The Apostles in Jerusalem

Adolf Von Harnack mentions a tradition that the Apostles spent twelve years in Jerusalem after the Ascension based on a command from Jesus. He writes:

…for in the Acta Petri cum Simone, 5, and in Apollonius (in Eus. H.E., v.18.14), the word (here also a word of the Lord) runs that the apostles were to remain for twelve years at Jerusalem, without any mention of the exodus …. Twelve (or eleven) years after the resurrection is a period which is also fixed by other sources (see von Dobschutz in Texte u. Unters., XI.i. p.53 f.); indeed it underlies the later calculation of the year when Peter died (30+12+25=67 A.D.).

Von Harnack was referencing The Acts of Peter, an apocryphal book, which says:

V. And as they prayed and fasted, God was already teaching Peter at Jerusalem of that which should come to pass. For whereas the twelve years which the Lord Christ had enjoined upon him were fulfilled, he showed him a vision after this manner, saying unto him…

This tradition is also mentioned by Eusebius in his Church History V.18.14:

He [Apollonius] speaks, moreover, of a tradition that the Savior commanded his apostles not to depart from Jerusalem for twelve years. He uses testimonies also from the Revelation of John, and he relates that a dead man had, through the Divine power, been raised by John himself in Ephesus. He also adds other things by which he fully and abundantly exposes the error of the heresy of which we have been speaking. These are the matters recorded by Apollonius.

Saul Among the Prophets

What was Israel’s worship like outside the Temple? Some intriguing clues are seen in the bands of prophets and their ecstatic worship. I wish we knew more about it. I read a bit on the subject lately, as follows:

In the Westminster Theological Journal, 56:2, John W. Hilber writes:

The function of prophetic bands is also unclear. The description in 1 Sam 10:5–13 portrays a group descending from worship at Gibeah and prophesying with musical accompaniment, whom Saul joins as the Spirit of God comes upon him and initiates him into the prophetic band. Later, Saul would again be inducted into a band, located this time at Ramah, and fall naked prophesying (1 Sam 19:18–24). Perhaps in a similar way, David led the worship of Yahweh when he danced naked before the ark (2 Sam 6:5, 12–20). Thus, the prophetic worship established by David had precedence in the prophetic bands of his day. In 1 Kgs 20:35 the formal title “sons of the prophets” designates such bands.18

As in the days of Samuel, such groups were associated with specific locations (Bethel, 2 Kgs 2:3; Jericho, 2 Kgs 2:7; 6:1; Gilgal, 2 Kgs 4:38) and often served under the ministry of a master prophet (2 Kgs 2:15–16; 4:1, 38; 6:5; 9:4). Even though they were subordinate to a master prophet of greater authority, they were agents of formal prophetic oracles, received revelation of future events, and themselves spoke with great authority (e.g., 1 Kgs 20:35–42; 2 Kgs 2:3, 5; 9:1–13). Amos’ disclaimer presumes that either a prophet or a son of prophet could be expected to speak an oracle from God (Amos 7:14). The number of these subordinate prophets was at times considerable. The remnant alone after the slaughter by Jezebel numbered 100 (1 Kgs 18:4).

The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 9:3 (Summer 1966) says:

Lack of information also shrouds the example of Saul and his messengers in 1 Sam 19:18–24. Saul’s falling prostrate day and night suggests an element of involuntary control. But this was probably only part of the prophetic behavior, since the text is silent regarding any prolonged prostration of Saul’s messengers who also prophesied, and since their behavior mimicked that of Samuel and his band (1 Sam 19:20). If the prophetic procession of 1 Sam 10:5–11 is a similar phenomenon, then music and dancing might be a partial description. Music and prophecy are regularly associated, although whether that constitutes ecstatic behavior remains to be seen. David’s leaping and dancing before the ark may be called ecstatic, yet it appeared to be at his own volition (2 Sam 6:21–22). It is significant that ecstatic prophesying on this occasion did not exclude verbal praise.  So, the phenomena in Numbers and 1-2 Samuel may have been exuberant praise, more or less spontaneous, the emotive energy and verbal content of which was sponsored by the Spirit.

The second is I Sam. 10:1–13. This instance concerns similar prophesying activity by Saul following Samuel’s indication to him that he would be Israel’s new king. Samuel also told him of several events in which he would be involved on his home-ward journey after leaving Samuel. Among others, Saul would meet a “band of prophets” coming down from “the high place with’ a number of musical instruments, and they would “prophesy” (mithnabeʾim); also that “the Spirit of Jehovah” would then “come mightily upon” him so that he too would prophesy (hithnabbitha) and be “turned into another man.” These events occurred as predicted.

The third is I Sam. 19:18–24. This instance also concerns prophesying by Saul who was now king. He had recently sent three different groups of messengers to apprehend David who had fled from Saul and gone to Samuel at Ramah.  All three groups met Samuel standing head over a band of prophets who were prophesying, and the result was that the messengers, each time, joined with these in this activity. Finally Saul himself went. But while yet on the way, he experienced the “Spirit of God” coming upon him and he “prophesied” (yithnabbeʾ) also. Later, after coming to where the others were, he further removed some of his clothing and lay in an apparent stupor the rest of that day and the following night.

 18 Observing that this is the first occurrence of the phrase “sons of the prophets,” E. J. Young suggests that the switch to this title implies a closer tie with a spiritual father than existed in the days of Samuel (My Servants the Prophets [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952] 92). However, the question about Saul’s being the new “father” to the prophetic band in 1 Sam 10:12 (cf. 2 Kgs 2:12) and Samuel’s presiding over the band in 1 Sam 19:20 implies continuity between the phenomena in the days of Samuel and Elijah.

23 This is not to say that all participants in a procession were the source of oracles. For example, if even one individual among the group served as a source for verbal content and the rest followed antiphonally, then all might be said to prophesy. Someone joining this band through the impulse of the Spirit might be said to prophesy because he acted and sang with the band. There is no evidence for this, but these speculations should demonstrate that the possibilities are broader than usually admitted in the discussions.

5   The text says that David came to Samuel at “naioth in Ramah.” Naioth means “dwelling.” Since Samuel’s group of prophets also was there, this “dwelling” may have been the building in which the school of these prophet’s met.


ESV Clarion

I received my long-awaited ESV Clarion this week. It has been plagued by delays and false starts, but it is finally in print. For a long time I have been looking for “the one.” A Bible that is the right size, the right translation, single-columned and made with attention to detail. I want this Bible to be my workhorse until I am old enough to need large print. And the Clarion ESV is the one: a gorgeous font that is the right size, and the right form-factor for a Bible – not huge and not tiny.  The font used is Lexicon.

There are some excellent pictures of these Bibles here. The Bible Design Blog has some cool pictures of the text block here, including this one:

Conservative Biblicistic Protestants

James B. Jordan offers the term "conservative Biblicistic protestant" as definition for what he is (what happened to post-Reconstructionist)? He is right on the money in defining the fear of the Bible in "evangelical" circles:

Your standard evangelical scholar, while he affirms the inerrancy of the Bible based on his understanding of the Bible, is still sadly Biblo-phobic. He is terrified of the stipulations of the “laws of Moses” as he calls them. He finds the Psalter unpalatable: too mean, too rough. He rejects the chronology of the Bible, despite its universal acceptance throughout the history of Christendom. He is committed to a minimalist approach to the Bible: no significant numbers, nothing in the stellar heavens, no openness to revisionist history of the ancient world, as little typology as possible, etc. I’ve heard older men at Evangelical Theological Society meetings complain about “all these chiasms” as if they refused to look again at the text to see what might be there. (Though I can sympathize with an old guy’s reluctance to reopen everything!) It can be said that this kind of “evangelicalism” wants some amount of acceptability in the world of late 19th and early 20th century scholarship. They don’t seem to realize that the world has turned and that a far more penetrating understanding of writing now prevails.

Oh, and of course, virtually all American “evangelicals” are committed to the notion that Jesus does not intend to disciple all nations. (He was just joking, it seems.) In fact, Jesus might return at any moment. Not only so, but it is important for our personal sanctification that we believe this notion and act as if the world might end any time.

I think we should be able to agree that Christians who are ashamed of what the Bible says need to be corrected and do better.

Theology of the Psalms

My Bible reading plan for the year takes me through the Psalms four times. I am struck again and again in reading them by how our hollow, “All You Need is Love” theologies fail to deal with the full range of Scriptural data. For example:


The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;

he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.

Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;

surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Calvin said of this verse: “It might appear at first sight that the feeling here attributed to the righteous is far from being consistent with the mercy which ought to characterise them; but we must remember, as I have often observed elsewhere, that the affection which David means to impute to them is one of a pure and well-regulated kind; and in this case there is nothing absurd in supposing that believers, under the influence and guidance of the Holy Ghost, should rejoice in witnessing the execution of divine judgments.”


The LORD judges the peoples;

judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness

and according to the integrity that is in me.

St. Augustine says, “But now, since being called he hath held and kept the commandments which he received, he is bold to say, “Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to my harmlessness, that is upon me.” Calvin, however, says: “But it is asked, how can David here boast of his own integrity before God, when in other places he deprecates God entering into judgment with him? The answer is easy, and it is this: The subject here treated of is not how he could answer if God should demand from him an account of his whole life; but, comparing himself with his enemies, he maintains and not without cause, that, in respect of them, he was righteous. But when each saint passes under the review of God’s judgment, and his own character is tried upon its own merits, the matter is very different, for then the only sanctuary to which he can betake himself for safety, is the mercy of God.”


Thou dost hate all who do iniquity,

Calvin again: “And assuredly he would not be the judge of the world if there were not laid up in store with him a recompense for all the ungodly. One use, then, which may be made of this doctrine is this, — when we see the wicked indulging themselves in their lusts, and when, in consequence, doubts steal into our minds as to whether God takes any care of us, we should learn to satisfy ourselves with the consideration that God, who hates and abhors all iniquity, will not permit them to pass unpunished, and although he bear with them for a time, he will at length ascend into the judgment-seat, and show himself an avenger, as he is the protector and defender of his people.”


How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones

Against the rock.

Calvin says that this could only be asked for in prayer because it had prophesied: “To pray for vengeance would have been unwarrantable, had not God pro-raised it, and had the party against whom it was sought not been reprobate and incurable; for as to others, even our greatest enemies, we should wish their amendment and reformation.”

Augustine makes it apply to our spiritual life: “What are the little ones of Babylon? Evil desires at their birth. For there are, who have to fight with inveterate lusts. When lust is born, before evil habit giveth it strength against thee, when lust is little, by no means let it gain the strength of evil habit; when it is little, dash it. But thou fearest, lest though dashed it die not; “Dash it against the Rock; and that Rock is Christ.”

Cultic Shrines from the Time of David

PaleoJudaica has this interesting story up today. Briefly:

Jerusalem, May 8, 2012—Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced today the discovery of objects that for the first time shed light on how a cult was organized in Judah at the time of King David. During recent archaeological excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, Garfinkel and colleagues uncovered rich assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and cult objects. These include three large rooms that served as cultic shrines, which in their architecture and finds correspond to the biblical description of a cult at the time of King David.

This discovery is extraordinary as it is the first time that shrines from the time of early biblical kings were uncovered. Because these shrines pre-date the construction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years, they provide the first physical evidence of a cult in the time of King David, with significant implications for the fields of archaeology, history, biblical and religion studies.

The absence of cultic images of humans or animals in the three shrines provides evidence that the inhabitants of the place practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines, observing a ban on graven images.

The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. Such construction is typical of royal activities, thus indicating that state formation, the establishment of an elite, social level and urbanism in the region existed in the days of the early kings of Israel. These finds strengthen the historicity of the biblical tradition and its architectural description of the Palace and Temple of Solomon.

According to Prof. Garfinkel, “This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David. Even in Jerusalem we do not have a clear fortified city from his period. Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong.” Garfinkel continued, “Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. This suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two biblical bans—on pork and on graven images—and thus practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines.”

The Tower of Bible-on

Inspired by this post (and this series), and acknowledging that all of my Bibles are *not* leather, I felt like taking a picture of my Bible stack. It was hard to capture, so here are two views, labeled from bottom to top:

(the stacks differ in each picture)

In the bottom picture:

1. Bottom: Thompson Chain Reference, KJV. Cowhide, bonded leather. Published by B.B. Kirkbride Bible Co. from Indianapolis. I got this as a kid and used it a lot. I used to read KJV all the time as a kid, I wish I could now.

2. ESV Study Bible. Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, Illinois. This thing is so big that is almost unusable.

3. The New English Bible with Apocrypha. Hardcover from Oxford and Cambridge University Press. I love the single column but the NEB is very erratic.

4. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, RSV. Hardcover from Oxford University Press. The study notes are totally liberal and sold out to higher criticism, but the text itself is very nice.

5. The NRSV Notetaker’s Bible with the Apocrypha. Hardcover from Oxford University Press.

6. ESV. Hardcover from Crossway Bibles. This was the first ESV I received back in 2001.

7. ESV Classic Thinline edition. Crossway Bibles. This thing hasn’t seen that much use and it is already falling apart.

8. New English Bible, pew version illustrated by Horace Knowles. Hardcover from Oxford and Cambridge University Press. I bought this due to the illustrations, Knowles did some really cool work.

9. RSV rebound by Mechling Bookbindery. Published by Thomas Nelson & Sons. This was a gift to my Mom from my Dad at Christmas 1969. It was heavily used and the pages are pretty yellow in spots. Still, it’s sad to see something fall apart so quickly.

10. KJV published by Cambridge University Press and rebound by Mechling. My Mom picked this up in 1976 and put it through its paces. The cover was a shambles and the text block was detaching from the covers, but the pages are in decent shape due to the quality of the paper.

11. Confraternity New Testament, translated from the Latin Vulgate. Hardcover from St. Anthony Guild Press, Paterson NJ in 1941. An interesting one column version brought to my attention by the Bible Design blog last year.

12. NASB Pitt Minion Reference Edition. Goatskin leather by Cambridge University Press. The print on this thing is so small that my old eyes almost can’t read it, but it is a really nice version.

13. NASB Reference Edition, Cambridge University Press, hardcover with India paper. Rebound by Frank Powell. This is my favorite Bible. It is the perfect size and the font size is very readable. I received it in 1983 and it has held up very well. Back then the NASB still used ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ when addressing God in prayer and I think it’s a great modern translation.

14. A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. Soft-cover from Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, Rome. This book is groovy.

15. KJV Transetto Edition, Cambridge University Press. The most unique Bible I have due to its format.

Extras in the top picture:

1. The Promise, Contemporary English Version. Soft-cover from Thomas Nelson. This is one of the endless modern language versions, but it’s actually surprisingly good in places.

2. Holy Bible, Today’s English Version and Today’s Chinese Version, published by the United Bible Societies. A side by side English and Chinese version that my sister bought me in Taiwan. It’s not quite leather but not quite anything else either; very hard to describe.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Philo says that the smoke of Sodom and Gomorrah was still rising in the first century:

And a most evident proof of this is to be found in what is seen to this day: for the smoke which is still emitted, and the sulphur which men dig up there, are a proof of the calamity which befell that country; while a most conspicuous proof of the ancient fertility of the land is left in one city, and in the land around it.

[On Abraham 141.]

Therefore on this occasion, as the holy scriptures tell us, thunderbolts fell from heaven, and burnt up those wicked men and their cities; and even to this day there are seen in Syria monuments of the unprecedented destruction that fell upon them, in the ruins, and ashes, and sulphur, and smoke, and dusky flame which still is sent up from the ground as of a fire smouldering beneath;

[Life of Moses 2.56]

Wisdom of Solomon 10.7 says the same thing:

Evidence of their wickedness still remains:
a continually smoking waste-land,
plants bearing fruit that does not ripen,
and a pillar of salt standing as a monument to an unbelieving soul.

70 A.D. Again

Doug Wilson points out something that should be glaringly obvious, but which I have overlooked:

Virtually all the books of the New Testament have an expectant air about them. They are all waiting for something drastic that will happen soon, and not one of them even mentions the most cataclyismic event in Jewish history — the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 — as being past. That event was the destruction of the old Judaic order and its replacement by the Christian church, the new Israel (Heaven Misplaced, p. 111).

Indeed. How could the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. go completely unmentioned in the NT unless it hadn’t happened yet? All the books would therefore predate it.