A Calm Suggestion

Perhaps you are aware, my gentle snowflakes, that since May 1, 2010, smoking indoors at most public establishments has been against the Law in the fair State of Michigan. You might suspect that not every segment of the State’s population has welcomed the new law with great enthusiasm, and of course, you would be right: Michiganders are a proud and freedom-loving people who do not take kindly to the treacherous encroachment of Government upon their Liberties. As a result, a number of establishments have chosen to adopt an attitude of open defiance to the law, which has resulted in public expressions of outrage such as the following, which may be observed outside a bar not too far away from my humble abode:

This primal cry for freedom came to mind as I read our friend Nick Norelli’s post noting the dramatic price increase for first two volumes of Fr Dumitru Staniloae’s Orthodox Dogmatic Theology. Indeed, from an original $19.95 a piece, these books went up to an impossible $85 and $95, respectively. How is such a thing even possible? Nick observes that the only change seems to be that, while previously the books were published by Holy Cross Orthodox Press, they now appear to be under the imprint of T & T Clark.

Now we are all aware, I trust, that certain publishers cater specifically to the “library market,” and that their books are therefore outrageously expensive beyond the means of us mere mortals (e.g., Brill). It is not unusual, however, for these same publishers to eventually license the publication of some of these titles in more inexpensive editions by other publishers. It is not a perfect system, to be sure, but it is not without its merits: at the very least, it makes some scholarship more accessible than it would be otherwise. What benefit is there, however, to the reverse procedure? If a  book initially sells for $20, how will raising its price by approximately 400%  make it more accessible? And let us not forget that we are talking about the very same book, probably still with the Holy Cross imprint, whether it sells for $20 or for $95.

Do you feel the rage? Do you want to climb on a rooftop and shout,

“TAKE YOUR PRICE HIKE AND SHOVE IT”?

I assure you that no one blames you. But you might be heartened to learn that you can do something more concrete than shouting to the wind about this. You see, while Amazon has already succumbed to the price hike, this is not yet the case everywhere. Below you will find a short list of select online bookstores where these volumes may still be purchased for something close to their original price. I encourage you to visit any one of them and purchase these books for cheap while you still can. Say no to these outrageous prices! We may not be able to do anything about the price of forthcoming volumes, but we can do something about the price of these two.

N.B.: Several online used book dealers still have vols. 1 & 2 listed for reasonable prices, and smaller Orthodox bookstores without an online presence may also have the books available at the original price.

Sundays with Silva: The Real Payoff of Learning Greek

While I have previously posted some excerpts of the quotation below (see Greek and Pride), the point our Infallible Hero makes here can never be emphasized enough, and therefore bears repeating.

It may be worthwhile to keep in mind that, more often than not, grammar has a negative yet important function; grammatical knowledge may not directly result in a  sensational new truth, but it may play a key role in preventing interpretive mistakes.  Take, for instance, the doctrine of Christ’s deity.  It would not be quite accurate to say that Greek syntax directly proves this doctrine.  It is certainly true, however, that it can disprove certain heretical ideas.  For example, proponents of some cults are fond of pointing out that the last reference to God in John 1:1 does not include the definite article and so should be translated ‘a god’ or ‘divine.’  Someone with little or no knowledge of Greek could easily be persuaded by this argument.  A reasonably good understanding of predicate clauses in Greek, however, is all one needs to demonstrate that the argument has no foundation whatever (the article that accompanies the predicate noun is routinely dropped to distinguish the predicate from the subject of the clausebesides, there are numerous and indisputable references to God, as in verses 6, 13, and 18 of the same chapter, that do not include the article).

“Quite possibly, however, the most significant benefit of acquiring a knowledge of the biblical languages is intangible.  Most of us are conditioned to think that nothing is truly valuable that does not have an immediate and concrete payoff, but a little reflection dispels that illusion.  Consider the teaching we all received from birth.  Has most of it been immediately rewarding?  We are simply not conscious of how deeply we have been molded by countless experiences that affect our perspective, our thinking, our decisions.  Similarly, a measure of proficiency in the biblical languages provides the framework that promotes responsibility in the handling of the text.  Continued exposure to the original text expands our horizon and furnishes us with a fresh and more authentic perspective than that which we bring from our modern, English-speaking situation.

“In my own preaching during the past twenty-five years, explicit references to Greek and Hebrew have become less and less frequent.  But that hardly means I have paid less attention to the languages or that they have become less significant in my work of interpretation.  Quite the contrary.  It’s just that coming up with those rich ‘exegetical nuggets’ is not necessarily where the real, substantial payoff lies.”

Moisés Silva, “God, Language and Scripture: Reading the Bible in the Light of General Linguistics” in Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation: Six Volumes in One, ed. Moisés Silva (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), page 278.

See also:

Saturday à Machen: The Minister and His Greek Testament
Sundays with Silva: On the Study of Greek

On Blurbs, Again

On at least two previous occasions, we have reflected upon the unnerving sycophancy of most publisher’s blurbs. One of those times, I mentioned that in a moment of unusual inspiration, I myself had crafted a blurb of such perfection as to be (or so I thought) without peer:

Thus far, the earth has rotated around its axis in anticipation of this book. Now that it is here, it does so in thanksgiving.

I said then that I eagerly awaited an opportunity to put this bouquet of blandiloquence to good use, but alas, it appears that I may have to wait much longer than originally expected to endorse anything in those terms. You see, during a recent visit to the local Borders, I discovered, much to my dismay, a bit of publisher’s copy that so closely parallels my blurb that it could potentially raise troubling questions of plagiarism. The line in question is found on the back cover of Scot McKnight’s book, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), where we read:

Until Scot McKnight wrote The Blue Parakeet, today’s Christian had little choiceeither side with out-of-touch fundamentalists or unrealistic liberals . . . which left millions in the middle disenfranchised, unsure how to read the Bible in a postmodern world.

Aside from the mislaid ellipsis issue, the similarities are clear to the naked eye. Obviously the publication of McKnight’s book is the pivot on which the history of hermeneutics turns, since prior to it (and in spite of the oceans of ink spilled on the subject), today’s Christian had no other possibility than to choose from either of two equally undesirable models. Oh, the doubt! Oh, the insecurity! Well, my gentle snowflakes, be of good cheer: that was so only until the publication of The Blue Parakeet. Up to that point, the whole created universe in all its parts had groaned as if in the pangs of childbirth; since then, it has clearly entered the glorious hermeneutical freedom of the children of God.

Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?

Introducing: International Moisés Silva Day

This is a great and wondrous day. Rejoice, my gentle snowflakes! For our Infallible Hero, the great Moisés Silva, was born on September 4, 1945, which makes this his 65th birthday.

Since one of the chief burdens of The Voice of Stefan is to spread the knowledge of the infallibility of Moisés Silva throughout the land, it occurs to me that his dies natalis should be a paramount observance in this blog’s yearly cycle. Therefore I have decided to proclaim this as International Moisés Silva Day, to be celebrated on this date in perpetuity.

In honor of the festivities, I wish to share with you two personal anecdotes that Silva used as illustrations for a sermon on Genesis 11:1-9 that he preached at a Gordon-Conwell chapel service during his tenure as Mary French Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies at that institution (1996-2001). I listened to this sermon on tape (!) several years ago, and while I’m a bit fuzzy on some of the details, I sufficiently remember the thrust of the anecdotes to relay them in turn to you. [UPDATE: It seems that, like every other preacher in the world, Silva is in the habit of recycling sermons: I have just discovered that he preached this very sermon at a Westminster chapel service in 1991. You may listen to the full sermon, which features both of the stories below, here.]

The first takes us back to a romantic date that took place during Christmas break in our Infallible Hero’s freshman year of college. Apparently, while driving his date back home, he had asked her whether she liked to attend big spectacles such as the Orange Bowl, which would be taking place a few short weeks later. The young lady said that she loved to do so, and Silva replied that, for his part, he didn’t much care for big crowds. Later, however, and much to his horror, he realized that he hadn’t actually asked the girl whether she liked going to the Orange Bowl: he had asked whether she would like to go to the Orange Bowl, and she had said that she would love to! The frustration of having blown his chance at another date, he said, was only aggravated by the fact that he really liked that girl.

(As an aside, I speculate that the trauma associated with this incident might have driven Silva to become a consummate football fan: in the first lecture of his New Testament Introduction course, which as I have noted before is available for free from Westminster Audio Archive, he invites students to come to his office to discuss anything and everythingincluding, he said, the progress of the Miami Dolphins that year.)

The second anecdote is likewise romantic, and it takes us to the dining hall at Silva’s undergraduate institution sometime after the previously narrated events. It is perhaps not well known that our Infallible Hero attended Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist institution infamous for its various disciplinary strictures. One of these was the practice of rotating, assigned seating at the dining hall, which according to Silva, at least encouraged socialization. Well, one day it was time for everyone to assume their new seats according to the latest rotation, when the most “ineffably beautiful creature” the Infallible One had ever seen manifested herself before him. Within a couple of days he announced, halfway tongue-in-cheek and in front of everyone, that he would marry herwhich surely did not make him sympathetic either to her or to her boyfriend back home. As it happened, however, her relationship back home ended some time later, and our Infallible Hero (in this regard more of an Average Romeo) decided to take up writing romantic notes to her. He was so persistent in this activity that he started to fear that he might be actually bothering her. So, naturally, he wrote another note to apologize. This is where he says that his Spanish let him down. As many of you may know, the Spanish verb for to bother is molestar, which led him to start of his note as follows: “I am very sorry that I keep molesting you…” Mercifully, neither this linguistic faux pas nor indeed his insistent note-writing caused a turn for the worse, and he happily married his wife Pat right out of college in 1966, which will make next year their 45th wedding anniversary.

One final, more sober note. In Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001),  while discussing reader-response approaches to biblical interpretation, Silva mentions the work of Cuban-American scholar Ada María Isasi-Díaz, as she “presents a moving account of her personal use of Psalm 137, which helped her deal with her grief as an exile from Cuba” (page 203). In a footnote, he comments: “Having been born and raised in Cuba myself, I can more than empathize with her struggles.” Silva left Cuba in 1960, which makes 2010 the 50th year of his exile. I cannot even begin to understand the pain of exile, much less a half century of it. I don’t know if he has ever been on Cuban soil since then, but if not, I hope that one day he can see Cuba again.

A Wondrous Realization

My Michigan license plate, which I’ve had for a year now, has the following configuration:


P37 is, of course, the designation for a III/IV century manuscript containing the text of St Matthew 26:19-52, and housed at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

This unforeseen Michigan connection is surely a sign that I must focus my academic efforts on textual criticism, and especially on the text St Matthew 26:19-52 with particular reference to this manuscript.

Now the reason why I’ve had occasion to notice the configuration of my license plate is that my registration is due this coming Sunday, August 29. That, of course, is my birthday, which makes this a most auspicious season for the sign above to be revealed. “I am struck with great awe and wonder,” you say. “This is truly a wondrous occurrence. How can I fittingly respond to it?” I quite understand your reaction, my gentle snowflakes, and it is only because I know full well that an adequate response is essential to the integrity of such an experience that I dare to suggest:

My Amazon Wish List

There you will find a wholly appropriate outlet for your outburst of preternatural emotion, and the six convenient categories listed on the left side of the page effectively allow you to, as they say, pick your poison. Often a single purchase is sufficient, but more fervent types have suggested that sometimes two or even three purchases of this sort are necessary to sufficiently respond to the magnitude of the experience. But whether it’s one, two, or three, I sincerely hope that my wish list, humbly offered to you in an effort to help, will certainly accomplish the purpose for which I present it.

Book Update

I

I am pleased to announce that, in spite of the fact that Wrightianism invariably leads to serious moral impairments, our friend Mark Stevens appears to have retained a modicum of decency and justice and consequently has chosen me as the winner of his book giveaway. Many thanks to him! Upon arrival, my shiny new copy of  The Resurrection of the Son of God will join the following titles by N. T. Wright already in my library:

That is, from left to right: The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is, Paul: In Fresh Perspective, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (with Marcus Borg), Scripture and the Authority of God (=The Last Word), and Colossians and Philemon (TNTC). Tragically missing is my copy of the first book by Wright I ever read, What St Paul Really Said, which must have shared the fate of the other mysteriously lost titles from my collection. I have thought about replacing it, but then it will surely become redundant when Wright’s “big book on Paul” is finally published.

(N.B.– I am well aware that the above is bound to chill our friend Jim West‘s blood. That, frankly, is part of the point.)

II

Readers will undoubtedly recall the entirely uncharacteristic apologia I posted several weeks ago. In it I mentioned a book by Protopresbyter James Thornton, The Œcumenical Synods of the Orthodox Church: A Concise History, whose absence from my collection I offered as a definitive refutation of the calumnies brandished against my person by certain lewd fellows of the baser sort. In a surprising turn of events, some kind soul alerted Fr James to my post, and in a comment he kindly offered to send along not only an inscribed copy of the book in question, but also a copy of his most recent homiletical compilation, Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy: Sermons on the Lives and Works of the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament (Etna: CTOS, 2010)!

Needless to say, I am profoundly grateful to Fr James for his kindness. I regret that I have not yet had the time for anything but a limited perusal of the book on the Œcumenical Synods, but in general I have found whatever sections I have read to be at once carefully nuanced and uncompromisingly traditionala rare feat indeed. With his homilies on the lives and works of the Old Testament Saints I have, happily, been able to spend more time, as they tie directly into my daily reading of the Old Testament. These fine homiletical jewels beckon the reader to the warm Christian piety they evince, and to the faithful embrace of the Tradition they exemplify. I wholeheartedly recommend this book as an Orthodox companion to the reading of the Old Testament.

III

Looking back on earlier posts, I realized that I have not yet posted the second part of my Annual Book Report for 2009 (!). This exercise, I will admit, is undoubtedly more useful to me personally than to anyone else, but perhaps it will alert someone to a publication they may have missed, or else encourage them to finally purchase a title they may have momentarily forgotten. In any case, I expect to post the second part of the report before the end of the week.

In Which I Attempt to Win a Book from Mark Stevens

Mark Stevens is giving away a copy of N. T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003), andmiserable sadist that he ishe has required all participants to offer their considered opinion on the final outcome of the contest that led to the giveaway in question.

You see, Mark (who apparently depends exclusively on televised talent shows for inspiration) recently decided to organize a little showdown by pairing off various biblical scholars and asking his readers to vote in a number of successive elimination rounds. After fudging with the numbers in various ways, he eventually arrived at three (obviously predetermined) finalists: Ben Witherington, Gordon Fee, and N. T. Wright. Witherington, of course, was only on the list because Mark has sold his soul to him for a string of endorsements. Fee made it because Mark did not wish to be accused of merely filling every valley and bring low every mountain and hill for the former Bishop of Durham.  It is clear, however, that his intention all along was to adoringly proclaim Wright the princeps invictus of contemporary biblical scholarship.

Of course, I saw this farce for what it was and boldly cast my vote for our Infallible Hero, Moisés Silva. My courageous vote was roundly ignored, however, so I decided to realign my vote with Fee in the end. Needless to say, Mark’s manipulated process yielded the expected result, and N. T. Wright was predictably crowned as Winner, Vicar of Christ, and Head of the Papal States. Yet in spite of the natural revulsion that Mark’s Wrightianist sycophancy might provoke in sensible people, I’m afraid that his assessment has a certain ring of truth to it. Surely Wright has a wider sphere of influence than the other two, and his work has effected what, in many ways, amounts to a paradigm shift in the discipline. I have no doubt that when the next edition of Stephen Neill’s The Interpretation of the New Testament sees the light of day, its erstwhile reviser Wright will feature prominently in it.

I suppose, then, that I find fault not so much with Mark’s conclusion as with his reprehensible methods.

Anyway, I hope that my shiny new book won’t take too long to arrive here. I have put myself through both The New Testament and the People of God (vol. 1) and Jesus and the Victory of God (vol. 2) in the past, since reading Wright’s “Christian Origins and the Question of God” is the unavoidable chore of New Testament students of our generation. I have been remiss, however, in reading The Resurrection of the Son of God (vol. 3), and I’m running out of time: the fourth volume, Wright’s mythical “big book on Paul,” was originally expected at the end of the yearbut even if it does not arrive on time, it can’t be too far away.

On the Transfiguration of the Lord

The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Yesterday, August 6/19, we celebrated the bright Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ (St Matthew 17:1-13; St Mark 9:2-13; St Luke 9:28-36; cf. II Peter 1:17-18). Two thoughts occurred to me as I heard the following sung in Church yesterday morning:

Тамо где Израиљ победи Сисару
Изволи се тамо и Небесном Цару
На молитве поћи и на ноћна бдења,
Да покаже славу Свог Преображења,
И утврди веру својих следбеника
У победу трајну Њега – Победника.
Ту светлост божанску Он из Себе пусти
Па обасја Тавор, мрак разагна густи;
Светлост што ј’ у Себи дуго задржав’о
Од које је свету по мало раздав’о
Пустио је сада лучама обилним,
Лучама радосним, лучама умилним.
Небу да открије блесак човечанства,
Земљи и људима истину Божанства.
Нека небо види Посланика свога,
Нека земља позна Спаситеља Бога.
Where Israel defeated Sisera,
There also did the Heavenly King deign to go
To pray in nightly vigils,
To manifest the glory of His Transfiguration,
And confirm the faith of His followers
In his eternal victory as Victor.
There He shone forth with divine light,
Dispelled the thick darkness, and illuminated Tabor.
The Light, long concealed within Himself,
Which He had shed upon the world in brief flashes,
Now burst forth in abundant rays–
Joyful rays, sweet rays–
To reveal to heaven the brilliance of His humanity,
And to reveal to earth and men the truth of His Divinity.
Let Heaven see its messenger,
Let the earth recognize God the Savior.

Firstly, as some of you may already know, this is the “hymn of praise” for yesterday’s entry in the Prolog of Ohrid. English speakers who only know these from the two-volume edition by Sebastian Press may not realize that these are not only sacred poetrythey are spiritual songs (duhovne pesme), many of them with well-known melodies that are often used in liturgical and paraliturgical settings. It is therefore not unusual to hear the “hymns of praise” from the Prolog sung on various feast days. I have searched to no avail for a recording of the above hymn, but there is a recording of the Prolog hymn for St Thekla (whose feast, incidentally, is my Krsna Slava) available from Svetigora Radio.

Secondly, the opening lines of this hymn strike me as an excellent example of how the Church reads the Bible. At once Mount Tabor, the place of the Transfiguration, is recognized as the place of the victory of the children of Israel over the armies commanded by Sisera (cf. Judges 4-5). And it is in this place of victory that the Lord was transfigured, revealing to his disciples before the Passion his victory over death and hades in the Resurrection.

“Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in Thy name” (Psalm 88:13, LXX).

Silva on the πίστις Χριστοῦ Debate

It has come to my attention that the current issue of Themelios carries a review of Michael Bird and Preston Sprinkle (eds.), The Faith of Jesus Christ: Exegetical, Biblical and Theological Studies (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2010), by none other than Moisés Silva. [H/T: Rod Decker.] The journal is available online, and our Infallible Hero’s review may be accessed here.

Allow me, if you will, a bit of an extended quotation:

With regard to the debate as a whole, I happen to believe, naively perhaps, that the evidence is not all that ambiguous—or to put it more accurately, that the ambiguities in the data are plainly resolved by Paul’s many unambiguous statements. If by pistis Christou (which in isolation can indeed signify any number of things) the apostle had meant either “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness,” it would have been ridiculously easy for him to make that point clear beyond dispute. Among various possibilities, he could have, for example, indicated—in the same contexts—one or two ways in which Jesus believed and how those acts of faith were relevant to the matter at hand. Or he could have told us—again, in the same contexts—that his message of dikaiosynē (“righteousness, justification”) is true because Christos pistos estin (“Christ is faithful”). What could have been simpler? And considering the theological importance of this issue, one would think that he might have made a special effort to clarify matters.

Instead, if some scholars are to be believed, Paul did not have enough sense to realize that the phrase pistis Christou is ambiguous. And to make matters worse, he unwittingly misled his readers by using the verb pisteuō with Christos as direct object again and again in the very same passages that have the ambiguous phrase! His bungling proved spectacularly successful, for in the course of nearly two millennia, virtually every reader—including ancient scholars for whom Greek was their native language—understood the phrase to mean “faith in Christ” and gave no hint that it might mean something else.

Of course, the full review bears reading, not least of all because it offers a helpful summary of a book some of us have had our eye on since it was published earlier this year. Interested parties might also wish to revisit a previous installment of “Sundays with Silva” dedicated to πίστις Χριστοῦ and the witness of the Greek Fathers.

On Matters Biblical, Translational, and Silvanical

I.

Readers will undoubtedly recall my previous notices of Michael Asser’s excellent KJV-LXX Psalter, which is happily now available both online (here and here) and in a beautiful printed edition from CTOS (albeit with some notable modifications). Mr Asser, it will be remembered, set out to conform the Old Testament of the venerable King James Version to the ecclesiastical text of the Greek Old Testament, hoping “as far as possible . . . to make a translation such as King James’ translators might have made had they been working from the Septuagint.” This, I believe, he has achieved with a remarkable degree of success. It is therefore with a great deal of enthusiasm that I note the completion of his Old Testament project, which is now available in full at the Orthodox England website. I encourage one and all to download these files and make frequent use of them, with due gratitude to the reviser for the priceless gift he has given the English-speaking Orthodox Church.

I have read somewhere that Mr Asser has tentatively started to work on the KJV’s Gospel of St Matthew in order to bring it into conformity with the 1904 Patriarchal Greek New Testament. While he has not committed himself to a full-fledged New Testament project, I, for one, hope that he does carry out a full revision of the KJV New Testament to supplement his KJV-LXX Old Testament. In this way we would have, at long last, an accurate and stylistically consistent English edition of the entire Church’s Bible suitable for use at the Divine Services.

II.

Of course, the appearance of a fine edition of the Church’s Bible in what may be described as hieratic English does not at all remove the need for an accessible Orthodox translation of the Scriptures into contemporary standard English. While I have high hopes for the EOB in this regard, I have often wondered why an Orthodox edition of at least the RSV New Testament was never produced, especially in view of the fact that the Roman Catholics prepared just such an edition for themselves in 1966.  I was therefore thrilled to learn through a comment in our friend Kevin Edgecomb’s blog that a diglot edition featuring the 1904 Patriarchal Greek Text and an Orthodox revision of the RSV New Testament is in the works and will be published by the American Bible Society. I have often recommended to others the RSV-CE for the purposes of private reading, study, and memorization, and I’m simply delighted to know that in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future there will be an Orthodox edition of the RSV New Testament to recommend instead. The fact that the Greek text will be printed alongside the English translation only makes this forthcoming publication all the more appealing!

III.

In other matters, I would like to direct your attention to an excellent interview with New Testament scholar Gordon D. Fee in which he discusses rather at length the interpretation of the book of Revelation. [H/T: Near Emmaus.] I do not often watch interviews with scholars, as I tend to find them tedious and contrived; frankly, this is not a natural medium for most academics. I had therefore expected to skip around the interview and perhaps catch a soundbite or two worth hearing, but I ended up committing my undivided attention to the video for the entire 32 minutes of its duration. I fervently recommend that you do the same. Fee’s commentary on Revelation for the New Covenant Commentary Series is set to appear later this year.

(It should be noted that my ringing endorsement of this interview with Fee does not in any way suggest that I condone his odd and often unwarranted antagonism to the infallible Moisés Silva’s published views on the interpretation of Philippians. The rather astonishing exchange may be read throughout Fee’s 1995 commentary on that epistle for the NICNT, with responses in the second edition of Silva’s commentary on the same epistle for the BECNT.)

IV.

And speaking of our Infallible Hero, it is my solemn and glorious duty to inform you that Westminster Theological Seminary has made available through their Audio Archive, entirely for free, eighty-one MP3 files containing various sermons, lectures, and even complete courses delivered by Silva at that institution from 1977 to 1996. These include his courses on New Testament Introduction, the Gospel of St John, and the Epistle to the Galatians, the CDs for which otherwise sell for a combined $300 (!).  Use of the Westminster Audio Archive only requires a quick and painless registration, which is really nothing to ask for access to such a massive repository of absolutely first-rate resources. Enjoy!

I have yet to download all of the recordings of our Infallible Hero, but I have been listening to his New Testament Introduction course, which is also available through Westminster’s iTunes U page. In the very first lecture of this course, there is a line at the 10:00 minute mark that I know could give rise to doubt in the hearts of weaker brethren, for which reason I have decided to discuss it here. Silva says:

“I don’t try to give you every bit of information, and some may get garbled; not everything that I tell you is absolutely infallible.”

But of course, we know that Silva is infallible. How then can we reconcile this with a propositional statement from our Infallible Hero himself in which, of all things, he seems to claim that he is not?  The crucial thing to be remembered by those troubled weaker brethren who may be tempted to abandon Silvanic infallibility is that, above all, the wise pedagogue is here offering his students a tremendous lesson in humility. But note that his statement above is very carefully worded so as to avoid any formal contradiction: in stating that not everything he says is “absolutely infallible,” he is in fact implying that most everything else he does say is. And when one remembers that even this quite limited protestation is born of the noblest modesty, one can easily discern that our Infallible Hero did not actually contradict the fact of his infallibility here.

(For some reason not at all clear to my mind, after the foregoing I feel compelled to tell you the following apocryphal story. It is well known that, in addition to the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience common to all Roman Catholic religious, the Jesuits profess a fourth vow of special obedience to the Pope of Rome. Legend has it that, immediately after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI communicated to the Jesuit General Congregation of 1965-6 his desire that the this fourth vow be abolished, but that the Jesuits politely declined to do so.)