Mark Dankof's America

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Douglas Moo

Mark Dankof: An Overview of I John for the Catacomb Church and Homeschooling Study in The Latter Days

ArmenianNightSky01

This study is dedicated to Christian believers in these latter days who face constant trials, tribulations, tragedies, illness, and spiritual depression and discouragement. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

     As we begin our 3 hour session this evening in I John, let me emphasize at the outset that this presentation of an overview of the book is to be understood in the context of the larger Johannine corpus of the New Testament.  These Epistles (I John, II John, and III John) are fascinating letters with a wealth of information and insight in them.  We will eventually tackle the Gospel of John and his Apocalypse on Patmos, the work which finalizes the New Testament corpus even as it provides additional data on what that corpus reveals to us on the issues of eschatology and those things that must transpire in history before the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ.

     I am most appreciative of the opportunity to gather in this private home in South Texas. It is not an accident that there is no advertisement of our studies to the general public or the use of social media to disclose our location, our syllabus, or the names and numbers of our homeschoolers and homeschooling parents who gather here.  When I am invited here, it is understood that I am attempting to help parents and students tackle the tools and methods of study available for growth in the Word of God, to discuss matters never discussed in public schools, and to focus on prayer together as a family of remnant believers in Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity, and the trustworthy character of the written revelation of God in the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books in its New Testament counterpart.

HOJBHeresies

Class Assignment: Gnosticism on pages 42-60.

     For those of you who have been a part of my last several seminars and discussions here, it is understood that the covering of basic material necessary for study and comprehension is an essential part of anything I teach, but so is challenging give-and-take, and rigorous questioning during the 3 hours that have now begun.  Past examples of the work we have accomplished together have included my Overview of Jonah as Prototypical Primer for Catacomb and Homeschool Study; Christian Martyrdom and The American Empire; and The Church of Smyrna Speaks to the Confessing Church of Christ in This Darkening Hour of Tribulation, Remnant, and Martyrdom.  Whatever else may be said, we are willing together to tackle the real issues of these latter days against the backdrop of an American cultural, political, and educational revolution which has evolved in the last 50 years into an increasingly hostile monolith against any version of Biblical Christianity or its expression in the public marketplace of ideas in a darkening era of Cultural Marxism, Wars for Empire, the Surveillance State, and the proliferation of once-evangelical churches going down the road of the Personality Cult, the Church Growth Movement (CGM), the Entertainment/”Contemporary Worship” Scene, and an overall approach which has embraced mass popularity, existentialism and the sensory at the expense of time-tested, propositionally revealed truths in the Word of God. Is it any wonder that our Lord Jesus emphasizes that the end of history before His return shall be a time of unprecedented deception (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21)?

IranianChristiansforXmas

Christian believers in Iran at Christmas Time in an uncertain world.

     One other item before we move into the survey of I John:  Use electronic technology of this present era to your advantage in Biblical study and your search for God’s truth.  Because of the plethora of trash that exists on the Internet, evangelical Christians often make the mistake of denying themselves and their families access to wonderful theological and Biblical presentations online, and to musical and historical treasures not previously accessible to most of us in a pre-Internet age.  With prayerful discernment, this era enables all of us to grow in knowledge and resources over time.  I chose a few examples for your future use, and your future journey.  See Douglas Campbell and Douglas Moo:  Is the Lutheran Approach to Pauline Justification ‘Justified’? ; D. A. Carson’s multi-episode series on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, Part One, Part Two, and Part Three; Dr. Gleason Archer on The Documentary Hypothesis and Higher Criticism; The Best of Bach; a marvelous journey for the Western Christian in Russian Orthodox Chant; or even what I wrote last month for Russia Insider on LGBTQ and the Culture of Death.  The point is this:  Learning and Discovery never end.  Keep learning, keep discovering, keep growing in the deepest things of God and the available works of some of His best laborers, wherever they till. Allow God’s Word to inform your thinking and your present and future pathway, not the mobs and masses increasingly on the loose in American institutions, seeking to destroy faith, freedom, morals, and the ability to think critically for oneself without dictation or coercion.  That is the ultimate reason why all of you are here.  This is why I have come to help you to the extent that the limitations of my gifts allow me to do so.  It is my ministry to you, even as each and everyone of you ministers to me in these encounters.

asia_minor_map

St John writes I John in Ephesus, the Apocalypse on the Isle of Patmos.

     And please do not make the mistake of failing to be informed on secular political issues and developments both nationally and globally, even as you search for the best sources with which to receive information and analysis as to the larger implications of these matters.  There is no Biblical prophet or apostle who failed to write about these matters in the context of the principles to be learned about God’s sovereign control of all of linear redemptive history throughout the entirety of the Biblical corpus, both in terms of the larger landscape of what was happening in the time contemporaneous with the author and the critical increase in discernment on the part of modern remnant believers in Christ now living in these latter days.  The Holy Spirit superintended the process of inspiring and illumining the minds and hearts of these men in regard to each word, each chapter, each book of the Scriptures.  Thus it is the Spirit of God Himself who has insured the inclusion of these materials on the historical and political times of long ago with application to the wisdom of God’s remnant people in days many centuries later (2 Peter 1:21). When I look at my own life and the passage of years accompanied by past work as a journalist, a broadcaster, a traveler and wanderer, and a Lutheran pastor, one example of these many strange intersections and the superintendence of God occurred in 2012 traveling to and from South Africa.  I wrote about that in “A Reminder of God’s Existence From Long Ago.”

Otten48

Pastor Dankof to Homeschoolers:  The Lifelong Study of Scripture and Solid History is Your Pathway as God Directs.

     I will give you one example of something to read on the history of America seen through the lenses of discernment and not those of an Empire-driven mythology about that history, designed to befuddle those who are unwitting pawns of that Empire and its agenda of world government and what we have discussed here in past sessions as the so-called New World Order.  It is written by my evangelical friend and past colleague in national political wars in the Constitution Party, Pastor Chuck Baldwin.  It is entitled, “These Are The Dates That Destroyed America, 1865-2016.” Follow and research the events he mentions in this terrific article in Russia Insider over months and years, and you are guaranteed to learn things the American political elite and its educational system and news media do not want you to know about. That includes the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas when I was a boy.  My late friend Michael Collins Piper wrote a book on that subject.  You can now read the entire manuscript online thanks to the people at The Unz Review.

IranSectionLibrary

Mark Dankof to Homeschooling Parents and Students:  I can return to my collegiate youth in Iran, or return to the Achaemenid Empire of Ancient Persia anytime I desire.

     I will add two additional resources for your future use in the study of the Old Testament as it pertains to the ancient Achaemenid Kings of the Persian Empire, before we commence with I John tonight as the beginning of some work in the Johannine literature of the New Testament.  Put these in your seminar notes that pertain to what I have been doing with all of you up to this point.  One is the website of Dr. Kaveh Farrokh of the University of British Columbia, a past guest on my radio show a decade ago.  His new article on Pasargadae and Cyrus the Great just issued may be accessed here.  His pivotal book, Shadows in the Desert:  Ancient Persia at War, is a future must for all of you to use in any homeschooling seminar or Catacomb Church study.  The other volume is entitled, Persia and the Bible by Dr. Edwin Yamauchi, past President of the Evangelical Theological Society.  As you will later discover on your own, one cannot see how the Old Testament and the New Testament’s constant use of the Old document the entirety of redemptive history without understanding how Persia, the Achaemenid Empire, and Cyrus the Great fit into the entirety of the picture on Prototype, Predictive Prophecy, Eschatology, and God’s superintendence of the Biblical narrative and all of history, as but one significant example among many.

FarrokhandYamauchi

Mark Dankof’s Radio Studio doubles as Pastor Mark Dankof’s Research Library, where denizens like Kaveh Farrokh and Edwin Yamauchi reside.

 

     Speaking of history, let our own history record in perpetuity the number of words I have already employed as a mere preliminary to beginning the launch of our journey into the Johannine literature of the New Testament by first examining I John (That total is 1,628 words.)

     One more preliminary suggestion.  Go back to our study of Jonah to be refreshed on some ideas on tools to be used now for I John and the entirety of the Johannine corpus. Remember that I said then:

     “Where tools are concerned, the multi-volume Zondervan Charts are critically valuable.  I have been collecting them for years.

     “And finally, if one desires to learn enough Greek and Hebrew through a reputable online course, the best tools for subsequent word studies and research include the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Harris, Archer, Waltke), the updated version of the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Moises Silva, ed.), and the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 vols, Kittel/Friedrich).  The classic Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, the accompanying Index to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, the infamous Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich or “BAG”) and An Index to the Revised Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Greek Lexicon (John R. Alsop, Zondervan) round out some of the basics for those who want to dabble in these scholarly arenas. We do not have to be world-famous scholars to use these.  Over time, I can easily show you how.  By the way, the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich (“BAG”) edition is a first edition.  Later, there was a second edition in 1979 that involved my late Lutheran colleague William Danker, hence the later acronym BAGD.  And to make matters even more ridiculous for you, when a 3rd edition of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature was subsequently issued in 2000, the acronym for the 4 scholars was rearranged for reasons beyond me. This 3rd edition is referred to by insiders as BDAG (Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich).  Go figure.  As for me, I still have the 2nd edition known as BAGD.”

MarkDankofComputerLMSUSAConv

Pastor Dankof at the Podium for 3 Hours. Put on Your Helmets, Class, and Let’s Go!

First John Survey

A Roadmap of Structures and Concepts for Studying a Biblical Book:  Test Case today is First John.

Place of the Book in the Canon and in the Redemptive History Timeline: For your Prototypical Analysis, think of the Epistles of John as subsequent to the Gospel of John and prior to The Apocalypse/The Revelation of John on the island of Patmos during the reign of Emperor Domitian (A. D. 81-96 A. D.)

Logos01

Two Guarantees of Pastor Dankof to Homeschoolers:  “When we get to the Gospel of John, a guaranteed word study is Logos.  For I John, we will try Advocate and Propitiation with our Tools.”

Title:  “First of John” (Πρώτα από τον Ιωάννη)

Author:  The author is the Apostle John, although I John does not tell us who its author is.  The earliest identification we have of John comes from the Church Fathers.  See Irenaeus (circa 140-203 A. D.), Clement of Alexandria (circa 155-215 A. D.), Tertullian (circa 150-222 A. D.), and Origen (circa 185-253 A. D.) who unanimously designated the author as the Apostle John.  There is no evidence of anyone else being brought forward as an alternative by the Church Fathers. The book was used by Polycarp (who knew John in his youth) and Papias in the second century.  All of the Greek and Latin Church Fathers accepted this Epistle as Johannine.  

The identification of the Apostle John as the author by the Church Fathers is undoubtedly the result of the strongest evidence contained within the text of 1 John itself: This evidence is overwhelming based upon the style of 1 John in comparison to the Gospel of John and the use of antithetical contrasts in expressions (light v darkness; life and death; truth and lies; love and hate.)

Compare phrases and expressions in the two books:  Example of First John 1:1 and the Gospel of John 1:1,14Assignment for next session: Find two more, among many.

Eyewitness Testimony (First John 1: 1-4; 4:14). See “we” (Apostles), “you” (readers), and “they” (false teachers) phraseology.

John’s Background:  Acts 8:14; Galatians 2:9.  Christian tradition indicates uniformly that he left Jerusalem (probably not long before its destruction in A. D. 70) and ministered in and around Ephesus.

Date and Historical Background:  You will find that the precise dating of the book is impossible to determine, which compels us to bring in the scholarly detectives (the orthodox, evangelical scholars) to narrow the field to a reasonable time frame based on the Biblical and historical data available. Here is what can safely be said:  We are looking at a time frame nearing the end of the first century.  Factors to be included in any analysis of this shall include the evidence from early Christian writers (Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria), an early form of Gnosticism which provides the backdrop of the letter’s denunciations, and the indications of John’s advancing age.  One evangelical source concludes that since I John builds on the themes and concepts found in the 4th Gospel, it would be reasonable to conclude with the other arguments already advanced that a date between A. D. 85-95 is an excellent deduction.  No persecution is mentioned, suggesting a date prior to A. D. 95 when persecution broke out during the end of Emperor Domitian’s reign (A. D. 81-96). I cannot overemphasize the importance of a basic understanding of Gnosticism.  In addition to the one Internet Link already provided, the class will have two background reading assignments on this topic:  One is to read what Dr. Harold O. J. Brown tells us in Heresies about Gnosticism in pages 42-60.  There is a correlation between Gnosticism and Docetism, we are told.  Hint:  Look up Gnosticism in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary.  You will be told to “See Incarnation (pp. 613-613).” Why?

Christ in I JohnThe Lord is indeed found throughout the book.  My favorite section, if pressed, would be the section marked off as 1:5-2:22.  This section does highlight the present ministry of Christ, especially in the emphasis on His blood continually cleansing the believer from all sin, and the articulation of the idea that He is our righteous Advocate before the Father. Pay special attention to the specific refutations of the Gnostic heresy here (see 2:22 and later 4:2-3).  Jesus comes by “water and blood” (5:6); He is the same indivisible person from the beginning to the end of his life, in an idea later framed by systematic theologians as the Hypostatic Union of the Human and Divine Natures in One Indivisible Person. The Nicene Creed discusses the mystery of the “Word who Became Flesh” (John 1:1,14 with comparison to 1 John 1:1) by discussing the correct verdict of the Council of Nicaea that the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, is “of the same substance as God the Father.”

Structure of the Book: Let’s keep this as simple as possible:

I.  Introduction (1:1-4)

II. Fellowship’s Conditions (1:5-2:14)

III. Cautions to the Believer (2:15-27) [Love of the World/Spirit of the Antichrist]

IV.  The Believer’s Walk with God in Fellowship (2:28-5:21) [Characteristics and Positive Consequences of Fellowship]

Key Verses: When I was a boy in Lutheran parochial school in Hawaii, and later a young Lutheran confirmand in Dayton, Ohio, memorization of the Word of God was an absolute emphasis.  I remember so many verses from I John that it seems almost absurd to discuss key verses, except in the context of my own personal preferences and those quoted most often by my teachers and scholars who guided me in my past educational endeavors.

But I will give you a few:  I John 1:5-10; I John 2: 1-2; I John 2: 17; I John 2: 18-19; I John 2:22-23; I John 2:26; I John 3:1b; I John 3:16; I John 3:23; I John 4:1-3; I John 5:5-7; 1 John 5: 11-12; I John 5: 13-15; I John 5:16; I John 5:18-20.

Key Chapter: There is so much key material throughout this Epistle that I find isolating the key chapter to be a bit of a dicey proposition.  Nonetheless, I will post here the majority evangelical consensus that the key chapter is Chapter 1, with the key idea/word being that of fellowship.  In my notes from a D. A. Carson lecture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the early 1980s, he made reference to the ” .  .  . two central passages in the New Testament for continued fellowship with God are John 15 and First John 1.  The former relates the positive side of fellowship, namely abiding in Christ.  The latter gives us the opposite side of the equation, that when Christians do not abide in Christ, they must seek forgiveness before fellowship can be restored.” Yes, I have all of my notes and handouts from my entire time in three different seminaries.  I recopied my notes after each lecture, which enables me to read my handwriting decades later.  . . .

Good Commentaries:  I am going to suggest a good possibility.  I use the word possibility because I haven’t used it personally, but the evangelical credentials of the author and the endorsements suggest one would be safe in selecting this one as part of a larger personal Bibliography.  I will reiterate what has been said in this seminar each time I have been invited to teach: For beginners in this minefield, select those who actually believe the Word of God is infallible and divinely inspired; then subdivide that further when it comes to schools graduated from, theological tradition identified with the author, and special expertise in a specific Biblical book or research emphasis.  Once we reach the Gospel of John and the Apocalypse, I will have other suggestions for you. Hint:  A man I once knew is a name you need to remember.  It will come up time and time again:  Leon Morris. Another name for your future interest:  Donald W. Burdick. His The Letters of John the Apostle is something to remember and to consult. Finally, don’t make the mistake of failing to consult the Lutheran tradition when it is out of the orthodox, evangelical wing of that strand.  One of the great ironic shortcomings of Protestant Evangelical publishing houses and schools is the tendency to forget that the Sola Christus, Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide rallying cry of the Reformation stems originally from the Lutheran Reformation, not the later development of what would become known as the Reformed version.  On the issues of forensic declaration and imputation as these concepts relate to the salvation of the believer, they are of one mind, whatever the other significant differences.

Otten69

The Lutheran “Solas” and the Monergistic Action of God in Salvation. Avoid Synergism.  What is Synergism, Class????

Word StudiesAdvocate (Παράκλητον) I John 2:1: Volume 3 of New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, Moises Silva (Revision Editor), pages 627-633.  BAGD, page 618.

Propitiation (ἱλασμός) I John 2:2: Volume 2 of New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, Moises Silva (Revision Editor), pages 531-541. Also BAGD on page 375. Detail on page 375: Luther’s Gnadenstuhl and his exegesis of Hebrew 9:5.

Gnadenstuhl02

Was ist ein Gnadenstuhl? See Luther on Hebrews 9:5. 

Key Ideas for Discussion and Reflection: Dr. Harold O. J. Brown tells us that the entire history of the Church is the constant battle between Heresy and Orthodoxy.  One example is Gnosticism and Docetism.  Does heresy creep into evangelical churches today? What kinds? How does it happen?  Are there patterns in Scripture and history which can be adduced? What false ideas do you see by Biblical definition as mainstream or majority views in American society and culture today?

An Overview of Jonah as Prototypical Primer for Catacomb Church and Homeschool Study

Jonah02

Jonah in distress in the 8th century B. C.  He was a prototype of coming distress for the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Samaria.  Is there a contemporary historical analogy and application?

 

     I am most honored to be with you today as an invited guest on this Sunday afternoon.  Let me say at the outset that it has been a long time since I’ve been in front of a group of evangelicals in a home or classroom setting to provide an overview of a Biblical book or a topic of history or systematic theology.  Years ago when a most improbable set of circumstances brought me to the now defunct Texas Bible College in the Alamo City to teach Biblical courses, apologetics, church history, and communications for several years, I had the pedagogical experience of my life in front of a group of young people who saw learning the material as an exciting journey and odyssey of a lifetime.

     What I remember most is what Lutheran pastor and theologian Helmut Thielicke once referred to as “intense listening.” I covered the context of Pastor Thielicke’s phrase in a presentation I delivered to a Lutheran gathering in the Middle West 4 years ago.  In a nutshell, Dr. C. George Fry chronicles that context in his article on Thielicke in the Handbook of Evangelical Theologians (Baker, 1993) on pages 219-233.  Dr. Fry explains how and why this great man was in academic and professional exile in the early days of World War II, how he came out of exile under circumstances that can only be explained as the work of God in history, and how through his teaching skills and personal acquaintance with the Gospel, the Stuttgart Cathedral lectures to the beleaguered German people transpired even as Allied air raids drew ever nearer to them.  Fry noted that:

Thielicke01

Helmut Thielicke: Preaching the Gospel near Midnight in the Stuttgart Cathedral during the apocalyptic Allied Air Raids.  He experienced “intense listening” never seen again.

     “As he lectured [in Stuttgart Cathedral] on its five principle parts [Small Catechism of Luther]–the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper–‘evening after evening some three thousand persons gathered together; workers and businessmen, students and professors, soldiers and generals, Nazi functionaries (naturally in civilian clothes!) and Jews, Dutch compulsory laborers . . . and sometimes whole classes from the schools.  It was an overwhelming time for me.  Never since have I experienced such intense listening.’      Soon the massive air raids began.  When the streetcars could no longer run, people ‘came on foot, often from many miles away, through the fields of ruins and rubble’ even on dark and frightening winter evenings.  But then the [Stuttgart] cathedral was destroyed.  Thielicke wrote, ‘I can still see the towering torch of this venerable house of God.  . . . I stood there holding in my hand a key to a door that no longer existed.’

StuttgartCathedral02

The original Stuttgart Cathedral is located in Stuttgart-Bad-Canstatt. Its history goes back all the way to 1470. After massive destruction during the Second World War, the church was rebuilt in 1954/55.

     The lesson is this:  When there is great opportunity for evangelical believers to gather together around a meaningful study of the Word of God, that is an opportunity to be seized at the moment in time it is offered.  Just as the Stuttgart Cathedral was torched in a single evening of air raids, so it was that Texas Bible College closed under less dramatic circumstances after a handful of semesters of teaching for me there.  Thielicke noted later in his life that those times of “intense listening” would never come again.  I never experienced it again either, although I sense in our group this afternoon that the Lord has many mutual blessings for us in the handful of occasions when I will be your guest in this house to share my thoughts and materials with you.  And please keep in mind that just as there was a sense of great apocalyptic and eschatological expectation among the German people who flocked to the Thielicke lectures in Stuttgart Cathedral, there is a strong scent of apocalyptic and eschatological expectation in history among those of us in the Remnant Church most desirous of spending more time in the Word of God and in fervent intercessory prayer.  I addressed this very thing in the last public theological presentation made to anyone in 2017 in “The Church of Smyrna Speaks to the Confessing Church of Christ in this Darkening Hour.”  Later in the year, I would be given 5 minutes to speak at a Lutheran convention in a foreign country with reference to this article.  In addition to the shortness of time allotted, the convention folks were preoccupied with choosing a new president and adopting a new organizational structure.  John on Patmos and the application of the Apocalypse to the present historical situation of the Remnant Church in the Western World and elsewhere wasn’t apparently on their agenda for the week.  I know it is on yours or I would not have been asked to come here.  The point is this:  You know the hour.  You want your loved ones to have the best grasp of Scripture possible as persecutions and circumstances worsen.  And I’d rather be with 7 folks here in this house on a Sunday afternoon than all the denominational meetings and conventions extant.  Put slightly differently, I tend to hate those gatherings.  Enough said.

     My second introductory point pertains to the political realm in the world, our need to be presently informed and watchful observers of the events within it in this country and abroad, and to take note of Paul’s warnings in Ephesians 6 about the demonic realm’s influence and operations within world governments.  Why?  Because: 1) The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and both the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Apostolic Writers underscore the importance of discernment in battling demonic deception in world history at every point on the linear time line which runs from the Fall to the Second Advent of the Lord.  2) No Biblical writing can be properly studied and even partially understood without constant reference to the historical context and events that enshrouded the particular author, including Jonah. And what Biblical principles at these various stages of redemptive history properly inform the Remnant Church now as to what God is accomplishing at present through individuals, collective entities, world leaders and empires, and technological advancements making global surveillance systems, economic manipulations, media misinformation, and military weapons of mass destruction and mass murder ever greater threats to the survivability of the planet? Does not the age of the Tower of Babel in Genesis, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel, and Nero and Domitian of the Ancient Roman Empire as chronicled by the Apostle John on Patmos in Revelation, provide us with prototypical clues regarding the New World Order and the impending unveiling of Antichrist?   And to reiterate, 3) the Lord in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 21) mentions the concept of deception more than that of any other idea in his chronicling of the run-up to the end of history and His return.  The principle and the lesson is this: Assiduous study of the Word of God, acquiring proper tools in doing so, developing solid principles for applying the Old and New Testament to legitimate contemporary applications, including discerning the larger meaning of present and future events in history, are within your grasp and mine as we work within our mutual limitations as best we can, and ask the Holy Spirit of God to reveal what He desires that we truly hear, see, and take to heart in the times in which we live.  Only these things can and will enable us to penetrate falsehoods and deceptions in these end times and to recognize false prophets and wolves when they insiduously infiltrate and attack.  Rest assured that they are, and that they shall. And as we shall see shortly, interpretation and understanding of the context of the story of Jonah is inextricably linked with the political developments of his time as they pertained both to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the nation of Assyria.

     In closing this second point of introduction, let me note what many of you already know from things you have read or heard about me.  I have been intensely involved in the political realm for many years, for reasons directly related to what I believe about eschatology, and what I believe are the particular forces Satan has been working through in both the United States specifically and the West generally to destroy Christian societies, civilizations, and churches, especially since the earliest portion of the 20th Century onward.  My last post in this arena was this past January.  I do not know if there will be any more, or any additional TV or radio commentary.  My mission in all of this may already be past. It is my hope that people in the future who come across my work since 2001 will understand the context of why I embarked upon this journey in the critical years in question, and what I was trying to accomplish as one of a relative handful of voices exiled in the desert in wintertime.  Time tells.

     Beginning today, I hope to equip you with a basic structural methodology for studying any Biblical book.  The book you have selected as a test case example is Jonah.

     Before beginning our quest to examine the Book of Jonah more closely, let me say several things about tools for studying Scripture and consulting the best sources available to you or me.  The first is the Annotated Bibliography.  I emphasize Annotated because this term underscores that one is not simply provided with a list of books on a particular subject or discipline, but helpful comments and guidance on the strength and weaknesses of a particular book, the ideological background of the author(s), and the particular tradition or school of thought out of which said author(s) comes.  As but one example, is the author an evangelical/orthodox scholar theologically, as we understand that term shall be used in this class, or does he/she come from the realm of Higher Criticism and Historical Criticism which provide a brand of scholarship with far different presuppositions and conclusions than any of us would accept as viable?  Among evangelicals, what is a Dispensational Premillennialist?  An Amillennialist? What is the context of the Calvinistic-Arminian controversy over free will and election?  What is the difference between a Lutheran and a Zwinglian in interpretation of major Biblical passages pertaining to the Lord’s Supper?  What are the different schools of interpretation that have existed in history to explain the Prophecy of 70 Weeks in Daniel, chapter 9?

     These are just a few of the important ideas to have an acquaintance with in any evaluation of what we read in any commentary on these subjects at hand.  Hint:  All of us come to the Biblical narrative with a background and historical framework, whether we are conscious of this or not, or frank enough to acknowledge the obvious. Just in brief Internet search I found an interesting list with comments here. Check out another possibility for Jonah research here.  The evangelical Denver Seminary has a list of Old Testament commentary recommendations here.  And the famous evangelical Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, an offshoot of Princeton historically, has a variety of tools available to any of us.  I introduce two suggestions at this point with Annotated Bibliographies:  1) Those prepared by known evangelical schools and sources are likely to be best for our use.  2) Having said that, please do not cheat yourself of the insights and contributions to be made in understanding a subject often contributed by scholars we do not agree with in key areas.  Example:  The great Lutheran scholar and historian, Jaroslav Pelikan (later Eastern Orthodox), had a view of the Scriptures heavily influenced by historical criticism and at odds with that of more orthodox, evangelical Lutherans.  Having said that, if one engages in the study of historical theology, it is impossible not to avail oneself of his brilliant mind and research as exhibited in his 5 volume set on Church History, entitled The Christian Tradition:  The History of the Development of Doctrine.  I have this set, and am presently reading Volume 2 on my own, to learn more about Eastern Orthodoxy.  Do you know what I was exposed to on this subject in an evangelical seminary?  Absolutely nothing is the correct answer.  The lesson is this:  Protestant evangelicals are heavyweights in exegesis of the Word of God.  They tend to be extremely weak as historians in the area of the development of doctrine.  Take the predominant eschatological position of evangelicals on the final events of world history, especially as they pertain to the modern State of Israel vis a vis the Israel of God.  How many know the beginning of the rudimentary elements of this position first emerge in the writings of a Jesuit priest in the 16th century, subsequently to be systematized by John Nelson Darby and popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible in the 19th century?  One evangelical source for examining this subject and providing a fair treatment to both sides of this debate may be accessed here.  The Annotated Bibliography for this single key subject alone is enough to fill a few libraries in and of itself. Enough said.

     Where tools are concerned, the multi-volume Zondervan Charts are critically valuable.  I have been collecting them for years.

     And finally, if one desires to learn enough Greek and Hebrew through a reputable online course, the best tools for subsequent word studies and research include the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Harris, Archer, Waltke), the updated version of the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Moises Silva, ed.), and the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 vols, Kittel/Friedrich).  The classic Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, the accompanying Index to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, the infamous Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich or “BAG”) and An Index to the Revised Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Greek Lexicon (John R. Alsop, Zondervan) round out some of the basics for those who want to dabble in these scholarly arenas. We do not have to be world-famous scholars to use these.  Over time, I can easily show you how.  By the way, the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich (“BAG”) edition is a first edition.  Later, there was a second edition in 1979 that involved my late Lutheran colleague William Danker, hence the later acronym BAGD.  And to make matters even more ridiculous for you, when a 3rd edition of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature was subsequently issued in 2000, the acronym for the 4 scholars was rearranged for reasons beyond me. This 3rd edition is referred to by insiders as BDAG (Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich).  Go figure.  As for me, I still have the 2nd edition known as BAGD.  This is for reasons of nostalgia that go back almost 37 years. The legendary Dr. Douglas Moo (follow your Annotated Bibliographies for the New Testament) was the one who beat me to death in summer Greek Exegesis courses in 1981 after I barely passed the crash course of 2 years of college Greek in 2 previous semesters at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School to qualify for Moo.  He found it humorous when I slipped him a note to suggest early termination of a class that academically overwhelming summer of 1981 to get to a Cubs game in Wrigley Field that particular afternoon.  The note read:  “Dr. Moo.  May we BAG this for the Cubs’ game today?  Dankof. (BAGD from that time on wasn’t for Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker but for BAG [this]D[Signed, Dankof].” His response:  “Funny, but I have BAGGED your suggestion. Dr. M.

     If you would like to explore the possibilities for yourself or your kids in learning enough New Testament Greek for the use of some of these tools in word studies, my written transcript of today’s conversation will contain a link here.  Again, this may never be your desire, but I always chronicle these things in order that someone will have a resource to consult months, years, or decades later.  I still use my notes, my course syllabi, references on note cards to something discovered in a particular resource, flash cards, and updated Annotated Bibliographies as needed, to get to the bottom of something in my personal studies.  Two classic examples involve a single piece of paper where my late friend, Pastor John Eppler, tutored me for a week in the Hebrew alphabet and its phonetic sounds, to enable me to pass summer months of constant Hebrew immersion with Dr. Samir Massouh at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the summer of 1982.  Sadly, we lost Pastor Eppler in late 2004.  After John got me through the alphabet and Hebrew immersion with Dr. Massouh, I would enjoy OT 711, or “Poetry and Post-Exilic History” with the latter that fall.  Sadly, Samir Massouh now struggles with esophageal cancer and chemotherapy at the St. Francis Hospital in Kenosha, Wisconsin, north of Chicago. How I miss these men.

EpplerHebrew1982

The late Pastor John Eppler’s handwriting instructs me in the Hebrew alphabet and phonetic pronunciation on a piece of notebook paper in the summer of 1982.

Massouh1982TEDS

Dates of OT significance to memorize in the Fall of 1982.

     One nostalgic story about Samir Massouh is in order.  In my last Hebrew course in the summer of 1982, the final exam contained a lengthy translation.  I “Aced” that portion of the exam.  Several days later, he asked me to come to his office.  He seemed troubled.  I knew what was bothering him.  He noted my never-before-noted-and-sudden brilliance on that portion of the exam.  He also ventured that he believed me to be 1) an honorable person and 2) an improving but still mediocre Hebrew student at the graduate level.  With those hypotheses ruminating in his mind, he asked if I had an explanation for my sudden foray into Hebrew exegetical skills matching his own, or Gleason Archer’s.

WinterDreamwithFlynn04

The Crucifix and the Sacramental Altar of Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Wahiawa.  Every Wednesday morning, The Venite was sung by the children in the Matins Service (Psalm 95).

     My answer was truthful and explanatory:  “The answer is the Venite which I sang every Wednesday morning in 3 years of grade school at Trinity Lutheran School in Wahiawa, Hawaii in the 1960s during the Chapel Matins Service.  It’s contained in the Matins Service on page 32 in The Lutheran HymnalThe Venite is Psalm 95 used as a canticle in the Western liturgy, usually for Matins.” (Massouh’s test translation for the last Hebrew exam of the summer of 1981 was Psalm 95. Virtually none of the pan-Protestant evangelical students taking that exam knew anything about historic liturgy, especially in the Evangelical Free Church of America, the Bible Church tradition, the Conservative Baptist denomination, et. al.  But the singular Lutheran with a childhood background in Western Liturgical Worship knew it by heart.)

     Samir Massouh’s countenance reflected a combination of humor and relief.  He said, “So this explains why you were humming while you were writing.”  My response:  “Exactly.  After two lines, I recognized the entire pericope.  But I could best bring everything back to total recall by humming the melody of the liturgical setting for Psalm 95 used then for Matins.  It went much faster than trying to recite it without the music.

     I asked him if I would still receive my A.  He said with a smile and beaming eyes, “Yes. and get out of here.”  My response as I was opening the door to leave was “See you for Post Exilic History this fall.”

     There is a postscript to this story.  In the following spring of 1983, Trinity Journal (TRINJ 04:1/Spring 1983, page 84) came out with an article by Dr. Massouh. It was entitled, “Exegetical Notes Psalm 95,” and began with introductory comments on worship:

     “Recent publications have reflected a renewed evangelical interest in the nature and manner of worship. Some have advocated incorporating charismatic enthusiasm while others have promoted the use of more liturgy. It is in the light of such revived interest that this study of Ps 95 is given, in order to establish some biblical principles about the nature and manner of worship.”

     I ran into him on campus shortly after the article was released.  I observed wryly, “You’re the first Trinity professor who ever plagiarized any of my stuff.” He got the humor.

     Lesson:  Never forget the most special people God has ever placed, or will place, in your life.  Think about the principles of instruction provided.  I will say it again.  I will never forget those men, and those times.  And if the truth be known, one of the great mistakes in my life was not staying there for a much longer period of trial and hardship to develop the skills and the calling I did not realize were emerging until many years later. I have one thesis to finish and one more language exam to finance and sustain in preparing for whatever remains of my life in the time left. Only God knows how this will be possible or where in this present world it leads, but He assures us he is in the Impossibility business (Luke 1:37).

     Now we move on to a brief roadmap of introductory structure and notes for the Book of Jonah, which as indicated earlier is in prototypical form and concept what I do in the study of any Biblical book.  (Aside:  If you’re counting, my Word Processor informs me that you and I have now covered not quite 3500 words.  Again, the electronic version of this conversation will enable you to get to the Links to some of the resources discussed here in the living room of this house.)

JonahMap01

When God calls us to go to a destination 550 miles away, His purposes through us will still be accomplished if we run 2500 miles in the other direction. [Book of Jonah]

A Roadmap of Structures and Concepts for Studying a Biblical Book:  Test Case is Jonah.

Place of the Book in the Canon and in the Redemptive History Timeline: For your Prototypical Analysis, think Patriarchs and Israelites/United Monarchy/Divided Monarchy/Babylonian Captivity/Intertestamental PeriodJonahDivided Monarchy.  Northern Kingdom of Israel. Minor Prophet.  

Title:  Named after its principal character. Jonah means “dove.” Compare with Hosea 7:11; Psalm 68:13 and 74:19.

Date: 800-750 B. C. for the prophetic ministry of Jonah.  Authorship of the book prior to the destruction of Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B. C. Hint:  Compare evangelical commentaries with those of higher critical/liberal persuasion on this issue.  The date of the revival in Nineveh recorded in Chapter 3 is believed to coincide with the reign of Ashurdan III (773-755 B. C.). Interesting speculation:  Did two plagues in Assyria (765 and 759 B. C.) and a solar eclipse in 763 B. C. prepare the people for Jonah’s message of repentance or judgment?

Author:  The book does not identify its author.  Tradition assigns it to the prophet himself. (Consult both evangelical and non-evangelical commentaries and sources for the debates on this which ensue.  One recommendation:  see Gleason Archer’s section on Jonah in his Introduction to the Old Testament [Moody Press] if you can locate this volume.  It is especially valuable for providing responsible academic representation of evangelical arguments for the reliability and accuracy of the Biblical narratives as it rebuts the most enduring objections of Higher Criticism and Historical Criticism. I can provide excerpts of these if needed. Archer discusses authorship issues in his comments on Jonah.  Don’t dismiss these arguments as personally irrelevant.  You or your kids may well need a handle on some of this to provide rebuttal to the unbelieving cynics some of you will encounter in circles of American “higher education.”  Enough said. Hint:  The arguments you will encounter revolve around higher Biblical critics who claim that Jonah was authored the 5th and 3rd centuries B. C., as a historical fiction espousing universalistic views to counter the “narrow nationalism” of Ezra and Nehemiah.

     Jonah is identified as the son of Amittai (1:1) from Gath Hepher (2 Kings 14:25) in Zebulun (Joshua 19: 10,13). 2 Kings 14:25 references him as a prophet in the reign of Jeroboam II of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Here, we read that under Jeroboam II, the borders of Israel were expanded according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He had spoken through his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher (3 miles north of Nazareth in lower Galilee).”  Keys:  the reign of Jeroboam II, Jonah as prophet of the Northern Kingdom, Jonah as a Galilean. Hints:  See John 7:52 for a good case of Pharisaical error.

Historical Background:  Know your Kings of Judah (south) and Israel (north) after the end of the United Monarchy!  There were 20 Kings of Judah8 were good. 12 were bad. As for the Northern Kingdom of Israel, all 19 of their Kings from the end of the United Monarchy to the onset of final destruction of the Kingdom and Samaria in 722 B. C. at the hands of the Assyrians were bad. See here.  [There are all kinds of historical gems and discerning contemporary application of these gems of instruction.  One could look at the last 5 kings of Judah, beginning with Josiah (good) and 4 terrible successors leading to the Exile.  Possible application:  Think about the succession of American leaders in recent times, the state of the American Empire, and what many American Protestants have embraced as the doctrine of American Exceptionalism.  Is that ideology Biblical? How does it square with the reasons for the rise and fall of Empires Biblically? Is this idea a foundational basis for present day susceptibility to deception? End of point.  . . . as for Jonah, zero in on Jeroboam II (782-753 B. C./co-regency/41 years in the electronic source, Archer says 793-753 B. C. in his Introduction).  Consult the historical background section of the Commentaries you select out of our list.

     The reign of Jeroboam II is pivotal to the context of both Jonah and Amos.  What are the key points to underscore in understanding the historical backdrop of these prophets and their respective proclamations?

     1.  The key nations (3) in the historical backdrop are the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Damascus (center of Aramean power), and Assyria.

     2.  Circa 797 B. C., Elisha spoke to the King of Israel about future victories over Damascus (2 Kings 13: 14-19).

     3.  The Assyrian military campaign against Damascus in 797 B. C. enables the King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Jehoash (798-782 B. C.), to recover territories previously lost to the King of Damascus (2 Kings 13:25).

     4.  Jonah prophesies the restoration of the Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam II predicted by Elisha (2 Kings 24:25). Internal troubles in Assyria enable Jeroboam II to complete the restoration of Israel’s northern borders.

     5.  The Northern Kingdom of Israel subsequently falls into a period of nationalistic arrogance, complacency, and spiritual decadence after the restoration under Jeroboam II.  The prophetic implications are covered by Amos and Hosea.  Amos prophesies an exile beyond Damascus (Amos 5:27).  He will proclaim that God’s patience with the Northern Kingdom is at an end (Amos 7:8; 8:2). Hosea indicates that the tool of God’s judgment will be a politically and militarily revived Assyria (Hosea 9:3; 10:6; 11:5).  It is in this context that God sends Jonah to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to warn it of the imminency of its own eventual judgment.  Hint:  To contextualize why Jonah attempted to run from God’s command and flee to Tarshish, run a Search Engine probe for “Assyrian Empire Cruelty.”  This will bring up many fascinating articles, including one I just discovered for you at Realm of History.  Or try this article from the Biblical Archeology Society (Jan/Feb 1991) which is in PDF format.  

Christ in Jonah:  Gleason Archer tells us in his Introduction to the Old Testament on page 313 that ” . . . one cannot reject the historicity of Jonah without also rejecting the authority of Christ.”  See Matthew 12: 38-41 (and the Luke account).  Hint:  Isolate the word “sign” for further examination (σημεῖον).  Jonah is the only prophet whom Jesus likened to Himself.  What are the implications? Compare this account to the aforementioned John 7:52. Think Jonah and Jesus in terms of TypologyFurther suggestion:  The eschatological warnings about signs and wonders in the New Testament.  What are the implications?  (For now, simply file this in your notes for future study.)

WinterDreamwithFlynn07

Matthew 12:  The deeper implications of the word “sign” (σημεῖον) may lie within the pages of the revised version of the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Moises Silva, ed.)

Structure of the Book:  Let’s keep this simple.  Some of your commentaries will be more elaborate, but simplicity of structure is often best retained in the mind during study.

1.  Jonah flees. (Chapters 1-2)

2.  Jonah reluctantly fulfills. (Chapters 3-4)

     Related structural issues40 verses tell the story of a single, extended episode.  8 additional verses cover Jonah’s prayer of thanksgiving, giving us a total of 48 verses.  Jonah’s employment of structural symmetry and style are often compared to the Book of Ruth.  The story is told in two parallel cycles (Chapters 1-2/Chapters 3-4) of comparisons and contrasts.  There are 3 Confessions of Jonah (1:9; 2:9; 4:2.) The “Middle Confession” of 2:9 is decisive. It proclaims that “Salvation is of the Lord,” and emphasizes that the word of the Lord is the last and final word on anything.

Key Verses2: 8-9, and 4:2.  (Last 2 Confessions of Jonah)

Key ChapterChapter 3Revival in Nineveh.

Key Ideas for Discussion and Reflection:  Is it possible to succeed in running away from God?  Are there limits/no limits as to what God can use to get an individual’s attention?  An Empire’s attention?  Does failure disqualify someone from serving God?  What are the consequences of running away from God?  What is the experience of the individual who attempts it?  Can nationalistic patriotism impede the relationship between the believer and God’s plan?  Does Jonah’s testimony reveal a universal concern for all people on the part of the Biblical God?  What are the implications of the fact that Nineveh responded to the preaching of Jonah better than the Northern Kingdom of Israel or the Southern Kingdom of Judah did with any of their prophets?  Is there a prototypical parallel here with the various reactions to the preaching of the Kingdom of God by Jesus and His apostles recorded in the New Testament? Hint:  Compare the reaction to the message of Jonah by the Ninevites to that of those who claimed to be the Sons of Abraham (John 8: 31-41). Implications?  Is there a link to 722 B. C., 586 B. C., and A. D. 70? And possibly to Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 24/2 Thessalonians 2/Revelation 13?

     We are now at the end of our first session together.  It is my hope that this overview serves its purpose, not only as an introduction to the Book of Jonah, which we will examine in greater detail in future sessions by studying the text verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter, but as a Prototype for the Catacomb Church and the Homeschooling Community in covering any Biblical book.  This process is essential to laying out the roadmap for all of the study, all of the discussions, and all of the developments for further study that will inevitably follow.  Sometime in the future, I will develop a Prototype for a Topical Study in Scripture which will be shared with you when completed.

PatmosAegeanSunset

Not a Bad View for an Exile on Patmos: An Aegean Sunset.

JohnPatmos02

John on Patmos Pens The Apocalypse: Exiled Because of Resistance to the Emperor Worship Cultus of Domitian (A. D. 81-96).