THEOLOGY T H E C O R A M D E O J O U R N A L O F T H E O LO GY
PROTOS A Life of Theology: The Coram Deo Journal of Theology is a collection of articles, essays, reviews, and reflections on the presence of God in all areas of life. In this inaugural Life of Theology issue, faculty and students present a variety of theological reflections covering a wide range of subjects, including film, language, literature, and biblical interpretation.
Life of Theology is the result of a long-felt desire to highlight theological reflections already being made in a variety of contexts across our schools as well as a desire to provide an opportunity for fresh reflections from our students, faculty, and alumni.
Faculty, students, and alumni of Coram Deo Academy will tell you that theological reflection happens in every single class, activity, setting, and grade level across our district. While some of our classes are explicitly labeled Bible, Theology, or Apologetics, many of the most meaningful discussions of a life lived coram deo take place in classes labeled Math, Science, Athletics, Fine Arts, History, Foreign Language and Literature. It is these conversations that we wish to highlight here. Many of our faculty, students, and alumni are actively thinking, praying, and working through the difficult task of exploring the ways in which our faith affects all areas of our lives, hobbies, teaching, and learning. May this be a place of highlighting just a few of these reflection in hopes that the body of Christ may â€œconsider how we can spur one another on toward love and good deedsâ€?. Jon Jordan History, Apologetics, Greek Faculty Epiphany 2013 For questions about the Journal or for more information on how to submit an article, email Mr. Jon Jordan: email@example.com Coram Deo Academy educates youth in a historic Christian worldview through a vigorous classical curriculum. The goal of CDA is to train ethical servant leaders and wise thinkers who will shape culture for the glory of God. For more information about Coram Deo Academy, visit: http://coramdeoacademy.org
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO HOMER The big division of humanity is into the majority, who believe in some kind of God or gods, and the minority who do not. On this point, Christianity lines up with the majority—lines up with the ancient Greeks and Romans against the modern Western European materialist. Mythological literature stands as a corrective to our own secular age. – C.S. Lewis
For nearly three thousand years Homer’s epic tale, The Odyssey, has inspired and delighted readers. Beyond the obvious appeal of sea adventures, monsters, and man-to-man combat against overwhelming odds, the story touches deep themes that transcend cultural differences and appeal to the common chords of humanity’s “collective unconscious.” Although written before the time of Christ, some of these themes parallel the truths and the longing for redemption portrayed in scripture. These themes include the quest for one’s true home, the coming of age of Telemachus, and the return of the rightful king. Books, magazines and whole industries are built around man’s desire to create the perfect home. The loss of one’s “true” home and the longing to regain it is also a Biblical theme. According to scripture, Adam and Eve were exiled from their perfect home, the Gar-
den of Eden. Ever since, Christians have been pilgrims on a quest for their true home. In The Odyssey, Odysseus longs to return to his home in Ithaca after ten years at Troy away from his wife and son. His quest home is a ten years series of adventures: He faces physical obstacles to returning home—giant cannibals, a brutal Cyclops, and a six-headed monster. He faces spiritual temptation in the lotus plants and the song of the sirens. And perhaps most significantly, he is offered eternal youth and eternal life to remain on an island as the lover of the goddess Calypso. The name Calypso means “hidden,” and the true glory and heroic stature of Odysseus is hidden as long as he remains on her island. Odysseus chooses to leave the island on a hastily constructed raft and venture across the sea to continue his quest for his rightful home and his true family. In each of his twelve adventures, there is a temptation for Odysseus to do something forbidden; on each occasion Odysseus passes the test by displaying a virtue. Interestingly, this theme is also a major element of the Roman epic, The Aeneid, as the hero loses his home in Troy and must seek a new home. He faces many adventures and dangers, including the desire to settle in Carthage with Dido, but finally achieves his destined quest, the founding of a new city. This universal story is a truth reflected in scripture: Christians are on a life-long quest for their true, heavenly home, but face obstacles and dangers that may prevent them from reaching it. Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress is another timeless treatment of this theme. A second universal theme reflected in The Odyssey is the coming of age, or discipleship, of Telemachus. The son of Odysseus, Telemachus must prove himself a worthy heir to his heroic father. The tension of his situation is highlighted by the sub-plot involving King Agamemnon’s brutal murder at the hand of his wife Klytemnestra and her lover Aegithus. At the beginning of The Odyssey, the son of Agamemenon, Orestes, has returned and avenged the death of his father, proving himself a true and worthy son. Meanwhile, Telemachus faces the potential “ravishing” of his home and his mother and must prove himself capable of protecting them. With the help of Athena, he begins to stand up to the suitors and travels to find information about his father. He proves himself worthy in both spiritual and physical strength. His spiritual test echoes the teaching of Christ in Matthew 25:40: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” The lowly beggar whom Telemachus protects and befriends at the swineherd’s hut turns out to be his own father in disguise. His hospitality contrasts with the evil suitors’ jeers and abuse. He passes his physical test by nearly stringing the great bow of Odysseus, a task at which all the suitors fail. He also stands courageously by his father during the carnage at the Great Hall, fighting valiantly and receiving a slight wound—the baptism of his first battle as a man and a warrior. The final book of The Odyssey highlights Telemachus’ successful discipleship and portrays one of our main goals at Coram Deo Academy: multi-generational faithfulness. We desire to see children stand with their parents and their grandparents in remediating the ef4
fects of the fall in our culture and in bringing Christ to a broken world. In Book 24, Odysseus goes to find his father, Laertes, who has retreated impotently to a garden hermitage. Encouraged by the strength of his son, Laertes joins Odysseus and Telemachus in their final battle. They must stand, vastly outnumbered, against the fathers of the slain suitors. Odysseus attempts to hearten Telemachus: “Telemachus, you are going into battle against pikemen where the hearts of men are tried. I count on you to bring no shame upon your forefathers. In fighting power we have excelled this lot in every generation.” Telemachus replies, “If you are curious, Father, watch and see the stuff that’s in me. No more talk of shame.” And the old grandfather, Laertes cries aloud: “Ah, what a day for me, dear gods! To see my son and grandson vie in courage!” With that, Laertes himself hurls his spear through the throat of the most evil suitor’s father, ending the bloodshed and the battle. His strength is renewed by his faithful son and grandson. So may it be in our families. Finally, The Odyssey portrays the archetypal pattern of the return of the rightful king. This also is a theme found in scripture: A corrupt and leaderless world longs for the return of the true king, Christ, who will judge the wicked, rescue his bride, and restore a world broken by sin. The appeal of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is based on striking this common chord. The world of Middle Earth, nearly overcome by the evil of Sauron, is restored at the return of the rightful king who defeats the forces of Mordor and ushers in a new golden age. In The Odyssey, the rightful king of Ithaca, Odysseus, must return to save his wife, Penelope, and restore his household. He returns disguised as a lowly beggar, but finally reveals himself and destroys the suitors, purging his house of evil. Christ also came “disguised” as a lowly servant, but will return as king to destroy evil and rescue his “bride.” The Odyssey successfully appeals to readers as both a superficial story of love and adventure and as a tale which touches on the deepest longings, hopes, and fears of the human soul. This profoundly moving poem stirs the hearts of readers across all times and across all cultures. Leland Ryken writes, “A story begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” The Odyssey is a reflection of the one true story that we spend our lives learning and will one day know in its fullness.
Wendy Powell, Faculty Mrs. Powell teaches English, Literature and Theology at the Flower Mound campus.
REVIEW: THE SOCIAL NETWORK Theological insight is something that is hard to find in modern-day movies. Itâ€™s even rarer to find insight in movies that are as manipulative as The Social Network. In The Social Network, director David Fincher provides ample insight into not only the cut-throat process of producing the Facebook IPO, but as well the potential redundancy of instant celebrity and the gray areas of intellectual property and trademark in a digital world. Yet Fincher also manages to present a compelling character drama. A film about the creation of Facebook didnâ€™t have to focus on the creating, mending, and obliteration of relationships, but thankfully The Social Network did. The Social Network revolves around the betrayal, distrust, and deceit that went into the creation of the largest social networking site, Facebook. It focuses on the falling out of the relationship between Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and Co-Founder Eduardo Savrin as their relationships self destructs due to selfish behavior. Much of the movie follows the legal disposition involving these two co-founders, as well another lawsuit involving two Harvard brothers who claimed to have given Zuckerberg the idea for Facebook. Throughout the film there are several parallels to the biblical themes of creation and fall. The film opens in a state of what biblical terms would be called shalom. Mark is in a seemingly good relationship, he is successfully pursuing a college degree, and 6
he has a wonderful gift of seeing the great potential of technology. Of course here in The Social Network we see a version of shalom that is a corrupt distortion of the reality God had in mind. In our Scriptures, shalom is what the first days spent in the garden of Eden were like. In this stage of shalom, all things were right through God. As it went in the biblical story, we soon find that this shalom is relatively short-lived. In the film we see a lightning quick exchange between Mark and his bewildered girlfriend Erica. She is immediately put off by his smart-aleck personality. She tells him that dating him “is like dating a Stair Master.” It is this broken, heartless feeling Mark now feels within him that sparks the bitter actions that result in more broken relationships for the founders of Facebook. It is here, right at the start of the film, that shalom is broken. From the very first scene we know that we are in for a tragic character study. Mark quickly returns to his dorm where he blogs about his woes with Erica. Out of his anger and spite, an idea for a website originates. In this moment we see the beginnings of a downward spiral. What follows can best be described in biblical terms as the effects of the fall. Selfishness, pride, and greed begin to take over the lives of Mark and his friends. No spoilers here, but the ending of the movie isn’t exactly happy. Unlike the end of our lives, when our world were shalom will be restored by God, these broken hearts and wounded souls are still broken and wounded at the end of the film. The Social Network is a sterling exploration of high tension conflict and the transforming of our culture as technology further integrates itself in our lives. Stylistically, Fincher really nailed it with this one: the humor, sophisticated rawness, and brilliant characters are inspiring. It’s simply put one of the best films of the year, and easily one of the most well written. Every line of dialogue is sharp and polished. Beyond these cinematic elements we see a quite honest and biblical look at the fallen human condition.
Tyler Rugh, Freshman Tyler is in the 9th grade at the Flower Mound campus. His interest in film has inspired him to take CDA’s first ever Faith and Film class next year with Mr. Guthrie.
JOHN 1:16 - GRACE FOR GRACE? The following is the introduction to a paper that addresses an interesting interpretive dilemma found in the Gospel of John 1:16. As with many interpretive issues, this verse has a storied and diverse history of interpretation. The paper explores this rich history and proposes an interpretation that informs the reader of the depth found in the Greek text. A link to the full paper is provided at the end of the introduction.
The Gospel of John, standing as a unique witness among the canonical gospels, surely deserves the attention it has received throughout the history of biblical interpretation. Given its distinct nature when compared to the Synoptics, it is no wonder that critical and conservative scholars alike share a deep fascination with the Fourth Gospel. In the opening line of his two volume commentary, William Hendriksen deems the Fourth Gospel “the most amazing book that was ever written.” Some of Christianity’s most beloved verses (1:14; 3:16; 14:16) are found in this Gospel. Many who are new to the Christian faith are advised to begin their journey through the Scriptures with the Gospel of John. Of the canonical texts, the Gospel of John is perhaps among the most recognizable. It would appear, however, that the popularity of and familiarity with this Gospel does not remove a deep sense of mystery and wonder surrounding its intended meaning. As can often be the case among reviewers of a noteworthy film, painting, poem, or musical number, those commentators that are most familiar with the Fourth Gospel are often at odds when answering basic questions surrounding the proper interpretation of the text. It is one such disagreement that we wish to specifically address here. In the brief introduction to the Gospel (1:1-18), the author uses χάρις (grace) four times. In contrast, the word is not used at all throughout the rest of the Gospel,
and is only seen three other times in the entire collection of Johannine literature (2 Jn 3; Rev 1:4; 22:21). This typically Pauline word poses more than a few challenges to interpreters of the Gospel of John. This paper wishes to specifically address one such challenge: the phrase χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος in John 1:16. A majority of the popular English translation released in the past three decades favor an interpretation along the lines of “grace upon grace”, giving the reader that task of interpreting not only the nature of each χάρις, but also how they relate to one another. Do we receive the same type of χάρις as we previously had, just to a greater degree? Is there a substantial difference between the χάρις already held and the χάρις that is now received? With its 2011 edition, the New International Version revised its previous interpretation to read “grace in place of grace already given”, effectively narrowing the possible meanings for the reader. Even this interpretation—though it begins answering some of the lingering questions—leaves room for a wide range of meanings. After a brief overview of the history of interpretation and the addressing of appropriate exegetical questions, it will be argued that χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος read as “fresh grace in place of the former grace” is both faithful to the context of 1:16 and fits within the wider theology of the Fourth Gospel.
Jon Jordan, Faculty Mr. Jordan teaches History, Apologetics and Greek at the Flower Mound campus. The full paper is available on Mr. Jordan’s Academia page: http://www.academia.edu/2402209
GREEK IN ACTION: WHAT KIND OF LOVE?
From past personal experience, we can account that knowledge of the ancient Greek language is beneficial when trying to understand passages in the New Testament. There are many instances in the New Testament where the author used certain words whose meanings are lost in translation from Greek to English. For example, the English word love can typically conveys a wide variety of meanings. In the ancient Greek language, however, there are several different words for our one English word, love. In Greek, different words for love are used in order to express different types of love. For example, you would love your friend in a way that is different from the way you would love your spouse or even the way you would love the Lord. In his teachings about love—specifically in 1 Corinthians 13—Paul uses the Greek word αγάπη, which primarily carries the meaning of “love for another”. This is actually the only Greek word for love used to describe the love that God and Christ exhibit. With this knowledge, we can better understand the true meaning of this passage. Learning the ancient Greek language adds a new dimension to understanding our Scriptures.
Billie Niznik and Colette Harris, Freshmen Billie and Colette are Freshmen at the Flower Mound campus. In addition to participating in sports and other extra-curricular activities, they have both taken Logic School Greek, are currently enrolled in HS Greek I, and plan to continue on to HS Greek II next school year.
Coram deo latin in the presence of God
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Issue 1 - From the Editor