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UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book IX – Chapters 7 – 13

Clergymen bow and touch relics of Lebanese St. Rafqa as they are displayed for visitors on Nov. 6, 2014, at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Easton.

 

Today, we concluded the autobiographical portion of Augustine’s Confessions.  Most colleges courses covering this book would normally stop here, but we will continue with the rest of the books.

It is interesting, as one person put it, that when he went seminary in his late 30’s, he was surrounded by young 20-year olds straight out of college.  When it came to reading Augustine’s Confessions, many of the young people found it a bit boring and less applicable; however, the handful of older people in the class felt a deeper connection while reading the book because they went through the same struggles, experiences, and questions as Augustine had but afraid to share them with others.  So I guess when you re-read Confessions later on in your life, the deeper the connection you feel with Augustine.

We discussed whether or not traditional “biblical” gender roles still apply till this day, as well as how Protestants uphold the doctrine of Sola Scriptura  and some problems it has in today’s context; the use and abuse of relics in the Church in history; Augustine’s Neoplatonic view of the afterlife after his vision or epiphany with his mother Monica; and Mike (not written here) talked about whether or not salvation was conditional or unconditional – the Bible seems ambivalent in some respects with the issue.

Our essays can be found here.

 

 

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“Confessions” – Book IX: Chapters 1 – 6

Baptism of St. Augustine of Hippo, from a fresco cycle of the Life of St. Augustine, 1465 by Benozzo De Lesse Gozzoli, c. 1420 – 97, Italian

 

 

For this Sunday we will cover Book IX  Chapters 1 – 6 of Confessions.

 

In this book he ties up his autobiographical story by telling the aftermath of his conversion, in particular, the events leading up to his baptism.

 

He describes his stay in the fall and winter months of 386 at the country estate of his friend Vercundus at Cassiciacum near Milan.  This provided Augustine and his friends a quiet place of withdrawal as they prepared for baptism that coming Easter. While there, Augustine wrote a series of dialogues based on the conversations he was having with his friends there.  These writings (On the Happy Life, Against the Academics, On Order, Soliloquies) show that he was working out some of the solutions to his theological problems.

 

By the end of Chapter 6, he, along with his son Aeodatus and friend Alypius get baptized together.

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UPDATE: Essays on Jesus’ Conception and Virgin Birth

 

Image of the “spark” of conception, a physical reaction recently observed when sperm meets an egg.  The flash you see in the upper right is actually made of zinc, and its brightness could indicate the strength of fertilization.  Research done at Northwestern University.

 

This past Sunday we discussed the virginity (including the perpetual virginity) of Mary, mother of Jesus, and how Aristotelian philosophy shaped Greco-Roman, Jewish, and the Gospel writers and the New Testament writers in general on how they understood human conception, and how this thought contributed to the understanding of Jesus’ conception and identity.

These essays were based on an article written by Andrew Lincoln titled “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time” that appeared in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue of Biblical Archeology Review.

 

 

A Look Into Jesus’ Conception

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.biblicalarchaeology.org/wp-content/uploads/lorenzo-lotto-nga.jpg

“The Nativity”, Lorenzo Lotto (1480 – 1556/57), 1523, oil on panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

 

This week, we will take a mini-break from Confessions and discuss the topic of the Virgin birth and Christology.

 

We will be going over an article from the November/December 2014 issue of Biblical Archeology Review titled “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time” by Andrew Lincoln.  A brief synopsis of the article can be found here; for the complete article you have to order from the website.

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UPDATE: “Confessions” Book VIII – Chapters 1 – 6

 

How pagan are modern-day church services today?  Have church services been pagan all along?

 

Here are our essays on Book VIII – Chapters 1 – 6 of Augustine’s Confessions.

We discussed the implications of delayed gratification, the pagan elements and origins of the Catholic Mass and Protestant services, the life of Anthony the Great and whether or not Christ calls us to a life of asceticism.

 

 

The Evolution of Satan

Statue of Satan at the Satanic Temple in Detroit, MI.

Statue of Satan at the Satanic Temple in Detroit, MI.

 

Great article and post on the development of Satan/the Devil in Judeo-Christian thought and theology through the centuries over at isthatinthebible.wordpress.com.

Highly fascinating.

“Princes of Darkness: The Devil’s Many Faces in Scripture and Tradition”

What Does it Mean to be “Saved?”

 

 

When you ask your average Christian or evangelical what salvation means, more likely than not, he or she will respond with, “Jesus Christ died for your sins so that you will enter heaven after death, escape from the fires of hell, and instead spend eternity with Him.”  And normally, they would equate that statement to be the basic meaning of the gospel.

 

However, that seems to be a very parochial understanding of the term ‘salvation’.

 

What did the Bible writers, especially the author of the Gospel of Luke, mean by the term ‘salvation’ or what it means to be ‘saved’?

 

Here’s an essay about the term ‘salvation’ here.

 

 

Site Update: New Sub-Menu – “Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics”

 

 

 

Since 2006, I have studied in depth the art and discipline of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics as both a student and a tutor to lay persons over the years.

 

It has been a tremendous blessing and life-changing journey to go through the Bible in a serious and thorough way.

 

I have included a new sub-menu category under the “Biblical Studies” menu on top titled “Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics” which covers a span from 2006 – 2014.

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Did Jesus Have a Wife? – The “Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus

 

King & Papyrus

Karen King of Harvard Divinity School holding up the “Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus

 

Be very cautious of sensationalist claims and findings on biblical archeology reported by the media firsthand.

 

 How the ‘Jesus’ Wife’ Hoax Fell Apart – Wall Street Journal online – May 1, 2014

 

 

Predestination/Election – A Biblical Perspective

 

predestination 266x300 Predestination and salvation

What does this mean? Is this interpretation even in the Bible?

 

Since the group will be encountering John Calvin very soon in MacCulloch’s book, I thought I’d get a head start and write about one of the most famous and also controversial doctrines of the Protestant/Reformed theology – predestination or election.

 

It’s definitely a hot potato topic and if you want to rile up a bunch of Christians and see some heated conversations, just introduce the topic of predestination, sit back, enjoy, and watch the sparks fly.

 

Well, here’s my entry into this eternal theological boxing ring for all its worth.

 

Also, as you’ll see, it’s listed on a new sub-menu called “Reformed Theology” under “Theology” at the top menu bar.

 

Though I know what I present won’t be a novel position by any means, it did give me pause to think when I first read it in Eugene Boring and Fred Cradock’s The People’s New Testament Commentary (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004).

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic as well, so please do share if you have any.