Academic Bias on the Web
By Eli Kittim
I recently submitted a version of the following post in the *Group for New Testament Studies* (on Facebook) but, regrettably, the administrators did not approve it. Yet, given the validity of the Greek exegesis, it certainly deserves serious academic consideration. This is indicative of academic discrimination based on their own personal biases.
2 Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics Should Guide our Investigation
Two principles of Biblical hermeneutics should be considered foundational. Exegetes must interpret the implicit by the explicit and the narrative by the didactic. In practical terms, the *NT epistles* and other more *explicit* and *didactic* portions of Scripture must clarify the implicit meaning and significance of the gospel literature, which, by the way, is not biographical but *theological* in nature, as Bultmann, Crossan, Lüdemann, Licona, Crossley, Robert L. Thomas and F. David Farnell, Dennis MacDonald, Robert Gundry, and Thomas L. Brodie, among others, have clearly demonstrated!
This *Greek exegesis,* translated straight from the text itself, challenges the classical Christian interpretation, which is primarily founded upon historical-fiction narratives. This *Greek exegesis* not only complements the Jewish messianic expectations but it also fits perfectly with the end-time messianic death & resurrection themes alluded to in the Old Testament (see e.g. Isa. 2.19; Dan. 12.1-2)! In short, both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures seem to say the exact same thing, namely, that the Messiah will appear “once for all at the end of the age” (Heb. 9.26b)!
*The Future Christ* Greek Exegesis
According to the New Testament’s explicit and didactic portions of Scripture, Christ is *born* when time reaches its fullness or completion, expressed in the apocalyptic phrase τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου:
ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου,
ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ,
γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός (Gal. 4.4).
According to the principle of expositional constancy, the chronological time period known as “the fullness of time” (τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου) in Gal. 4.4 is defined in Eph. 1.9-10 as the consummation of the ages (cf. Heb. 9.26b NASB):
γνωρίσας ἡμῖν τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θελήματος
αὐτοῦ, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ ἣν
προέθετο ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς οἰκονομίαν τοῦ
πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν,
ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ
Χριστῷ, τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς
γῆς· ἐν αὐτῷ.
The fullness of time (τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν) in Ephesians refers to the *summing up* (ανακεφαλαιώσασθαι) of all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth! Thus, according to Gal. 4.4, Christ is born during the consummation of the ages (i.e. in the end-times; cf. Lk 17.30; Heb. 1.2; Rev. 12.5; 19.10d; 22.7, 10, 18, 19)!
The initial appearance of Christ is also rendered as taking place “at the final point of time” in 1 Pet. 1.20 NJB:
προεγνωσμένου μὲν πρὸ καταβολῆς
κόσμου, φανερωθέντος δὲ ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου τῶν
Further textual confirmation comes by way of Heb. 9.26b, which reads:
νυνὶ δὲ ἅπαξ ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων εἰς
ἀθέτησιν ἁμαρτίας διὰ τῆς θυσίας αὐτοῦ
“he has appeared once for all at the end of
the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of
A historical-grammatical study of the phrase ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων demonstrates that it refers to “the end of the age” (i.e. the end of the world; cf. Mt. 13.39-40, 49; 24.3; 28.20; Dan. 12.4 LXX; see also G.W.H. Lampe [ed.], “A Patristic Greek Lexicon” [Oxford: Oxford U, 1961], p. 1340).
The assumed historicity of Jesus needs to be revisited, given that his only visitation is set to occur at the end of the age! Accordingly, this exegesis argues that the epistles are the primary keys to unlocking the future timeline of Christ’s only visitation. To demonstrate the validity of this argument, we must get back to NT Greek in order to focus on questions of authorial intent. To simply dismiss, ignore, or disregard this exegesis is tantamount to academic dishonesty!
Most people, in fact, will not take the trouble in
finding out the truth, but are much more inclined
to accept the first story they hear.
(Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War)
I received the following Facebook notification a week or so after submitting a version of the aforementioned post in the Group for New Testament studies:
Your pending post was declined from
Group for New Testament Studies by an
admin. See their feedback.
When I clicked on it, the reason given for the rejection of the post was as follows:
Group Rules that were violated
2 Keep it Scholarly:
NT, early Christianity, & discussion of the
field ok. Posts that assume/attempt to
impose a Christian perspective will not be
approved & commenting in this way will
result in a warning & then removal.
So, I wrote back to them . . .
I have sent a copy of this letter to both administrators because I didn’t know who was responsible for dismissing my post.
You declined my post, citing a violation of group rules in which one should not impose a Christian perspective. I will get to that in a moment.
As for its scholarship, the exegesis is unquestionably precise & accurate! Incidentally, I’m proficient in New Testament Greek (I’m also a native Greek speaker).
Now, as to your claim, that I supposedly imposed a Christian perspective, it is quite laughable and borders on the absurd. I not only am NOT imposing a “Christian” interpretation, but, as a matter of fact, I’m NOT imposing ANY interpretation whatsoever!
I’m merely TRANSLATING what the text is ACTUALLY SAYING about C H R I S T! I did NOT invent or “impose” the Greek phrase τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου in relation to Christ’s birth: the Greek text *actually* SAYS that (Gal. 4.4)!
I did not personally invent or “impose” an interpretation of the phrase τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν as a timeline referring to the consummation of the ages: the Greek text itself *actually* SAYS that in Eph. 1.10!
Have you ever read about NT linguistics, such as the work of Stanley E. Porter? Have you ever studied any scholarly New Testament lexicons or dictionaries, such as the EDNT, BAGD, ANLEX, TDNT, LSJ? They would all validate and substantiate my translations. As I emphasized earlier, this is a question of translation, not interpretation, and certainly NOT “Christian interpretation,” as you erroneously deduced!
I neither invented nor “imposed” a “Christian interpretation” on 1 Pet. 1.20. It is quite laughable to make such a claim. The text itself is referring to the “appearance” of Christ ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων or “at the final point of time,” as the scholarly NJB itself translates it.
Similarly, I neither imposed, invented, nor interpreted the Greek expression ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων in Heb. 9.26b. It is in the Greek text itself, and it is in reference to Christ, as any reputable *textual scholar* would unequivocally concur. In fact, a concordance study demonstrates that the textual reference is to “the end of the world” (KJV), “the culmination of the ages” (NIV), “the consummation of the ages” (NASB), or “the end of the age” (NRSV), as all other scholarly translations indicate (cf. Mt. 13.39-40, 49; 24.3; 28.20; Dan. 12.4 LXX; see also G.W.H. Lampe [ed.], “A Patristic Greek Lexicon” [Oxford: Oxford U, 1961], p. 1340). By the way, Lampe’s Lexicon is considered to be a scholarly book of the highest order.
Once again, this is NOT an “interpretation,” and certainly NOT an imposition of a Christian perspective, but rather——**wait for it**——A _ G R E E K _ T R A N S L A T I O N! Therefore, your decision not to publish the post is completely bogus and misinformed!
Sorry about the capitals, but it needs to be highlighted, given that your commentary is not within scholarly and academic parameters!
I really couldn’t care less what actions you take as a result of this letter. And I certainly lost all respect for your credibility and your group.
I have never seen any academic commentary to equal this one for downright biased and unscrupulous disregard of evidence. It is tantamount to academic dishonesty!
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HOMILY for Sat in Week 4 of Lent
Jer 11:18-20; Ps 7; John 7:40-53
Even as one set of veils go up, so another will come down. Later today the statues and images in our church, and particularly the Crucifix, will be veiled as we fast from these images. As with the food and drink that we enjoy but have abstained from during Lent, so we abstain from looking upon these sacred images, in order to increase our longing and desire for them, in order to appreciate the realities they reveal better. As Pope St Leo the Great said in that beautiful reading at the Office of Readings on Thursday: “True reverence for the Lord’s Passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognising in him our own humanity.”
So, even as the veils go up and our bodily eyes can no longer look upon the Crucifix, so the eyes of our heart must become even more focussed, even more sensitive to seeing Christ Crucified in our fragile humanity. For Christ Crucified is unveiled inIteriorly so that he can be seen with the eyes the heart in the suffering and weakness and sorrow and sinfulness of us all, of our neighbour, our brethren, our parishioners, of the stranger who comes calling at the door. So Leo the Great asked: “Who cannot recognise in Christ his own infirmities?” For “in taking our human nature while remaining God… he left no member of the human race – the unbeliever excepted – without a share in his mercy.”
So, only those who will not believe, who will not accept that God comes among the weak and lowly and needy; who will not recognise that God dwells with us and is found coming from the most unexpected places, will miss his presence, and thus will not rejoice in God’s mercy. This, I believe, is St Leo the Great’s meaning.
Hence the Pharisees and the Chief Priests in the Gospel today refuse to consider the possibility that Jesus, a mere “northern lad”, hailing from the backwater of Galilee, could be a man of God. Categorically, they state: “prophets do not come out of Galilee.” And so, their eyes are veiled, and they do not see the depths of God’s love, the extent to which God will go to reveal his mercy, revealing his greatness and love by humbling himself even to becoming human and living in obscurity. But to those who acknowledge and know their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, to those who recognise their own sinfulness and failure, Christ is there, present in our wounded obscurity so as to heal and redeem us. St Paul expresses this mystery in 2 Corinthians 5:21 which we sing at Vespers: “For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
So, for our sake, Christ came forth from Galilee, and going up to Jerusalem, he would endure the Passion. Hence, in the words of Jeremiah today, the Lord says to his Father: “I have committed my cause to you”. So, for our sake, for the cause our salvation, God in Christ wills to assume the condition of a slave. Because, as St Leo the Great says, “It was this nature of a slave that had to be healed of its ancient wounds and cleansed of the defilement of sin”, and God does this by uniting our wounded humanity to his divine nature, and raising it up in himself. So, although the plotters in Jeremiah think that they will cut the man of God off from the land of the living, instead it is we, sinners, who are cut off from truly living, and so the Son of Man comes to restore us to God, to the Living One, to true Life itself.
The beautiful stained glass windows of our apse that shall be unveiled next week show us this divine cause that Christ has taken upon himself. At the bottom, obscured somewhat by the central pinnacle above the Exposition Throne, we see Eve looking somewhat dismayed as she has tried to grasp at the forbidden fruit, the fruit of the God-like knowledge of good and evil. Beneath her lies the ancient Serpent, gleeful and crowned because he seems to be victorious. But even so, the hand of God is extended in blessing over Eve as he foretells the plan of salvation through the new Eve. And then, right at the top, we see Christ the Divine Bridegroom, his hands bearing the wounds of his Passion and Crucifixion, as he holds out one of the fruits of divine life to his Bride who is the Church, the faithful soul, the Beloved for whom Christ gave his life.
And so, these windows will be revealed to remind us once more of God’s cause, for which Christ humbled himself and “accepted death, even death on a Cross”. So, even though the Crucifix will be veiled from our sight, yet with the eyes of faith and aided by these windows we can contemplate the final cause of the Crucifixion, in this final fortnight of Lent.
Thus Pope St Leo the Great concludes: “For that reason the only-begotten Son of God became also the son of man. He was to have both the reality of a human nature and the fullness of the godhead. The body that lay lifeless in the tomb is ours. The body that rose again on the third day is ours. The body that ascended above all the heights of heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours. If then we walk in the way of his commandments, and are not ashamed to acknowledge the price he paid for our salvation in a lowly body, we too are to rise to share his glory.”
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