Everything Is Not Meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1/5)

Everything Is Not Meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1/5)
Kairos Podcast 7: Ecclesiastes and the Human Quest for Meaning (1/5)

1) Ecclesiastes is about the human quest for meaning. This quest became pronounced in the 20th century and even more so in the 21st century. Hence Ecclesiastes is needed today more than ever. However, the message is presented in a way so unique that it is often misunderstood. Most biblical scholars see pessimism and contradictions in the book. This has undermined the authority of Ecclesiastes as Scripture inspired by God.

This is the first in a series of five videos which seeks to reclaim the authoritative message of Ecclesiastes. This video introduces the series as well as seeks to remove the immediate obstacles to accepting Ecclesiastes as authoritative Scripture—apparent pessimism and apparent contradictions. It shows that the theme of Ecclesiastes is realistic, not pessimistic, and that the supposed contradictions are indeed apparent, not real.

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Everything Is Not Meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1/5)

Genesis 1:1 – The Correct Translation: “In the beginning, God Created the Heavens and the Earth” (KJV, ESV, NIV) vs “In the Beginning when God Created the Heavens and the Earth (NRSV, JPS).”

The standard translation takes Gen.1:1 to be an independent clause which refers to the absolute beginning of the universe: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The word bərēʾšît (beginning) denotes the start of a whole sequence of events, that is, the absolute beginning of “the heavens and the earth.” The phrase is a rhetorical device (merism) which combines two extremes in order to refer to everything in between them. The translation is consistent with the idea that God created the whole universe ex nihilo.

The NET Bible supports the traditional scholarship in its translators’ notes on Gen. 1:1 – “the translation assumes that the form translated “beginning” is in the absolute state rather than the construct (“in the beginning of,” or “when God created”). In other words, the clause in v. 1 is a main clause, v. 2 has three clauses that are descriptive and supply background information, and v. 3 begins the narrative sequence proper.”

This traditional interpretation has been dominant for centuries. However, it has recently been seriously challenged by scholars who are informed by historical criticism of the Pentateuch which began in the 19th century. Continue reading “Genesis 1:1 – The Correct Translation: “In the beginning, God Created the Heavens and the Earth” (KJV, ESV, NIV) vs “In the Beginning when God Created the Heavens and the Earth (NRSV, JPS).””

Book of Genesis vs Babylonian Creation (Enuma Elish) and Babylonian Flood (Epic of Gilgamesh)

Genesis vs Ancient Near East Polytheistic Myths: Plagiarism or Polemics? Part 2

A. Genesis and Babylonian Creation & Flood Accounts: Similar but Independent Accounts

The chart below lists several parallels between the Creation and Flood accounts of Genesis and the Mesopotamia Enuma Elish. [Source: Currid, p. 37-38]

Enuma Elish (Mesopotamia) Genesis
Divine spirit and cosmic matter are coexistent and coeternal Divine spirit creates cosmic matter and exists independently of it
Primeval chaos; Tiamat enveloped in darkness The earth a desolate waste, with darkness covering the deep (tehom)
Light emanating from the gods Light created
The creation of the firmament The creation of the firmament
The creation of dry land The creation of dry land
The creation of the luminaries The creation of the luminaries
The creation of man The creation of man
The gods rest and celebrate God rests and sanctifies the seventh day

How does one account for these similarities? Continue reading “Book of Genesis vs Babylonian Creation (Enuma Elish) and Babylonian Flood (Epic of Gilgamesh)”

Genesis vs Ancient Near East Polytheistic Myths: Plagiarism or Polemics? Part 1

Many critical scholars in Western universities suggest that the biblical Creation and Flood stories borrowed ideas from Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET). For example, the Creation story in Genesis must be influenced by the Babylonian creation story of Enuma Elish since the story in Genesis is briefer and the preserved records of Genesis belong to a later date. However, Kenneth Kitchen rejects this notion. He writes, “The common assumption that the Hebrew account is simply a purged and simplified version of the Babylonian legend (applied also to the Flood stories) is fallacious on methodological grounds. In the Ancient Near East, the rule is that simple accounts or traditions may give rise (by accretion and embellishment) to elaborate legends, but not vice versa. In the Ancient Orient, legends were not simplified or turned into pseudo-history (historicized) as has been assumed for early Genesis.”/1/

On the other hand, the relationship between Genesis and the Babylonian Flood story of the Epic of Gilgamesh could be more nuanced. There are some similarities, but also differences (the form of the Ark, duration of the Flood and the birds sent out by Noah). Perhaps, the similarities and differences arose because the memories and traditions of the event of the Flood were transmitted differently by Israel and its neighboring societies.

More importantly, Genesis displays vocabulary similar to ANET not because it borrowed ideas from ANET but because it is mounting a polemical theology against the pagan polytheism of Israel’s neighbors. Continue reading “Genesis vs Ancient Near East Polytheistic Myths: Plagiarism or Polemics? Part 1”

Series 3: The Prophecies of the Messiah and His Kingdom in the Book of Isaiah Part 6. Are the prophecies of Isaiah credible and trustworthy?

God in Isaiah: His Sovereignty and Glory (Isa. 40:5, 8; Isa. 55:10-12; Isa. 42:8-9; Isa. 43:10-12; Isa. 48:3-8; Luke 24:46-49).

Question: You have presented how Isaiah prophesies mind-boggling and outrageous truths: the human Messiah is God to be anointed by the Spirit; God is triune; God is born a human baby to die for human sins. As a prophet, does Isaiah provide his audience with credible evidence that what he prophesies is credible and trustworthy?

Discussants: Dr. Leong Tien Fock and Dr. Ng Kam Weng.

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Part 6. Are the prophecies of Isaiah credible and trustworthy?

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Series 3: The Prophecies of the Messiah and His Kingdom in the Book of Isaiah. Part 5. Does the book of Isaiah indicate that God is Triune?

The Trinity in Isaiah (Isaiah 11:2; 51:9-10; 53:1; 63:7-14; cf. Micah 5:2; Daniel 7:7-10, 13-14)

Question: The good news or Gospel in the New Testament is that the Triune God has accomplished salvation in saving fallen mankind. If indeed, Isaiah presents the Gospel of Christ in advance of the New Testament, is there any indication in the book of Isaiah that God is Triune.

Discussants: Dr. Leong Tien Fock and Dr. Ng Kam Weng.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDgVleUr-08

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Series 3: The Prophecies of the Messiah and His Kingdom in the Book of Isaiah Part 4. What is Isaiah’s teaching about the New Covenant?

Question: One defining element of God’s salvation is the promise of a new covenant between God and his people which Jeremiah & Ezekiel prophesied. What is Isaiah’s teaching about the New Covenant?

Discussants: Dr. Leong Tien Fock and Dr. Ng Kam Weng.You are welcome to join the discussion at:

Part 4. What is Isaiah’s teaching about the New Covenant?

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Series 3: The Prophecies of the Messiah and His Kingdom in the Book of Isaiah. Part 3. Why is Isaiah Called the Fifth Gospel?

Questions:
1.Why is Isaiah called the fifth Gospel? How is it a Gospel like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?
2. One of the most prominent themes of Jesus’ preaching is “the kingdom of God”, which emphasizes not so much the territory of God but the rule or reign of God. How would you compare the kingdom of God in Isaiah with the kingdom of God in the gospels?
3. If in the NT, the Messiah brings in the Kingdom of God. What does Isaiah tell us about the coming Messiah and his work of salvation?

Discussants: Dr. Leong Tien Fock and Dr. Ng Kam Weng.

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Part 3. Why is Isaiah Called the Fifth Gospel?

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Series 3: The Prophecies of the Messiah and His Kingdom in the Book of Isaiah. Part 2. Is Isaiah 53 about Christ and his atoning death?

Question: The prophecies about the Suffering Servant in Isa. 53 are very confusing as the Servant appears different in the various (four) Servant songs. Is Isaiah 53 really about Christ, let alone his atoning death? And furthermore, the standard Hebrew term for “atonement” is not found in the text, how can it be about an atoning death?

Discussants: Dr. Leong Tien Fock and Dr. Ng Kam Weng.

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Part 2. Is Isaiah 53 about Christ and his atoning death?

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Related Posts
The Atonement in Isaiah 53

Christ’s Death as Expiation-Propitiation (Hilasterion): Appeasing the Wrath of God

Series 3: The Prophecies of the Messiah and His Kingdom in the Book of Isaiah. Part 1. Did Isaiah Prophesy the Virgin Birth of Christ?

Question: Matthew cites Isa. 7:14 and says it is fulfilled by the birth of Jesus. However critical scholars argue that in the context of Isaiah 7, this verse is about a child born during the time of Ahaz. How would evangelical scholars like you respond to this critical scholarship?

Discussants: Dr. Leong Tien Fock and Dr. Ng Kam Weng.
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Part 1. Did Isaiah Prophesy the Virgin Birth of Christ?

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Related post
Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas Fulfilment of Isaiah’s Prophecy