Pursuit of Percipience

the blog that nobody reads which I write to silence the voices in my head

Tag: Bible

Unicorns in the Bible

unicorn 001
The Bible (King James Version) mentions the unicorn several times: Numbers 23:22, 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17; Job 39:9; Psalm 22:21, 29:6, 92:10; Isaiah 34:7.

Other versions of the Bible, such as the New American Standard Version, will instead use the term wild ox, as the Hebrew word, rê’em [pronounced: reh-ām’], probably refers to a wild bull.

Atheists like to bring up the Bible’s use of unicorns to attack its validity. Surely, if the Bible mentions unicorns, a mythical beast lacking any evidence for ever existing, then the Bible itself is a mythical document not to be taken seriously.

But what an intellectually lazy argument it is to automatically assume that the KJV Bible, a document translated over 400 years ago from Hebrew, Greek,* and Latin sources,** would use the word unicorn in the same way it is used today. Indeed, all you have to do is go back 200 years to find unicorn defined differently than today. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines it as this…

unicorn

A rhinoceros. And the same dictionary defines rhinoceros as this…

Rhino

This does not mean that the KJV Bible is talking about rhinoceroses when using the term unicorn. But, it does make it rather obvious that the definition of unicorn is not the same today as it was 400 years ago, and the argument to write-off the Bible as myth due to its use of the word unicorn is unfounded.

Here is a good video which inspired this article…

* The Greek of unicorn is μονόκερως transliterated as monokeros [one horn].

** The Latin version of the Bible (the Latin Vulgate) uses the term rinocerotis in Deuteronomy 33:17 and rinoceros in Job 39:9.

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Chase the Lion (Brief Book Review)

Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It's Too SmallChase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small by Mark Batterson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A typical “chase your dreams” type book. Nothing groundbreaking. Lots of unnecessary fluff. Lots of psychologizing the Old Testament. The book is based on 2 Samuel 23:20 in which a man named Benaiah kills a lion. The NLT version (the version the author uses) says he chased a lion into a pit, but the Hebrew version says he went down into the pit (meaning the lion was already down there) and killed it. That sounds like semantical nit-picking, but if your book is about chasing lions based on a verse about a guy chasing a lion, it would help if the verse actually said he chased the lion.

A quote from page 8 which sums up the book quite accurately is: “The size of your dream may be the most accurate measure of the size of your God.” That statement is true… if your dream is your god.

If you are searching for meaning in your life, read a book like Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl instead.

“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.'”
~Viktor E. Frankl

View all my reviews

Notes for My Students ~ Eschatology

I’m uploading some notes on the book of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the book of Revelation here. This is for my students to have easy access to the notes online.

If anyone else stumbles on this post, you are welcome to the notes if you are interested in the subject.

The notes on Daniel are based primarily on James B. Jordan’s commentary The Handwriting on the Wall.

The notes on Revelation are based mainly on James B. Jordan’s Revelation Lectures (which, at the time of this posting [August 22, 2016] are on sale for $40 – down from $175 – on WordMp3.com).

Click below for the notes…

Daniel, Olivet, and Revelation

**Please note: The notes have not been edited for spelling mistakes or other formatting issues.

Some Atheist Brief Book Reviews

19280426All God Worshippers Are Mad 

A short and stupid book. I give it one star out of five because it was only $1.99 on Kindle. I can’t decide if the book was written for 12 year olds, or if it was written by a 12 year old. For example… His first argument against God is basically summed up as: “In order for God to create the space/time universe, God’s existence can’t depend on space/time. My human brain can’t comprehend that. Therefore there is no God. Booyah!”

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Why I Believed 

He’s got a couple of decent Dostoevsky-type arguments against faith/God, but most of what he says follows a “I just don’t want to believe anymore” kind of thinking. Christianity is a faith which requires engagement. If you choose not to engage it you will grow cold towards it.

 

4420281Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes 

I’ll come back to this book for the language sections. Everett is a talented linguist. He had no business being a missionary though. I don’t think he ever fully understood what Christianity is. His descriptions of the faith show he never moved beyond a Sunday-school understanding of it.

 

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God Needs to Go 

It’s hard to get into one of these books when it starts out with a straw-man argument; which this book does. In fact, this book is one straw-man after another — falsely representing Christianity and then attacking that false representation.

He makes a couple good points against prayer (or, what I would call the misuse of prayer).

Atheists often argue that morality is based on the evolved sense of the common good. While that might be true for economy, it is not true for morality. Morality is not the same across the world. A westerner being accepting of a transgender person is doing so because he believes it is loving to do so. That belief of loving acceptance stems directly from Christian morality. A Buddhist in Thailand who is accepting of a transgender person is not doing so out of love; his acceptance and noninterference is based on karmic justice. A Buddhist would be less inclined to help the poor for that very same reason, whereas a westerner would be more inclined to help the poor based on Christian morality.

The author states: “Except for certain religiously based societies, many of the secular nations display a sense of right and wrong that has allowed them advance in a positive way.” (page 23) “Certain religiously based societies” — every society is a religiously based society, including the ‘post-Christian’ west. A society’s morality is tied to its predominant religion. This is not hard to see. Western morality is based on Christianity, absolutely. If you don’t see that, you just need to do some travelling. A Buddhist nation’s morality is based on Buddhism. The same is true for Hindu and Muslim nations. If a person born and raised in a Buddhist nation becomes an atheist, his morality will still be based on Buddhism. (Although, Buddhism as a religion lacks the conditions to create atheists — which is a whole other interesting topic. Western atheism would not exist if it weren’t for Christianity.)

Then there are the usual arguments about slavery and God’s wrath and so forth. If you want to understand those issues in the Bible you have to understand two very important things: covenant and holiness. If you don’t get those two things, you won’t get the Bible.

And there are the attacks on biblical prophesy. Jesus said certain things about His return that supposedly didn’t happen. Well, there are plenty of books on eschatology to explain that. But if you’re not willing to study it out, then there’s nothing more to say. Reading Psalm 110 and Daniel 7:13-14 will get you well on your way to understanding what Jesus said when prophesying about Himself.

The Five-fold Gifts

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The terms found in Ephesians 4:11 are often used to describe the different types of ministry work we Christians do today. And that’s exactly correct. But, these terms were not invented recently, nor were they invented by Christians. These terms were used by anyone living in the first century Roman empire. So, in order for us to understand how these words apply to us today, it is helpful to see how they applied to regular people living at the time of Jesus, 2000 years ago.

Greek was the common language of the Roman empire. Before the Romans were in power, the Greeks were in power. And once the Greeks were in power, many of the nations began to adopt Greek culture, gods, and language. Below are the terms as listed in Ephesians 4:11, and defined as people would have used them in Jesus’s time. One word that seems to stand alone is ‘prophet’. This word was used mainly in the Old Testament, and so it’s best to get its meaning from there.

1) Apostle: (Greek: apostles) Envoy, ambassador, or messenger commissioned to carry out the instructions of the commissioning agent. An apostle was sent by someone in authority to give instructions to a specific person or group of people. In relation to the Church, an apostle is one sent by King Jesus to give instructions to the churches on how to conduct themselves. The word is first used in Romans 1:1.

2) Prophet: (Hebrew: nâbîy’; Greek: prophētēs) One who speaks for God and knows God’s plans. One who God listens to. One who can declare the future. One who can destroy old worlds and create new worlds with his words. The word is first used in Genesis 20:7 (Abraham, the prophet, had to pray for Abimelech’s life – God would only listen to the prophet) in the Old Testament and is first used in Matthew 1:22 in the New Testament.

3) Evangelist: (Greek: euaggelistēs [yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace]. The word is very similar to the Greek for ‘gospel’: euaggelion [yoo-ang-ghel-ee-on]. The prefix “eu-” means joyful and this is connected to the Greek word ‘aggelos’ [ang-el-os], or ‘angel’ in English, which means messenger.) A herald who proclaims a gospel (joyful message). The word is first found in Acts 21:8, and can also be found in 2 Timothy 4:5.

4) Pastors: (Greek: poimēn) A shepherd. One who takes care of the believers under his care both spiritually and physically. One who works to keep his people in the Church as a shepherd keeps sheep in the flock. One who works to see his people grow in maturity and Christ-likeness. The word is found in Ephesians 4:11.

5) Teacher: (Hebrew: bîyn; Greek: didaskalos) An instructor. One who teaches the word and commands of God. One who works to ensure that his people are hearing the truth and not led astray by deception. One who works to see his people grow in maturity and Christ-likeness. The word is first used in 1 Chronicles 25:8 in the O.T. and is first used in Matthew 8:19 in the N.T.

• Note: Pastors and Teachers are actually one item in this list. In the Greek the two are put together, and an acceptable translation of Ephesians 4:11 could be this:

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors/teachers…”

•Note: It’s important not to confuse an apostle with an evangelist. An evangelist proclaims a gospel to a general crowd of people, while an apostle delivers a king’s instructive message to a specific group of people so that they know what they’re supposed to do.

Consider this as an example (historically accurate or not):

In 30 BC Augustus Caesar defeated Mark Antony and became the new ruler of the Roman empire. Once this was done, the news (the good news – euaggelion) of his victory and rise to power had to be made known to all the people all over the empire. The euaggelion was proclaimed to the people by the euaggelistēs (the evangelists). The evangelists were heralds who went through the towns and villages crying out the gospel message: “Hear this message all you people! Augustus has defeated his enemies and now rules the Roman world! Those of you who supported Augustus in the war will be rewarded! Those of you who opposed him – now is the time to turn away from your support of the enemies of Augustus and submit to him!”

Once Augustus had secured his rule, he returned to the capital city of Rome and took his throne. From there he worked to expand the influence of the empire by setting up colonies of Roman people in the places he recently defeated. Once these colonies were established, he gave instructions to the colonists by sending apostolos (apostles) – messengers from the king.

King Jesus has done the same thing, but on a much greater scale. Jesus was the first evangelist for His own rule when He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) Jesus was calling the people to turn away from their allegiance to the enemy (to repent) and to turn to Him as their true king. Jesus proclaimed His gospel even before He died on the cross – He had no doubt of His own victory.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended up to heaven and took His throne at the right hand of the Father. From there He will rule until all His enemies have been put under His feet. Jesus is now in His capital city ruling His empire. We, the Church, are establishing “colonies” for His empire by planting churches and starting up other Christian ministries all over the world.

Our evangelists continue to go out and proclaim the good news of our King’s rise to power, and to warn anyone who would choose to oppose Him. Our apostles continue to deliver orders from the throne room of Jesus to instruct the churches on how to worship, serve one another, and make new disciples. Our pastors and teachers continue to care for their flocks and teach them all the truth of our Lord Jesus. And finally, our prophets continue to speak words of guidance for the future, and to speak words which tear down anything holding us back.

Which of these gifts do you believe you are called into? It’ll most likely be more than one. Paul was first an evangelist then an apostle. Timothy was both an apostle and a pastor/teacher. You’ll probably walk in different gifts at different times in your life. Which are you most passionate about now?

Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget the instructions Paul the apostle wrote:

…(these five gifts are) for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:12-16)

* All scripture quoted from the NKJV.