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"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, con
cerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it ...." I John 1:1-2 (RSV)

"After his resurrection the disciples saw the living Christ, whom they knew to have died, with the eyes of faith (oculata fide)." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, 55, 2 ad 1, as quoted in D. M. Stanley, Jesus in Gethsemane (New York, Paulist Press 1980).

Friday, November 29, 2013

Jesus Praying

The last recorded saying of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke is, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."   Luke 23:46 (RSV).   He was in close fellowship with God at the moment of his death, just as he had been all of the the days of his earthly life,   as described here by Princeton Theological Seminary Professor Charles R. Erdman

All the intervening days of his life and ministry were filled with ceaseless prayer. On at least seven other occasions it is stated that he was praying: at his baptism, ch. 3:21; after healing the leper, ch. 5:16; before choosing his disciples, ch. 6:12; before Peter's great confession, ch. 9:18; at his transfiguration, ch. 9:29; before teaching his disciples to pray, ch. 11:1; in the first agonies of crucifixion, ch. 23:34. So, too, he taught his disciples to pray with importunity, ch. 11:5-10, with perseverance, ch. 18:1-7, and with penitence, ch. 18:9-14.
Charles R. Erdman, The Gospel of Luke, An Exposition at 11 (Philadelphia  Westminster Press 1936).

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fr. Ray Brown - Jesus Facing Death

In the Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus struggle with his impending death.  He prayed, "Take this cup from me."  Fr. Ray Brown makes this beautiful comment:
Even in recent times the picture of a Jesus distressed and greatly troubled, asking to be delivered, has been contrasted with a Socrates calmly accepting death as a deliverance from this world of shadowy realities and as an entree to a better world. All of this fails to consider the basic outlook on death inherited from the OT. In the theology of Genesis, human beings were created to enjoy God’s presence in this life and not to die. Death was an evil imposed on Adam and Eve, and ultimately in Israelite thought it came to be seen as a realm of alienation from God. The NT, even after Christ’s victory, speaks of death as the last enemy to be overcome (1 Cor 15:26). For Jesus, the struggle with death is part of the great trial or temptation of the last times; and he is faithful to Judaism when he tells his disciples to pray not to enter into this temptation (Mark 14:38). Their great danger is that the trial comes at a moment when they do not expect and are not watching (13:34-37), and so Jesus warns them to watch.   
Raymond Brown, Christ in the Gospels of the Liturgical Year:  Raymond E. Brown, SS (1928-1998) (Liturgical Press expanded edition 2008).   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

More on Aselgeia

Yesterday's post was a study of the Greek word aselgeia.  Here are some helpful  notes on the NT use of that word:    http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=48505&forum=45   
The lifestyle of aselgeia is a rejection of God's way of living,   but what makes it worse is that those who engage in it believe that this evil is good and that good is evil.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Professor Hobson's Word Study - Mark 7:22

I am in a small group Bible study and we just finished studying Mark chapter 7.   Today I am thinking of Jesus' words on the evil which comes from the heart.     In Mark 7:20-23 Jesus says this:

[20] And he said, "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man.
[21] For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery,
[22] coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
[23] All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man." 

Mark 7:20-23 (RSV). 

In verse 22, we see the word "licentiousness," the Greek ἀσέλγεια (transliteration: 
aselgeia).   As pointed out here, this word appears in nine other places in the NT.  Professor G. Thomas Hobson of St. Louis' Concordia Seminary   argues here that ἀσέλγεια in Mark 7:22 may have been Jesus' one and only allusion  to homosexual sin.  Hobson cites William Barclay: 

William Barclay considers ἀσέλγεια to be possibly the “ugliest word” in the list of NT sins. He capsulizes the word’s meaning as “utter shame­lessness”. It is variously translated as “licentiousness”, “wantonness”, and “lasciviousness”. It’s a word that Jesus (translated through the tradition that Mark presents) could easily turn to as a synonym for homosexual ac­tivity and other similarly shocking behavior forbidden by the Jewish law.  

Filología Neotestamentaria   (Vol 21   2008)   at 65,    online at http://www.bsw.org/Filologia-Neotestamentaria/Vol-21-2008/-7936-963-941-955-947-949-953-945-In-Mark-7-22/523/

There is no space here to review Hobson's  defense of his position, that ἀσέλγεια refers to shockingly evil deeds including wrongful sexual behavior.  My presupposition is that Jesus did say the substance of  what has come down to us in Mark 7:20-23.  I will have to study Hobson's article further to consider whether Jesus among other things may have had homosexual acts in mind when he listed these sins.      Hobson concludes:

Jesus says that both πορνεία and ἀσέλγεια come from the heart, along with murder, theft, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness (Mark 7,21-3). As the debate about sexuality continues in today’s society, Jesus’ word about shameless disregard for boundaries in the area of sexual behavior deserves further consideration in this debate.

Hobson at 74.   

Yes, followers of Jesus must show  tolerance and love for those who are bogged down by the kinds of evil listed here in Mark 7.   And we search our  hearts to see it clearly in our own lives, so that we turn  from the ways of the world to follow God's ways.    It's clear to me from the ten places that ἀσέλγεια appears in the NT that  ἀσέλγεια includes wrongful sexual conduct.   Shocking personal behavior which includes  shameless violation of  sexual norms, does make the "sin list" of Jesus in Mark chapter 7.  The striving for tolerance in the culture has put into question traditional understanding of  sexual  immorality.   But the word of Jesus here is a sharp rebuke  to believers  who might surmise  that some forms of  sexual evil ought to come off the list.     

The mobile version of this post corrupts the Greek text references above.