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Archive for June, 2008

I would like to suggest an understanding of an Old Testament passage which is dependent upon a discussion in an earlier blog entry which can be found here. Quite simply, that discussion considered a peculiar Hebrew idiom, the most familiar expression of which is the numerical proverbs found occasionally in the book of Proverbs.  It is my persuasion that this idiosyncratic literary device – foreign to the modern reader and thus easily overlooked – is very probably the key to one of the most cryptic verses in the Old Testament.  That verse is 1 Samuel 13:1.  It is almost universally concluded that the verse as it stands is incoherent, that in order to make sense of the verse some digits must be added.  That conclusion is drawn not on the basis of textual evidence but of “content analysis.”  Could it be that the problem arises from missing a nuance familiar and important to the Hebrew reader, but all too foreign to the modern reader.  The possibility is explored here.

 

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Recently a friend posed a question relating to the story of the palsied man lowered through the roof in Capernaum (Mt 9:1-8), and specifically to Jesus’ offer of forgiveness in that pericope.  Basically, the question had to do with the apparent incongruity of a man offering forgiveness.  The question included the suggestion (rejected by the interrogator) that in that act of forgiveness, Jesus acted only in His deity and not in His humanity.  The question broached some issues that I encounter now and again, and which I believe are worthy of clarification.  Thus I have waxed bold to record my response in this place.

 

First, we would all concur that in His incarnation – in taking upon Himself all of the real limitations intrinsic to unfallen humanity – Jesus never surrendered anything of His deity.  Thus, though fully man, the God-Man Jesus was fully God, and thus could (and did) claim for Himself the sublime prerogative of forgiving sins.  Indeed, that is the point of the narrative in Mt 9:1-8.  The record is explicit that it was “…in order that [Jesus’ detractors] might know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” that “He said to the sick of palsy, ‘Get up, pick up your bed, and go home!’”  In short, though He was man very man, Jesus knew full well that He was God very God, and thus that even “on earth” He possessed the authority to forgive those who believed.  (continued)

 

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