Page 1 of 2 (40 items) 1 2 Next >
This post has 39 Replies | 2 Followers

Posts 71
Steven Langella | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Sep 6 2012 4:13 AM

I just downloaded Faithlife and I noticed that there was a vast amount of information available as I was studying John.   I am always cautious about study bible notes because we are not ignorant that not everyone views scripture from the same lenses.  Therefore I am always proceeding with caution when it comes to commentaries.  

 

I came across this note and was a bit taken back.  

 

The Gospel of John and the Johannine Letters

1:1 In the beginning John begins by quoting the opening words of Genesis (see Gen 1:1) in Greek. He uses Genesis 1:1–5 to establish the “Word,” or Logos, as a preexistent agent of creation present with Yahweh from the beginning.

This first section of the prologue (vv. 1–5) functions as an interpretation of Gen 1:1–5 read through the framework of Prov 8:22–31. This exegetical technique bears subtle marks of Jewish exegesis called midrash. A midrashic interpretation typically begins with a text from the Pentateuch and explains it through links to a text from the Prophets or the Writings. John begins with a quote that invokes the context of Gen 1:1–5 with its imagery of creation by divine word and the opposition between light and darkness. His interpretation centers on the Word as Creator and bearer of divine light.

In making this connection, John states that Jesus existed prior to the first acts of creation. God’s Son isn’t an act of creation, but the means of it (compare Col 1:15–23; Heb 1:1–4). It is all the more dramatic, therefore, that the one through whom all of creation came to be has become part of the creation.

 

Here is why alarms went off for me.  

 

1. It seems that the writer is implying (IT SEEMS)  I want to be careful not to accuse if I am reading this wrong.  But it seems that the writer is suggesting that John is writing from a rabinic midrash perspective?  what I mean is that John was using the method of midrash to interpret Genesis 1:1 and Prov 8.   From what I understand of midrash is that its a complex system of trying to interpret inconsistencies found in the Old Testament and Jewish Rabbi's have made up elaborate stories to try to make sense of these inconsistencies. Such as Abraham smashing his fathers idols to name one.  

Also using Prov 8 is problematic because it is the very text Arius used to prove Jesus was a created being.  

So it seems that the writer is suggesting that John and the New Testament writers were products of rabbinic midrash interpretation and their writings were influenced by such.   To me that is problematic because midrash interpretation is whatever the interpreter sees in the text or makes of the text which is subjective.  

I am not a theologian or a scholar, I am simply a brother in Christ who is trying to be faithful to the text and trying to understand it from an orthodox position.  So I am not sitting here in judgement of the writer, I just happen to see some things that concern me and was wondering what others thoughts were on this.

 

Thanks!

 

Steve

 

 

 

Posts 10132
Forum MVP
NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 6 2012 4:58 AM

Steven Langella:
I just downloaded Faithlife and I noticed that there was a vast amount of information available as I was studying John.

That's good!

Steven Langella:
I am always cautious about study bible notes because we are not ignorant that not everyone views scripture from the same lenses.  Therefore I am always proceeding with caution when it comes to commentaries.  

That's very good! It helps to not simply trust Study Bibles and Commentaries, but to take their (usually helpful) notes with a "Berean spirit".

In this context it's often good to know from which theological tradition a Study Bible or commentary comes, to we aware of potential bias. The FSB claims to reflect a "general evangelical" point of view, which may be a bit vague and which may allow for difference of opinion between various contributiing authors and editors.

We have been told that the notes undergo an editing process with several people looking over them, which should preclude open heretical remarks but may not capture every disputable wording.

Steven Langella:
it seems that the writer is suggesting that John is writing from a rabinic midrash perspective?  what I mean is that John was using the method of midrash to interpret Genesis 1:1 and Prov 8.   From what I understand of midrash is that its a complex system of trying to interpret inconsistencies found in the Old Testament and Jewish Rabbi's have made up elaborate stories to try to make sense of these inconsistencies

For me, it seems (especially through the link to the LBD entry on Midrash) that the writer of the note is using Midrash only as a way of saying that John is making his point of introducing Christ by an accepted method: half-citing and thereby interpreting OT scripture and enlarging its historic-grammatic content. This of course treats only the human-side of "producing Scripture" (like when we look into Paul's argumentative structure or so), not the divine-inspirational aspect.

I don't feel this makes the note implying that there are inconcistencies in the OT text of Genesis or that John makes up out of thin air what he tells about Christ.

Steven Langella:
using Prov 8 is problematic because it is the very text Arius used to prove Jesus was a created being.
  

I've never encountered Prov 8 as a template for John 1 before and I think this needs a bit of additional clarification in the FSB note.

Steven Langella:
I am not a theologian or a scholar, I am simply a brother in Christ who is trying to be faithful to the text and trying to understand it from an orthodox position.  So I am not sitting here in judgement of the writer, I just happen to see some things that concern me and was wondering what others thoughts were on this.

Two good news here:

  • FSB is not a once-published, set-in-stone-forever type of resource. Logos promised to concurrently update it. Its editor (John Barry) told us that they listen very intently to user comments and are eager to hear about suggestions as well as recommendations for further clarification.
  • We users may utilize Faithlife's technical features to voice and share our questions, remarks and concerns. There is a faithlife group dedicated to this task, where we start to exchange this kind of thoughts - some of FSB's editors even follow the group. Join us! 

Running Logos 8 latest beta version on Win 10

Posts 1674
Paul Golder | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 6 2012 6:09 AM

The consideration also has to be made that the FSB is a ecumenical collaborative effort, so it will, by its very nature, have notes that reflect the theology of the contributors. Given this, the notes will be varied from a strict literal interpretation all the way to an allegorical one.

"As any translator will attest, a literal translation is no translation at all."

Posts 580
LogosEmployee
Alan Palmer (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 6 2012 9:32 AM

Steve, I think it serves you well to read the note in good faith.

That said, your feedback is extremely valuable, and (as NB.Nick pointed out) the FSB is undergoing continual review and revisions. So your thoughts are well received by the editors of the FSB. Feel free to email them at editor@logos.com. At the very least they will probably want to clarify their statements to avoid any misconceptions.

Posts 71
Steven Langella | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 6 2012 12:12 PM

Thanks for your reply.  This has caused me to do some deeper investigation and was fruitful.  At least know I am aware of what midrash :).  I would personally avoid it and do not agree with the comment in the commentary even though it seems to be vague but at least it caused me to dig deeper and that is a good thing.

Also agree that the notes should be explained in a deeper way regarding Prov 8 regarding Wisdom as it does SEEM to appear that the author is sugggesting this is what John had in mind in 1:1.  I am glad to hear that the editor is open to comments, that is a very good thing!!!

Just a note that I do like many of the features of the faith life study bible!!

Thanks again!

 

Steve

Posts 71
Steven Langella | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 6 2012 1:14 PM

As far Paul Godler's comments I agree that this seems to be a wide theological pool.  It would be nice to see Faith Life with different versions aimed at attracting specific groups?  Then again maybe not! 

I kind of like the Faith Life Calvin is my Homeboy Edition ;)

Posts 82
LogosEmployee
Doug Mangum | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 6 2012 4:07 PM

Steven Langella:

1. It seems that the writer is implying (IT SEEMS)  I want to be careful not to accuse if I am reading this wrong.  But it seems that the writer is suggesting that John is writing from a rabinic midrash perspective?  what I mean is that John was using the method of midrash to interpret Genesis 1:1 and Prov 8.   From what I understand of midrash is that its a complex system of trying to interpret inconsistencies found in the Old Testament and Jewish Rabbi's have made up elaborate stories to try to make sense of these inconsistencies. Such as Abraham smashing his fathers idols to name one.  

Also using Prov 8 is problematic because it is the very text Arius used to prove Jesus was a created being.  

So it seems that the writer is suggesting that John and the New Testament writers were products of rabbinic midrash interpretation and their writings were influenced by such.   To me that is problematic because midrash interpretation is whatever the interpreter sees in the text or makes of the text which is subjective.  

Steven,

Let me try to quickly clarify that note, or at least set your mind at ease. We weren't suggesting John wrote from a rabbinic perspective, but scholarship on the NT has begun to draw more on the ways Jewish methods of interpreting the Bible may help throw new light on what the NT writers were doing. The note itself defines how it's using "midrash":

 A midrashic interpretation typically begins with a text from the Pentateuch and explains it through links to a text from the Prophets or the Writings.

At its core, "midrash" is simply a Jewish method of using Scripture to interpret Scripture. I admit that rabbinic midrash often leads into speculative and imaginative biblical interpretations, but we're not trying to head there or suggest that the NT writers were either. The point was simply that for John's NT audience the phrase, "In the beginning was the Word" would have had numerous cultural and literary resonances that it doesn't have today. If you haven't seen it already, the FSB sidebar I wrote on "The Logos in John's Prologue" might help explain the topic even more.

We appreciate your feedback on FSB. As we continue to update and revise the notes, we are taking all feedback we receive into consideration for clarifying and expanding notes. You can send any other feedback you have to us directly at editor@logos.com if you wish.

By the way, we do have an official statement of faith affirming our belief in the inspiration and authority of Scripture. We adhere to the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Statement of Faith (available here).

Posts 1674
Paul Golder | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 6 2012 5:57 PM

Doug Mangum:
By the way, we do have an official statement of faith affirming our belief in the inspiration and authority of Scripture. We adhere to the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Statement of Faith (available here).

My apologies, I did not realize that you adhere to the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s Statement of Faith. I was under the assumption that there where members of the editorial staff that held to the Roman Catholic Faith.

Again my apologies.

"As any translator will attest, a literal translation is no translation at all."

Posts 71
Steven Langella | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 6:45 AM

Doug,

 

Thanks for clarifying this.  Just still not sure I agree with that concept of midrash 100%  but there are many things I do not agree with in some of my favorite commentaries.  

Another question.  How does your commentary handle texts that have either a Reformed or Arminian interpretation?   I am sure you have both groups represented on your team?   Take for instance Romans 9.  Would your commentary give both sides of the position or would it lean toward one side more than another?   I personally am Reformed and do love to see both side represented.  Just wondering where Logos stands on this in their commentary on the Faith LIfe.   

 

Thanks

 

Posts 71
Steven Langella | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 8:17 AM

Doug,

This issue has caused me to do some research and study on this issue of midrash.  Some very interesting information has surfaced and it seems to cast some suspicion on my part as to the content of the commentary in Faithlife.  I would like to know your thoughts on the following.

It seems that some of the commentaries that are recommended for deeper reading that are locked are not solid "Evangelical" in their content.  For instance the John commentary when clicked goes to 

Sheffield New Testament Guides: John by Barnabas Linders

 

Given all the wonderful commentaries that are on Logos that hold to a very strong Evangelical position it seems Faithlife has chosen one where the author believes that the Apostle John was irresponsible in his quoting of the Old Testament in his letters.

 

Here is a quote by D.A. Carson (who by the way was a student of Linders)

"At the surface level, Psalm 2:7 warrants none of these conclusions. Indeed, the disparity prompts many scholars to conclude that the NT writers frequently use the OT in an irresponsible proof-texting way that badly rips texts out of their contexts (e.g. B. Lindars)"

http://beginningwithmoses.org/bt-articles/219/systematic-theology-and-biblical-theology

 

Here is another review by Andy Naselli

Lindars’s major argument is that after the NT authors embraced Christianity (i.e., they believed that the crucified and resurrected Jesus was the Messiah), they searched the OT to prove it (i.e., to provide a “New Testament apologetic” for Christianity); they used OT proof texts, however, in an eisegetical manner, twisting them out of their historical-grammatical context (cf. pp. 283–86). Lindars acknowledges (pp. 13–14)

 

Analysis

Lindars’s NTA is thoughtful and insightful, technical yet readable. Its thesis, however, is demonstrably false, not to mention irreverent to those with a high view of Scripture (myself included).

I. Howard Marshall cites “two assumptions” in NTA that “need greater justification than he provides.” (“An Assessment of Recent Developments,” in It Is Written: Scripture Citing Scripture. Essays in Honour of Barnabas Lindars, SSF, ed. D. A. Carson and H. G. M. Williamson [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988], pp. 8–9. Cf. J. M. Owen, review of Barnabas Lindars, New Testament ApologeticReformed Theological Review 21 [1962]: 86.)

  1. Lindars assumes rather than proves that “the earliest use of OT texts was apologetic rather than anything else.” The NT uses the OT in ways other than a polemical apologetic, including explanation, “still-valid teaching,” and “the form and content of its own praise and prayer to God.”
  2. Lindars assumes that “resurrection-apologetic” was “the very earliest apologetic.” Marshall finds this assumption “puzzling” because “it was by no means the only form of apologetic, and it is a strange assumption that every text used in the earliest days of the church must have had an initial reference to the resurrection.”

Furthermore, Lindars rejects what I believe to be the most compelling view, namely, that reading the OT and NT through a salvation-historical grid reveals that the NT’s use of the OT is warranted because of the person and work of Christ and the unitary nature of the canon. D. A. Carson’s critique of Peter Enns‘s Inspiration and Incarnation(“Three Books on the Bible: A Critical Review,” TJ 27 [2006]: 44-45) applies to a heightened degree to Lindars’s NTA:

http://andynaselli.com/review-of-barnabas-lindarss-new-testament-apologetic

 

Doug, again with all the Great Commentaries on John that are available in Logos why would  you choose an author who, as Andy Naselli rightly states, has a view that is irreverant to those who do hold to a strong Evangelical view of innerancy of Scripture.   

I could post more on this but I think these two articles show that this probably was not the best commentary to make available.  Not everyone is a scholar or professional theologian.  Why would Logos want to introduce this kind of material to an unsuspecting and young Christian who would read Lindar and come away saying "The new testament writers twisted scripture and took it out of context".  That is absurd! 

So though I do believe you hold to an Evangelical statement of faith, in my opinion, I believe you missed this one and probably should think about replacing John with a more conservative commentary where the author is not leaning toward a liberal approach to scripture.

Thanks

 

 

Posts 10336
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 8:40 AM

This thread is quite interesting. Kind of like a cat digging his way out of the bag. (The 'cat' being the inevitability of theological disagreements.)


Posts 373
Wilson Hines | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 9:16 AM

Not trying to be controversial, but only affirming that I've come across the theory of John alluding to Gen 1 and Prov 8 on many occasions in various of the more scholarly commentaries and monographs.  

 

I don't know the contents of your Logos Library or your physical library, but the more scholarly and technical commentaries are going to work through various points of view and concepts.  That's the value in those works.  

 

Me myself, I don't see a theological problem with the idea that John was alluding to those texts and in fact, I think it's an amazing concept. 

Wilson Hines

Posts 138
Michael Grigoni | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 9:28 AM

Steven, thanks for your comments. This is precisely the kind of feedback we've been hoping to receive on the FSB study notes. While this has been discussed elsewhere on the forum, I'd like to mention again that our aim is to present the broad range of interpretive options in our commentary. Given this, I especially appreciate your detailed response regarding our analysis of this particular part of John's Gospel. Given that the FSB is a digital publication, we have the advantage of addressing issues like this in response to reader feedback in a timely manner (especially compared to print publications).

I encourage you to look at our expansion of our notes for John 1:1 when we release our next update of the FSB. Please let us know at editor@logos.com whether you feel we've addressed your concerns. There is also a great Faithlife group titled "FSB Users" that is committed to discussing the note content of FSB. Several of the contributing editors are members of the group and it's a great place to dialogue about issues like the one you've raised.

Thanks again.

Posts 82
LogosEmployee
Doug Mangum | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 10:18 AM

Steven,

First, let me answer your first question: how do we deal with Reformed/Arminian interpretations over disputed passages? The short answer is that we attempt to explain the options and arguments for both sides as fairly as possible. I can't vouch for whether we succeeded at all places and we're continually enhancing our notes to make sure they present the options and don't overemphasize one side. I'm sure that will be a continual process as more readers draw our attention to notes that need more balance.

Second, the same philosophy--options and presenting opposing views--also explains how the links cover a wider range of perspectives than just "strong Evangelical." The links on that first note in John's gospel also point to the Word Biblical Commentary and the New Int'l Commentary on the NT. The link is not an endorsement of the resource, simply an indication of what else there is to read on the subject. Often links will point to a wide variety of resources from a broad range of scholars from all areas of Christianity-evangelical, mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic. If it's in our library, readers might like to know about it.

Regarding the issue with Lindars in particular, the volume linked to is not his New Testament Apologetic. It's part of a series of very short introductions from Sheffield. I've read the book that was linked to and it's really surface level and introductory. Yes, it's not "evangelical" but it gives a good basic explanation of scholarly approaches to the gospel of John. It's not an endorsement of Lindars in general. But I've found that series from Sheffield to be fairly balanced and informative by and large. I've read many of their short OT and NT guides.

Finally, you've presented a bit of a conundrum here. On the one hand, you seem sympathetic to our attempt to cover a variety of perspectives (Reformed vs Arminian), but at the same time, you are concerned when a writer might offer a liberal perspective that we should avoid them and prevent our readers from coming across something that might challenge their thinking. On many issues, there's no clear line between an acceptable interpretation and a out-of-bounds one. There are evangelical interpretations of passages that set off the red alert of heresy for other evangelicals. We try to present the information fairly and let readers decide for themselves.

Steven, I understand your concern for the new Christian or less educated Christian coming in touch with some of these resources. In this case, I'll take another look at what was linked to and make sure this introductory guide from Lindars is appropriate.

Posts 71
Steven Langella | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 11:24 AM

Mike and Doug,

Thanks for your response.  Understand that I am not trying to go to war and split hairs here.  I really LOVE the concept of the Faithlife Study Bible.  Let's be honest though, the majority of the people that are going to use this resource are those who are looking to study the bible more.  I don't  think those who are well versed in Theological issues will have a problem reading people like Lindars.  I am well aware that there are theologians who are studied by main stream evangelical scholars who are even borderline heretical but are read for the purpose of interacting with their positions.  Can someone who in one area is way off have anything good to say in other areas?  Of course.  

Doug, using your own words, maybe you should put a note on a link to an author who you admit is not "evangelical" so that unsuspecting people who just bought Faithlife and want to study the bible are not caught off guard and come away saying that the Apostles misquoted OT Scripture.  

Gentlemen, I am struggling to get people I know who are confessing Christians and who really do not know how to read the bible or who do not have good study tools to read and study the bible.  I have Logos Platinum and a large resource of commentaries and biblical theologies that I study and I am so grateful for Logos!  But most of these people would be lost in Logos . But I think the Faithlife Study Bible could be a very powerful tool for them. The whole idea of having a group and bible study seems like a really great idea.  But I am also very protective over those I am trying to influence and want to make sure they are not led down some wrong trails that could cause confusion and doubt that God's Word is actually GOD"S WORD and not flawed man's words.  The bottom line, in my opinion, anyone that makes claims as does Linders is not someone I want these people I am trying to help read.   

You admit that he is not "evangelical"  so you should at least have a note stating that.

As far as your statement about "conundrum".  I think this is apples and oranges Doug.  Arminian and Reformed are THOROUGHLY EVANGELICAL and hold to  the verbal, plenaryinfallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God.  

So to compare my comment to see both sides of the "in house" debate represented with someone who says that the Apostles were twisting Old Testament Scripture and taking it out of Context and pretty much attacking that Word of God,  is not really a valid comparision.

Do I think you should avoid a liberal  perspective? ABSOLUTELY!  Why would we want to cast shadows on the Word of God and stand in judgement of God's Word?   The fact that you suggest a Liberal interpretation is a good thing is one of the reasons I am addressing these issues Doug.  Maybe in a Seminary that is something that should be tackled.  But in a Bible Software that you are advertising to the CHURCH is a whole different ball game.  Instead of challenging people's faith you might end up destroying their faith.  I know that is not your's or Logos' desire.  But I also think Logos needs to be more responsible and realize that not everyone (And I would argue MOST) who will pick up and use Faith LIfe are those who do not have a Seminary Degree and do not have the skills to rightly divide and decipher theological issues in a sound biblical way.

I am grateful for the interaction and hope you are open to my comments, as you seem to be.  I find that refreshing.  Again, I think Faithlife has some really great potentials to become a tool that Churches and small groups can use to study the bible, but remember that these are people gathering in the community of the Church and not in the halls of Seminaries and many will simply believe everything they read in your commentary notes.  That should cause Logos to use EXTREME caution and stay within the boundaries of "evangelical".  And when you do not, at least have a well grafted explanation and footnote letting the reader know that Logos does not agree with this position and it is not "evangelical" so proceed with caution.  

Thanks!

 

Steve

 

Posts 71
Steven Langella | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 11:40 AM

Sorry, one more think.  Doug I understand that the quotes from Carson and Nasselli are not from John, but the author is the same author and it would be hard pressed for me to believe that his view on scripture does not influence his commentary.  That's all!  :)

Posts 82
LogosEmployee
Doug Mangum | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 12:04 PM

Steve, the fact that "many will simply believe everything they read in your commentary notes" is why the notes themselves are evangelical in perspective. The links, however, may take people beyond the boundaries of that perspective, but only if they own or purchase the resource. The core content--notes, articles, Bible dictionary--is written from an evangelical perspective engaged in dialogue with other traditions including secular critical scholarship. We do have a cautious, theologically-evangelical approach to what we publish. We take our responsibility to our readers very seriously (heeding the warning of James 3:1). If you have further concerns or a desire to dialogue further on this issue, send an email to editor@logos.com. One of us will be happy to continue the conversation via email.

Again, thanks for your feedback. Rest assured it will be taken into account as we update Faithlife Study Bible in the future.

Posts 27044
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 1:19 PM

Steven Langella:
maybe you should put a note on a link to an author who you admit is not "evangelical" so that unsuspecting people who just bought Faithlife and want to study the bible are not caught off guard and come away saying that the Apostles misquoted OT Scripture.  

Steven, the forum periodically has discussions as to why labeling the stance of a book appear to be simple but becomes nearly impossible to do in practice. (see last page or two of http://community.logos.com/forums/p/44253/395008.aspx#395008) I'd be willing to bet that I could find 20 evangelicals active on the forums that would take 20 different positions on the interpretation of the first section of John ... and that I could do so in less than 20 minutes. It is important to give feedback to Logos as you did. It is even more important to teach the users to read critically.

Note: this diversity is not limited to evangelicals ... I could probably do it with early church fathers as well.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 71
Steven Langella | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 8 2012 1:38 PM

Doug any other comments I have I will email.  But I do beg to differ regarding your notes.

The comment on John 1:1 regarding Prov 8 is not clear at all and does seem to suggest Prov 8 a direct reference to Christ as N.B. Mick even noticed in his below quote

 

"I've never encountered Prov 8 as a template for John 1 before and I think this needs a bit of additional clarification in the FSB note."

Posts 91
David Mullens | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Sep 11 2012 9:24 PM

I'm very knew to FLB, but not to Logos. I really feel for the folks at Logos, especially if they are required to make sure the church folk using FLB to not freak out over comments, notes, etc. Given the discussion on the commentary of John 1, I started wondering how will Logos deal with textual variance such as Acts 9:5. Most commentaries, liberal or otherwise, will try to deal with the variance, but I believe there are some Christians who would have troubles over such issues. How is Logos going to make everybody happy?

I, for one, see it as an opportunity for conversation, prayer, and further study within my community group. 

Page 1 of 2 (40 items) 1 2 Next > | RSS