The Literature and History of the New Testament (1915) [Lesson 6]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Messiah


A) About the author of the chapter:

John Gresham Machen “studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906 he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary …

He left Princeton in 1929, after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

The promised king of David’s line at last has come. Acts 2 : 30; II Sam. 7 : 12, 13; Ps. 89 : 3, 4; 132 : 11. And David’s son is David’s Lord—David’s Lord and ours. Acts 2 : 34, 35; Ps. 110 : 1; compare Matt. 22 : 41-46.[1]

1. The New  Testament Appeal to Prophecy

“This speech of Peter [in Acts 2:17-21] is typical of the preaching of the early Church. The appeal to prophecy was absolutely central in the presentation of the gospel.”[2]

“Israel had looked not merely for a king, but also for a prophet and a priest. Peter, after his first arrest, for example, could appeal to the notable prophecy of Deuteronomy: “A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me.” Acts 3 : 22; Deut. 18 : 15, 19. The author of Hebrews could appeal to the priest after the order of Melchizedek, Heb. 5:6; Ps. 110 : 4, and to the symbolic sacrifices of the temple which found their fulfillment on Calvary.”[3]

“What Old Testament passages has Paul here in mind [in 1 Corinthians 15]? With regard to the death for our sins, the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was probably in his mind. That passage was being read by the Ethiopian when Philip met him, and Philip made the passage a basis for preaching about Jesus. Acts 8:27-35. With regard to the resurrection, it is natural to think of Ps. 16 : 10. Paul himself quoted that passage in his speech at Pisidian Antioch. Acts 13 : 34-37.”[4]

“The appeal to prophecy did not begin with the apostles. It was initiated by Jesus himself. “To-day,” said Jesus at Nazareth after the reading of Isa. 61 : 1, 2, “hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears.””[5]

2. The Messianic Hope A Preparation for the Gospel

“When the gospel was preached to pure Gentiles, a great deal of preliminary labor had to be done. Under what title should the claims of the Saviour be presented? “Christ” to the Gentiles was almost meaningless, till explained. “Son of God” was open to sad misconception. There were “sons of God” in Greek mythology, but they were not what the early Christians meant to show that Jesus was.”[6]

“In the synagogues, ” Christ” was no new term, and no new conception. In the synagogues, one proposition needed first to be proved, ” This Jesus … is the Christ.” Acts 17 : 3. If that were proved, then the rest would follow.”[7]

“It will be remembered that the synagogues attracted not merely Jews but also Gentiles. The Gentile “God-fearers,” as well as the Jews, were acquainted with the Messianic hope. Even the Gentile mission, therefore, was prepared for by the prophets of Israel.”[8]

Continue reading “The Literature and History of the New Testament (1915) [Lesson 6]”

The Lord’s Prayer (Part 1)

Verse: Matthew 6:9

A) English Translations


KJV: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name

NASB: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name

NLT: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy

B) Greek

Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· 

ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου





C) Observations

Our Father

Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999)

    • “… Jesus predicates [the prayer] on the basis of an intimate relationship with God: “Father.” This is a relationship that denotes both respectful dependence and affectionate intimacy as well as obedience. One must understand what God’s “fatherhood” would have meant to most of Jesus’ hearers. In first century Jewish Palestine, children were powerless social dependents and fathers were viewed as strong providers and examples on whom their children could depend (in contrast to many homes in Western society; cf. 7:7-11; Heb. 12:5-11).”[1]
    • “The Hebrew Bible recognized God as Israel’s father by adoption in redemption (Jeremias 1964b: 12), and Jewish literature in general continued this tradition (e.g., Wis 2:16; 3 Macc 5:7; 7:6), also in prayer, though in a relatively restrained manner. (3 Macc 6:8; Jeremias 1964b: 15-16; idem 1965: 14). But the form of synagogue Judaism we know from later rabbinic literature commonly calls God “our Father in heaven” (m. Sota 9:15; t. Ber. 3:14; B. Qam. 7:6; Hag. 2:1; Pe’a 4:21 …)”[2]

Grant R. Osborne, Matthew (Zondervan Academic, 2010)

    • “The address is highly theological. “Our Father” is Greek for the Aramaic Abba and does have parallels in Jewish prayers (m. Sotah 9:15; t. Ber. 3:14), with the “our” showing it is especially a community prayer, meant for the life of the church.”[3]
    • “The regular use of Abba, especially in its absolute form “Father” characterised Jesus’ prayers and was his great contribution to Jewish prayer theology which tended to be more formal. Abba brings in the centrality of the relationship between father and children; we share Jesus’ sonship in his special filial relationship to his “Father.””[4]

Robert H. Gundry, Commentary on Matthew (Baker Academic, 2011)

    • “”Our,” “us,” and “we” make the prayer communal, but in view of the petition for daily bread (6:11) probably communal for families in their daily prayers rather more than for praying with other Christians less frequently in church meetings.”
    • “In accord with the emphasis on God’s being the Father of Jesus’ disciples (5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 4, 6, 8 and so on), “Father” is the name of God that’s to be held as sacred, that is, as inviolable, not to be profaned or maligned but to be held in deepest reverence. “Father” goes back to the Aramaic “Abba” (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), which means something like “Dadda” or “Daddy” except that it remained in use during adulthood for addressing one’s father, so that after childhood it didn’t continue having the sound of baby talk.”

In the heavens

Grant R. Osborne, Matthew (Zondervan Academic, 2010)

    • “The addition of “in heaven” tells us of God’s transcendence and sovereign power (it is found twenty times in Matthew with “Father” and only Mark 11:25 elsewhere in the Synoptics) …”[5]

Robert H. Gundry, Commentary on Matthew (Baker Academic, 2011)

    • “”The one in the heaven” not only distinguishes God “our Father” from our earthly fathers. It also points to his high majesty as a counterbalance to the familiarity of his fatherhood.”

Hallowed be Your name

Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999)

    • “Although many profaned God’s name – his honor – in this present age (acting as if it were unholy, Ex 20:7; Jer 34:16; Ezek 29:14), God would see to it that his name would be hallowed in the coming time of the kingdom (Is 5:16; 29:23; Ezek 38:23; 39:7, 27; 1QM 11.15; cf. Zech 14:9 with Deut 6:4), just as God had sanctified his name when he had acted in the past (e.g., 1QM 17:2).”[6]
    • “A benediction in one standard Jewish prayer acknowledged the holiness of God’s name in the present (the Amida – m. Rosh Hash. 4:5; Sifra Emor par.; cf. Bowman 1977: 328), but Jesus’ prayer, like the Kiddish (cited above; cf. Sanders 1985: 7-8; Deut. Rab. 7:6), years for the day when God’s name alone will be hallowed, that is sanctified or shown holy, special above every other name.”[7]
    • “Yet Jesus’ Jewish hearers would have understood the implications of the prayer for present existence as well, for one could ask with integrity for the future hallowing of God’s name only if one lived in the present as if one valued it.”[8]
    • “Acts of charity or otherwise seeing to it that God’s will is carried out in the world sanctifies God’s name; disobeying God’s will or misrepresenting it through false teaching profanes it (e.g., m. ‘Abot 1:11; Num. Rab. 7:5; 8:4; Pesiq. R. 22:2; Moore 1971: 2:104-5).”[9]

Grant R. Osborne, Matthew (Zondervan Academic, 2010)

    • “The first God-oriented petition is that the sacredness of God’s name be magnified in every area of life. In the ancient world a person’s name bespoke the very essence of the person (see on 1:21), so God’s name tells who he is at the core of his being.”[10]
    • “There are two aspects of this: that God will make his holiness manifest throughout the world, and that we will honor his name in everything that we do … This reflects the inaugurated thrust, for the sacredness of his name will not be truly triumphant until the eschaton arrives, and yet it must be visible to all in the lives of his people.”[11]

[1] p.216

[2] p.217

[3] p.227

[4] pp.227-228

[5] p.228

[6] p.219

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] p.228

[11] Ibid.

Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 9]

“This Epistle consists of two clearly marked but very unequal parts, viz, the doctrinal (1:1—11:36) and the practical part (12:1—16: 27).”

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Epistle of Romans


A) About the author of the chapter:

Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …

In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …

In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:


“This Epistle consists of two clearly marked but very unequal parts, viz, the doctrinal (1:1—11:36) and the practical part (12:1—16: 27).”[footnote]p.77[/footnote]

“I. The Doctrinal Part, 1: 1—11: 36. In this part we have first the introduction, containing the address, the customary thanksgiving and prayer, and an expression of the apostles desire to preach the gospel also at Rome, 1: 1-15.

In the following two verses the apostle states his theme: “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith,” 1:16, 17.

After announcing this he describes the sinful state of the Gentiles, points out that the Jews are likewise guilty, and declares that their prerogatives do not exempt them from punishment but rather increase their guilt, 1: 18—3: 20.

He then defines the righteousness which God has provided without the works of the law, and proves that this is revealed in the Old Testament, is the basis of a Christian experience that is rich in spiritual fruits, and proceeds on the same principle of moral government on which God dealt with Adam, 3:21—5 : 21.

Next he replies to the objections that on his doctrine men may continue in sin and yet be saved; that his teaching releases men from moral obligation; and that it makes the law of God an evil thing, 6:1—7:25.

In the following chapter he shows that on the basis of man’s justification by faith his complete sanctification and final glorification is assured, 8:1-39.

Having stated the way of salvation through faith, he now points out that this does not conflict with the promises given to Israel by showing that these pertained only to the elect among them; that the rejection of Israel is due to their refusal of the way of salvation; that it is not a complete rejection; and that in the end the Jews will be converted and will turn to God, 9:1—11: 36.”[footnote]p.77[/footnote]

“II. The Practical Part, 12:1—16: 27. The apostle admonishes the Christians at Rome that they be devoted to God and love one another, 12:1-21. He desires that they willingly subject themselves to the civil authorities and meet all their obligations, 13:1-14. He enjoins upon them due regard for the weakness of others in matters of indifference, and the proper use of their Christian liberty, 14:1-23. Then he holds up to them Christ as their great example, and speaks of his purpose to visit Rome, 15: 1-33. Finally he sends a long list of greetings to Rome and closes his epistle with a doxology, 16:1-27.”[footnote]p.77[/footnote]

Continue reading “Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 9]”

List of Non-Calvinist Theologians

The following are theologians, listed alphabetically, who are non-Calvinist in their soteriology. They may, and most probably do, differ on other areas of theology but at least in soteriology, they do not hold to what is commonly known as the Doctrines of Grace or TULIP.[footnote]For more on what Calvinism espouses, see


    • Adam Clarke
    • Adam Harwood
    • Adrian Rogers
    • A W Tozer


    • Balthasar Hubmaier
    • Ben Witherington III
    • Brian Abasciano


    • Charles Finney
    • Charles Swindoll
    • Chuck Smith
    • Clark Pinnock
    • C S Lewis
    • Craig Evans
    • Craig Keener


    • Daniel Steele
    • Daniel Whedon
    • Daniel Whitby
    • Dave Hunt
    • David Allen
    • David Arthur DeSilva
    • David Bentley Hart
    • David Pawson
    • Dwight L Moody




    • Frank Turek
    • Frédéric Louis Godet
    • Fred Sanders


    • Gareth Cockerill
    • George Eldon Ladd
    • George Fox
    • G K Chesterton
    • Gordon Fee
    • Grant Osborne
    • Greg Boyd


    • Harry Ironside
    • H. Ray Dunning
    • Henry Thiessen
    • Herschel Hobbs


    • Ian Howard Marshall


    • Jack Cottrell
    • Jacob Arminius
    • J P Moreland
    • Jason E. Vickers
    • Jerry Walls
    • Jerry Vines
    • John Fletcher
    • John Goodwin
    • John Horn
    • John Lennox
    • John Miley
    • John Sanders
    • John Wesley
    • Jordan Cooper
    • Joseph Benson
    • Joseph Kenneth Grider
    • Joseph R Dongell
    • J Vernon McGee


    • Keith D. Stanglin
    • Kenneth Keathley
    • Kirk MacGregor


    • Leighton Flowers
    • Leonard Ravenhill
    • Leroy Forlines


    • Malcolm Yarnell
    • Matthew Pinson
    • Michael Brown
    • Michael Heiser
    • Mildred Bangs Wynkoop
    • Miner Raymond


    • Nathan Bangs
    • Norman Geisler[footnote]Geisler refers to himself as a Calvinist but his works reflect a more non-Calvinist view of soteriology[/footnote]




    • Paige Patterson
    • Philip H. Towner




    • Randolph S. Foster
    • Ravi Zacharias
    • Richard Lenski
    • Richard Watson
    • Robert Picirilli
    • Robert Shank
    • Robert W Wall
    • Roger Forster
    • Roger Olson


    • Scot McKnight
    • Stanley Horton
    • Steve Gregg


    • Thomas Helwys
    • Thomas McCall
    • Thomas N. Ralston
    • Thomas Oden
    • Thomas Osmond Summers
    • Tim Mackie




    • Vic Reasoner


    • Wallie Criswell
    • William Burt Pope
    • William Greathouse
    • William L Lane
    • William Lane Craig
    • William Klein







Editor’s Note: The list is not meant to be exhaustive and will be updated periodically.

The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 9]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]



A) About the author of the chapter:

George Foot Moore “graduated from Yale College in 1872 and from Union Theological Seminary in 1877, in 1878 Moore was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry and until 1883 was pastor of the Putnam Presbyterian Church, Zanesville, Ohio.

He was Hitchcock professor of the Hebrew language and literature at Andover Theological Seminary, 1883–1902. In 1902 he became professor of theology and in 1904 professor of the history of religion at Harvard University.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

“The Book of Judges falls into three parts, namely, (1) Judg. i. 1-ii. 5, which intrudes, as has already been observed, between the close of Joshua and its immediate sequel in Judges ii. 6 ff.; (2) Judg. ii. 6-xvi. 31, stories of a succession of champions and deliverers of Israel in the centuries preceding the establishment of the kingdom; (3) Judg. 17-18; 19-21, two additional stories laid in the time of the Judges. In the Christian Bibles the story of Ruth, which also is said to have occurred in the days of the Judges, follows.”[footnote]p.81[/footnote]

“Another feature of the book is the systematic chronology in which the frequency of the numbers twenty, forty, and eighty (forty years being in the Old Testament equivalent to a generation) at once strikes the attention; see iii. 11, 30; iv. 3; v. 31; viii. 28; xiii. 1; xv. 20 (xvi. 31). In several other instances the figures vary a little on either side of twenty (eighteen, twenty-two, etc.).”[footnote]p.82[/footnote]

“The duration of the oppression is given in the introduction of the story; the period of peace and prosperity which succeeded the deliverance, at the end; see, e.g., iv. 3; v. 31. In the same way the life of Moses is divided into three parts of forty years each; Eli judged Israel forty years; David and Solomon each reigned forty years. It can hardly be doubted that this chronology is artificial, and that the key to it is found in 1 Kings vi. 1, which reckons four hundred and eighty years (i.e. twelve generations) from the exodus to the building of Solomon’s temple; but the actual figures in Judges and Samuel do not foot up to this sum, and there are some gaps in the series, namely, the years of Joshua after the conquest, the rule of Samuel, and that of Saul. The symmetry of the scheme has been broken by intrusions or accidental omissions in the later history of the book.”[footnote]pp.82-83[/footnote]

“About the oppressions the author of Judges had clearly no information independent of what he extracted from the stories of the deliverances in his sources. In accordance with his theory of national sin and national disaster he converted what are in the stories themselves local conflicts, involving particular tribes or regions, into oppressions and deliverances of all Israel; where the story tells of raids by the Midianites, for example, the introduction gives them the Amalekites and the Eastern Bedouins for allies, and extends the devastation these wrought across the whole country to the neighbourhood of Gaza. The exaggeration of the evils and the emphasizing of the moral, as in other cases, invited later editors to amplifications in the same spirit. Of the heroes who delivered Israel from its oppressors the author made a succession of dictators (“judges”), who differed from the kings after them chiefly in that their office was not hereditary, and to most of them he gives in his chronology a long reign.”[footnote]pp.83-84[/footnote]

“The stories recount the exploits of local or tribal heroes, and doubtless represent the traditions of the regions or tribes concerned; with the union of the tribes under the kingdom, however, these traditions became the common property of the nation, and more than one writer made collections of them. As in the patriarchal legends, two strands may be distinguished, which have such affinities with the Judæan and the Israelite histories in the Hexateuch respectively that they are naturally regarded as the continuations of J and E.”[footnote]pp.85-86[/footnote]

“Judges i. 1-ii. 5, as has been pointed out above, is foreign to the connection in which it stands, and can only have been introduced there by a late compiler or editor. It is a remnant of the most historical, and presumably the oldest, account of the establishment of the tribes in western Palestine. That, in completer form, it had originally a place in the Judæan history (J) is unquestioned, and in that work it may have been closely followed by stories of exploits such as those of Ehud, Barak, Gideon. Inasmuch as it contradicted the theory of the complete conquest and extermination of the Canaanites, it was left out of the works which described the conquest in that way, but scraps of it were subsequently introduced in Joshua, and finally the whole restored in its present position. It is easily seen that the recurring apostasies into Canaanite heathenism, as well as such stories as those of Deborah and Barak and of Abimelech, assume that the Canaanites had not been killed off to the last man, but, on the contrary, were very much alive; and, in fact, the authors of Judg. ii. 20-iii. 4 feel the necessity of explaining why God had allowed these heathen to survive.”[footnote]pp.88-89[/footnote]

“The historical value of the stories in Judges is very great. However large the element of legendary embellishment may be in them, they give us a picture of the social and religious conditions in the period preceding the founding of the kingdom which has an altogether different reality from the narratives of the exodus and the wanderings.”[footnote]p.89[/footnote]

Jewish Theology Systematically and Historically Considered (1918) [Chapter 6]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Revelation, Prophecy, and Inspiration


A) About the author of the chapter:

Kaufman Kohler “… was educated at the Universities of Munich, Berlin and Leipzig, (1865-69), and received the degree of Ph.D. from the University of Erlangen in 1868.” [1]

“Feb. 26, 1903, he was elected to the presidency of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati.” [2]



B) Chapter Summary:

“Divine revelation signifies two different things: first, God’s self-revelation, which the Rabbis called Gilluy Shekinah, “the manifestation of the divine Presence,” and, second, the revelation of His will, for which they used the term Torah min ha Shamayim, “the Law as emanating from God.””[footnote]p.34[/footnote]

“Scripture ascribes such revelations to non-Israelites as well as to the patriarchs and prophets of Israel,—to Abimelek and Laban, Balaam, Job, and Eliphaz. Therefore the Jewish prophet is not distinguished from the rest by the capability to receive divine revelation, but rather by the intrinsic nature of the revelation which he receives. His vision comes from a moral God.”[footnote]p.35[/footnote]

“In speaking through them, God appeared actually to have stepped into the sphere of human life as its moral Ruler. This self-revelation of God as the Ruler of man in righteousness, which must be viewed in the life of any prophet as a providential act, forms the great historical sequence in the history of Israel, upon which rests the Jewish religion”[footnote]p.36[/footnote]

“The divine revelation in Israel was by no means a single act, but a process of development, and its various stages correspond to the degrees of culture of the people. For this reason the great prophets also depended largely upon dreams and visions, at least in their consecration to the prophetic mission, when one solemn act was necessary.”[footnote]p.36[/footnote]

“The story of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai is in reality the revelation of God to the people of Israel as part of the great world-drama of history. Accordingly, the chief emphasis is laid upon the miraculous element, the descent of the Lord to the mountain in fire and storm, amid thunder and lightning, while the Ten Words themselves were proclaimed by Moses as God’s herald. As a matter of fact, the first words of the narrative state its purpose, the consecration of the Jewish people at the outset of their history to be a nation of prophets and priests. Therefore the rabbis lay stress upon the acceptance of the Law by the people in saying: “All that the Lord sayeth we shall do and hearken.” From a larger point of view, we see here the dramatized form of the truth of Israel’s election by divine Providence for its historic religious mission.”[footnote]pp.36-37[/footnote]

“The rabbis ascribed the gifts of prophecy to pagans as well as Israelites at least as late as the erection of the Tabernacle, after which the Divine Presence dwelt there in the midst of Israel. They say that each of the Jewish prophets was endowed with a peculiar spiritual power that corresponded with his character and his special training, the highest, of course, being Moses, whom they called “the father of the prophets.””[footnote]p.37[/footnote]

“The medieval Jewish thinkers, following the lead of Mohammedan philosophers or theologians, regard revelation quite differently, as an inner process in the mind of the prophet. According to their mystical or rationalistic viewpoint, they describe it as the result of the divine spirit, working upon the soul either from within or from without. These two standpoints betray either the Platonic or the Aristotelian influence. Indeed, the rabbis themselves showed traces of neo-Platonism when they described the ecstatic state of the prophets, or when they spoke of the divine spirit speaking through the prophet as through a vocal instrument, or when they made distinctions between seeing the Deity “in a bright mirror” or “through a dark glass.””[footnote]pp.37-38[/footnote]

“Except for the five books of Moses, the idea of a mechanical inspiration of the Bible is quite foreign to Judaism. Not until the second Christian century did the rabbis finally decide on such questions as the inspiration of certain books among the Hagiographa or even among the Prophets, or whether certain books now excluded from the canon were not of equal rank with the canonical ones.89 In fact, the influence of the holy spirit was for some time ascribed, not only to Biblical writers, but also to living masters of the law. The fact is that divine influence cannot be measured by the yardstick or the calendar. Where it is felt, it bursts forth as from a higher world, creating for itself its proper organs and forms. The rabbis portray God as saying to Israel, “Not I in My higher realm, but you with your human needs fix the form, the measure, the time, and the mode of expression for that which is divine.””[footnote]pp.40-41[/footnote]

“[Judaism] claims its own prophetic truth as the revelation, admits the title Books of Revelation (Bible) only for its own sacred writings, and calls the Jewish nation alone the People of Revelation. The Church and the Mosque achieved great things in propagating the truths of the Sinaitic revelation among the nations, but added to it no new truths of an essential nature. Indeed, they rather obscured the doctrines of God’s unity and holiness. On the other hand, the people of the Sinaitic revelation looked to it with a view of ever revitalizing the dead letter, thus evolving ever new rules of life and new ideas, without ever placing new and old in opposition, as was done by the founder of the Church. Each generation was to take to heart the words of Scripture as if they had come “this very day” out of the mouth of the Lord.”[footnote]p.41[/footnote]


The Literature and History of the New Testament (1915) [Lesson 5]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Jewish Background of Christianity: II. The Judaism of the Dispersion


A) About the author of the chapter:

John Gresham Machen “studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906 he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary …

He left Princeton in 1929, after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

“Any Jew who really had a message could be heard. He needed only to go in and sit down. Acts 13:14. Paul and Barnabas had no difficulty in making their fitness known. “Brethren,” said the rulers of the synagogue, “if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” Acts 13:15. They had a word of exhortation indeed. “Jesus is the Messiah for whom you are waiting. He has died for your sins. He has risen from the dead, and is now alive to save you.”[footnote]p.26[/footnote]

“The native Jews, it is true, soon came out in opposition. The reasons for their opposition are not far to seek. Jealousy was an important factor. Christianity was evidently too radical a thing to be simply a sect of Judaism. If allowed to continue, it would destroy the prerogatives of Israel. It could not be controlled. Its success was too great. On that next Sabbath in Pisidian Antioch, “almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God.” The Jewish mission had never had a success like that. “When the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy.” Christianity had taken away the heritage of Israel.”[footnote]p.27[/footnote]

“One service which the dispersion rendered to Christianity has been illustrated by the scene at Pisidian Antioch. That service was the providing of an audience. Another service was the assurance of legal protection. This may be illustrated by another incident in The Acts—the appeal to Gallio. Acts 18:12-17. There the opposition of the Jews appears in all its bitterness. No doubt that opposition was a serious hindrance to the work of the Church. Just because Christianity was regarded as a Jewish sect, the Christians were subject to persecution by the Jewish authorities. But persecutions by the Jews, annoying though they were, were far less serious than opposition on the part of the Roman authorities. And the latter was, at first, conspicuously absent. Gallio’s decision is a fair example of the general attitude of the Roman magistrates. Christianity, as a Jewish sect, was allowed to go its way. Judaism, despite itself, afforded the Church legal protection.”[footnote]p.28[/footnote]

1. The Causes and Extent of the Disperstion

“Deportations of Jews to foreign countries took place at various times. The most famous of those deportations was carried out by Nebuchadnezzar after his conquest of Judah, about 600 B. C. Many of Nebuchadnezzar’s captives did not join in the return under the Persian monarchy, but remained permanently in the east and formed the nucleus of the large Jewish population of Mesopotamia. When Pompey conquered Palestine in the first century before Christ, he carried many Jews as slaves to Rome. Afterwards they were liberated, and formed a large Jewish colony at the capital of the empire. These are merely examples. Part of the dispersion was due to forcible exile.”[footnote]p.28[/footnote]

“Harnack calculates that at the time of the death of Augustus there were from four million to four and a half million Jews in the Roman Empire, including about seven hundred thousand in Palestine, and that, if that estimate be correct, then the Jews formed perhaps some seven per cent of the total population. Of course, Harnack is himself the first to admit that such calculations are exceedingly uncertain. But so much at least is clear—the Jews in the first century were surprisingly numerous.”[footnote]p.29[/footnote]

2. The Septuagint Translation and the Language of the New Testament

“The name “Septuagint,” derived from the Latin word for “seventy,” has been applied to the Alexandrian translation of the Old Testament in reference to an ancient story about its origin. According to this story, the translation was made by seventy-two men summoned from Jerusalem by Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, in order to add the Jewish law to the royal library at Alexandria. The story is certainly not true in details, and is probably not even correct in representing the translation as destined primarily for the royal library. More probably the translation was intended for the Greek-speaking Jews of Egypt.”[footnote]p.29[/footnote]

“The Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek world language of the period, and into the popular, spoken form of that language, not into the literary form. The translation differs widely in character in the different books, for many different translators had a part in it. Some of the books are translated with such slavish literalness as to be almost unintelligible to a Greek. Everywhere, indeed, the influence of the Hebrew original makes itself felt to some degree. Hebrew idioms are often copied in the translation instead of being remolded according to the peculiarities of the Greek language.”[footnote]p.29[/footnote]

“The Septuagint exerted an important influence upon the language of the New Testament. The Septuagint was the Greek Bible of the New Testament writers, and the influence of a Bible upon language is very strong. A good example is afforded by the influence of the King James Version upon the whole development of modern English. It is not surprising, therefore, that as the Septuagint was influenced by Hebrew, so the language of the New Testament also displays a Semitic coloring. That coloring was induced partly by the Septuagint, but it was also induced in other ways. Part of the New Testament, for example the words of Jesus, goes back ultimately to an Aramaic original. All the New Testament writers except one were Jews, and had spoken Aramaic as well as Greek. No wonder, then, that their Greek was influenced by the Semitic languages. This Semitic influence upon the language of the New Testament is not so great as was formerly supposed, but it cannot be ignored. The New Testament is written in the natural, non-literary form of the Greek world language. That is the main thing to be said. But upon this base is superposed an appreciable influence of Hebrew and Aramaic.”[footnote]pp.29-30[/footnote]