at best, this only establishes the matter for a select inner circle in a teaching ingroup -- not for everyone universally. If not, then we run the danger of becoming what John MacArthur once condemned: The man who talks to Jesus in the bathroom while shaving.
There is also the classical idea of close friendship (see Plato's Symposium for an extreme example of this, or consider Augustine--still in the patronage world of antiquity--mourning for his friend's death in the Confessions).
Yes, Peter, John et al would suit this; however, what is there to say how "close" (a relative term!) the average believer is to be? We are not all apostles.
Furthermore, the sonship of Christians is modeled on the sonship of Christ, through His Spirit (Rom. 8:15), and is thus in some way relation to the very perichoresis of the members of the Trinity (John 17:21)--hardly an image of distance! Frankly, the more you flesh out your view of the patron-client relation, the less it seems to fit the NT.
I submit that Calvino's examples have not borne out his argument, mostly being misdirected (applying to the broker, not the patron). These last two examples come closest to affecting my point. However, Rom. 8:15 says nothing more than describing our mode of approach -- allowed because of the broker, Christ -- and does not in any sense reflect that the Father's responses will be just as intimate. Furthermore, it remains the same that even within families, there were not personal relationships as we know them today. By today's standard even "Abba" would be relatively distant, mostly an honorific compliment.
As for John 17:21, I see nothing that suggests anything more than unity of purpose -- certainly nothing suggesting intimacy of relationship any more than what would be typical of clients, patrons and brokers.
I mixed up Isaac and Ishmael. Oops! However, my general point...would remain the same. God owed mercy (covenant obligation) to the family of Abraham. One way or the other, someone in that family was "owed" it.
And your general point is still wrong, or at least not fully dealing with the text. The "obligation" devolved on Esau by birthright, not just on any old member of the family. Esau, however, sold that right, and Jacob gained it from Issac by a trick, all of it after God had chosen Jacob before birth.
I have now dealt with this issue more fully in my expansion of Romans 9 (link below). But continuing:
In social terms, the "obligation" would have been to the firstborn (as the behavior of the patriarchal families clearly indicates), but Paul's point is that God surprisingly picked the younger brother, even before Esau had sold his right. The surprise here is in fact created by the ancient Near Eastern social perspective, which would have required the elder son to recieve the covenant, but God does something different, even before Esau gives up what is rightfully his.
We have no disagreement with this so far.
The different being pointed out is not between Abraham's family and someone else's (at least not in Rom. 9), but rather between two members of that family, one of whom clearly was "owed" the covenantal favor of God (Esau: it was his right as the firstborn) and another who was not (Jacob). Again, Paul's point is that God reverses the expected "obligation" prior to any act on the part of the firstborn to despise that right, and my point still stands: Paul is in fact claiming that God's choice of Jacob was not according to social "obligation," but rather in contravention of it.
The point is ineffective. Paul is only claiming that it was in contravention to one particular (being firtstborn); he has not at all contravened the matter of obligation to covenant. And this in light of my recent expansion linked above has to do particularly with objections Paul is addressing peculiar to the situation of his day.
I consider the first argument fallacious: It tries to associate "mercy" with "compassion" merely by proximity.
Do we need to review the basic rules of Hebraic parallelism (see, e.g., Chapter 2 of Petersen and Richards, Interpreting Hebrew Poetry--and, lest you make the complaint, they point out that it doesn't just apply to poetry)? When two similar constructions are set next to each other, they do have a relation--in this case, it is either repetetive or explanatory. This is not merely by proximity, but rather is in accordance with the recognized structures of Hebraic expression, which you so heartily push in the context of negation or wisdom literature...
I said nothing to the contrary. They are obviously closely tied; what I objected to was the attempt to fix their meanings together by that process. But this is really the major point:
Even if "compassion" were primarily directed at family (and it's not--see below) the context of Exodus 33:19 (which is a crux interprum here) is not of God as familially related to Moses or to the Israelites. In fact, in the OT, God is pictured initially not as father or husband (this comes in the prophetic literature), but rather initially as the suzerain, whose only relation to Israel is of king to vassal, which is not a familial relation.
A suzerain or ruler, however, relates as fictive kin in a covenant relationship with his subjects. And I daresay that an affirmation of covenant loyalty and dedication is far from being out of place in Ex. 33: For example, Ex. 33:13: "Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people."
Further, YHWH defines the object of His compassion by His own choosing, not by relation or by anything prior or exterior to His own will (check any Greek grammar for the function of the particle an with the subjunctive as something that sets the condition of an action--here, what sets the condition of God's showing mercy is nothing but His own showing of mercy).
I agree: I just define the "mercying" process differently: YHWH defines the objects of His covenant loyalty by His own choosing; though why He does so, why His will operates so, is not at all described by the text.
However, even so, Malina and Pilch note that "compassion" in the Biblical world was "a value rooted primarily in kinship obligations."  It relates to the value that family, as a bonded group, ought to have the greatest consideration for one another. Thus any association of pity or feelings is beside the point, and even an anachronism: The word still denotes obligation within a familial bond… Pilch and Malina note these very words (oiktiro and splanchna) and note that the latter is what describes Jesus' motivation to heal people, for example. There is no evidence that "pity" is a motivator -- this is read into the text as a modern value.
Just to preview my conclusions (supported fully from the ancient sources below), this is baloney. In the Greek sources, these terms do not have a primary context of kinship obligation, but rather of a consideration of the poor circumstances of the one observed: uses for friend/family and enemy are about equal, but the vast majority of them have some connection to suffering, helplessness, exile, etc.
Hmm, so credentialed scholars peddle baloney? We shall see...
One could say that there is a universal human family, but that is certainly a modern western value, not an ancient one (or even a widespread one currently-many Asian cultures, for example, save their strongest prejudices for other Asian races, rather than whites). As to emotion being anachronistic, that is also false, as I think the references below demonstrate (e.g., Aristotle's technical definitions).
It should be noted that exceptions would prove little, since even Pilch and Malina say that compassion was rooted primarily in kinship obligations. But here we embark on a primary thrust from Calvino as he attempts to show that the particular word used does not mean what these scholars say it does.
Once again, here we are in a realm that I know fairly well-languages (I teach two and have studied literature in at least four, maybe five, including training in contemporary linguistic theory and its application to interpretation), and here follows the bulk of my linguistic argument. We can identify what words mean by understanding them in context: what kinds of people or situations are they used of? What are the expected results or attendant circumstances? And so forth. This is not a fallacious argument by proximity, since words have identifiable meaning as they are related to other words. If you find my method in the following objectionable, I would be happy to write a fuller defense of it for you. Of course, this whole line of argument is offered to support all of the lexical authorities and translators for both classical and New Testament Greek of the past three generations, which you (having no linguistic training) reject, following the work of social scientists (whose specialty is also not linguistics). Thus:
It is just as well to point out that the specialty of these linguists is not social science; that they know social science fairly well, including specialized training....at what stage does the pomp cancel out the pomp? Nevertheless, let us look at the examples. For this stage some of our updates and clarifications above need to be kept in mind. Whether because of my error or his or both, I believe Calvino overread my point about the connection of emotion to mercy and compassion (pity, it is read as in many entries below) and so I will end up in agreement with some examples, but deeming them not relevant to our principle difference of view.
Homer: Iliad: this is the response that Achilles should have (but initially does not) to Hektor's corpse and particularly to Priam's loss of his son (e.g., 24.44)
Calvino did not quote the lines here and I can not readily find an online copy of these works that offer reference numbers. But here is a line that appears close: Fear, O Achilles, the wrath of heaven; think on your own father and have compassion upon me, who am the more pitiable, for I have steeled myself as no man yet has ever steeled himself before me, and have raised to my lips the hand of him who slew my son. What is telling here is that the appeal is made with reference to how Achilles would behave with his own kin. Thus this cite would prove my point: It is Priam asking Achilles to grant to him a value expected to be granted to one's own kin. In other words, Priam is asking, "Please treat me as you would kin." So this example merely proves my point.
Odyssey: The adjective form is used to modify 'tears,' thus expressing grief and sorrow and usually moving the audience to some kind of response to this display of emotion. (see 8.531 & 16.219). The verb is used of an enemy king's decision to spare Odysseus' life (14.279, in response to tears), giving away goods-in this case someone else's-to a beggar (17.451), and is contrasted with having a hard heart (5.191).
On this Antinous began to abuse the swineherd. "You precious idiot," he cried, "what have you brought this man to town for? Have we not tramps and beggars enough already to pester us as we sit at meat? Do you think it a small thing that such people gather here to waste your master's property and must you needs bring this man as well?"
Note that Antinous' response assumes that there were enough such persons in town that could take advantage of the table's goods. The objection is to supplying a beggar from outside the fictive kinship group of the city. Then note the response:
And Eumaeus answered, "Antinous, your birth is good but your words evil. It was no doing of mine that he came here. Who is likely to invite a stranger from a foreign country, unless it be one of those who can do public service as a seer, a healer of hurts, a carpenter, or a bard who can charm us with his Such men are welcome all the world over, but no one is likely to ask a beggar who will only worry him. You are always harder on Ulysses' servants than any of the other suitors are, and above all on me, but I do not care so long as Telemachus and Penelope are alive and here."
The answer is not, "you should be sorry for the man anyway" but a retort that for all we know, the man might be able to return the favor (reciprocity!). It's an almost cold response, and it is not rooted in compassion at all.
Plato: Apology (34c): Socrates mocks a previous defendant who aroused eleos through weeping at his trial and displaying his children, who would suffer if he received the penalty (sounds like modern courtroom tactics!).
This one is numbered on one site I found: "Perhaps one of you might be angry...when he himself stood trial...he begged and implored the jury...brought his children and...family into court, to arouse as much pity as he could..." But yet again, the matter of fictive kinship rears its head against Calvino's view. The idea was that the man tried to ingratiate himself by making himself "one of us". A commetator has noted that appeals like this were probably common in Athenian trials, and that the jury is disturbed that Socrates is NOT doing what he decries; if so, this only shows that appeals to family and kinship are at the root of "pity" in the ancient world and are expected parts of the process of getting "pity".
Republic (336e): Response to those with less ability.
"It is surely far more fitting for us to be pitied by you clever men than to be treated harshly." In this the character is requesting pity from an intellectual superior. But again, fictive kinship is there: a teacher-disciple grouping is a model of fictive kinship. The plea is that the superior intellect should guide and take under wing the inferior; in other words, treat him as a son -- not as a foreigner.
Aristotle: Poetics (1449b27; 1452a3, a38, b32-36; 1453a1-6, b1, b12, b17; 1456b1): like fear (phobe), eleos is a passion (pathema) which it is the job of tragedy to stir, particularly by displaying "misfortune" to the audience.
I can not readily find a copy of this that matches Calvino's notes, and cannot find a print copy at my local library. but here is what I can find that seems to match:
Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions. If this is typical, and other uses of pity I found suggest that it is, it is neutral to my primary point about pity/compassion being related to kinship. It makes no statement either way; one would need examples of "pity-appeal" in a tragedy to say.
Sophocles: Philoctetes (501): saving an exile is eleeivos.
I can again find no copy of this with the numeration, but here is a section of note:
Say, welcome strangers, what disastrous fate
Led you to this inhospitable shore,
Nor haven safe, nor habitation fit
Affording ever? Of what clime, what race?
Who are ye? Speak! If I may trust that garb,
Familiar once to me, ye are of Greece,
My much-loved country. Let me hear the sound
Of your long wished-for voices. Do not look
With horror on me, but in kind compassion
Pity a wretch deserted and forlorn
Interestingly, the speaker links compassion and pity to whether or not the people meeting him are of his own nation! This is probably not the cite that was in mind, but it is nevertheless revealing, in favor of what I have been arguing.
Lysias: Speeches, 24.7: what should be shown to an old, weak man by his opponents
Thankfully this one can be found numbered online: Do not, therefore, gentlemen, when you can save me justly, ruin me unjustly; what you granted me when I was younger and stronger, do not take from me when I am growing older and weaker; nor, with your previous reputation for showing the utmost compassion even towards those who are in no trouble, be moved now by this man to deal harshly with those who are objects of pity even to their enemies; nor, by having the heart to wrong me, cause everyone else in my situation to despond. It seems from the comment that the speaker is part of some fictive kinship group with those to whom he speaks ("what you granted me when I was younger and stronger"); this is confirmed in that the subject of the speech is the refusal of a pension, made by the speaker to a council with power over him (not really his "opponents"). We would expect compassion and pity to be shown to fellow citizens of the same polis. On the other hand, the man speaks (rhetorically or factually?) of being an object of pity even to his enemies. If he means this literally, we don't know who these enemies are; but if they are in some sense part of the man's ingroup, the point would be the same.
Aristophanes: Achaemenses, 706: response, along with tears, for an old man who has been attacked.
This work is not online, nor available at my local library, so I will has to pass for now.
Psalms: this is God's requested response to distress (17:7-9; 25; 31:7, 16; 89:49-50; 103:4; 116:3-8; 107:8-10; 119:157ff.; 123:3; 143:12).
This is within the bounds of my argument, for God is in a covenant (patronage) relationship with those referred to.
Proverbs 14:31: eleos extended to poor.
Arguably, Solomon refers to the proper response to one's poor fellow Israelite, since his reader isn't going to be doing charity in Moab!
Sirach 18:12-14: forgiveness because God sees ruin approaching
This is a most interesting passage, one which proves my point: 12 He saw and perceived their end to be evil; therefore he multiplied his compassion. 13 The mercy of man is toward his neighbour; but the mercy of the Lord is upon all flesh: he reproveth, and nurtureth, and teacheth, and bringeth again, as a shepherd his flock. 14 He hath mercy on them that receive discipline, and that diligently seek after his judgments. Note that this confirms that object of mercy for most men -- within kinship bonds -- and differentiates it from the Lord's mercy, such that all men are within God's kinship group of which He is head (the shepherd imagery), though it then narrows it down to those who properly act within the ingroup of the Lord's patronage (those that receive his discipline, etc.).
Tobit 13:2: opposite of "strike with a whip"
Agreed. However no object is specified for mercy.
Micah: the appropriate treatment of the poor (6:8); forgiveness, putting aside of sins (7:20; desolation because of sins, v. 13-from there to v. 20, the only change is God's response, not that of Israel).
For the poor, see above on Proverbs. The remainder are expected acts within the ingroup. If the point of the latter phrase is to draw a parallel to Calvinism, may I point out that this hardly means that if Israel had changed as well, this does not mean God is not going to be showing mercy or compassion.
Isaiah: opposite of "wrath" (60:10); response to affliction (63:7, 9)
Agreed on part 1. For 63:7-9 note the "ingroup" connection: 7I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. 8For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. 9In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. Compassion is shown to Israel, God's covenant people.
Maccabees: opposite of wrath, eleos a response to the deaths of the Jews (2 Macc. 3, 5); response of enemies to seeing the suffering of the Jews (3 Macc. 4:4); tyrant extends eleos by sparing young Jew from torture (4 Macc. 9:4)
"Opposite of wrath" is agreed. 2 Macc. 3, 5: I have some difficulty finding references here, but this one is of interest, 5:6: But Jason slew his own citizens without mercy, not considering that to get the day of them of his own nation would be a most unhappy day for him; but thinking they had been his enemies, and not his countrymen, whom he conquered. In other words, the expression of mercy is directly related to the identity of the objects; their citizenship and the showing of mercy is connected. 4 Macc. 9:4 is also interesting:
1 Why do you delay, O tyrant? For we are ready to die rather than transgress our ancestral commandments; 2: we are obviously putting our forefathers to shame unless we should practice ready obedience to the law and to Moses our counselor. 3: Tyrant and counselor of lawlessness, in your hatred for us do not pity us more than we pity ourselves. 4: For we consider this pity of yours which insures our safety through transgression of the law to be more grievous than death itself. 5: You are trying to terrify us by threatening us with death by torture, as though a short time ago you learned nothing from Eleazar.
In other words, this "eleos" is a false pity, according to the captors; the tyrant is sparing them, pretending to have pity when he really does not, or using it as a way to punish them.
Baruch 2:19: eleos not because of Israel's righteousness (which would be obligation), but because of her suffering.
2:19 says, Therefore we do not make our humble supplication before thee, O Lord our God, for the righteousness of our fathers, and of our kings. But it goes on to say: For thou hast sent out thy wrath and indignation upon us, as thou hast spoken by thy servants the prophets, saying, 21 Thus saith the Lord, Bow down your shoulders to serve the king of Babylon: so shall ye remain in the land that I gave unto your fathers. The clear meaning is that they can NOT make such an appeal, because of their sin -- which means, they have in mind the covenant stipulations of Deuteronomy requiring their punishment, and know an appeal to the righteousness of their fathers (which is probably what some did) is of no use. But if "mercy" were as Calvinists define it, then why could God not show pity here anyway, since He can show it to whoever He wants? The response here assumes that God's pity is limited to those who do not disobey His covenant.
Conclusion: While only some of occurrences of this term have to do with family or a set of social obligation, nearly all have to do with some form of suffering. Thus, this term clearly has to do with a response to some sort of bad circumstance; it is considered a passion like fear; it often results in tears or is provoked by tears. The English word "pity" ("to have tender feelings toward (any one), awakened by a knowledge of suffering"-Webster's Unabridged) is entirely appropriate and not anachronistic. If this term is translated by "mercy" and its cognates, its primary referent is most definitely not mutual duty relating to a contracted relationship (consider that Achilles should have this for his enemies), but rather poor circumstances or some kind of suffering.
Response in conclusion: Indeed most of these had to do with family or some other social obligation; those that did not, involved some special circumstance that only reinforced the view expressed by myself and the soc-sci people (as we noted with Achilles). We do agree that it was to do with response to bad circumstance (that's when we'd expect ingroup members to have it anyway!); that it can be a passion and have to do with tears (my apologies if this was otherwise implied). I maintain that there is still a minor anachronism in "pity" for it does not capture the social application of the trait to one's own ingroup -- though even today, we often invoke pity with kinship sentiments ("help the starving children -- they're just like your children"). Here is the difference: Pity today is, "Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another." Pity then was, "Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another ingroup member." None of the citations work against this view, and indeed many directly support it.
Calvino now looks at oiktirw (and cognates).
Homer: Iliad: response to a wounded warrior (11.814); Achilleus' response to Patroklos' sorrow (16.5); the dishonorable death of old Priam (naked and eaten by dogs) would be this (22.76).
Odyssey: like eleos, related to weeping (2.81; 24.438); describes Agamemnon's murder by his wife (11.412); inspired by the sight of a sea monster eating some of their comrades (12.258).
I will not dispute the "related to weeping" parts, but 12.258 clearly indicates a fictive kinship situation. Would they have had pity on enemy soldiers being so eaten?
Herodotus: History: the response to a starving boy, resulting in feeding him (3.52); soldiers' response to a helpless infant (from an enemy city) so that they refuse to kill him (5.92); Xerxes' servant requests this from the king on account of his age (7.38).
Xenophon: Anabasis: the response of onlooking civilians from the opposing side to soldiers who have been captured (1.4.7)
From the looks of it this is not about soldier who have been captured but traitors or deserters who may soon be captured: And Xenias the Arcadian and Pasion the Megarian embarked upon a ship, put on board their most valuable effects, and sailed away; they were moved to do this, as most people thought, by a feeling of jealous pride, because their soldiers had gone over to Clearchus6 with the intention of going back to Greece again instead of proceeding against the King, and Cyrus had allowed Clearchus to keep them. After they had disappeared, a report went round that Cyrus was pursuing them with warships; and while some people prayed that they might be captured, because, as they said, they were cowards, yet others felt pity for them if they should be caught. But it is not clear who the "some people" are who have this pity. Are they fellow soldiers? Perfect strangers? So this tells us nothing with reference to kinship and pity.
Aeschylus: the response to the sight of Prometheus' suffering (paschein) and his own response to humans oppressed by Zeus (Prometheus Vinctus, 241); chorus' response to Cassandra's prophecy of her own death (Agamemnon, 1321).
The Prometheus passage is quite telling FOR my case. Prometheus says: "I that gave mortals first place in my pity, I am deemed unworthy to win that pity for myself." Promethus was a deity who gave himself over to common cause with men, and thus established a fictive kinship relationship with them. As for Cassandra and the chorus: The role of the chorus is an indeterminate one; whether they are "kin" to a play's characters is hard to say, but it is noteworthy that Cassandra calls them "friends" which suggests a fictive kinship relationship of some sort.
Sophocles: what should cause Orestes to refrain from killing his mot, 1412); response to a woman captured to be a slave concubine (Ajax, 525); response to the idea of leaving a widow and orphans (Ajax, 652); response to the sight of exiles (Trachiniae, 298).
Euripides: produces tears from a Greek herald at the sight of a dying child of Hecuba, the Trojan queen (Hecuba, 519); Greek king Agamemnon's response to the ill-fortune of Hecuba and her son (Hecuba, 851).
Here again we suggest that the characters' feelings are invoked by familial concern: No doubt in the mind of the messenger was his OWN child; note this comment by Hecuba: Deem this then a disgrace and show regard for me, have pity on me, and, like an artist standing back from his picture, look on me and closely scan my piteous state. I was once queen, but now I am thy slave; a happy mother once, but now childless and old alike, reft of city, utterly forlorn, the most wretched woman living. Ah! woe is me! whither wouldst thou withdraw thy steps from me? See that her appeals are to how she is now bereft of all kinship ties: family, polis.
Nehemiah: extended even when Israel had sinned (9:18-19); because of distress (9:27-31)
As is appropriate; for YHWH was indeed in a kinship relationship wuth Israel.
Psalms: the solution to suffering (4:1; 102:1-13; 123:2-4); felt for the city (102:14); ignore sins and extend this because we are brought low (79:8)
The second is most telling; the city is one of the primary sources of fictive kinship connection. I would agree that it is a solution to suffering; and being brought low certainly ought to inspire charity to others of the same kinship group. This makes perfect sense within a collectivist context.
Proverbs: applied to animals (12:10)
I don't see this "applied to animals" in any sense: righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. It seems only to say that the righteous are good to even animals; but the wicked are at their nicest when being mean to their own kinship group.
Isaiah 27:11: here both oiktiro and eleos cognates are what God will justly deny because of transgression (so, sin removes God's obligation to this care for His covenant people, and thus His extension of this care to them after they have sinned is not on the basis of obligation, which has been forfeited)
This fits in precisely with what I have been arguing. In Deuteronomy the curses are extended for covenant violation; in essence, denial of kinship obligation, because the people have done the same to their fictive Father, YHWH. Indeed that the obligation is forfeited is precisely my point: Though it may also be said that the sin of the Israelites enacts the obligation of curses upon the people by YHWH.
Micah 7:17-19: described as God forgetting their sins and treading iniquity underfoot (i.e., violations of the covenant which legally dissolved the suzerain's obligations to the vassal)
Same as point above. This is within my own paradigm.
Lamentations 3:32: contrasted with causing grief
I would have no disagreement that mercy and compassion as I define it would be a contrast to causing grief.
Maccabees: because of oppression (2 Macc. 8:2; 3 Macc. 2:20); being at the gates of death (3 Macc. 5:51); extended for reason of old age (4 Macc. 5:12)
Baruch 2:24-27: in spite of sin and in order to relieve suffering
Once again, an appeal to YHWH from a Jew -- to the head of the kinship group, by one of its members.
Conclusion: definitely not limited to or even primarily used for family members, even by fictive kinship (cf. uses for enemies), but rather primarily having reference to some kind of suffering or helplessness, again provoking tears in some contexts. Quite close to eleos, referring to some kind of apparently emotional response. In the theological contexts of the LXX, may refer specifically to God's care for His people, but this is a care that is forfeited by sin, so when it is given after sins have been committed, it is not on any basis of obligation.
Response: It is clearly something extended to members of kinship groups, whether fictive or real; and the application to enemies has to do with associations with one's own kinship groups -- and such references were rare. I do expect that suffering or helplessness would be the times when we would expect kinship obligation or memory to be most invoked. I also agree that violation of the kinship covenant is an occasion for the obligation of the covenant to be forfeited. (In this context, this fits with that I also do not agree with the P in the TULIP setup.)
I am not certain of the relevance of the following, which doesn't disagree with what I have offered.
splagcnon (and cognates)
Aeschylus : Agamemnon (995): the location of the sense of agitation expecting a negative outcome; Choephori (413): the chorus' response to the plight of Orestes (his father has been murdered by his mother).
Sophocles, Ajax (995): where grief is felt.
Euripides : Alcestis (1009): describes the internal organs (translated "heart"); Orestes (1201): anger; Hippolytus (118): pride
LXX: Maccabees: the literal entrails (2 Macc. 9:6; 4 Macc. 5:30, 11:19)
Conclusion: the referent has nothing to do with family members, but the actual internal organs and the palpable physical sensations related to certain mental or emotional states.
I would by no means have argued that this word had to do with "family members" to begin with.
Now for the Hebrew. I've included the full entries for the Hebrew background terms from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, which is not a Calvinistic publication, but one of mainstream conservative Hebrew scholarship (Waltke is one of the editors, who is one of the great living Hebraists).
2146.0 ~x;r' (r¹µam) I, love deeply; have mercy, be compassionate. Denominative verb.
(2146a) ~x,r, (reµem), ~x;r; (raµam) womb.
(2146b) ~ymix]r; (raµ¦mîm) tender mercy.
(2146c) ~Wxr; (raµûm) compassionate.
(2146d) ynIm'x]r; (raµ¦m¹nî) compassionate women (Lam 4:10).
This root refers to deep love (usually of a "superior" for an "inferior") rooted in some "natural" bond. In the Piel it is used for the deep inward feeling we know variously as compassion, pity, mercy. Probably r¹µam is related to Akkadian rêmu (cf. Ugaritic rµm, G. Schmuttermayr, "RHM----Eine lexikalische Studie," Bib 51:499ff). This root is to be distinguished in emphasis from µûs and µ¹mal. Sometimes µ¹n¢n is rendered "mercy" with emphasis on the graciousness with which such is extended. This verb and its derivatives occur 133 times.
And yet "rooted in some 'natural' bond" fits precisely with what I have been saying about the meaning of mercy and compassion.
r¹µam is used infrequently (twelve of forty-seven times) of men. It is used only once in the Qal when the Psalmist confesses his love for Jehovah (Psa 18:1 [H 2]). The depth of this love is shown by the connection of this word with reµem/ raµam. Compare, Isaiah (Isa 49:15) who uses it of a mother's love toward her nursing baby. It can also refer to a father's love (Psa 103:13). Apparently, this verb connotes the feeling of mercy which men have for each other by virtue of the fact that they are human beings (Jer 50:42) and which is most easily prompted by small babies (Isa 13:18) or other helpless people. It is this natural mercy for the helpless that Israel's and Babylon's enemies will lack in their cruelty (Isa 13:18; Jer 6:23), although God may give Israel's enemies such feeling (compassion) (1Kings 8:50; Jer 42:12). Indeed, the prophets (Isa 13:18) conjoin µûs (the feeling which flows from one to another), µ¹mal (the strength of feeling which leads one to action in behalf of another, i.e. to spare them some difficulty), and r¹µam (the deep inner feeling based on some "natural" bond) when describing what Babylon (Jer 21:7) and God (Jer 13:14) will lack toward Israel.
And yet again: It is clear that all of these are kinship bonds -- mother, father, for God, for others as humans. It is of interest that God has to give enemies of Israel this sensation, and that Babylon would be assumed not to have it; this indicates that the normal state of affairs is for those outside of the kinship group to lack this quality.
This root is frequently used of God. It incorporates two concepts: first, the strong tie God has with those whom he has called a his children (Psa 103:13). God looks upon his own as a father looks upon his children; he has pity on them (cf. Mic 7:17). The second concept is that of God's unconditioned choice (µ¹n¢n, grace). God tells Moses that he is gracious and merciful to whomever he chooses (Exo 33:19).
All of this continues to fit in with what I have been arguing (though in another article I have disagreed with the definition of grace offered).
There are several ideas attached to God's deep, tender love: first, the unconditional election of God (Exo 33:19); next, his mercy and forgiveness toward his people in the face of deserved judgment and upon the condition of their repentance (Deut 13:17 [H 18]); also, God's continuing mercy and grace in preserving his unrepentant people from judgment (2 Kings 13:23) Thus this attribute becomes the basis in part of an eschatological hope (cf. Isa 14:1; Isa 49:13; Isa 54:7; Jer 12:15; Jer 33:26; Ezek 34:25; Mic 7:19; Zech 1:16). It is noteworthy that Deuteronomy (Deut 30:3) prophesies the exile because of Israel's sin, stipulating that repentance will meet with God's tender compassion. So we read of the withdrawal of God's mercy resulting in harsh judgment at the hands of Babylon (Isa 9:17 [H 16]; Isa 27:11; Hos 2:4 [H 61]. During the exile Israel's leaders encouraged the people with God's electing love and tender-mercy (Lam 3:32), and led them in humbling themselves in repentance, calling upon God to reinstate his father-like compassion (Zech 1:12). The restitution of the father-son relationship and the return from the exile witnesses this accompanying loving care (Hos 2:23 [H 25]). Scripture makes it certain that the exile was brought by God and terminated by God (Ezek 39:25) according to his sovereign providence (Isa 30:18; cf. E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, 11, p. 353f.). Finally, the prophets' message regarding the return from the exile opens onto a permanent state where the father-son relationship will never be broken (Hos 2:23 [H 25]; Isa 54:8, 10).
In all of this I find nothing that disagrees with my view. All of this relates to God's relationship with His covenant people, His fictive kin. If anything this is all quite clear confirmation of what I have been saying.
raµ¦mîm. Tender mercy, compassion. This word shows the link between r¹µam, "to have compassion" (Piel) and reµem/ raµam, "womb," for raµ¦mîm can refer to the seat of one's emotions (Gen 43:30) or the expression of one's deep emotion (1Kings 3:26); cf. J. Pedersen, Israel, 1936, pp. 309, 525).
I would not disagree with this in the least.
raµ¦mîm recalls in various situations that God's tender-mercy is rooted in his free love and grace. Hence, God's punishment is more desirable than man's wrath (2Sam 24:14). God's mercy is often combined with his µesed "love," "kindness" and µ¢n, in "grace," "unmerited favor." God's anger and wrath are the opposite of his loving mercy (Deut 13:18; Zech 1:12; Psa 77:9). In times of captivity (esp. the exile, Dan 9:18) Israel is summoned to repentance on the grounds of God's father-like compassion (2Chr 30:9), and God responds (Isa 54:7). The Psalmist often beseeches God for expressions of his tender mercies to relieve his distress (Psa 51:1 [H 3]) or confesses that undeserved relief is due to God's tender mercies and grace (Psa 103:4). The eschaton is to witness God's unconditional and unbroken love and care (Hos 2:19 [H 21]); when Israel repents (Deut 30:3; Isa 55:7; Zech 12:10).
Nor any of this. The tie-in of fictive kinship and mercy is clear.
raµûm. Compassionate, merciful- This adjective is used only of God (with the possible exception of Psa 112:4) setting forth one of his attributes, i.e. what God gives forth in raµam he has in raµûm.
raµ¦m¹nî. Compassionate. This adjective describes the depth of feeling a mother's love can reach. Women who so loved their children boiled them for food during the siege by the Babylonians (Lam 4:10).
Note again the familial connection.
Bibliography: Dahood, M., "Denominative riµµam, 'to conceive, enwomb', " Bib 44:204- 205. THAT, II, pp. 761-67. L.J.C.
0694.0 !n:x' (µ¹nan) I, be gracious; pity; in Hithpael stem to beseech, implore.
(694a) !xe (µ¢n) favor, grace.
(694b) ~N"xi (µinn¹m) freely, for nothing.
(694c) !yxi (µîn) grace. Occurs only in Job 41:4.
(694d) !WNx; (µannûn) gracious.
(694e) hn"ynIx] (µ¦nînâ) favor.
(694f) hN"xiT. (t®µinnâ) supplication.
(694g) !Wnx]T; (taµ¦nûn) supplication.
Cognate with Akkadian en¢nu, -an¹nu "to grant a favor," Ugaritic µnn "to be gracious, to favor" (UT, 19: no. 882), and Arabic µanna "to feel sympathy, compassion."
It is used in the Qal stem fifty-six times, in the Hithpael seventeen times, in the Hophal once, in the Piel once, in the Polel twice, and in the Niphal once.
The verb µ¹nan depicts a heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need. Ap-Thomas's suggestion that the verb comes from a bilateral root "to bend, to incline," i.e. to condescend, is not convincing. According to Flack the verb describes "an action from a superior to an inferior who has no real claim for gracious treatment."
It is interesting that Flack relates this to a superior-inferior relationship; but there are not enough details for me to see a clear contradiction to my views, if one was intended.
In reaction to earlier studies, Neubauer in his recent monograph defines the verb as God's intervention to save and to help his faithful servant or nation with the emphasis on loyalty rather than on grace and love. He arrives at this conclusion by an extrapolation from social relations to theological relations. His attempt to read such a nuance into the various occurrences of µ¹nan and its derivatives leads to forced interpretations. JWDS Note: the places where this would be forced would be those where the focus is on having transgressions forgiven (see below), as this would obviate the suzerain's responsibilities to the vassal who had broken the covenant.
Nuebauer's point also agrees with my own (servant or nation = fictive kin), of course; but as for "forced interpretations", I have yet to see one. Obviation of responsibility does not diminish the force of this in the least; under such conditions, transgression is punished as part of the covenant agreement. One could even say it is a form of obligation with the covenant, in a negative sense.
The LXX translates the verb with oikteireœ "to pity or have compassion," with eleœ "to show mercy or sympathy," or in the Hithpael stem with deisthaœ "to supplicate."
The verb is used in social or secular contexts as well as theological ones. It often has the sense of showing kindness to the poor and needy.
Job begs his friends, "Pity me, pity me" (Job 19:21).
Job is asking his friends (i.e., fellow fictive kinship group members!)to have pity on him.
The Hithpael stem means "to beseech," as in Gen 42:21 where the brothers recalled how Joseph had pleaded with them. The Syrian captain besought Elijah for his Ide and for the lives of his soldiers (2Kings 1:13). Esther implored the king with tears (Est. 8:3; cf. Est. 4:8).
In other words, the captain asked to be treated as one would treat a member of one's kinship group (as a fellow Israelite, not an unreasonable expectation or assumption). A request made of brothers and of a husband fits in just fine with this.
The apparent Niphal in Jer 22:23, n¢µant, is probably a textual error for a word from derived from the verb '¹naµ as shown by the LXX, Peshitta, and Targum. Modern translations follow the LXX katastenaxeis and render "you will groan." The overwhelming number of uses in the Qal stem, some forty-one instances, have Yahweh as the subject. The plea µonn¢nî, "be gracious to me," appears nineteen times in the Psalms. The Psalmist asks Yahweh to show him favor in view of his loneliness (Psa 25:16 [H 17]), his distress (Psa 31:9 [H 10]), his transgressions (Psa 51:1 [H 3]) where the favor he asks for is that God will erase the indictment against him, etc. Cf. Isa 33:2. The Lord graciously gave Jacob his children (Gen 33:5) and prospered him (Gen 33:11). Joseph's benediction upon Benjamin (Gen 43:29), and Aaron's benediction (Num 6:25) ask for God's gracious dealing.
Amos (Amos 5:15) urges his hearers to establish justice that the Lord might be gracious to them. In the final analysis the Lord is sovereign in acting graciously to those whom he selects (Exo 33:19).
And again, Amos' hearers are all covenant members. But I have agreed with the thrust of Ex. 33:19, in another form (see my Romans 9 excursus, linked above).
The Hithpael is used in supplications to God: by Moses who begs to see the Promised Land (Deut 3:23); by Solomon in dedicating the temple (1Kings 8:33, 47, 59; 1Kings 9:3; 2Chr 6:24, 37); by the Psalmist (Psa 30:8 [H 9]; Psa 142:1 [H 2]); and by Hosea (Hos 12:4 [H 5]) of Jacob's appeal to the angel who wrestled with him. Job, who is advised by Bildad to supplicate God (Job 8:5), concedes that though he were righteous this would be his only recourse (Job 9:15).
Notably again, all of these are persons in a covenant relationship with YHWH, with the possible exception of Job, who very likely did have some sort of formal relationship with YHWH. Now for some informational material with which I have of course no dispute:
Instead of taking µannôt as an infinitive in Psa 77:9 [H 10], "Hath God forgotten to be gracious?" (AV), Dahood suggests taking it as a substantive, parallel to raµ¦m¹yw "bowels." He translates, "Have the inmost parts of God dried up?"
For synonyms of µ¹nan, etc. see especially µesed and raµûm.
µ¢n. Favor, grace, charm, etc. This word occurs sixty-nine times, including forty-three times in the phrase "to find favor in the eyes of," seven times with the verb "to give," and three times with the verb "to obtain" (Est. 2:15, 17; Est. 5:2), which leaves fourteen independent uses of the word.
The word never appears with the article or in the plural; it has the personal suffix once in Gen 39:21.
The vast majority of occurrences are secular and not theological in significance. In contrast with the verb µ¹nan, the focus of attention is not on the giver, but on the recipient, of what is given. In contrast with the frequent occurrences of the verb and other derivatives, in the Psalms µ¢n occurs but twice in Psa 84:11 (H 121 "the Lord will give favor" (RSV), and in Psa 45:2 [H 31 of the "grace" on the lips of the bridegroom.
My only comment is that a giver and a recipient at least suggest the possibility, even likelihood, of some sort of patronage-type arrangement. I would have to see citations to elaborate further.
µ¢n appears thirteen times in Proverbs, often with an aesthetic significance of charm or beauty.
As Neubauer has stressed, many of the passages in which this phrase is found concern the relations of a superior to an inferior, e.g. a king to his subject. But it is too much to hold that the phrase is a terminus technicus so that Jacob in Gen 32:5 [H 6]; Gen 33:8, 10, 15, is actually acknowledging himself a vassal of Esau.
Nor would my thesis require this. As I have said: The word grace was used "to refer to the willingness of a patron to grant some benefit to another person or group." Aristotle defined grace as "helpfulness toward someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped." Nothing here is unusual, thus far. Grace, all agree, is God's free gift, but there is more. "Grace" can also be used "of the response to a benefactor and his or her gifts, namely, 'gratitude'..." Grace is not restricted to vassal and servant. I have not stated otherwise. There is nothing in the following passages that undermines my stated position. The servant-vassal relationship I argue for is based on other grounds.
The phrase is found in the crucial passage on the justification of divorce in Deut 24:1 which was the basis for the debate between Hillel and Shammai. Rabbi Akiba held that a man might divorce his wife "even if he found another fairer than she, for it is written: 'if she find no favor in eyes."
In theological usage Noah and Moses are said to have found grace in the sight of the Lord (Gen 6:8; Exo 33:12). It was the Lord who caused Joseph to find favor with the chief jailer (Gen 39:21), and the Israelites favor with the Egyptians (Exo 3:21; Exo 11:3; Exo 12:36). In Num 11:15 Moses is saying to the Lord no more than, "Do me a favor and please kill me."
In Zech 12:10 the house of David and the in of Jerusalem will have poured upon them "the spirit of µ¢n and taµ¦nûnîm." The Targum reads "a spirit of mercy and compassion"; Unger takes this as the Holy Spirit.
The shouts of acclamation at the completion of Zerubbabel's temple in Zech 4:7, literally, " µ¢n, µ¢n," are interpreted by Unger to mean, "What gracefulness (beauty) it has!" Sellin has suggested, "Bravo, bravo!"
In a number of passages µ¢n means "charm" or an attractive personality which creates a favorable impression. In the Aramaic Proverbs of Ahiqar we have the phrase µn gbr hymnwth "for a man's charm is his truthfulness" (ANET, no. 132, p. 429). It is the heeding of wisdom which produces this favor: Prov 3:4; Prov 13:15; Eccl 9:11; Eccl 10:12. The woman with this grace or charm, not just physical beauty (Prov 11:16; cf. Prov 11:22), is worthy of honor.
The woman who fears the Lord is praised, in contrast to one who possesses merely deceitful charm and vain beauty (Prov 31:30). Nahum 3:4 compares Nineveh to a prostitute who is ‰ôbat µ¢n, which the LXX renders kal¢ kai epicharis and the Vulgate speciosae et gratae, i.e. "beautiful and pleasing." CL NAB "fair and charming"; NEB "fair-seeming."
µinn¹m. Freely, for nothing, unjustly, without cause, in vain. Cf. Latin gratis, English gratuitously. This adverb occurs thirty-two times. It has no inherent religious significance.
It can mean "for nothing" as in Gen 29:15. In Exo 21:2, 11 it is used of the Hebrew slave freed; in Num 11:5 of the food which was eaten for free in Egypt; in Isa 52:3 of the Jews who have sold themselves into slavery "for nothing."
In Prov 23:29 the alcoholic has wounds "without cause" (KJV) or rather "for nothing" (NAB). The NEB paraphrases, "Who gets the bruises without knowing why?"
The Psalmist complains that his enemies plan evil for him "without cause" (Psa 35:7; "unprovoked," NEB). Cf. Psa 109:3; Psa 119:161.
The word µinn¹m is used in several senses in Job. Satan asks (Job 1:9) whether Job fears God "for nothing," that is, without an ulterior purpose. God responds (Job 2:3) by replying to Satan that he has incited him against Job "without cause" or "without justification." Job (Job 9:17) later complains that his wounds have been multiplied "for no reason" (JB). Eliphaz accuses Job of taking someone's pledge "unjustly" (Job 22:6).
The word can also mean "in vain," as in Prov 1:17 of the bird net set in vain. In Ezek 6:10 Yahweh warns that he has not spoken in vain.
Dahood has suggested that µinn¹m, e.g. in Psa 35:7, should be translated "secretly, stealthily" from the Ugaritic -nn. The traditional rendering, however, makes good sense.
The Aramaic verb which is cognate with Hebrew µ¹nan is used in the Peal stem in Dan 4:27 [Aram 24] in Daniel's advice to Nebuchadnezzar "to show mercy" to the poor, and in the Hithpael stem in Dan 6:11 [Aram 12] of Daniel's supplication.
µannûn. Gracious. This word occurs thirteen times, eleven times in combination with raµûm "merciful, compassionate." The LXX usually translates it ele¢mœn "merciful." The adjective describes the gracious acts of Yahweh. His grace is revealed together with his righteousness, as most of the passages which speak of him as µanûn also speak of his judging evil, e.g., Joel 2:13.
Again, on all of this, see above. I would expect grace to be a component of mercy, and compassion, as I have defined it.
All occurrences of µannûn refer to God (Exo 22:27 [H 26]; Exo 34:6; 2Chr 30:9, Neh 9:17, 31; Psa 86:15; Psa 103:8; Psa 111:4; Psa 116:5; Psa 145:8, Joel 2:13; Jon 4:2). In Psa 112:4, the RSV supplies "the Lord" as the one who is gracious, but the description is probably of the righteous man who shares the characteristics of his God.Perhaps the most striking use of this word is the great proclamation of the name of God to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exo 34:6). The verse is alluded to repeatedly in later writings (Num 14:18, but does not use this phrase; Psa 86:15; Psa 103:8; Psa 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jon 4:2).
µ¦nînâ. Favor, pity. It occurs but once in Jer 16:13. The LXX translates it eleos "pity, mercy." Because of Judah's apostasy the Lord says that he will no longer grant his pity. JWDS Note: thus, sin obviates any obligation to extend this, which means that its granting to sinner must be because of something other than obligation.
As above, I disagree; because the covenant imposes curses for disobedience, the withdrawal of pity and mercy because of sin fits precisely within my paradigm.
t®µinnâ. supplication, mercy. The word occurs twenty-four times and means a prayer for grace on all but two occasions when it means "mercy." Half of all the occurrences appear in Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple (1Kings 8-9; 2Chr 6).
In Josh 11:20 t®µinnâ designates the "mercy" of the victor for the vanquished, and in Ezr 9:8 Yahweh's "grace" (KJV) or "mercy" (NAB) for the remnant of his people. In both cases the LXX has eleos "mercy."
Joshua 11:20 says, "For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses." This fits in yet again with my points: Enemies (out-group members) do not get mercy. They may have been offered it by entering into a fictive kinship or covenant relationship (as the Gobeonites did).
taµ¦nûn. Always used in the plural taµ¦nûnîm. Supplications. Similar in general to the preceding but representing less a formal entreaty (used only once in 2Chr 6:21 in Solomon's prayer) than the outpourings of a troubled soul; used in parallel to "weepings" in Jer 3:21; Jer 31:9. It is used seven times in the Psalms, all except once in the phrase qôl taµ¦nûnay "the voice of my supplications" (KJV), "my cry for mercy" (NEB).
Bibliography: Ap-Thomas, D. R., "Some aspects of the Root "NN in the Old Testament," JSS 2: 128-48. Flack, E. E., "The Concept of Grace in Biblical Thought, "Biblical Studies in Memory, of H.C. Allemen, ed. J. M. Myers, Augustin, 1960, pp. 137-54. Lofthouse, W., "µen and µesed in the Old Testament," ZAW 51: 29-35. Reed, William L., "Some Implications of µ¢N for Old Testament Religion," JBL 73: 36-41. Richardson, TWB, pp. 80, 100. Snaith, N. H., The Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, London: Epworth, 1944, pp. 127-31. Torrance, T. F., "The Doctrine of Grace in the Old Testament," SJT 1: 55-65. TDNT, IX, pp. 376-81. THAT, I, pp. 587-96. E.Y.
This concludes the informational portion. Now back to direct replies to my material:
[I]n terms of burden of proof, I feel the soc-sci folks have done their job -- reviewed the requisite background literature and cultural context -- and that it is the burden of the doubter to upend their findings.
Let me just make it clear that in order to follow the social scientists here, you have to contradict several centuries of Greek scholarship (including contemporaries informed by modern linguistics, if that carries more weight, and considering several different approaches-Louw's semantic domains approach, etc.) on the meaning of these terms, which would involve a revolution in our view of all of Greek epic and tragedy (i.e., that emotions weren't really involved in or meant to be invoked by the events depicted-like the murder of Agamemnon or the slavery of the Trojan women).
Three points here. First, I think we have shown that none of what is offered above contradicts our understanding; indeed, it supports it (beyond the perhaps mutual error concerning emotion). Second, if the lexicons came to the text with their own cultural presuppositions, then there is nothing amiss about contradicting them; but whether the lexical authorities were indeed properly informed is one of the very issues at hand. But third, we can hardly assume that they would disagree with what the social scientists say.
You would also have to change the meaning of pathema to get around Aristotle, for example, or of the term for "tears" to get around Homer to maintain your claim against any emotive elements in these ideas. If that's what you want to do based on the work of a guy who claims that Jesus was waiting for an actual astral figure to come down from the sky and says that the Jews didn't believe in one God who ruled over all nations, then you're welcome to, but it sounds pretty silly to me. In this case, extraordinary evidence (e.g., at least one full volume of technical discussion of Greek literature, if not several coming to the same conclusion) would have to be put forward to overturn this kind of consensus, which hasn't been done. Regardless, I think that the above line of argument puts a pretty serious dent in their case, which wasn't strong enough to overturn the consensus to begin with.
In light of our analysis above, I think the burden is satisfied. The ad hominem on unrelated topical issues will not change this. (Though, on the latter, if this means that the Jews were monolatrous, and not monotheistic: That they were monolatrous is even held today by Evangelical and Jewish scholars.)
…in research circles, good documentation is a good response that requires an equitable one.
Three items: 1) Of course, I wasn't writing a technical journal article, but rather an informal discussion. 2) I haven't found any of their "good documentation," certainly not enough to establish such a revolutionary proposal. 3) Now I have presented extensive documentation on this question. I haven't time to do so on the tradition of the isolated philosopher, but it's not that necessary: just open Plato, Seneca, or Marcus Aurelius and it's on nearly every page.
I have no comment on #1 above; however, on #2, I found their documentation in their works, in their notes and bibliography, which list credible scholarly sources in the social sciences. On #3, I have dealt with the documentation herein above.
…it would still not be the sort of people Paul and the early Christians preached to…
My rebuttal: Acts 17, the Stoics and Epicureans.
I very much doubt that even those in Acts 17 represented the literate leisure class I am speaking of.
Another couple of notes on the dyadic personality: everything that I've read from them seems to indicate that they do think that any form of introspection was nearly impossible.
That would be an over-reading of their material, though one I have seen before. They say rather that introspection, if done, was seriously subordinated.
I should also point out that the chief sources of their dyadic personality (from the book on Paul) are encomia and funeral speeches. Having done some study and teaching of classical rhetoric, I'm familiar with these forms and I do see the role that family or hometown play. Of course, in the classical texts on rhetoric (e.g., Hermogenes), there is also a particular heading of the encomium on the soul, wherein one praises the virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, etc., which are defined as internal states by the Platonic tradition. Also, these were textual remnants, which means that they only cover the educated, literary portion of the population, and any conclusions drawn from them may not automatically be transferred to the illiterate classes.
Quite frankly, this response seems rather desperate; it is a mirror image of atheist Richard Carrier's attempt to defuse The Impossible Faith by claiming that maybe the illiterate classes really were not disgusted by crucifixion. I would thus give Calvino the same challenge I gave Carrier: Find some parallel in a modern dyadic society, which serves as living laboratories that confirm the thesis that the literate and lower classes shared values and traits on such points.
Finally, the soc-sci folks do not seem to be very perceptive about the actualities of modern life. While our expressed values are individualistic, the reality is quite different, as we define ourselves not only by traditional groups (professional organizations like unions, the colleges attended, the high school attended, etc.) but also by increasingly market-driven group identities (this is the phenomenon called "branding") like the jeans we wear, the sports teams we root for, the beer we drink, the cars we drive (e.g., the community-oriented commercials for Saturn cars from a few years back). Cultural commentators have noted the push to conformity in American culture very insightfully; in fact, the rise of mass media makes much more conformity possible than we ever imagined (e.g., the ubiquitous uniform of the American teenager). The soc-sci folks don't seem to share this insight into modern culture, and so present a very wooden contrast between ancient and modern values. Of course, they do provide a helpful corrective to modern skeptics who want to read everything like a newspaper, but there's a limit to their usefulness.
This too is a rather stunning over-read of their ideas. In their works they do indeed make note of such things; but our modern defining of self by groups is done as an expression of our individuality -- we cite group membership in order to stress something special about ourselves as individuals, to other individuals. Branding is a trite form of collectivist expression that is really individualism masked. It bears little resemblance to the sort of collectivism the social science folks write about.
I cannot agree that Greek would be Paul's "native" tongue. Jews of the Diaspora were usually highly insulated from the surrounding pagan culture, and the distinctive of a native language such as Aramaic is hardly one that would be abandoned, unless Paul became someone like Philo or Josephus, which I don't think anyone would argue.
The article I linked to you, however, said that "the bilingual is subject to restraint which requires that he or she limit interferences" when speaking to a monolingual. Furthermore, "bilingual speakers will usually be in a monolingual mode when they are interacting with monolinguals with whom they simply cannot use their other language. When they are in this kind of situation, they deactivate their other language so that it is not produced and does not lead to miscommunication." This would have been Paul's situation, since Aramaic would not have been known by many in his audience. The degree of Jewish insulation varied depending upon the city, and we don't seem to know much about Tarsus. By "someone like Philo or Josephus" do you mean someone who spent most of his time interacting with Greek speakers and did all of his extant writing in Greek? If so, then Paul was in fact someone like this.
I question the relevance of the article on this point, because it looks at examples from the modern world, and persons from or associated with individualist cultures, and in an era where there has been a push towards unity and world peace and "getting along," so that one must account for the idea of accommodation in a way that would not have affected Paul. But even if completely relevant, it would need to be shown that Paul "deactivated" to the extent needed to negate my point; and given that he was in high rabbinic teaching mode (quoting the OT more times than he does in any letter), and that he did have some of Jewish mix in his Roman audience, and that the Gentiles too had their own negation idiom forms, I cannot see any reason for Paul to have "deactivated," or even if he had, that it would have affected this particular.
I do mean what is said about Philo and Josephus and Calvino intimates, but I find Paul to be a far cry from either of these two in terms of being wholesale "converts" immersing themselves in Greek thought. Paul never expressed himself to the Hellenistic degree that Philo did, and he never became a lapdog for a Gentile emperor as Josephus did. Writing and speaking in Greek does not change this since linguistic familiarity does not equate with philosophical agreement with thoughts expressed in that language.
I have found error in the work of Malina, et al., where issues outside social science are concerned (for example, they claim in a commentary that Mark 7:31 contains a geographic error) and that is where these sorts of claims fall.
And the question here is one of linguistics, which does not directly fall under social science (at least, not under their field of expertise). If the question is one of cultural background (which you said about the soc-sci folks had done their job on), isn't the OT a major part of the cultural background for Jewish belief? So, here Malina falls down, and egregiously, too, exactly where his expertise is supposed to be (cultural context).
I do not agree. Linguistics does fall under social science inasmuch as one can hardly translate thoughts from another language without informing social concepts. Not doing so may not always result in errors, but it is clear enough that the significance of, "I am ashamed of myself" is different in Japan than it is in America. And we have shown that the OT is amenable to what we have argued.
Jesus' question is not, "Would someone please tell me just who I'm supposed to be?" but, "Would someone please recognize what I am so that I can enact my role?"
This doesn't seem to change the case at all. Jesus went right ahead in enacting his role as Messiah even though his disciples profoundly misunderstood it and most of the Jews, particularly the Jewish leaders (and it seems that these high-status individuals would be most important for recognition, particularly of a religious role like that of Messiah), never actually recognized him at all.
This matters not at all. The disciples did recognize Jesus as Messiah; that was all that was needed for Jesus to enact a Messianic role. It is hardly required that they also recognize the precise content of being Messiah. But no, it is not important that the leaders make the recognition; they were not part of Jesus' "in-group."
Nevertheless, in spite of a lack of recognition (either as Messiah in general or as the suffering and atoning Messiah), Jesus went ahead and fulfilled his role. Even if he required recognition to enact his role, he did not require it from the Jews, but rather from God (e.g., John 8:18), since his role was as prophet and intercessor (Moses and his successors in the prophetic office still enacted their roles regardless of recognition by the people e.g., Jeremiah).
Obviously, God's permission is what counts above all. Yet it remains that we all agree that in the incarnation, divinity humbled itself among men; so it is hardly inapt to say that Jesus humbled himself by admitting to the social strictures of personal recognition in his day.
I would suggest that one need not be "adopted" to inherit.
Then present some evidence of someone legally inheriting who was simply a client (very distant from the patron, as you said above, while inheritance required closer interaction, as the inheritor was responsible to conduct the affairs of the grantor in a way that reflected faithfully on the latter--this is why the adoptee received the signet ring and the name) and not also related either by blood or by adoption to the grantor. The OT background for inheritance (kleronomia) is grounded in blood relation or in marriage: only adoption would have been a replacement for this, not simply a more distant client-patron relation.
A good example would be Abraham's steward Eliezer of Damascus (Gen. 15:2), who would have inherited from Abraham if Isaac had not shown up to spoil his party. (By the way, I do not say "very distant" anywhere.) Obviously, there would not be many human examples of this since most people would either have or adopt children as soon as they could.
The limit to household is simply not sufficient. Patronage was the relational model that governed the overwhelming majority of ancient human relationships.
I was not limiting patronage to the family, but rather the role of the paterfamilias, to suggest that the roles were not the same (indeed, given the Roman emphasis on family lineage, it would have been unthinkable to treat someone outside the family or clan as equal to a member of it, barring legal adoption, which may still have been scandalous). Adoptees took on the name of their adaptors (often, it was slaves who were first freed and then adopted), which was not done by clients.
Scandalous it may have been, but if it was ever necessary (however that could come to be), I do not think that would prevent it being done. Still, I wrote this prior to my research suggesting that adoption could and would be classed under patronage, so I would not press this point.
It would stretch credulity to suggest that Paul and the NT used the language and the structure of patronage, the most prominent form of social relationship (especially among social un-equals), but was not actually reporting a patronal relationship.
What we're debating, though, is the extent of the use of patronage language. God is never, even in the Latin translations, referred to in the NT as a patron (the word "father" does occur, but that's not by any means the same thing), nor are we referred to as his clients.
And yet, "father" is a title granted to patrons, and the roles enacted by the parties match precisely. How much of a description do we need (it is red, it has a core and a stem, you can coat it with caramel) before we admit we have an apple?
There is also the OT background to consider (which Malina, for one, seems to be very weak on): the suzerain-vassal relation was not exactly the same as the Roman patron-client one, and there are other models used in the OT for that relation of God to the people--marriage (Hosea), sonship (e.g., Hosea 11:1), and priesthood (see 1 Pet. 2:5, following up on Exodus 19:6, and the imagery in Hebrews 10:19, where we go into God's presence, cf. the tearing of the veil in the Temple), to name a few.
In practical terms, suzerain-vassal is quite similar to client-patron; the particulars may differ in expression, but the core principles of brokerage, favor, interconnectedness and dependence are overall the same. The marriage view is no contradiction; if it is, then so is the suzerain-vassal view. Indeed, the OT would tell us that the sonship and adoption language is complimentary to, not contrary to, the suzerain-vassal paradigm; therefore, how can we say sonship language is contrary to patronage language in the NT?
Even if the language of patronage is extensive, that does not mean that therefore every relationship that ever existed in the ancient world fits perfectly nearly into the modern social-science categories (one of the recognized weaknesses of the social science approach--in my opinion and that of several of the reviewers I referenced--is its tendency to fit the data into Procrustean categories of modern development).
This is too vague to warrant a direct response. I don't think anyone argues for a perfect fit on every detail; merely a perfect fit on the broad and essential contours.
It is also the case that in the ancient patronage relationship, the client actually did something for the patron-raised his prestige, appeared in court, etc. However, that aspect is ruled out by God's self-sufficiency (Acts 17:24-25), so we're already dealing with a theological application of the idea that prevents us from applying it woodenly across the board.
God is certainly self-sufficient…but this doesn't change the structure of the relationship, only the application. That said, we do serve God, so we obviously do things "for" Him; it is just that He does not need it to be done.
Here's the progression as I see it: I don't grant that patronage language is extensive: you're arguing that terms like mercy and compassion actually indicate obligation, and therefore patron relationship, but the linguistic data simply does not support you. Even if I did grant that, however, there are major problems with your view of the patronage model relative to the NT data: e.g., your statement that patrons were far removed, while the NT point is that we are in fact brought near (see Hebrews, or the parable of the prodigal son, or John 17, where believers participate in the inter-Trinitarian closeness of the Father and the Son).
As noted, I believe I have shown that the linguistic data does support my case. As for your point about being brought near, I'd need a specific reference from Hebrews. The prodigal son parable offers no assistance due to the fact that personal relationships (with intimate closeness), did not exist even between father and son. And, John 17, as we have replied to cultists who abuse this passage, means only oneness in purpose, not intimacy in personal relationships to a modernist extent.
God is NOT free to "do as He pleases." He cannot lie, as Hebrews says. He cannot, not be God. He cannot make 2 and 2 equal 5.
But would God ever be delighted to lie, or to not be God? Notice I didn't say that God is free to do anything (this is poor definition of freedom that doesn't hold up to much scrutiny and so is only used by freethinkers), but rather that He is free to do whatever pleases Him. I don't know how He feels about math, though (presumably, since He made it the way it is, He delights in it)...
If we use "pleases" in that sense, no; however, it remains that God is indeed not free in the sense described. And Job 41:11 at least does not refer to God doing what pleases Him; rather, it asks who has prevented God from doing anything.
Nevertheless, the obligation to patronize those in need of patronage existed before this.
This is a new point, and I would like some evidence that such a nebulous obligation existed.
Certainly. The obligation was created by personal honor; wealthy patrons were obligated by personal honor codes to share their wealth with those less fortunate. Of course they could ignore those codes and take their lumps. But the accepted routine was that patrons had an obligation to "patronize" the less fortunate.
Even if it did, the potential patron was still free to patronize anyone he wanted to, since it was his to bestow and he wouldn't have had enough time or money or influence or whatever to patronize every single possible patron. That means that entering into a particular patron relation (e.g. of Octavianus instead of Cinna) was a matter of freedom, and God's relation with His people is clearly one of just that kind of particular choice (e.g., Deut. 7:7, with the background of Gen. 12, in which Abram's family alone is chosen to bless all others). Again, however, there is the OT background of the suzerain treaties, in which the great king was not required to make a treaty with anybody at all (assuming he could handle all of his duties on his own, which God certainly could, cf. Psa. 24:1; Job 38ff).
That we agree on; but as I have said to James White recently, this does not eliminate the client's acceptance as a factor. And of course God has all the "money and influence" he needs for all of us (smile). The king analogy has one flaw: I do not think, given the belief in the inherent power of words to bind, that an ancient king would have ruled without some sort of formal agreement, even if all it consisted of was the point of a spear.
A new note on the question of mercy: In teaching a class on Roman history, I've run across several references to a quality that resembles more what has been classically understood as mercy. Both Julius and Augustus Caesar are praised by the biographer Suetonius for being merciful to the enemies they have vanquished in war (i.e., not killing or banishing, and even giving them posts in the government), both Romans (their opponents in the respective civil wars) and non-Romans (Gauls, easterners, etc.). Here we have an example of a non-patron relationship and no obligation (by the nature of the case, there is no obligation to spare your defeated enemy, except perhaps a general human one, which is subject to various philosophies rather than a function of social relations-and there was no universal human family in the ancient world), which may in fact be closer to what Paul has in mind, since he makes a point of God's reconciliation of His enemies.
Without references to examine I cannot comment directly, but in such cases it seems to me that "mercy" clearly means what I say it does: treating the persons as fictive kin. Giving posts in government would be a perfect example: The people are treated like citizens of the larger fictive family of Rome. And so it would still be a form of patronage, and one in which grace is initially extended, thereby beginning the circle dance of obligation. Indeed, it is a quite shrewd form of the method.
When Paul says, "none are justified by the law," does he mean, "none ever perform ANY act of the law which provides justification" or, "none, in the long span of their lives, end up in a position in which the law does enough for them, because whatever justification may be achieved is negated by sin"? The latter seems more likely; the former would be an absurdity (and would contradict James). It is for this reason that I must regard the "not" as non-exclusive -- or else, say that it must be modified by the context of the whole life, in which case it is also non-exclusive, but in another way.
You have a problem here: in context, there are no actions of the law which provide justification. The purpose of the law in Rom. 3 is strictly to condemn (v. 20, cf. 5:20; Gal. 3:19, 21), and justification comes outside of the law (v. 21). So, your entire dichotomy here is misplaced.
Not at all, for it is in Romans 2 that Paul says that the law is indeed a theoretical way to be justified; which in turn means that particular acts can indeed provide justification, but end up being negated and of no effect.
Even if it weren't, however, you're still on the wrong track, doing more with the text than it really allows. The negation is not applied to actions, over any length of time, but rather to people, and so it is exclusive, regardless of your dichotomy--no person will be justified, regardless of which "meaning" you want to use, since your options wind up changing the object of the negation to actions. I think that the option you present is the likely one, given Paul's use of Lev. 18:5, but that does not make the negation non-exclusive, since it still applies to all of its objects, which are people and not actions.
That the negation is applied to people and not actions makes little difference to my primary point, which has to do with there being a negation in the first place, one that ends up needing exegetical qualification. But people perform actions all through their lives. Thus by this understanding people may indeed experience justification following these actions.
My point about Jew and Gentile is only that this framing ultimately makes no difference in terms of whether one indeed can in any sense receive any sort of justification from deeds. The Jew had a more clear road, but it was no less theoretically possible for the Gentile.
We're not arguing about justification by faith, though, but by the extent of the negation. My point was that the negation has to be understood here as exclusive, partly due to the fact that Paul has said that the Jews must follow the law, the Gentiles must follow the law, but that neither of those classes do in fact follow the law, which means that, because those two classes are exhaustive of humanity, then no one at all (entirely exclusively) follows the law, and thus we have an exclusive use of the negation.
I refer again to my last paragraph. It remains that members of these classes do at times follow the law, which means that they must experience some justification (as even Abraham did) even if it ends up being negated.
Prevenient grace moots the issue for me because the "dead" person by this model gets a shot of "life" that enables them to see past their own deadness.
So, God gives them some life and they choose not to pursue life but to return to death? Are they sort of alive at that point? Ancient techniques of black-and-white thought aside, you're either dead or you're not-NDE's were not part of the ancient culture: they knew you were either dead or you were alive.
Hmm, but did not the Jews at least say that a body was not completely dead until after the 4th day? But aside from this, this simply presses the metaphor of spiritual death to the extent needed to make the case.
We always like to point out that the metaphor is not one of sickness and medicine (as your analogy of a "shot"-very modern, by the way, and very different from alive or dead, so you're making up your own modern metaphor to explain it!-seems to imply) but of death and life, and God is the one who brings people to life, Rom. 4:17 (and these are Christians, not folks who are somewhere in between, Eph. 2:5, Col. 2:13). Prevenient grace only solves it for you by changing the metaphor entirely to a non-biblical one of sickness and health, rather than life and death.
Not at all. God brings people to life to the extent needed for them to make a decision. If they refuse it, they slide back into death. I would point out as well that prevenient grace, as I note in another article, fits perfectly into the model of grace within the patronage relationship. (I do not need to use "shot" by the way -- "burst" would have done as well, or any other such word.) And if God brings people to life, certainly this is not beyond His ability.
The voting example merely shows an example of the consequences -- the slave can still commit the act of voting.
Legally, no, the slave cannot vote. He can put a little stone in a box, but without the legal rights his stone in the box means absolutely nothing more than a stone in a box. Voting is a context-dependent performative, like saying "I do" does not make you married in the absence of a context (legal age of consent, present of authorized witnesses, etc.) that creates the meaning-laden action. See the work of John Searle, for example, on performatives.
Nevertheless, it remains that he can perform the action; it makes no difference to that, that others can punish the action or erase its significance. "Legally" does not stop the act. Appeal to "performatives" here confuses the act itself with fulfillment of content of the act. This says not that a slave cannot vote, but that a slave cannot vote in a way meaningful to the voting system.
My son, if sinners entice you [to sin--not to go to the grocery store], do not consent...but sometimes you can consent..."
The qualification makes exactly my point. It is not ALL enticement.
No, but what is being qualified here is not the negation but the kind of enticement. The negation is applied to the giving of consent, which, with respect to sin, is absolutely forbidden. I'm not disagreeing with the idea that wisdom passages are to be qualified, but rather that what is qualified is often something besides the negation. Once the qualification is properly understood, then the negation can still be absolute (as in this verse).
Whether the negation is being qualified isn't my point. My point is that it is not absolute, which Calvino agrees with.
"My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord...okay, sometimes you can reject it..."
Needs to be finished: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Yet does God correct every error every person makes?
No, but again what is being qualified? Not the negation! If the Lord does discipline you, then you may not, ever, reject it.
The same as above.
"Get wisdom! Get understanding...okay, you don't really have to get them..." and I'm only into chapter 4.
The nature of the advice is not absolute, as though wisdom and understanding were ALL we were to get.
No, but the command is still absolute, since the command is not to get only wisdom and understanding. Here's my concern with the wisdom literature question: it seems that you're focusing on the qualifications of the teaching to the point where any actual substance of positive import is obscured. There seems to be a point in the stark language of the wisdom lit that emphasizes the positive teaching contained therein: it doesn't list the qualifications, and we're not supposed to read the text and think of all the ways or reasons it doesn't apply.
Rather, my focus is on the proverbial nature of the statements, and that qualifications cannot simply be ignored in an effort to craft a case for absolute language. The core of this part of the discussion was an appeal by Calvino to a proverb as absolute in authority i.e., without any possible qualification of any sort. If I show ANY lack of absolutism or any qualification, then it is not possible to take these proverbs as exclusive and absolute.
So, when it says that the Lord directs the steps of man, it really means that He does so - and you're not supposed to jump straight to the qualification-"oh, but…" - but rather to listen to the voice of wisdom and hear what it's saying. In one sense, knowledge doesn't chronologically begin with the fear of God, but in another sense, true knowledge really does, since if you ignore the true reality, God, can you really say you know anything? I know 2+2=4, but if there is no non-material truth that is constant and abiding, then do I really know it? Couldn't it just be neurons firing, or couldn't it change tomorrow, since it's just an abstraction put forth by the human mind?
This sounds remarkably like the sort of qualifying I have just been criticized for doing (smile). I do not regard 2+2 as an "abstraction" but an expression of concrete reality. As for jumping to the qualifications, that I do and see no problem in doing, in such cases as when persons try to use such proverbs in a non-qualified way…in other words…when they themselves don't listen to the voice either. More than that ranges into matters of epistemology beyond my scope.
So, the solution to wisdom texts is not simply to say, "here are all the reasons why it doesn't actually mean what it appears to say," but rather to try to understand positively what it is, in fact, teaching.
I agree. But I would have no reason to do otherwise, apart from the effort of others to go beyond that teaching by making the proverbs and the language of the Bible more absolute than it was intended to be.
There is something profoundly true about the teaching that God turns the heart of the ruler in any direction. Of course, now you're going to claim that I'm making an emotional appeal to the importance of Scripture, right? It's not meant to be emotional, but rather rational: if the Bible is the Word of God, then we need to take seriously what it actually says, not just find ways around it.
No, I see no need to make that claim. On the other hand, it is emotional to apply the language, "find ways around it" as though this were not an earnest effort.
...the contradictions involved in certain degrees of Calvinist thought, along with the relevant social data, are what, as I see it, supply the context which require a proverbial, non-absolute edge.
You really aren't in a position to rule on the "contradictions involved," given the fact that you haven't read anything other than popularizers of the tradition, and you seem to be using the non-exclusive negation as one of the social factors to prove your point (the others are still up for debate).
After the above, I naturally disagree; but is Piper a popularizer? I don't think he is reckoned one, and I still found the same error in his own work, the same contradictions, the same black and white thinking.
The point about God being sui generis is not a logical one; it is something of an emotional, "glory to God!" appeal that arbitrarily changes the rules.
If I were emoting, I apologize, since this is, in fact, a logical point. There aren't any other Gods, so Jehovah is in fact one of a kind (lit. "of his own kind or class"). It's not changing any rules, but simply pointing out that God reveals Himself to be a being that simply doesn't fall under what we perceive the rules to be (cf., again, Job 38ff., where God never answer Job's claim of righteousness, but simply points out that He is in fact God and has absolute power and wisdom that Job cannot even comprehend - shame on God for making such an emotional appeal!). Because God clearly has all wisdom and power, His actions necessarily are more likely to be absolute in nature than those of humans who don't know what tomorrow will bring.
Nevertheless, that is not an actual answer, as I have said in my essays: God gave Job all the answer he needed, but it wasn't a logical answer, and it wasn't an answer that actually addressed the question. So, saying as well that God is not under our rules is a truth, yes, but it is not, in the least, a logical point. It is a point of authority, but no more logical than, "Follow the orders because that is the general." At most, it tells Job that the answers are beyond his comprehension and none of his business -- not that the answers were given to Job.
I would only need to state again that it is not held here that introspection of some sort was impossible or did not exist. Rather, it would be held that it was significantly subservient to external factors, which is indeed what Calvino acknowledges. The soc-sci folks do not make "absolute exclusions" -- this is an overstatement of their work.
In their application of this (e.g., the commentaries), I have seen no evidence that they consider any other aspects than the external, nor has anything I've read of theirs actually given the qualification you so gratuitously attribute to them, so the overstatement appears to be theirs.
Since I have not seen any claim that introspection was impossible or did not exist in their commentaries, either, it seems we are evenly appealing to silence -- meaning, my answer was appropriate, that no such "overstatement" is actually made by them, but is read into the text.
…a relationship of mutual obligation -- again, patronage, a binding set of duties and rights between two parties.
I haven't been able to find Mawhinney's book anywhere (although I've got a library friend looking for it, but it's not even in the local university's interlibrary loan system or on any of the used book search engines), so I'll have to put off comment on it, except to note something with regard to the short excerpt above. Are you saying that any mutual obligation means that it is a patronage relationship? So my wife and I would have a relationship of patronage, simply because we are expected to fulfill certain obligations to one another? My father and I? My brothers? My students? My employer? The mayor of the city? Yet the duties and rights are very different in all of these. If this is so, then patronage either will have to be understood so flexibly as to not have any normative force and thus could not be used as a filter for individual texts (or as a stick to beat on Calvinism, as you do in your book reviews), or else all relationships with obligation will have to be equated, which is nonsensical (both in the modern examples above and in the ancient world: Octavian certainly stood in a unique relationship to Julius Caesar).
In a sense, yes, mutual obligation is a form of patronage in all of these cases; though where true blood is involved, the family ties will take precedence. Duties and rights being different is of no moment; it is that they exist at all that makes for patronage. If this makes it seem too flexible, then so also are the modern words "mutual obligation" since they too can be applied to so many cases -- and does that mean those words have no "normative force"? On the contrary: It is precisely its commonality that gives it its normative force. The relationships can indeed be equated on the ground of core principle -- but that hardly means they are to be equated in terms of the depth and nature of the application.
In the eleos wordgroup:
Exodus 32:12: it is the opposite of wrath or anger (the idiom for which in Hebrew is "heat of the nose," clearly referring to a physiological response to strong emotion). This is what Moses asks God to be or become toward the Israelites, who have just made and worshiped the golden calf, thus breaking the covenant and not placing God under any obligation.
Yes. In other words, Moses is asking YHWH to be their suzerain (patron) and not forsake the covenant from His end (although God did indeed have an "obligation" to punish under the terms of the later Deuteronomic contract.)
Numbers 14:19-20: this is what Moses asks and God agrees to be toward the Israelites, who have just refused to enter the land as He commanded/ promised them, to the point of trying to stone the two faithful spies. Again, this obviates any obligation God might have (they have not only disobeyed but rejected His goodness i.e., rejected His patronage, to use the term). At this point, I should point out that you gloss this idea (in Matt. 20:31) not only as "to pay a debt of interpersonal obligation" (which is obviated as noted), but also as "by forgiving a trivial debt." Clearly, this is not a trivial debt in the OT or in the NT (cf. Matt. 18:23ff., where the debt is the astronomical sum of 10,000 talents); in these texts, it is utter rejection of God.
Same answer. I do agree that it would have obviated any obligation (other than punishment, though Deut. was yet in the future at this time); that is why Moses has to plea on their behalf. Where Calvino has missed something here is that "mercy" becomes "pay a debt of personal obligation" once inside the covenant. My prime definition from Pilch and Malina is "gratitude" and "steadfast love"; the one Calvino quotes reflects the expression of that love and gratitude within the covenant relationship. On the side, there was no intent to restrict the matter to trivial debts; that was simply an example given in my source.
2 Chron. 6:24ff.: God is asked to have this on the sins themselves of Israel-God has kinship obligations toward the sins?-when famine, defeat, or pestilence has struck (again, no kinship issue, but certainly distress in view).
Jer. 5:7: there is no expectation of this because Israel has committed idolatry; 31:34: the object of this is the sins themselves (no kinship).
Rom. 11:31 & 1 Pet. 2:10: in both cases this is what is shown to the Gentiles in order to make them into the people of God, with whom they had no covenant previously, and thus no kinship obligation relationship (that's why they were Gentiles! Note that the Israelites, as part of being holy as YHWH was holy, were not to make any covenants with the Gentiles, as represented in Canaan.)
Same answer as above.
In the oiktiro group:
Zechariah 12:10: God will pour out a spirit of grace (charitos) and of
oiktirmoj: a spirit of "covenantal fictive kinship obligation?"
No. This is not my definition of grace. That is found in another article: The word grace was used "to refer to the willingness of a patron to grant some benefit to another person or group." Aristotle defined grace as "helpfulness toward someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped."..."Grace" can also be used "of the response to a benefactor and his or her gifts, namely, 'gratitude'..." I think this fits in with Zech. 12:10 just fine.
2 Sam 24:14: David says that he is in distress, and therefore hopes that he will fall into the hand of God, whose oiktirmoi are great (again, definitely distress/need in the context, but no apparent kinship function w/o eisegesis).
Psalm 79:8: in contrast to remembering the sins of the forefathers, because "we are brought very low" (distress, no mention of kinship)
Jer. 21:7: the king of Babylon will put the Israelites to the sword, not refraining or oiktirhsw (meaning here to not kill your enemies in war or prisoners or war-again, applies to enemy, with whom there is no kinship).
1 Kings 8:50: prayer for God to cause Israel's captors to do this toward them (captors, therefore no kinship).
In light of the above, these replies are misplaced, addressing a definition of "grace" I did not put forward. However, I do clearly see elements in each that are forms of patronage (as would be Israel's captors to Israel, in a forced sense).
Here are some other related terms, according to the listing in Louw & Nida's lexicon (one of the most recent, using modern linguistics to identify semantic domains--this is a standard scholarly work for NT Greek, so you can't just dismiss it--see the bibliography that includes anthropological and cultural articles, since that's apparently the only scholarly field you consider legitimate) which also fail to demonstrate the familial idea.
I don't dismiss it, and won't; because the citations fit into my points like a hand in a glove (and not an OJ Simpson sort of demonstration, either). I would ask who wrote the cultural articles, but in terms of specifics:
caritaj and cognates (cf. Eph. 2:5, 7, 8, all as an expansion of v. 4, which has an occurrence of eleoj: God is said to be merciful, and this is explained by the following verse, using caritaj)
1 Esdras 8:77: God gave the exiles this in the sight of the king of Persia (enemy, so no kinship obligation).
Not true. The king of Persia was a patron, even if by force, to the exiles; even so, note that God has to give it, which implies that it wasn't something he'd normally give.
1 Cor. 15:10: Paul is what he is by grace (and he had been a persecutor of the church, v. 9, so obviously God did not owe him anything).
Again, this assumes a definition of grace that I did not put forth; but God did give Paul help in his need, and that was the beginning of his patronal relationship with YHWH.
ilaskomai (to have mercy, acc. to Louw & Nida; this term is related to the term for "propitiation," which in the NT is a monergistic act of God in providing Christ, cf. 1 John 2:2, 4:10; Rom. 3:25)
2 Kings 5:18: Naaman asks for God to do this for him when he assists his master in bowing in the temple of Rimmon (God has no kinship obligation to a Gentile who assists in idol worship)
Is that all Naaman was? From what I see he became a believer in YHWH to the point of wanting to build his own altar to Him; hence, fictive kinship obligation.
Psalm 78:38: in parallel (not just proximity!) with oiktirmwn (what God does for their sins), also contrasted with having anger (which, in Hebrew, is the very physical "heat of the nose," clearly connected with the actual physiological response to the emotion of wrath or rage). This is all in spite of the fact that the Israelites broke the covenant (v. 37), again, thus forfeiting any obligation on the part of God.
As noted above, I do not deny the emotive aspect of necessity. And I also have no issue with forfeiture of obligation, as noted.
Psa. 25:11, 65:3, 79:9: the object of the verb here is the sins and transgressions themselves (in 79:9, for the sake of God's name, not anything else). God has not done this for the sins in Lam. 3:42, parallel with becoming angry in v. 43.
I'd like more explanation on this, since, on the surface, it does not contradict anything I have said. Further, it does not appear to have any apparent relationship to the discussion.
Luke 18:13: Here the object is not the sin but the sinner, who has to have the same thing done for him as a person that the sins have to have done for them-absolutely no kinship obligation implied in this verb, since it is normally used for the sins themselves, with which God can have no relationship (both because they are sins and because they are abstracts).
Well, if they are abstracts, how can God demonstrate anything to them in the Calvinist sense? Obviously we both must see some sort of metaphor at work here.
1 Cor 15:19 uses a cognate of eleos which essentially is an adjective meaning "deserving of eleos"--Paul says that Christians are this if Christ has not been raised. To put your "patron obligation" gloss in makes absolutely no sense whatsoever: "We of all men most deserve to have our patrons fulfill their obligations to us if Christ is not raised"?
More like, "we of all men most deserve to have members of our kinship groups we are otherwise part of (family, for example) show us favor."
Once again I reiterate my point: the use of these terms in Greek offers no support for the idea that they refer primarily to kinship--indeed, I have presented a number of examples in which the specific object is an enemy, and a few in which the object is in fact the sins themselves. Neither of these can be held to be subject to kinship obligatory relations. Now, the word may sometime have that meaning, but you have argued that it always has that meaning ("Compassion DOES 'select for' kin in the ancient world -- there is always a kinship relationship of some sort"). This claim has been demonstrated to be false. Furthermore (as if that by itself wasn't enough of a problem--which it is), you have to argue that several words have that meaning (at least 2 in Greek, and perhaps 3 in Hebrew), and that somehow all of them have exactly the same technical meaning of "kinship obligation." So, not only are you incorrectly identifying these terms as technical ones, but you're identifying more than one word as having apparently identical overlapping technical meanings. This is linguistically improbable. Still, that's not the least of your problems...
And, I in turn respond: the use of these terms in Greek offers a great deal of support for the idea that they refer primarily to kinship, fictive and real. The examples in which the specific object is an enemy show the enemy requesting familial consideration; the few in which the object is in fact the sins themselves is just as abstract under a Calvinist view. I have shown that "compassion' DOES 'select for' kin in the ancient world" and that "there is always a kinship relationship of some sort" -- fictive, real, or pled for. This is even the case today, as advertisements begging for help for people in the Third World, for example, inspire compassion on the basis of a common human family. I do not "have to argue that several words have that meaning (at least 2 in Greek, and perhaps 3 in Hebrew), and that somehow all of them have exactly the same technical meaning of 'kinship obligation'" -- I believe this comes in part of Calvino not seeing my item on grace, in part of my own need for further exposition.
I have in fact done what you challenged Hays to do, i.e., find examples of mercy and compassion that do not entail or assume kinship ("Compassion DOES "select for" kin in the ancient world -- there is always a kinship relationship of some sort, whether Hays likes it or not. If he thinks not, let him provide examples to show otherwise.) If you can find a way to argue that texts referring to enemies actually convey kinship obligation, you can make a living as a magician. I would just like to point out again that your position requires extraordinary proof, since it goes against the standard scholarly linguistic works in both Greek and Hebrew for the past century to claim a narrow, technical definition of these terms.
Calvino has indeed exceeded Hays (and White) in this regard, and is thus far more worthy of credence than other of them. I believe in turn that I have satisfied this burden; and I do say that iron has sharpened iron here, and that Calvino has done well to point out apparent problems which I have needed to address. I say again in close that linguists are not social scientists, and that it is their work upon which linguists must depend for their work, not vice versa.
Calvino remains with personal obligations (not fictive kinship ones) and may return at a later date.
Update, 6/3/05: This update is made merely to note that I have recently finished a work by Jerome Neyrey entitled Render to God which analyses the NT in terms of the client-patron model. Here are some points from it that are germane to our discussion:
- One of our issues was whether the familial language ("father") reflected patronage. Neyrey affirms that it does : "'Father' signals a role that I will explore shortly, namely, 'patron'. Fathers-as-patrons provide power, protection, commitment, material goods, and knowledge, just as father's labor to provide the same for their households and offspring."
- Neyrey lists the following elements  of patronage that correspond to the relationship of the Christian to God:
- The relationship is asymmetrical, being between parties of two different status (obviously we are of lower status than God!)
- It includes a "strong element of un-conditionality and long-range credit" (hence God stuck with Israel for so long, despite disobedience; and we remain in the covenant in spite of sin)
- It includes a strong element of "interpersonal obligation" (we serve God; God returns with rewards in Heaven)
- The relationship is entered into voluntarily and can be abandoned voluntarily (which thus does not fit with the P in TULIP, as I have noted, where apostates are concerned)
- It includes an element of what we call favoritism: Patrons (Christians) are favored with salvation over those who are not in the covenant
- In it "basic goods and services are exchanged" and reciprocity is expected (we are supposed to serve God if we truly believe in Him)
- The relationship has a "kinship glaze" -- hence we call God "Father" and we are "sons"
- Honor is both given and received: we honor God with worship; He honors us in heaven with rewards