Severian of Gabala : 2 Testaments, 2 Brothers

Severian of Gabala in his Sermons on Genesis says,

The two Testaments are brothers: they issue from the same father, and that is why they express themselves in similar terms. They have almost exactly the same appearance, the same traits. Just as there many points of similarity between two brothers, whom the same father brought into the world, there is the same close relationship between the two Testaments, whose origin is the same. In the Old Testament, the law appeared first, followed by the prophets ; in the New Grace, the Gospel is first and the apostles follow. Here we find twelve prophets, namely Hosea and others: then the four famous ones, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. In turn the New Testament gives us twelve apostles and four evangelists. It is by brothers that the voice of God in the Old Testament is made known; because Moses and Aaron were the first ones charged to set forth the will of the Lord: similarly, in the Gospel, the first that were called were Peter and Andrew. There was only a regular grace, here a grace two times more precious. There the were two brothers were called Aaron and Moses ; here there are two brothers twice, Peter and Andrew, and James and John. It was the intention of Christ to offer us an image of love in the Holy Spirit, and to make us brothers at the same time by feeling and spirit: in consequence he takes nature as a foundation; he joins to it the tender feelings of humanity, and with that he built the foundations of his Church. In the Old Testament, the first miracle that appears is the changing of the waters from a river into blood ; the first miracle that we see in the New is the changing of water into wine.

I love the bit about Moses, Aaron, Peter, Andrew, James and John. A doubling of the Old Covenant pattern.

OT in the NT

Doug Wilson has a short snippet on marking up his Bible:

“When I was first working through this, I bought a Bible I could mark up well. I then spent a few weeks looking up every passage in the Old Testament that is quoted in the New. Many Bibles will mark such cross-references in the New Testament, but it is rarely done in the Old. I highlighted every quotation from the Old Testament in the New Testament, and then I looked it up in the Old Testament and highlighted it there. Then I wrote in the Old Testament margin where in the New Testament this passage was quoted. When I was done, I had sloppily executed The Apostolic Study Bible. When I was reading in the Old Testament, I could immediately tell if Jesus, Peter, or Paul had ever discussed the passage I was currently wondering about. I would then look at what they said, and the striking thing is that they were consistently surprising. They oftensaid the passage I was reading was not about what I had thought it was” (Heaven Misplaced, p. 95).

I did the same thing to my favorite NAS back in the Nineties and it was and is an invaluable aid to study.

Greeks in Israel

In Peter Leithart’s excellent paper “Did Plato Read Moses”, he wrote:

According to Elias J. Bickerman, “long before Alexander, Greeks and Jews had encountered each other outside their homelands. In the Persian period [i.e., late sixthand early fight centuries] the Jewis diaspora had spread from the Ethiopean frontier to the Caspian Sea. And almost everywhere these Jews had come across Greek traders, craftsmen, and mercenaries.” It is possible, he suggests, that “Hebrew ideas and images could have reached Greece long before Alexander.”

Leithart also cites Neusner on the extent of the diaspora.

By the second century B.C., Jacob Neusner writes,

Every territory in the plain of the Tigris and Euphrates, from Armenia to the Persian Gulf, as well as north eastward to the Caspian Sea, and eastward to Media, contained Jewish populations, and in some of these places, particularly in Babylonia and Adiabene, these settlements were populous and strong.

With this in mind, I read with interest this story about a Greek helmet discovered in Haifa Bay today. An excerpt:

At the time the helmet was made, circa 600 B.C., Greek colonies dotted the Mediterranean coast, stretching from the Black Sea to southern France. Even so, there is no evidence of Greek colonies in Israel, indicating the warrior who ventured into Haifa Bay was likely the leader of a group of Greek mercenaries.
This warrior was likely one of Egyptian pharaoh Necho II’s troops, which he sent through Israel accompanied by a fleet of ancient ships. The pharaoh was heavily involved in military campaigns in the region for nearly a decade, operations in which this warrior and his group likely were involved.
“They were not fighting for the Greeks, they were fighting for Egypt,” Sharvit told LiveScience in an interview.
The series of wars engulfed Egypt, Judah (a Jewish kingdom), Assyria and Babylon, with Necho II of Egypt intervening on the side of Assyria.
The end result of these conflicts was the conquest of Judah and the rise of a resurgent Babylon led by King Nebuchadnezzar II. These events would be immortalized in the Torah (the Christian Old Testament).
At some point, amidst all this history, the elite Greek warrior’s helmet ended up at the bottom of Haifa Bay.

Plato lived from somewhere around 424 BC and died somewhere around 347 BC. This Greek mercenary helmet, circa 600 BC, is yet another point of contact showing that it is eminently possible that Jewish Scriptures or at least knowledge of them was passed from Israel to Greece. Plato may indeed have read Moses.


Romans 13.13 says: Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy.” It is obvious what drunkenness is, but what is “carousing”? The Greek word is “κωμοις”, “komos.” Strong’s Concordance defines this as:

a revel, carousal 1a) a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry.

This page elaborates on the Greek god Komos or Comus:

KOMOS (or Comus) was the god of revelry, merrymaking and festivity. He was the son and the cup-bearer of the god Dionysos…

It quotes Philostratus the Elder, from Imagines 1. 2:

And what else is there of the revel? Well, what but the revellers? Do you not hear the castanets and the flute’s shrill note and the disorderly singing? The torches give a faint light, enough for the revellers to see what is close in front of them, but not enough for us to see them. Peals of laughter rise, and women rush along with men, wearing men’s sandals and garments girt in strange fashion; for the revel permits women to masquerade as men, and men to put on women’s garb and to ape the walk of women. Their crowns are no longer fresh but, crushed down on the head on account of the wild running of the dancers, they have lost their joyous look; for the free spirit of the flowers deprecates the touch of the hand as causing them to wither before their time. The painting also represents in a way the din which the revel most requires; the right hand with bent fingers strikes the hollowed palm of the left hand, in order that the hands beaten like cymbals may resound in unison.

This gives me a better idea of what St. Paul had in mind.

Holy War

Alastair has a good post up about Holy War in the Old Testament. A sampling:

This is a point that the biblical text continually underlines: the Canaanites were not innocent and mild-mannered nations minding their own business, but brutal and bloody oppressors of other peoples, nations who perverted and defiled the image of God through all forms of sexual immorality and unfaithfulness, nations steeped in injustice and involved in the enslaving and subjugation of others, worshippers of cruel gods who demanded child sacrifice. This is the rationale that the Bible gives for the complete eradication of their culture. The Canaanites were perceived in a manner that made them the Nazis of their day, a society so evil and depraved that it had to be completely uprooted, and no form of compromise made with it. No tears were to be shed over the death of anyone who fought to defend that culture and the wickedness that it represented and perpetrated.

Asa and the High Places

Here is another alleged discrepancy: in 2 Chronicles 14 we are told that King Asa removed the high places:

And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. (2 Chronicles 14:2-5 ESV)

But in I Kings 15:14 we read:

But the high places were not taken away.

Haley writes:

Bahr, Thenius, Bertheau, and others say that the high places dedicated to idols were destroyed; while those dedicated to Jehovah were allowed to remain, since his true servants, having been long accustomed to them, might have been grieved by their removal. Keil thinks that the second text merely implies that the king did not succeed in carrying out thoroughly his reforms. Rawlinson suggests that the above texts refer to different times; Asa, in the early part of his reign, putting down idolatry with a strong hand, but in his later years, when his character had deteriorated, allowing idol-worship to creep in again.

Again, any of these things seems possible. In my mind, leaving the high places of Yaweh in place would make the most sense in this case, but that’s only a guess.

Abigail’s Father

Many years ago, I picked up Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible by John W. Haley. I haven’t looked at it much, but thought it might be helpful to post some of these online, since the Bible is always under attack from within and without the Church. So, without further ado, here is the first discrepancy:

II Samuel 17.25 : Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite, who had married Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.

In II Samuel Abigail’s father is Nahash, while in Chronicles it is Jesse:

1 Chronicles 2: 13,16: Jesse fathered Eliab his firstborn…And their sisters were Zeruiah and Abigail.

Haley says: “The rabbis say that both names belonged to the same person; Ewald and Keil, that Abigail’s mother had a former husband, Nahash, previous to her marriage with Jesse.”

Either of these solutions is plausible. This is a fairly weak “discrepancy.”

Knowing the Scriptures

John Brown of Wamphray writes:

We ought to be so well acquainted with the Scriptures, that the very reciting of the words should be enough to put us to the place where it is, though it be not named: therefore does Paul only say As it is written; naming neither where, nor by whom.

Immersive Scripture Reading

Joe Carter has an excellent post at First Things on changing your life by absorbing Scripture. He says:

1. Choose a book of the Bible.

2. Read it in its entirety.

3. Repeat step #2 twenty times.

4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.

Christians often talk about having a Biblical worldview yet most have only a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible. They attempt to build a framework without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. The benefits of following this process should therefore be obvious. By fully immersing yourself into the text you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your understanding of each book and knowledge of the  the Bible as a whole.

Read the whole thing.