Take multiple uses of the same word in the English Bible, mix together with a limited understanding of the original language, and confusion will likely ensue.
Sometimes the LOGOS in John chapter 1 is too readily equated with the Word of God (i.e., the Bible). However, the Bible is not Jesus, nor Jesus the Bible; rather, the Bible expresses God’s message, his will, and his person to us, much as Christ himself did in his Incarnation.
LEGEIN, the infinitive (verb) that is cognate of LOGOS, did not originally mean, “to say,” but in NT Koine Greek is used interchangeably with the several other verbs. Previously, LOGOS had to do with reason/rationality and meaning, and was applied by Plato and other Greek philosophers to what we would today call an Intelligent Designer behind the universe. Plato and the Stoics considered this world to be not reality, but a pale reflection of a greater, if you will: “spiritual” reality.
Alexandrian Jew Philo loved Greek philosophy, principally Plato and the Stoics, and sought to resolve Hebrew revelation with it, and vice versa. He postulated a divine idea of a perfect man in heaven, which he called the Logos, of which earthly man is an imperfect reflection. Yet this Logos figure is the expression of God, from his ultimate Reason. (Relatable to the concept of man as “made in the image of God.”)
It would seem that John in chapter 1 of his Gospel had Philo’s idea in mind when he introduced Christ as the divine Logos, present with God in Creation, who, as “the only begotten Son [of God],” and who “was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” represents the ultimate expression of God’s Reason, such that Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” and moreover, “full of grace and truth.” Embodying as Christ does the plenitude of the Father’s glory, “of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”
Therefore (to come full circle), LOGOS also came to mean the expression of the rationality, even essence, of the person speaking or writing (human or divine), and LEGEIN the act of conveying that reason or essence. In such way, divine revelation (Scripture), as the expression of God toward man, has been rightly deemed the LOGOS, that is, “the Word of God.”
© 2013 Paul A. Hughes
During Paul’s ministry, Roman government represented a stabilizing and equalizing element which afforded Paul, as a Roman citizen, ample opportunities to travel freely, and a certain amount of protection from abuse. Caesar, as well, he saw as “not a terror to good works, but to the evil” (Rom. 13:3), ready to punish the lawless and unruly. At the same time, Paul bridled at abuse of his rights, under Jewish as well as Roman law. One may only speculate that he might have professed, with Peter, the mandate to “obey God rather than men” if it suited his purpose. Nevertheless, Paul did not perceive the government, apart from the Jewish authorities, as an obstacle to the furtherance of the Gospel and growth of the Church.
Obey civil authorities, with qualifications
- Paul objects to violation of his rights (but yielded to Exodus 22:28), Acts 23:2-5
- Paul asserted his citizenship rights, Acts 21:39, 22:25-29, 23:27, 25:1-26:32, 28:17-19
- Earthly rulers are allowed by God to keep order and punish wrongdoing, Romans 13:1-8
- Pray for rulers and conduct yourself honorably, 1 Timothy 2:1-3
- See also 1 Peter 4:15, do not commit crimes and improprieties that incur just punishment
- Compare: Acts 4:19-20, 5:29 (Peter), “obey God rather than men”
Cultural Mores & Customs
The Apostle Paul was not in favor of license or Libertinism which in the name of grace flaunted the customs and mores of societies in which he ministered, see Romans 6:1, 1 Corinthians 8:9, Galatians 5:13. Rather, he upheld the best conservative moral ideals and traditions of the Jews as well as Gentiles. His views on the rights and comportment of women, while informed by the principles of Original Creation and Moses’ Law, also appear to reflect the influence of strongly patriarchal societies, especially that of observant Jews of the day.
Matrimony is holy and honorable
- One is bound in marriage till released by death, Romans 7:1-4
- Marital bonds, cares, and obligations, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
- Those who wish or need to marry are free to do so, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, see also Matthew 19:10-12
- Marriage ought not be forbidden, 1 Timothy 4:1
Marital faithfulness demonstrates worthiness of honor and responsibility
- “Espoused to one husband,” 1 Corinthians 11:2
- “Husband of one wife,” 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6
- “Wife of one man,” 1 Timothy 5:9
Families are responsible to care for their own elderly and destitute
- 1 Timothy 5:4-8, 16
Men chosen for leadership should be faithful husbands and fathers
- 1 Timothy 3:1-13
- Titus 1:5-9
The deportment of women compared to men
- It is seemly and comely for women to wear their hair long, and to cover their heads during worship; but unnatural for men to wear long hair, and inappropriate for them to cover their heads in worship, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
- Women are not allowed to speak publicly in church, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
- Women are not allowed to teach publicly, or oversee a man, 1 Timothy 2:11-12
- Women are admonished to dress and act modestly, 1 Timothy 2:8-11
- Only elderly widows of good report deserve church financial support, younger widows should remarry, raise children, and work in the home, 1 Timothy 5:4-15
Incest disreputable even to the Gentiles
- 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Referring to the diagram, as supported by Scripture passages, one sees that God’s eternal will and plan for man, as created, falls within God’s moral and natural law, represented by the large yellow circle. Elements of Moses’ Law, and cultural mores and customs, are overlapped by God’s eternal will, to the extent that those spheres ratify, or rather are ratified by, God’s plan. Noahide Law, originally limited to a symbolic reverence for blood as life, remains valid in principle, though not in letter of the law. Later additions regarding fornication and idolatry, besides being integral with Moses’ Law, can be said as well to be valid as part of God’s original, revealed will. (Therefore, those circles partly overlap.) The Abrahamic Covenant, which featured only one law, that of circumcision, has been transcended by the Law of Faith, which was the effective element all along (circumcision being the seal and testimony of the Covenant, the theological equivalent to Christian water baptism—as is, arguably, the Lord’s Supper). Moses’ Law, which incorporated in totality the laws given to Noah and Abraham, was “fulfilled” by the work of Christ by several standards, including the fulfillment of Law’s overall prophetic, moral, and salvific purpose. Therefore, those who by faith have entered “into Christ,” while bound to God’s eternal moral law, are free not only from the letter of Moses’ Law (the temporal rituals, ordinances, observances, and strictures external to God’s eternal law), but from the “Law of Sin and Death” that Moses’ Law actuates (Rom. 7:1‒8:4, 10:4, Gal. 3:19-26, et al.).
Therefore, the elements of Moses’ Law, apart from God’s moral and natural law, are rendered irrelevant and non-binding to the Christian, just as they remain ineffectual to observant Jews, who are unable to “keep the whole law” (Rom. 2:12-29, Gal. 5:3, 6:13, see also James 2:10). Thus the Christian reverences life, but is not forbidden from eating meat containing blood. The Christian honors the Creator for the Sabbath, as suggested in Genesis 2, but is not prohibited from work or travel on the Sabbath, a commandment added by Moses’ Law. The Christian is forbidden no food, “for every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4).
Those elements of civil law and culture which do not violate Biblical faith or a pure conscience are acceptable to the Christian. Governments in general “are not a terror to good works, but to bad ones” (Rom. 13:3), though just rights can be claimed and abuse of rights disputed. Christians must not participate in ungodly pagan practices, though innocuous differences may be overlooked if not made an issue.
One concludes that the laws for which Christians are responsible are those which make for peace and godliness, and which edify the brethren (Rom. 14:19, 1 Tim. 2:2, et al.), all of which surely fall within the sphere of God’s moral and natural law. Christians are saved, like Abraham, by the Law of Faith, not by external laws or rituals. All that is not done in faith being sin, a Christian ought to do nothing which cannot be done in faith, in the sight of God—not in unbelief, by which some imagine that they will escape judgment. The ultimate criterion for all we do must be the Law of Christ, which is love and gratitude for Christ’s work displayed not in self-actualization or self-motivation, but in serving to edify, profit, and benefit others.
© 2013 Paul A. Hughes
The year 1859 was a year of revival. Revival began that year in Ireland; revival in Wales and in the United States had already begun. People in these lands were finding renewal in their lives, and a new peace and joy in their hearts. Thousands were reconciled to God. That same year, in a shack in Mengton, Yorkshire, England, Smith Wigglesworth was born. The family was poor: his father was hard-pressed to feed his wife and four children. Smith went to work at age six, pulling turnips. At age seven, he, his father, and his older brother gained employment at the local mill, working twelve long hours each day.
No one in his immediate family was Christian, but Smith seemed to have an instinctive longing for God from an early age. His grandmother, a Wesleyan Methodist, took him to meetings with her. One Sunday morning, when he was eight years old, he felt in himself an inexplicable knowledge of spiritual rebirth.
Smith’s revelation of his salvation gave him great joy, as it did to his dying day. As a teenager, he was always eager to share this joy with other boys—even though, unpolished and perhaps not too tactful, he was often rebuffed. When he was sixteen, the Salvation Army came to Bradford, where his family had moved. He was inspired to spend many hours fasting and praying for the salvation of souls. He began to join the Army in their efforts, though he never became a member. They often gathered to pray throughout the night. Each week they would claim in faith fifty or more souls—and they would get them.
When he was twenty, he moved to Liverpool. He began to minister to street children, gathering them together for meetings, and hundreds were saved. He spent all his income on food for the poor in hospitals and on the docks, and spent long hours in prayer. His heart was very tender toward the people, and would often weep before them.
Smith was led back to Bradford, where he ventured upon his own plumbing business. At a Salvation Army meeting in an old theater, his attention was attracted to a lovely young girl receiving salvation at the altar. She was Polly Featherstone, seventeen years old, the daughter of a Methodist temperance lecturer. He felt drawn to her immediately, and they became good friends. Polly experienced great spiritual growth, and was soon introduce the General Booth himself, who made her an officer in the Army. She was an exuberant speaker, and had a lovely singing voice.
Smith fell deeply in love with Polly. When he was twenty-three and she was twenty-two, they were married. He always was to hold her in the highest respect, and gave much credit to her: “All that I am today I owe, under God, to my precious wife.”1 A talented speaker, she developed a fine ministry, changing her association to a group called the Blue Ribbon Army. Smith, content to give himself to prayer and altar work, left the preaching to Polly.
A severe winter storm hit Bradford, causing much damage to plumbing, and Smith became very busy with his work. His prayer life and meeting attendance dropped off, and his heart grew cold toward the Lord. He began to be wrapped up in his own prosperity, and even bitter against Polly’s unbending spirituality. One night she came home exceptionally late from a meeting. Smith, perturbed, spouted, “I am master of this house, and I am not going to have you coming home at so late an hour as this!”2 When Polly asserted that Christ was her master, he put her out the back door and locked it. Polly marched around the house and into the front door, which he had neglected to lock. She entered the house laughing, so much so that soon Smith was laughing, too. Her graciousness and perseverance soon won him back to the Lord.
Smith had to go to Leeds once a week to pick up supplies for his plumbing business. He found out that there were divine healing meetings there and began to attend when he could. Since divine healing was considered fanaticism in those days, he did not tell Polly for a long time, unsure of how she would react. She found out on her own, and decided to accompany him to a meeting, since she herself had an infirmity. She was healed, and both the Wigglesworths became enthusiastic proponents of the healing ministry.
Later, Polly confronted her husband on his continued use of medicine. He had been afflicted with a severe case of hemorrhoids since childhood, and would bleed profusely and suffer much pain without the “salts” he took each day. He was moved to believe for his healing, and he discontinued his medication. When the “moment of truth” came, his bowels worked perfectly. He was never troubled again.
Smith remained zealous for the winning of souls. He tried each day to win at least one soul to the Lord. Often he would stand on a street corner, asking the Lord to point out someone he could talk to. In his business, he would witness to homeowners and servants alike as he worked in their homes.
He continued to attend the meetings in Leeds, and took many sick and needy people with him to be healed. One day the people who held the meeting asked Smith to take over while they attended a convention. He knew he would have to speak and minister to the sick, neither of which he had done before, but he could not refuse. He preached as best he could, and a number of people came forward to the healed. The first was a man who needed crutches to walk. Smith laid his hands on him and prayed simply, setting his reliance upon God. No one was more surprised than he when the man dropped his scratches and began to walk! From then on, Wigglesworth had an excellent healing ministry.
He was asked by a man to go to his home to pray for his wife, who was dying. He took a bottle of oil, to anoint her. Being a beginner, he poured the whole bottle over her at once. As he prayed he opened his eyes to see a vision of Jesus standing at the foot of the bed, with a smile of compassion on his face. The woman was healed, and that image of Jesus never left Smith’s mind.
One Sunday, while preaching, Smith was struck down with excruciating abdominal pain. Some men took him home, and the doctor was summoned. The doctor told the family that there was no hope, that he was too far gone, suffering from an extreme case of appendicitis. When he left, an elderly lady and the young man, both strangers, came in. The young man laid his hands on him and rebuked the devil, and Smith was instantly healed.
The Wigglesworths heard that people were being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues in Sunderland. Most Christians in those days were insistent, as many are today, that they were filled with the Holy Spirit when they were saved, or during some outstanding spiritual experience. They believed that they had all that God had to give, and that tongues were of the devil. Nevertheless, Smith was determined to find out for himself, so he went.
Smith was disappointed by the meetings there. The people sat quietly, waiting in prayer. He would speak up and challenge them, for he was not hearing the “tongues” he wanted to hear. The people would ask him to be quiet, that he was disturbing their meetings. Smith began to feel very hungry for more of God. He spent days there, but did not get what he was looking for. On the morning he had to leave, he asked for hands to be laid on him one more time. At last he received the Baptism, speaking in tongues and having a vision of the Lord Jesus.
Polly was skeptical. She also believed of that she had already received the baptism. But the next time Smith stood up to preach, she was amazed at the new power of his message, and was convinced that it was real.
Smith’s ministry became renowned. He was in demand to preach, and was always being asked to minister to the sick and dying. In time, his ministry spread to Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Palestine, Switzerland, and the United States. Thousands were healed at single meetings. Demons were cast out, and the dead were raised. But more importantly, many thousands of people came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus through his ministry.
1. Stanley Howard Frodsham, p. 17.
2. Frodsham, p. 22.
Frodsham, Stanley Howard. Smith Wigglesworth: Apostle of Faith. Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1948.
Wigglesworth, Smith. Ever Increasing Faith. Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1938.
Wigglesworth, Smith. Faith That Prevails. Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1938.
©2011 Paul A. Hughes. Originally submitted to Dr. Andrew McDearmid, in partial fulfillment of the course requirements for Missions 112, Southwestern Assemblies of God University, April 10, 1983.
One of the most important things in the life of a Christian is his knowledge of the teachings of the Bible. The Bible contains, if one might use only very basic classifications, the revelation of the nature of God, the history of his dealings with men, the revelation of Jesus as Savior and Messiah, the history of the primitive Church and its formation of doctrines, and God’s will and plan concerning the future. Most everyone well recognizes that the Bible is a highly complex book, and one not always readily understood.
From this mass of ancient writings, the Christian hopes to learn, in short, God’s will for his own life, in the present. With this in view, one can see the great consequence involved in the interpretation of the Bible. By whatever means Bible doctrine is derived, it bears upon Christian scholars and teachers to make sure its substance is correct.
Having mentioned that there are various means of deriving Bible doctrine, one must hastily point out that the first and best rendering of Scripture, on the whole, is the literal: what is said is exactly what is meant. For example, when God warns Noah of a great flood coming, Noah took it to mean that he had better build a boat, or he would get his feet wet! There was no further “interpretation” needed! But there are times when the “literal sense” is not appropriate: one must make allowances for figurative language, which is used extensively throughout Scripture. Otherwise, one might get the impression that the earth is flat, because it has four corners (Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1); or that there was once a woman named Wisdom, who would go out into the streets to cry (Proverbs 1:20). Of course, most people will recognize that these examples merely demonstrate a literary mode of expression. This “figurative sense” is a perfectly legitimate way to interpret Scripture, as long as the author’s meaning is clear.
Finally, there is a “spiritual sense” to Scripture. The idea is that there is a “second meaning” to some (if not all) Scripture, which was not fully evident to its original audience, or even the author. These hidden interpretations were placed by God within the framework of Scripture with the express purpose of their discovery ad hoc. Later interpreters, given special discernment, have been able to uncover and apply these hidden meanings. Various forms of the “spiritual sense” are typology, symbolism, allegory and, to some extent, predictive prophecy. This study is concerned with the nature of typology—nevertheless, the definition of these other forms, as well as their differentiation from typology, will be necessary.
The concern with the spiritual sense of Scripture is predicated upon its validity. For the most part, the “second meaning” is based upon the word of a single interpreter. But to what extent can one man’s discernment be trusted? After all, doctrine is often built upon these spiritual interpretations. One wrong interpretation, taken to an extreme, could cause a great heresy to arise. Indeed, it has often happened. Strict controls are needed, as well as a greater understanding of the method, its uses, and its dangers.
Therefore has this study been undertaken, in order to delineate Biblical typology, set it apart from other methods of interpretation, and see if and how it can be used to uncover scriptural truth.
The first step is to define the term. Typology is, literally, the study of “types.” “Type,” as used here, comes from the Greek tupos, variously defined as “visible impression or mark” (John 20:25), “copy or image,” “image or statue” (Acts 7:43), “pattern” (Romans 6:17), “archetype, pattern, model, design” (Acts 7:44, Hebrews 8:5), “moral example or pattern” (I Timothy 4:12, I Thessalonians 1:7), and “God-given type, symbol, or foreshadowing” (Romans 5:14).1 Obviously, “type” in New Testament usage is a general term, rather than the technical term which is applied here (or elsewhere in theology). For this reason, one should not always assume that the word “type” in the New Testament carries the narrow, technical sense as used in theology.
In the theological context, a type is a person, thing, or event which corresponds to a later person, saying, or event. The later occurrence is called the “antitype.” The nature of this correspondence between type and antitype is one of relationship.2 It is this relationship aspect which separates typology from other forms of spiritual interpretation, as will be demonstrated. The relationship between type and antitype is basically one of analogy—i.e., a similar (analogous) situation—the only essential difference being that the term “type” assumes that the linkage between the two occurrences was ordained and engineered by God. This separates typology from, say, a sermon analogy, which might well be inspired but nevertheless is not accorded the authority of Scripture. Therefore, typology is the study of these corresponding relationships found in Scripture which are judged to be “true types”: divinely inspired as opposed to simple analogy.
Beginning with the Primitive Church, Christian evangelists and apologists have been concerned with demonstrating the reality of Jesus Christ as the Messiah by showing him as both predicted and pre-figured by the Old Testament. The New Testament writers often connected the two Testaments in just such a way—continuity is of prime importance. Although the most concrete manner of such linkage is in noting the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Christ, it was also common to make use of typology.
Some examples are in order here: In John 3:14-15, Jesus himself used the typological method. He refers back to Numbers 21:8-9, saying, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, in the same manner must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe in him might have eternal life.” Notice that Jesus does not identify himself directly with the bronze serpent; nor does he give significance to the material, bronze, nor to any other incidental details of the story. Rather, he draws a comparison of relationship: just as the serpent was lifted on a pole, so would be the Messiah—for the purpose that those who “believed” would be delivered. In the case of the Numbers passage, “believe” meant simply looking upon the serpent; in the case of Christ, “believe” meant trusting in his vicarious sacrifice. It is the relationship, not the details, which matter.3
Then, in I Corinthians 5:7-8, the Apostle Paul urges,
Purge out the old leaven, that you might be a new lump, just as you are unleavened; for Christ our Passover [lamb] was sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with wickedness and maliciousness, but with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Here Paul makes not one, but two typical identifications. One is the identification of leaven with wickedness. This is a correspondence of relationship: just as the leaven must be purged out of Israel at Passover, so must wickedness be purged from the Christian. Secondly, Paul identifies Jesus with the Passover lamb: just as a spotless lamb was sacrificed for Israel, so is Jesus Christ offered up for our sakes (cf. Exodus 12:3-12). Again, Paul did not try to identify all the details of the type with the New Testament counterpart. For instance, he did not attempt to attach a New Testament significance to the doorposts upon which the lamb’s blood was smeared.4
Of course, Biblical typology is not limited to the Old Testament/New Testament connection. In fact, there are many instances in which both type and antitype occur within the corpus of the Old Testament. Robert C. Dentan describes one such occurrence found in Isaiah:
The great, creative event in Israel’s history had been God’s deliverance of his people out of Egypt . . . . [Isaiah] was sure that the same guy was still working in history and that he would inevitably deliver his people again. A new and greater Exodus was about to take place, and the prophet uses imagery drawn from the old story to describe (typologically) this new event: “thus saith Yahweh, who maketh a path in the sea and a path in the mighty waters . . . behold I will do a new thing . . . I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers (paths?) in the desert (Isaiah 43:16-19).5
Similar uses of typology in the Old Testament can be found in Isaiah 9:1, 11:6-9, 51:9-11, 52:11-12, 55:3-4; Jeremiah 16:14-15, 23:5; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Hosea 2:16-17; Amos 9:11.6
As an aid to understanding typology, A. B. Mickelson has formulated a list of three basic characteristics common to true typological relationships:
(1) Some notable point of resemblance or analogy must exist between the type and antitype . . . (2) Even though a person, event, or thing in the Old Testament is typical, it does not mean that the contemporaries of the particular person, event, or thing recognized it as typical . . . (3) The point of correspondence is important for later generations because they can see that God’s earlier action became significant in his later action.7
The term “typology” has often been used to describe the spiritual sense of Scripture, in general, as well as being confused with other specific forms of “second meaning.” As a further aid to the understanding of typology, one should also be aware of what typology is not:
Typology Is Not Predictive Prophecy
In a sense, true typology is predictive, in that the typical situation “foreshadows” the anti-typical situation. But the relationship between the two is one of correspondence rather than fulfillment.
A prediction is essentially an extension of the literal sense. Although the prophecy might be expressed in metaphorical or symbolical terms, yet the action that is described will be completed, in all its details. The correspondence between prophecy and fulfillment is one of particulars, not one of relationship. For instance, Amos prophesies, “[The Lord] shall send a fire upon Judah, and it shall consume the palaces of Jerusalem” (Amos 2:5). “Fire” is not literal—it is a metaphor for an instrument of destruction; “palaces of Jerusalem” is a metaphor for the glory and strength of the great city, which shall be destroyed in judgment. Although the words themselves are figurative, the prophecy itself is literal—the glory of the city shall be destroyed.
Typology Is Not Symbolism
A symbol is something—usually a literal object—which stands for something else. The object itself, by something inherent in its nature, has some meaning. A common example is that of a rock, which symbolizes strength and solidarity. Colors (white for purity), substances (blood for life), actions (“eating” a scroll),8 and ordinances (baptism)9 can also serve as symbols.
It is a common mistake to label things as types which are actually symbols. In his famous reference Bible, C. I. Scofield succumbs to this error in calling the furnishings of the Tabernacle types. If they indeed have any second meaning at all, it is as symbols. According to Scofield, the golden lampstand typifies Christ “our light”; fine linen as righteousness; the color purple suggesting royalty; Silver typifying redemption, because it was used for money, and the list goes on.10 Whether or not these things are true, the fact remains that, in the truest sense, these are symbols rather than types. If one seeks typology in the Tabernacle, one must look to the ritual associated with it: for example, the high priest enters alone into the Holy of Holies in order to sacrifice for the sins of all men. This high priestly office, according to the writer of Hebrews, typifies the intercessory mission of Christ (cf. Hebrews 5:1-3, 7:23-8:5).
Typology Is Not Allegory
The most persistent problem associated with typology is its confusion with allegory. While typology is usually seen as a viable form of exegesis, allegory is looked upon as suspect. This is because it has so often been misused.
Allegory is the assignment of new identifications to the details of the story, thus deriving a second meaning. In practice, the allegorical approach ignores both context and the literal sense, and finds a meaning apart from what the original writer meant. This is highly dangerous, unless one assumes that the allegorical interpreter can be accorded a level of inspiration and discernment equal to the Biblical writers themselves. A few examples are quite sufficient to illustrate the danger involved: As Mickelson relates,
The story of Herod’s slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem is allegorized in a sermon included among the spuria of Chrysostom. Lampe summarizes it as follows: “the fact that only the children of two years old and under were murdered while those of three presumably escaped is meant to teach us that those who hold the Trinitarian faith will be saved whereas Binitarians and Unitarians will undoubtedly perish.”11
Another sterling example is found in the rabbinic writings, and related by Alfred Edersheim:
The promise, that Japhet shall dwell in the tents of Shem [Gen. 9:27], is paraphrased in the Targum Pseudo-Jon. as meaning, that his descendents should become proselytes, and dwell in the schools of Shem . . . .12
The third example is a true classic: The Parables of Christ have particularly fallen prey to allegorical exegesis. This interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) comes from no less than Augustine. The details of the story are given new identifications in arbitrary fashion, ignoring the literal sense and the original intent—the man who is robbed is Adam, the thieves the devil and his angels, Jericho the moon (“signifying Adam’ s mortality”), the Samaritan Christ, the inn the church, and the innkeeper Paul, to name a few.13
This is not to say that the allegorical method is entirely reprobate—rather, it can be a very useful tool to teach scriptural truth, if indeed the “truth” taught is based in Scripture. However, due to its arbitrary and subjective nature, the use of this method as an instrument to obtain a spiritual second meaning from Scripture is highly questioned by modern scholars.
But, one might ask, did not the New Testament authors use the allegorical method in order to find Christ in the Old Testament, and a continuity throughout Scripture? It is this writer’s conception that there is no true (or pure) allegorical interpretation exhibited in the New Testament.14 Let us meet the issue head-on and go right to an examination of Galatians 4:21-31. This passage is usually referred to as the classic New Testament example of allegorical interpretation. This is largely because Paul calls it an allegory (v. 24). However, there is no reason to assume that Paul used “allegory” in the same narrow, technical sense used in theology today. According to Leonhard Goppelt, “when this interpretation is described as being taken allegorically . . . it simply means that this is an instance in which the interpretation goes beyond the literal meaning.”15
In his opening rhetorical question (v. 21), Paul makes it clear that he is comparing the old covenant, the Law, to the new covenant, Grace. The comparison between the two offspring of Abraham is one of relationship (i.e., typological): Just as Ishmael (by Hagar) was the fleshly effort to obtain the Promise, the Law was the fleshly effort to obtain salvation; likewise Isaac (by Sarah), the fulfillment of the Promise by spiritual means, corresponds to grace, which provides salvation spiritually. Therefore, those who are born of grace (Sarah) are free, like Isaac; while those born of the Law (Hagar) remain as slaves. Hagar, corresponding relationally to the Law, is equated to Mount Sinai, where the Law was given, and again to Jerusalem, where the Law is kept (v. 25). In contrast, those who are of grace are of the spiritual Jerusalem (v. 26). Furthermore, the Law is to be “cast out,” as Hagar was cast out (v. 30). The entire identification is one of correspondence of relationship. While traces of allegory might be seen here, it is evident that the passage, on the whole, is interpreted typologically.
Typology has been shown to be, when defined in his narrowest sense, an entirely separate and distinctive form of exegesis. Its distinction from allegory, in particular, has tended to prove its legitimacy as an exegetical method. Most importantly, a clear-cut concept of the typological method provides a clue as to how the New Testament exegetes thought (recognizing correspondence of relationship). This knowledge should be quite useful when examining other Old Testament/New Testament linkages, when one tends to wonder, “How did he make that connection?” Such an understanding should clear up many mysteries.
One unanswered question remains unanswerable: what is the ironclad rule for determining a true, God-given type (as opposed to a mere analogy)? For the most part, one can be safe in his exegesis by limiting typological identifications to those delineated in Scripture itself. Still, the possibility still remains that (for instance) some of Paul’s identifications were mere sermon analogies. For that matter, were the Exodus identifications in Isaiah a product of his own thought process, or truly typical relationships? These are questions which may never be answered until maranatha.
However, there is very strong evidence that at least some of the identifications are genuine. The idea of Christ as deliverance, prefigured in the bronze serpent, is hard to argue with. Likewise, the very design of the Tabernacle with its rituals well demonstrates the existence of a “second meaning.” At any rate, those of us with faith in Christ can hardly doubt that Jesus was, indeed, the underlying theme of all Scripture.
- Walter Bauer, ed., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. and adapted William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, rev. an augmented F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1979), pp. 829-30.
- See A. B. Mickelson, Interpreting the Bible (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), pp. 237-40.
- Cf. Mickelson, p. 237.
- Cf. Robert C. Dentan, “Typology—Its Use and Abuse,” Anglican Theological Review 34 (1952): 214; Mickelson, p. 238.
- Dentan, p. 213.
- David L. Baker, “Typology and the Christian Use of the Old Testament,” Scottish Journal of Theology 29 (1976): 139.
- Mickelson, p. 246.
- Mickelson, p. 276.
- Mickelson, p. 277.
- C. I. Scofield, ed., The New Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp. 101-104.
- G. W. H. Lampe, “The Reasonableness of Typology,” (n.p., n.d.), pp. 31-32, cited in Mickelson, pp. 238-39.
- Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, ), part 2, p. 711.
- Gordon D. Fee and David Tracy, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1982), p. 124.
- Cf. Leonhard Goppelt, Typos: the Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New, trans. Donald H. Madvig (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1982), pp. 139-40; Mickelson, p. 261.
- Goppelt, p. 140.
© 2011 Paul A. Hughes. Originally submitted to Dr. Stanley M. Horton, in partial fulfillment of the requirements in BOT/THE 533, “Old Testament Theology,” The Assemblies Of God Theological Seminary, May 28, 1985.
A Short History of Bible Translation
Few American Christians today realize the great gift from God we have in the English Bible. To do so, we must know some of its history.
From earliest times, men of God have foreseen the value of writing down God’s dealings with men. P. J. Wiseman (1888-1948), who conferred with many of the great archaeologists of his day, theorized that the earliest Scriptures, from the Creation to Abraham, were first written on clay tablets in cuneiform(the writing of Abraham’s native land). See “Who Wrote Genesis? A Third Theory” by the author.
Fictionalized pagan versions of Creation and the Flood, with some similarities to the Bible, have been dug up in ancient Mesopotamia (Babylon or Chaldea). In fact, many thousands of clay tablets have been found which are yet to be translated.
Scripture from Abraham to Moses
The Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) evidently kept family records, including stories and genealogies (family trees). Joseph, who became Pharoah’s right-hand man, probably wrote down his own story, and preserved it along with the others for his people during their captivity in Egypt.
One tradition holds that Moses wrote Genesis, along with his other books. This theory assumes that Genesis was dictated to him by God on Mount Sinai. However, Genesis is the only one of the traditional Books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) that does not identify Moses as its author.
The prevailing theory among liberals, usually referred to as JEDP, claims that the Books of Moses originated as religious myths which were strung together in patchwork fashion after Israel’s return from Babylon. However, it is likely that Israel knew their history throughout their long sojourn in Egypt, which helped preserve them as the distinct People of God.
Nevertheless, it is highly possible that it was Moses who finally compiled Genesis into a single book.
The Old Testament in Greek
Over the next millennium (1400-400 B.C.), inspired Scripture was written down by:
- Prophets (Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.).
- Rulers (David, Solomon, Nehemiah).
- Scribes or historians (Kings, Chronicles, Judges, Ruth, Esther, Ezra).
Many scholars think that the Old Testament, as we know it, was finally assembled by the great scribe Ezra.
Ancient scribes soon recognized the value of providing the Hebrew Scriptures to others in a language they could understand. For most of the world, the common language of trade and foreign correspondence was Greek, much as English is today.
There were at least four ancient translations of the Old Testament into Greek, but only one still exists today: the Septuagint (meaning “seventy”). According to legend, in about 250 B.C., Ptolemy II of Egypt wished to add a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures to his great library at Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the world.
Ptolemy commissioned either 70 or 72 Jewish scribes, six from each tribe of Israel, to make the translation. To this day, references to this Greek version are abbreviated by the Roman number LXX (“seventy”).
Since many Old Testament quotations in the New Testament agree perfectly with the Septuagint, many experts think that the apostles, especially Paul, often used the Septuagint in preaching and writing to Greek audiences.
The New Testament Books
The New Testament was written by:
- Disciples of Jesus (Matthew, John, Peter).
- Some of their students and companions (Mark, Luke).
- But most of all by Paul.
The earliest books were probably Paul’s letters (epistles) which he wrote to keep in touch with various churches, beginning about A.D. 46-50. However, some scholars believe that a collection of Jesus’ sayings, called “Q” (short for German quelle, “source”) might have been written earlier and used in writing the gospels. The author of Hebrews is uncertain. The last book to be written was probably the Revelation of John.
The amazing thing about the “Q” theory is that it might have originated from somebody who sat listening to Jesus’ teaching, then wrote down the deep teachings he heard.
The Bible Books Preserved
Early on, the churches recognized the value of the writings of those they recognized as apostles (literally “those sent on a mission”). They preserved their writings and even sent copies to other churches. Over the centuries to follow, both Jewish and Christian scribes labored hard to faithfully copy their respective Scriptures. This was done in ink, on either papyrus(made from Egyptian rushes) or parchment (leather).
None of the originals (“autographs”) of the Bible books still exist today. We do have some very old copies, however. Some New Testament fragments go back as far as A.D. 200, and many more exist from the third or fourth century. And when an almost complete copy of Isaiah was discovered near the Dead Sea from around 200 B.C., only a few letters were found to differ from much later copies.
Translating the Bible
By the fourth century after Christ, the Roman Empire had become a Greek Christian empire based in Constantinople (now Istanbul). But most of the people from Rome west spoke Latin, not Greek.
Jerome (lived about A.D. 347-420) set himself the task of translating the Bible into Latin. He translated the gospels, but was persecuted for “changing” Scripture. He found it wise to move to Bethlehem, where he taught himself Hebrew in order to translate the Old Testament.
Jerome’s work, together with that of other translators, became known as the Vulgate, the official Catholic version. The Vulgate can be useful in translating the Bible today, by re-translating it into Greek or Hebrew, since it predates most of the Bible manuscripts still in existence.
Efforts to get the Bible into the vernacular (the language of the people) have continued since Jerome. The Roman Church long considered Bible translation dangerous, since heresies could evolve. In the wake of the recent events in Waco, this fear is not unfounded. But without Scripture, the common people walked in ignorance, superstition, and subservience to Church authorities.
The Bible in English
One of the earliest English versions was that of John Wycliffe (1328-1384). The Roman Church vowed to burn him at the stake, but was cheated when he died of natural causes. Many years later, the Church dug up his bones and burned them.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) fueled his Reformation with his German New Testament, published in 1522. Then he spent twelve years translating the Old Testament from available Hebrew texts, the Septuagint, and the Vulgate. The whole Bible was published in 1534.
In 1525, with Luther’s help, William Tyndale was able to produce his English New Testament. Tyndale’s notes often attacked Church authorities. He was burned at the stake in England in 1536.
Miles Coverdale (1488-1569) was a former friar turned Protestant who produced the Coverdale Bible (1535), possibly with the permission of Henry VIII. He later edited the Great Bible (1539) and helped with Thomas Cranmer’s Bible (1540). But Coverdale was still persecuted for heresy. Cranmer (1489-1556), Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake by Queen Mary. See “Politics and Religious Liberty in 17th-Century England” by the author.
The Geneva Bible was published in 1560 by followers of John Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland. This Bible, printed in English, contained extensive notes expounding Calvinistic doctrine, frowned upon by many other groups. It was also the first Bible to be printed with chapter and verse divisions.
The Geneva Bible became known as the “Breeches Bible,” because it referred to the High Priest’s “apron” as “breeches.” Likewise, a 1551 edition of the Bible came to be called the “Bug Bible” because of its translation of Psalm 91:5, “Thou shalt not be afraid of any buggies by night . . .” .
In 1568, French scholars produced the Douay Bible for Catholics, a translation of the Vulgate into English. In the same year, bishops of the Church of England produced an official translation for use in their churches. The “Bishops’ Bible” remained a popular Bible version even after the King James Version appeared in 1611.
The King James Version
The Bishops’ Bible and other translations came to be criticized, especially by the Puritans, for not being true to the better Greek and Hebrew manuscripts available. A new translation was proposed. It was to be a non-sectarian, mainstream version, containing no controversial notes like the Tyndale and Geneva Bibles.
With the permission of King James I, from 52 to 54 scholars were gathered from the English universities. One tradition, yet unproven, holds that one of these men was none other than William Shakespeare. These scholars were divided into several teams, each of which was assigned part of the Bible. The Bishops’ Bible was used as the basis for the new version. Changes were only to be made when warranted by the best Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available.
After three years’ labor, what these men produced was of course the King James Version. Few Protestants today realize that the original King James Version included the Apocrypha, the so-called “Catholic” books. The Apocrypha includes such books as 1 & 2 Maccabees, 1 & 2 Esdras (also called 3 & 4 Ezra), Judith, Bel and the Dragon (a fanciful tale about Daniel), Tobit, Susanna, and Ecclesiasticus. All of these books were written later than the Old Testament books. The Puritans objected to the Apocrypha on the grounds that they had never been included in the Hebrew canon. The first edition of the King James Bible which did not include the Apocrypha was printed in 1620, and became the standard.
Though many Christians today complain they cannot understand the Elizabethan English, the King James Version is still recognized as an extremely balanced and literal translation, its beauty of expression unsurpassed.
©1994 Paul A. Hughes. Originally published in
The Polk County Enterprise, March 13, 1994, p. 3B.
A Short History of Higher Education
in the Assemblies of God
Originally written as a term paper for Dr. Edith Blumhofer, History and Polity of the Assemblies of God, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, circa 1985.
One of the original reasons for founding the Assemblies of God was in order to form its own distinctive educational institutions, along with funding foreign missions and establishing doctrinal standards.1 However, the nature and purpose of these educational institutions has been the subject of some debate.
The development of Bible institutes seemed a natural for the young Assemblies of God, an extension of the old short-term Bible schools upon which the Pentecostal Movement was founded. The institutes were private, incurring little state interference or control. But how much further should educational efforts in the Assemblies extend? Should training for secular careers be provided for those not called to preach? Should schools seek affiliation with accrediting agencies or any other groups? Should the Assemblies provide seminary-level instruction? These and other hard questions have faced the Assemblies of God throughout its history, and might continue to affect its course in the future.
Early Pentecostal Education
The Pentecostal Revival began, for all essential purposes, at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, in 1901. An outgrowth of the Holiness Movement, the Pentecostal Movement spread throughout much of the country within a few years. Vehicles such as the Azusa Street Mission, John Alexander Dowie’s Zion City in Illinios, and various Pentecostal publications were instrumental in this spread. The new Pentecostal message fostered two important developments: first, the separation — reluctantly for most — of Pentecostals from established denominations. This, in turn, brought about the second development, the necessity of founding schools of their own, which were distinctively Pentecostal.
The early Bible schools were generally informal and short-term, usually lasting four to six weeks.2 When the course was done, the itinerant Bible teacher moved on. There were, however, some of longer duration, such as the Rochester Bible Training School (also known as Elim, actually begun before the Pentecostal outbreak), which operated from 1895 to 1924.3 Some of the teachers of these small schools — T. K. Leonard, J. Roswell Flower, E. N. Bell, and P. C. Nelson, to name a few — were later to become leaders in the Assemblies of God.4
The emphasis of the early Pentecostal schools was on the training of ministers of all types: pastors, evangelists, missionaries, lay preachers, etc. The curriculum was pragmatic, and the main textbook was the Bible.
The Assemblies of God, formed in 1914, soon moved toward establishing more permanent schools in order to advance its cause. A number of Bible institutes were well established before World War II. Central Bible Institute, founded in 1922, remained the only General Council-operated school for many years. Other regional schools were operated by their respective districts, which the General Council has closely supervised over the years in order to ensure that pure Pentecostal doctrine was preached, and modernism and heresy discouraged. In 1925, CBI was chosen to serve as a model for all endorsed schools.5
The Bible institutes offered three-year programs. Students were instructed in Bible, preaching, missions, and related areas. They received first-hand ministry experience by evangelizing, performing Christian service, and conducting actual worship services. Practical education was what these plain, stalwart first-generation Pentecostals wanted. According to Joseph R. Flower, son of J. Roswell Flower, “The feeling [was that] the coming of the Lord was too near to become involved in advanced education.”6
However, as early as the 1920s, a need for education beyond the institute level began to be realized. This was an era in which many professions, notably public school teaching, were stiffening their requirements.7 Many Pentecostal young people had no wish to train for ministry, and were being drawn to secular or non-Pentecostal colleges. At the same time, ministers who sought advanced training beyond the institute level had no Pentecostal seminary to attend. But the expansion of Assemblies of God education involved the approval of the constituency. As G. Raymond Carlson remarked,
Large numbers of AG people entertained a fear that emphasis on education could have a deteriorating effect on the spiritual life of the movement. Their thinking could be capsuled in four words — revival, organization, education, stagnation.8
Establishment of Senior Colleges
The first accredited senior college programs in the Assemblies of God came about as more a necessity than a choice. The concern was two-fold: the loss of impressionable young people to the philosophies of the world, and the threat that the Movement might suffer loss and even die with its first generation.
As early as the 1929 General Council, a committee chaired by P. C. Nelson recommended the foundation of “an institution of college grade, where the most complete and thorough education can be obtained under Pentecostal auspices.”9 In time, several district schools expanded their programs to four years. Southwestern Bible Institute began providing a general education program at the junior college level in 1944.10
Still, a need was seen for a true liberal arts program. A liberal arts institution is designed to prepare young persons for a wide variety of careers, as well as graduate studies, by providing the broadest education possible. Betty Chase has pointed out that a liberal education is considered preferable for those who intend to go to seminary after college.11
A liberal arts college began to be seriously discussed by 1945.12 At the 1947 General Council, the Education Committee reported that “many are being influenced by the insidiousness of modern education and others by the persistent repudiation of our particular doctrine, and they are lost to our ranks.” Furthermore, the report reads,
It is the feeling of your committee that these young people are too valuable for us to let slip through our fingers and that we are handicapping our progress by the loss of these potential lay-leaders in our churches.13
Even the proponents of higher education were reluctant to set aside the necessary finances. The main thrust of the Movement had always been evangelism, and evangelism brings to mind missions and literature — not liberal education. Foreign missions and the publishing enterprise received the lion’s share of contributions and general funds. No funds were set aside for general education,14 and the fear of over-extension was very real.
Nevertheless, the following resolution was put before the 1953 General Council:
WHEREAS, There is a great army of full gospel believing youth in our ranks
AND WHEREAS, They are entitled to and are pursuing courses of higher education in college outside our Christian confession,
AND WHEREAS, Many of them are being lost to our cause forever because of the philosophies, etc., with which they become indoctrinated . . .
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That this General Council in session authorize the setting up of a SENIOR COLLEGE PROGRAM . . . .15
The resolution passed. A former military hospital in Springfield, Missouri, was secured as a campus for one dollar, and Evangel College opened its doors in 1955.
Founding a Pentecostal Seminary
Higher education has often met with limited enthusiasm from large segments of the Assemblies of God constituency. This has been especially so in regard to starting a seminary, with fears of creeping formalism and modernism replacing the simple faith in the power of God upon which the Pentecostal Movement was established. This fear was not entirely unfounded. Darwinism, the influence of the Tubingen School of liberal Bible scholarship, Albert Schweitzer’s work on the “historical Jesus,” the Documentary Hypothesis (“JEDP”), Source Criticism, and the “demythologizing” of the Gospels by Rudolf Bultmann were just a few of the influences which had been destructive to Biblical authority and faith in other denominations.
Yet, one must wonder to what extent the founding fathers of the Movement dreamed of establishing a truly Pentecostal seminary. Many of them were highly educated men who went on to be staunch supporters of education in the Assemblies of God. E. N. Bell had attended Stetson University, Baptist Seminary in Louisville, and the University of Chicago Divinity School. P. C. Nelson, a native of Denmark, attended Rochester Theological Seminary. It was said that he could speak most European languages, and he translated Eric Lund’s great book on hermeneutics from the Spanish.16 Myer Pearlman was taught in Hebrew schools in his native England, and was fluent in Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, French, and Italian.17 Such men had observed both the dangers and the advantages of education, and in many cases considered it worth the risk.
Beginning in 1945, the bylaws of the Assemblies of God began to contain this statement:
As progress and growth demand, the Educational (sic.) Department may provide a Full Theological Seminary Course in addition to the Bible Institute course, and provide post-graduate work for the graduates who seek special training for the ministry in the United States and foreign lands.18
Wishing to exert more control over the situation, the 1955 General Council voted to amend this statement, taking the decision out of the hands of the Education Department and making it subject to a vote of the general assembly.19 Nevertheless, Education Committee reports continued to be fully as alarming as had been those calling for the establishment of a liberal arts college. According to the 1957 General Council minutes,
The report also called attention to a survey which indicated that one hundred and thirteen (113) students are presently enrolled in seminaries of non-Pentecostal denominations, furthering their education. Other studies indicated that many Assemblies of God high school and college students are planning to attend seminaries for training in graduate theology, and this knowledge points up a problem in our ranks which may become acute in the not too distant future.20
The need for chaplains for the military was especially pressing. It has been well within the purposes of the Assemblies of God to provide chaplains for the military. But as a rule, the armed services have required that every chaplain possess a minimum of graduate seminary training. Although concessions were made for the Assemblies during World War II, it is only reasonable to expect all chaplains to work toward fulfilling this minimal requirement.21
Various preliminary studies were conducted, notably in 1956 and 1958. The 1958 study called attention to the growing demand for seminary studies, the need for Pentecostal chaplains and Bible college teachers, the fact that many Assemblies of God students were attending non-Pentecostal seminaries, and that some seminaries were ceasing to admit Pentecostals.22 A further study was commissioned in 1961 to examine the feasibility of a seminary, with complete plans to be presented by 1967.23
Eventually, the establishment of a seminary was approved. In 1971, facilities for the school were included in the plans for the new International Distribution Center addition to the Assemblies of God headquarters building in Springfield, Missouri. Officially described as “a graduate school of theology and missions, providing advanced training beyond the baccalaureate level for ministers, missionaries, evangelists, and other Christian workers for effectual service at home and abroad,”24 the Assemblies of God Graduate School (now the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) opened its doors in the Fall of 1973.
Support of Assemblies of God Schools
Once the establishment of educational institutions was approved, a commitment to support those institutions became necessary. Such commitment was not lacking among Assemblies of God leaders. When the military requested leasing the Central Bible Institute campus for convalescent hospital facilities in 1943, the General Presbytery declined. They believed that “the interests of our country as well as of our constituency can be more largely served by continuing the Institution in its present status as a training center for ministers and missionaries, thus contributing to the up-building and maintenance of national morale.”25
However, this commitment was by no means universal. A 1957 committee proposed that five percent of undesignated missions contributions go to support the Bible schools. The resolution failed to pass.25 A 1959 report was quite insistent:
Your committee feels that it is high time our movement is awakened to realize it MUST SUPPORT our schools as a necessary part of our great over-all work. We should realize that 90% of our entire foreign missionary staff received their training in our own Pentecostal schools and they have gone forth to establish 61 Bible schools . . . . Our future missionary staff, to say nothing of our great home-field depends upon our movement underwriting our educational program.27
The committee went on to recommend that each church give a sum proportionate to two dollars per member, and each district contribute 5 to 15 percent of its income to education, plus helping provide scholarships and endowments.28
The Assemblies of God educational system, along with hopes for its future, can best be summarized in the words of longtime General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman:
Education in itself will not convert the world. We must have the right kind of educators and the right kind of education. Evangelism is not enhanced with ignorance. We need to present to God our best. The greatest safeguard that we can have is to shore up our training programs and support our schools, so that we can erect the kind of guidelines we expect our educational programs to have. I believe we have a responsible and responsive educational program, and I want to see it kept that way.29
- J. Roswell Flower, quoted in Irwin Winehouse, The Assemblies of God, A Popular Survey (NY: Vantage Press, 1959), p. 171.
- Kenneth O. Gangel, Christian Education: Its History and Philosophy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983), p. 140. One of Luther’s well-known sermons was entitled, “The Duty of Sending Children to School.”
- Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), pp. 83-169. Cf. Gerhard Hasel, Old Testament Theology, 3d ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), pp. 23-31.
- Archer, pp. 302-384.
- Robert M. Grant and David Tracy, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible, 2d ed. (Phila.: Fortress Press, 1973), pp. 110-118. Cf. Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1971), pp. 137-234.
- William W. Menzies, Anointed to Serve (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1971), pp. 34-40.
- Don P. Gray, “A Critical Analysis of the Academic Evolutionary Development within the Assemblies of God Higher Education Movement, 1914-1974” (D.Ed. Thesis, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1976), p. 22.
- Gray, p. 21.
- Gray, pp. 20-22, 26.
- Charlotte Luckey, “History and Development of Assemblies of God Education,” Assemblies of God Educator 10 (Nov.-Dec. 1965):4-5. Cr. Donald F. Johns, “A Philosophy of Religious Education for the Assemblies of God” (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1962), p. 19.
- Joseph R. Flower, personal letter to Carolyn D. Baker, Springfield, Missouri, Nov. 15, 1983, appended to Carolyn D. Baker, “The Stunted Growth of the Assemblies of God Formal Education Between 1914 and 1973 with Reasons and Suggestions for Future Leaders and Educators” (term paper, Assemblies of God Graduate School, 1983).
- Minutes of the General Council, September 4-9, 1947, Grand Rapids, MI (in the Assemblies of God Archives, Springfield, MO), pp. 16-18.
- G. Raymond Carlson, personal letter to Carolyn Baker, Oct. 12, 1983, cited in Baker, pp. 4-5.
- Menzies, p. 362.
- Menzies, pp. 359, 366. Winehouse, p. 174.
- Minutes of the General Council, September 20-26, 1929, no place (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 83.
- Menzies, p. 359.
- Betty Chase, “The Pentecostal Paradox” Assemblies of God Educator 3 (Sept.-Oct. 1958):4.
- Minutes of the General Council, September 13-18, 1945, Springfield, MO (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 17.
- Minutes of the General Council, 1947, p. 17.
- Hardy Steinberg, personal letter to Carolyn Baker, Oct. 13, 1983, Springfield, MO, appended to Baker, “Stunted Growth.”
- Minutes of the General Council, August 26-September 2, 1953, Milwaukee, WI (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 30.
- Minutes of the General Council, 1945, p. 25.
- Minutes of the General Council, September 1-6, 1955, Oklahoma City, OK (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 43.
- An excellent example of anti-higher education voting is found in the 1947 Minutes, p. 22, concerning the establishment of a liberal arts college. The vote was 326 for, 641 against.
- Minutes of the General Council, August 28-September 3, 1957, Cleveland, OH (in the Assemblies of God Archives), pp. 50-51.
- Minutes of the General Council, August 29-September 1, 1959, San Antonio, TX (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 84.
- Minutes of the General Council, August 25-30, 1965, Des Moines, IA (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 68.
- Minutes of the General Council, August 14-19, 1975, Denver, CO (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 147.
- Minutes of the General Council, September 2-7, 1943, Springfield, MO (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 7.
- Minutes of the General Council, 1957, p. 51.
- Minutes of the General Council, 1959, p. 83.
- Ibid., pp. 83-84.
- Minutes of the General Council, August 11-16, 1983, Anaheim, CA (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 57.
© 1996 Paul A. Hughes
Notes on the Kingdom of God/Heaven
From a message delivered at Gonzales Family Church, October 31, 2010.
Bible scholars have long noted that prophets of the Old Testament apparently failed to see the coming Church or to anticipate a gap in end-time events. When Jesus ministered on Earth, however, He began to unfurl the mystery of a kingdom that precedes the [Millennial] Kingdom, a spiritual kingdom that is “not of this world” (John 13:36) but yet “in your midst” (Luke 17:21). It is a kingdom which cannot be observed by eyes of the flesh (previous verse) but received and perceived by faith. It is a kingdom that God the Father is eager to give to us all (Luke 12:32).
The Disciples long failed to grasp this mystery, either, perhaps not even till the Day of Pentecost. The Twelve, like many of the Bible scholars of their day, looked for the Messiah to come in power as the Son of David, who would conquer the Gentiles and establish his rule in Jerusalem once and for all. They did not comprehend the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, nor did they foresee the Church Age in which we now live, lo, these two millennia.
Yet Jesus himself came preaching not an earthly kingdom but the imminent Kingdom of God (in Matthew, “Heaven,” in deference to Jews to whom “God” was ineffable). This message had been introduced by John the Baptist, the “voice crying in the wilderness,” and picked up by Jesus after his baptism.
As we read in Luke 4 (par. Mt 13, Mk 6), Jesus had been preaching extensively around the Sea of Galilee, and finally returned to his home town, Nazareth. When He attended the local synagogue, it was a matter of courtesy that He was offered, as a bona fide Hebrew and son of the town, the privilege of reading the Scripture. He asked for the Isaiah scroll (a separate book in those days), and read from Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD . . . (Luke 4:18-19, KJV).
at which point He abruptly stopped. He then declared, to the astonishment of all present, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,” and sat down. Unfortunately, his listeners stumbled over Jesus’ audacity while missing the core message.
Jesus’ message hinged on the point at which He stopped: after proclaiming the Acceptable Year of the Lord, but before introducing “the day of vengeance of our God.” He was saying that the Age of Grace had now come, whereas God’s vengeance, though indeed pending, yet awaits. It still awaits to this day, after two thousand years. God had planned long before, predicted through the prophet, and now declared a time of amnesty, a new Year of Jubilee, during which redemption is possible for everyone.
Later, on the Day of Pentecost, the promised enduement of power, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, was poured out upon all flesh. A tongue of flame hovered over each disciple, signifying that each received his or her own endowment of that Spirit. This was to be power to witness, to hear from God, to declare the word of the Lord, to answer theological questions by revelation, to demonstrate the coming of God’s Kingdom with signs and wonders.
Peter stood to preach his first Spirit-empowered sermon, quoting the prophet Joel. “This is that,” Peter began—this is the event, this is the fulfillment of prophecy, this is the outpouring that was promised for the End Times, this is the sign of the culmination of God’s work on the Earth nearing, which was predicted by the prophet:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:17-21/Joel 2:28-32, KJV).
Peter, one will note, consciously includes the “wonders in heaven above . . . blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke,” even though these circumstances were not observed at that time. Peter seemed not at all surprised that these cataclysmic signs were absent. It appears that Peter understood that Joel prophesied not a single, ephemeral event but a sequence of events, even a process, beginning with gifts of revelation bestowed on the Church, and ending in cataclysmic judgments upon the Earth.
To summarize, Jesus came to declare the Father’s great work upon the world. In the Last Days, God sent his Son (the Logos, the expression of himself) to declare a spiritual kingdom consisting of all believers (the Church) in the midst of a fallen physical world ruled by material powers and the forces of darkness. His Son, the Christ, would initiate the Church Age by sending the Holy Spirit to empower the Church to preach and teach the Gospel of the Kingdom throughout the present Age of Grace. At the end of the Church Age will come “great tribulation,” with cataclysms, culminating in judgment (God’s “vengeance”).
The Apostle Paul once found it necessary to correct a fundamental misunderstanding in regard to the length of the Church Age (1 Th 4:13 ff.). Some members of the church at Thessalonica were mistaken that fellow Christians who had died before the Rapture had already missed the Resurrection. Even Paul harbored such a sense of urgency toward the imminent return of the Lord that he (arguably) did not expect a long wait. Paul did, however, look toward a future “falling away” and the unveiling of the “man of sin,” only after “that which withholds” (generally interpreted to refer to the Holy Spirit, or as we might say in our present context, the spiritual Kingdom of God present in the earthly Church) is removed (2 Th 2).
Nevertheless, the fact that this Age has lasted two thousand years to date need not trouble us. God, for whom “a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8), is eternal and under no compulsion to hurry. He has planned his work, and now works his plan. In the meantime, during this seeming hiatus of waiting for the Father to tell the Son that it is time for the Rapture, God in actuality “hath purposed in himself that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Eph 1:9-10). Christ is doing that right now through “his Church, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Mt 16:18) and which is “mighty to the pulling down of strongholds” through his Spirit which works within them (2 Cor 10:4).
In that sense, then, we already live in the Kingdom of Heaven, we participate with Christ in his ultimate plan for the world, and we might even consider ourselves to be experiencing, even now, an End Time event, the Church.
© 2010 Paul A. Hughes
The following is a synopsis of study notes for a recent sermon.
Joshua records the events surrounding the entry of the Hebrews into the Promised Land. As the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the Jordan River, the waters backed up on themselves and formed a dry crossing. Joshua was instructed to take twelve stones from the riverbed and set them up as a memorial west of the Jordan. That location, north of Jericho, later become known as Gilgal (Joshua 4:19 ff.).
For some time, Israel made its headquarters at Gilgal. Joshua was commanded to once again circumcise the people (5:2). There had been no circumcision since their departure from Egypt. All the Hebrews who entered into the Wilderness, over the age of twenty, died there for their unbelief, save Joshua and Caleb. Now those of the new generation were to rededicate the nation.
God then told Joshua, “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you” (5:9). “Wherefore,” the writer adds, “the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.” “Roll” in Hebrew, which is used to describe the action of a wheel, is GaLaL. The noun form is GLGL (Gilgal). Thus Gilgal is “the Place of Rolling.”
Why does God refer to the “reproach of Egypt”? It had been 40 years since their departure from Egypt. Yet the people who had known Egypt had carried with them idolatrous ways and a desire for that land, well-watered by the Nile, in their hearts, in spite of bondage. They had seen God move mightily, sending the plagues that shook Pharaoh’s resolve, then utterly destroying his army; yet they doubted God again and again. Now those who longed for Egypt were dead, and with them the guilt for their unbelief.
“And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover . . . And the manna ceased . . . .” (5:11 f.). What is the significance of this information? All their lives, God had supplied the surviving Hebrews daily in the Wilderness. God was now moving them into a covenant relationship and a greater walk of faith. He had given them a hill country where they would be dependent on the rain in its season, to bring forth the fruits of their labors (Deut. 11:10-17, Lev. 26:3 ff.). If they ceased to serve God, He would withhold the rain, and therefore the blessings of the land.
While camped at Gilgal, Joshua went to spy out Jericho, and saw an angel, the Captain of the Lord’s Army (5:13 ff.). Many commentators identify this event as a theophany, an appearance of God — or rather, an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. True, the angel speaks “as God” in the first person; but note other occurrences, as in the Burning Bush episode (Ex. 3:2 ff.), that the “angel of the Lord” speaks in the first person.
(I count 52 occurrences of “angel of the Lord” in the OT. It is reasonable, as in the case of modern-day prophecy, for God’s messenger [Heb. MaLaK, Gk. AGGELOS, angel, messenger], human or heavenly, to speak God’s message in the first person.)
Similarly, in Judges 2, an angel is sent forth from Gilgal to prophesy judgment at Bochim. However, this figure is likely a human prophet rather than an angel of the Lord. (Malachi means “my messenger,” Mal. 1:1, and the repeated phrase “the angel of the church” in Rev. 2-3 likely refers to pastors.) This is understandable in the light of Gilgal’s emergence, due to its history, as one of the great “high places” of Israel. 1 Samuel 7:16 says that Samuel made a regular circuit of Beth-el, Mizpeh, and Gilgal. Beth-el (lit. “House of God”) was identified with the site of “Jacob’s ladder” (Gen. 28:17), and Mizpeh is likely the same “watchtower” where Jacob and Laban established their non-aggression pact (Gen. 31:49). It was at Gilgal that Samuel anointed Saul king (1 Sam. 11:15), and where Saul committed his presumption (1 Sam. 15:12). Moreover, at Gilgal, Elisha met with the Sons of the Prophets (2 Kings 4:38).
Unfortunately, over time these “high places” came to be used for idolatrous worship and to rival the Temple. Through the prophet Amos, God pronounced judgment on these places: “Come to Beth-el, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years . . .” (Amos 4:4).
“For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: But seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Beth-el shall come to nought” (Amos 5:4).
One may conclude that relying too much on the greatness of the past, and idolizing past places, events, and practices, while worthy of remembrance for sake of inspiration and instruction, may become in God’s eyes the same as “going back to Egypt.” In such cases, there is a need for rededication to God’s purposes, and for God to “roll away” that reproach.
© 2010 Paul A. Hughes
The Wiseman Hypothesis
by Paul A. Hughes, M.Div
The Third Theory of Genesis’ Composition:
The Wiseman Hypothesis
For over a century, there have been two main, and opposing, theories for the composition of Genesis.
The Foundations of Source Criticism
The first theory began with the speculations of Jean Astruc (1684-1766), who maintained that Moses, the traditional writer of the Pentateuch, must have used existing written or oral sources in constructing Genesis. Astruc proposed the names of God, Yahweh (Ger. Jahweh, Heb. YHWH) and Elohim (generic “God”) as the key to Genesis’ composition. He divided the book into two main “sources,” the Jahwist and the Elohist.
Later, Astruc decided his source theory was too simplistic. However, scholars such as DeWette built upon Astruc’s ideas. The work of K. Graf and Julius Wellhausen culminated in the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis, now commonly called JEDP Theory, in which:
Modern versions of JEDP Theory dominate higher criticism today. The theory assumes Genesis to be composed of fragmented myths and legends of Creation, the Flood, early man, and Hebrew origins. These isolated tales were loosely assembled, and were modified (“redacted”) through the centuries by various redactors. These redactors (or schools of redactors) worked according to the diverse sectarian or personal views, purposes, and concerns of each. Later redactions can be separated, say the critics, by using scientific methods to divide Genesis into its Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly sources.
The critics believe that “myths” such as Creation, the Flood, and Babel were borrowed and adapted from ancient Mesopotamian mythology. Legends of the Patriarchs, Moses, and the Exodus arose among a distinct Canaanite minority as an attempt to explain and perhaps sanctify their origins.1 The Pentateuch reached its final form sometime in the Kingdom Era (1050-586 B.C.) or perhaps as late as the Post-Exilic Period (538-432 B.C.).
The Traditional View
A second theory, with more ancient origins, has been advanced in conservative religious circles all the more in the face of more divisive concepts. Tradition ascribes authorship of Genesis to Moses. Many references to Mosaic authorship do appear within the Pentateuch, also known as the “Five Books of Moses” and the Jewish Torah.
In Exodus 17:14, the Lord tells Moses to record the defeat of Amalek in a book. In two other instances, Moses is told to write down the ordinances of the Covenant (Exodus 24:4, 34:27).
Leviticus does not specifically name Moses as its author, but repeatedly introduces new information with the formula, “And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying . . .” (1:1 f., 4:1, 6:8, 24, etc.) His brother Aaron, the high priest, is sometimes included in the formula, as well. The book is finally capped with the statement, “These are the commandments which YHWH commanded Moses for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai” (27:34).
Numbers 33:2 mentions Moses making a written record of Israel’s wanderings.
In Deuteronomy, Moses records the Law and the curses pronounced upon those who disobey (28:58, 61; 29:20, 21, 27; 31:9-12). Moses places the Book of the Law inside the Ark of the Covenant to bear witness to future generations (31:24-27).
Deuteronomy purports itself to be a series of five discourses Moses delivered before the people just before they entered Canaan. Moses recaps major events of the exodus from Egypt, and reviews the articles of God’s Covenant. At the end is supplementary material regarding Moses’ death, obviously recorded by another hand (34:5-12).
The claim of Mosaic authorship of Pentateuchal writings is also found in the book of Joshua (hence the modern theories of a “Hexateuch”). The Book of the Law written by Moses is referred to in Joshua 1:8, 8:31, and 23:6. Joshua carved the Law of Moses into the stones of the altar on Mount Ebal (8:32 ff.). Later, Joshua added to the Book (24:26).
Explicit, internal statements roundly confirm Moses as the author of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But what does Genesis say?
Conservative traditionalists adduce the claim that God revealed the stories of Creation, the Flood, etc., to Moses on Mount Sinai (i.e., “Dictation Theory”). How else could Moses learn the true history of Creation and other events of pre-history unless God revealed them?
However, one of the things which sets Genesis apart from the rest of the Pentateuch is that it makes no mention of Moses. Nowhere does the Bible explicitly state that Moses wrote the first book, until — as demonstrated in the New Testament — Jews by convention began to refer to the entire Torah or Law (exclusive of the Prophets or Writings) as “Moses.” Some traditionalists assert that Jesus identified Moses as the author of Genesis, but that is not truly the case.
Mosaic authorship of Genesis is dependent upon tradition and, in turn, upon speculation and assumption. In fact, the most that can be said is that Exodus appears to intentionally pick up where Genesis leaves off: with the transition which takes place from the death of Joseph to the birth of Moses.
To date, JEDP and tradition have found no common ground. A strict line of demarcation exists between the two, which has polarized Bible scholars into two camps. Many of the initial details of JEDP theory have been discarded since its initial proposal, yet its basic premises remain. Traditionalists object to the critics’ a priori rejection of such internal evidence as stated authorship and purpose of the books, and their anti-supernaturalistic bias. They object further to the extirpation of the Creation and Flood accounts, et al., as authoritative Scripture.
The JEDP critics, on the other hand, consider traditionalists to be dogmatic, unscientific, and ingenuous. They often oppose traditional views with evangelistic zeal, as bonds to be broken, ignorance to be purged. Indeed, for more than a century, traditionalists have felt the winds of scholarly opinion blow hard against them.
With these prevailing views of Genesis now in mind, the writer presents a third theory of Genesis’ composition, which he has dubbed the Wiseman Hypothesis.
Percy J. Wiseman (1888-1948) was an officer of the Royal Air Force who spent some years in the Middle East. While there, he made it his business to visit the sites of archaeological digs in progress, and learn as much as he could about ancient history and cultures. He visited the excavation at Ur of Sir Leonard Woolley, visited S. H. Langdon at Kish, and conversed at length with Cyril Gadd and others. In the process, he collected a number of cuneiform inscriptions and tablets, and learned a great deal about ancient Mesopotamian composition.
Wiseman began to formulate his own theory of the composition of Genesis based upon the recent archaeological discoveries and his investigations of ancient writing practices. He presented these in his book, New Discoveries in Babylonia about Genesis (1936). The book has undergone several editions, including two German, and is most recently presented as Ancient Records and the Structure of Genesis (Thomas Nelson, 1985), edited by his son, well-known Assyriologist Donald J. Wiseman (University of London).
Wiseman’s theory has been largely dismissed by both higher critics and conservative traditionalists. Yet a thoughtful reading of the work shows it to be worthy of renewed interest.
Many startling new discoveries were made in Mesopotamia in the decades preceding Wiseman’s work. Many were even then being made. Some of the most startling pertain to Genesis.
The culture of ancient Mesopotamia was shown to be far more advanced than previously considered. It was proven that writing was practiced before 3000 B.C., a thousand or more years before Abraham. Vast libraries of clay tablets were discovered at Ur, Nippur, and other sites. Epics of Creation and of a universal Flood (in three versions), which parallel the Genesis accounts, were found to be in widespread distribution. The Code of Hammurapi, from roughly the time of Abraham, was found to contain many of the laws by which Abraham governed his actions (see also the Ebla stela).
At the very least, such discoveries confirmed the great antiquity of much of the Genesis material, often placing it within the time-frame it depicts. Moreover, the finds demonstrated that much of the historic material surrounding the life of Abraham could have been passed along in written form.
Ancient Writing Practices
Wiseman studied the standard writing practices of ancient Mesopotamia, as demonstrated in the tablets. The common writing media were raw clay tablets impressed by a wedge-shaped stylus. The tablets were facilitated by the exceptionally fine clay found in the area which was easy to impress with the distinctive cuneiform (“cone-shaped”) characters. Inscriptions in stone were also common, but the clay tablets, oven-baked to great hardness, were versatile and durable.
The identification statement of each document, Wiseman noted, was placed at the end of the text — not, as is currently practiced, at the beginning. Thus, the famous Code of Hammurapi closes with the statement, “The righteous laws which Hammurapi, the wise king, has established . . . .”
Two books of the Pentateuch identify themselves in this manner: Leviticus closes with the statement, “These are the commandments which YHWH commanded Moses for the children of Israel . . .” (27:34); and Numbers, “These are the commandments and the ordinances which YHWH commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel . . .” (36:13).
The ending statement of an ancient Mesopotamian text is called the colophon. The colophon may include (1) the name of the writer, dictator, owner, or perhaps the subject of the book; (2) some means of dating the book or the events recorded; plus (3) any other pertinent information.
The first words of the text usually served as the title. To this day, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible are entitled in this manner: Genesis is bereshith, “In the Beginning”; Exodus is we’elleh shemoth, “These Are the Names,” and so on.
The cuneiform script could, to an extent, be compressed or expanded to fit the tablet. Keeping the number of tablets to a minimum was no doubt considered desirable in most cases. But some texts required that two or more tablets be used. In this event, some way in which to identify the intermediate tablets was required. Scribes answered this need by repeating the title at the end of each tablet. At the close of the final tablet, the colophon appeared along with the title. Wiseman calls this final repetition of the title, along with the colophon, the “title page” of the work.
Wiseman began to view the book of Genesis in the light of these ancient Mesopotamian practices. He saw similarities and, in his mind, the key to the construction of Genesis. While critical scholars envisioned a progression of myths and legends artificially connected and unevenly edited by diverse hands, Wiseman gained a sense of order and unity from this new perspective. Genesis, he maintained, should not be studied in isolation, in subjective fashion. It should be compared to other ancient texts.
Fundamental to Wiseman’s hypothesis is his observation that the milieu of the first eleven chapters of Genesis is distinctly Mesopotamian, while the last fourteen chapters (37:2b on) are Egyptian in setting. Moreover, personal names, place-names, and references to law and custom are all appropriate to their cultural, geographic, linguistic, and historic context. The intervening chapters (in Canaan) are quite mixed, as could be expected. The implication is that the various accounts were originally written under the very circumstances they portray.
Also fundamental to Wiseman’s case is the formula, “These are the generations of _________” (name inserted). This formula, which occurs eleven times in Genesis, has long been presumed to be a standard introduction to a genealogical list. However, not in all cases does a genealogy accompany the formula. None appears with “the generations of the heavens and the earth” in Genesis 2:4, nor with Jacob’s formula in 37:2a. The genealogies of Noah (6:9 f.) and Terah (11:27) are severely limited, and might be incidental. That of Isaac (27:19 ff.) is not a genealogical list at all: the formula seems to introduce the continuing story of Esau and Jacob.
|Genealogies in Genesis|
|Adam to the sons of Noah||5:3-32|
|Noah to his sons (incidental)||6:9-10|
|Shem, Ham, and Japheth (2-5 generations)||10:1/lb-32|
|Shem to Abram (9 generations)||11:10/l0b-26|
|Terah to his sons (incidental)||11:27/27b (see also 28-30)|
|Ishmael to his sons||25:12/13-16|
|Abraham to Isaac’s sons (incidental)||25:19, 25, 26|
|Jacob’s sons (incidental)||29:31-30:24, 35:18|
|Esau to his sons||36:1-5|
|Esau to his grandsons||36:9-14|
|Esau to his grandsons who became princes||36:15-19|
|Seir the Horite to his grandchildren||36:20-28|
|Other Histories in Genesis|
|Sons of Hori (Seir the Horite)
who were princes of Edom
|Successive kings of Edom||36:31-39|
|Descendants of Esau
who were princes of Edom
The absence of genealogies with the formula in some of its occurrences has in some circles been put forward as a proof that the text has been extensively redacted (in which case the missing passages must have been deleted and lost, but their introductions preserved — a singularly unlikely occurrence). Wiseman believed that such apparent inconsistencies are due to a basic misunderstanding, even ignorance, of ancient writing practices, or the failure to apply what is known. The various portions of Genesis, he maintained, were recorded close to the time in which the events took place, perhaps by eyewitnesses. The true authority of the Genesis record lies in the fact that its most ancient histories were written down on clay tablets and handed down by Adam’s, Noah’s, and Abraham’s progeny through the ages.
According to Wiseman’s hypothesis, the record of Creation was first handed down by Adam in the simple, phenomenological terms in which God had disclosed it to him. The account of Creation was not, then, “demythologized” by later Hebrew or proto-Hebrew scribes. Instead, the original story found in Hebrew Scripture was elsewhere corrupted and expanded by Mesopotamian polytheists.
Later tablets are the family histories of the lineage traced through Noah, down to the Patriarchs of Israel. The only true worshiper of God of his day, Noah is presumed to have preserved the antediluvian texts (copies, perhaps) for posterity. In turn, Abraham — a monotheist among polytheists and nature-worshipers — took unadulterated copies with him to Canaan. Jacob took these, along with family histories recorded while in Canaan, to Egypt. The history of Joseph was probably written in Egypt on papyrus, originally in Egyptian.
The land of Canaan was in regular contact with both Mesopotamia and Egypt. Mesopotamian cuneiform, notably the Akkadian language, could be interpreted in Egypt, as testified by the Tell el-Amarna letters (c. 1400-1353 B.C.) sent from Canaan. Clearly, eventual translation of cuneiform tablets of Genesis would not have been a problem. The composition of Genesis would have been, it is supposed, simply a matter of linking the separate accounts to form a single narrative. This was done, says Wiseman, by Moses in the Wilderness — with some small editing, such as giving “modern” place-names along with the more ancient Canaanite identifications in the original account.
According to Wiseman, the key to separating the original text of the tablets from Genesis in its present form is to identify the colophon, or ending statement, of each. The colophons of the ancient tablets can be identified, says Wiseman, by the formula, “These are the generations of _________”.
Wiseman noted that “generations” here is the Hebrew word toledoth, not the more common dor used regularly with reference to genealogies. Most scholars of Wiseman’s time agreed that toledoth was better rendered “history” (F. Boettcher, H. Havernick, J. Furst, B. Roberts, S. R. Driver); “origins” (Havernick, H. Ewald); “chronicles” (H. Ryle), or something in that vein. Toledot Jesu, Wiseman points out, is translated “History of Jesus.” Given the above, the formula should read, “This is the history (origins, chronicles) of _________”.
These eleven formulas, if they are colophons, refer to the account which appears before the colophon, not a genealogy appearing after it. When and if a genealogy follows, it may be considered a postscript to the colophon rather than a genealogy which the formula introduces. The colophon identifies the owner, writer, dictator, or the one who is the subject of the book.
One might question whether the “author” listed in the colophon could himself have written or orally transmitted the record thus attributed to him. Wiseman, however, asserts that “the history recorded in the sections [preceding] the names of the patriarchs ceases in all instances on the date on which the tablet is stated to have been written or, where no date is given, before the death of that person. In most cases it is continued almost up to the date of the patriarch’s death” (p. 145).
If the documents were originally written on clay tablets in Mesopotamian style, then each tablet or series of tablets can be expected to have its own title (the first few words). This phrase should also appear at the end of each tablet in a series, and finally will be repeated at the end of the book as a “title page.” Wiseman proposes titles for most of the tablets, along with their title pages. In some cases, he identifies the repetitions of the titles which mark the change from one tablet to the next within a series. (Unfortunately, Wiseman only identifies a few of these repetitions, claiming no more than their occasional incidence as “remnants” of the original documents. For example, “after the Flood” (10:lb) is proposed as the title of Tablet V, the history of Shem (10:lb-11:10). Closely following the colophon in 11:10, “after the flood” is repeated. Wiseman identifies this as the title page. But the phrase also occurs within Tablet V at 10:32b, possibly marking the end of a tablet in the original document.
|Wiseman’s Tablets of Genesis|
|IV||Sons of Noah||6:9b-10:1|
|VII & VIII||Ishmael/Isaac||11:27b-25:19a|
A Critical Examination
This hypothesis has both unresolved difficulties and pronounced strengths. What follows are the writer’s own observations.
The first document (Tablet I, 1:1-2:4) seems to affirm Wiseman’s theory in its consistent use of Elohim (“God”) as the name or title of God. The single exception, YHWH Elohim in 2:4, might be a redaction, especially since the passage is otherwise consistent. Other than this exception, the tetragrammaton YHWH (Yahweh) as the name of God does not appear.
Elsewhere in Genesis, usage of these titles is mixed. The consistency of this first passage, however, suggests that it had at some time existed as a document distinct from the rest. Still, mixed usage of the names of God in Genesis will no doubt strike many scholars as evidence of redaction and the mingling of sources. Redaction and source criticism could be in order here, but should operate within the framework of Wiseman’s basic premises.
The title of Tablet I is, according to Wiseman, “God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth” (1:1). The “title page” at the end is, “the Lord God (YHWH Elohim) made the heavens and the earth” (2:4). Wiseman does not account for the differences in wording: Elohim versus YHWH Elohim, and “created” (barah) versus “made” (asah). Nor does he explain why the first words, “In the beginning,” do not become the title.
The “date” of Tablet I is also posited in the clause, “in the day the Lord God made the heavens and the earth” (2:4). There is some question whether this clause could have served such a dual purpose, as both title page and date.
The transition from first to second document takes place within 2:4. The beginning of Tablet II, “When (lit. in the day) they were created,” actually occurs before the first tablet’s designated ending statement, “the Lord God made the heavens and the earth.” The word order here is essentially the same in either the Masoretic Hebrew text or the Greek Septuagint. This overlapping of designated tablets necessitates some theory of redaction, though perhaps not such an overarching theory as JEDP. Any redaction in Genesis need not, at this point, be thought to be as exhaustive as that presumed by that theory.
Again, in 5:2 (Tablet II), “when they were created” is made to serve double duty as both date and title page.
Wiseman assigns 5:3-32 to Tablet III (5:3-6:9). But the passage is a rather disjointed genealogy not directly attached to its supposed introduction in 5:1. The passage could as easily be a postscript to Tablet II, added by a later hand, as it could a preface to Tablet III. Or it could have originally been a separate document altogether.
Wiseman does not assign a title and title page to Tablet III in his chart (p. 80). This appears to be an editorial oversight. But could not the phrase, “Shem, Ham, and Japheth,” which is assigned Tablet IV (at 6:10 and 10:1) serve the same or similar purpose within Tablet III at 5:32 and 6:10? The phrase also occurs within Tablet IV at 7:13 and 9:18, perhaps marking the ends of individual tablets within the series.
Then if Tablet IV was originally a series of individual tablets thus linked, it seems possible that all or part of Tablet III was once a part of the same series, based on the phrase, “Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” This premise would, of course, run “Noah’s Tablet” (III) together with that of “the sons of Noah” (IV). A possible solution to this dilemma is that Noah’s sons had simply added their records onto later copies of their father’s book.
The observation, that in every occurrence the phrase “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” seems perfectly in context, militates against its identification as a recurring tablet marker. It might be that Wiseman’s hypothetical tablet markers are more apparent than real. On the other hand, perhaps any occurrences of the tablet marker which seemed out of context were deleted by a later copyist. This is quite likely, were the text encountered in another medium, such as papyrus or parchment, where the significance of such markers would not be understood. The fact that in 7:13 and 10:1 the phrase occurs in conjunction with “the sons of Noah,” which seems somewhat redundant, further complicates the issue.
The attribution of most of Noah’s story to his sons (in Tablet IV) seems odd, unless Noah had it written the tablet for his sons in their name. Ham’s own admission of his indiscretion and cursing (9:20-27) likewise seems unlikely.
The transition from the fourth to the fifth document (at 10:1) is awkward. Wiseman’s designated title, “After the Flood,” evidently interrupts a genealogy which extends through 10:32. In 11:10, “after the Flood” is clearly an attempt to “date” the birth of Arpachshad, Shem’s son, rather than a repeat of the title — unless it serves a dual purpose. Here again the phrase, were it a mere mechanical literary device, would interrupt the genealogy in 11:10-32.
The colophon of Tablet VI, “this is the history of Terah” (11:27a), appears to interrupt the genealogy, 11:10-32, as well. The passage 11:27-32, however, does not follow the same tedious pattern set in the previous section, 11:10-26. Whether the colophon is the ending of the previous section or the introduction to that which follows, only a change of tablet at 11:27 could easily explain the abrupt change in style and the interruption made by the colophon. Wiseman’s separation of tablets at this point is well justified.
The seventh and eighth series of tablets (11:27b-25:19a) tell largely of Abraham and Isaac. But the colophon of Ishmael (25:12) occurs near the end of the story, closely followed by that of Isaac (25:19). Does this mean, as Wiseman’s theory suggests, that Ishmael wrote all of the material up to his colophon, which mostly concerns his father and brother? In that case, Isaac must have added only a brief supplement. Did Isaac (or a later redactor) incorporate Ishmael’s family records into his own? (Ishmael’s death, which occurred before Isaac’s, is recorded in the Isaac material.) Or did Isaac simply honor his elder half-brother by giving place to him in his book? The evidence remains inconclusive.
How are the tablets of Series VII and VIII linked together? The phrase, “________ called upon the name of the Lord,” recurs at 12:8 and 21:33, possibly denoting tablet changes. But the phrase has previously occurred at 4:26, and appears subsequently at 28:20 and 35:3. Moreover, the phrase seems to be prefectly in context in each instance, militating against its use as a marker. Other repetitive phrases do not immediately present themselves.
Wiseman’s IXth through XIth series of tablets presents problems similar to those of Series VII and VIII. Did Esau write 25:19b-36:9, or did Jacob (37:2a) honor his elder twin brother by including him?
The section 36:1 through 37:2a presents a particular difficulty. The statement, “This is the history of _________” seems clearly to introduce an historical record, rather than conclude it (36:1, 9; see also verses 15, 20, 29, 31, 40). Perhaps the literary style of the Canaan of Jacob and Esau had, by this time, diverged from that of Mesopotamia — or at least some variety of construction was available to them. Perhaps these records were, unlike those preceding them, written in the style current in Edom — or of Egypt, which also exerted considerable influence in the region.
A mixed usage of toledoth, “generations,” is suggested here: sometimes the term is applied to a concluding formula, at others to the introduction to a genealogy.
The passages 36:1-8 and 9-14 are markedly parallel and contain duplicate information, though they also supplement one another. The former observation may indicate their original existence as independent documents; the latter suggests the reason why both were included. The compiler likely wished to include all the information available to him, yet maintain the integrity of the original documents. He was, therefore, loath to write a composite version himself.
Documents of Genesis
|Sons of God (?)||6:1-2, 4|
|Princes, sons of Esau||36:15-19|
|Sons of Seir the Horite||36:20-28|
|Princes of the Horites||36:29-30|
|Kings of Edom||36:31-39|
|Princes of Edom who
were descendants of Esau
The above concern of the compiler is also apparent in the remaining records of Esau. The passage 36:15-43 contains records pertaining to Esau, his descendants, and the princes of Edom, which would seem of little concern to the descendants of Jacob, and even less to the Israelites after the exodus. The records bear all the marks of originally isolated documents — in this case containing no narrative — later incorporated in toto into a larger work of family history. One might suggest that these are records of Esau which his loving brother, Jacob, included near the end of his own narrative, 25:19b-37:2a.
Jacob capped his family history with his own colophon in Mesopotamian style (37:1-2a). Along with his desire to reproduce Esau’s records exactly, this fact accounts for the mixed usage of the “generations” formula. If 37:2a were meant instead to introduce a genealogy of Jacob, one must presume the genealogy were somehow deleted. Yet it remains inconceivable that a redactor would delete a genealogy but leave its introduction intact.
Even in this brief examination of Wiseman’s hypothesis, one can see both details which recommend it and unresolved difficulties, even apparent inconsistencies, which threaten to undermine the theory before it has received due consideration. Certainly, the problem of Genesis’ composition is much more complex than Wiseman envisioned in his scenario.
If Wiseman’s hypothesis is to be advanced further, it must remain flexible enough to allow for exceptions and aberrations. Genesis purports itself to be a series of histories which together span a thousand years or more. Differences in writing style and practice, then, must be allowed for, and the possibility of later redaction taken into account. Within the general assumptions of the overall hypothesis, sub-theories must be developed to work out the fine details. The theory should neither be rejected nor finalized prematurely.
The hypothesis has major strengths. Unlike JEDP, it is based upon a knowledge of ancient methods of composition. In this way the theory is objective, while JEDP is based upon a subjective evaluation of the text in isolation. The hypothesis takes Genesis virtually as is, without extensive modifications to fit its presuppositions. Yet it does not make the broad, specious, and for that matter unscriptural assumption — following tradition alone — that the book was dictated to Moses by God. The theory not only takes into account, but often explains, the repetitions and duplications found in the text, such as the dual genealogies of Esau in Genesis 36. The absence of genealogies following the “generations” formula, at least in some cases, is also explained.
Wiseman’s hypothesis remains in seminal form. But it is worthy of more serious consideration than it has thus far received. Since truth is not subject to majority opinion, nor have the books been closed in its quest, there is certainly room for one more theory on the composition of Genesis.
- On Canaanite origins of the Hebrew nation, see Israel Finkelstein, “Searching for Israelite Origins,” Biblical Archaeology Review 14 (Sept./Oct. 1988), pp. 34-45, 58.
of the Wiseman Hypothesis
|Colophon:||“the history of the heavens and the
Genesis 1:1-2:4 — An initial, “primitive” telling of the
|Title:||“God Created the Heavens and the
|“Title Page”:||“the Lord God made the heavens and the
|Date:||“in the day the Lord God made the heavens
and the earth” (2:4)
|Colophon:||“the history of Adam” (5:1a)||Comments:
Genesis 2:5-6 — A postscript to Tablet I, the beginning of Tablet II,
Genesis 2:7-5:2 — The story of the creation and life of Adam.
|Title:||“When They Were Created” (2:4)|
|“Title Page”:||“when they were created” (5:2)|
|Date:||“in the day God created man” (5:1b)|
|Colophon:||“the history of Noah” (6:9a)||Comments:
Genesis 5:3-32 — A family genealogical record, perhaps originally a
Genesis 6:1-9a Might be, as Wiseman suggests, “a small tablet of
|“Title Page”:||none specified|
|Colophon:||“the history of the sons of Noah”
6:9b-10:1a — The Flood story, probably originally a document separate
10:1b-c — Might serve to connect a genealogy composed at a later date
|Title:||“Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (6:10)|
|“Title Page”:||“Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (10:1b)|
|Date:||“after the Flood” (10:1c)|
|Colophon:||“the history of Shem”
10:1b-32 — A genealogy of Noah’s sons (note that the descendents of
11:1-9 — The story of Babel might originally have existed as a
|Title:||“After the Flood” (10:32)|
|“Title Page”:||“after the Flood” (11:10b)|
|Tablet (Series) VI
|Colophon:||“the history of Terah”
11:10a (or 10b) -26 — A genealogy of the direct lineage of Terah from
|Title:||“Abram, Nahor, and Haran” (11:26)|
|“Title Page”:||“Abram, Nahor, and Haran” (11:27b)|
|Date:||when Terah was 70
VII and VIII
[25:13-19a a postscript])
|Colophons:||“the history of Ishmael” (25:12)
“the history of Isaac” (25:19)
11:27a or 27b — Apparently begins a new document, which explains the
11:27-25:19a — Might have been written largely by Abraham, and
|Series Title:||“Abraham’s Sons”
|“Title Page”:||none specified|
|Date:||when Isaac dwelt at Beer-Lahai-roi (25:11)|
|Colophon:||“the history of Esau”
25:29b-35:29 — The stories of Esau and Jacob, similar in texture to
|“Title Page”:||none specified|
|Colophon:||“the history of Esau”
36:1-43 — Records of Esau which, as a whole, interrupt the story of
|Title:||“Who is Edom” (36:1b)|
|“Title Page”:||“[who] is Edom” (36:8b)|
|Colophon:||“the history of Jacob”
37:1-2 — Concludes the story of Jacob.
36:9b, 36:43c — It is inexplicable that the “history of
37:2b-50:26 — The balance of Genesis is story of Joseph — a separate,
|Title:||“Father of the Edomites”
|“Title Page”:||“father of the Edomites”
|Date:||while living in Canaan
© 1999 Paul A. Hughes
How can I know the Bible is true when there are so many other “Truths”?
How can we assume the Bible is true? I enjoy studying archaeology, especially the exploration of sites relating to Bible history. I have never seen one historic fact in the Bible disproven. Quibbled with, yes. Prevailing scholarly theories going against it, yes. But typically, these anti-Biblical theories are overturned as more archaeological facts are discovered, or at least the so-called scholars must scramble to modify or try to bolster their pet theories.
What about science? Evolution, too, is just a theory. No matter how many scientists support it, they cannot prove it without more facts. If you study the actual evidence, you will find that it is comparatively sparse and subject to interpretation. Louis Leakey claimed to have discovered our ancestors in Olduvai Gorge, Africa. He showed a number of rocks he said were tools they used. But they are just rocks, some broken, some not. There is no evidence of intelligent design, nor indeed that they were ever used as tools by primates.
Creationism, by the way, is not entirely incompatible with Old Earth theories, and therefore with Evolution — if one takes the seven days of Creation in Genesis as seven phases rather than literal 24-hour days. Since neither creationists nor evolutionists were there at the time, I would not be too dogmatic about it, as if we really knew.
The way in which mainstream science has tried to censor and discredit any consideration of Creation is well illustrated in the movie, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” by Ben Stein. Also see an excellent article on Intelligent Design by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer.
I read an article in the Houston Chronicle about Richard Swinburne, professor of philosophy at Oxford. He performed an exercise in probability theory in order to evaluate the probability that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. As he explained to a scholarly audience at Yale recently, he evaluated the probability at 97%.
In the end, each of us believes what has been proven to his own satisfaction. If you are seeking but yet unsatisfied, I can only recommend that you keep seeking further information, and keep an open heart and mind.
Submit your honest
Bible questions to