dianoigo blog
Showing posts with label New Testament. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Testament. Show all posts

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Word counts by book for Septuagint, New Testament, Apostolic Fathers and Justin Martyr

Religious studies meets data science. The result:

Click on image for a larger result.

Texts used for this exercise were as follows. The LXX text is taken from freely available text files from the Center for Computer Analysis of Texts at the University of Pennsylvania. The NT text is taken from freely available text files of the SBL GNT maintained by James Tauber. The Apostolic Fathers text is taken from the Logos software edition of Michael W. Holmes' critical text.1 Justin Martyr's writings are taken from online Greek texts which are in turn based on Goodspeed's 1915 critical text (at least for the Apologies; no attribution is present for the Dialogue with Trypho). Text mining to obtain the word counts was conducted using R statistical software.

A few fun facts:

  • We have more words of Justin Martyr preserved (69741) than the entire Apostolic Fathers corpus (64757), thanks to the truly massive size of his Dialogue with Trypho.
  • Justin Martyr and the Apostolic Fathers combined (134498) are only slightly shorter than the New Testament (137554).
  • The Gospels and Acts make up over 60% of the New Testament by word count. The Pauline corpus makes up "only" 23.5%.
  • The whole of the LXX consists of 589013 words (based on the texts used here). Of this, 82% comes from books considered canonical by Protestants (albeit in Hebrew). An additional 13% (77806 words) comes from books considered canonical by Roman Catholics but not Protestants (1-2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Judith, Tobit, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremiah, Bel and the Dragon, Susanna).2 The other 5% comes from books not considered canonical by Protestants or Roman Catholics (1 Esdras, 3-4 Maccabees, Odes of Solomon, Psalms of Solomon).

A couple of caveats. In cases where two quite divergent text families exist for a single book (e.g., Joshua, Judges, Daniel, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, Tobit) I've just represented one of the texts. It should also be noted that some of the texts have lacunae (Epistle to Diognetus; Dialogue with Trypho) or lost endings (Gospel of Mark; Didache), so the original word count would have been larger than the one reported here. Other texts have portions extant only in Latin (Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians; Shepherd of Hermas) which will also have slightly affected the word count since, for example, there is no article in Latin. For the Martyrdom of Polycarp I've only included chapters 1-20 since the epilogues in chapters 21-22 are obviously added by later hands.


  • 1 Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007).
  • 2 The Greek additions to Esther, also considered canonical by Roman Catholics, are not included here since I didn't go to the trouble of counting these words separately.

Saturday 22 October 2016

A table of biblical occurrences of qal wachomer

Among the seven middoth (מדות, literally 'measures') or rules for biblical interpretation which rabbinic tradition attributes to Hillel (died c. 10 A.D.), perhaps the best known is the qal wachomer or qal wahomer1 principle (קל וחומר, literally 'light and heavy'). This principle involves either arguing from the lesser to the greater (what logicians would call an argument a minore ad maius) or from the greater to the lesser (a maiore ad minus). If one extends the scope of the qal wachomer beyond biblical interpretation to any logical inference within the biblical text that follows this pattern, it is very common throughout the Bible. I am not aware of any resource that comprehensively tabulates occurrences of qal wachomer arguments within the Bible, so in this article I am offering a step in that direction in the form of a table with 65 biblical texts that certainly or at least plausibly contain a qal wachomer. 

The table is largely my own work, although I did consult this page as a starting point, and was already familiar with a few of the more famous cases either through the academic literature or hearing about them from my theology lecturers. There are a few suggested cases of qal wachomer that I have omitted from the table because I am not convinced they are such.2 I do not claim to have found all biblical instances of qal wachomer, and some of those I have identified may be disputed (especially if the qal wachomer is only implicit or partially stated).

The most common structure for a qal wachomer is, 'If X (a light thing) is true, how much more is Y (a heavy thing) true?' Sometimes the direction is heavy to light, and sometimes the argument is phrased negatively, e.g. '...how much less...?'

A slight majority (39) are from the New Testament. Such reasoning is especially common in the sayings of Jesus in Matthew, Luke and John, in the Pauline Hauptbriefe (undisputed letters) and in Hebrews. Translations are taken from the NASB unless otherwise indicated. The table below can also be downloaded in Excel or PDF format.

Paraphrase of qal wachomer
Ex. 6:12
12 But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, “Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?”
If even my own people wouldn't listen to me, how much more will Pharaoh not?
Num. 12:13-14
13 Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “O God, heal her, I pray!” 14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.”
If her father had but spit in her face, she would bear her shame for seven days. How much more then when she has been struck with leprosy?
Deut. 31:27
For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the Lord; how much more, then, after my death?
If the Israelites are rebellious while Moses is still around, how much more will they be after he is gone?
1 Sam. 14:29-30
29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See now, how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much more, if only the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”
If I have been cheered by a little honey, how much more would the people have been cheered if they had been allowed to eat freely from the spoil of the Philistines?
1 Sam. 21:4-6
4 The priest answered David and said, “There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.” 5 David answered the priest and said to him, “Surely women have been kept from us as previously when I set out and the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy?” 6 So the priest gave him consecrated bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence which was removed from before the Lord, in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away.
If women are kept from us on ordinary journeys, how much more on this urgent errand?
1 Sam. 23:3
3 But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the ranks of the Philistines?”
If we are afraid here in our own territory, how much more will we be afraid in enemy territory?
2 Sam. 4:9-12
9 David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, 10 when one told me, saying, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him in Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. 11 How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood from your hand anddestroy you from the earth?” 12 Then David commanded the young men, and they killed them and cut off their hands and feet and hung them up beside the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth and buried it in the grave of Abner in Hebron.
If I had a man executed just for telling me Saul was dead and expecting a reward, how much more will I have you executed for murdering Saul's innocent son inside his own house on his bed?
2 Sam. 16:10-12
 11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him. 12 Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.”
(Heavy to light) If my own son wants me dead, it is no surprise if this man from another tribe does.
2 Sam. 18:11-12
11 Then Joab said to the man who had told him, “Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 The man said to Joab, “Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect for me the young man Absalom!’
(Heavy to light; rhetorical rather than argumentative) I would not have murdered Absalom for a thousand pieces of silver, how much less would I do it for ten pieces and a belt?
1 Kings 8:27 (cp. 2 Chr. 6:18)
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!
(Heavy to light) if heaven itself is unfit to contain God, how much less is a man-made building fit to contain God!
1 Kings 13:7-8
7 Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” 8 But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place.
(Heavy to light; rhetorical rather than argumentative) I would not go home with you for a reward of half your house; how much less would I do so for some unspecified reward!
2 Kings 5:12
Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
(Heavy to light) Naaman, if Elisha had ordered you do something great to be healed, you would have done it; how much more should you be willing to do the simple, easy task he has given you?
Job 4:17-21
17 ‘Can mankind be just before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? 18 ‘He puts no trust even in His servants; And against His angels He charges error. 19 ‘How much more those who dwell in houses of clayWhose foundation is in the dust, Who are crushed before the moth! 20 ‘Between morning and evening they are broken in pieces; Unobserved, they perish forever. 21 ‘Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them? They die, yet without wisdom.’
(Heavy to light) if God even regards his angels as impure, how much more does he regard mere mortals as impure?
Job 15:15-16
15 “Behold, He puts no trust in His holy ones, And the heavens are not pure in His sight; 16 How much less one who is detestable and corrupt, Man, who drinks iniquity like water!
(Heavy to light) similar to Job 4:17-21
Job 25:5-6
5 “If even the moon has no brightness And the stars are not pure in His sight, 6 How much less man, that maggot, And the son of man, that worm!”
(Heavy to light) similar to Job 4:17-21
Job 35:13-14
13 “Surely God will not listen to an empty cry, Nor will the Almighty regard it. 14 “How much less when you say you do not behold Him, The case is before Him, and you must wait for Him!
(Heavy to light; Hebrew is difficult and may read differently) if God doesn't answer the cry of the oppressed who don't raise doubts against him, how much less will he answer you, who do?
Prov. 11:31
If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, How much more the wicked and the sinner!
(Logical progression is not obvious - see interpretation of LXX in 1 Pet. 4:18)
Prov. 15:11
Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord, How much more the hearts of men!
(Heavy to light) if even hidden places under the earth are open to God, how much more the hearts of people living on the earth?
Prov. 19:7
All the brothers of a poor man hate him; How much more do his friends abandon him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone.
(Heavy to light) if even the brothers of a poor man hate him, how much more will his friends do so?
Prov. 21:27
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, How much more when he brings it with evil intent!
If the sacrifice of a wicked person is already abominable due to his wickedness, how much more when the sacrifice itself is done in bad faith?
Jer. 12:5
“If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, Then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
(Double qal wachomer) If you can't even keep up with men running, how much more will you not keep up with horses? If you fall down in a peaceful land, how much more in a dangerous land?
Jer. 25:29
For behold, I am beginning to work calamity in this city which is called by My name, and shall you be completely free from punishment? You will not be free from punishment; for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth,” declares the Lord of hosts.’
(Heavy to light) if I am not sparing my own special city Jerusalem from punishment, how much less will I spare the nations?
Ezek. 14:19-21
19 Or if I should send a plague against that country and pour out My wrath in blood on it to cut off man and beast from it, 20 even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord God, “they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” 21 For thus says the Lord God, “How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it!
If the righteousness of past righteous figures could only spare themselves and not their people in the day of calamity, how much more will the present wicked city of Jerusalem face my judgment?
Ezek. 15:1-5
15 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, how is the wood of the vine better than any wood of a branch which is among the trees of the forest? 3 Can wood be taken from it to make anything, or can men take a peg from it on which to hang any vessel? 4 If it has been put into the fire for fuel, and the fire has consumed both of its ends and its middle part has been charred, is it then useful for anything? 5 Behold, while it is intact, it is not made into anything. How much less, when the fire has consumed it and it is charred, can it still be made into anything!
If wood from a vine is useless when it is intact, how much more is it useless when it has been charred by fire?
Jonah 4:10-11
10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
If you (a mere mortal) had compassion for a mere plant, how much more should I (the merciful God) have compassion for a huge city?
Sir. 10:31
He who has repute in poverty, how much more also in wealth? And he who is held in disrepute in wealth, how much more also in poverty? (NETS)
(Double qal wachomer) If a person has a good reputation while poor, how much better would his reputation be if he became rich? If a person has a bad reputation while wealthy, how much worse would his reputation be if he lost his wealth?
Matt. 6:26 (cp. Luke 12:24)
26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
If God feeds mere birds, will he not much more feed people?
Matt. 6:30 (cp. Luke 12:28)
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
If God clothes mere grass, will he not much more clothe people?
Matt. 10:24-25
24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!
(Heavy to light?) If the wicked malign even the master (who is greater), how much more will they malign those who follow him?
Matt. 12:3-6
3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? 5 Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? 6 But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.
If the letter of the law could be overridden in the presence of the temple, how much more in the presence of the One who is greater than the temple?
Matt. 12:10-12
10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him. 11 And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
If it is legal to rescue a sheep on the Sabbath, how much more is it legal to rescue a man?
Matt. 12:41-42 (cp. Luke 11:31-32)
41 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
(Implicit) If Gentiles will be judged (and vindicated) in terms of their contact with Jonah and Solomon, how much more will Jews of this generation be judged (and condemned) in terms of their contact with someone much greater?
Luke 11:11-13 (cp. Matt. 7:9-11)
11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
If even earthly, mortal fathers respond to their children's requests with good, earthly gifts, how much more will the divine, heavenly Father respond to his children's requests with good, heavenly gifts? (the contrast in the quality of the gifts is not explicit in Matthew)
Luke 12:6-7 (cp. Matt. 10:29-30)
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
If God cares about sparrows, how much more does he care about people?
Luke 13:15-16
15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? 16 And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
If it is legal to work to provide for animals' basic needs on the Sabbath, how much more is it legal to release a daughter of Abraham from bondage to Satan on the Sabbath?
Luke 16:10-12
10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? 12 And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
qal wachomer principle stated explicitly in v. 10, followed by two applications
Luke 18:6-7
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge said; 7 now, will God not bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night, and will He delay long for them?
(Implicit) if even an unjust judge can be moved by persistence to bring justice, how much more can God be? (Thanks to Anonymous for pointing out this instance in the comments.)
John 3:12
12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
If you cannot even believe earthly things, how much less will you be able to believe heavenly things?
John 5:46-47
46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
(Implicit) If you cannot even believe the words of Moses who wrote about me, how much less will you be able to believe my own words?
John 6:61-62
61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them,“Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?
(Implicit) If you have been offended by the previous saying, how much more will you be offended by this one…
John 7:23
If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?
If it is legal to 'fix' one small part of the body on the Sabbath, how much more is it legal to 'fix' the whole body on the Sabbath?
John 10:34-36
34 Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
If even those to whom the word of God came can be called 'gods', how much more can God's own Son be called 'God'?
John 19:36
36 For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, "Not a bone of Him shall be broken."
(Implicit) As argued by Longenecker,3 this may be a subtle qal wachomer exegetical argument: if Ps. 34:19-20 is true of the generic 'righteous one', how much more is it true of Jesus, the Righteous One par excellence? However, I think the use of Ps. 34:19-20 in John 19:36 is at least partly explicable in terms of pesher (a revelatory 'this-is-that' interpretation of the contemporary fulfillment of Scripture).
Acts 1:16-20
16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19 And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead be made desolate, And let no one dwell in it’; and, ‘Let another man take his office.’
(Implicit) Again, Longenecker4 regards this as a subtle qal wachomer exegetical argument: if Ps. 69:25 and Ps. 109:8 are true of the generic evildoer, how much more are they true of Judas, the traitor par excellence? Again, however, I think the use of the psalms here is at least partly explicable in terms of pesher.5 Note the explicit use of 'this-is-that' pesher language in Acts 2:16.
Rom. 2:25-27
25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?
(Implicit) if Jews who practice the Law - which they explicitly know - can be regarded as 'circumcised', how much more can Gentiles who meet the Law's requirements - which they do not explicitly know - be regarded as 'circumcised'?
Rom. 5:10
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
If the death of God's Son yielded a good result for God's enemies, how much more will the life of God's Son yield a good result for God's friends?
Rom. 5:15-17
15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
(Double; restated) Given God's righteous and gracious nature, if the transgression of the lesser man (Adam) had consequences for many, how much more did the grace and righteousness of the greater man (Jesus Christ) have consequences for many?
Rom. 8:31-32
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
(Double; implicit; heavy to light) If even God, the highest judicial authority of all, is not against us but for us, how much less could any other judicial authority be against us? If God was willing to gratuitously deliver over his own Son to give us a hope, how much more will he consummate this hope when that same Son comes again?
Rom. 11:11-12
11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!
If God brought salvation in allowing his people Israel temporarily to fail, how much more will he bring salvation when he intervenes to end this failure?
Rom. 11:24
24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the naturalbranches be grafted into their own olive tree?
(Heavy to light) If it is possible for wild branches to be grafted into a cultivated olive tree (against nature), how much more is it possible for cultivated branches to be grafted in (in accordance with nature)?
1 Cor. 6:2-3
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?
(Double; heavy to light) If the saints are competent to judge the world, and angels, how much more are they competent to judge temporal matters?
1 Cor. 9:12
11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
If others (who did not found the Corinthian church) have a right to reap material things from the Corinthian church, how much more does Paul (who did found the Corinthian church) have this right?
1 Cor. 14:6-9
6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? 7 Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? 8 For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will bespeaking into the air.
(Implicit) If even 'lifeless', earthly sounds require clarity to be useful, how much more do life-giving, heavenly sounds require clarity to be useful?
1 Cor. 15:13-146
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.
(Implicit) If not even Christ has been raised, how can anyone else hope to be raised?
2 Cor. 3:7-11
7 But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
(Triple qal wachomer) if the ministry of death and condemnation, which is fading away, had glory, how much more does the ministry of the Spirit and righteousness, which surpasses it, have glory?
2 Cor. 11:13-15
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
(Heavy to light; logic is comparable to Matt. 10:25) If even Satan disguises himself (heavy), it is no surprise if his servants disguise themselves (light)
Gal. 1:8-9
 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now,if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
(Heavy to light; implicit) If even Paul himself (who originally brought them the gospel) or a heavenly angel should be accursed for preaching a different gospel, how much more should anyone else be accursed for preaching a different gospel
Gal. 2:14
But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
(Implicit) If it was acceptable for Cephas himself-a Jew-to live like a Gentile, how much more is it acceptable for Gentiles to live like Gentiles?
1 Tim. 3:5
(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)
If a man is incapable of managing his own natural household, how much more is he incapable of managing God's spiritual household?
Heb. 2:2-3a
2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
(Similar to Heb. 10:29-30) If transgressions under the law were punished, how much more will a rejection of the great salvation be punished?
Heb. 6:13-18
13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” 15 And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. 16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
(Implicit) Guthrie7 sees an implicit qal wachomer argument here: if even men's oaths have force in confirming their word, how much more does God's oath have force in confirming his unbreakable word? Note, however, the comparative 'in the same way' (rather than 'how much more' as used elsewhere in the letter) casts some doubt on whether a light-to-heavy movement is intended; it may only be an analogy.
Heb. 9:13-14
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
If the blood of physically unblemished animals have cultic efficacy, how much more does the blood of the spiritually unblemished Christ?
Heb. 10:28-29
28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
If apostasy against the old covenant earned a punishment of death, how much more severe a punishment will apostasy against the new covenant earn?
Heb. 12:9-10
9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
If we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us according to their imperfect will, how much more should we respect our heavenly Father who disciplines us according to his perfect will?
Heb. 12:25
See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
If people who failed to heed Moses' earthly warning (Ex. 19:12-13) did not escape punishment, how much less will people who failed to heed God's heavenly warning (Hag. 2:6-7) escape punishment?
1 Pet. 4:17-18
17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?
(Implicit; v. 18 quotes Prov. 11:31 LXX) If the righteous household God will face judgment and scarcely escape, how much more will wicked unbelievers be unable to escape


  • 1 These transliterations are both widely used, and I am more concerned with ensuring this article receives a decent ranking in Google searches than with meeting transliteration conventions; hence I have not marked up the transliteration.
  • 2 These are Esth. 9:12 (suggested by Wansbrough), 2 Chr. 32:15, Matt. 6:15 (par. Mark 11:26) and 1 Cor. 8:8-10.
  • 3 Longenecker, Richard N. (1999). Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period (2nd edn). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 81.
  • 4 Longenecker, op. cit., p. 139.
  • 5 Longenecker writes elsewhere concerning Acts 1:20 that 'While there is here the use of Hillel's first exegetical rule qal wa-ḥomer ("what applies in a less important case will certainly apply in a more important case"), thereby applying what is said in the Psalms about the unrighteous generally to the betrayer of the Messiah specifically, the aspect of fulfilment, as based on typological correspondence in history, gives the treatment a pesher flavor as well'. (Longenecker, Richard N. (2007). Early Church Interpretation. In Stanley E. Porter (Ed.), Dictionary of Biblical Criticism and Interpretation (pp. 78-89). New York: Routledge, p. 80.)
  • 6 Peerbolte thinks the whole argument of 1 Cor. 15:12-20 is a qal wachomer (Peerbolte, Bert Jan Lietaert (2013). How Antichrist defeated Death: The Development of Christian Apocalyptic Eschatology in the Early Church. In Jan Krans, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, Peter-Ben Smit & Arie Zwiep (Eds.), Paul, John, and Apocalyptic Eschatology: Studies in Honour of Martinus C. de Boer (pp. 238-255). Leiden: Brill, p. 241.
  • 7 Guthrie, George H. (2007). Hebrews. In G.K. Beale & D.A. Carson (Eds.), Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (pp. 919-996). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 966.

Monday 22 August 2016

My first publishing experience in biblical studies

This article is an anecdote about my first experience publishing in a biblical studies academic journal.1 I hope the reader will forgive any self-congratulatory exuberance inherent in writing about one's writing. (Perhaps I am betraying my greenhorn status by expressing excitement over an achievement that for professional biblical scholars is par for the course.) All glory goes to God, whose I am and whom I serve. My hope in writing this anecdote is that it will prove useful to other amateur biblical scholars who aspire to publish.

Over the past two years I co-authored two articles with Dr. Guy Williams, who specializes as a Pauline scholar.2 Both articles have been accepted by the Journal for the Study of the New Testament and published in the September 2016 issue, comprising 56 pages combined.3 Their titles are, respectively, Diabolical Data: A Critical Inventory of New Testament Satanology and Talk of the Devil: Unpacking the Language of New Testament Satanology.

I am a statistician by profession, and am also in the latter stages of an Honours degree in theology through distance learning (at King's Evangelical Divinity School in the U.K., which I highly recommend). I've long had an interest in marrying my statistical background with my interest in the Bible by applying statistical analysis to biblical texts. I've also long been interested in Satan as a theological concept, owing in large part to my upbringing in the Christadelphian sect, which has a unique interpretation of the biblical devil and Satan. In 2013-14 I engaged in some correspondence and online discussion with Christadelphians about the prevalence of Satan in the New Testament. My interlocutors had claimed that Satan is prominent in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts but marginal in the rest of the New Testament. This claim struck me as suspect, and I did some preliminary statistical analysis which confirmed my suspicions, publishing my findings on this blog.

However, one of the challenges I faced in conducting this statistical analysis was the uncertainty of the data set itself: how many references to Satan are there in the New Testament? One can easily count up the number of occurrences of the Greek words satanas and diabolos, but it is not obvious that every instance of these words does refer to Satan (e.g., John 6:70). Moreover, there are numerous other New Testament terms that do seem to refer to Satan, such as 'the evil one' (Matt. 13:19), 'the god of this age' (2 Cor. 4:4) and 'the ruler of this world' (John 12:31). I couldn't find any scholarly source that sought to identify all New Testament references to Satan, offering critical exegesis of uncertain cases. Hence, I resolved to create this data set, reasoning that this would not only assist me in my own statistical analysis but would be a tool for broader research Satan in the New Testament. This was the genesis of the research project that eventually resulted in these two articles.

By the end of 2014, I had a working manuscript where I had attempted to identify every reference to Satan in the NT, with recourse to the academic literature and my own exegesis to decide uncertain cases. I also included some statistical analysis of this data set. I had never published in biblical studies before and was then only a first year theology student. Knowing that most biblical studies journals have rejection rates in the 80% range, I knew submitting my manuscript to a journal would be a long shot. Enter Dr. Guy Williams. I had read his excellent monograph on The Spirit World in the Letters of Paul the Apostle (based on his Oxford University doctoral thesis) and had asked him some questions about it via email, and been impressed by his thoughtful replies. He had also humoured me by reading and commenting on some of my quasi-academic, but somewhat amateurish, online articles about Satan. I decided to send Guy my manuscript and ask him whether it looked remotely publishable to him, and if so whether he might be willing to collaborate with me to refine it into a publishable form. To my delight, he responded in the affirmative on both counts (while graciously offering to give feedback and still let me submit it myself). Better still, he had an idea for taking the project further by turning it into a two-part series which he would co-author. The first study would create the data set by identifying all New Testament references to Satan. The second study would then analyse the data statistically but also contextualize the analysis by looking at hermeneutical issues in New Testament Satanology. I enthusiastically agreed. In the end, I wrote most of the first article and Guy most of the second, but it really was a joint project as we offered each other useful input and suggestions at every stage of the writing and revision process. The effective collaboration we were able to develop despite sitting on separate continents and never meeting face to face is a testimony to the power of globalization.

We submitted both articles to JSNT4 in May 2015. We heard back after the peer review process in November and were thrilled to receive a positive response. Both articles were accepted pending some revisions, the most significant of which was that we needed to interact more with German scholarship in our exegesis. (This is a standard requirement of the major biblical studies journals, and understandably so.) My German is very limited, but Guy can read German fluently and I can read French almost fluently, so we decided to bolster our literature search by consulting additional works in both these languages. Doing so proved very useful, as it helped us to identify some probable NT references to Satan that we had previously missed. Another issue was that our articles were too long for the journal, so we needed to find ways to cut down on the word count. This was achieved primarily by reducing the bibliographic material. We submitted our revised versions at the end of January 2016.

The editorial process of preparing the articles for publication began in earnest in May. This, for me, was one of the best things about publishing. You get to have your work edited, copy-edited and proofread by experts for free. In the case of these two articles, the final versions are far superior to the original submissions in terms of style, compactness, and number of typo's and other errors.

All told, the experience of publishing has been tremendously rewarding and enriching. However, it has also been a tremendous amount of work. I wouldn't want to guess the equivalent number of forty-hour work weeks that went into this project, but it was not a few. My heart's desire for the two articles is that they will make some contribution to the body of academic - and ecclesial - knowledge about the New Testament, and that they will lead to other opportunities for writing and research.

I've already embarked on my next academic writing project - this time going solo, and on a completely different topic. We'll see how it turns out!


  • 1 I have been a co-author on a couple of other published articles/notes where my contribution involved probability and statistics, not biblical studies. See here, here and here.
  • 2 His publications include The Spirit World in the Letters of Paul the Apostles: A Critical Examination of the Role of Spirit Beings in the Authentic Pauline Epistles (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009); An Apocalyptic and Magical Interpretation of Paul's ‘Beast Fight’ in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32) (Journal of Theological Studies, 2006); Narrative Space, Angelic Revelation, and the End of Mark’s Gospel (Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 2013); article on Romans in The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible (Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • 3 The issue has not been printed yet as I write this, but the articles have been published online already.
  • 4 As an amateur biblical scholar, one would need to choose a journal with a double-blind peer review process in which the reviewers do not know the identity or qualifications of the author. The manuscript is evaluated solely on its own merits. That said, the double-blind policy is not intended as an invitation to submit substandard material. To avoid disappointing oneself and burdening editors, it is a good idea to collaborate with an established scholar, especially for one's first publication.