David Bentley Hart’s “The New Testament: A Translation” & The Tyndale House Greek New Testament

Of the four most interesting books published in 2017, three of them are Christian, and of those three two are in Modern English, and one is in Koine Greek. Furthermore, of those three Christian books, two of them are the New Testament. In Greek, we have The Tyndale House Greek New Testament, and in English David Bentley Hart’s The New Testament: A Translation published by Yale. (For those interested, the other books of the four are The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher, and Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink.)

One would think that a new edition of the Greek New Testament would be of real interest and impact for Greek nerds, but the months following the release of both have seen unfold a unique situation. Outside of Evangelical Textual Criticism, Exegetical Tools, B-Greek, Textkit, and Nerdy Language Majors it would appear that the scholars, critics, and the rest of the world are either silent about it, don’t care about it, or don’t know about it. Indeed, no Orthodox Christian—clergy, laity, or scholar—has even mentioned it to my knowledge.

On the other hand, DBH’s translation has been addressed by all the groups mentioned or alluded to: clergy, laity, scholars, many of the internet groups and websites previously mentioned—both Orthodox and heterodox—have been talking about this translation. And with everything I’ve been reading, the discussion over this translation has brought out a fantastic amount of discussion concerning Koine Greek, exegesis, hermeneutics, textual criticism, dogma κ.τ.λ.

This isn’t to fault the people behind the THGNT. I own a physical copy and a copy in Accordance too and was reading St. James’ Epistle from the physical Bible on my flight back to Toronto from Winnipeg after Christmas. So I think its great (even though I am a Byzantine Textform proponent). But I think what most people are really looking forward to is the textual commentary that will accompany it, and the audio version read aloud by monks from the Orthodox Christian Monastery of the Transfiguration, Nafpaktos, in proper Greek pronunciation via BibleMesh (well, at least I am looking forward to both).

So due to the amount of relevant Greek material DBH’s translation has brought about I figured I would list here all the reviews, articles, and podcasts I have read and listened to. If any of my readers have found any that I don’t have listed here, please feel free to mention them in the comments or email me the link, and I will post new reviews as I finish reading them.

As for my own thoughts on the translation, which  have been asked, I relayed them on Instagram and other than a couple grammatical errors, my thoughts remain the same (so far):

“I think it is incredibly interesting, especially once one really understands what he is and is not attempting to do with his translation. Most reviewers fail to understand, and it shows. I had pre-ordered it on Amazon after reading an excerpt from the preface or intro that appealed to my love of Greek, and at first, as I read it I thought the translation was only of any real value if you know Koine Greek. As I read more, the vividness and oddity of the Greek were really brought forth in the English, so much so I bought my wife a copy for Xmas. It is definitely not for Liturgical use, but that wasn’t his intent. My only criticism so far is that he used the NA28/UBS5 as his Greek text, though he does note Majority Text differences.”

To elaborate, the most disappointing thing about reading the reviews and articles is that they mostly fail to understand what Hart is doing and devise straw man attacks against him due to their misunderstanding. And Hart’s Orthodox opponents sadden me the most, especially when they call his translation into question and then resort to non-Orthodox scholars, translations, and commentaries to support their point—the same point from the same non-Orthodox scholars, translations, and commentaries which were the cause for the translation effort in the first place!

The most depressing thing, however, indeed must be that the Orthodox and heterodox alike seem to take a major issue, not with ἀποκατάστασις, but instead push back against him when it comes to moneyThe lady doth protest too much, methinks… It reminds me of a story my Bishop told us seminarians during breakfast one morning. A priest and a doctor were out for a walk one day, talking about this and that, lost in conversation when they neared the edge of a cliff. The priest fell and was holding onto the crumbling edge, fingers slowly losing their grip. The doctor yelled to the priest, “Give me your hand, Father!” The priest, unfortuantely, lost his grip and fell to his death. The doctor ran to the priest’s home to tell the presvytera the awful news. She answered the door and broke down in tears as the story was retold, the doctor recounting to her “I said to him, “Give me your hand!”” The presvytera looked up and said to the poor doctor, “Oh, you should’ve said “Take my hand,” instead.”

In case it escapes you, the moral of the story is that priests want to take and not give, they love money. And if the reviews of Hart’s translation are anything to go by, it appears money and the defence of having and acquiring it is one issue that Protestants and Orthodox are united on, amongst the laity, and sadly even more so among the clergy.

******

23/31 October 2017 – The Tears and Laughter of the New Testament: Why David Bentley Hart’s Translation is a Glorious Failure By Wesley Hill

November 2017 – The Gospel According to David Bentley – Paul V. Mankowski, S.J.

29 December 2017 – The Hart Idiosyncratic Version – Fr. John Whiteford

January/February 2018 – A Mind-Bending Translation of the New Testament – James Parker

15 January 2018 – The New Testament in the strange words of David Bentley Hart – N.T. Wright

8 February 2018 – A Wild and Indecent Book – Garry Wills

11 February 2018 – Anent Gary Wills and the “DBH” Version by David Bentley Hart

11 October 2018 – The Vale of Abraham by David Bentley Hart

David Bentley Hart is an Eastern Orthodox scholar of religion, and a philosopher, writer and cultural commentator. He is an fellow/associate at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, and has held positions at the University of Virginia, Duke University, and Providence College. He lives in South Bend, Indiana and attends a Greek Orthodox parish.

Mormonism

Part I: Reading The Book of Mormon

I’ve been listening to this podcast habitually starting with Episode 1 since I discovered it. It is called Naked Mormonism, and if you ever wanted to know about what would appear to be the failure of religion, this is a great place to start.

As Orthodox Christians, we have two options. The first is that there is no salvation outside the Orthodox Church; this is the traditional view until the rise of the heresy of Ecumenism. The second option which has become en vogue today is that all people proclaiming to be Christians are in fact somehow Christians (how people who believe different things can have the same label is beyond me, but you make more money off conferences and academic articles if you play the Ecumenism game).

This leaves Orthodox Ecumenists (a real oxymoron) painted in a corner because the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Community of Christ are “Member Communions” of the National Council of Churches.

My point being that if Mormons and Orthodox Christians are both equally “Christian” then this podcast reveals the significant failure of Christianity. Littered throughout the episodes are the stories of the casualties of Ecumenical Christianity:  Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Non-Denominationalism, Full-Gospel Non-Denominationalism, World Assemblies of God Fellowship (Assemblies of God), Messianic Judaism (Judaism too), and American Protestant Revivalism, Protestant Restorationism, and Classical Protestantism. People who were never taught—or at best taught poorly—share their stories; as someone educated in these matters, the ignorance and fallacious thought-processes are striking, and their personal stories heartbreaking. But this is what religious leaders are dealing with, or worse yet, are complicit in compounding.

My own interest in Mormonism goes way back to when I was an adolescent occultist. On TV the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would air these commercials on Canadian TV for free Book of Mormons and Mormon KJV Bibles. So, of course, I and my friend Critter would order ridiculous amounts of them using various names, but always the same address. This must’ve been around Grade 7, Junior High, whatever age that makes me I’m not sure.

Around this time I also saw the movie The God Makers on VHS, and lucky for me I had a copy of The Satanic Bible, so when the film brings out The Satanic Bible I was able to check “The Book of Lucifer” just to make sure they were lying, which of course I already knew—as I basically knew that whole Bible by heart already at that age. Maybe that’s why Mormonism stuck with me so much, perhaps I wondered why so-called Protestant groups would lie about what The Satanic Bible said in order to show Mormonism was false?

I kept up my studies of Mormonism throughout the years, and it was the summer prior to my first year of seminary, August of 2015?, when I first learned that the LDS had released photos of Smith’s seer stone that got me researching more and I concluded that Mormonism is not a human fabrication, but one of the best cases of the demonic, that it is a literally Satanic religion. I came to this conclusion as a demonologist, and it is from this perspective that the LDS movement is of great interest to me.

So my summer reading, thanks to this podcast, is to read the Book of Mormon, as I have never read the entire thing. So I plan on reading it cover-to-cover. At first I was going to read the Penguin edition, which is “based on the last edition supervised by Joseph Smith before his violent and untimely death at the age of thirty-eight,” but have since decided upon reading the Yale Book of Mormon, edited by the Mormon at the head of the Critical Text Project, Royal Skousen. Feel free to join me, and we can bounce ideas around. The Book of Mormon alone should make this a rather interesting Summer. So buy some excellent craft beer, roll out a blanket or open up an umbrella over a deck, and cheers to an honest reading of a book held to be North-American-made-Scripture by very many people all over the planet.

Part II: Timeline

(Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy etc. here)

Part III: Resources

Naked Mormonism Podcast

National Council of Churches – Member Communions

Community of Christ

The God makers

The Satanic Bible

The Book of Mormon – Penguin

The Book of Mormon – Yale

Royal Skousen

The Book of Mormon Critical Text Project

6 August 2015 – Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript, Photos of Seer Stone Featured in New Book

8 September 2015 – How BYU Destroyed Ancient Book of Mormon Studies

20 April 2016 – Are Mormons Developing Toward Greater Orthodoxy? – Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick

May 2016 – MORMONS APPROACHING ORTHODOXY – Richard J. Mouw

June 2016 – Mormons at the Forefront – Terryl Givens

13 May 2017 – Utah’s Largest Newspaper Interviews Mormon to Orthodox Christian Convert – Cameron Davis

13 May 2017 – Utah Mormons, Protestants finding new spiritual home in ancient Orthodox church: Utah Mormons and Protestants are rediscovering a reverence for God by converting to Orthodoxy. – Bob Mims

3 January 2018 – Faith and Doubt: Mormonism and Orthodox Christianity – Arthur Hatton

 

Review: James: A Commentary on the Greek Text

James: A Commentary on the Greek Text James: A Commentary on the Greek Text by William Varner

My Goodreads rating: 2 of 5 stars (2 stars on Goodreads = “it was ok”)
My Amazon.ca rating: 3 of 5 stars (3 stars on Amazon.ca = “It’s okay”)

James: A Commentary on the Greek Text. By William C. Varner. Fontes Press, 2017, 423 pp. ISBN: 1-948048-01-9, $22.90 on Amazon.ca.

There were many reasons why I wanted to read and review this book. Obviously, those that know me know that I’ve become a nerd over Ancient Greek. That is one reason. The other is that among Orthodox Christians—and ironically among Greek Orthodox Christians—the Biblical, Patristic, and original Liturgical languages are given very little thought. In fact, when they are it is in order to move away from them toward the vernacular or something similar; and so anything written about Greek interests me immensely.

The reasons for the general lack of interest in original languages are tied to our rich Orthodox history of bringing the Scriptures and Liturgy to the people in their own native tongue. Also, we don’t subscribe to verbal plenary inspiration—which is also why textual criticism is almost non-existent within and among us Orthodox. Well, that and the Orthodox φρόνημα and Tradition contain views such as Origen’s that all the variants were/are inspired, and the idea of the great Slavophile lay-theologian Aleksei Khomyakov’s that everything the (Orthodox) Church writes is Scripture.

One of the difficulties in reviewing a book by a non-Orthodox author is that it must be taken on its own merits and not measured against an Orthodox standard to which it was never written to be measured against, or as I believe Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick wrote somewhere: the Orthodox Church doesn’t theologize outside of Her bounds. With that in mind I proceed, and for those reading this, I am attempting to write from the stance of an Orthodox Christian who loves Greek writing to other Orthodox Christians who love Greek too.

William Varner’s James: A Commentary on the Greek Text is a serious piece of work; he subscribes to Porter’s view on “verbal aspect,” and in his recent appearance on Exegetical Tools, he says it is intended for those who are at least second-year Greek students. At 442 pages, it is much, much longer than the actual text it is commentating on, which can be to its detriment. It is easy to lose track of the verse in question and end up deep in a textual discussion related only to a section (or just one word) of the verse being commented upon. For comparison, The Epistle of Saint James: A Commentary by Archbishop Dimitri Royster (whose relics have been found to be incorrupt, but not officially declared as such) is 152 pages in length.

On page xv, we are told that it is a reworking of an earlier book, and while reading this book, it came to my attention that Evangelical academia has had a few issues with plagiarism as of late. And it was via the Facebook Nerdy Language Majors group that I discovered that unfortunately Varner’s original book of which this is a reworking of was one of them. I am not in any level of academia to be saying anything about those issues, but as a student myself plagiarism is always something on my mind and even more so now when I can see that even at the highest level it can occur, at least hopefully, accidentally. I didn’t want to mention this topic, but there were at least two areas in the present work where proper attestation was probably accidentally missed. A footnote appears to be missing sourcing Metzger’s Commentary on verse 1:19, and on page 325 a footnote sourcing Patrick J. Hartin’s commentary on James in the Sacra Pagina series appears to be missing.

Not a missing citations per se, but rather that there possibly should be citations; to clarify my point: on pp. 99-100, when I read that I thought I had read it before, and to me, it appears to come nearly verbatim from Metzger.

Varner:

“Instead of the abrupt Ἴστε opening 1:19, the Byzantine family of manuscripts and the Textus Receptus connect the following ἔστω δὲ (dropping δὲ) more closely with 1:18 by substituting ὥστε, which is supported by a variety of later witnesses (Κ Π Ψ 614 Byz syrp). The reading adopted as the text, however, is strongly supported by both Alexandrian and Western witnesses (אc B C 81 1739 it vg).”

Metzger:

“Instead of reading the abrupt ἴστε, the Textus Receptus connects the following ἔστω (dropping δέ) more closely with ver. 18 by substituting ὥστε, in company with a variety of later witnesses (K P2 Ψ 614 Byz syrp, h al). The reading adopted as the text is strongly supported by both Alexandrian and Western witnesses (ℵc B C (81) 1739 itff vg al).”

Same with p. 325,

Varner:

“This expression of dependence on the Lord is known as the “Jacobean condition” (conditio Jacobaea). Such a sentiment is not absent from secular authors. Probably the most characteristic example is found in the following exchange: “‘If you wish, Socrates.’ ‘That is not well said, Alcibiades.’ ‘Well, what should I say?’ ‘If God wills’ [ἐὰν βούλῃ σύ, ὦ Σώκρατες. οὐ καλῶς λέγεις, ὦ Ἁλκιβίαδη. ἀλλὰ πῶς χρὴ λέγειν; ὅτι ἐὰν θεὸς ἐθέλῃ]” (Plato, Alc. 1.135d). The attitude that it expresses, however, is thoroughly widespread among NT characters and authors.”

Hartin:

“The expression “If the Lord wishes” has been called the “conditio Jacobaea.” However, the phrase was not coined by James, as there is ample evidence to show it was a common expression in the Greco-Roman world (“deo volente”): e.g., Plato’s Dialogue, Alcibiades I, contains an interesting exchange:

Socrates: And do you know how to escape out of your present state …?
Alcibiades: Yes, I do.
Socrates: How?
Alcibiades: By your help, Socrates.
Socrates: That is not well said, Alcibiades.
Alcibiades: What ought I to have said?
Socrates: By the help of God.
Alcibiades: I agree … (Plato, Alc. 1:135d [Jowett]; see also Plato, Phaed. 80d).

A similar thought and expression are found in other New Testament writings: e.g., “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills …” (1 Cor 4:19; see also 1 Cor 16:7; Acts 18:21; Heb 6:3). This shows that James is using a popular phrase from the culture of his world, be it Hellenistic or Christian.”

(Patrick J. Hartin, James, ed. Daniel J. Harrington, vol. 14, Sacra Pagina Series (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003), 225.)

Could be a forgotten citation, could be different researchers independently arriving at the same conclusions, could be plagiarism. I don’t know, I just know that to me they appear too similar and make me more cautious with my own writing.

To be fair, typing those sections into Grammarly and turning on plagiarism detection yields nothing, and Metzger’s Commentary is listed in the Bibliography; however, Hartin’s Sacra Pagina volume is not, but other writings of his are.

Again, staying away from critiquing theological issues, it is pertinent to note that this book takes positions on St. James and the Theotokos which are incompatible with Orthodox Christianity. However, a point that is of concern for Orthodox Christians that I will comment on is Varner’s view that the Majority Text and the Byzantine Text are “basically synonymous.” I would say that he is basically correct, but that at higher levels of Greek scholarship the distinction between the Byzantine and Majority Texts should be stated and that they should be referred to as separate (a mistake even The Center for the Study and Preservation of the Majority Text makes, in my opinion). I maintain this view despite what the editors of The Orthodox Study Bible with its NKJV English and Majority Text Greek say.

Furthermore, it is disappointing that the Robinson-Pierpont 2005 Byzantine Textform, the Hodges-Farstad 1985 Majority Text, the Patriarchal Text of 1904/1912 are not mentioned in the Bibliography. So one can only assume when Varner refers to the Byzantine and Majority Texts he is referring to 𝔐 as found in NA27, which follows the change NA26 made from NA25, as NA28 (at least in the Catholic Epistles) has brought back a wider variety of symbols regarding the Byzantine and Majority Texts. (It must be noted that as I write this I am in Niverville, Manitoba and I only have with me NA26 and NA28; my copies of NA25 and NA27 are in Toronto, Ontario in my dorm room. I will be back in Toronto on Saturday to correct any mistakes I may have made regarding these symbols and to what they are referring.) Tangent to this is that many times his preference for the Alexandrian Text comes through at the expense of assuming certain things about Byzantine scribal practices as well as their knowledge of Greek grammar and syntax (pp. 273 & 306).

What is great about this book, for me, is that he utilizes the THGNT, he mentions the Orthodox order of the Catholic Epistles in the Πραξαπόστολος on p. 34 (which ironically all printed Orthodox Bibles I’ve seen in Koine Greek, Katharevousa, Modern Greek, and English no longer follow), refers to oral recitation (pp. 106, 318, 324), refers to the ancient pronunciation (p. 225) in a manner Orthodox would agree with, and throughout the whole commentary he makes numerous references to Homer, Plato, Aristotle, the LXX (however, contrary to pp. 379-380, 2 Maccabees is cononical, at least in Orthodox Christianity), Philo, Josephus, the Apostolic Fathers, Epictetus, and St. Bede. For these reasons, I would recommend all second-year Greek students who are genuine Koine Greek nerds buy this book, and I would add further that I truly feel this book would be much better as a book in Accordance or Verbum/Logos/Noet, it would open up a lot of the references for more in-depth personal study.

But I must close by relaying that by far my biggest problem with the book is pretty much the same problem I have with modern Koine Greek pedagogy in general. The book relies far too much on English translations of Greek texts for discussion of Greek grammar and syntax and that there is a plethora of quotes from Greek sources are given in translation. In a book titled as a commentary on the Greek text of James, I would expect there would be almost zero English translation. But the fact that English far outweighs the Greek in this book leads me to conclude that this book is better thought of as a commentary on the Epistle of St. James with reference to Greek, rather than as a commentary on the Greek text itself.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Todd Scacewater and Fontes Press for this opportunity and for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence the thoughts and opinions expressed in my review.

View all my reviews

 

How to Read Greek (and What to Read)

A funny thing is that Evangelicals, Protestants, and Catholics who actually know some Greek (as opposed to the “codebreaker types within those religions) answer the question of how to improve one’s Greek with something along the lines of “Read, read, read; and then read some more.”

The Greek Orthodox Church in North America, on the other hand, will teach Neohellenic Greek in their Greek schools (to be fair, I’ve found three Greek parishes in all of North America that teach “New Testament Greek”) to keep the culture alive while the Orthodox Church in Greece commends ignorance of Koine as “Koine has contributed to the “mystery” of the liturgy” The Fathers of the Church would be livid, as anyone familiar with St. Basil can assure you.

Lets us of the Greek Orthodox tradition remember that all Greek—from Homeric to Attic to Hellenistic/Koine to Medæval/Byzantine to Katharevousa to Demotic to Neohellenic—are all very much and absolutely an inextricable part of our Modern Hellenic culture, but more importantly, a part of our Eastern Roman religious heritage.

With that said, here are some suggestions on how to improve one’s Greek that I’ve found helpful and of which I implement:

9 October 2012 – N.T. Wright on learning Greek, and a review of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible by Zondervan

24 November 2012 – Do You Need to Speak Greek in Order to Read it?

1853? – The Greek of Homer a Living Language

11 December 2013 – Daily Greek Reading Setup

5 August 2015 – Keep Your Greek: Don’t Lose Your Vocabulary

17 September 2015 – 5 Ways to Improve Your Greek Speaking Skills

27 June 2017 – A Strategic Approach to Reading Background Texts of the New Testament (tangent to this is Increase Your Brain Power with Classics)

4 July 2017 – This Is Why You Should Study the Apocrypha Alongside the New Testament

6 July 2017 – Practice Greek Like a Master Violinist

Reading in 3s

This is excellent advice, and after reading this, I suggest reading this from The Patrologist as well. The comments especially, where it is asked of him, “Having finished elementary Greek, would you suggest any particular Greek grammars/authors? Just start reading Greek? Where should I begin in moving out to classical Greek?” To which he responds with,

“I’d say just get on with reading a lot of Greek, as much as possible. If you’ve finished elementary (NT) Greek, then start working at reading the New Testament, as much as possible. Start easy – John, Mark, and get to harder texts later. Try out Reading in Threes (https://thepatrologist.com/2017/05/22/reading-in-3s/). Then branch out to the Apostolic Fathers, they are a good bridge out of New Testament Greek.

At some point, depending on your goals, it’s worth branching into some Classical. In terms of texts, anything on Geoffrey Steadman’s site (geoffreysteadman.com) is great. A grammar is not a terrible idea, but for now I’d just say read, read, read.”

 

The Patrologist

This was mentioned to me by a student recently in a small group class that I am kind-of mentoring, and I think it’s worth adapting and sharing. The original idea, or at least where the student got it from, is Daniel Wallace, here. It’s the idea that you should translate each chapter of the New Testament three times, and rotate chapters in and out of rotation.

Now, I don’t really think you should be translating, I think you should be reading passages at a level you can comprehend with just a little bit of help. But I do think this idea has a lot of merit. Here’s how I’m implementing it in my own readings: the rule of 3s (see also Where Are Your Keys technique: Three Times)

So, say I’m reading a text, like Ørberg’s Roma Aeterna (which I happen to be. Everyone raves about the first book, Familia…

View original post 278 more words

Review: Greek for Life: Strategies for Learning, Retaining, and Reviving New Testament Greek

Greek for Life: Strategies for Learning, Retaining, and Reviving New Testament GreekGreek for Life: Strategies for Learning, Retaining, and Reviving New Testament Greek by Benjamin L Merkle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book to own for those who are either beginning their journey in Greek, have completed formal Greek schooling, and even for those who have lost what they once knew. For those who don’t know, one of the authors is Dr. Robert Plummer, the man behind The Daily Dose of Greek (which I suggest highly (except for the Erasmian pronunciation)).

Full of ideas, strategies, and anecdotes, one can’t help but be encouraged in one’s quest for Koine Greek acquisition. The book also has little boxed-quotes scattered along the text, and though these are Protestants, as far as what is quoted is related to the Greek texts of Scripture, the quotes are great and if anything that is said should make those Orthodox who decry the study of original languages blush with embarrassment.

I reccomend this book to all who thirst for the words of God and wish to meet them face-to-face rather than via “kissing the bride through a veil,” as I read recently; and especially for those few Orthodox Christians who love Koine Greek. The Church in modern times has placed such an emphasis on the vernacular. At the same time instead of translating from the Orthodox Greek New Testament into the speech of the people, we’ve been using Protestant English translations. Translated from the non-Orthodox critical text(s) of the Greek New Testament and Jewish Old Testament (the Orthodox Old Testament, for all Orthodox, is the Greek LXX, not the Jewish religion’s Hebrew text), these are inappropriate for Orthodox Christians.

I’ll conclude this review in two ways:

1.) For all: if you fall into any of the categories above, get this book.

2.) For Orthodox Christians: Keep in mind Question 1 from the “Confession of Dositheus” (Synod of Jerusalem, 1672), “Ought the Divine Scriptures to be read in the vulgar tongue by all Christians? No. For that all Scripture is divinely-inspired and profitable {cf. 2 Timothy 3:16} we know, and is of such necessity, that without the same it is impossible to be Orthodox at all. Nevertheless they should not be read by all, but only by those who with fitting research have inquired into the deep things of the Spirit, and who know in what manner the Divine Scriptures ought to be searched, and taught, and in fine read. But to such as are not so exercised, or who cannot distinguish, or who understand only literally, or in any other way contrary to Orthodoxy what is contained in the Scriptures, the Catholic Church, as knowing by experience the mischief arising therefrom, forbiddeth the reading of the same. So that it is permitted to every Orthodox to hear indeed the Scriptures, that he may believe with the heart unto righteousness, and confess with the mouth unto salvation; {Romans 10:10} but to read some parts of the Scriptures, and especially of the Old [Testament], is forbidden for the aforesaid reasons and others of the like sort. For it is the same thing thus to prohibit persons not exercised thereto reading all the Sacred Scriptures, as to require infants to abstain from strong meats.” Keeping the aforementioned in mind, now recall Josephus’ struggle, “…I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations….” (Antiquities of the Jews 20,11.2). Unfortunately, our “nation” doesn’t as well.

View all my reviews

Non-Lectionary Greek New Testament Reading Plans

4 Years – Master New Testament Greek Mastery Membership Program – Daryl Burling – Reader’s GNT

2 Years – Greek NT Two Year Calendar – Charles Lee Irons – UBS GNT: A Reader’s Edition, A Syntax Guide For Readers of the Greek New Testament by Charles Lee Irons, & BDAG

2 Years – Two Year Greek New Testament Reading Plan – Facebook Group – Any GNT (follows Charles Lee Irons’ 2 Year Plan)

1 Year – Greek New Testament Reading Plan – NT Greek Studies – UBS GNT: A Reader’s Edition & The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament by Cleon Rogers Jr. & Cleon Rogers III

1 Year – Greek NT One Year Calendar – Charles Lee Irons – UBS GNT: A Reader’s Edition, A Syntax Guide For Readers of the Greek New Testament by Charles Lee Irons, & BDAG

1 Year – Read through the Greek Gospels in 2018! – Accordance, a GNT, and Rod Decker’s Reading Koine Greek

260 Days – Reading through the Greek New Testament – Daniel Wallace – NA28 & A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament by Michael H. Burer and Jeffrey E. Miller

6 Months – 6-Month New Testament Reading Plan – From ESV.org, the new THGNT available there with many neat tools

28 Days – Reading through the Greek New Testament – Daniel Wallace – NA28 & A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament by Michael H. Burer and Jeffrey E. Miller

If any of my readers know of any plans I missed, send them my way. Thanks.

Toll Houses

I had an old post about this topic, where I began to compile all references to this subject. I’ll post the whole thing here:

Aerial Toll Houses (3rd Version, as of Friday 11 March AD 2016)

Here is a list of people that I have found through my own studies–and not from reading what someone else read–who believe the toll houses to be either literal and/or figurative/metaphorical:

circa 580-662 – St. Maximus the Confessor – L

“The Logos . . . reduce[d] to impotence the hostile powers that fill the intermediary region between heaven and earth . . . ” –On the Lord’s Prayer (circa 628-630

circa 7th century – St. Theodoros the Great Ascetic  – L & F

b1815-d1894 – St. Theophan the Recluse – L

b1896-d1966 – St. John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker – L

b1897/1898-d1959 – Elder Joseph the Hesychast – L

b1934-d1982 – Fr. Seraphim Rose – L & F

The Soul After Death by Fr. Seraphim Rose

b1934-d2015 – Fr. Thomas Hopko –  Allegory of a reality?

“Toll Houses: After Death Reality of Heresy?” (audio & transcript)

present day – Metropolitan Kallistos Ware – L & F

present day – Rdr. Thomas Sandberg – L & F

Upon release of The Departure of the Soul According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church I thought for sure the topic was closed, and all the Ecumenists, converts, and academic theologians would surely take a pause and reevaluate their error, especially in light of the endorsements of many Bishops.

I, of course, was wrong. Instead, those above have enough pride to say it is those exact same Bishops who endorse the book who are wrong. Such is the case with Paul Ladouceur’s book review posted on the Ancient Faith blog “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy,” entitled Orthodox Theologies of the Afterlife: Review of “The Departure of the Soul.” An interesting quirk here is that Ancient Faith, under whose umbrella the review is posted, also sells the book in question, which should give one pause.

I’m not going to go through his review and dissect his errors, of which there are many, as I’m sure the more astute readers will be commenting in the comment section, giving Fr. Damick much to defend Ladouceur over. Instead, I will point my readers to a much better and honest review of the book written by Fr. Lawrence Farley on his Ancient Faith blog “No Other Foundation” and published on June 11th, 2017, entitled Book Review: The Departure of the Soul; also, read the comments therein.

In closing, I would like to point out to my readers that Paul Ladouceur is employed by the Orthodox School of Theology at Trinity College, which “was established with the blessing of His Grace Irénée, Bishop of Ottawa and Canada, Orthodox Church in America.” This is important because as far as I know Ladouceur is a member of the OCA, and His Grace Irénée’s endorsement of the book Ladouceur essentially calls heretical for it’s “ecclesiology” can be found on page 19 of the book in question.

Update: I have since had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ladouceur many times now, and we have discussed many interesting topics. Some of those topics we are in agreement, others not so much; however, toll houses has yet to become a topic of conversation between us yet.

Free Bible Software for Greek

Without a doubt, I believe Accordance XII is the best. In fact, I was going to buy Logos 7, but due to their marketing and after more research, I bit the bullet and went with Accordance XII Koine Greek Expert.

If you don’t want to spend that much money (plus more for the Greek books included in Koine Greek Master that aren’t in Expert (to avoid buying Latin books)), one can download Logos 7 Basic, Verbum 7 Basic, Noet, and Logos 7 Academic Basic. Once all the apps—via your Faithlife account—sort out all the works that come with them, and your libraries indexed, you’ll have a lot to work with. Even more when you find relevant free books. From there you can build your library with books you actually want, instead of 4,000+ books you’ll never use.

And though I use Accordance, I do use “Logos 7 Basic/Verbum 7 Basic/Noet/Logos 7 Academic Basic” for books that Accordance, unfortunately, doesn’t have. But I must say, do not start using Bible software for Greek until you actually know Greek.

Any questions about which Greek books I have purchased from Faithlife I’ll gladly answer and would love to hear from anyone who uses any of the aforementioned Bible software programs.

Review: Mortality

MortalityMortality by Christopher Hitchens

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Sad. Hitchen’s ‘theology’ is lower than mine when I was 17.

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

-Macbeth, Act V, scene 5

View all my reviews