N. T. Wright on the Resurrection

The thesis is that the “Easter belief” of the early Christians (a) refers intentionally to a literal, physical (not merely spiritual) raising of Jesus from the dead, and (b) the mode and breadth of this belief can only be explained on the hypothesis that that is what actually happened. The thesis is pursued in specific and detailed interaction with the Leben Jesu literature, most of which denies the resurrection. The characteristic emphasis that we would expect from Wright is Continue reading

Frege’s Sinn und Bedeutung: first third

This essay by Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was published in 1892 in the journal Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, pp. 25-50. Dealing with the “philosophy of language,” it discusses the distinction that should be made between the sense and reference (hence: the title of the essay) of linguistic expressions.

It will be helpful to have the essay in hand to follow our discussion with maximum profit. It is available in more than one English-translation editions. Our discussion here covers the pages corresponding to pp. 25-31 of the original.

Noll on Bible and Slavery in US History

An essay by Prof Mark A. Noll of Wheaton College in the collection Religion and the American Civil War (Oxford, 1998) outlines the place of the Bible in the American debate on slavery during the years leading up to the Civil War. Noll identifies the dominant view of the Bible on both side of the debate as “Reformed literalist.” Given that view of the Bible, the proslavery side seemed to have the upper hand. The Abolitionists were willing to move toward a “spirit not letter” type of interpretation, but all the orthodox saw this approach as a trajectory toward liberalism. Noll knows that “proslavery” — his term — is wrong, though a high view of the Bible is right; so he explores what might have gone wrong. He examines four alternative hermeneutical traditions that could have led to a different conclusion on slavery, while still holding to a high view of the Bible:(1) the “African American” way of reading the Bible; (2) the Roman Catholic; (3) High-church Lutheranism or Reformed; (4) the non-Southern Reformed, especially Charles Hodge. Only the last named of these had enough of a foothold in America to temper the discussion, but it fell short because of a root inconsistency in the American outlook which compromised the profession of sola scriptura and led to failure to draw a key distinction that would have unraveled the proslavery argument. Continue reading

Berlin

Berlin was the city that anchored the start and end of my trip.

Now before getting to the question that is at the forefront of everyone’s thinking, namely: what were the women like? (and rightly so: Continue reading

Buchenwald Inmate #2491: Christian martyr

Paul Schneider was a German Reformed minister whose early ministry coincided with the ascendancy of the National Socialist movement in the 1930s. His critique of the folk’s movement in view of the Word of God as well as a series of stands for the independent rights of the church vis-à-vis the state led to continual conflicts with Party functionaries, and penalties of increasing severity. At length, the conflict culminated in consignment to the concentration camp at Buchenwald, where his life ended. Continue reading

A Brief Critique of Non-Cognitivism (Ayer’s Version)

A. J. Ayer’s view of ethical judgments, often dubbed “emotivism,” is that ethical statements are neither true nor false and therefore are without significance. Behind this stance is his empiricism. In order for a statement to be meaningful, it must lend itself to some sort of verification. Without any possible means of verification statements fail to have to express anything. But Ayer does distinguish ethical judgment from other meaningless talk such that of speculative metaphysics or theology in that the former have at least a semblance of meaning since they display the attitude of the speaker toward certain types of actions. When one says, for example, “treason is wicked,” he is, on Ayers view, not uttering a statement with any cognitive content, but is, displaying his strong disapproval of treasonous behavior. Continue reading

When I hear the word “anti-Semitism,” I reach for my revolver

but for a reason opposite to that of the Semite-worshippers that are also seen to be grabbing their pistols.

My thesis is very simple: the term anti-semitism exploits an equivocation between race and religion that sets up the discourse for fallacious inferences. Moreover, the privileged status that this term has over others in its genre is itself an indication of the racism of those that recklessly purvey it. Continue reading