Posted by: mattcolvin | July 1, 2014

Cranmer on Local Presence

(From A Defense of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, Book III, CHAP. II: The difference between the true and the papistical doctrine concerning the presence of Christ’s body)

And although we do affirm according to God’s word, that Christ is in all persons that truly believe in him, in such sort, that with his flesh and blood he doth spiritually nourish them and feed them, and giveth them everlasting life, and doth assure them thereof, as well by the promise of his word, as by the sacramental bread and wine in his holy Supper, which he did institute for the same purpose, yet we do not a little vary from the heinous errors of the papists.
The first comparison
For they teach, that Christ is in the bread and wine 1: but we say, according to the truth, that he is in them that worthily eat and drink the bread and wine.

1 Id est, sub speciebus panis et vini.

Cf. The REC’s Declaration of Principles, which denies “Fourth, That the Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper is a presence in the elements of Bread and Wine.”

Posted by: mattcolvin | July 1, 2014

Cranmer on Confirmation

From The Remains of Thomas Cranmer, vol. 2

[Some Queries and Answers concerning Confirmation]

1. Whether confirmation be institute by Christ? (Cotton lib.)
Responsio. (Cleop. E. v. fol. 83.) There is no place in Scripture that declareth this sacrament to be institute of Christ.
First, for the places alleged for the same be no institutions, but acts and deeds of the apostles.
Second, those acts were done by a special gift given to the apostles for the confirmation of God’s word at that time.
Third, the said special gift doth not now remain with the successors of the apostles.
2. What is the external sign?
The church useth chrisma for the exterior sign, but the Scripture maketh no mention thereof.
3. What is the efficacy of this sacrament?
The bishop in the name of the church doth invocate the Holy Ghost to give strength and constancy, with other spiritual gifts, unto the person confirmed: so that the efficacy of this sacrament is of such value, as is the prayer of the bishop made in the name of the church.
Hæc respondeo, salvo semper eruditiorum et ecclesiæ orthodoxæ judicio.

Posted by: mattcolvin | June 20, 2014

Perriman on the Problem with a Particular Parousia

I am on an Andrew Perriman kick, having finished his book on Romans, The Future of the People of God, and more recently having devoured his book on women in the church, Speaking of Women: Interpreting Paul. The latter is the best book I have read on women’s ordination from either perspective, pro or con. Perriman defends the practice; I still reject it. Nonetheless, I found his exegesis impressively careful, responsible, honest, accurate, and helpful. I hope that Bp. Hicks and the ACNA committee on Holy Orders will study the book. I will write a review of Speaking of Women later.

I have just started a third Perriman book, The Coming of the Son of Man, subtitled “New Testament Eschatology for an Emerging Church”. I am not now, nor have I ever been, one to call myself “emergent”, and I see little in Perriman’s work that strikes me as squishy or radically heterodox in the way that the “emergent church” movement is usually characterized (think Brian McLaren). I found his work on Romans highly stimulating, and I am enjoying his take on eschatology so far. Here’s a choice quotation:

“[Jesus warns] against being misled by false declarations about the presence of the Messiah (Mark 13:21-23; Matt. 24:23-26; cf. Luke 17:23). The fear, quite clearly, is that in a time of great suffering and confusion his followers might easily be persuaded to run after any prophet or demagogue brandishing the hope of salvation or escape. The fear was not unfounded. Both Menahem, son of Judas of Galilee, and Simon Bar-Giora presented themselves in Jerusalem during the course of the war as Israel’s rightful king (J.W. w.17.8 §433-438; 4.9.3-8 §503-544)…

“What should alert the disciples most clearly to the spuriousness of such claims is the knowledge that the Christ, when he comes, will not be found in any particular location, whether out in the wilderness or in a private room. The parousia of the Son of Man, Jesus tells them, will not be spatially restricted in this way – as the presence of an individual in some place or other – but will be like lightning, which illuminates the whole sky (Matt. 24:27; Luke 17:24). This powerful image has usually been understood to describe the effulgence of Christ’s bodily coming at the end of the age. The contrast, however, is not with the ordinariness of these imposters – after all, they will “perform great signs and wonders” – but with the false announcements about a concrete, localized and embodied mode of being. A more careful reading of the simile suggests that it signifies the immaterial and universal nature of Christ’s presence. The significance of the lightning is not so much that it is bright – though that is certainly a connotation – but that it “comes from the east and shines as far as the west.

“A similar contrast is made at the beginning of Luke’s displaced apocalyptic discourse: the kingdom of God is said not to be a matter of physical observation, but is “in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21). Jesus tells his disciples that they will long to see “one of the days of the Son of Man.” But he will not be present in such a way that people will be able to point him out: “‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here’” (17:23). “For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be [in his day]” (17:24). What the form of the simile emphasizes is not the particular point at which the bold travels from heaven to earth, the place of a physical descent, but the illumination of the whole sky. Again, it is the extent of the presence of the Son of Man that is at issue here. Jesus’ argument directs the disciples’ imagining away from the idea of a localized and material manifestation of the Son of Man to something global and intangible.”


Posted by: mattcolvin | April 19, 2014

First Time Reading the Saga of the Volsungs

Tonight I started reading the Saga of the Volsungs aloud to Ezekiel and Sora. It is my first time reading this classic. I cannot believe I have never experienced it before now. This is powerful myth, and Jesse Byock’s understated prose translationn is a great way of drinking that myth straight: there are no frills to get in the way; the stories strike the audience more forcefully in this naked state. I can see why C.S. Lewis became addicted to them.

We’re only 1/3 of the way through, but already there are some unforgettable images: the Volsung brothers being eaten by the she-wolf night after night; Sigmund escaping the same fate when Signy coats his face with honey and he bites the wolf’s tongue off; the sword that Odin(?) puts in the tree Barnstock, which only Sigmund can remove — an episode that combines elements of the Arthurian Excalibur story with Homer’s contest to string the bow of Odysseus.

The character of Signy is awe-inspiring. She is like Jocasta, Medea, Rizpah, Antigone, Electra, Maeve, and Dierdre all rolled into one. Her life was absolutely hellish, and she must have been a woman of iron to tame the inner demons that came with all the traumatic and terrible things she both saw and committed: witnessing her father’s murder by her husband, her brothers’ deaths by the she-wolf, being wife to the murderer for long years, cold-heartedly killing her sons by that husband, committing incest with her one surviving brother and giving birth to a son trained to take vengeance on his unwitting stepfather. But all the emotional anguish of such a life is only implied, not described, by the Saga. All it tells is the events. Truly Signy’s death — walking of her own will into the burning house of her hated husband — is worthy of her.

I can’t wait to read the rest.


Posted by: mattcolvin | April 14, 2014

Update on Bible Teaching

Sorry for the slow month of blogging; Sora has been gone since mid-March in Dulag, Leyte. I have seen her photos as they come in on my iOS Photostream, but I have assured her that I will leave them for her to blog. She returns tomorrow, so maybe she’ll put up something exciting and midwifery-related then.

I’ve been keeping busy too: Faith Academy is entering the last month of the school year, and I am pressing to finish Dante’s Inferno with the juniors and seniors in my Epic literature class. The 10th grade New Testament class will finish Romans this week – conveniently, because I have been teaching it to my adults at UCRC’s Bible study as well. My work isn’t as photogenic as Sora’s. If you’ve seen one shot of me lecturing in front of a whiteboard, you’ve seen them all. Here’s my lectern in the Faith Academy NT class: tiny center-column reference edition NKJV, and slightly bigger Biblia Graeca (LXX + NA28 in one binding) perched together on one lectern.


The Biblia Graeca is a delight to use for teaching and study: the marginal apparatus of loci citati vel allegati is the best in the business, far more comprehensive and enlightening than most cross-references in most English translations, and with the added benefit of having the LXX from which the quotations and echoes are derived right there in the same binding. This was the Bible I received from the hand of Bishop Daniel Morse at my ordination last December.

It has been a great semester for rethinking Romans and Pauline theology: after 5 months, I’m nearing the end of N.T. Wright’s magnum opus Paul and the Faithfulness of God. My thinking was also helped by Andrew Perriman’s The Future of the People of God. I am very thankful for ebooks: Logos Library also picked me as a reviewer for their Anglican Silver package, so now I have access to a lot of books that would be difficult to find here in Davao City.

The Romans class at UCRC has been very well attended, with new folks joining from week to week, including two more since this photo was taken:


Comments from the participants have been very appreciative: they are finding that a covenantal, narratival, and historical perspective on Paul helps them make sense of other passages of Scripture and see the big picture better. In my view, this is one of the most needed things here in the Philippines, and people who love Jesus are hungry for it.

I’ve also received word that my application to teach at Koinonia Theological Seminary (a Methodist-affiliated evangelical seminary here in Davao City) has now been put before the board of that institution for consideration.

My Greek class and Latin class are on break for Holy Week, but will resume next week.

Posted by: mattcolvin | April 8, 2014

Who Coined the Name “New Perspective on Paul”?

James D. G. Dunn usually gets the credit for labeling this movement in NT studies. His 1983 paper “The New Perspective on Paul” (Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester Manchester 65 (2): 95–122) is cited by Wikipedia as the origin of the phrase, which is used to describe ways of looking at Paul that go back to Krister Stendahl’s 1963 “Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West” and E. P. Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism.

But thanks to Logos, I have been reading N. T. Wright’s 1978 essay “The Paul of History and the Apostle of Faith, originally a Tyndale New Testament Lecture delivered at Tyndale House, Cambridge, on 4 July 1978 and then published in Tyndale Bulletin 29 (1978): 61–88. In it, Wright says:

I want now to [offer] a new way of looking at Paul which provides, I believe, not only an advance in the debate between Stendahl and Käsemann, but also a new perspective on other related Pauline problems.

What follows is, in nuce, the same basic position that Wright has now argued at greater length —and with greater depth, maturity, and exegetical richness — in 2013’s PFG.

It certainly appears as though Wright coined the phrase, or at least most of it (not, perhaps, the “…on Paul”) 3 or 4 years before Dunn.

Posted by: mattcolvin | April 7, 2014

Logos Anglican Packages

I’ve been fortunate to be chosen as a reviewer for one of Logos Bible Software’s recently released Anglican packages. The one I’m reviewing includes a nice mix of modern and ancient Anglican sources – the Venerable Bede, the Cloud of Unknowing (source of our beloved Collect for Purity!), the five-volume set of 96 sermons by Lancelot Andrewes, and David Bartlett’s “Fasting on the Word” (a 12 volume sermon series following the Revised Common Lectionary). Anglo-Catholic writers are well represented, with John Mason Neale’s commentary on the Psalms and John Henry Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons and The Idea of a University. Classical Caroline Anglicanism is here too, with the works of William Law and Richard Hooker.There is Bp. Blunt’s Annotated Book of Common Prayer and the (grisly sounding) Remains of Thomas Cranmer.

“Blessed Percy” Dearmer is there, with his Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book and Everyman’s History of the English Church. There is lots of J.C. Ryle, especially his Expository Thoughts series.

Of course, being an Anglican collection, there are editions of the Book of Common Prayer. Lots of them, in fact: the 1979 TEC version, the 1662 with Psalter; the 1928; and even – Lord love Logos! – the 1873 original Reformed Episcopal BCP. There is even, sticking out like a black sheep among all the BCPs, The Liturgy of John Knox, 1564.

I am especially excited to see the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, a work I have been told many times I ought to own and consult, but have never got around to obtaining.

I admit I don’t know where to begin. This is a rather huge library, dumped into my Logos account, and full of useful items.

Posted by: mattcolvin | April 2, 2014

Visit to Davao Crocodile Park

After more than a year living here, we finally made it to one of the most popular attractions in the city. This park used to be the home of Lolong, the largest saltwater crocodile on record, but she died last year. There is still a sizable specimen in Pangil (“Fang”), and we watched him consume a whole pig (OK, two half pigs).


For me, the main attraction was the big constrictors: the park is home to many giant pythons, of both the Burmese and reticulated varieties. Here I am fulfilling Mark 16:18:


Other guests at the park were less happy, perhaps because they encountered larger snakes:

There were, however, some less intimidating creatures, like these painted turtles:


And this very handsome Philippine eagle:


Isaiah gave a high five to this lion:


No Colvin kids or stuffed owls were harmed in this shot:


My daily swimming regimen has been paying off with added vascularity:


Naomi doesn’t seem too concerned.



Hosanna is very sweet.



Posted by: mattcolvin | April 2, 2014

Fraud on Law


I have been reading aloud Padraic Colum’s collection of Norse myths, The Children of Odin, to Isaiah. Today we read the story of Brock the Dwarf, who makes a wager with Loki that his brother Sindri could make objects of superior craftsmanship to the dwarves from whom Loki received Skidbladnir the pocket ship, and Gungnir the unerring spear. Like Gawain and the Green Knight, Loki and Brock wager their own heads. Sindri makes the golden boar Gullinbursti, the self-replicating golden ring Draupnir, and Mjollnir the hammer of Thor and wins the bet.

Then it is time for Loki to pay up. Brock exclaims,

“Loki has lost his head to me. Let him kneel down now till I cut it off.”
Loki came forward, smiling with closed lips. “I kneel before you, Dwarf,” he said. “Take off my head. But be careful. Do not touch my neck. I did not bargain that you should touch my neck. If you do, I shall call upon the Dwellers in Asgard to punish you.”

It is a classic dodge, holding the adversary to the letter of the law sophistically interpreted. It is formally identical to the judgment of Portia in The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, scene 1:

My deeds upon my head. I crave the law,
The penalty, and forfeit of my bond.

PORTIA: A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine.
The court awards it, and the law doth give it.

SHYLOCK: Most rightful judge!

PORTIA: And you must cut this flesh from off his breast.
The law allows it, and the court awards it.

Most learnèd judge, a sentence! Come, prepare.

Tarry a little. There is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood.
The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh,
But in the cutting it if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are by the laws of Venice confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.

More examples could be adduced: the Israelites in Judges 21 allow their daughters to be carried off so that they may provide them as wives for the Benjamites without “giving” them and so breaking their oath. Likewise, when subjected to a search of his caravan’s luggage and tents by an irate Laban searching for his teraphim which Rachel had purloined, Jacob swears an oath of innocence carefully phrased to avert evil: “With whomsoever you find your gods, let him not live.” But of course, Laban does not find them with anyone; Rachel, then, is safe from any supernatural harm that might otherwise have resulted from this malediction. The Gibeonites and Joshua trade super-literal fine print in their agreement.

I have posted before about David Daube’s explanation of the plot of the book of Ruth as an instance of the same sort of “fraud on law”: Boaz tells “Mr. So-and-so” that “What day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you have bought the wife of the dead to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.” (4:5) Mr. So-and-so, thinking that “the dead” is Elimelech (very naturally, since it is Elimelech’s land that they are about to redeem), and seeing that Naomi will certainly bear no more children, declines: “Then I cannot redeem it, lest I destroy my own inheritance” — sc. by leaving myself with no children to inherit it from me. Just as Portia extracts from Shylock his formal waiver of payment, and formal confirmation of his choice of the “pound of flesh” penalty instead, even so Boaz waits until Mr. So-and-so has undergone the sandal ceremony formally relinquishing his right to redeem the land. It is only when this disavowal is complete and irrevocable that Boaz springs his trap:

‘Boaz calmly waits till the surrender of title is ratified by a solemnity that puts it above any attack, renders it absolute, “confirms” it. (Jacob’s extraction of an oath after Esau has already informally ceded his birthright is analogous.) It is only then that he triumphantly announces: “You are witnesses that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s and Qilyon’s and Mahlon’s. Moreover – the climax – Ruth the Moabitess, wife of Mahlon, have I bought to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.” so Ruth the desirable, thirty-year-old, fertile one is “the wife of the dead” whom the nearer kinsman renounced. Boaz, not at all a passive recipient of good luck, has skilfully carried out the operation the women entrusted to him…’ (Collected Works of David Daube vol. II, p. 489-496)

I am a bit late for April Fool’s Day, but consider this a timely seasonal post on tricksters. I will also be preaching this Sunday on 1 Corinthians 2:8: “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Trickster stories are satisfying because Jesus is the antitype of Boaz and Jacob. And the story of Brock and Loki is Norse praeparatio evangelica.

Posted by: mattcolvin | February 11, 2014

More Instances of Traditio

I have blogged before about David Daube’s observation that many of the Bible’s mountaintop scenes are instances of the legal device called “traditio”: when conveying a purchased object into the possession of its new owner, one usually just hands it over (Lat. trado). But for some possessions, this is physically impossible. Accordingly, inspection of a property may be used as the formal means of traditing it into the ownership of another. This is done in the case of Abram in Genesis 13:17: “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” (Genesis 13:17 NKJV)

Similar to this is, Moses’ mountaintop viewing of the promised land in Deuteronomy 32:49: “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho; view the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel as a possession..” (Deuteronomy 32:49 NKJV)

Daube points out Satan’s attempted, but failed, use of the same convention in Matthew 4:8, where he tries to get Jesus to make a deal, offering the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship. Again, this is on “an exceedingly high mountain”.

I would now like to add another instance: the Great Commission too takes place on a mountain, and this setting seems significant, especially in light of Jesus’ prior declaration that all authority has been given to Him. This is a pointed contrast with Satan’s statement that “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:6 NKJV) Having won authority over the world, Jesus now bestows the kingdom on His disciples. As NT Wright puts it,

“Israel was to be the people who inherited YHWH’s sovereign rule over the world. The promised land was a sign of this, but already by the first century many Jews had glimpsed the possibility, already implicit within the Adam–Abraham nexus, that the land was simply an advance signpost to YHWH’s claim over the whole of creation.” — Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God

That’s why the Great Commission is on a mountain: it is the fulfillment of Genesis 13, Deuteronomy 32, and Matthew 4.

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