a new home . . .

I just realized tonght that my real name is available on wordpress for a domain. Thus, I moved the blog over there.  So, rather than using the strange “last name + first two initials” formula my undergraduate school gave me for my email years ago, I’ll just go by my real full name.

So, with that, I hereby unveil:

www.paulburkhart.wordpress.com

So if anyone RSS’s this or keeps up with it in any way, just change your bookmark to that and we’ll keep having fun.  Thank you for your understanding.

–paul

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Get yourself some Ancient Scribery

As ancient scribes copied manuscripts of Scripture, they sometimes wrote little notes to the reader in the margins or at the end of the document. Just read some of these “colophons” as they’re called. Some point out the difficulties of being a scribe:

“As travellers rejoice to see their home country, so also is the end of a book to those who toil [in writing].”

“The end of the book; thanks be to God!”‘

There wasn’t any talking allowed in the “Scriptorium” where the Scribes sat in groups to copy Scripture, so at times they would jot some notes to their neighbor in their own native tongue.  At Princeton Theological Seminary there is a 9th century manuscript of a commentary on Psalms (from a Latin Scriptorium which apparently hired people from many regions) where we see written in the margins, in Irish, the following:

“It is cold today.”

“That is natural, it is winter”

“The lamp gives bad light”

“I feel quite dull today; I don’t know what’s wrong with me”

“It is time for us to begin to do some work”

Some things don’t change, I guess.  But nevertheless, many scribes saw themselves doing God’s work and making it possible to have the Bible we have today.  Thus, their work became worship.

“What happy application, what praiseworthy industry, to preach unto people by means of the hand, to untie the tongue by means of the fingers, to bring quiet salvation to mortals, and to fight the Devil’s insidious wiles with pen and ink! For every word of the Lord written by the Scribe is a wound inflicted on Satan. . . . Man multiplies the heavenly words, and in a certain metaphorical sense, if I may dare so to speak, three fingers are made to express the utterances of the Holy Trinity. O sight glorious to those who contemplate it carefully! The fast-travelling reed-pen writes down the holy words and thus avenges the malice of the Wicked One, who caused a reed to be used to smite the head of the Lord during his Passion.”
— Cassiodorus, 6th century

“O reader, in spiritual love forgive me, and pardon the daring of him who wrote, and turn his errors into some mystic good. . . . There is no scribe who will not pass away, but what his hands have written will remain for ever. Write nothing with your hand but that which you will be pleased to see at the resurrection. . . . May the Lord God Jesus Christ cause this holy copy to avail for the saving of the soul of the wretched man who wrote it.”
— anonymous, possible 2nd century

I hope you enjoyed this little lesson in textual criticism of the New Testament.

–p

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damn you μαθητευσατε!

I hate Christian cliches. With a passion. I really do. Few people have seen me more frustrated than when I talk about “pop Christianity”. I mean, potpourri at a Christian book store? “Testa-mints?” Really? Ugh.

Anyway, one of my big soapboxes is the misappropriation of the language Evangelicals use in relation to how the Bible describes things. The Bible never says “accept Jesus into your heart”, Jesus never gives an altar call, and Jesus never “knocks on the door of your heart” (that passage in Revelation is referring to Jesus knocking on the door of a church, not a heart).

One of my biggest frustrations was pounded into me by a good friend and minster. It was the use of “disciple” as a verb. As in “I am discipling him” or “I am being discipled by her”. I and my friends have often responded in an outcry of the Bible never uses disciple as a verb! You don’t ‘disciple’ anyone, you make disciples of Jesus!

Enter, Greek. In Greek class a couple of days ago we were studying the imperative mood of verbs. Well, sure enough, as is often the case, God took this moment to show me my pride and assumptions. In the famous Matthew 28:19 phrase “make disciples of all nations” that verb for “make disciples” is the 2 plural aorist imperative verb μαθητευσατε (matheteusate). This is the verb form of the noun μαθητης (mathetes) meaning “disciple”. The “make” is added by translators to stress the imperative/command sense. It literally means “to disciple”. It’s not two separate words for “make” and “disciple”.

So, I need to repent to all those I’ve been frustrated with for using the phrase. I also need to repent for talking bad about Jesus’ Bride and not trusting the Spirit of God to sanctify God’s Church, even in their pop culture and language.

until God’s next Sovereign moment of humbling,

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taking it with me

My hero, Matt Chandler, just put up a new blog post.  It so stirred me, that I left this comment on the blog, which you can find here: dwelldeep.net

As a young single man in seminary whose father struggled and miserably failed at fighting the sins of his father and grandfather, I wrestle with this often.  As I grow older, I see more and more in me that which I hate in my father.  From a young age, I began hoping against hope that the Grace of God would be upon me such that this curse would end with me- that I would be the first real man of God my bloodline has seen in generations; that my mother’s sacrifice to stay with my father and endure hell at his hands for the sake of her children would not be in vain; and most importantly, that my God would be seen and shown as worthy, lovely, more beautiful, and more desirable than the curse and sin of passivity, anger, and pain so inflicted upon us.

So yes, this makes sense and resonates in me as I hope to maintain this heart towards my True Father long enough to have the same mind as you with the love of my life and my children to come.  Thank you for this.

–paul

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yeah, i want to be kind of a big deal

I broke my own rule as far as double posting on both sites, but nevertheless, this is also on my other site: Reform & Revive

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I fight with pride a lot. As I was telling a friend today: if you take a guy that is fairly smart, can put disparate concepts together, can talk well, and you make him a Christian, you get something very dangerous. He starts believing the press others say about him and begins to think he is much more mature than he actually is. This is me. My entire life people have set me apart for “something big for God.” Being able to understand and communicate even the deepest truths of God and His Word doesn’t equal maturity one bit. Seminary has certainly been showing me just how independent I try to be from God.

But nevertheless, something does resonate within me when I think about my place on the national/world stage. I feel like I’m being tailored by God for big, visible things out there in the world. I don’t know for sure what this means, and I’m fine with it not coming to pass, but I feel like I’m being prepared for a weight I could not bear apart from prior work by God.

But that’s not the point of this post. Now, like I said, I was grabbing coffee with that friend of mine – a friend who is quite visible on the national and international stage. But he’s been struggling with something recently that really struck me. He pointed out that no person ever used by God for really big things ever did it apart from great levels and displays of suffering. His problem was that he shirks from suffering while seeking comfort – the very thing that is antithetical to what he’s called to. I have a similar problem.

I’m only 22 and I feel like I haven’t suffered much. Some really dark family stuff, spiritual dark months of the soul, and severe emotional pains (loneliness and heartache, mainly), but really no classic forms of real suffering. Yet, in spite of this, God has given me a very developed theology of suffering and God’s Sovereignty within it. This terrifies me. I can not get away from this haunting sense deep in the recesses of my mind that severe trials lie ahead of me. So severe that God needs to prepare me now to survive the pains to come.

In one sense this reaffirms my desire to be well-known, influential, and in front of many people. On the other it sobers me, realizing (perhaps for the first time) what it means to “count the cost.” So perhaps all those that have been praising and building me up for big things in the future have actually been painting a target on my soul for the refining pains and trials of God.

So for those of you out there seeking renown, fame, and exposure. Know that if you really are doing it to God’s Glory, then no servant is greater than his Master, and you should expect nothing less than fulfilling in the body the sufferings of Christ, that His life might be seen through your death for your good and God’s Glory.

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Get yourself some Metzger

I was reading this in an article by Bruce Metzger on the formation of the Biblical Canon:

“In short, the status of canonicity is not an objectively demonstrable claim, but is a statement of Christian belief.  It is not affected by features that are open to adjudication, such as matters of authorship and genuineness, for a pseudepigraphon [a letter written under a different author’s name, as some claim some of the letters of Paul to be] is not necessarily to be excluded from the canon…To some scholars the seemingly haphazard manner in which the canon was delimited is an offence.  It is sometimes asked how the canon can be regarded as a special gift from God to the Church when its development from a ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ canon progressed in what appears to be such a random and, indeed, haphazard manner…[But, as] William Barclay [said]: ‘it is the simple truth to say that New Testament books became canonical because no one could stop them from doing so.’…If this fact is obscured, one comes into serious conflict not with dogma but with history….

The word and the Scripture are united in such a way that they constitute an organic unity; they are related to each other as the soul to the body [and] that relation is unique; its closest parallel is the relation of the divine and human natures in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Word incarnate.”

I love our messy, sloppy, confusing, and authoritative Bible.

Get ’em, Bruce.

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Seminary: Year 1, Semester 1

These are the just the books I actually bought for my first semester of seminary.  There were many more that were “required” texts that I didn’t buy.  Seminary is a time for reading.  Lots and lots of reading.  I put this up to let all you up and coming seminarians what’s in store.  Also, I want this to be a preview for an upcoming blog post I’m working on that will be up in the next couple of days.  So, for all the nerds out there who are interested . . .

Here are the book listings for each course:

Here are all the books:

and the Scotch is just because it’s a Presbyterian Seminary . . . and it’s good.

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