JREnsey blog for January 2023

Welcome to the JREnsey blog for January 2023! We welcome the new year; the passing one is easy to wave goodbye to!

The Word for today

“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me” (Psalm 103:1,2 NLT).


Enough of Christian doxologies

Doxology – A liturgical formula of praise to God, usually at the end of a reading or at the close of a service.

In teaching recently on the Lord’s Prayer, I could not circumvent pointing out that the doxology at the end of the prayer is almost certainly an emendation, an add-on inserted by some scribe in a dark, candlelit room as he was copying a manuscript. While I don’t always point those out when teaching laity, it is difficult not to on this one. It was likely pulled over from liturgical endings that had been adapted from service settings in the assembly where the scribe was active. Only one Greek manuscript before A.D. 700 has the phrase “for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.” It found its way into the stream of late Byzantine manuscripts and from there into the early English Bibles.

Almost assuredly the first copyist who wrote the doxology for Christian usage lifted it from the OT passage in I Chronicles 29:11: “Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.” While it is true and a great line as all agree, it is unlikely to be divinely inspired as part of Matthew’s Gospel. When the English Bibles were being produced in the sixteenth century, Queen Elizabeth I expressed her attachment to those stirring words and wanted them included in any English Bible translation. So the Bishops’ Bible put them in its first edition in 1568. When the KJV translation was being put together by King James’ translators, he ordered them to follow the Bishops’ Bible as much as possible.

When Jerome merged the Old Latin MSS to create the Latin Vulgate (c. A.D. 400) that would become the biblical authority in Roman Catholicism for a thousand years, it was not there. Scribes who were copying the Gospel of Matthew were aware of its apparent primary target audience—the Jews. This fact may have encouraged the inclusion of a common Hebrew doxology. Many scholars and reference works call it “a later addition,” and inform us that the use of the doxology in English dates from at least 1549 with the First Prayer Book of Edward VI, which was influenced by William Tyndale’s New Testament translation in 1526. Later scholarship demonstrated that inclusion of the doxology in New Testament manuscripts was actually a later addition drawn in part from Eastern liturgical tradition. Because a statement is true does not automatically qualify it for inclusion in the inspired Word of God. It should be noted that no usage of the trinitarian formula in water baptism is recorded in the Book of Acts or anywhere else in Scripture or history during the first century. It is not the language of the Apostolic Age.

Matthew’s Gospel, as we read it today in most English Bibles, includes another doxology at the end of the Great Commission of 28:19. Added there was the phrase “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” After the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325, that language came into popular usage as a “formula” for water baptism. There is no extant Greek MS containing that phrase with a date earlier than Emperor Constantine’s influence on the text at the Council of Nicea. After the Council, he ordered fifty new Bibles to be hand copied and distributed to the major churches in the Empire. Earlier Greek MSS reveal physical damage at Matthew 28, removing v. 19 from all known MSS prior to 325. The new copies would certainly express Constantine’s feelings that the trinitarian doxology fit well at the end of Matthew 28:19 since the Council established a form of binitarianism for sure and made decided moves toward absolute trinitarianism as dogma, which would be solidified at the next two general councils.

A further trinitarian addition to the Lord’s Prayer doxology was attempted again in later manuscript copies of Matthew. Three Greek minuscules dating from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries add these words: “[the glory]…of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Scholars and early textual critics knew immediately they were emendations and dropped those MSS from further use as exemplars to be copied.

Although I agree with Queen Elizabeth that the words “thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” are true and fit well with the context, I must say as a truth lover of real NT words of actual Scripture, they should probably be left to liturgical usage and song lyrics.


Keep in mind…

  • God may wreck your plans when He sees that your plans are going to wreck you.
  • If the authorities are not going to enforce our laws at our borders, we basically have no country. If officials/boards are not going to enforce what is in the Manual regarding doctrine and holiness, we only have a loosely knit club of some kind—come and go, do as you please.
  • Quickly! Use these words before they become totally obsolete or outlawed: man, woman, boy, girl, father, mother, truth, redemption, virtue, individualism, Hell, Heaven, judgment, personal responsibility, integrity.
  • Deuteronomy 22:5 doesn’t say what to wear but what not to wear. In other words, don’t cross over into the customs of the opposite gender.
  • Everyone loves to see a rainbow, but we must remember it takes both rain and sunshine to make one.
  • What you do with the Bible depends on what you do with the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” If you believe that, you can believe everything else that follows. If you reject that statement, the rest of the Bible becomes suspect. If you can believe God is the creator of all things, you can believe anything else the Bible has to say. “The word of the Lord is right” (Psalm 33:4).


100 YEARS AGO: Our changing world

What was America like 100 years ago? In 1923 major news events included the opening of King Tuts burial chamber, insulin was introduced for treatment of diabetes, Mount Etna erupted, the first baseball game was played in Yankee Stadium. Other notable events:

  • First issue of Time Magazine
  • Most homes did not have indoor toilet facilities, so chemical toilets were introduced for homes. Price: less than $6.
  • Adolf Hitler leads the Nazi Party in a failed coup attempt in Germany.
  • The Republic of Turkey was established.
  • The Great Kanto earthquake strikes Japan, killing up to 140,000 people.
  • Oklahoma passed legislation outlawing Darwinian evolution in the state’s school textbooks.
  • Walt Disney Company was founded.
  • Large hailstones kill 23 people in Rostov, Soviet Union.

What and who was popular in 1923?

  • Babe Ruth was the most famous person in America.
  • Most popular movie was The Ten Commandments.

In those techy twenties, hearing aids were introduced, the first domestic refrigerators were sold in Sweden, and the first portable radios were produced in the U.S. But the prices of goods and food were quite different from today, and even then they varied in different parts of the country:

Chevy Roadster (below right) – $570

Studebaker Touring car – $995

Neckties  – .75¢

Beef roast – .19¢ lb.

Lettuce – .10¢ head

Bread – .10¢ loaf

Milk – .25¢ gal.

Refrigerator – $49.50

Listerine – .79¢ bottle

Bath soap – $1.39 12 cakes

Washington Hotel – $5 per week


YOKOHAMA, Japan after the 1923 Kanto earthquake:

America was still mostly rural in 1923, but cities were growing fast

1923 saw the tomb of King Tut discovered and opened by Howard Carter.

I would not want to go back to the 1920s, but I wish we had brought some things with us from that simpler life.


Just for writers

It was recently pointed out in a newsy handout how strange our English language is. All writers have to endure its oddities, but I suppose all languages and dialects have certain idiosyncrasies.

In English, there is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburgers; neither apples nor pine in pineapples. English muffins were not invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads which aren’t sweet are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither a pig nor a guinea. If teachers taught, why don’t we say that preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

In what language do people recite at a play, and play at a recital? We ship by truck and send cargo by ship. We have noses that run and feet that smell. We park on driveways and drive on parkways.

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? Your guess is as good as mine. Thankfully, writers reserve judgment of other writers in these times when language is undergoing many not-so-subtle changes. Scores of words that once clearly meant one thing 50 years ago now mean something entirely different. If I had enough hair to pull out, I just might do it.


Couldn’t pass these up


Last Words

As we move into a new year, let us renew our commitment to Christ, His Word, and His ways. Otherwise, we will be pulled along in the tidal wave of the world. May spiritual gravity pull us closer to biblical truth rather than the attractions of the present age. God is looking for men—real men—who are fearless, prayerful, humble, weak enough to trust and strong enough to stand. Let’s make 2023 a year of spiritual harvest!

God bless! Happy New Year everybody!


Published in: on January 1, 2023 at 1:03 AM  Leave a Comment  

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