Friday, February 13, 2015

James (the Just): leader of the Church at Jerusalem


In the combox of the previous thread here at AF, Ken Temple called into question the view held by numerous scholars (and yours truly) that James (the Just) became the leader of the Church at Jerusalem shortly after Peter was imprisoned. Ken wrote:

Off the top of my head, on the main issue - it seems your main argument is that James was the mono-episcopate (one bishop over a college of elders) at Jerusalem. And the later church records seem to read mono-episcopasy back into the earliest decades. (Eusebius, Irenaeus, etc.) Acts, Titus, 1 Timothy, I Peter 5, I Clement, Shepherd of Hermas, and the Didache are all earlier (60s-125 AD) and don't jive with the bishop's lists of 200-325 AD.

Actually "the main issue" is whether or not Ken's original assertion is accurate. Once again, here is what Ken wrote back on 01/28/15:

Moreover, NONE of the earliest churches had a mono-episcopate. They all had a plurality of elders at first.

The "earliest" church, Jerusalem, most certainly did not have "a plurality of elders at first". The first leaders of the Church at Jerusalem were 'the Twelve' (apostles). When 'the Twelve' began to spend less time at Jerusalem and more time in missionary activity, James (the Just) became the permanent, resident leader of the Church at Jerusalem; holding a position of authority above the elders/overseers at Jerusalem, but below 'the Twelve'.

Ken also wrote:

Why doesn't Acts 15 say that? Acts 15 does not call James a "bishop/overseer, who is one over the college of elders" in authority. Both he and Peter stand up and give their opinions/judgments and quote Scripture. 

It says that Paul and Barnabas came there and reported to "the apostles and elders" (Acts 15:4; and 15:6; 15:22 and "with the whole church").

James, the brother of Jesus is called an apostle in Galatians 1:19 and 1 Cor. 15:7. 


Ken is being evasive here, for he knows that none of the governmental systems held by various Christian denominations (congregational, episcopal, presbyterian) have explicit support in the NT. The view that James (the Just) held a position of leadership in the Church of Jerusalem is built upon implicit information in the NT and explicit information from post-apostolic writers. When all the evidence is brought together, an extremely strong case for this view emerges; a case so strong that even a number of scholars who do not adhere to a espiscopal form of polity support it. Note the following from a respected Presbyterian scholar:

When Peter, Paul, and Barnabas have spoken, the leader of the Jerusalem church assume the task of addressing the assembly and formulating a decision that meets the approval of the entire council. This person is James, the half-brother of Jesus, who succeeded Peter as the head of the church (12:17) and who was highly respected for his authority (compare 21:17-19). When he speaks, he literally has the last word.

A paragraph later, we read:

James functions as the chairman of the assembly. Everyone present is eager to listen to what James has to say on the subject of adherence to the law, namely, circumcision. His opening remarks are, "Men and brothers, listen to me." The similarity between these words and those of the Epistle of James is remarkable. In his epistle James writes, "Listen, my beloved brothers" (2:5). The command listen to me occurs nowhere else in the entire New Testament. It reveals that James has respect and authority in the church and that apostles, elders, and delegates to the council value his leadership. (Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary - Acts, p. 550; note: Dr. Kistmaker was the scholar chosen to complete the NTC series started by the esteemed Reformed theologian, William Hendriksen.)

From the pen of the F. F. Bruce we read:

Then the eyes  of the company turned to James the brother of the Lord, a man who enjoyed the respect and confidence of all. By this time James appears to have occupied a position of leadership among the elders of the Jerusalem church; if the elders were organized as a kind of Nazarene Sanhedrin, James was their president, primus inter pares. (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament - The Book of the Acts, p. 309.)

A Baptist scholar wrote:

The rise of both the monepiscopacy and the succession concept occurs in internal crises in the earliest periods of the Church. An "overseer"—a term preferred for its connotation of function, in contrast to "bishop," with its connotation of office—emerged naturally in house churches. From such overseers, or "elders" as they were often called, there was at least in some cases an overseer for a city, whom we shall term a monepiskopos (to distinguish this person from the single leader in the house churches), appointed by apostolic design at the departure of the apostles. Such a city overseer also arose apart from apostolic design, not necessarily against it, in various connections with the death of James, the monepiscopal leader of the Jerusalem church. A succession of bishops was perhaps first suggested in Jerusalem at the time of the Jerusalem Council, among Jewish Christians with nationalistic hopes, by James's kinship to Jesus in the Davidic line. The succession of bishops arose in Rome from Jewish Christian interpretation of apostolic plans in reaction to erosion of established presbyteral authority. These developments set the stage for the initial use of succession lists in internal crises rather than in dialogue with Greco-Roman society. (Robert Lee Williams, Bishops Lists, p. 45.)

From the same book, a bit later, we read:

Evidence suggests that the churches in Antioch and the five cities addressed by Ignatius in Asia Minor began monepiscopates at the death of two first century leaders, James in Jerusalem and the "elder" of the Johannine letters in who exercised authoritv beyond their own cities. Telfer was correct in thinking that "an emergency or crisis ... in view of their loss of the guiding and supporting mother-church" led churches to adopt monepiscopacy in Antioch and Asia. (Ibid. pp. 67, 68.)

In the previous thread I provided selections from four more authors that are in agreement with the above scholars. Once again for emphasis:

In the traditions recorded by Eusebius (Hegesippus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen), James was the first bishop of the Jerusalem church. His election to this position is located at the beginning of the life of the Jerusalem church. He was thus the first bishop of the leading (mother) church of the growing Christian movement. The account in Acts portrays the key role of the Jerusalem church, and even the letters of Paul confirm the importance because they show Paul contested and struggled against that leadership. But according to popular understanding, in Acts Peter is at first portrayed as the prominent leader among the twelve, giving way to James only when he is forced to leave Jerusalem (Acts 12:17). The account of the Jerusalem assembly (Acts 15) portrays James "presiding." and this position of leadership is consistent with the remaining narrative of Acts. (John Painter, Just James - The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition, Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1997, p. 4.)

The earliest leaders of the church [Jerusalem] were the Twelve, whom Luke calls 'the apostles'. At some point in the first ten or fifteen years of the church's existence an office of elder was created similar to that of the Jewish synagogue, either to succeed the Twelve, whose members began to leave Jerusalem in order to preach the gospel, or as assistants to the apostles in the administration of the church. James replaced Peter as the leader of the church and the elders took the place of the apostles. (R. Alistair Campbell, The Elders, T & T Clark International, 1994, p. 160.)

In 2001 book, The Brother of Jesus - James the Just and His Mission, co-authors, Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner, present solid evidences that James was clearly the leader of the Jerusalem church by the time of Acts 15. Less convincing is their view that he was already the leader of the Jerusalem church when Peter was arrested by Herod. Note the following:

Against this background [Gal. 2:1-10] we may read Acts 12:17. It is normally taken to mean that, after Peter's arrest by Herod (12:1-3), he was miraculously released from prison but forced to flee from Jerusalem. Before leaving he came to the house of the mother of John Mark, where the church used to gather. There he passed on a message, "Tell this [news of his release and forced departure] to James and the brethren." How is this message to be understood? It is commonly understood as a cryptic message from Peter, the leader, to James, indicating that James must take over the leadership in absence of Peter. This is less than clearly the intended meaning. More likely we should understand Peter's message in the context of his report back to James, the leader of the Jerusalem church. Nothing is more natural than that Peter should report to the leader. (Page 31.)

In pages 32-35, the authors present numerous quotes from post-apostolic sources (e.g. Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Hegesippus) which clearly affirm that James was the first Bishop of Jerusalem. They begin with the following:

The role of James as leader of the Jerusalem church is uniformly found in early tradition. (Page 32.)

And then conclude the section with:

Nevertheless this tradition is unanimous that James was the first leader of the Jerusalem church, and this emphasized by the numerous references to the throne of Jesus. (Page 35.)

Before leaving Chilton and Neusner, I would like to provide one more informative selection:

James died in the year 62 C.E., so that his example had been there to influence the emerging model of episcopal hierarchy within the church attested within the Pastoral Epistles for some three decades before the Pastoral Epistles themselves were written. James was clearly a local leader, who made decisions on the basis of Scripture, and the exercise of his authority—owing to his familial relationship—brought with it a personal link to Jesus himself which was reinforced by his own martyrdom. The personal model of James as bishop was evidently sufficient to elevate that office above other possible contenders for what was to be the predominately authority within the church by the end of the first century. (Page 157 - bold emphasis mine.)

In ending, it sure seems to me that Ken is reading his congregational polity back into his interpretation of the NT and early post-apostolic data, rather than reading the data in an objective, systematic manner.


Grace and peace,

David

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monepiscopacy and the early Church


Back on January 28, 2015, Ken Temple published a thread at the Beggars All blog (link), wherein he made some pretty bold assertions concerning the government/ministry of the Christian Church during the apostolic (i.e. NT) and early post-apostolic (i.e. late 1st century-early 2nd century) periods. Ken wrote:

...the earliest writings affirm that a college/plurality of elders and the office of bishop is the same office. The names of elder and bishop is interchangable[sic] in the NT and earliest writings of the early fathers.

After citing 5 passages from the NT and Apostolic Fathers, Ken then posted:

Also, James Swan pointed out that the evidence for Rome is that it did not have a mono-episcopate until much later. ( I Clement, Shepherd of Hermas, Peter Lampe's book and work; John Bugay wrote a lot in this area also, both here and over at Triablogue. see at the Addendum below)

Moreover, NONE of the earliest churches had a mono-episcopate. They all had a plurality of elders at first.

Ignatius (writing around 107-117 AD, ?) is the first evidence of the mono-episcopate, and seems to be where that custom/practice started.

Pretty much every assertion made by Ken in the above quotes is either irrelevant, problematic, or an error.

First, though the terms elder/presbyter (πρεσβύτερος, presbuteros) and bishop (ἐπίσκοπος, episkopos) are certainly both used for individuals who filled the 'office' of what later came to known exclusively as that of the elder/presbyter; this fact does not address whether or not three distinct 'offices' existed in the Apostolic period which later came to be known as bishop/overseer, elder/presbyter, and deacon; as such, it is irrelevant. [FYI: I believe that four distinct 'offices' existed in the Apostolic period, and that the highest of the four—represented by the Apostles appointed by Jesus (plus Matthias)—became non-existent after the death of the Apostle John.]

It must be kept in mind that a number terms which later developed into limited and exclusive usage, had much broader application in the NT and early CFs.  Not only were the terms elder/presbyter (πρεσβύτερος, presbuteros) and bishop (ἐπίσκοπος, episkopos) at times used for the same individual/s, but also the terms apostle (ἀπόστολος, apostolos) and deacon (διάκονος, diakonos). Peter is called an apostle and elder/presbyter; John an apostle and elder/presbyter; Paul an apostle and deacon; Timothy is designated as an apostle and a deacon. All four terms may be used of an 'office', but also have much broader usages.

Second, the purported "evidence" that Rome "did not have a mono-episcopate until much later", is based on presuppositions and theories from liberal scholars of the higher-critical paradigm—those presuppositions and theories have been fully addressed by more conservative scholars.

Third, the assertion that, "NONE of the earliest churches had a mono-episcopate", is just wrong. Fact is, the earliest 'church', Jerusalem, had one individual designated as it's leader: James. (The terms church and churches need to be qualified for THE Church at Jerusalem was comprised of numerous 'house-churches', with each individual 'house-church' having an elder/bishop in charge.)

And fourth, "Ignatius of Antioch is most certainly NOT "the first evidence of the mono-episcopate". As noted above, "the first evidence of the mono-episcopate" was the Jerusalem Church under the leadership of James.

So much for my counter-assertions. Now, before I offer support each of them, I would first like to provide a working definition for the term, monepiscopacy (or monarchical episcopate):

The view that in addition to the elder/bishop who presides over a single, local church (originally a 'house-church')—who is supported by deacons—there exists a third office held by one who has authority/jurisdiction over a plurality of local churches and their elders/bishops. Example: the early Church at Jerusalem, led by James.

First assertion -

The fact that the terms elder/presbyter (πρεσβύτερος, presbuteros) and bishop (ἐπίσκοπος, episkopos) are certainly both used for some of the same individuals who filled the 'office' of what later can to known exclusively as elder/presbyter has virtually no bearing on whether or not there was a third office which was above it/them. I can think of no better representative of this view than the man who established beyond any reasonable doubt that those two terms were used interchangeably in the NT and early CFs: J. B. Lightfoot. His Saint Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (1868), The Christian Ministry (1868) and massive 5 volume work, Apostolic Fathers (1885-1890) established him as one of the top scholars who has written on this topic. And to my knowledge, there is not one scholar who has successfully questioned Lightfoot's monumental contributions on this issue.

Interestingly enough, though countless authors have cited Lightfoot concerning the use of the terms elder/presbyter (πρεσβύτερος, presbuteros) and bishop (ἐπίσκοπος, episkopos) in the NT and Apostolic Fathers, it is quite rare to find an author who also points out that he believed the monepiscopacy (and the three-fold Christian ministry) had an Apostolic origin. Please note the following from his The Christian Ministry, one of three disertations which were printed with his commentary on Philippians:

If bishop was at first used as a synonyme for the presbyter and afterwards came to designate the higher officer under whom the presbyters served, the episcopate properly so called would seem to have been developed from the subordinate office. In other words, the episcopate was formed not out of the apostolic order by localisation but out of the presbyteral by elevation : and the title, which originally was common to all, came at length to be appropriated to the chief among them.

If this account be true, we might expect to find in the mother Church of Jerusalem, which as the earliest founded would soonest ripen into maturity, the first traces of this developed form of the ministry. Nor is this expectation disappointed. James the Lord's brother alone, within the period compassed by the apostolic writings, can claim to be regarded as a bishop in the later and more special sense of the term. (Pages 196-197.)

The evidence for the early and wide extension of episcopacy throughout proconsular Asia, the scene of St John's latest labours, may be considered irrefragable. (Page 214.)

It has been seen that the institution of an episcopate must be placed as far back as the closing years of the first century, and that it cannot, without violence to historical testimony, be dissevered from the name of St John. (Page 234.)

If the preceding investigation be substantially correct, the threefold ministry can be traced to Apostolic direction ; and short of an express statement we can possess no better assurance of a Divine appointment or at least a Divine sanction. (Page 267.)

Interestingly enough, even during the lifetime of Lightfoot himself, some folk were evidently attempting to twist Lightfoot's own words, for in the preface of the sixth edition of Saint Paul's Epistle to the Philippians he penned:

The present edition is an exact reprint of the preceding one. This statement applies as well to the Essay on the Threefold Ministry, as to the rest of the work. I should not have thought it necessary to be thus explicit, had I not been informed of a rumour that I had found reason to abandon the main opinions expressed in that Essay. There is no foundation for any such report. The only point of importance on which I have modified my views, since the Essay was first written, is the authentic form of the letters of St Ignatius. Whereas in the earlier editions of this work I had accepted the three Curetonian letters, I have since been convinced (as stated in later editions) that the seven letters of the Short Greek are genuine. This divergence however does not materially affect the main point at issue, since even the Curetonian letters afford abundant evidence of the spread of episcopacy in the earliest years of the second century.

But on the other hand, while disclaiming any change in my opinions, I desire equally to disclaim the representations of those opinions which have been put forward in some quarters. The object of the Essay was an investigation into the origin of the Christian Ministry. The result has been a confirmation of the statement in the English Ordinal, 'It is evident unto all men diligently reading the Holy Scripture and ancient authors that from the Apostles' time there have been these orders of Ministers in Christ's Church, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.' But I was scrupulously anxious not to overstate the evidence in any case; and it would seem that partial and qualifying statements, prompted by this anxiety, have assumed undue proportions in the minds of some readers, who have emphasized them to the neglect of the general drift of the Essay.

September 9, 1881.

Second assertion -

The position that monepiscopacy was a very late development in Rome (many liberal scholars have speculated that it did not appear before the middle of the 2nd century), is based on highly questionable presuppositions, theories, and a subjective interpretation of archeological data. The beginnings of this position are found in the late 19th century higher critical works of Harnack, Hatch and Sohm. The higher critical presuppositions, methods and theories that were being applied to the NT for decades in Germany, were now also being unleashed on post-NT period. I have touched on the infiltration of higher criticism into 20th century scholarship in a number of threads under the "Peter Lampe" label - LINK

Some of the most troubling issues of the higher critical paradigm for me are: 1.) treatment of the NT as any other literature of the same period; 2.) the assumption that many of the NT writings were not written by apostles and/or immediate associates of the apostles (e.g. Paul did not write the Pastorals, nor some of the other epistles attributed to him; John did not write the Gospel attributed to him, nor the 3 epistles, nor Revelation; Peter did not write either of the epistles attributed to him; et al.), which means that those who did write a number of the NT contributions were liars; 3.) the men who wrote the early bishops lists were either liars or ignoramuses (or both); 4.) the unwillingness to seriously interact with conservative scholars who have addressed many of the issues raised by the higher critical paradigm.

Third assertion -

The view James was the first Bishop of the Church at Jerusalem has such a broad spectrum of supporters (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, conservative, moderate, liberal), those who reject this position need to present overwhelming evidence to the contrary (this to date has not been done).

Bishop Lightfoot himself was a supporter (see above), and the following are a few selections from modern scholars who also affirm that James was the first Bishop of the Church at Jerusalem:

In the traditions recorded by Eusebius (Hegesippus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen), James was the first bishop of the Jerusalem church. His election to this position is located at the beginning of the life of the Jerusalem church. He was thus the first bishop of the leading (mother) church of the growing Christian movement. The account in Acts portrays the key role of the Jerusalem church, and even the letters of Paul confirm the importance because they show Paul contested and struggled against that leadership. But according to popular understanding, in Acts Peter is at first portrayed as the prominent leader among the twelve, giving way to James only when he is forced to leave Jerusalem (Acts 12:17). The account of the Jerusalem assembly (Acts 15) portrays James "presiding." and this position of leadership is consistent with the remaining narrative of Acts. (John Painter, Just James - The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition, Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1997, p. 4.)

The earliest leaders of the church [Jerusalem] were the Twelve, whom Luke calls 'the apostles'. At some point in the first ten or fifteen years of the church's existence an office of elder was created similar to that of the Jewish synagogue, either to succeed the Twelve, whose members began to leave Jerusalem in order to preach the gospel, or as assistants to the apostles in the administration of the church. James replaced Peter as the leader of the church and the elders took the place of the apostles. (R. Alistair Campbell, The Elders, T & T Clark International, 1994, p. 160.)

In 2001 book, The Brother of Jesus - James the Just and His Mission, co-authors, Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner, present solid evidences that James was clearly the leader of the Jerusalem church by the time of Acts 15. Less convincing is their view that he was already the leader of the Jerusalem church when Peter was arrested by Herod. Note the following:

Against this background [Gal. 2:1-10] we may read Acts 12:17. It is normally taken to mean that, after Peter's arrest by Herod (12:1-3), he was miraculously released from prison but forced to flee from Jerusalem. Before leaving he came to the house of the mother of John Mark, where the church used to gather. There he passed on a message, "Tell this [news of his release and forced departure] to James and the brethren." How is this message to be understood? It is commonly understood as a cryptic message from Peter, the leader, to James, indicating that James must take over the leadership in absence of Peter. This is less than clearly the intended meaning. More likely we should understand Peter's message in the context of his report back to James, the leader of the Jerusalem church. Nothing is more natural than that Peter should report to the leader. (Page 31.)

In pages 32-35, the authors present numerous quotes from post-apostolic sources (e.g. Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Hegesippus) which clearly affirm that James was the first Bishop of Jerusalem. They begin with the following:

The role of James as leader of the Jerusalem church is uniformly found in early tradition. (Page 32.)

And then conclude the section with:

Nevertheless this tradition is unanimous that James was the first leader of the Jerusalem church, and this emphasized by the numerous references to the throne of Jesus. (Page 35.)

Before leaving Chilton and Neusner, I would like to provide one more informative selection:

James died in the year 62 C.E., so that his example had been there to influence the emerging model of episcopal hierarchy within the church attested within the Pastoral Epistles for some three decades before the Pastoral Epistles themselves were written. James was clearly a local leader, who made decisions on the basis of Scripture, and the exercise of his authority—owing to his familial relationship—brought with it a personal link to Jesus himself which was reinforced by his own martyrdom. The personal model of James as bishop was evidently sufficient to elevate that office above other possible contenders for what was to be the predominately authority within the church by the end of the first century. (Page 157 - bold emphasis mine.)

I could add many more examples, but the above is sufficient to demonstrate that Ken's assertion is in error.

Fourth assertion -

Ken's fourth assertion is directly related to his third; as such, I see no need to provide further documentation to show that it too is in error.


I shall end here with a couple of important notes: first, this thread is by no means intended to by an attack on the person of Ken. I like Ken, and consider him a brother in Christ. Yet with that said, I at times feel compelled to address some of the views that defends in his internet publishing. And second, this post is neither a defense, nor attack, of the Papacy. Though monepiscopacy is certainly an important component in any debate on the Papacy, monepiscopacy itself can be, and is, a 'stand-alone' issue, and has been treated as such in this thread.


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. In "Addendum 2", Ken provided a link to an apologetic contribution by Brandon Addison. I have already published two thread on this, and urge those readers who have read Brandon's treatment to check out the resource I mentioned in this thread, and my own reflections here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Jesuit Challenge




Back on January 7th, 2015, I published a thread (here) that linked to ten separate posts at Shameless Popery which were based on Edmund Campion's book, Rationes Decem /Ten Reasons (link to PDF copy).

[Edmund Campion (sainted by the Catholic Church), was a Jesuit priest who was imprisoned, tortured numerous times, hanged and then drawn-and-quartered, in late 16th England during the of reign of Queen Elizabeth I—for a online biography in a PDF format, see THIS LINK.]

After finishing Joe Heschmeyer's provocative series, I then read the 1914 edition of Campion's, Ten Reasons (English text by Joseph Rickaby; Introduction by John Hungerford). Rickaby's translation, with Hungerford's introduction, created a yearning in my mind for more. A prior Google search had yielded a number of related works that I ended up either downloading or purchasing. It is James V. Holleran's, A Jesuit Challenge (Google Preview)—which I finished reading yesterday—that I would now like to comment on.

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I knew nothing about Campion, prior to my reading of Joe's ten part series. I was, of course, aware of the religious turmoil that permeated 16th century England; but this knowledge had come primarily via more general works on Christian history (e.g. González, Latourette, Sheldon, et al.). Important figures such as Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Sir Thomas More immediately come to mind when I think about 16th century England; however, if any of the numerous general histories I have read mentioned Campion, possible impressions left on me at the time were not retained. As such, I felt compelled to remedy this void in my knowledge of the period.

The late Dr. Holleran's contribution has proven to be an invaluable resource in filling in this void. His 81 page introduction is excellent. The previously unpublished manuscripts  of the four Tower of London debates between Campion and a number of Protestent divines (written by Catholics who had attended the debates), which Holleran provides in the book, gives one a fuller account than the highly edited 'official' version of 1583. Note the following:

...as historical documents, these Catholic accounts of the debates allow us to revisit the past and decide for ourselves whether or not official documents, endorsed and published by the government, are entirely trustworthy. These previously unpublished Catholic accounts, for example, supply us with information that was deliberately deleted from the government account of the same debates. (Page xi.)

Dr. Holleran has also given us a new edition of Campion's, "Challenge", a document he had written, "in less than half an hour", and sent to "Elizabeth's Council." This document spells out Campion's goals/purposes, and, "acknowledges that he was a Jesuit priest who had been ordered by his superior to go to England on a religious mission, not a political one." (See page 25 for quotes; pages 179-181 for the document.)

All in all, I highly recommend Holleran's book; it is informative, has a very useful bibliography, and is written in a balanced style that will appeal to both academic and lay audiences.


Grace and peace,

David


Friday, January 16, 2015

THE PRINCIPLE...Are We Listening?


I am putting—what is sure to be quite controversial—the following movie on my 'to-do-list':



From the movie's website:

One Of The Most Heated Debates In History, Coming 2015

Simply put, the upcoming documentary, “The Principle,” is likely to become one of the most controversial films of our time.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the idea of Earth being at the center of the universe is a ridiculous holdover from an ancient, superstitious age. Modern science has long maintained that the human species is nothing special in the context of the cosmos.

We inhabit, in Carl Sagan’s words, “…. an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” His words reflect the Copernican Principle; the foundational assumption underlying the modern scientific world view.

Prepare to re-examine that assumption.

The Principle,” brings to light astonishing new scientific observations challenging the Copernican Principle. The film brings before the public eye astonishing results from recent large-scale surveys of our Universe which disclose surprising evidence of a preferred position in the cosmos, aligned with our supposedly insignificant Earth. The film explores from all sides the question of Earth’s station in the universe and whether it could, in fact, have a unique importance among planets.

“The Principle” features narration by Kate Mulgrew (“Star Trek Voyager”, “Orange Is The New Black”, and “Ryan’s Hope”), stunning animations by BUF Compagnie Paris (“Life of Pi”, “Thor”), and commentary from the most prominent scientists of our time, including George Ellis, Michio Kaku, Julian Barbour, Lawrence Krauss, and Max Tegmark.

Interviews with leading cosmologists are interspersed with the views of dissidents and mavericks, bringing into sharp focus the implications of an alternative explanation for our place in the universe.

These shocking new discoveries of Earth-oriented alignments in our visible cosmos bring us face-to-face with the challenging question … what does this mean for the soul and the future of humankind?



Grace and peace,

David

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An interesting (provocative) series and book


While engaged in some online research last night, I happened upon a ten part series at the blog, Shameless Popery. The series is based on a book I had not read, nor was even aware of: Ten reasons, proposed to his adversaries for disputation in the name of the faith and presented to the illustrious members of our universities, by Edmund Campion (PDF link below).

Given the recent activity here at AF, I felt compelled to provide links to the entire series:

Reason #2

Reason #3

Reason #4

Reason #5

Reason #6

Reason #7

Reason #8

Reason #9

Reason #10


Campion's entire book, Ten reasons, proposed to his adversaries for disputation in the name of the faith and presented to the illustrious members of our universities, is available in a free PDF version for reading and download at:



I read the last installment last night, and plan to read the entire series (and then the book), right after I publish this opening post.

I suspect a few other folk will join me in this endeavor, and hope that those who do so, will share their reflections...


Grace and peace,

David

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ken Temple and the perpetual virginity of Mary


Yesterday, I noticed that Ken Temple posted a new thread at Beggars All with the title:

The heos hou / ἕως οὗ construction in the New Testament proves the RC Perpetual Virginity of Mary dogma wrong  (LINK)

Ken's post relies heavily on Eric Svendsen's book, Who Is My Mother?, and he ends the thread with:

Svendsen also goes through all the LXX constructions; but this is enough to prove you wrong.

I own, and have read Mr. Svendsen's book. I remembered that the book contained a good deal of useful material, including a number of pages which the author intends to serve as proof that the New Testament cannot be used to support the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. However, I also remembered that the book actually ends up doing the exact opposite when one important piece of information is added.

Mr. Svendsen wrote:

As we have already noted in the previous chapter, an examination of the NT usage of the phrase, ἕως οὗ (ὅτου) has yielded little support for the understanding of this phrase in Matt. 1:25 as it relates to the perpetual virginity of Mary. This in itself does not thereby exclude the interpretation in question, for if evidence in support of this understanding can be found in the literature outside the NT, we may be able to preserve the meaning here as well. (Eric Svendsen, Who Is My Mother?, pp. 56.)

And a few pages later:

The purpose of this inquiry has been to see whether in fact there exists any clear example of either of these phrases that may be taken in such a way as to offer support for the meaning of ἕως οὗ in Matt. 1:25 as it pertains to the perpetual virginity of Mary. (Ibid., p. 77.)

Interestingly enough, Mr. Svendsen states that there are "seven such instances in the LXX" (p. 77), and then adds:

...if this usage for this phrase can also be found in the literature contemporaneous to Matthew's gospel (i.e., the first century AD), then there can be little objection to seeing this same usage in the passage in question, and Mary's perpetual virginity becomes a strong exegetical option. (Ibid., p. 77.)

[In a footnote (#75, p. 291), Mr. Svendsen, "assumes the dating of Matthew after Mark's gospel (AD 50-65) and before the destruction of the temple.".]

Using a what he termed a, "searchable format (i.e., on an electronic database)", Mr. Svendsen came to the following conclusion:

While we do find support for this usage in the LXX, there are nevertheless no clear examples of this usage for at least a century and a half before Matthew wrote his Gospel; nor up to half a century afterwards. (Ibid., p. 77.)

But, such an example does in fact exist in a Greek text that a number of scholars believe to be, "contemporaneous to Matthew's gospel". Note the following:

And, when Joseph had left the house, Pentephres also and all his kindred departed to their inheritance, and Asenath was left alone with the seven virgins, listless and weeping till the sun set ; and she neither ate bread nor drank water, but while all slept she herself alone was awake and weeping and frequently beating her breast with her hand. (E. W. Brooks, Joseph and Asenath - the confession and prayer of Asenath, daughter of Pentephres the priest, 1918, pp. 34, 35.)

Clearly, Asenath did not cease weeping after the sun set. This text was originally written in Greek, and the following is the portion which contains the heōs hou clause:

καἰ κλαίουσα, ἕως οὗ ἔδυ ὁ ἥλιος (Ľ Abbė P. Batiffol, Studia Patristica, 1889, p. 50)

So, if we take Mr. Svendsen at his word, one should then conclude that, "there can be little objection to seeing this same usage in the passage in question, and Mary's perpetual virginity becomes a strong exegetical option."

I sincerely wonder if Ken will adjust his position...


Grace and peace,

David