Matt Colvin has recently transferred a number of posts from his old Fragmenta blog onto his new Colvinism blog. This has given us the chance to revisit a number of real gems. Here are a few of his posts which I thought that I would take the opportunity to share with you all.
10:4 – Note Paul’s very inventive interpretation of the OT: “the rock was the Messiah”??!! Precisely the sort of thing we cannot get away with now, because there are no controls on this sort of interpretation, no brakes to prevent it from running off the rails. It is not enough to say that “the rock was YHWH; he was the one with whom Israel had to do during the wilderness wanderings.” No, for Paul does not say that “the rock was ὁ κύριος,” but that it was “the Messiah”: God’s anointed eschatological king.
Now Paul uses another OT story to help Timothy make sense of his own situation in Ephesus, contending with these false teachers:
2:19 – The “solid foundation” is two-fold, and contrary to certain modern theologies, there is no contradiction between the two parts:
First, “The Lord knows those who are His.” On the face of things, this is merely an endorsement of the doctrine of Election, a cornerstone of Israel’s faith. God has a people that is his. There is no question of Him forgetting who they are.
But we must be aware of the source of the quotation. It is a slight modification of Numbers 16:5, in which Moses deals with the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram by saying to Korah, “Tomorrow morning YHWH will show who is His and who is holy.” There is a difference between the righteous and the wicked, no matter how the latter may have insinuated themselves into the congregation.
Second, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from unrighteousness.” Having spoken of election, Paul now speaks of our duty to walk righteousless. There is no contradiction with election here. Paul is giving another near-quotation from Numbers 16, in this case verse 21, where YHWH says to Moses and Aaron, “Separate yourself from this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment,” and 16:24, “Get away fromt he tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram,” and 16:26, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you also be consumed in all their sins.”
Implication: this story ends in the destruction of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Paul is telling Timothy that Hymenaeus & Philetus will end in a similar way: God will destroy them. So again and again, he addresses Timothy with “but you…” and warns him to stay away from them. Don’t touch the filthy chamber pot. Keep yourself clean from them, and then you will be like a washed and clean bowl or vase sitting in the cupboard ready to use for some noble purpose.
9:40 – Peter’s raising of Tabitha to life is remarkable as an echo of Jesus’ activity in Mark 5. Not only does he follow Jesus pattern by kicking out everyone else from the room (ekbalwn de exw pantas; cf. Mk. 5:40, autos de ekbalwn pantas), but Peter’s command, “Tabitha, anastethi” is very similar to Jesus’ words in Mk. 5:41, “Talitha koum,” which is translated “To korasion, egeire” The two Greek verbs used in the commands, egeirw and anistemi barely differ at all. The difference between the two utterances in the original Aramaic was likely only one letter: Talitha vs. Tabitha.
Brown suggests that our Western art tradition is mistaken to show John either pouring or submersing people in the river. Rather, the salient feature of his baptism was going into, and coming out of, the river: i.e. crossing it. Jesus’ disciples refer to John as the one he was with “on the other side of the Jordan.” Given 1 Cor. 10′s reference to “baptism into Moses” by crossing the sea, we may wonder whether Brown may not be right. He mentions that it is odd for John to be “proclaiming a baptism” rather than just doing one.
When we combine this insight with Leithart’s insights on the nature of “imputation” in the Bible — that the assigning of guilt for a sin is distinct from the sin itself — we can see that it is a very different matter to say that someone is “sinless” than it is to say that they are “blameless.”
The Bible never calls anyone except Jesus “sinless.” But it calls many people blameless: Job, Zacharias and Elizabeth, etc. But it is especially interesting that Paul refers to his preconversion self as both “a persecutor and a violent man” and as “blameless, as touching the righteousness that is in the Torah.”
Paul means that he, in his life as a Pharisaic Jew had been, not sinless, but faithful to avail himself of the means of expiation that God had provided in the Torah. Likewise the parents of John the Baptizer.
The head of woman is man, however. And woman is the image and glory of man. Paul says that she ought to cover her head, i.e. she ought to cover her hair, which is (symbolically) the glory of man. If she fails to do this, she shames her head, i.e. the man.
Now, compare all this with what is said of Moses in 2 Cor. 3:13. He veiled his face so that the people might not see the end of the glory of the Torah, which was fading away (since the Torah was a temporary administration of God’s relationship with men). But we, with unveiled faces, unlike Moses, reflect the glory of Christ (3:18), which does not fade.
I submit that this is a key to the understanding of 1 Cor. 11:
The man, whose head is Christ, ought not to cover his head, since the glory of Christ ought to be revealed publicly. Modesty about displaying the image and glory of Christ would be shaming to Christ.
But the woman’s case is not the same. Her head is Man, from whom she was taken, and for whom she was made. And Hebrews tells us that “we do not yet see all things under man’s feet” (Heb. 2:8) — Man is not yet glorified; that must await the consummation.
The distinction between man and woman and their headgear in 1 Cor. 11 thus is a disclosure, in public semiotics, of our present moment in redemptive history: after the glorification of Christ, but before the glorification of man. We ought not to suppose that the covering of women’s heads is a permanent feature of God’s plan. If Christ’s words in Mt. 10:26 are a general principle with application beyond their context to our present topic as well, then veiling or covering must of its very nature be temporary: “for there is nothing veiled that will not be unveiled (οὐδὲν γάρ ἐστιν κεκαλυμμένον ὃ οὐκ ἀποκαλυφθήσεται).
The glory of man, presently concealed, but to be revealed later, is the motive for Paul’s otherwise puzzling mention of the angels. The creation was under their authority until Christ was elevated to the right hand of God as the first of many brothers. The angels ought to see the glory of Christ — i.e. the public claim that the Son of God has attained greater honour than the angels — declared publicly by the uncovered heads of the men of the church. But they ought not to be confronted with premature and inappropriate claims — via uncovered women’s heads — about the glory of man. The creation waits with eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed; but man’s glory is not yet.
Finally, a personal favourite: Morsels in Romans 12 and John 13
In reading Romans 12 last week, I was surprised by an interesting verb in verse 20:
ἀλλὰ ἐὰν πεινᾷ ὁ ἐχθρός σου, ψώμιζε αὐτόν: ἐὰν διψᾷ, πότιζε αὐτόν: τοῦτο γὰρ ποιῶν ἄνθρακας πυρὸς σωρεύσεις ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ.
“But if your enemy is hungry, give him a morsel; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for by doing this you will heap up coals of fire on his head.”
The verb in question is ψώμιζε, to give a morsel. It is a rare verb. LSJ cite Numbers 11:4 LXX as another instance (“the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us a morsel of flesh to eat? – τίς ἡμᾶς ψωμιεῖ κρέα”). But what caught my eye is the fact that the verb is cognate with another word, the fairly unusual noun ψωμιον. Where does it occur? In John 13:26:
25ἀναπεσὼν οὖν ἐκεῖνος οὕτως ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ Ἰησοῦ λέγει αὐτῷ, Κύριε, τίς ἐστιν; 26ἀποκρίνεται [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς, Ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν ᾧ ἐγὼ βάψω τὸ ψωμίον καὶ δώσω αὐτῷ. βάψας οὖν τὸ ψωμίον [λαμβάνει καὶ] δίδωσιν Ἰούδᾳ Σίμωνος Ἰσκαριώτου. 27καὶ μετὰ τὸ ψωμίον τότε εἰσῆλθεν εἰς ἐκεῖνον ὁ Σατανᾶς. λέγει οὖν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Ὃ ποιεῖς ποίησον τάχιον.
“He, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus replied, “It is that one for whom I shall dip the sop and give it to him.” And so, when he had dipped the sop, he took it and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. And with the sop at that time Satan entered into him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are doing, do quickly.”
If your enemy is hungry…