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Posts Tagged ‘testimony’

In Section 25 of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, we looked at the fulfillment of the knowledge of God. In Section 26, Barth delved into what it means for God to be knowable. Now in Section 27, Barth discusses the limits of that knowledge–namely where it begins and ends. He seemingly starts by reiterating where we left off in the previous sections:

“God is known only by God. We do not know Him, then, in virtue of the views and concepts with which in faith we attempt to respond to His revelation. But we also do not know Him without making use of His permission and obeying His command to undertake this attempt. The success of this undertaking, and therefore the veracity of our human knowledge of God, consists in the fact that our viewing and conceiving is adopted and determined to participation in the truth of God by God Himself in grace.” –Karl Barth (CD II.1, p.179)

While this opening remark is well rooted in the discussions of God’s revelation being a gift of His grace, Barth’s develops each word as part of an even more well defined picture. Barth confirms that the starting and ending points must be contained within God, but he also intends to show how it is that we can know anything about God on this basis. (more…)

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A hendiadys (hen-DAHY-uh-dis) is simply a grammatical construction where two words linked by a conjunction express a single complex idea; such as “sound and fury”. In fact, the word itself is a hendiadys as the literal Greek is “one through two”. There are many such constructions in the Bible, sometimes even incorporating a third word. Neither word is dissolved in the other, as the picture they provide is greater than the sum of its parts. Words themselves can form a community with a bigger vision for life.

Grace and Peace

It’s been said that some of Jesus’ best teachings were not told, as much as lived out. This real life dynamic exists in Paul’s classic salutation of “grace and peace”. Linguistically, it is not a hendiadys, because Paul takes the words from two different languages. At least initially, the phrase is not a stock expression in any culture. His reason for doing this was straightforward. As the early Christian Church grew rapidly, it quickly went from being a marginalized Jewish sect to a faith that crossed all cultural barriers. The common language for the Roman Empire at the time was Greek. The common Greek greeting was “charis” or “grace”. The common Hebrew greeting, of course, is “shalom” or “peace”.

The resulting idea was much like that of a hendiadys, but in ethnic terms. Paul’s greeting reflected that the Church was something much bigger than law abiding Jews on one side and pagan Greeks on the other. Paul now taught that they were all “one body in Jesus Christ.” In time this salutation would become Paul’s standard greeting.┬áThe dynamic is further intensified by the fact that both words have a passive and an active sense in how they benefit the individual and the community: (more…)

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