Category Archives: What is…

What is Ancient Biography?

Ancient biography or in the Greek language Βιοι, Bioi ; “Lives” was—by ancients like Plutarch, Tacitus, and Lucian—seen as very important literature during ancient times. It is handled today within the domains of New Testament and Greco-Roman literary criticism as an inclusive literary genre. Bioi was based on a particular individual, but not as a means to an individual self but against the social backdrop of family and community. The end result is that the writer purposefully presents a kind of anti-psychological person. What is highlighted is their, “character, achievements and lasting significance”[1] while at the same time deliberately setting them up as a public example. Bios, or Βιος (Greek for “life”), as literature is really a conduit that transmits, within a culture; social, religious and political heritage showing individuals as, “representative types rather than as unique individuals.”[2]

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What is mythology?

Mythology (Greek Mythos means “Myth” in English) has to do with the relationship of the human experience to, and subsequent attempt to explain, the realm of the divine. Myth usually connotes the time before human history, what is called prehistory. The primitive epochs of creation of the cosmos, and speculation on divine hierarchical structures even before such creation events are familiar ground for mythological thinking. Myths and mythology therefore can be generally considered as stories outside of, or before, human history.

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What is metaphysics?

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the underlying principles or nature of reality and the origin and structure of the kinds of ultimate categories of those concepts. It is concerned with the study of First Principles (those that cannot be deduced from any other) and of being. Defined as such it is different from philosophical epistemology and so it is not in relation to the study of knowledge. Metaphysics involves thought about abstract concepts not at the empirical level of understanding found within scientific methodology. This includes topics like the mind and body, or what is called the mind-body problem within philosophy. Also there are existential topics like being, non-being and existence usually brought into focus under ontology. Additionally free will and theism are considered metaphysical topics. Classical theism is thought to expresses core characteristics of the Christian concept of God throughout its history as a philosophy and so Christianity is metaphysical. Metaphysics however in the broader more philosophical sense, outside of Christian theism, also interacts with empirical evidences through reason and logic, transcending past just space-time physical reality.

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What is postmodernism?

Postmodernism or postmodernity includes poststructuralism within its intellectual landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries. Postmodernism is the move away from modernism of art and architecture, philosophy and truth, and general cultural account and critique. It requires especially the rejection of global cultural narratives, meta-narratives, universal theories, or what are also called grand theories like religious fundamentalism.[1] Narratives are constructed realities produced from cultural meta-narratives so that religious fundamentalism can be expressed in the Islamist narrative. However within postmodernism narratives are dynamic, changing and evolving within different times and places, that is, different contextual backgrounds. Meta-narratives cannot even be approached in any substantive way if what we observe from them, namely narratives, are not static. Postmodernism is a social theory of skepticism questioning what meta-narratives create like authority, political and cultural norms for not only a society but individuals, and also questioning where meta-narratives stem from like revealed theology or even human reason.

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What is the cosmological argument?

The cosmological argument is really a family of philosophical arguments (logos; See: Logic) that fall within natural theology and seek to demonstrate, through a priori or self-evident and empirical knowledge, a “Sufficient Reason or First Cause” for the cosmos.[1] Theism throughout the history of the cosmological argument has been the necessary metaphysics constituting what is needed by what is inferred from argumentation as the First Cause. A theistic natural theology, and so the philosophy of religion in that context, regard the cosmological argument as central, inexorably leading to the monotheistic view of a personal God. It is a central theme of the cosmological argument that there need not be a beginning to the universe and to physical space-time, but that the First Cause actually endures existence at every moment. In other words the most prominent historical defenders of the cosmological argument, outside of the Islamic inspired kalam version, do not formulate the argument with concern for a beginning of the universe (See: Big bang theory).[2]

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What is theism?

Theism is the religious metaphysical philosophy that asserts God exists and that He created and sustains the cosmos. Classical theism supports a creator God that not only exists but is omniscient, omnipresent, exists necessarily, is nonphysical, eternal and essentially good. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism puts the philosophical position of theism as, “coming to mean a belief in a personal God who takes an active interest in the world and who has given special revelation to humans.”[1] The most competitive alternative philosophy within the modern intellectual climate is metaphysical naturalism. An entrenched philosophy of science acting without the existence of God and the soul, preceding with the assumption of strict materialism.[2]

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What is natural theology?

Natural theology is a philosophy constituting the realm of Christian theology that is found in nature by excluding divine revelation in holy scriptures as authority.[1] Appeal to the authoritative truth from the Bible is called revealed Christian theology and it forms theological doctrines about the nature of God. This is achieved by exegesis of verses found in the Old Testament and New Testament in regard to Jesus Christ for example. Alternatively natural theology bases itself within the realm of strictly observation in the natural world so that authority is given explicitly to nature as a way to know theology. The assumption is that the human mind is rational and able to know or understand nature, but only because a rational mind created nature.[2] Philosophical argumentation and scientific evidences is the means by which natural theology can be articulated and systematized, not to falsify specific theories as such but to probe the nature of nature. To show logically that inference to transcendent mind over matter is the necessary being God.

Natural theology may begin with reason and observation rather than divine texts as authority but both are an epistemology about the nature of God.[2]

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What is Q?

The Q source (also known as Q document, lost sayings of Q or just Q) is a hypothesized concept used by biblical and New Testament scholars to suggest a non-existent manuscript as the source of common material (logia) found in the gospels Matthew and Luke but not the Gospel of Mark.[1] John S. Kloppenborg, James M. Robinson and Burton Mack, according to Michael Licona (Research Professor of the NT), refer to the Q source as a “sayings gospel” or “Q gospel” with Mack particularly overreaching by concluding that Q is wholly different, in fact alien, from important events recorded in the canonical gospels like the resurrection.[2] The Q document is thought to be constituted of the sayings of Jesus called logia. Source criticism supporting Q also generally supports Markan priority, or the position that Mark was the first written of the canonical gospels. Accordingly if a tradition or particular logia is found consistent with all three synoptic gospels then Mark is considered the source not Q. Therefore not just Q, but Q and Mark were source material for Matthew and Luke which is why depending on the variation of argument it is referred to as the QM theory.

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What is liberalism?

A liberal is someone who agrees with and votes in support for the political philosophy, and by extension type of government that will represent their favored view. Liberalism has a spectrum of definitions that help break down the many approaches of thought towards governance seen throughout history that regulates the activities, mainly economic, of the people.[1] Liberty is the result of interaction between the government and the individual to whatever degree is allowed by the temporary representation the people put into power. Liberty in the religious context is the spiritual and moral outcome that constitutes Christianity.

Characteristics

Within the 21st century political landscape of the United States for example, the Republican party to some extent embraces classic liberalism or what can be called conservatism, while the Democrat political party tends to support a new, more progressive liberalism.

Classic Liberal

Classic liberalism or traditionally liberalism as it was originally conceptualized during the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, is the economic philosophy recognizing a political economy needs to be rooted within the honored principles of private property, land or soil, and an individual. A democratic government under classic liberalism goes so far as to suggest that land ownership by individuals or what can be called private property accumulation ensures both a limited government and a fomenting of individual liberty. The idea being that a free market can be attained by defining wealth through making it equal to the labor put into the production or refinement of the resources the land, or private property provides an individual. Classic liberalism is similar to free market capitalism in that a type of economic power is maintained for individuals to counter that of the federal government. Classical liberalism as well as capitalism reject the redistribution of wealth as a legitimate tenet of government.

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What is exegesis?

Exegesis (from the Greek: ἐξηγεῖσθαι, exēgēisthai; “to lead out”) is a critical exposition, commentary or interpretation of ancient literature especially religious books such as the Bible or Qur’an.[1] The opposite of an exegetical reading of Scripture is eisegesis and instead of reading out what the text plainly presents it reads into the text what the reader is influenced by.

In order to understand a given passage one must reconstruct as much as possible the world of thought in which the NT writer lived. Since the NT frequently quotes the OT (hundreds of times) or alludes to it (thousands of times) and everywhere presupposes its language, concepts, and theology, exegesis should be particularly sensitive to its presence and careful to reconstruct the exegetical-theological context of which a given OT quotation or allusion may have been a part. A comparative approach is essential.[2]

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