De Moor’s Scope in Composing This Theological Disputation

While each one in the Writers cited will be able to satisfy his desire for knowledge unto satiety, as to what is thought and furnished by learned Men in either resolving or cutting this knot: I, in this little Dissertation, shall touch only lightly upon the sum of matters; and, with those things dismissed that withdraw farther from the straight path, I shall especially linger over those things that approve themselves to me as more probable, and shall strive to confirm them more distinctly.

The Literature on the Supposed Contradiction

I would do what has already been done, and lose my labor, if I should wish to review all the diverse ways that the most learned Interpreters have undertaken to remove this uncertainty; and I would memorialize the difficulties that are able to be moved against the particulars of those opinions: which the very patrons of the same generally acknowledge, whence you will hardly find a sentence in which they thought themselves to be able to stand on solid ground:  but they everywhere spoke very doubtfully in this intricate matter.  This is to be acknowledged without reluctance, while in δυσνοήτοις, things hard to be understood, of this sort, in which a certain demonstration is sought in vain, it is sufficient to show that the matter holds good in this or that way.  Now, you may find the conjectures of Learned Men concerning the resolution of this ἐναντιοφανεῖ, apparent contradiction, related and also called to examination in JOHANN CHRISTIAN WOLFF’S Curis philologicis et criticis on John 19:14, and quite a few other erudite men, who he commends, STEPHANUS MORINUS[1] in his Dissertatione de Horis Salvificæ Passionis Jesu Christi; JOHANNES LOMEIERUS in his Dierum Genialium Decade prima Dissertatione quinta; ANTONIUS BYNÆUS[2] in his de Morte Jesu Christi, book III, chapter IV, § 37-44; to whom WOLFF adds from the Lutherans, FRANZ WORGER;[3] THOMAS ITTIG;[4] SALOMON DEYLING, whom see in his Observationibus Sacris, part I, Observations XLVII, LII, § 4; CHRISTOPH HEINRICH ZEIBICH;[5] FRIEDRICH ERNST KETTNER;[6] GUSTAV GEORG ZELTNER,[7] whose threefold Dissertation, certainly worthy of reading, de Horologio Johannis, de Horologio Cajaphæ, and de Horologio Pilati, has been inserted in in HASE’S and IKEN’S Thesauro Novo Dissertationum in Novum Testamentum.  To which are added ROBERT BAILLIE[8] in his Opere historico et chronologico, book II, chapter II, question XIV, pages 86-90; FRIEDRICH SPANHEIM the Younger in his Chronologia Sacram, part I, chapter XIV, columns 66, 67; ABRAHAM CALOVIUS, Bibliis Illustratis, tome I, Chronico Biblico, section VIII, question XIII, page 146-150.  With these join in addition those that are conversant in narrating the History of our Lord’s Passion, or in the explication of Jewish Antiquities.  While JOHANNES MARCKIUS also, in his Exercitationibus textualibus XXXIV, Part IV, § 2, has briefly set forth the various opinions concerning this question.

[1]  Étienne Morin (1625-1700) was Professor of Oriental Languages at Amsterdam (1686-1699).

[2] Antonius Bynæus (1654-1698) was Professor of Theology and Oriental Languages at Deventer.

[3] Franz Worger (1643-1708) was a Lutheran Minister and Theologian.

[4] Thomas Ittig (1643-1710) was German Lutheran Theologian; he served as Professor of Theology at Leipzig (1697-1710).

[5] Christoph Heinrich Zeibich (1677-1748) was a German Lutheran Minister and Theologian; he served as Professor of Theology at Wittenburg.

[6] Friedrich Ernst Kettner (1671-1722) was a German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian.

[7] Gustav Georg Zeltner (1672-1738) was a German Lutheran Theologian; he served as Professor of Theology at Altdorf (1706-1730).

[8] Robert Baillie (1602-1662) was a Scottish Presbyterian Pastor and Theologian.  During the English Civil War, he was among the Scottish Commissioners sent to the Westminster Assembly.  His writings preserve invaluable information about the history of the times.

Apparent Contradiction between Mark 15:25 and John 19:14

There is a most famous ἐναντιοφανὲς, apparent contradiction, that occurs in the History of the Lord’s Passion, if you compare Mark with John in the placement of a certain fixed point of time regarding the Passion of the Lord.  Namely, Mark in the narration of those things that the Lord suffered on Golgotha, has in Mark 15:25, ἦν δὲ ὥρα τρίτη, καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτόν, and it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.  But John, being about the exhibit the final scene, which Pilate acted out with the Lord, and in which he next delivered Him to be crucified, notes in John 19:14, ἦν δὲ Παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα, ὥρα δὲ ὡσεὶ ἕκτη, and it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour.  But, if it was already roughly the Sixth Hour, when Pilate condemned our Lord to death, in what manner was Mark able to make mention of the Third Hour when he is dwelling on relating the history of the suffering of the Cross, which Christ afterwards suffered on Mount Golgotha?

Chapter II:50: The Goal/End of Scripture

Thus it has finally come unto the Ultimate End of Scripture; which is able to be said to be twofold, with one subordinated to the other, and both set forth clearly enough by our AUTHOR:  namely,

α. The Elect’s Salvation, which nevertheless does not always and in all follow upon the every preaching and use of the Scripture, because God does not intend the Salvation of all those externally called, and hence does not grant the Spirit of Grace to the same, by a comparison of Isaiah 53:1; Acts 13:46-48; 2 Corinthians 2:16; in which manner then God does not fail of His own End in the preaching of the Word, inasmuch as in it He only intends the Salvation of the Elect, not of all.

β. God’s Glory, which the Lord willed to reveal in the subject matter of Scripture, in such a way that He luminously discloses the same both in the damnation of the unbelieving revealed in the Word, and in the salvation of the Elect, Romans 9:22, 23.

Chapter II:49: Retention of the Force and Breadth of Scriptural Expressions

Finally, our AUTHOR adds that the Force of the Words and Phrases of Scripture is also to be held in exposition, as far as the Analogy of Faith and Context allows.  This is certainly urged, α. by the breadth of the Divine word, Psalm 119:96; β. by the Wisdom of God, whereby He, knowing best the force and use of the words, did not use them in a restricted sense, unless with a sufficient indication added.  Thus, when Christ is called God, this title ought to be thought to be attributed to Him, not merely analogically and in a slight sense on account of this or that similitude, as with Angels[1] and Magistrates,[2] but in the full and proper sense.  Thus under Bread in the Lord’s Prayer is comprehended whatever pertains to both sustenance and clothing, according to the Heidelburg Catechism, Lord’s Day L.[3]  The Breadth of the Sense of the Decalogue especially is gathered from Rules,[4] which our AUTHOR sets forth below, Chapter XI, § 31.  Now, the Analogy of Faith is not sufficient here; but a consideration of the Analogy of Context ought to be added, according to the things that we observed on § 45:  so that quite frequently a certain Interpretation is to be called false, which, considered simply in itself, contains nothing false; insofar as it agrees with the Analogy of Faith, but is not able to be reconciled with the Analogy of Context:  which does not allow multiple and widely diverse Interpretations of one passage, and what Interpretations, therefore, are not able to be subordinated to each other, to be conjoined, because of the Unity of the Literal Sense asserted above, § 37, 38, and the Perspecuity and Normative use of Scripture, concerning which § 25, 26, 32.

Therefore, that hermeneutical Rule, that the Words of Sacred Scripture signify whatever they are able to signify, is false, if it be taken without any limitation, and with no regard had to the Analogy of Context, as often happens in practice; through imitation of the Jewish Rule, that it is allowed to explain Scripture בְּכָל־פָּנִים שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר, in whatever way it is possible for it to be done; whence those Kabbalistic interpretations by Gematria, Temurah, Notarikon, etc., flowed forth, as BUXTORF the Younger observes, de Punctorum Antiquitate et Origine, page 100.

What is commonly said, that Words mean whatever they are able to mean, this, in other words returning to the same sense, they observe to be promoted by the Most Illustrious COCCEIUS on Habakkuk 2:9, § 45, page 186b, “To what all things predicated are applicable, certainly concerning this it follows that something is said:”  yet as the things predicated are such as are permitted to their subjects.  In a similar manner the same COCCEIUS writes on Romans 10:6, § 121, pages 162, “It is impossible for anything to be done in the world, concerning which the words of the Holy Spirit might be able rightly and aptly to be used, with all reasons agreeing, that the Holy Spirit speaking in prophecy might not have regard to it, and might not mean for the reader to accommodate those words to that matter, and πληροφορεῖσθαι, to be certain, of their signification.”  But that Impossibility is not so easy to approve as possible; unless under all agreeing reasons is comprehended in addition to the Analogy of Faith the rationale of the Analogy of Context and of the Scope of the Author speaking:  compare what things I have commended in § 45 of this Chapter out of WESSELIUS’ Oratione de Simplicitate prudenti in Oratore Sacro.

Concerning the use and abuse of this Rule, that Words signify all that they are able to signify, consult at length LEYDEKKER’S Facem Veritatis, locus II, controversy VI, pages 48-53, with the added Preface, *****4b; and ANTONIUS HULSIUS’[5] Specimines Theologiæ hypotheticæ, part I, Disputation II, which is Concerning the Interpretation of Sacred Scripture, pages 9-26, and part II in the Vindications of Disputation II Concerning the Interpretation of Scripture, pages 3-63, and Disputation XXIV, which is on the Question, How and to what extent the Prophets of the Old Testament prophesied of the Matters of the New Testament, and in what manner might whatever belongs to the quarrel surrounding this argument be able to be removed from the Church?; to which add MARCKIUS’ Commentarios, especially upon the Minor Prophets and the Song, and the strictures everywhere met there upon the interpretations of the Most Illustrious COCCEIUS.

Without danger we hold with our AUTHOR: A Word is able to signify all that according to the intention of God and Context has regard and is able to be referred unto its one signification.

[1] For example, Psalm 8:5:  “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels (מֵאֱלֹהִים, than God or the gods), and hast crowned him with glory and honour.”

[2] Exodus 22:28; Psalm 82:1, 6, 7.

[3] Heidelburg Catechism 125:  “Which is the fourth petition? Give us this day our daily bread; that is, be pleased to provide us with all things necessary for the body, that we may thereby acknowledge Thee to be the only fountain of all good, and that neither our care nor industry, nor even Thy gifts, can profit us without Thy blessing; and therefore that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place it alone in Thee.”

[4] Westminister Larger Catechism 99:  “What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments? For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:  1.  That the law is perfect, and bindeth everyone to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience for ever, so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.  2.  That it is spiritual, and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures.  3.  That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments.  4.  That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded; so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included.  5.  That what God forbids, is at no time to be done; what he commands, is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times.  6.  That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded together with all the causes, means, occasions and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto.  7.  That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavour that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.  8.  That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them; and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.”

[5] Antonius Hulsius (1615-1685) was a Dutch Reformed philologist and theologian.

Chapter II:48: Hermeneutical Canons, Part 2

2.  That there is to be an adherence, as far as possible, to Propriety of Speech. The Most Illustrious GOMAR, on Matthew 6:11, opera, part I, page 65a, says that it is an altogether certain rule of right interpretation that there is to be no withdrawal from the proper signification of the word to an improper, unless a counterbalancing consideration necessarily requires this. Christ and the Apostles everywhere observe this Canon, in citing the prophecies of the Old Testament in their native signification; and that this is to be embraced is urged, α. both by the Perspicuity of Scripture, § 25, 26, asserted against the Papists; β. and by the Goodness of God, through which there is to be no thought of withdrawing from the most ἐμφύτῳ/natural signification of the words without sufficient warrant, either in the text, or in the context, or in parallels; γ. and by the prohibition of ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως, private interpretation, 2 Peter 1:20, which is nothing other than that by which we alter at will the signification of the phrases and words with the thread of the text and the force of the words neglected, and pervert it from the intention of the Spirit; which is exactly what is done, if this rule does not prevail.  Thus, when the Lord commands us to ask, Matthew 6:11, τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον, our daily bread, this rule urges us to explain this petition of corporeal food, as long as no necessity of drawing back from the propriety of the words presses us, which does not appear to be the case here; see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Juveniles, Disputations XVII-XXI.  So in Isaiah 65:20 this rule requires us to explain the words of the Prophet of a promise of extraordinary Longevity; not rashly to explain these things improperly of an eminent measure of spiritual gifts, Knowledge, etc.:  see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XXV, Part IV.

Nevertheless, on the other hand, there is not to be an excessive adherence to the Propriety of Words, neither is τὸ ῥητὸν, what is expressly stated, to be so urged that we attribute to the Spirit either contradiction, or overturning of faith, or manifest absurdities:  which three inconveniences concur, when we wish to adhere to the propriety of the letter in the explication of the words of the Eucharist, This is my body; see below, Chapter XXXI, § 20:  or when we attribe to God, an infinitely perfect Spirit, bodily members, and human affections; see Chapter IV, § 14, 26:  or when the Word is said to have become Flesh; see Chapter XIX, § 19, etc.; consult GLASSIUS’ Philologiam Sacram, book II, part I, tractate II, section I, article IV, pages 182-185.

3.  Similarly that there is to be no passing from the Literal Sense to a Mystical Sense upon slight grounds. Accordingly, in our AUTHOR’S Medulla Theologiæ it is read: A Mystical Sense is not to be imposed without slight grounds. Perhaps it is better to delete that without, if you consult the Compendium:  otherwise only those will be refuted that impose a Mystical Sense without any foundation at all, however slight, although there is to be no passing to this without weighty grounds.  Since otherwise, α. faith is converted into vain opinion; β. we easily fall into the vice of ἀλληγορομανίας/allegoromania, so highly prized of old in ORIGEN; γ. Scripture is explained with manifold frivolities, while by this practice we made that similar to a Lesbian rule, a wax nose, from which profane calumny we rightly shrink, when with words the Papists prate against Scripture.

But a Mystical Sense is not always to be altogether rejected, especially in the Prophetic Writings:  for example, when the moral and spiritual Worship of the New Testament is described in phrases taken from the Ceremonial Worship of the Old Economy, Isaiah 19:19; 66:20, 21, 23; Zechariah 14:16; Malachi 1; 2; 4:5.  While the overly carnal and crass conceptions of the Jews in the explication of the Prophecies verily hold them blinded in unbelief:  consult Chapter XVIII, § 13, Objections 1, 4, and Chapter XX, § 32, in which is treated the Spirituality of the Kingdom of Messiah against the Jews.

Chapter II:48: Hermeneutical Canons, Part 1

Our AUTHOR yet supplies for us hermeneutical Canons rightly to be observed: 1.  that the Exposition of Scripture ought principally to be made by the very Words of Scripture found elsewhere, but those that are Clearer, not obscurer, or equally obscure:  AUGUSTINE, book II de Doctrina Christiana, chapter IX, opera, tome 3, part I, column 19, well advised, In order to illustrate obscurer expressions let examples be drawn from clearer expressions.  But, although it is hardly able to be sufficiently commended, that in the Interpretation of Scripture we ought to makde the Biblical style familiar to ourselves, according to the example of Paul and others, who with him were lead by the same Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:4, 13; nevertheless there is not to be such a scrupulous adherence to the Biblical expression that we altogether abstain from other words that are suitable to denote a matter, and are well-known by use, which sort of word is Sacrament, which, having been received by Ecclesiastical use, has become the most familiar for designating the signs and seals of the Covenant of Grace; or even from those that the impiety of heretics playing with the words of Scripture has required to be used, which sort of word is ὁμοούσιος/ homoousios.[1]

[1] The term, ὁμοούσιος/homoousios, was used by the orthodox of the fourth century to express that Christ share the same nature with the Father, and also to expose the error of the Arians, who were content with the words of Scripture, but not its sense, on this matter.

Milestones in the De Moor Translation

This week, we will be completing the translation of De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology on the Doctrine of Scripture (almost 700 pages in manuscript).  If you missed this adventure, it is never too late to start (here).

Also, this is a great time to begin reading along with De Moor.  In the first volume, De Moor treated the term and the discipline of “Theology” in some depth.  We are getting ready to begin his treatment of the term “Religion”, largely ruined in our day, but full of sweetness in his own…the life of the soul with God.

Finally, we are offering two new courses:  The Revelation of St. John the Divine:  Beyond Mere Opinion (a study in the older Reformed view on the subject); and Christian Political Theory (certainly a crying need in our day).  Join us!