February, 2010

...now browsing by month


Recycled Error & The Superior Promises Of Christ

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

A popular, well-worn adage opines: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”[i] This is certainly true in regard to spiritual error. In keeping with the contemporary zeitgeist, Satan is a great recycler, recirculating old lies to gullible mankind.[ii] Take for example his time-honored tactic of idolatry coupled with sexual immorality. When the ancient mercenary-seer Balaam – a sort of “for profit-prophet” – was hired to curse the Israelites, God thwarted his efforts on three occasions. His imprecations were divinely turned to blessings; on his fourth utterance he even prophesied of their glorious destiny (see Num. 22-24.) During this unsuccessful spiritual attack, the Israelites were ignorant of the threat; nonetheless, God protected them from wickedness in high places. Unable to beat them through curses, Balaam resorted to baser tactics, counseling the Moabites to entice the Israelites to enrage the Lord through spiritual and physical fornication under the pretext of inviting them to a feast. Subsequently, many of them succumbed to idolatrous debauchery and incurred the Lord’s wrath.

To later generations of Israelites this sordid incident at Baal Peor was a cautionary tale of the dangers of mixing with pagans and their religions (e.g. Josh. 22:17.) Unfortunately, the memory of it did not prevent it from reoccurring in various forms in their history thereafter. Nor did it preclude an outbreak of such vile iniquity in the church at Pergamos.[iii] Worst of all, the mixture of errant theology and immorality is far too prevalent within modern Christendom, even penetrating churches which profess to be evangelical. While such sin may seem tantalizingly pleasurable, it cannot compare with what the Lord Jesus offers to His followers.

Feast or Famine?

The Greco-Roman world’s ubiquitous idolatry is evidenced by 1 John’s closing admonition: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 Jn. 5:21.) Its insidious tentacles reached into every level of society, influencing politics, business, literature, entertainment, and sports. Not surprisingly, there are numerous other New Testament references to this sin and its excesses. Of course, idolatry is not limited to the veneration of stones and statues. Any erroneous concept of God that diminishes His character, person, or attributes is an idol. Anything put in place of God is an idol; therefore, Col. 3:5 equates covetousness with idolatry.

The True Face Of Idolatry

To think of idolatry as merely involving the adoration of images, metals, or other inanimate objects is overly simplistic. The essence of this sin is robbing the true God of His due by misconstruing His identity. God is sovereign and unique. As He says: I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me” (Isa. 45:5.) Robert Spender remarks: “The Bible understands that idolatry extends beyond the worship of images and false gods. It is a matter of the heart, associated with pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony (Phil. 3:19), and a love for possessions (Matt. 6:24).”[iv] Another writer explains idolatry’s core concepts this way:

Although it is difficult to reduce biblical teaching on idolatry to a simple formula, one element common to both models, the marital and the political, is worth noting. In both cases the notion of exclusivity is central: in one the exclusive claims of a husband to his wife’s love and affection; in the other the exclusive claims of a sovereign to protect and provide for his subjects and receive their trust and obedience in return. Thus idolatry is an attack on God’s exclusive rights to our love, trust and obedience.[v]

Elsewhere the same author comments further:

What constitutes a god? Martin Luther’s answer, as he reflected on the first commandment in his larger catechism, was ‘whatever your heart clings to and relies upon, that is your God; trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and idol’. We wish to confirm his view, but also to emphasize love and service: a god is that which one loves, trusts and serves above all else. This definition suggests both the possibility and the urgency of making clear the relevance of idolatry to the modern world.[vi]

Obviously, idolatry encompasses many things that modern westerners seek after and live for.

Enter The Wolves

Many commentators suppose that the church in Pergamos was struggling with issues similar to the idol meat controversy in Corinth (1 Cor. 8:4-13; 10:23-33.) They offer the possible scenarios of participating in feasts at an idol temple’s banqueting hall. Some writers assert that the business dinners of the region’s various trade guilds would involve eating meat sacrificed to false gods, as well as fornicating with ritual prostitutes. An interesting alternative view holds that these were meals given in honor of one’s deceased ancestors; the “idols” were images of the dead person, and so much wine was imbibed that these gatherings degenerated into orgies.[vii] Whichever view one takes, it is not hard to see that the Lord did not exaggerate when He spoke of those who adhered to Balaam’s ancient teaching that it was permissible “…to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality” (Rev. 2:14.) Their licentious doctrine maintained that they could participate in egregious sin and God would not do anything to them because of it. Sadly, many of the modern “signs and wonders” preachers have imbibed the same poisonous doctrine; thus it is no surprise that they live decadent lives of material opulence and fleshly self-indulgence. Material and sensual things become their contemporary idols. Furthermore, the scandals that have rocked multiple corners of the evangelical world during the past quarter century make it clear that false theologies still lead to immoral lifestyles. Instead of “you are what you eat” one may now affirm “you are what you believe.”

The Abiding Appeal Of A Permissive God

The defective view of God held by some in Pergamos is all too familiar to one who is conversant with popular modern views of a higher power. Idolatry’s popularity stems in part from its ability to add religious legitimacy to man’s carnal instincts. One may freely engage in immorality and do so without guilt, provided one worships a deity who sanctions such behavior. The resurgent interest in nature gods and goddesses, as well as the academic repopularizing of Gnostic beliefs, demonstrates that modern people are yearning for a semi-supreme being – one who may be adored and supplicated, but not one who gets in the way of having a good time. New Age thought and eastern religions are also wildly popular for allowing one to be devout, but not “puritanical” (one of the worst modern sobriquets with which one may be tagged!)

Even among nominal “Christians” low views of God’s holiness abound. This is evidenced by the absence of the doctrine of eternal punishment from most books about spirituality. The idea of a deity who sends people to hell is hopelessly old fashioned, and is even lampooned by some so-called clergy and theologians. Others reason that they can build up credit with the Lord by their good deeds and then commit the “occasional” sin. In other words, devotees of these worldviews can claim to be spiritual and still sin to their heart’s content. The devoted disciples of Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and many other pseudo-Messiahs show that the fraudulent notion of a permissive God remains wildly popular in modern countries. Generally speaking, people have no concept of a holy and righteous God.

Of course, some idolatrous notions of the Lord offer a veneer of morality by their strict and abstemious practices. Their followers live outwardly pious, moral lives, and are fond of religion’s rigorous devotion. This sort of idol enables people to indulge in the sins of pride and self-righteousness in their veneration. Whether it leads one to the grosser forms of iniquity or the more socially acceptable kinds of sin, idolatry deprives the true and living God of His rightful worship. As the Creator and Redeemer, He deserves absolute loyalty from His creatures. This is why the Law demands that man love the Lord with the entirety of his heart, soul, mind, and strength; anything less is an insult to the Almighty (Mk. 12:30.)

Religious Junk Food Versus Spiritually Satisfying Food

In contrast to the antinomian teachings of those who promoted the excesses of eating idol’s food and enjoyment of sexual sin, the Lord Jesus offers His saints “the hidden manna” (Rev. 2:14.) Manna was the divinely provided staple of the Israelites’ wilderness diet. Miraculously, the Lord daily fed them with bread from the sky for forty years. His material faithfulness was a harbinger of greater spiritual realities to come. Centuries later when the Lord Jesus arrived on the scene He told the Jews “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (Jn. 6:35.) In Christ provision is made for the satisfaction of the deepest hungering and thirsting of human beings. Every person has a choice: feast on the world’s fleeting, forbidden dainties or eat the Lord’s spiritually life-giving sustenance. Truly the world can spread a banqueting table, but it cannot sate the unremitting famishment of the Christless human heart. Sin’s pleasures are seasonal, and pass away all too quickly. In contrast, feeding on Christ gives one eternal life – both of quality and duration. Believers rejoice to feed on Him daily as they study His word and commune with Him in prayer.

The lesson for ancient or modern man is the same: the Lord is the true God – only He can save; only He can satisfy. Idols appear to enrich, bless, or fulfill their disciples, but in reality they only impoverish them. One may starve at this life’s sordid feasts or dine with the Lord presently and at His future marriage supper (Rev. 19.) A relationship with the Living God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the only reward worth seeking. Therefore, Christians delight to dig into God’s Word, gleaning beautiful truths about the Lord and enjoying His fellowship as He reveals Himself from its sacred pages. Such believers place their affections on things above, not on earthly things like idols, because they have died and risen with Christ. Their true life is now hidden with Christ in God, and it will be manifested when He returns to earth in glory (Col. 3:1-4; 1 Jn. 3:1-2.) They feed on the hidden manna, the glorified Christ Himself!

[i] As best I can determine this phrase originated with a nineteenth-century French novelist named Alphonse Karr, and was later employed by the noted man of letters, George Bernard Shaw; see: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061128215508AAmvH9v

[ii] Zeitgeist = “The spirit or genius which marks the thought or feeling of a period or age” Oxford English Dictionary; the dictionary entry reveals that the word itself is of German origin, & entered English as early as 1848 when it was employed by the essayist-literary critic, Matthew Arnold in a letter; he later used the term in his book Literature & Dogma (1873.)

[iii] Spelled “Pergamum” in many modern versions: e.g. ASV, NASB, ESV, NIV, NLT, etc. Since I’m primarily using the NKJV for this article, I retain the spelling of “Pergamos” as used by the KJV, NKJV, & JND translations.

[iv] Robert D. Spender, “Idol, Idolatry” in Elwell, Walter A., Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. electronic ed. Baker reference library; Logos Library System. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997.

[v] B.S. Rosner, “Idol, Idolatry” in Alexander, T. Desmond, and Brian S. Rosner. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001. (Logos.)

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] For an excellent explanation of this view & the exegesis behind it, see Gordon Franz, “Meat Offered to Idols in Pergamum & Thyatira” at: http://www.lifeandland.org/2009/02/meat-offered-to-idols-in-pergamon-and-thyatira-2/ . I recommend www.lifeandland.org as an excellent resource for articles dealing with the Bible, especially in reference to archaeology & ancient history.

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF. FORMAT, CLICK ON THIS LINK: Recycled Error & The Superior Promises Of Christ

Certainty Amidst The Uncertainty Of Life

Monday, February 15th, 2010

“Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Prov. 27:1

On February 4th my family and I arrived on a small island in the Bahamas, called Man-O-War Cay. Like many times before, we came to this beautiful place, where we have so many friends, in order to preach the Word of God in one of the local churches. As usual, we took a ferry from Marsh Harbour, the largest town on Abaco island, to the previously mentioned cay. Our captain on the ferry was a brother in the Lord whom I knew from past visits. Regrettably, I cannot say that I knew him well – most of my familiarity with this man came from prayer meetings on the island. Although he was comparatively young (37 years old), he was often the object of fervent, united prayer, for he had an array of health problems, mostly stemming from chronic kidney ailments that plagued him from infancy. Over the years he had numerous surgeries and medical procedures – including two kidney transplants; thus his bodily condition was far from robust. In spite of these difficulties, he was a kind, unselfish man, who was beloved by his family and many friends (this latter group includes many people from the U.S., Canada, and other countries, who knew him from the ferry and other activities on his home island.)

On our journey we conversed very little with the captain, but thanked him for arranging for assistance with our suitcases. His last words to me were a cheerful, “I’ll see you in church!” I responded that I looked forward to it. With that I was away to meet some friends who had come to help from the dock to our accommodations. Little did I know then that this would be the last time that I spoke with this brother. Within five days he was with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8.) Despite his past health problems, his home-call was fairly abrupt and shocking to the denizens of Man-O-War Cay. In reflecting on this sudden turn of events, I thought of the scripture at the top of this page, with my mind highlighting the last phrase: “…for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

During the last illness that took this brother’s physical life, he clearly said to his family: “I am ready.” Of course, he was only able to say this because of his relationship with God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. At the age of six he put his faith in Christ at a local children’s meeting. In the subsequent thirty-one years, he demonstrated the reality of his faith and the supporting power of his Savior as he went through many physical trials. He was ready, because the Lord Jesus died on the cross for his sins (1 Cor. 15:1-3.) He was ready, because the Lord arose three days later to prove His victory over death (Acts 2:23-32.) He was ready, because Christ went ahead to prepare a place for him (Jn. 14:1-3.) This raises the question: Are you ready? If you were called into eternity today, would you be with Christ in glory? Or would you find yourself in the torment of hell without a friend and a Savior? By the grace of God, you can know that you are ready, if you repent of and confess your sin to the Lord, asking Him to give you His eternal life. Because of the Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection for you, you will be able to say “I’m ready” (Jn. 5:24; Rom. 10:9.) My earnest prayer is that every reader of this article will put their faith in the crucified and risen Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that they may enjoy eternal life in this world as well as in the one to come.

To download this article in pdf. format, click on this link:  Certainty Amidst the Uncertainty of Life

Fathers & Sons

Monday, February 8th, 2010

History is suffused with problematic father-son relationships. Within the ranks of biography, works such as Edmund Gosse’s highly biased diatribe against his father’s faith (Father & Son), and Frank McCourt’s lyrical, poignant tale of impoverished childhood (Angela’s Ashes) represent the prevalence of disharmony between fathers and their progeny. Of course, it seems to be a right of passage for many celebrities to do the talk-show circuit, recounting their difficult relationships with their fathers (R & B singer Marvin Gaye was even murdered by his father in 1984 after a violent argument.)i Sadly, family problems are not limited to celebrities; many ordinary families struggle with divisions in their midst – particularly among fathers and sons.
The great families of the Old Testament were not exempt from struggles of this sort. Problems abounded in the relationships of Abraham and Ishmael, as well as among Isaac, Jacob, and Esau. The twelve sons of Israel, however, are decidedly the poster children for family dysfunction. Nonetheless, in His amazing grace, the Lord worked in their lives and used them to found His chosen nation, Israel. In keeping with His expansive character and marvelous redemptive work, their names will forever adorn the gates of the future New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:12.) When one compares them with the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father’s only begotten Son, the difference is striking. He alone demonstrates the divine intention for paternal and filial relationships.
The Sins Of The Fathers
The patriarch Israel, formerly known as Jacob, grew up in an environment of rampant favoritism. Whereas, his father Isaac preferred the machismo-exuding Esau, the younger son Jacob was his mother’s darling (Gen 25:28.) From dear mama he inherited – and learned by example – an ability to gain advantages through opportunism and duplicity (25:29-34; Ch. 27.)ii Years later when Jacob had a family of his own, he also showed partiality among his wives and sons, preferring Rachel and her children over Leah and her offspring (including the children born by the concubinage of Bilhah and Zilpah.) This fostered a climate of suspicion and envy among the sons that did not proceed from Rachel. By giving Joseph a multicolored tunic, he indicated his singular love for the boy.iii Moreover, the garment was a declaration of status: no ditch digger was he! He was destined for important position within the family and its holdings. The stage was set for a confrontation between the disgruntled older sons and their annoying little brother Joseph, who always seemed to be having dreams of his own greater grandeur at their expense.
Among the patriarchs, Joseph bears the most resemblance to the Lord Jesus Christ, but then for most of their lives, his brethren posed little competition for this distinction. A survey of the lives of his oldest four sons demonstrates their checkered careers. For example, Israel upbraided his eldest son in these scathing words: “Reuben, you are my firstborn, My might and the beginning
of my strength, The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel, Because you went up to your father’s bed; Then you defiled it…” (Gen. 49:3-4.) All of his early promise and rank as the eldest son was negated by his habitual instability. He committed adultery with his father’s concubine, Bilhah. When he should have opposed his brothers’ evil plan to kill Joseph, he was reticent, intending to rescue the youth later by trickery. In the aftermath of Joseph being sold into slavery, he went along with the cover-up, heedless of the injury that it did to his father. His manic conduct is finally illustrated by his outrageous suggestion that if he did not return from Egypt with Benjamin, Israel could console himself by executing Reuben’s sons! Clearly, his character calls to mind the proverb “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint” (Prov. 25:19.)
Their Violence Besmirched Their Father’s Name
Simeon and Levi were also a disappointment to their father. They used deceit and wanton violence to avenge their raped sister Dinah by a bloody massacre against the men of Shechem (Gen. 34:25-31.) Israel summed them up this way: “Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place…Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel!” (49:5, 7.) Although he promised to “…scatter them in Israel,” by the grace of God, this was not entirely a punishment (v. 7.) It would be ironic, but for grace: the progeny of the angry, vengeful one, became those who averted the wrath of God against the people. Later, Levi’s descendants properly used the sword in the incident of the golden calf, and therefore were set apart as the priestly tribe. Thus, they served in the public worship and service of the Lord, as well as the instruction of the Israelites in the law (Ex. 32:26-29.)
From Rake To Role-Model
The wayward youth of Judah is perhaps the most surprising feature of the patriarchal history to modern readers of the Bible. After all, luminaries such as Caleb, King David and his royal line – including the Lord Jesus Christ Himself – descended from this impressive tribe. Nevertheless, their ancestor’s early career had some infamous blemishes. Besides leading the way in selling Joseph into slavery, he married a Canaanite woman and produced two exceptionally wicked sons, named Er and Onan (Gen. 38:1-10.) Each of them displeased the Lord and were executed for their evil ways. When Judah wrongfully withheld his third son from the twice widowed Tamar, she took matters into her own hands. In the guise of prostitute, she was unrecognized by her father-in-law, who sated his lust by fornicating with her – a union which produced twin sons, called Perez and Zerah (vs. 12-30.) When the parentage of these boys was revealed, he acknowledged that it was his fault, saying: “She has been more righteous than I” (v. 26.) This sordid incident stands in stark contrast to the conduct of the enslaved Joseph, who resolutely resisted the repeated entreaties of Mrs. Potiphar to carnally indulge himself with her. Judah had no constraints to his freedom, yet he was a slave to his misguided fears and passions. While his betrayed brother maintained his purity and loyalty to the Lord in spite of having many things
against him in Egypt. Indeed, for His faithfulness, Joseph seemingly went from bad to worse, finding himself in the political prison of the mightiest superpower of the day.
The Gracious Discipline of God At Work
His gross sin notwithstanding, God graciously continued to work in Judah’s life, molding and training him until he became the one to stand up for Benjamin in front of the governor of Egypt (Gen. 44:18-34.) He could not bear to put his father through the grief of losing another favored son, and so offered himself as a substitute. This act was a beautiful foreshadowing of what his descendent, “the man Christ Jesus” – who was also “God manifest in the flesh” – would do in becoming a substitute to those who were condemned to slavery and eternal death (1 Tim. 2:5; 3:16.) By His death and resurrection, He justifies the ungodly, sanctifies them, and glorifies them (Rom. 3-8.)
The Perfect Father-Son Relationship
Unlike the sons of Israel, there were no skeletons in the closet of the Lord Jesus Christ. Among His contemporaries, He alone could lay claim to the title “Only begotten Son”; furthermore, to Him only could the title Messiah be credibly applied. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit identified with Him at the commencement of His public ministry (Matt. 3:16.) The Former declared in unmistakable terms His unqualified approval, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight” (v. 17, JND.) Only the Lord Jesus could honestly say “…He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him” (Jn. 8:29, emphasis mine.) He alone could declare in solemn prayer to His Father: “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (17:4, emphasis mine.)
Weighed in God’s Balances
To prove the unique claim of Jesus as the Son and Christ one must compare Him with those who held the offices that were demarcated by anointing: prophet, priest, and king. True prophets were few and far between in early first century Israel. John the Baptist was a divinely commissioned one, but he readily confessed that he was not the Christ (e.g. Jn. 1:20.) There were pretenders aplenty, with no shortage of would-be political saviors vying to deliver the Jews from the onerous Gentile yoke of Rome. The venerable rabbi Gamaliel recounted the mistaken messianic pretensions of two ill-fated revolutionaries in these words: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you
cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God” (Acts 5:35-39.) So among the prophets, no one else had the credentials of the Lord Jesus.
As for the priests, it is apparent that Annas and Caiaphas posed no threat to Christ’s role as the true Great High Priest in heaven (Heb. 10:21.) Extra-biblical sources, such as the first century historian Flavius Josephus ben Mattathias, tell us that the former cleric controlled the priesthood like an economic and political dynasty. Five of his sons held the high priesthood at different times, but none had the office longer than his son-in-law, Caiaphas. Each of these men were appointed to their positions by the Romans, and conducted themselves with a realpolitik flair – “pragmatism before truth” could have been their family motto (e.g. Jn. 11:49-52.)iv Discounting the evidence of Jesus’ Messiahship they conducted a show-trial, which set aside many of the ordinances of Jewish jurisprudence. As one writer describes it: “His [i.e. Caiaphas’] conduct at this preliminary trial of Jesus (Matthew 26:57-68), its time and its procedure, were almost entirely illegal from the standpoint of then existing Jewish law…”v Clearly, the One who referred to Himself as “the way, the truth, and the life” stands out when put alongside the likes of Annas, Caiaphas, and their cronies (Jn. 14:6.)
Pax Romana, Lex Romana, et Peccamen Romanavi
On the side of kings, neither the Roman emperor Tiberius or his representative, the governor of Judea Pontius Pilate, can challenge the character and qualifications of the “King of Kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 17:14.) The former was not as openly violent and depraved as later Caesar’s like Caligula and Nero; nevertheless, he was a sinful man, who was reputed to indulge in various perversions.vii The failings of his civil servant Pilate are well documented in the Gospels. Though he knew Christ was innocent, he still delivered Him up to be crucified. He tried various means to free the problematic prisoner before him, but in the end, he chose Caesar over the Lord (Jn. 19:12-16.) It was a matter of one’s career over truth and personal eternal well-being. The governor cynically asked, “What is truth?” in conversation with God incarnate “who cannot lie” (Jn. 18:38; Titus 1:2.) By contrast, at the Great White Throne the Lord Jesus, the Judge of all the earth, will uphold the truth and will not compromise it in the slightest degree (Acts 17:31; Rev. 20:11-15.) Justice will prevail through God the Father’s faithful only begotten Son.
It is evident that in the annals of human history there has never been anyone like the Lord Jesus Christ. He uniquely pleases God the Father and is eminently qualified to be prophet, priest, and king. At their best the heroes of the Old and New Testaments faintly foreshadow His greatness. The Lord Jesus is the perfect Son, who forever lives in perfect harmony with His Father. If human families are to be what they ought, than they must bow to the Son of God’s love and permit Him to work in them. Thankfully, He is willing and able to overcome human dysfunction and sin, and to form a great family in heaven (Col. 1:13; Jn. 1:12; 1 Jn. 3:1-2; Eph. 3:14-21.)
i http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/marvingaye/biography
ii One should not blame Rebekah too much, for Isaac was also capable of serious deception on occasion, e.g. his pretending to be her brother rather than her husband in Gerar; see Gen. 26.
iii The idea of multicolored goes back to the ancient Greek (LXX) & Latin (Vulgate) translations. An Aramaic cognate word gives the idea of a long-sleeved coat. Either way the garment was distinctive, spoke of rank, and was not something one wore to do menial labor. For a discussion of the original words, see Gordon Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 2: Genesis 16-50, Dallas: Word Publ. Inc., 2002, electronic edition (Logos), comment on Gen. 37:3.
iv For the historical background to Annas, Caiaphas, & family, I recommend the following: J.A. M’Clymont, “Caiaphas,” ed. James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible Dealing With Its Language, Literature, & Contents, Vol. 1, New York: Scribner’s, 1901, p. 338 ; http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hastings/dictv1.i.vii.html ; C.M. Kerr, “Caiaphas,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939, http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/C/caiaphas.html ; Catholic Encyclopedia, entry on “Joseph Caiaphas.” New York: Encyclopedia Press, 1913: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03143b.htm, All of this links were accessed on 2/8/10.
v C.M. Kerr, “Caiaphas,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939, http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/C/caiaphas.html [Brackets mine.]
vi Latin for “Roman peace, Roman law, & Roman sin.”
vii The ancient Roman historian Suetonius wrote of his violent temper and wicked sexual practices, but many modern historians and Classicists think these are mere malicious rumors spread by Tiberius’ enemies. E.g. Suetonius, Lives of the Caesar’s: Tib. 43-44: http://artflx.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=PerseusLatinTexts&getid=1&query=Suet.%20Tib.43.