An Index of Calvin’s Distinctions in the Institutes

YINKAHDINAY

I recently finished reading straight through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.  I plan to write an essay on that experience in the near future.  For now, one of the things that struck me was how Calvin worked with various theological and philosophical distinctions.  I catalogued as many as I could discern and you can find them in this document.  There are many of them!  Many Calvin works with in a positive way, but there are also a few he rejects as “wily,” “loathsome,” or “worthless.”  It’s said that distinguishing well is a hallmark of a good theologian — Calvin certainly ranks up there with the best.

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Bible Commentary Survey

I will update this as I read more commentaries.  I will also make it a side page.

Rating: * – *****

Commentary Sets

Of course, I haven’t read every page of every set, so I am not giving singular judgments, but I think I can capture the overall tenor.

The Macarthur Bible Commentary.  I’m not a huge fan of Macarthur and you will find both strengths and weaknesses.  Each commentary is a glorified word-study. Still, the sections are well-divided.

Calvin’s Commentaries.  Harmonizes the Pentateuch, which is a huge weakness.  Still, Calvin paid attention to the original languages and his arguments, even where I think he is wrong, are always thoughtful.  I think his sermons are better.

Pentateuch as a Whole

Brueggeman and Kaiser.  Genesis to Exodus. New Interpreter’s Bible. Brueggeman has his insights from time to time, but his project is unstable.  Kaiser, of course, is outstanding. ***

Sailhamer, John.  Pentateuch as Narrative. Good in gaining an overall flow, hence the title.  Sailhamer doesn’t go into his views on creation in much detail. ***

Genesis

Bede.  Homilies on Genesis 1-3.  Ancient Christian Texts.  Great for historical value, but no exegesis.

Hamilton, Victor. New International Commentary on Genesis.  Eerdmans.  2 volumes. Good overall commentary.  Gently pushes back against Wellhausen.

North, Gary.  Genesis: The Dominion Covenant.  Zero exegesis but excellent suggestions on apologetics.

Exodus

Numbers

Wenham, Gordon.  Numbers.  Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries.  Excellent rebuttal to JEDP. Sound elsewhere.  *****

1 and 2 Samuel

Leithart, Peter.  A Son to Me. Canon Press.  Very good treatment on background and biblical theology. Light on exegesis.

1 and 2 Kings

Leithart, Peter.  1 and 2 Kings. Brazos Theological Commentaries.  Similar to his work on Samuel. Good for pastoral application but needs to be supplemented.

Job

Vanderwaal, Cornelis.  Job – Song of Solomon.  More of a survey than a commentary but excellent nonetheless.

Jeremiah

Brueggeman, Walter.  A Commentary on Jeremiah: Homecoming and Exile.  While I have problems with Brueggemann, he does a fine job in handling the textual issues.

Zechariah

Klein. Zechariah. New American Commentary. Good treatment on background and good exegesis. Takes a gently premillennial approach to chapter 14.

NEW TESTAMENT

Mark

Horne, Mark. The Victory According to Mark. Canon Press.  Excellent treatment on typology and biblical theology.  Not as heavy on exegesis.

Acts

Bruce, F. F.  New International Commentary on Acts.  Eerdmans.  A true classic.  Somewhat dry reading but I can’t think of a better commentary at the moment.  Keener’s will eclipse it in time.

Romans

Moo, Douglas.  New International Commentary on Romans. Replaced Murray.  Deals with the earlier treatments of the New Perspective on Paul.  Somewhat unique take on Romans 7, but otherwise outstanding.

Murray, John.  New International Commentary on Romans. The 20th century classic.  While it has been surpassed by Moo, it still should be consulted.  

Wright, N. T. Romans.  New Interpreter’s Bible. Marvelously well-written.  Somewhat hamstrung by his so-called New Perspective.  

Galatians

George, Timothy. Galatians. NAC. Sound Reformational approach.  Worth looking into but nothing earthshaking.

Silva, Moises. Interpreting Galatians.  Not strictly a commentary, but an excellent guidebook on some of the exegetical difficulties.

Revelation

Barclay, William.  Revelation.  Well-written and Barclay’s unbelieving presuppositions don’t play too big a role.  Good on history but fairly weak beyond that.

Beale, Gregory.  Revelation.  I haven’t read it, but by all accounts the best commentary on Revelation.

Caird, G. B. Romans.  International Critical Commentary.  Caird was the archetypal British scholar.  Very strong in argument but fairly limited and dated at points.

Keck, Leander (ed). Hebrews-Revelation New Interpreter’s Bible.  I don’t know if Keck was the actual contributor to Revelation.  The book wasn’t any good. Had a bizarre fixation with William Blake.  Get Beale or Mounce instead.

Keener, Craig. Revelation. Life Application Commentary. Very good on background issues. Sound treatment of the text.  Takes a mild historic premil approach. Some odd suggestions on applications.

 

A Fascinating Look At 112 Triads Illuminating the Trinity by John M. Frame

Sure. some of these are forced,b ut I remember when I first read them in seminary in 2006.

LifeCoach4God

Adapted from Appendix 1 in the phenomenal book: The Doctrine of God by *John M. Frame, Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing,2002

I will present here a list of triads that have sometimes been thought to reflect or illumine the Trinity in some way. I will offer a few comments, but normally will present them without comment.

I have tried to weed out those that seem to me to be obviously arbitrary, contrived, or uninteresting, but readers should not assume my evaluation of any of these. I do not place any theological weight on these examples—nor do I urge readers to do so. All I would claim is that these triads are of some interest and that they may in some measure reflect, illumine, or provide for the evidence of the Trinity on any of these triads (except for the first one).

Some are taken from other sources, but I will…

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Roundup on the Frame-Dolezal Dustup

Allkirk Network

Dolezal

First it was Eternal Subordination of the Son; now it’s Theistic Mutualism. It’s hard to keep up with all of these modern evangelical debates over the doctrine of God. For those just tuning in, the latest controversy centers on the recently published volume All That Is in God by Reformed Baptist theologian James Dolezal (Reformation Heritage Books, 2017). Dolezal’s goal is to recover the classical/scholastic view of God, over against a host of modern evangelical and Reformed scholars, whom he lumps together under the label “theistic mutualism.” Stated simply, this is the idea that, in some sense, God has a “give-and-take relationship with his creatures” that entails a real change in his being.

Among the scholars in Dolezal’s cross-hairs is John Frame, retired professor of Systematic Theology at RTS Orlando. Frame, who is known for his near-biblicist prioritization of exegetical theology over historical theology, has recently written a review critiquing…

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Occult MI6: Dennis Wheatley

Espionage History Archive

There’s no shortage of connections between British espionage writers and the occult, and while we’ve examined a good deal of Ian Fleming, another writer who wrote quite prolifically of devilish machinations was Dennis Wheatley.

Wheatley was the son of a winemaking family, and he would cause some stir early in his college days for creating his very own campus “secret society.” Following his expulsion for this incident, Wheatley joined the military, fighting in World War I as a Royal Artillery Lieutenant. He was then tasked with military intelligence and covert operations in World War II, serving in the London Controlling Section. After his war activities, Wheatley worked for British Intelligence and was introduced to notorious occultist and black magician Aleister Crowley, stating:

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Analytic Outline, Balthasar’s Cosmic Liturgy

This isn’t an outline of the whole book–only the first half.  That is where Balthasar’s discussion on Person and Nature is.  I first read this book in 2010 when I was new to Maximus the Confessor.  Those were heady days. Maximus_Confessor

  1. the Free mind
    1. Opening up tradition: Maximus undercut Origenism by interpreting Gregory of Nazianzus in Origenist language (35).
    2. Between Emperor and Pope: tore the Greek tradition away from the destructive claws of the Empire.  
  1. Between East and West
    1. Religion and revelation
        1. Asiatic view of One and Many; seeking the Absolute which exists in a state of formlessness
        2. Biblical religion: man and God stand in confrontation, not emanation and decline.
      1. Polarities and Synthesis
        1. Maximus held to the Western view of phusis and logos, which grounds the existence of things.  Western thought also added “personal categories.”
        2. He held to the Eastern religious passion.
      2. Three bodies of material to be synthesized
        1. Origen: subordination is metaphysical; problem for Christology.  Falling away from spirits in a collective unity of God; apakatastis.
        2. Evagrius: silence sensible images and conceptual thought; eliminate form from realm of the spirit.
        3. Alexandrian Christology:
    2. Scholasticism and Mysticism
  2. The synthesis
  3. Divine Unknowing
    1. Lack of knowledge:
    2. The light of God enfolds one beyond the distinction of subject and object (94).
  4. Ideas in God
    1. “The idea of a thing is its truth” (Maximus PG 91, 1085AB).
    2. God’s ideas are not identical with his essence (otherwise I, as an idea of God, would be infinite) nor are they identical with the existence of created entities (HuvB, 118).
    3. Epistemology
      1. Maximus reworks some of Ps. Dionysius’ concepts.  When we approach an idea, or rather, when an idea comes across our consciousness, we first have a general impression of reality (pragma) and gradually grow clearer unity reaches the full knowledge of the individual object.  
      2. “What flashes upon us ‘in an undivided way’ (ameristos) in the first encounter () is not some empty general concept of being–a contradiction in terms–but a revelation concerning the Monad (), the unity of that being that truly is one: a logos that instructs the thinking mind that God and the world are undivided and so makes possible all thought of things different from God (123, see PG 91, 1260D).  
  5. Ideas in the World: A Critique of Origenism
    1. Maximus filtered Origenist spirituality and removed its fangs.
    2. Origen: there once existed an original Henad of beings.  It is a metaphysics of “peira,” of painful necessity (129).

Syntheses of the Cosmos

  1. Being and Movement
    1. The Age.  Finite being is characterized by spatial intervals (diastema), and thereby motion.  
      “To have a beginning, middle, and end is characteristic of things extended in time. One would also be right in adding to this ‘things caught p in the age (aiown).’ For time, whose motion can be measured, is limited by number; the age, however, whose existence is expressed by the category of ‘when,’ also undergoes extension (diastasis), in that its being has a beginning.  But if time and the age are not without beginning, then surely neither ar ethe things that are involved in them” (Centuries on Knowledge, 1.5).
    2. In short, for Origen motion is connected with the fall, while for Maximus it was an ontological expression of created existence (HuvB 141).
    3. Extension:
    4. The definition of every nature is given with the concept of its essential activity (energeia, Ambigua PG 91, 1057B).
      1. The essence of a thing is only truly indicated through the potential for activity that is constitutive of its nature.
      2. A nature is nothing else than organized motion….It is a capacity or plan, a field or system of motion (HuvB 146).
    5. Nature and the Supernatural:
  2. Generality and Particularity
    1. Being in Motion.
    2. The motion of a being is its way of establishing itself as a particular, existent thing (155).
      1. The whole structure of existent things, which are not God, is polar (duas). It is a dynamic relationship between the unity of individuality and the unity of generality (157).
    3. Essence in motion. The essence of all created things is motion–in the manner of expansion (diastole) and contraction (systole).
    4. Balance of contrary motions.

Christ the Synthesis

  1. Synthesis, not confusion, is the first structural principle of all created being (207).
    1. There is no contradiction between divine and finite life.
    2. We do not look for a synthesis on the level of nature and describe it as a synthesis of natural powers (Nestorius) or a natural union (Eutyches).
  2. The terminology
    1. Aristotle: ousia is the highest and most comprehensie of being (216).
      1. The Cappadocians used this as “universal concept
      2. And because Maximus didn’t want to identify God with a universal concept, he places God outside being (Ambigua PG 91, 1036B).
    2. Maximus at times wants to distinguish ousia from this-ousia.
    3. Being (einai). The existential aspect of Being (HuvB 218).
      1. Christ united in his own person “two distinct intelligible structures of being” (logoi tou einai) of his parts.”
    4. Hypokeimenon.  Underlying subject.  Maximus seldom uses this. It denotes the concrete, existent bearer of qualities that determine whata thing is.
      1. It does not mean the same thing as hypostasis. It is more of a point of reference for logical predicates than an existential reality.
    5. Hyparxis. Existence. Used to mean the Being of the Persons of God (tropos tes huparxeos; Cappadocians used this, as did Karl Barth).
    6. Hypostasis. Leontius refined it to mean “being-for-oneself.”  It is what distinguishes a concrete being from others of the same genus (HuvB 223). It is the ontological subject of the ascription of an essence, not the consciousness of such a subject.  
      1. It isn’t merely the contraction (systole) of universal being; it also suggests the “having” of such a being. When the Cappadocian Fathers defined hypostasis as the manner in which each person has his origin, it was to show the reality his having the Godhead.
      2. A nature is the hypostasis’s property (224).
      3. Maximus even suggests that nature is what is according to the image, whereas hypostasis is according to the likeness.  No doubt the Hebrew doesn’t sustain such a reading, but it is interesting that a Greek father would suggest it.
    7. Synthesis
      1. Union (henosis).
      2. Synthetic person.  
    8. Christology of essence.  The act of being is distinct from the actual being of Christ’s human nature. The act of being comes from the divine person, which is why the human nature of Christ isn’t a human person.
  3. Healing as Preservation
    1. The exchange of properties

Terminology:

First Substance (Aristotle): the irreducibleness of a thing.  It has an inner field of meaning and power defined in terms of potency (49).