Friday, June 12, 2015

Jesus' Omniscience, and Mark 13:32

Scriptural Evidence FOR Jesus' Omniscience

First of all, let us start on the right foot,
by examining the Scriptural evidence for the Omniscience of Jesus:

"Now we know that You know all things,
and have no need for anyone to question You;
by this we believe that You came from God."

(John 16:30)

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things 

under His own power,..." (John 13:3)

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that 
should come upon him,..." (John 18:4)

Collectively, John's Gospel makes clear that Jesus knew all things,
because all things had been placed in His own power and control.

The disciples here are under the belief that Jesus is Omniscient.

Its hard to believe that Jesus would at the very end of His 3 - 5 year ministry
have left all the Apostles under such a belief, if it were a mistaken one,
or a misunderstanding.  Jesus would have straightened them out.

Even in Acts when Jesus ascends to heaven, the Disciples ask Jesus
about the restoration of Israel. If they had thought at that time
that Jesus didn't know the time, they wouldn't have asked Him.
Jesus responds "Its not for YOU to know..." (Acts 1:7)
He doesn't say "I don't know..."

Jesus here in His last speech just before His ascension,
has the perfect opportunity to straighten them out,
and the chance to deny His own omniscience,
if it were a misconception needing correction.

He could have said "I don't know this, and so I don't know 'everything'."
Instead He tells them the information is being withheld,
because they are not meant to receive it.

Joseph Benson's  Bible Commentary (1857)
seems to be the first English publication to openly
deny the omniscience of Jesus:
"It is said in Luke 2:52, that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. He increased in wisdom, and consequently in his human nature he was not omniscient. may be said, that though as God he might know all things, yet he might be ignorant of some things as man. And of this particular the Messiah might be ignorant, because it was no part of his office or commission to reveal it. It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power, as our Saviour said, Acts 1:7, when a like question was proposed to him.  ..."   
 - (Benson's Commentary on Mark 13:32)
Rather than appealing to the Greek original here, which could have cleared up
the question simply, Benson has relied upon the KJV / AV English translation,
which has incorporated some imprecise translation with a bit of shakey interpreting from previous translators.

We have already dealt with  both Luke 2:52 and Acts 1:7 above,
and now all that is left really on this is a careful analysis of Mark 13:32.
 The Synoptic passage originating in Mark (13:32) has been mistranslated.
We have written about it before.
Matthew (24:36), copying Mark is not independent,
and translators following the KJV and prior translators have let us down here.

He doesn't have to be 'always omniscient'.

This scripture, if it applies to knowledge per se, (as opposed to wisdom)
is said of Jesus' childhood, not His ministry as Messiah.

For that we need to refer to what is said concerning THAT time:
"Now we know that You know all things,
and have no need for anyone to question You;
by this we believe that You came from God."
(John 16:30)
Note please that this is also an UNCONDITIONAL flat statement,
unqualified and incredibly misleading if the Apostles have gotten it wrong
at the Last Supper and Garden of Gethsemane.

If both scriptures are true, and we have no reason to doubt their plain meaning,
then Jesus increased in wisdom as a growing child and teen,
and was omniscient as a complete and perfect Messiah.

The only scriptures which appear to be contrary (in the English translation only)
are those of Mark 13:32 and its derivatives (copied and modified) by Matthew and Luke.

We turn to Mark first, and find:
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man,
no, not the angels which are in heaven,
neither the Son, but the Father.
(KJV/KJV 2000)

Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης καὶ τῆς ὥρας οὐδεὶς οἶδεν
οὐδὲ οἱ ἄγγελοι οἱ ἐν οὐρανῷ
οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ
(Greek text, no significant variants)

'εἰ' means "if" and 'μὴ' means "not".

Its really that simple, and the sentence is actually a coordinated pair of clauses.

Its a Conditional Sentence, that states outcomes which are dependent
upon conditions.

Its not a flat unconditional statement of fact,
but its a hypothetical, contingent Conditional Sentence,
which cannot be simplified into unconditional flat statements.

Its not conveying an unconditional truth,
but a conditional and hypothetical set of possibilities,
which may have various outcomes.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Daniel (Pt 20): The Structure of Daniel

Two things must be acknowledged about the Book of Daniel:

(1)  Its composite structure.

(2)  The fact that it is not unique in this feature.

Many O.T. and even N.T. books have a composite structure.

Genesis for example is actually a collection of nine 'booklets', or ancient Diary Entries, either by contemporary eyewitnesses (early sections), or generational historians (later sections).  As it accumulates, it becomes a tribal and finally a national history to the time of Moses.   Its highly doubtful Moses wrote it himself.   Rather the tribes have in Genesis surrendered a shared historical account.

Both Kings and Chronicles openly acknowledge using previous written records, currently now lost.

Even prophetic books, such as Isaiah, contain block-sections that have apparently been inserted from historical accounts, in order to provide context and meaning to Isaiah's original prophecies.  Isaiah chapters 36-37 for instance appear to be an early version of or have been borrowed and edited by the compiler of Kings. (Kings 18:13-19:37)

The parallel sections of Kings, Chronicles and Isaiah
form a kind of simplified O.T. Synoptic Problem:

2Kings 18:13       = Isaiah 36:1
2Kings 18:14-16  =                        / 2Chronicles 32:2-8
2Kings 18:17-37  = Isaiah 36:2-22   / 2Chronicles 32:9-19
2Kings 19:1-5     = Isaiah 37:1-4     / 2Chronicles 32:20
2Kings 19:6,7     = Isaiah 37:6,7
2Kings 19:8-19   = Isaiah 37:8-20   / 2Chronicles 32:17
2Kings 19:20-37 = Isaiah 37:21-38  / 2Chronicles 32:21
2Kings 20:1-11   = Isaiah 38          / 2Chronicles 32:24
2Kings 20:12-19 = Isaiah 39:1-8

 Likewise, it is acknowledged by Luke himself and commentators, that Luke and also Matthew have used Mark as a base for their own fuller gospel story.

Both of these books treat their source material in blocks.

Many other authentic and historical books from about the same period,
also include and incorporate documents by others, even in other languages.

Thus we have Ezra-Nehemiah in its final form being merged into a single scroll,
and inside those books we find quotations from Persian rulers in Aramaic.

Similarly, the Book of Esther references court records and/or laws and even conversations by non-Jewish persons involved in the events described.

So it should be no surprise that in its final form,
the book of Daniel represents an organized collection of stories about Daniel,
along with written records by Foreign Rulers, and also Daniel's own writings.

It should be recognized without serious difficulty, that such collections were
originally produced for many prophets by their companions, assistants, helpers, and contemporary historians.

This is obviously the case for Elijah (and his servant and successor Elisha),
Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch, and the followers of Isaiah, who organized
and collected the stories and sayings of these great prophets.

In Daniel's case, we may surmise that such records and collections were made and preserved by Daniel's companions, and Jewish organizers such as Ezra and Nehemiah.

When we turn to the contents of Daniel, we can see a simple and expected structure, along with features that can be reasonably explained, even when
they are unique in their degree or extent.

The Structure of Daniel has remarkable, but not inexplicable features,
given its circumstance and the era in which it was produced:

To begin with, the first, and then the 9th to 12th chapters are written in Biblical Hebrew similar to Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah.  The middle chapters are written in Aramaic quite contemporary with the Babylonian and Persian periods.

The 1st chapter serves as an introduction and provides the historical setting for the book.  The last chapters claim to be final prophetic chapters by Daniel himself (more on that later).  The middle (Aramaic) sections form the bulk of the stories about Daniel as a court minister with the Babylonians and Persians.

This core of the book (chapters 2-7) seems to be the original collection,
completely written in Aramaic, and it forms a remarkable Chiastic Structure,
indicating it is all of a single piece and composition.

In contrast, the remaining Hebrew portions of the book show no awareness
or at least concern at all for the Chiastic structure, and simply offer a sequential set of three more dream-prophecies.

Since the book is demonstrably a composite work, attempts by critics to date
the entire book as a unit are in fact worthless.

The biggest criticisms, namely that the 'author' is only aware of and
mostly concerned about the period under the Greeks,
especially Antiochus (c. 167 BC), only really apply to one chapter,
namely Chapter 11.
But this was probably the very last section (chapters 10-12 are a unit)
added to the book, and as a unit it is quite different than all other parts.

The strongest criticism therefore would most effectively suggest
that the last three chapters were added, and that the rest of the book
must in that case be much older.

We have a similar situation with the Book of Enoch, where
demonstrably foreign and later sections were added,
in the simplest manner, namely tagging them on on the end of the original.

Although Chapter 12 is of interest since it mentions the resurrection,
several other parts of the Aramaic core also reference this common belief.