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    The essential difference between Strict Monotheism and JWs

    Saturday, March 12, 2011, 5:22 AM [General]

    Fra Angelico, Annunciation (El Prado, Madrid, Spain)

     

    At a superficial glance, it may seem that Strict Monotheism is saying more or less the same things that Jehovah's Witnesses affirm.

    Of course, both Jehovah's Witness and Strict Monotheism reject the doctrine of the "trinity", but we cannot gloss over the serious, and, I believe irreconcilable differences:

    Jehovah's Witness believe that Jesus Christ is a creature of God, perhaps God's first and most perfect creature (apparently one and the same as the Archangel  Michael), but still a creature, that pre-existed his incarnation. In this their position is virtually identical to that of Arius (ca. 250 - 336 AD) and Arianism.

    • Strict Monotheism affirms that Jesus Christ is NOT a creature of God, but, literally, His Son, the God-man, the Incarnation of God's eternal Word/Logos (John 1:1-18) generated by God's Holy Spirit from the Blessed Virgin Mary in a specific time and place (ca 6 BCE, Bethlehem), who, having been raised from the dead by God, the Father Almighty and "taken up" to heaven to sit at the Fathers right, has received by the Father a status (a "name") equal to the Father's (Phil 2:9-11).

    What really matters, anyway, is that our conscience is not divided, but that we all sincerely seek the Truth.

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    Did Jesus "rise" or did God, the Father "raise him from the dead"?

    Sunday, January 30, 2011, 7:38 AM [General]

    Some claim that Jesus "rose" from the dead by his own power. 

    The passage upon which they base this claim is this

    17 This is why the Father loves me – because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again. 18 No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This commandment I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18 - bolding MdS)

    Are they right?

    Let's see.

    First, John's Gospel is the only gospel that has Jesus "rise" from the dead (apparently ...) under his own power and not be "raised from the dead" by God as in Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul's Epistles, and Acts of the Apostles. So, it makes sense to say that John is the odd one out that needs explaining and harmonizing with all the others (if possible), rather than the other way round.

    Second, there is another verse in John's Gospel that is entirely equivalent to the above ...

    ... “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” (John 2:19)

    ... and, by explaining that, we'll also explain John 10:17-18.

    So, let's do precisely that.

    1. Jesus was speaking to the Jews after he had just turned over their tables and driven their animals out of the Temple. The Jews were angry and unbelieving, and Jesus was speaking in veiled terms, so much so that the Gospel of John has to add, “but he was speaking of the temple of his body,” (John 2:21) so the reader would not be confused. Since Jesus was standing in the actual Temple when he said, “Destroy this temple,” the natural assumption would be the one his audience made, that he was speaking of the Temple where he was standing at the time.

    2. The fact that Jesus was speaking in veiled terms to an unbelieving audience should make us hesitant to build a doctrine on this verse, especially when many other clear verses say that the Father raised Jesus. For example, in 1 Corinthians we read: “Now God indeed raised the Lord and he will [also] raise us by his power.” (1 Cor 6:14) Jesus was not in a teaching situation when he was speaking. Tempers were flaring and the Jews were against Jesus anyway. It was common for Jesus to speak in ways that unbelievers did not understand. Even a cursory reading of the Gospels will show a number of times when Jesus spoke and the unbelievers who heard him (and sometimes even the disciples) were confused by what he said.

    3. We know that Jesus was speaking in veiled terms, but what did he mean? He was referring to the fact that he was indeed ultimately responsible for his resurrection, in the sense that he was responsible to keep himself “without spot or blemish” and to fully obey the will of the Father. A sacrifice that was blemished was unacceptable to the Lord (Lev 22:17-20; Mal 1:6-8). If he had sinned, his sin would have been a “blemish” that would have disqualified him as the perfect sacrifice. Then he would not have kept himself worthy of being resurrected. Jesus went into the Temple and turned over the money tables because, as John 2:17 indicates, he was fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy and the will of God, which he always did. Had he not fulfilled the prophecy spoken in Psalm 69:9 ("Certainly zeal for your house consumes me; I endure the insults of those who insult you"), he would not have fulfilled all the law and would have been disqualified from being the perfect sacrificial victim  for the sins of mankind. Thus, his destiny was in his own hands, and he could say, “I will raise it up.”

    4. It is common speech that if a person has a vital role in something, he is referred to as having done it. We know that Roman soldiers crucified Jesus, as  the Gospels says. Yet Peter said to the rulers of the Jews, “you” crucified the Lord (Acts 5:30). The Jews played a vital part in Jesus’ crucifixion, so there really is a sense in which they crucified him, even though they themselves did not do the dirty work. A similar example from the Old Testament is in both 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 11. David and his men were attacking the Jebusite city, Jerusalem. The record is very clear that David had sent his men ahead into the city to fight, and even offered a general’s position to the first one into the city. Yet the record says, “David captured the stronghold of Zion.” We know why, of course. David played a vital role in the capture of Jerusalem, and so Scripture says he captured it. This same type of wording that is so common in the Bible and indeed, in all languages, is the wording Jesus used. He would raise his body, i.e., he would play a vital part in it being raised.

    So, in conclusion, what Jesus was saying both in John 2:19 and in John 10:17-18, is that his resurrection depended on him, in the sense that sinlessness of his thoughts and actions, and  his obedience unto death to the Father was the necessary (NOT sufficient) condition of his own resurrection, that is for the Father to approve of him by raising him from the dead (Rom 10:9). (Q.E.D.)

    I would agree with anybody who claimed that the above demonstration was neither obvious nor easy.

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    Kolmogorov, Shannon and ... Shakespeare: different concepts of information

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 7:57 PM [General]

    In algorithmic information theory (a subfield of computer science), the Kolmogorov complexity of an object (so called after the name of the Russian mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov), such as a piece of text, is a measure of the computational resources needed to specify the object.

    Kolmogorov complexity is also known as descriptive complexity, Kolmogorov-Chaitin complexity, stochastic complexity, algorithmic entropy, or program-size complexity.

    For example, consider the following two strings of length 64, each containing only lowercase letters, numbers, and spaces:

    abababababababababababababababababababababababababababababababab

    4c1j5b2p0cv4w1x8rx2y39umgw5q85s7uraqbjfdppa0q7nieieqe9noc4cvafzf

    The first string has a short English-language description, namely "ab 32 times", which consists of 11 characters. The second one has no obvious simple description (using the same character set) other than writing down the string itself, which has 64 characters.

    Historically prior, but for many aspects similar to  Kolmogorov complexity is the notion of Shannon information (see Shannon Information and Kolmogorov Complexity, by Peter Grünwald and Paul Vitányi, July 22, 2010, PDF at homepages.cwi.nl)

    It is critical not to confuse two very different concepts of information: 

    A Information-carrying capacity (aka "Shannon information"), which is the maximum capacity of an information storage medium (Examples: [IT] the storage capacity of a HDD, normally expressed in bits and/or bytes; [Cell] the storage capacity of the cell DNA, expressed in # of bases)

    B Specified information, or functional information or coded information or information content. The maximum theoretical value (limit) coincides with A, but , in fact, due mainly to  redundancy, and actual memory utilization, this is never the case.  (Examples: [IT] actual utilization with programs, DB, and other data of the storage capacity of a HDD; [Cell]  the actual amount of information carried by the cell DNA, in terms of #  of genes and total # of bases corresponding to the encoded genes).

    The Information-carrying capacity ("Shannon information") of a "book capable of listing a random string of 10 million random  alpha-numeric characters" is, obviously 10 million characters, whereas the actual information content depends, essentially on the redundancy of the code, for instance English,  or more specifically, Shakespearean English. That the information content of a meaningful text is (considerably) lower than the actual amount of characters used. The intuitive counter-proof is that such text can be compressed and reconstituted (typically with a stochastic - NOT deterministic - algorithm that takes into account the statistical redundancy properties of the language), whereas a purely random text of the same size (10 Mb) cannot be compressed.

    Let's now suppose that Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince  of Denmark, contains about 10 million characters.

    While it is certainly true that the "information contents" of Hamlet's text is somewhere between that of a text of the same size fully determined by some (more or less complex algorithm) and that of a fully random text of the same size (which is equal to the Information-carrying capacity) ONLY if the text obeys some code (in Hamlet's case the rules of the English language) does it have not only information, but functional information, which is the same as meaningful information.

    For instance, the string of characters ...

    METHINKS␢IT␢IS␢LIKE␢A␢WEASEL (where: ␢ = blank space)

    ... is meaningful in English (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2) ...

    ... but meaningless in another language, for instance in Italian.

    Likewise, with reference to the "biological context", we can say that the "meaning" of a meaningful sequence of DNA (a gene) is the protein (or other cellular structure and/or operation) the it specifies.

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    Why the DNA genome is "coded information".

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 12:47 PM [General]

     

    Diagram of the "typical" eukaryotic protein-coding gene. Promoters and enhancers determine what portions of the DNA will be transcribed into the precursor mRNA (pre-mRNA). The pre-mRNA is then spliced into messenger RNA (mRNA) which is later translated into protein. (Wikipedia > Gene).

     

    Why is it fully legitimate to say that the DNA genome is, literally "coded information"?

    1. The sequences of bases in the DNA genome are Information, even in the "most restricted technical sense" ...

    Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is an ordered sequence of symbols. -- Wikipedia > Information

    ... because the DNA is essentially constituted by a sequence (the two specular strands of the double helix) of symbols (the bases T, C, A, G - in RNA U replaces T) which are positioned along the sequence without any particular physical/chemical constraint.
    => In an entirely analogous manner, in IT, information is constituted by the "bases" of the binary code (0, 1).

    2. The bases (T/U, C, A, G) are true and proper symbols because a triplet (codon) of them codes one of 20 aminoacids, plus the "STOP" tern (redundant: UAA, UAG, UGA). The "standard genetic code" is univocal (NOT bi-univocal, due to the redundancy of the genetic code itself), with reference to the "START" tern (which also codes for the amino acid Methionine).
    =>In an entirely analogous manner, in IT, the "bases" of the binary code (0, 1) can code the 26 letters of the English Alphabet (and other special characters) according to the ASCIIcharacter-encoding scheme (or other encoding scheme).

    3. The sequences of bases (T/U, C, A, G) grouped in triplets (codons) are grouped in "words" and "sentences" of variable length, complexity, "subroutine" structure, switches, etc. (the genes) which have a "functional meaning", because they map the DNA sequence into proteins (or or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism), besides other structures and "housekeeping" functions.
    =>In an entirely analogous manner, in IT,  the "bases" of the binary code (0, 1) can code the 26 letters of the  English Alphabet (and other special characters) according to the ASCII character-encoding scheme (or other encoding scheme) so as to form programs (relative to different "programming languages") that perform meaningful functions.

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    Two very different types of order: Patterns and Coded Structures

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 12:23 PM [General]

    Keeping it simple, there are essentially two types of order. 

    One type of order is that of patterns, of which the best illustration are periodic crystals and the way they can grow, all of which may appear deceptively similar to the type of order of the biochemical components (nucleic acids and proteins, in particular) inside the cell. Patterns, in fact are a repetitive type of order, that require very little information to be specified.

    Another type of order is that found in coded structures, like information bearing texts, S/W programs and living structures. At the biochemical level, the two fundamental types of components of the cell (nucleic acids and proteins) may appear deceptively similar to the type of order of periodic crystals, but there is an essential difference: both nucleic acids and proteins are crystals, BUT a-periodic crystals, which, unlike patterns, unlike periodic crystals, require a great quantity of information to be specified. In his groundbreaking paper What is Life? (Dublin, 1944), Erwin Schrödinger had already intuited that the genetic code must be based on an a-periodic crystal. This paper was a fundamental inspirational source for both James D. Watson, and Francis Crick, leading to their discovery of the DNA double helix structure in 1953.

    It can be shown that while patterns can (and commonly do) arise spontaneously in nature, through the simple operation and interplay of physical and chemical forces, it is virtually impossible (or as the Russian-Belgian scientist Ilya Prigogine put it, "vanishingly improbable") for coded structures to arise spontaneously, from the interplay between matter and energy, for various reasons: chemical properties, thermodynamical basis of information exchange, and others that are quite clearly detailed in the freely downloadable PDF paper linked herebelow:

    Entropy, free energy and information in living systems”, Andy C. McIntosh (@ chfpn.pl)

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    Creation, Evolution, Human Dignity and Resurrection

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 2:13 PM [General]

    God creates Adam (Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel)

    The Holy Scripture asserts that "God created man in His image and likeness" (Gen 1:26-27). This, for the Church, has always been a central statement, because it qualifies in its essence the exclusive dignity that God attributes to man, unique among all creatures.

    Furthermore, in a Christian perspective, to assert that humans, all humans, are an “image” of God, means that all, from the Christian who recites the Apostles’ Creed with confident faith, to the indigenous living in the most forlorn corner of pre-Columbian Amazon, are saved in Christ, that is they are worthy of being resurrected to Eternal Life.

    For at least one and a half century Evolution has become for all, including Catholic Christians (excluding, obviously, the so called “fundamentalist creationists”), an explanation which not only is considered plausible, but to all effects so strongly corroborated by science that it can be declared “true”, of how life, starting from its origin, got differentiated and articulated, up to its “superior” forms, including the human species.

    Differences, with regard to Evolution, are by now only the ones between those, on one side, who consider it the result of a combination of Chance and Necessity (this expression was made famous by Jacques Monod’s book “Le Hasard et la Nécessité”, but it is also an effective an synthetic definition of Darwinism, that is the “Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection”), those, on another side, who consider it moved by an “inner pulsion” (“élan vital”, “will”, etc.; this is Bergson’s position, and significantly he is one of the prime targets of Monod, who in his book, tears him apart as totally unscientific); those, to end with, who consider Evolution “driven”, at least at its main “turning points” or “bifurcations”. This latter is the position of the so called “Intelligent Design”.

    There is also a position which tries to combine the notion of a Creator God with unguided Evolution, usually referred to as “Theistic Evolutionism”. I have argued elsewhere (Jacques Monod gives the lie to Theistic Evolutionism, @ servetus.newsvine.com) that it is a position intrinsically contradictory, one that tries to “have its cake and eat it too”.

    Now, if humans are the result of a process (not necessarily of a “mechanism”) of Evolution, from a Christian point of view only two possibilities are given:

    1. The emergence of man for “pre-human” life forms is a “jump”, a “discontinuity”.

    2. The emergence of man for “pre-human” life forms is a “gradual” process: to this hypothetical process the name of “hominization” is usually given, after Karl Rahner.

    In the first case, Evolution could be reconciled, if not with the letter, certainly with the substance of the Biblical text, even understood in the most traditional sense.

    In the second case, the main, glaringly evident problem, is that between “pre-human” beings and human beings in a proper and full sense, we must admit a series of transition “forms” (hominids).

    Now, if the statement made here at the beginning, that is that from a Christian point of view, to be made “in God’s image and likeness” implies to be worthy of being resurrected to Eternal Life, and for this latter dignity no graduality can obviously be admitted, it follows that, even in case of a “gradual hominization”, we must postulate anyway a “discontinuity” (between “not [yet] worthy” and “worthy” of eternal life).

    So, in conclusion, if we do not want to deny the Equal Dignity of all Human Beings, that is, ultimately, their communal call to Resurrection to Life Everlasting, even if we admit a “morphological continuity” in the “hominization” process, we must admit that God introduced anyway, by a special act, a spiritual, qualitative discontinuity in this process:

    “And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen 2:7)

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    Atonement: "Penal Justice" vs "Liberation War"

    Monday, July 19, 2010, 7:34 AM [General]

    "Christus Victor" (late fifth or early sixth-century), mosaic, Chapel of the Archbishop, Ravenna. Under Christ's feet you see the lion and the serpent, enemies mentioned in Psalm 91:13 -- a sign of victory.

    Atonement, in Christianity, means reconciliation of humanity with God. There is a very high number of different "theories" of how this is accomplished. By far the predominant theory is the "satisfaction" theory of atonement, which, in different ways, considers that Jesus Christ "paid on our behalf" the debt that humanity had contracted with God, by the "original sin" and the consequent "fall". The two main variants of this theory are substitutionary atonement and penal substitution, which differ essentially on whether they consider the "satisfaction" in Christ a free self-sactifice or a true and proper punishment.

    While the notion of substitutionary atonement, in the sense of free self-sactifice of Jesus, is not as abominable and objectionable as the penal substitution, I believe that ultimately they both depend (IMO) on the wrong assumption that the Atonement is a matter of restoring God's Perfect Justice, "wronged" by the "original sin", whereas it is (again IMO) a matter of War. I am in favour of the Christus Victor theory of Atonement.

    The "Penal Justice" Model, as we know, became predominant ONLY in the Middle Ages, with Anselm of Aosta/Bec/Canterbury. Here it is:

     

    "Penal Justice" Model

    (both substitutionary atonement, and penal substitution, with different degrees)

    Mankind: accused/defendant

    Satan: accuser/prosecuting attorney

    Jesus: defense attorney [and, eventually, "free substitute"  or "compulsory substitute" for punishment]

    God: judge

    We stand accused by Satan.  He has made His case.  Therefore, we are guilty, says God.  Enter the law of redemption--via Jesus.  He is willing and able to mitigate the death sentence--essentially by "paying" restitution.

    [source: thread "Sacrifice on the Cross?" Adelphe's post #162/DESC]

     

    Try the "Liberation War Model" instead, essentially the position that was the original one of Christianity:

     

    "Liberation War" Model

    Mankind: Terrorized and Kidnapped

    Satan: Dictator of the Terrorist (and Murderous) State of "This World" & Enslaver of Mankind

    Jesus: The Liberator (Commander of the Liberation Army), he is appointed by the Father Executive Judge for when the War will the over.

    God: Almighty King of the "Kingdom of Heaven", and Supreme Judge of the Kidnappers and also of the Kidnapped who have fallen for the "Stockholm syndrome".

    NOTE: Humans who respond, with Faith and Hope, to the appeal of The Liberator, fight in a Liberation War against the Dictator of "This World" with purely Spiritual Weapons: Truth and Love.

    [source: thread "Sacrifice on the Cross?" MdS' post #163/DESC]

     

    I hope you can appreciate the substantial difference. I definitely opt for the "Liberation War Model".

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    Catastrophic Stairway to Freedom

    Monday, April 5, 2010, 6:45 AM [General]

    Why would catastrophes be a necessary and unavoidable condition for human freewill? Where's the link between the two?

    This is not an obvious concept, and it is not easy to explain it exhaustively. So, let me just hint at it. One of the questions with which humans, who try to reconcile the thought of a personal, omnipotent, omniscient and provident God have always had to confront is the problem of theodicy

    The most effective illustration of the problem of theodicy is, IMSO, the s.c. "riddle of Epicurus".

    Bear with me for a stepwise ...

    Catastrophic Stairway to Freedom

    1. The existence of evil has always been a scandal, if we one tries to reconcile it with a Personal God who is, supposedly, Good and Omnipotent.

    2. Epicurus argued like this: if Evil exists in spite of the existence of God, He cannot be, at the same time Good and Omnipotent (see The Riddle of Epicurus - YoutTube - 22 sec)

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then is he not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then is he malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God.

    3. If we are not discouraged by "The Riddle of Epicurus", it is evident that, to save God's Goodness and Omnipotence we must look deeper.

    4. Most of our behavior, as human beings, is reasonably predictable: we are limited by physical, chemical, biological, emotional, economical, legal, rational constraints. Yet, to some extent, we humans consider ourselves free. But what is the real test of Freedom? It is precisely the opposite of being predictable: it is, ultimately, its unpredictability.

    5. A genuine act of Human Freedom has something in common with a Natural Catastrophe, which also is not (not entirely, anyway) predictable.

    6. If you have agreed with all the previous steps, you can perhaps take the extra step of assuming that this "structural analogy" between Human Freedom and Natural Catastrophes is very deep, so deep, in fact that just as not even God can go against logic and have a "square triangle", likewise (even if the connection is much more complex and obscure) not even God can "design" a material world (it will be different with the New Creation ...) were there are NOT, at the same time Human Freedom and Natural Catastrophes.

    BTW, even if it is not stated explicitly, I firmly believe that the above is the ultimate sense of the Book of Job.

    God making us free, permits moral evil, BUT He is NOT responsible for moral evil .

    Most people, in particular Christians who have been fed since their early age with the fairy tale that not only moral evil, but even cosmic evil is the consequence of the "original sin", feel very uncomfortable at the thought that ...

    If Natural Catastrophes (cosmic evil) were banned, Human Freedom would be impossible.

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    The Book of Job, OIOW "How NOT to let Elihu mislead you ..."

    Saturday, March 27, 2010, 1:22 PM [General]

    One of the most recurring themes in the Bible, is the mystery of "The Suffering of the Righteous and the Success of Sinners (Psalm 73)". As the Bible presents us a benevolent, omnipotent God, more than a mystery it appears as a true and proper scandal.

    Some Christians try to rationalize away catastrophes and disasters, even the ones that have a heavy toll of innocent lives, either by affirming that "cosmic evil" is the consequence of the "original sin" and/or by affirming that, anyway, "suffering is a blessing in disguise", and that, according to them, God's "purpose for suffering", would be "an instrument that God uses to call people (who He loves!!!) to Himself".

    They believe they find evidence of this, in particular, in the Book of Job, and even more in particular in The Speeches of Elihu (Job 32:1-37:24), with special emphasis on some verses: Job 33:29-30; 35:9-13; 36:8-11; 36:15-16; 36:22-24.

    According to the understanding of these Christians ...

    “Job superficially assented to a knowledge of God before his suffering. But only in his suffering, did he drop his pride and self-reliance and finally turn to God, actually encounter Him, and was saved.” [Thread "God on trial", post #1418]

    My (philologically well supported) conclusions are radically at variance with the above.  

    It is totally misleading to use the Book of Job as proof-text, because it is neither etiologic, nor historical, not legislative, nor prophetic. It is a very elaborate Drama & Dialogue, no less complex that Plato's Dialogues, and even more, due to its "oriental flair". Its purpose is certainly that of discussing the question that interests us, viz., in theological-philosophical terms, the problem of Theodicy, OIOW of the reconcilability of unexplainable suffering (and even more, of the suffering of the righteous) with God's Omnipotence and Goodness.

    It is absolutely essential to see everything in the context of the "scheme" of the work (see NETBible).

    The result will be quite surprising for people who are accustomed to the traditional “moralistic” interpretation of the Book of Job as an invitation not only to humility (which it is), but, most of all, to the acceptance of the “redemptive function of suffering”.

    Putting it all in the proper context

    I. The Prologue (1:1-2:13), where the situation of Job's piousness, happiness and riches is introduced, and Satan's "challenge" to YHWH, that YHWH accepts, and consequently Satan puts Job to the test.

    II. Job’s Dialogue With His Friends (3:1-27:23), where Jobs "friends" (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite), "reasonable" and "ethical" people are SURE that God would NOT allow these torments to be inflicted on someone, UNLESS he had done something wrong, something to deserve it.Job humbly but firmly and convincingly rebukes systematically all the arguments of his "friends".

    III. Job’s Search for Wisdom (28:1-28), where Job tries to find in Wisdom the right response to the mystery of God that so utterly overpowers man. The wise and pious conclusion is

    ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:28)

    IV. Job’s Concluding Soliloquy (29:1-31:40), where Job thinks of the "happy times", but concludes his "apology" in the quiet certitude and pleading to God that he is not to be reproached (or not especially guilty, anyway).

    V. The Speeches of Elihu (32:1-37:24), where a young and presumptuous man, frustrated at the ineffectuality of the speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, stands up with his four moralistic speeches (Job 32-37), which are nothing but an even more emphatic rehash of what Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar have inconclusively attempted to oppose to Job . The "center-piece" of Elihau's moralistic discourse is the "educating value of suffering” to which God submits man, but man is stubborn and does not heed God (“For God speaks, the first time in one way, the second time in another, though a person does not perceive it. – Job 33:14).

    VI. The Divine Speeches (38:1-42:6), where YHWH God eventually intervenes and immediately dismisses everything that the pretentious Eliahu has said (“Who is this who darkens counsel with words without knowledge?" - Job 38:2), and with some majestic images of his creative power, shows to Job how his counsel is too much above man's limited understanding for man to contend with God. Job briefly intervenes, first to humble himself and declare how foolish of him it was to speak at all (“Indeed, I am completely unworthy – how could I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth to silence myself. I have spoken once, but I cannot answer; twice, but I will say no more” - Job 40:4-5) then, at the end of God's Speeches, when Job realizes that, while he has said nothing wrong, and has no specific fault for which his misfortunes should be considered God’s “punishment”, still he is, and should behave like a humble creature of God, and yield to God’s omnipotence and inscrutable ways:

    Then Job answered the Lord:
    “I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted;
    [you asked,] ‘Who is this who darkens counsel
    without knowledge?’
    But I have declared without understanding
    things too wonderful for me to know.
    [You said, ] ‘Pay attention, and I will speak;
    I will question you, and you will answer me.’
    I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye has seen you.
    Therefore I despise myself,
    and I repent in dust and ashes!
    (Job 42:1-6, NETBible)

    VII. The Epilogue (42:7-17), where YHWH condemns Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar and, at the same time, explicitly approves Job’s words:

    After the Lord had spoken these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My anger is stirred up against you and your two friends, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job will intercede for you, and I will respect him, so that I do not deal with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servantJob has.”

    So they went, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and did just as the Lord had told them; and the Lord had respect forJob. ( Job 42:7-9)

    Conclusion

    The interpretation of the real purpose and meaning of the Book of Job, of how it “solves” the problem of human suffering, depends to a large extent on the role and meaning attributed to “The Speeches of Elihu” (Job 32-37)

    Once again, far from giving the right key that allows men to understand and accept a presumed “redemptive function of suffering”, “The Speeches of Elihu” are first simply dismissed by YHWH God as a mere “interlude” (Job 38:2), then, in the Epilogue, they are even totally ignored by YHWH God.

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    Who is Jesus? Four Biblical Titles

    Thursday, March 25, 2010, 3:44 AM [General]

    Transfiguration of Jesus, among Elijah and Moses

    Who is Jesus? This is not, and never was, an easy question to answer, not even for Christian believers. Most heresies in the first three centuries of Christianity are Christological, that is "different opinions" (the literal meaning of the Greek word hairesis, whence heresy, is "choice") from the "Catholic orthodoxy" that was gradually consolidating in the meantime.

    Let's try to say something unquestionably biblical about Jesus.

    Messiah

    Although Jesus was reluctant to apply to himself the title of Messiah, the awaited "Anointed King" who would establish (or rather re-establish) God's Kingdom on earth, and only revealed it, secretly, to the inner circle of the Twelve Apostles (Mat 16:13-20), at the twofold trial by the Jewish Sanhedrin and by the Roman Governor, he was NOT evasive, but openly admitted his Messiahship both in front of the High Priest Joseph Caiaphas (Mat 26:63-64) and of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate (John 18:37).

    Son of Man

    The most frequent expression by which Jesus refers to himself is "son of man"(found 84 verses containing the phrase son of man in the Gospels, Matthew - John;  see @ ESV). Some modern scholars try to play this expression down, and affirm that it is, in Greek, a translation from a rhetoric idiomatic Hebrew ...bar enosh or ben adam), which would simply mean "man". But this is hardly reconcilable with the passage already mentioned, Jesus reply to the High Priest Joseph Caiaphas:

    Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mat 26:64)

    Jesus is clearly referring to Ps 110:1 and to a figure that is "like a son of man", BUT is MORE that human, in fact a heavenly figure, the mysterious "Son of man" of Dan 7:13.

    Son of God

    This is another expression used in the Gospels to refer to Jesus (although not as frequent as "son of man": found 26 verses containing the phrase son of god in the Gospels Matthew - John; see @ ESV). Again, here, some modern scholars try to play this expression down, by saying that it is a "honorific title", which can be found in the OT and that, there, it applies to kings, priests and even judges. At a superficial reading, Jesus himself seems to agree with this interpretation: 

    35 If those people to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ (and the scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say about the one whom the Father set apart and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:35-36)

    But the Nativity Accounts, both in Matthew and Luke, add to this expression, "Son of God", a very specific meaning:

    18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way. While his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

    23Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” (Matthew 1:18, 23; cp. Isaiah 7:14; 8:8)

    30 So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! 31 Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

    In conclusion, we can say that the expression "Son of God", far from being a mere honorific title, represents Jesus as God's Son in a "quasi-biological" way, through the miracle of the virgin conception by God's Holy Spirit, from the  Virgin Mary.

    Word of God

    If the expression "Son of God", far from being a mere honorific title, may still represent Jesus as man only, in spite of his being directly connected with God via the miracle of the virgin conception/birth, the Prologue to the Gospel of John (John 1:1-18) presents to us Jesus as more than connected with God: it is crystal clear that the Prologue of John speaks of God's Eternal Logos, and of Jesus as the Incarnation of God's Logos: 

    The Prologue to the Gospel

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was [fully] God.

    14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only [son], full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. (John 1:1,14)

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