Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ordination - Evidence in the Pre New Testament Context - Old Testament Part II

As we mentioned last time, we determined that only one Old Testament practice could possibly have had some impact on the New Testament community as a setting apart custom: the laying on of hands. A lexical analysis for this practice in the Old Testament results in the identification of three terms that, when associated with the term for hand, yad, or with the term for right hand, yamin, come into play in this discussion. The terms are: samakh,[1] sim,[2] and shith.[3] In his classic chapter on the laying on of hands, Daube lumps sim and shith into the same category, due to their synonymous use in the narration of Jacob’s blessing of Joseph’s sons,[4] and contrasts them with samakh. His rationale is based on lexical differences, where he emphasizes a perceived physical difference; his understanding of samakh involves “leaning one’s hands upon someboyad or something,”[5] versus the placing of one’s hands as understood in the use of the other two terms. For Daube, the difference between the samakh terminology and the sim / shith terminology is substantial and can be summarized as follows:

The first kind of imposition is applied to certain offerings, to Levites at their consecration (which was in the nature of an offering by the people), to Joshua at his ordination by Moses and to a criminal convicted of a capital offence. It indicates, we suggest, the pouring of one’s personality into another being, the creation of a representative or substitute. . . . The second kind of imposition is applied in blessing and, to some extent, in healing. It indicates the transference of something other than, or less than, the personality; it means the employment of a special, supernatural faculty of one’s hands.[6]

The validity of Daube’s conclusions on this terminology will be discussed later. The current task is to take a closer look at their Old Testament usage due to its possible connections with the New Testament practices. Let us therefore briefly deal with each term, one at a time. Out of the eighteen appropriate constructions of sim and yad or yamin, and the four appropriate constructions of shith and yad or yamin, none are of interest to the present discussion, for even though we see the laying on of hands in Genesis 47:17-18 as a symbol of blessing, it is not related to a setting aside, installation, consecration, dedication, commissioning, or ordination. On the other hand, out of the twenty-five appropriate constructions of samakh and yad, there are four uses of interest to this research: Numbers 8:10; 27:18, 23; and Deuteronomy 34:9. In the next post we will look these passages and their use of samakh.

Go to Part III

[1] Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon [BDB] (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004), s.v. samakh. BDB simply defines it as “lean, lay, rest, support, uphold, sustain.” It is used 47 times in the Old Testament, 25 of which are associated in some way with dy, the term for hand. The majority (18) of these 25 uses deal with the sacrificial system and the laying on of hands on an animal offering. One use is the laying on of hands on the blasphemer about to be stoned (Lev 24:14).

[2] BDB defines sim as “put, place, set.” It is used 552 times in the Old Testament, 18 of which are associated in some way with dy, the term for hand, or with yamin, the term for right hand.

[3] BDB defines shith as put, set. It is used 80 times in the Old Testament, 4 of which are associated in some way with dy, the term for hand, or with yamin, the term for right hand.

[4] David Daube, The New Testament and Rabbinical Judaism (London: Athlone Press, 1956; reprint, Salem: Ayer Company, 1992), 225. Daube’s argument is based on the fact that in Genesis 48:17 Jacob laid (shith) his right hand on the head of Ephraim, but in Genesis 48:18 Joseph complains and tells his father to put (sim) his right hand on the head of Manasseh.

[5] Ibid.; emphasis mine. Here he states that “the rite of ‘leaning one’s hands upon somebody or something’ involves the exercise of some force and the force is concentrated at the base of the hand, near the joint.”

[6] Ibid. Daube, from this point on, looks at Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament witness and proceeds to categorize all the cases of imposition of hands into these two categories he has created from what he gleaned from his Old Testament lexical study. Daube never makes a strong case for limiting the field to these two categories, and I believe he errs in importing his understanding associated with these two categories into the New Testament, and he especially errs in forcing New Testament passages into these two categories which the terminology and context of the New Testament do not support.

Friday, January 29, 2010

PDF-XChange Viewer

In my doctoral work I have to do a large amount of reading. While I read, I usually underline and make notes on the documents I am reading (I never the learned the lesson that my dad tried so hard to inculcate in me of not writing in books). Since the documents in questions are often PDFs, I was in the habit of printing said documents so I could mark them up. When you have documents like Gill's A complete body of doctrinal and practical divinity or David Benedict's Fifty Years Among the Baptists. that is a lot of printing. So, I set on a journey to find good tool I could use to mark up the PDF itself.

There is of course the full version of Adobe Acrobat, but it is quite costly. So, if like me, you would prefer a free alternative, let me suggest PDF-XChange Viewer. This great piece of software allows you to underline, make notes, etc., rotate pages, and much more, and then save the PDF with these notes. It also allows you to search your notes or go through them sequentially, making research and discussion very efficient.

So, if you are looking for a good, FREE, PDF mark up software, give PDF-XChange Viewer a shot.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

EndNote & Palm

SWBTS recently signed a contract with EndNote to distribute this reference / bibliographical software to its students. I promptly installed it on my machine and have been playing with it for a few weeks now. I like the software and will use it to continue cataloging my library, therefore, as you can imagine, I will probably write posts on it from time to time.

As for today's post, it has to do with syncing my EndNote library from my computer to my Palm handheld. Yes, that is a neat feature that comes with EndNote X3: you get the Palm version of the software which gives you the ability of having your library on your Palm. Unfortunately, every time I synced my Palm I got the following error:

EndNote: Unable to find selected library to sync, or no library selected.

I had correctly configured it in EndNote (under Tools/Configure Handheld Sync . . .), but somehow it still could not find my library. I found a clue to a possible solution here. For some reason, pointing to my library file (.enl) in its My Documents location did not work. To solve my syncing problem, I had to copy my library file to the Program Files/Palm/Add-on directory and then configure EndNote to sync with that file. While that is mighty inconvenient, for the time being I have a solution to my problem. Hopefully in the future I will find a better solution; if so, I'll let you know. If you know a better solution, let me know.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Things we learned about Texas - Agave Nectar

Well, I'm not sure this is a Texas thing, since this product is made in Mexico and the company that packages it is headquartered in Onsted, Michigan, but we did discover it in Texas, so it fits in this series.

Agave Nectar is, according to its manufacturer, an "organic nectar from the Agave Plant [which] is great for those who are looking for low glycemic index foods. . . . Natural sweetening properties and blending characteristics make Agave Nectar perfect for coffee, tea, smoothies, and other beverages. It is also a delicious topping for breads, toast, pancakes, and waffles."

We use it as syrup on pain perdu and waffles. It has the same consistency and color as regular store-bought pancake syrup. It is healthier than those fake maple syrups out there (full of corn syrup and all) and, although it is expensive, it is less than half the price of real maple syrup. We give it two thumbs up and the Disseau housekeeping seal of approval!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ordination - Evidence in the Pre New Testament Context - Old Testament Part I

While Israel is not the church, Old Testament practices have the potential of not only giving insight into God’s desire for His people, but also of giving an understanding of the kinds of practices and concepts with which the early, mainly Jewish, church would have been conversant. A lexical and topical study of Old Testament passages dealing with the inauguration of people into specific positions within the nation of Israel, such as leaders, elders, kings, prophets, priests, Levites, etc., could provide much needed insight into the practice of ordination. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of passages describing such practices. As Culpepper notes, for example: “little is known about the ‘ordination’ of prophets, when there was some such ceremony.” [1] Indeed, all that is known of the anointing of Elisha (1 Kgs 19:16) is that he was to be anointed, and there is no description of consecration, dedication, or installation of Samuel (there is only a description of his divine call) or of Elijah, for example. Nevertheless, this scarcity of passages on the topic does not constitute divine silence on the issue. Passages such as the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Exod 29:1-37, Lev 8), the dedication of the Levites (Num 8:5-26), the installation of the seventy elders to share Moses’ burden (Num 11:16-30), the inauguration of Joshua (Num 27:12-23), the anointing of Saul (1 Sam 9:27-10:25), the anointing of David (1 Sam 16:1-13; 2 Sam 2:1-7; 5:1-5), and the anointing of Solomon (1 Kgs 1:31-40; 1 Chr 29:21-25), do give us some insight into Old Testament practices.

In these passages, one can discern four main trends in practices: the ceremonial washing or purification of those being consecrated or dedicated, the offering of animal sacrifices to the Lord, the anointing with oil, and the laying on of hands. [2] Of interest to this paper are only the trends which find parallels in the pages of the New Testament. Therefore, no matter what one’s view of the tripartite nature of the law and its application to New Testament believers, [3] one will quickly agree that the first two trends, since they find no attestation in any of the practices of the New Testament church, are of no value to our discussion. [4] As for the anointing with oil, the New Testament describes various anointments of Christ with oil and the anointing of the sick with oil. Obviously, the anointing of the sick with oil is not pertinent to our discussion. As for the anointing of Christ, it is directly related to His death in Matthew 26:12, Mark 14:8, and John 12:7. This is not an anointing associated with a setting apart for a specific role or function, but a symbolic preparation for the Messiah’s substitutionary death. Therefore, the anointing with oil is irrelevant to the discussion in this paper.

This leaves only one practice that could have had some impact on the New Testament community as a setting apart custom: the laying on of hands. We will discuss this practice next time.

Go to Part II

[1] R. Alan Culpepper, “The Biblical Basis for Ordination,” Review and Expositor 74, no. 4 (Fall 1981): 473.

[2] The practice of ceremonial washing or purification is found in the consecration of Aaron and his sons and in the dedication of the Levites. The practice of sacrificing an offering is found in the consecration of Aaron and his sons, the dedication of the Levites, and the anointing of Solomon. Also of interest here is the fact that the Levites themselves were presented as an offering to the Lord. The practice of anointing with oil is found in the consecration of Aaron and his sons, the anointing of Saul, the anointing of David, and the anointing of Solomon. The practice of laying on of hands is found in the dedication of the Levites and the inauguration of Joshua.

[3] For a discussion on the topic see Stanley N. Gundry, ed., Five Views on Law and Gospel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), and Maël Disseau, “Is the Mosaic law tripartite? (Some final thoughts)” [on-line]; available from; Internet.

[4] One could hypothesize that these practices are no longer needed, because the work of Christ on the cross has cleansed believers from their sins by paying the required sacrifice, and, while interesting, this line of inquiry is outside the scope of this paper.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

SWBTS - received a donation of Dead Sea Scroll fragments

Recently SWBTS received a donation of some fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Exodus 23, Leviticus 18, and Daniel 6.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Things we learned about Texas - recycling

This is not the first city we have lived in that recycles, but I must say that Fort Worth is probably the first city we have lived in where the recycling can (blue in the picture) is two to three times larger than the normal trash can (brown in the picture). You can actually ask for a larger trash can, but this is their incentive: "Recycle more, pay less. The more you recycle, the less garbage you have. The less garbage you have, the smaller cart you need. The smaller the garbage cart, the less you pay per month."

In addition, the list of recycling items is also very extensive:

Paper (Paper clips and staples are OK.)

  • Advertising circulars
  • Carbonless paper
  • Cardboard – corrugated cardboard. Large boxes must be broken down or cut to fit inside the cart.
  • Catalogs
  • Envelopes – with or without windows
  • Junk mail
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers – all sections
  • Office paper – file folders, letterhead, sticky notes, printer paper, calendars, school papers
  • Paperback books
  • Paperboard – cereal boxes (liners removed), soda and beer carry cartons, dry goods packaging, paper towel and toilet paper cores.
  • Paper bags
  • Phone books
Metal Containers (Please rinse. Labels can be left on.)
  • Aluminum drink cans – do not flatten
  • Aluminum baking tins – durable; not disposable
  • Steel or tin food cans and lids
  • Empty aerosol cans – with spray nozzle; remove plastic lid unless part of the can
  • Empty steel paint cans – must be empty and dry; a thin skin of dry paint on bottom and sides is OK; remove lid and recycle
Glass Containers (Please rinse. Labels can be left on. All colors accepted.)
  • Bottles and jars – remove metal and plastic lids and recycle
  • Ceramics
  • China
  • Dishes
  • Mirrors – must fit inside cart with lid closed
  • Windowpanes – no auto glass
Plastic Containers (Please rinse. All colors accepted. Must be hard plastics.)
  • Bottles, cups and jars – with #1 through #7 recycling symbols on bottom of container; remove caps and lids and recycle
  • Food trays, tubs and bowls – with #1 through #7 recycling symbols on bottom of container
  • Plastic eating utensils

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ordination - quick lexical investigation

As mentioned in the last post, there seems to be little cohesion among different traditions as to the purpose and meaning of ordination [1], and even in the Free Church tradition, different groups historically have understood ordination in different ways. This might be due to the fact that even a lexical investigation of the English word ‘ordain’, as Patterson points out, “provides limited assistance on the subject of ordination.” In the King James Version ‘ordain’ is the “translation of more than twenty Hebrew and Greek terms,”[2] but this wide use of the word was apparently reconsidered in the more modern New King James Version where it is only used to translate seven of those Hebrew and Greek terms. The etymology of the term is also not very helpful in the matter. The term surfaced in the English language in the late thirteenth century with the meaning “to appoint or admit to the ministry of the Church.” It is held to have come from the Latin ordino, ordinare, through the Old French ordener.[3] Following the trail, investigating the verb ordino reveals that it comes from the noun ordo, “order,” and besides its traditional meaning of “to order, set in order, adjust, dispose, regulate,” there are a few secular first century attestations of its use as “to ordain, appoint to office.” Its ecclesiastical meaning of “to ordain as a priest or pastor, to admit to clerical office,” finds attestations as early as the fourth century, as in Lampridius’ history of the third century Roman emperor Alexander Severus, but, surprisingly, its fifth century use in the Vulgate is mostly not ecclesiastical, rather it is used with the plain meaning of “to order, set in order, adjust, dispose, regulate.”[4]

All of this sheds little to no light on the practice of ordination as seen in the New Testament. Therefore in the next post I will start looking at the Biblical data on ordination, starting with the Old Testament.

[1] In the 1993 book Anyone for Ordination?, editor Paul Beasley-Murray presents eight different traditions representing: Anglican, Independent, Methodist, ‘New Church’, Anabaptist, Roman Catholic, United Reformed, and Baptist. In these traditions, the range of understanding goes from sacramental to only recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit and from for clergy only to for all believers.

[2] Paige Patterson, “The Meaning of Authority in the Local Church,” 251.

[3] Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, s.v. “ordain,” [on-line]; accessed 15 November 2009; available from; Internet. Here is a sample of other modern definitions: Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, s.v. “ordain:” “to invest officially (as by the laying on of hands) with ministerial or priestly authority;” Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, s.v. “ordain:” “to invest with ministerial or sacerdotal functions; to introduce into the office of the Christian ministry, by the laying on of hands, or other forms; to set apart by the ceremony of ordination; to set apart for an office;” or Concise Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “ordain:” “confer holy orders on.”

[4] Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879), s.v. “ordĭno,” [on-line]; accessed 15 November 2009; available from; Internet. The only possible ecclesiastical use of ordino in the Vulgate might be found in 2 Cor 8:19. This verse is to be discussed below.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Things we learned about Texas - Driver Licences

When we first arrived, we went to get our TX driver licences. We showed up at the Department of Public Safety (DPS) office and were first of all pleasantly surprised that their hours of operation for that day were 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM (now, that is only on Thursdays, but still, that is better than the office in NC which closes at 5:00 PM everyday). We then waited in a short line to be informed that since we own a vehicle, we needed to get our vehicle registered BEFORE we could get our driver licences (I'm not sure what you do if you do not have a vehicle). THEN we could come back, and provided we brought our old driver licences, social security cards, and birth certificates or passports (in my case my green card), we could get a new licence without having to take a written or practice test (and the people rejoiced greatly, for I hate to study for those written tests).

So, we headed to the Tarrant County Tax Assessor Office to get our vehicle registered. After waiting a few minutes for our number to be to called, the lady kindly informed us that we needed to have our vehicle inspected BEFORE we could register our vehicle. When we mentioned that it would have been nice if the lady at DPS had told us that, the lady at the Tax Office answered that unfortunately the DPS always tells people to go see them first.

We then headed to get our car inspected. It passed, praise God, but by the time they were done, it was too late to get any of the rest done.

Here is the lesson: when you move to TX, FIRST get your car inspected, SECOND get your car registered, and THIRD get your driver licence.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ordination - Intro

It is a clear Fall Sunday afternoon in the parking lot of the facility for First Baptist Nowhere, several cars are pulling in. Distinguished men dressed in suits exit their cars, Bible in hand. One, two, three, ... it seems that most of the pastors of the local association have answered the invitation. After a couple of handshakes and a few greetings, they enter the building and all gather in a room. The door is shut swiftly. A few hours later, the door opens again and the pastors emerge through it, smiling and leading a young gentleman to the sanctuary. There, a service is soon to take place: an ordination service. After some songs and a commissioning sermon, the ordination council will present the young man as a candidate for ordination. They will proceed to lay their hands on this young man, and they will congratulate him. The excitement in the crowd will be mixed. Many will see this as a happy occasion, God has called yet another believer to “the ministry,” but several will not really understand what just happened before their very eyes.

Rarely explained, often controversial, the concept of ordination is one which, in this day and age, has resulted in much ink being spilt [1]. Yet, not withstanding all the books and articles which have been written, there still seems to be little cohesion among different traditions as to the purpose and meaning of ordination, and even in the Free Church tradition, different groups historically have understood ordination in different ways. Since the term ordination is not found in Scripture, our task cannot be to see how the term is used in Scripture, but has to be to answer the following question: does the New Testament support the concept of ordination? In light of the answer to this first question, a second question will also be addressed: what is ordination and what are its characteristics? To accomplish this, this series of posts will use the following approach: the data will be presented with a minimum of analysis; next, the data will be analyzed and the analysis summarized; finally, a proposal will be presented based on this summary.

[1] The number of volumes written on ordination is great and their approach and scope varied. As if the topic were not unsettled enough, recently the topic of ordaining women has caused many to examine the concept of ordination yet again, resulting in at least three entire journal issues dedicated to the topic in the last three decades: see Review and Expositor 78.4 (Fall 1981), Contents 23.3 (July 1988), and Perspective in Religious Studies 29.3 (Fall 2002); in addition to other articles in journals and books: see Paige Patterson, “The Meaning of Authority in the Local Church,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), 251-264, or Vera Sinton, “Called, Gifted, and Authorized – An Anglican Woman’s Perspective,” in Anyone for Ordination?, ed. Paul Beasley-Murray (Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England: MARC, 1993), 137-156, for just two examples among a plethora.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Things we learned about Texas - Intro

We have now been in Texas for over three months. In a limited time here, we have discovered several interesting things about this state: some interesting, some annoying, and some just plain humorous. So, I figured that I would share some of these in a new series: "Things we learned about Texas."

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