1-2 Chronicles (Leithart)

Leithart, Peter J. 1-2 Chronicles. Brazos.

Although I am quite critical of much of Leithart’s project, I do concede that his handling of the biblical text–when he stays at the level of the text–is usually quite good.  If you want perceptive outlines of books of the Bible, you could do much worse than Leithart.

1-2 Chronicles echoes the creation account.  Leithart suggests the Chronicler “is retelling the entire history of the Old Testament in, with, and under the history of kings.”  He proposes the following pattern:

* The genealogies in 1 Chr. 1-9 echoe Genesis
* Saul’s death in 1 Chr. 10 echoes Slavery in Egypt.

* David in 10-29 is Exodus and Sinai

* Solomon in 2 Chr. 1-9 is Joshua’s conquest

* The divided kingdom in 2 Chr. 10-35 is the period of Judges, ending with Saul.

* The decree of Cyrus in ch. 36 is the establishment of the monarchy.

Another main theme is music.  “Chronicles tells us who sings when and why.” Leithart suggests that music is a form of “guarding” (1 Chr. 25:8; the term for duties, mishmeret, is derived from shamar, guard).

Key idea: Biblical genealogies lean eschatologically, not protologically.

Chiasms

Note that in the center of the list is the Levites, music.

Back to Egypt

By beginning with Adam, the Chronicler is telling us that Yahweh is forming a new humanity.

Royal Moses

David is the Royal Moses

The center is the ark.  David is carrying on liturgical warfare.

Covenant with David

God builds David’s house.  We see a chiasm, but we also see a chiasm within a chiasm.

A and A’ also contain chiasms.

David’s Wars

Leithart observes that the geography here contains a “four-cornered theme.” This would suggest the rule of a future Davidic king. He further notes that the Old Testament land is symbolic of the whole world.

Section D gives the point for David’s wars: they mediate Yahweh’s justice.

The Pattern of the Temple

New Moses to New Solomon

22:19

Yahweh’s acts of dividing the people mimics the earlier act of creation.  Israel is first divided (badal) from the peoples as Yahweh’s own. Within Israel the Levites are divided from other tribes. Priests are divided from the Levites (Numb. 16:9). They create holiness boundaries, pronouncing clean and unclean.

David and the RPW

David actually innovates.  In 1 Chr. 23:30-32 he includes song within the Levitical order. He further organizes them into mishmeret, watches (1 Chr. 25:8).

Key idea: by including musicians in the center of genealogies, the Chronicler identifies music as the key vocation of man.

The Pattern of the Temple

1 Chr. 28-29

A problem with David’s wars and bloodshed.  Even just, wars contaminate the land (a large scale application of Num. 19).  

The first creation is by Yahweh’s Word.  The second creation is by the Moses’s conformity to the tabnit on the mountain. The tabnit of New Creation is imprinted on David’s heart and then passed to Solomon.

The Land at Rest: 2 Chr. 1-9

Key idea: “Solomon is Joshua to David’s Moses.”

There is also a chiasm contained within B.

Gentiles Ascend 2 Chr. 8

Sapiential Imperialism 2 Chr. 9

After the Death of Solomon (2 Chr. 10-13)

Marks of True Israel 2 Chr. 13

Land Undisturbed 2 Chr. 14:1-18

This is an example of liturgical warfare.  

Judah Becomes Israel

Rebuilding 2 Chr. 29

Key idea: the solution to wrath and horror is to cut a covenant.

Passover in Jerusalem 2 Chr. 30

There is an interesting use of language in 21:2: after tearing down the idols, Hezekiah “makes stand” (hiphil) the priests.

Forgetful 2 Chr. 33

Key idea: Manasseh is alienating himself from Yahweh’s hosts, whether angelic or human army–Yahweh’s human army, if Israel is seen as the earthly sacrament.

Why did Josiah go out to attack Egypt?  Leithart, following Pratt (2006), suggests that Josiah might have been a functioning vassal of either Assyria or Babylon.  Leithart suggests a deeper, more theological problem.  Judah’s kings are vessels of Yahweh’s kingship.  They aren’t supposed to meddle with the kings of other nations.  Neco, ironically, is a Gentile ruler much like Sheba and Cyrus.  He acts on behalf of Yahweh.

Despite advertising itself as a theological commentary, the book is usually sensitive to the nuances of the Hebrew text.  To be sure, we don’t have any reconstructions of the textual history, but no one would read that, anyway.  I read this book in one day.

Glory in Our Midst (Kline)

Kline, Meredith.  Glory in Our Midst: A Biblical-Theological Reading of Zechariah’s Night Visions. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2001.

This isn’t a technical commentary or even a popular verse-by-verse one.  It is more of a structural reading of Zechariah’s night visions.  It also functions as theological meditations, though I am not sure Kline would have seen it that way.  In many ways Kline’s scholarship has held up quite well in Middle Eastern studies (more on that below).

Before beginning on the focus of the book, I am going to analyze, or at least mention, the appendix where Kline gives the structure of Zechariah’s night visions. One should note that there are some lacunae in this review. Part of that is because I didn’t see all the chiasms matching up. Maybe they did, but without some visual picture it is hard to see. Kline argues that “the book of Zechariah is a diptych with 6:9-15 as its primary hinge…and that the main part of each side panel of this diptych is itself a diptych formation with 3:10 and 11:1-17 respectively” (Kline 241). In chiastic form it would look something like this:

Overall structure:

A (1:10ff) World Mission of the Lord of Hosts
B (Visions 2) Focus on holy land/remove unholy elements
C (Vision 3) Focus on divine presence/theocracy
C’ (Vision 5) Focus on Divine presence/theocracy
B’ (Vision 6) Focus on holy land/remove unholy elements
A’ (6:7ff) World Mission of the Lord of Hosts

Diptych 1

A
B (2:1-14)
C (2:5-17) Divine summons to return
D  (3:1-10)
A’
B’
C’

Diptych 2

A
B (10:1-14)
C (10:5-12) Divine summons to return
D (11:1-17)
A’
B’
C’

The real value in the book is Kline’s keen attention to thematic elements that are often lost in discussions on eschatology.  First, The Deep.  The Deep is the chaotic danger to Yahweh’s creation. It first appears as the unstructured chaos.  As revelation progresses, it becomes an active antagonist. It later became a synonym for Sheol (Pss. 18:4ff; 69:1, 2, 14, 15). Indeed, “the deep represented the world power which had subjugated Israel and terminated the Davidic dynasty” (31).

Following his discussion of the myrtle trees (Yahweh’s people?), Kline states, “The actual character of the process of redemptive eschatology is such that heaven breaks into the history of this world beforehand, particularly in the reality of the Spirit, re-creatively fashioning God’s people in the image of his glory (20).

The Mount of Assembly

Armageddon isn’t a specific location.  It is the war for Yahweh’s assembly. It is Har Mo’ed, Yahweh’s enthronement mountain. At the end of time, Antichrist, the Gog-warrior, comes from Zaphon, “the heights of the North,” “to attack Zion, the true mountain of divine assembly” (49).

Along these lines, Kline gives a fascinating discussion of ziggurats and altars.  A ziggurat represented a mountain.  It was “the cosmic mountain, the axis or access between heaven and earth” (61).

Cool point: the Hebrew for the riders who are going to destroy evil is “Harashim.”  Kline calls them dragon-slayers (63).

Building the Temple-City

Yahweh’s temple-city is a metapolis.  It is the Beyond-City of eternity. It doesn’t need walls because God’s fiery presence fills the eternal city to its unwalled limits (76).  Building this temple is a covenantal, royal task (149ff).  Kline outlines some covenantal language and structures:

  1. Matt. 28:18-20.  Covenantal pronouncement; has elements of presence, authority, and continuation.

Judicial Sanctions

Consistent with the covenantal language is Kline’s connection of baptism and judgment waters, particularly as they destroy the Egyptian army (109).

Imagers

Our image is one of ethical purity, dominion, and eschatological luminosity (114).  The latter is our receiving an investiture from Yahweh as he re-creates us in his Glory-Spirit.  Moreover as imagers, we bear God’s Name (Rev. 22:4).

The Spirit and the Church

We are the Menorah (Rev. 1:20). We are the ectype of God’s archetypal temple.

Key quote: “The field of history is a courtroom in which God’s people give testimony to his name over against the blasphemies of the idol-worsipers” (138).

Conclusion

This can’t function as one’s primary commentary on Zechariah.  It isn’t an exegetical commentary.  It is valuable, however, in giving the big picture, structure, and biblical theological overview of Zechariah.

Moo’s Commentary on Romans (NICNT)

Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996.

This is a near-perfect commentary in every way. It is a model of judicious, analytical reasoning yet always with an eye to the church. To better serve the theology student, this won’t be a standard book review. I am going to highlight many of the key exegetical moves Moo makes, so that you will know what to look for.

1:16. “Paul’s ministry to the Gentles derives from his understanding that the Gospel itself as eschatological revelation that fulfills the OT promises about the universal reign of Yahweh” (68).

Per the “righteousness of God,” I will deal with Moo’s position in his comments on the New Perspective. Justification, of course, is the verdict of a judge, not a moral transformation.

Works of the Law

If Jews were not insisting on works as a means of salvation, it’s not clear then why Paul brings up the contrast between faith and works (217).

3:25. Defends propitiation as a legitimate translation given the background of God’s wrath. The connotations involved with expiation, however, should not be dismissed. Cleansing from guilt is an important part.

4:18. Abraham’s faith is not an existentialist leap in the dark, but a leap from “the evidence of his senses into the security of God’s word and promise” (283).

6:4, passim. Paul makes baptism the means (dia) by which we are buried with Christ, not the place (361). Baptism mediates such a union. It does not contain it.

Romans 7. Moo deviates slightly from the traditional view that Paul is talking about the current struggles of a Christian. Moo sees the text as making more sense in light of Israel and Torah. Of course, he denies the Christian can be sinless in this life.

“Israel stands in redemptive history as kind of a ‘test case'” (417).

Romans 9. Moo adopts the standard Calvinist reading, but notes that we shouldn’t abstract it from the history of Israel. It’s important to notice that “spiritual Israel” means the remnant of God’s people. It is a group within ethnic Israel (574).

Romans 11. Key problem: How will “All Israel be saved”? Israel’s hardening will be removed when a numerical completion of the gentiles happens (719).

26a. Does the toutos mean “in this way” or “and thus?” Grammatically, it seems to be the former. Moo notes, however, that it also has a temporal reference (720). Of course, it can’t mean the church in this passage, and Moo marshals a number of arguments against such a view: Israel has meant “ethnic Israel” at least ten times in this pericope. Paul wouldn’t suddenly shift to the church without warning. It would also imply a partial hardening on the church.

Romans 13. The simplest reading requires obedience to authorities, even if they are bad. Civil disobedience, understood properly, is allowed but not so much in taking up arms against the government.

Chiasms

Romans 2:6-11

A. God will judge everyone equitably (6)
B. Those who do good will attain eternal life (7)
C. Those who do evil will suffer wrath (8)
C’ Wrath for those who do evil (9)
B’ Glory for those who do good (10)
A’ God judges impartially (11).

Conclusion

Working through this commentary will teach you how to think analytically.

Job NIVAC (Walton)

Walton, John H. Job The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Walton does theology by avoiding easy, cliched answers. It pays off in his commentary on Job. Although he is criticized for reading Ancient Near Eastern culture into the biblical text, Walton doesn’t actually do that. He goes to great pains to show how Job is different from ANE (Walton pp.33-37).

Ancient Near Eastern thought believed in “The Great Symbiosis.” We provide sacrifices for the gods and in return they protect us. If bad things happen to us, it’s probably because either a) that’s just how the cosmos is, or b) we made a ritual faux pas. Walton points out that the justice of a particular god is irrelevant. A god might be interested in promoting justice in a city, but ancient man had no reason to believe that the god himself is just.

This places “Satan’s” challenge in a new context. If the Great Symbiosis is true, and there is a strict “Retributive Principle” at work, then Satan is right. If Job even concedes that the evil has come as a result of Job’s sin, and in doing so expects God to restore the balance, the Challenger wins. By the end of the book we are affirmed in believing that God is just. The point of the book, however, is that wisdom, not justice, should be the epistemological foundation. We see God’s wisdom in the cosmos.

This book is unique among the NIVAC set in that Walton allows one of his former students to tell her story concerning a crippling nerve injury she had. It reads like a novel. Walton ends with some moving meditations about God’s will and suffering.

The ancient world believed the cosmos was ordered. However, within this ordered cosmos are spheres of disorder. Eden was an ordered cosmos, but not so the area outside Eden.

We do not always see God’s justice. The book of Job, however, promises us God’s wisdom. As Walton notes, “God has ordered the cosmos by his wisdom; justice is one of his attributes, but the cosmos do not always mirror his justice. Wisdom is at the heart of order” (Walton 411).

Chapter 1

Who are the “sons of God?” Walton correctly identifies the bene elohim as divine council members (64). They are not angels. Angels have a messenger function, whereas these have an administrative function.

Who is Satan? This is tricky. While Walton offers a lucid commentary on the morphology of the term, he muddies the waters by bringing in passages from Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Let’s say for the sake of argument this is the “devil.” You could never make that case from Job 1. This “challenger” isn’t cast out from heaven. Nothing he says is evil (in fact, he makes a good case against the pagan ANE mindset of the time). All of that is true.

Walton, however, goes out of his way to prove that the “devil-figure” can’t be placed in the Isaiah and Ezekiel passages. This is irrelevant. I think he is wrong, but he does make a good case that since Ezekiel calls him “a cherub,” he can’t be the Serpent of Eden. That’s true. If anything, the Nachash would have been a seraph.

Some notes

4:15 is a reference to Zaqiq, the dream god (157). This would explain why when talking of the wind, Eliphaz mentions “a form before him.”

9:5-9 gives a beautiful description of cosmic geography. We have reference to the ‘pillars of the earth,’ implying a flat disc. The stars are “sealed” away (v. 7).

19. When Job asks for a mediator, does he mean Christ? Probably not. Job wanted a mediator to prove his innocence. Christ mediates for us precisely because we aren’t innocent!

25:5-6: The Realm of the Rephaim. The Rephaim are either the royal dead or quasi-demonic beings (or both). While they live in the underworld, Job identifies one of the access points as “beneath the waters.” Walton suggests that the language is the “cosmic waters,” rather than regular ocean water (250). This makes sense, otherwise we could access Sheol via submarine.

Walton correctly notes that eres can mean underworld in several locations (1 Sam. 28:13Job 10:21-22Eccl. 3.21Isaiah 26:19Jonah 2.6). Netherworld works instead of “earth” because it would be the opposite of the “heights of Zaphon.”

28:11: Sources of the Rivers. In Ugaritic literature the high god El dwells “at the source of the rivers” (Walton 286). Genesis 2 speaks of the origin of the four rivers coming from a sacred space (Eden). The origin of wisdom, then, is a cosmic mystery. There are several personifications in this passage:

  • Deep (tehom)
  • Sea (Yamm)
  • Abbadon (Destruction; Gk. Apollyon, personified as an evil Angel in Revelation 9). While Abbadon could be an evil entity, we need to be careful about reading later demonology into this passage.
  • Death

Nota Bene: Elihu mentions the spirit of God. We should be careful not to read a full Nicene theology into that phrase. For Elihu (and much of the Old Testament) the spirit of God is seen more as an extension of God’s presence than a separate person (though, of course, it is not contradictory to the later idea of the Spirit’s being a distinct person). Further, the spirit of man is “on loan” from God (Walton 376).

Genesis: NIVAC (John Walton)

Image result for john walton genesis

Walton, John.  Genesis NIVAC. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

John Walton begins the introduction not with dull academese about Genesis, but with creation and covenant.  The Babylonian and Egyptian gods (and its Freemason god today) could not be covenantal.

His intro is good and sane, but there are still some iffy parts. Against the fundamentalist he says there is an undeniable mythical element.  Against the liberal he rejects the attempt to reduce all of it to myth. I actually think the mythical content is…well….true. That stuff is real.  More on that later.

Genesis is structured around the toledoths (2:1; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 36:9; 37:2). And Genesis is Covenant History, with the covenant aimed for an election to revelation (Walton 37ff). Abram was elect partly because the knowledge of God had been lost (52). So, God reveals himself.  And he reveals himself through Covenant.

A question about methodology.  Walton has been accused of simply reading ANE back into the Bible.  This isn’t entirely accurate. There is no “Bible-equivalent” of ANE texts, nor is the ANE uniform.  Take creation: in Babylonian legends creation births the gods (or the gods birth creation). In some Egyptian accounts the “god” speaks creation into existence.  

Genesis 1:1-5

Resit refers to a duration of time, not a specific point (Walton 68).  Evidence for this is in Job 8:7, “which speaks of the early part of Job’s life.”

Regarding bara Walton argues that it refers, not to material creation, but to assigning functions and tasks (71).

Day 1

Walton argues that it is not the phycists’ light being created, but that ‘or refers to a period of time.  This makes sense since God separates the light from darkness (and you can’t draw a physical boundary and keep light on one side, darkness on the other).

Rather, God is creating time, which is the first of the functions he creates (79). Genesis 1 is operating on functional, rather than structural terms (83).  There is something to this, since it avoids some of the problems of “how is there light before the sun?” and the neutered “it’s all myth” approaches.

What did God do on Day 4?

We’ll spend some time here since this is largely why Walton is so controversial.  His larger argument is fairly sound: there is evidence that when “creation language” is used, it is not always in a structural sense.  For example:

  1. Job 9:9 shows that constellations are arrangements of objects and not structures.  ‘Sa can refer to acts like arranging (124).
  2. Isaiah 41:17-20. “Both verbs bara and asah are used to describe the establishment of functions.”
  3. Isaiah 45.  Both verbs are referring to nonmaterial objects.

So did God “make” the sun on the 4th day?  On Walton’s reading, no. God gave the lights a functional task

Image of God

Walton lists the three interpretative options: theological, grammatical, and conciliar.  The theological says the “us/our” language refers to the Trinity. The grammatical says it is a plural of majesty.  The conciliar says it refers to the divine council. The grammatical option is the easiest to eliminate, since there aren’t many (or any?) examples of the plural of majesty in Hebrew. The theological one won’t work, either.  It wouldn’t have made any sense to an OT Jew for the Father to be speaking to the Son and Spirit. Further, it has God the Father telling God the Son and God the Spirit what they are going to do, but how would this work, given that they all share the same mind?  Wouldn’t they already know?

The conciliar option has God telling the divine council what they are going to do, yet in the end God is the one doing it.  This fits the grammar and is attested elsewhere in the Hebrew bible. Someone might object that “We aren’t created in the image of angels?”  That misses the point on what the image of God really means? If it means a set of metaphysical properties like will, rationality, etc., then maybe we don’t share those with angels (then again, maybe we do).  But that’s not what the image is about.

Definition of the image of God: it is the capacity to be God’s vice-regents (131). “The image is a physical manifestation of divine (or royal) essence that bears the function of that which it represents; this gives the image-bearer the capacity to reflect the attributes of the one represented.”

Genesis 2

“Divine rest is the principal function of a temple, and a temple is always where a deity finds rest, so the cosmos is God’s temple” (147).  On another note, in this earlier volume Walton is quite hostile to theistic evolution (156).

How should we honor the Sabbath?  This is the big-time money question for Reformed folks.  And if you are a Covenanter, all of theology reduces to this moment.  Walton makes a number of wise comments: if you have to reduce Sabbath-keeping to a bunch of rules, you’ve missed the point.  Sabbath is the way we acknowledge God on his throne and as priest-kings, it is how we reflect the stability and equilibrium of rest (158).

Genesis 6

Walton rightly skewers the “Sethite” thesis about the “sons of God” in Genesis 6.  There is zero syntactical evidence for such a claim. Walton rejects the angelic thesis, but not for the usual reasons.  While he correctly notes that whenever the “sons of God” appear in Scripture (e.g., in Job), it means angelic beings. But he says the Bible doesn’t give us a large enough sample size, so we can’t use that evidence. Further, contra Enoch and Jude’s use of Enoch (sorry fundies), the angelic beings would have taken wives in marriage, which goes against Enoch’s usage of porneia.

Walton claims the “sons of god” are sort of like Gilgamesh, tyrant kings of old who took extra wives.  To be fair, Walton admits there is zero evidence in Scripture for his position but he notes, accurately, that it matches the Gilgamesh account.

There are several problems here.  (1) Gilgamesh was an apkallu, or maybe a son of an apkallu.  That supports the angelic thesis. So if Walton is correct, then he is thrust back upon the angelic thesis. (2) Precisely about what event in the OT does Jude allude to?  Genesis 6. Jude connects this account with the sexual sins of Sodom. Again, we are thrust back upon the angelic thesis.

The Flood

True to Walton’s methodology, he doesn’t argue for any specific extent of the flood.  He notes some problems in each view, lists the grammatical and syntactical options, and lets the reader decide. And the options aren’t simply universal vs. local.  Rather, they are a) global, b) known world, c) regional, d) local (322). There are some problems with the Universal Flood view:

  1. If the sea level rose for 150 days until it covered the tops of the mountains, and the sea level rose 16, 946 ft to the top of Ararat, then it was logically 16, 946ft across the earth.  This requires about 630 million cubic miles of additional water weighing 3,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons. Here is the problem: the oceans had to triple in volume in 150 days and then shrink quickly back to normal.  Where did the 630 million cubic miles of water go? There is no ocean to drain to because the oceans are already filled.

There are other logistical problems but they aren’t ultimately decisive.  What matters is the text. Didn’t the flood cover “all” the earth? As good Calvinists we know that all doesn’t always mean all (Dt 2.25).  True, but didn’t it cover the mountains? The text uses the Pual form of ksh, which suggests a variety of possibilities (325). Water can “cover” not simply by submerging but also by drenching.  If we tell someone “you are covered with water” during a storm, we just mean they are drenched.

Conclusion

The commentary is weighted towards the earlier chapters of Genesis.  That’s probably inevitable as that is where all the questions are. I don’t always agree with Walton’s conclusions, but his handling of the text and syntax is masterful.

 

Averky on the Apocalypse

Averky saw our age as Age of Apostasy, as “the final preparation for the ‘man of sin’” (Rose 19).

Basic Hermeneutical Principles (these are from Rose, not Averky)

“As history proceeds to the end, the meaning of some of these symbols will become clearer” (Rose 31).

“The most correct commentary is the one that unites all these approaches, keeping in mind, as the ancient commentators and Fathers of the church clearly taught, the content of the Apocalypse in its sum is indeed directed to the last part of the history of the world (Averky 54).

Averky tentatively suggests (but does not finally endorse) the idea that the churches are seven epochs (101ff):

The Good

Averky stood in the tradition of the fathers and passed down the faith. This is a reliable, if sometimes lightweight, commentary on the Apocalypse. He helpfully summarizes each section and offers Scripture parallels at the end of each chapter.

Possible Criticisms (It might seem like I offer a lot of criticisms, but this shouldn’t take away from the book’s inestimable value).

*We see numerous references and exhortations that we seek out the “commentaries of the Holy Fathers” (Rose 27) to avoid Protestant errors, but besides Andrew of Caesarea we are almost never given any specific references. Averky does list some Russian-language resources (Averky 39-40).

*As a general rule, Averky doesn’t engage in exegesis (neither did St Andrew, for the most part).

*Averky says Protestants deny the necessity of good deeds for final salvation (201, Comm. 14:13). This is not true, nor is it clear exactly whom he has in mind. Classical Protestantism denies good deeds as the grounds or foundation of our salvation. We affirm good deeds as necessary for the final telos of our salvation. We can even say that good deeds are the final cause of our salvation, just not the material, efficient, or instrumental causes.

*Averky sees the thousand-year period as Christianity’s victory over paganism. The only problem with this interpretation is that the opening phrase of Revelation 20 sees it sequential with the events of Revelation 19. Averky says that the Illuminati held to chiliasm (256). He criticizes Chiliast belief but doesn’t seem to take into account that premillennialists get their teaching from the passage itself, which does say two resurrections (however that term is glossed).

He says that Chiliasm teaches two or three comings of Christ, but this isn’t necessarily true. A premillennialist can quite logically hold to the following timeline: 1st coming in humility, 2nd coming following the slaying of Antichrist with the breath of His mouth, the raising of the pious dead while the impious sleep, and then a final resurrection. But note that the final stage of the resurrection doesn’t logically demand another coming.

The problem with identifying Chiliasm with modern historic premillennialism is that the latter doesn’t see an ending to the millennial kingdom. It simply states, with Scripture, that Christ hands this kingdom over to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24).

*His argument in the appendix “Neo-Chiliasm” threatens to come undone. He begins with a fine critique of Ecumenism, but he errs in saying that “Neo-Chiliasts” want to have this world and do not like Scripture’s warning of its destruction. Well, modern ecumenists probably don’t like passages about the world’s destruction, but they probably don’t like any passage from the Bible. The modern premillennialist, however, sees that God will create a new heavens and a new earth, so we are not warranted in seeing a complete destruction of the earth.

Normally “chiliasts” are incorrectly lumped with premillennialists, who are quite conservative and anti-liberal. Yet most of his criticisms seemed aimed at the unbelievers in the World Council of Churches. In any case he never identifies who these “Neo-Chiliasts” are.

Severian and Bede on Gen 1-3

Do you remember Mystery Science Theater 3000? It’s where Joel and the “bots” would riff B-movies. Well, the first half of this volume is kind of like that. While Severian of Gabala had some insights, he had trouble with coherently finishing a sermon on point. And the editor (Robert Hill) lets you know that in the footnotes. And the footnotes are a laugh-riot. Here are some examples:

“Severian feels that he has done justice to the Genesis account of the first day and that he has achieved profundity. The goodness of creation has escaped his attention, however” (Hill 30 n44).

“He [Severian] is going to great trouble to vindicate all the details of the Genesis account instead of leaving it be and moving on” (41 n16).

“Again Severian has made a rod for his own back by being aggressively literalistic” (50 n13).

Obviously, Severian is no John Chrysostom but he is not without use. While it’s easy to ridicule Severian for his flat-earth cosmology, he perceptively ties it’s dome-like structure to the tabernacle-imagery. As modern scholars now realize, the Mosaic Tabernacle was a microcosm of the universe (Beale 2004: 189). But does this entail a belief in flat-earth cosmology? Not necessarily. The earth is flat and heliocentric from an observational point of view (like using phrases as “sunrise”).

Bede the Venerable is a different class of commentator. He is the opposite of Severian: focused, mature, and restrained. His actual commentary is more or less a riff off of Augustine’s work on Genesis. Bede adds to the discussion with his Six Ages of Man. Rather than allegorical excess, Bede gives a profound typology, as seen below.

>>Age 1: From the Fall to the Flood (p. 135). The The end of Day 1 anticipates the “Waters” of day 2, so at the end of Age 1 is the Flood.
Age 2: Day 2 is about the waters of the flood, so the second age sees humanity in the ark. The end of this day sees the nations of Genesis 10 (70 = nations, figuratively).
Age 3: Day 3 has the dry earth and vegetation appearing, so Age 3 sees the dry earth after the Flood. Also the calling of Abraham, which is the separation of the faithful from the unfaithful. Also typologically anticipates Israel’s casting off the Law and the defiling in slavery. Ends in King Saul.
Age 4: On Day 4 the heaven receives its luminaries. In the 4th age we see the Kingly lights of David and Solomon. As the day turns towards evening, this age turned toward darkness and ended in Babylon (p.136).
Age 5: Day 5 sees the waters bringing forth fish. Bede sees Babylon as meaning waters, so the children of Israel are living in the waters of Babylon.
Age 6: God created man on Day 6. In age 6 the New Man, the Word of God. The Church (Eve) is taken from his rib. Antichrist will appear in the evening of this day. This evening will be darker than the rest (p. 137). After Antichrist’s appearing will be the Tribulation.<<