procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ooooooh. ghosts!!!

fatima asked an interesting question about ghosts. well, that was basically the extent of the question, posed in response to my first (and yes, still only) review of Enoch. coincidentally, at the same time i was pondering what the bible has to say on the topic, i happened upon a talk on 2 Peter, which, as does Jude, refers implicitly (Jude explicitly), to Enoch.
this section in particular was telling:

    2 Peter 2:10-15 Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray.

the point the speaker was making, was those who go on about the supernatural, described as "angelic ramblings", are perhaps those who are possibly not the best examples of Christian leadership.

that in mind (!), on to ghosts.

as far as i can tell, there are 3 words translated "ghost" in the good book:
obe (ghost, spirit of a dead one), as found in Isaiah 29:4,
    And you will be brought low; from the earth you shall speak,
    and from the dust your speech will be bowed down;
    your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost,
    and from the dust your speech shall whisper.

fantasma (apparition, apparition, spectre), seen in Matthew 14:26 (c/f Mark 6:49),
    But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.

pneuma (spirit), found twice in Luke 24:36-43,
    As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit (ghost). And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit (ghost) does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

now i'm sorry, but all this says is that people were, just as today, aware of ghosts. i mean heck, even i "know" that ghosts have neither flesh nor bones. just as i "know" leprechauns wear green and have little beards and fairies have wings and wands.

all this proves nothing (nor disproves, i might add).
what i'm still not sure of is what the saul/samuel narrative (1 Sam 28), nor the transfiguration with jesus chatting with moses and elijah (Mark 9:2vv) adds to this question. can God retrieve people from sheol? why not! and they were all highly symbolic appearances, God obviously appropriating them for good cause.

so i don't know. did you think i would? the bible is silent, and how am i to dispute people's own experiences? i can imagine the conversation now:
    i saw a ghost once
    no you didn't
    oh. but-
    -no, you didn't
    ...oh. ok.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Enoch I

i've been reading the Book of Enoch lately, to try and get a picture of the C1 thought on eternity, immortality, punishment etc, prompted by the reading of another book, The Fire that Consumes, by Edward Fudge.

for those unaware, the Book of Enoch, is part of the pseudipigrapha, ie written pseudonymously, of which not a few copies were found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls - it was actually the fifth most popular scroll among the Qumran community, after the Psalms, Deuteronomy, Isaiah and Genesis (listen to this fascinating talk for a heads-up on the scrolls).

the book has been described as Revelation on Steroids! it's 108 chapters long (although most of them are pretty short), but by no means a difficult read.

  1. there's a lot of discussion of the angels. the idea we sometimes hear of this big war between the good angels, versus the fallen angels really takes off here. Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel take on the likes of Azazel, Semjaza, Armaros, Baraqijal, Kokabel, Ezeqeel, Araqiel, Shamsiel and Sariel. Enoch sort of combines the flood narrative, with the battle language of Joel among other places, with hell-fire language.

      Chapter 10:
      'Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it.'

      'Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle: for length of days shall they not have.'

      In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all generations.

    i thought that was quite an interesting succesion...

  2. chapter 10 continues with a picture of restoration (something i am particularly trying to think through):

      And then shall all the righteous escape,
 And shall live till they beget thousands of children,
 And all the days of their youth and their old age
 Shall they complete in peace.
      And then shall the whole earth be tilled in righteousness,
      and shall all be planted with trees and be full of blessing.

    there is here, as well as elsewhere, a picture of the earth being restored, a place for the righteous to dwell.
    chapter 25 is particularly interesting, where we have a juxtaposing of the "garden" (ie restored earth), with the "temple" (c/f revelation).

      'It [the fruit of the tree of knowledge] shall then be given to the righteous and holy. Its fruit shall be for food to the elect: it shall be transplanted to the holy place, to the temple of the Lord, the Eternal King.
      Then shall they rejoice with joy and be glad,
 And into the holy place shall they enter;
 And its fragrance shall be in their bones,
 And they shall live a long life on earth,
 Such as thy fathers lived:
      And in their days shall no sorrow or plague 
Or torment or calamity touch them.'

  3. my final note comes from the closing chapters of the first section (ch's 28-36). this is a very apocalyptic cruise around the earth, where all is restored and made even better! there is the tree of knowledge, the tree of wisdom, and many other fragrant, magnificent trees (i wonder if they were suffering from severe deforestation at that time, a bit of tree-envy?), and the first part (of five) culminates in this hymn:

      Chapter 36
      And as often as I saw I blessed always the Lord of Glory, and I continued to bless the Lord of Glory who has wrought great and glorious wonders, to show the greatness of His work to the angels and to spirits and to men, that they might praise His work and all His creation: that they might see the work of His might and praise the great work of His hands and bless Him for ever.

regardless of the canonicity of Enoch (the Ethiopian church - at least the Ethiopian Jews - apparently hold it to be truly canonical), it's definitely a fun read, and as we see at the end of this section, there is cause to praise God in all things.

1 Chronicles 16:25For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be held in awe above all gods.

photo, as well as the text of the book are sourced from here

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Still trying to get topics together since my previous post:

it looks like WS may be better served with systematics, over early church history. now it's not because i don't like early church history - au contrare: as santayana says, "he who forgets the past is destined to repeat it."

however the point was made that people attending may be better served having a conversation about things they can engage with, as opposed to a didactic lecture; the idea was always to be interactive.
systematics will helpfully remain accessible, due to their biblical framework.

so with that in mind, what do we think of these as topics?

  1. Sovereignty of God

  2. Baptism

  3. Eschatology

  4. Sin Nature of the Atonement, Why Jesus?, Patripassianism

  5. The Bible Canon LXX v Masoretic, Apocrypha/pseudepigrypha Gnostic gospels, DeadSeaScrolls

  6. Predestination
  7. The Holy Spirit

  8. Christology Who is Jesus

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