Welcome message

Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"If the King James Version was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me."

An excerpt on an upcoming article titled: " If the King James Version was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me."

I can always remember my father telling me about his uncle Virgil. He never told me too much about where he lived, but I always understood that he had migrated out of Oklahoma with my father’s family in the period of 1935 known to those migrants as the ‘Dust Bowl,’ where central eastern Oklahoma was a severely affected area of the soil degradation and drought situation during that time.

During that time, some 2.5 million people left the Plains States and many of them left for the West. My dad’s family were a part of this migration of peoples during that time.

Dad’s Uncle Virgil was a Nazarene preacher. He came from this very conservative Oklahoma mind set which was fiercely independent, totally loyal to the USA, people who were ready to give to their country and did not like to take anything back, people who took care of their own and who had the Bible as ‘God’s Word.’

Of course, when we speak about these dear people, who are my own relatives, when we are talking about the Bible, we are talking about the King James Version of the Bible.To them, there was no other "Bible."

Let me add something here about my own view of the King James Version of the Bible. I love this version. Today it is not my favorite one (everyone who reads anything I write probably knows that my favorite these days is the ESV). The King James Version is something that I grew up with. It was the first Bible my grandmother gave me. Two of my most favorite Bible’s I have are King James Bibles. They are my Thomas Newberry Study Bible and The Companion Bible by Dr. E. W. Bullinger.

Speaking about the Newberry Study Bible, the late Emeritus Professor F.F. Bruce said:

"Thomas Newberry, the editor of The Newberry Study Bible, was born in 1811 and died in 1901. For most of his life he belonged to the Open wing of the Brethren movement. He resided for many years at Weston-super-Mare, England, and from there he exercised a long and fruitful expository ministry, both oral and written. He was a careful student of the Bible in Hebrew and Greek. Evidence of his minute attention to the sacred text lies before me as I write, in a beautiful copy of Tischendorf's transcription of the New Testament according to the Codex Sinaiticus, presented to him by friends in London in 1863, which is annotated throughout in his neat handwriting. It was after twenty-five years devoted to such study that he conceived the plan of putting its fruits at the disposal of his fellow-Christians in The Newberry Study Bible." - F.F. Bruce[4]

Bruce also added:

"Newberry had no axe to grind. He was a careful and completely unpretentious student of Hebrew and Greek texts, whose one aim was to make the fruit of his study available as far as possible to Bible students whose only language was English. His procedure tended to make the Biblical text self-explanatory as far as possible; he had no thought of imposing on it an interpretive scheme of his own."- F.F. Bruce[6]

After almost 150 years passing, Newberry’s Study Bible is still one of the best. They are not so easy to find, but my friends at www.archivesbookshop.com (ask for Chris) may be able to help you find one.

Of course, my most treasured possession from a Biblical point of view is my late father’s Bible, which is a King James Version National Bible.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My entire book available at - http://parentingfreedom.com/samuelmartin.pdf

Dear friends,

Many may be visiting my page for the first time and would like to learn more about my book (see www.facebook.com/byblechyld). My friend Carol at www.parentingfreedom.com has my entire book up on her site. You can find it at:

http://parentingfreedom.com/samuelmartin.pdf

I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks Carol.

Samuel Martin

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I am here responding to a review of Prof. William Webb’s book by Prof. Thomas R. Schreiner

I am here responding to a review of Prof. William Webb’s book by Prof. Thomas R. Schreiner, the James Buchanan Harrison professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. My own comments are italicized and are prefaced by COMMENT[SSM].

See - http://thegospelcoalition.org/book-reviews/review/corporal_punishment_in_the_bible
 
William J. Webb. Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011, 192 pp., $20.00.

New Testament professor William Webb continues to write provocative books, and in this work he argues that a redemptive movement hermeneutic (explained in his book Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals) should be applied to the matter of corporal punishment, and hence Christians shouldn’t spank their children. Those who promote spanking today (like James Dobson and Andreas K√∂stenberger) don’t actually follow the OT rules on spanking, according to Webb. He thinks their failure to follow the OT is a good thing, showing that pro-spanking advocates actually have a redemptive movement hermeneutic of their own, though they fail to acknowledge such. Webb hopes they will become more consistent by recognizing that they use a redemptive movement hermeneutic. As a result they should go a step farther, as the author has done, and abandon corporal punishment altogether.

COMMENT[SSM]: I think it a tiny bit important to mention that Dr. Webb’s book contains a pretty strong endorsement ‘foreword’ from one of today’s evangelical giants, Emeritus Professor I. Howard Marshall, BA (Cambridge), MA, BD, PhD (Aberdeen), DD (Asbury) Emeritus Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Honorary
Research Professor; Formerly Chair of the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical and Theological Research; President of the British New Testament Society and Chair of the Fellowship of European Evangelical Theologians.


It is also somehow a bit out of order perhaps to mention James Dobson before Andreas Kostenberger I think (which in fact happens twice in the review) with all due respect positioning Dr. Dobson as a biblical scholar/exegetical authority. As for Dr. Dobson’s own appraisal of his own expertise to interpret Scripture, we can let his own website speak for itself. Quoting Professor Margaret Mitchell’s paper (How Biblical is the Christian Right?), we can see Dr. Dobson rightly places biblical interpretation into the hands of others:

This kind of farmed out authorization to one’s own appointed panel of “experts” points to a curious inconsistency about the Focus on the Family web site: Dobson’s vacillation about whether he is himself qualified as a biblical interpreter. One “Q and A” link asks “Does Dr. Dobson answer theological questions?” The answer comes back: “Dr. Dobson is often asked to respond in detail to biblical or theological inquiries, however, he has had no formal training as a pastor or theologian and freely acknowledges his limitations in these areas.[COMMENT SSM -  Yet Dr. Dobson’s books like ‘Dare to Discipline’ which urges Christians to spank their children based on the supposed Bible authority sell hundreds of thousands of copies and provide the intervention logic and authority for many parents to inflict brutal punishment on their children, often beginning when they are just toddlers]Over the years, Dr. Dobson has made a deliberate decision to direct the attention of our ministry away from in-depth biblical interpretation and theology, choosing instead to concentrate our efforts on our primary purpose— introducing individuals to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and thereby strengthening the family” (here links are provided to Billy Graham and Dallas
Theological Seminary’s Chuck Swindoll). Yet on another link, Dobson is asked: “You
have said that your philosophy of discipline (and of family advice in general) was drawn
from the Scriptures. On what specific verses do you base your views?” The answer
comes back that since “God is the Creator of children, He must certainly know how our
kids out to be raised,” followed by citations from 1 Tim. 3:4-5; Eph. 6:1-3; 6:4
[interestingly, cited separately]; Col. 3:20-21; and Heb. 12:5-11. Since only the last
passage even uses the word “discipline” (as the set-up question has it), Dobson moves
from God’s wisdom (“These Scriptures and related verses contain more wisdom than all
the child-development textbooks ever written”) to “summarizing the primary theme he
has extracted from all the related biblical passages” (from literal “word” to constellated
“theme”: “shape the will without breaking the spirit”). But when we turn to a case in
point: “Should a child be spanked with a hand or some other neutral object?” Dobson
answers by appeal to personal anecdotes: the “small switch” his mother used on him, and his own story about the boy of some friends who was just “asking for it” and got an
“overdue spanking” in a parking lot, which he had (obviously, for Dobson) been begging for and expecting as his rightful due from his parents (who did not disappoint).”
While Prof. Schreiner seems to place some authoritative emphasis on Dobson’s position, Dobson himself wisely does not give himself the same authoritative role, but applies the same inconsistently as Prof. Mitchell has clearly documented with authoritative statements from the Focus on the Family website.  

Webb is also 100% right, as I have pointed out in my own book (available free from - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/) that Dobson and Kostenberger (among others) do not in point after point follow even the OT when it comes to what it teaches about corporal punishment of children. For more information in this regard, please refer to my website which also contains scholarly reviews of my conclusions. 

If we truly followed what the OT teaches about corporal punishment, according to Webb, our “discipline” would be much more severe. He insists, for example, that those who spank can’t (if they truly follow the OT) apply age limitations or limit the number of “smacks.” Webb appeals to the overlap between corporal punishment texts and cases in which slaves or those who violated the law were punished (Exod. 21:20-21; Deut. 25:1-3). It is clear from these comparative texts, Webb argues, that punishment of children was much more severe than those who advocate spanking today would tolerate. Nor can we apply spankings to the buttocks alone, for we see in Proverbs (e.g., Prov. 10:13; 19:29; 26:3) that fools were struck on the back. Furthermore, bruises and welts were inflicted on slaves and criminals, and hence those who favor spanking today are inconsistent when they claim spanking should not leave marks on children.

COMMENT[SSM]: All of this discussion is indeed interesting, however, one thing is conspicuous for its absence: an appeal to Jewish authorities! A good review of late of how many Jewish scholars look at this issue can be seen on a recent Jerusalem Post article published just this month.
The conclusion: The Rabbis favor Webb’s view! http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/Judaism/Article.aspx?id=237165
 
What we must recognize, Webb claims, is the redemptive movement of Scripture. The treatment of slaves and those who violated the law was earthed in ancient Near Eastern culture, and what we find in the OT is an ethic superior to other ancient Near Eastern cultures of that day. The OT was composed in a particular historical and cultural context, and hence we should not say that the laws found in the OT represent the ideal ethic for all time. When we read the Scriptures in terms of a redemptive movement hermeneutic, Webb says, the basis for corporal punishment today is lacking. For instance, no one advocates stoning rebellious children, though the OT commands it (Deut. 21:18-21). Nor do we think a woman’s hand should be severed if she grabs a man’s testicles (Webb spends a lot of time on this regulation), depriving him of the right of begetting children (Deut. 25:11-12). Nor do we follow Deuteronomy’s prescriptions for finding what Webb calls “hot-looking women” (Deut. 21:10-14).

COMMENT[SSM]: Here again, unfortunately, Prof. Schreiner enters into the interpretation of Torah material with no reference, consideration or appeal to any Jewish interpreters. Had he have done so by looking at, for example, a source like the book “The Mitzvot: The Commandments and their Rationale” by Rabbi A. Chill, he would have found out that his assertion about what “the OT commands” concerning stoning rebellious children, he would have found, as I have pointed out in my own book, that this text:
1.      Never was applied to children under 13
2.      Was only applied while the Temple was standing
3.      Was rarely carried out
4.      Required both parents to testify
5.      Required a warning first
6.      Among many other qualifying points, like all death penalty cases was adjudicated at only the highest judicial level – and never in a local context – e.g. parents were not just taking their children out and stoning them to death with no due process as Prof. Schreiner seems to assert.

Key Question
The questions and issues Webb raises have faced Christians throughout history as believers have asked how we apply the OT to today’s world. Webb rightly says that faithfully following Scripture doesn’t mean that we invariably reproduce the world of the Bible. The Scriptures were written to a particular cultural situation, and that must be taken into account in interpreting and applying Scripture. It is not always easy to apply biblical texts to today’s world, especially because the OT applied to a different era in salvation history. Webb’s cultural comparisons and contrasts are helpful, showing how OT regulations were more humane and merciful than those in other ancient Near Eastern cultures.

The key question, however, is whether Webb is right about corporal punishment. The answer is no. First, Webb doesn’t understand redemptive history, even though he calls his hermeneutic “redemptive-movement.” He never discusses the relationship of the OT to the NT in order to help readers understand that believers are no longer under the Mosaic covenant or the Mosaic law. Such a discussion is fundamental to the issues Webb addresses, and they deserve concentrated attention if one wants to think about how to apply the OT today. But one looks in vain for a careful discussion of this matter in Webb’s book or in his previous work. For instance, he rightly says that Christians reject stoning rebellious children, seizing “hot-looking women,” or cutting off the hand of a woman who grabs someone testicles. And he helpfully notes the cultural differences between the OT laws and the ancient Near Eastern cultures of the day. But there is no reflection on the covenantal difference between the Mosaic covenant under which Israel lived and the new covenant which applies to the church of Jesus Christ. Christians have long recognized that the laws of Torah are not binding on believers today. Jesus himself indicated that some of the laws were given because people have hard hearts (Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 19:3-12). Some of what Webb advocates, therefore, is not new at all, but his hermeneutical program lacks the exegetical and theological foundation established in the history of interpretation.

COMMENT[SSM]: Here is where Prof. Schreiner respectfully may need to rethink this issue. If his assertion is correct that one need to lay a proper exegetical and theological foundation in favor of corporal punishment of children, one needs to ask why there is ancient material like the Didascalia, a 3rd century Syrian pedagogical text written by Christians, which seems to indicate that “the rod” of Proverbs is not to be understood literally, but represents the spoken word of the parent? Prof. Odd Bakke points this out in his book.

As far as applying the OT today, I again refer to the recent article in the Jerusalem Post (see above for link)  which gives a broad Rabbinical view on how many Jewish scholars today look at the issue of corporal punishment and surprisingly their view is nothing like that advocated by Prof. Schreiner. On the contrary, here again, we see a different reading of the same material by well intentioned Christian brethren who in case after case make statements about the OT which on the surface may seem plausible, but on closer review may respectfully require rethinking. (like applying an agricultural principle like tithing on produce and the increase of the land to today’s economic systems telling all  Christian people they have to “tithe money” with not the slightest authority in Scripture to do so.)

That leads to a second objection. Finding the same words for the punishment of slaves, criminals, fools, and children does not justify lumping the texts together in an indiscriminate manner. Despite Webb’s protests, he fails to perceive the genre differences between regulations in the Torah and proverbial statements. As already noted, he does not clearly recognize the redemptive historical nature of the Torah. And he merges and mashes together different genres of literature in drawing his conclusions. Proverbial statements are of a different nature than legal material, requiring insight and reflection in terms of application. They shouldn’t be equated with punishments in legal contexts, for it seems rather heavy-handed and hermeneutically lead-footed to conclude that since physical punishments are mentioned in the same texts they must have been understood in the same way. Webb seems to think if one recognizes that proverbs require discernment in application, then one will endorse his view. But how does that follow? I would argue that such a principle means that wisdom and prudence should be applied in understanding Proverbs, which means corporal punishment for children is not administered in the same way it is applied to law-breakers and adults. Nor is it evident, just because both fools and children are flogged, that the punishments would be of the same nature and to the same extent. Again, such readings are mechanical and forced, failing to see what anyone with wisdom in ancient Israel would see: There is massive difference between adult fools and children. Using the same word for children and fools does not mean they are in the same category! It seems to me that the wise application of what we find in Proverbs is well represented by those Webb criticizes: Dobson, Mohler, Wegner, Grudem, and K√∂stenberger.

COMMENT[SSM]: I have pointed out in my own work that the engagement by scholars today regarding Proverbs is so superficial and barely scratches the surface of the individual texts, the context within Proverbs itself and the context of Proverbs itself within the Third Division of the Hebrew Bible (the Hagiographia). I have addressed many of these deficiencies in my own book which characterize the arguments put forth here and many which are not even addressed at all.

Another brief comment is warranted. Webb is rightly worried about the abuse of children, but one wonders, in considering Webb’s work as a whole, if he is prone to domesticating the Bible to fit modern conceptions. If Webb is correct, women can serve as pastors and children should be disciplined without any corporal punishment. What is next? Webb is working on a book regarding war in the Scriptures. His reflections on this matter should be most interesting, especially since Yahweh clearly commands Israel to put to death every man, woman, and child in the cities which are in the land of promise. God’s Word does not necessarily fit the cultural mores and thought conventions of our day. In responding to some of the extremes of fundamentalism, Webb must beware that he does not land in the lap of liberalism.

COMMENT: Frankly, Webb is right in moving us toward a gentler, kinder, less violent hermeneutic very much in the spirit of St. Paul in I Corinthians 4:21:

“What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?”

Prof. Schreiner finds his article defending “the rod” while Prof. Webb joins Paul and “love in a spirit of gentleness.” With all due respect and in brotherly love, Prof. Schreiner might review the wise words of Prof. Marshall in the foreword who said: “this book has added a nonacademic postscript written at a more down-to-earth level, with abundance of personal insight and experience as well as practical application that parents will find helpful.

(I could have profited much from it if it had been published when Joyce and I were bringing up our four children.) Moreover, the approach is conciliatory and gracious toward those who are gently but firmly corrected for not realizing that their approach to Scripture does in fact lead
them to move beyond what Scripture says while holding to the supreme authority of Scripture. Thus the book offers a compelling example of the basic rightness of Bill’s approach.”

I rejoice and thank God for dear women and men of God (especially when they are Emeriti Professors of the New Testament) who raise their hands humbly saying: “I have seen a new way and I wish I would have known this before.”  

Incidentally, even if Webb is correct about spanking (and I don’t think he is), this book provides no ammunition for the thesis propounded in his book Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals. The previous book argued that we can go beyond the ethic of the NT, but this work is limited to what the OT says about corporal punishment for children. Nothing is said in this book about transcending the ethic of the NT, so even if Webb is correct in what he argues in this work, it does not advance the notion that we can go beyond the NT ethic. For that to occur he would need to show that the NT is being transcended ethically, and this book makes no such argument.

Thomas R. Schreiner is James Buchanan Harrison professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

FINAL COMMENT: Webb’s book is a courageous piece of scholarship produced seeking to open the debate on this issue which has long been controlled by dear misguided brethren and sisters who have good intentions, but are seriously in need to review their assertions, with all due respect. Webb’s book helps move us to a better understanding of this issue and should be promoted and applauded. 

"...we must bear in mind that the cause of learning has often been promoted by scholars who are prepared to take a risk and expose their brain-waves to the pitiless criticisms of others" (F.F.Bruce, "Modern Studies on the Judean Scrolls," CT, I (11):5).

 THANK YOU PROF. WEBB!

From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth,
From the laziness that is content with half-truths'
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
O God of Truth, deliver us.
-- Ancient Prayer (Note: This ancient prayer I learned from my late father Dr. Ernest L. Martin who published it in all of his publications.)

Samuel Martin
Author of the book “Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy.” -  http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An excellent summary article on the subject of corporal punishment of children from the Hebraic perspective.

An excellent summary article on the subject of corporal punishment of children from the Hebraic perspective.

http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/Judaism/Article.aspx?id=237165