Thursday, November 13, 2008

Theology Paper, Stage One

For theology, we are required to study and provide a structural analysis on a book of the Old Testament. Stage One, due Friday the 14th, is an overview of the major sections of the book and your defense for breaking the book up into those sections.

Jesse Broussard

Solomon’s Song of Songs

Unmarried Courtship

Wedding and Consummation

Married Courtship

J. A. Broussard
Nicea Term Theology; Stage 1 of Paper

The central “Wedding and Consummation” division that I have made is set off by the occurrence of the wedding (declared in 3:11 and instigating a narrative taking the entirety of the fourth chapter and culminating in the consummation of 5:1). The biggest problem with this division is that several very suggestive references in the first section imply that the wedding has already taken place, a full three chapters before the section in which I posit it. For example: 1:4: “The king has brought me into his chambers;” 1:14: “Our bed is green” (another translation gives the more explicit ‘verdant’), and 1:13: “A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that lies all night between my breasts.”

However, the book is stylistically written and the (presumed) wedding narrative is quite centrally placed. Also, the first time that a clear declaration of consummation takes place is in 5:1, following rapid, numerous repetitions of “my sister, my spouse” (4:8,9,10,11,12), which is the first (and, debatably, the only) time that a marital appellation is attached, and the only time that “my sister, my spouse” is used in the book (the last time being in 5:1, the declaration of the consummation). This shows beyond doubt that marriage was at least very much on the mind of the lover, and the fact that his calling the beloved his wife occurs between her mentioning his marriage and his mentioning its consummation, and that this is the only time in the book that anything marriage-like is mentioned is more than merely suggestive of a wedding.

There are seven repetitions of “Daughters of Jerusalem,” all of which curiously lie outside of this very lengthy section: it is actually the longest space within the book that omits this phrase, the narratives immediately on either side contain it. There are also three repetitions of “I charge you…do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases,” all of which are outside of this. Finally, several of the suggestive texts are not all that clear, and, due to the responsorial and somewhat dazedly disjointed nature of this book, it generally does no violence to import an equally varied chronology, though the divisions of it would admittedly require careful study.

The first and third divisions are far easier to defend. They mirror each other with very explicit parallelism, being a pre-wedding courtship and a post-wedding courtship. The sections use many of the same phrases; I have already mentioned the seven repetitions of “Daughters of Jerusalem,” and “I charge you…do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases,” but also “His left hand is under my head and his right hand embraces me,” and, “Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices,” as well as the references to an apple tree, feeding flocks, grapes and vines, wine, constant repetitions of myrrh and spices (often spikenard), and two very curious narratives involving the beloved estranged from her lover, arising from bed, seeking the Lover, and encountering watchmen, and these are by no means all of them. Were repetitions or allusions to previously mentioned texts cut out, the only section to be relatively unchanged would be the wedding narrative, while the first and third sections would be cut in half.

A Defense of Not Sleeping

I just checked out Doug Wilson's writings. Wow.


Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning (ISBN 978-0891075837)
Persuasions (ISBN 978-1885767295)
Finding the Faith
Fruit of the Cross
Ephesians, With Notes
Easy Chairs/Hard Words (ISBN 978-1885767301)
Reforming Marriage (ISBN 978-1885767455)
Contours of Postmaturity (ISBN 978-1885767202)
To A Thousand Generations (ISBN 978-1885767240)
Standing on the Promises (ISBN 978-1885767257)
Her Hand in Marriage (ISBN 978-1885767264)
Joy at the End of the Tether (ISBN 978-1885767509)
Federal Husband (ISBN 978-1885767516)
The Paideia of God (ISBN 978-1885767592)
Fidelity (ISBN 978-1885767646)
For Kirk and Covenant (ISBN 978-1581820584)
Exhortations (ISBN 0967760313)
Untune the Sky (ISBN 978-1930710696)
Mother Kirk (ISBN 978-1885767721)
Future Men (ISBN 978-1885767837)
Excused Absence (ISBN 978-0970224514)
Beyond Stateliest Marble (ISBN 978-1581821642)
Greyfriars Covenant
A Serrated Edge (ISBN 978-1591280101)
The Case for Classical Christian Education (ISBN 978-1581343847)
Blackthorn Winter (ISBN 978-1932168105)
"Reformed" is Not Enough (ISBN 978-1591280057)
My Life for Yours (ISBN 978-1885767905)
Black & Tan (ISBN 978-1591280323)
For a Glory and a Covering (ISBN 978-1591280415)
Letter from a Christian Citizen (ISBN 978-0915815661)
God Is. How Christianity Explains Everything (ISBN 978-0915815869)
The Deluded Atheist (ISBN 978-0915815593)


Introductory Logic (with James B. Nance) (ISBN 978-1591280330)
Latin Grammar (with Karen Craig) (ISBN 978-1885767370)
Beyond Promises (with David Hagopian and John Armstrong) (ISBN 978-1885767129)
Southern Slavery As It Was (with Steve Wilkins) (ISBN 978-1885767172)
Angels in the Architecture (with Douglas Jones) (ISBN 978-1885767400)
Is Christianity Good for the World? (with Christopher Hitchens) (ISBN 978-1591280538)

Editor and contributor

No Stone Unturned
The Forgotten Heavens
Repairing the Ruins (ISBN 978-1885767141)
Bound Only Once (ISBN 978-1885767844)
Omnibus I: Biblical and Classical Civilizations (ISBN 978-1932168426)


Back to Basics (ISBN 978-0875522166)
Whatever Happened to the Reformation? (ISBN 978-0875521831)
The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism (ISBN 978-0875525549)
When Shall These Things Be? (ISBN 978-0875525525)
The Federal Vision (ISBN 978-0975391402)
The Case for Covenant Communion (ISBN 978-0975391433)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Declamation: Letter to Grandma

Dear Grandma, how’s the weather down there in California? I hope it’s better than it is up here, because it’s really cold and rainy. I guess for you guys cold and rainy means sixty degrees and partly cloudy. But we actually have to wear coats now. Dad really hates the cold. He says he gets really cold because he has bad circulation. He says he has bad circulation because his pipes are clogged. I’m not sure he knows exactly what that means, but it sounds pretty unhealthy. He wants to come down and spend the winters with you guys but he says that’ll only happen when his ship comes in. He also says he thinks his ship sunk. But he still keeps his eyes peeled.

School’s good. I really like my teachers and my classes and my teachers and my classmates and my teachers. Right now I’m taking a history class and a Bible class, and a music class, and a sort of kinda of speech class, and a kind of like a Spanish class but a little different. My grades are fine…I think…well, I actually don’t really know. You know how back in elementary it was fun to joke about getting a Z or a Z minus. Well, my school actually does that here, but only down to M. At the end of the week the whole student body and faculty gets together and we pray and then sing and then everybody takes naps. Usually one or two people come up and tell I guess you’d call them bedtime stories so everybody can go to sleep easier. Once, I had slept through my early morning class that day so I wasn’t very tired and the story was kinda interesting so I stayed awake the whole time. Life’s pretty good though, I was able to buy a new pencil and some paper. Christmas is coming up though so that’ll help. By the time my birthday rolls around I’ll probably be broke again. Oh how quickly that day will be here, that oh so ominous
February 28th . Big day, mkay, gotta run to class. Love, Ben.

Pledge of Allegiance

Douglas Wilson,

Just click the title

The Creed and the Pledge
Topic: Politics

Many thanks for the good discussion on the previous post. Obviously more is needed. In fact, when I consider the shape we're in, more is desperately needed.

I say the Apostles' Creed far more often than I say the Pledge. And when I say the Pledge of Allegiance, as noted already, it is not without qualification or reserve. It is not right for any creature to give unqualified loyalty to any fallen creature. At the same time, it is necessary -- because of my own fallenness -- to give that allegiance. To sort this out, we need to get back to basics on the matter of government.

The ultimate lord over all things in heaven and on earth is the Lord Jesus Christ. The God of this world is not the devil, not since the cross, and the God of this world is the Lord Jesus. So all authority is His, and all subordinate forms of authority have to be calibrated to His. Ideally, they will be calibrated both by those who wield the authority and by those who submit to it. But frequently, the calculations for that calibration have to be made by the one under authority alone because the one in authority has idolatrous pretensions for himself.

Because of this, the foundational form of government among men is self-government. Unless men are converted, and become as little children, and find the fruit of the Spirit flourishing within them -- and remember that fruit includes self-control or self-government -- every other form of human government will be dislocated and out of joint. Apart from self-government, every form of human governance will necessarily be some form of slavery. But if Christ sets men free from their sins, then other forms of liberty will follow.

The three larger forms of human government that God has established, all of them dependent on Spirit-given self-government, are these: Church, Family, and Nation. The Church is the ministry of grace. The family is the ministry of health, education and welfare. The nation is the ministry of justice.

Now the question before the house is this -- is it possible for a faithful Christian, self-governed in his personal life, to render allegiance to these lesser governments under Christ, especially when these governments are in gross sin, without sinning himself? And the answer is yes, of course.

We are covenantally bound to one another in all our relations because life is covenantal. Church membership is covenantal, marriage is covenantal, and citizenship is covenantal. Now because of sin, no covenant bond in this life is absolute. When I take any vows in this life, which I must always take in some form or other, every faithful Christian attaches a rider to that vow. If we ever took absolute vows to another sinner, we are violating the word of God where He tells us not to be unequally yoked. So every vow is qualified -- I pledge my fealty to the degree that this allegiance does not compromise my prior and higher allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.

When my kids were little, and first learning to talk, I remember carrying them around in my arms and asking them two basic catechism questions. The first was, "Who's the boss?" Their answer would be to point to me. Then the second question went something like this, "Who's the real boss?" And they would point heavenward. The message I wanted them to internalize is that Dad was as much under authority as they were. And judging from the debates we get into as Christians, I think we need to do a lot more of this kind of sorting out.

So is there anything wrong in principle with an oath of loyalty to one or all of the three entities that God has established? Certainly not. We even get our word sacrament from the enlistment oath that ancient soldiers had to take. This is simply part of human life. There is nothing new about any of this. Now obviously, the content of the oath matters to us, as it mattered to the early Christians. They would not burn incense to the genius of the emperor and the spirit of Rome, because such an action was self-consciously religious worship. And when the Pledge becomes that, then Christians will have to stop saying it.

In the meantime, they should take care with two words -- indivisible should not be taken to mean "ontologically incapable of division." If it is simply the hyperbole of a charitable wish, then fine. It is like saying "may the king live forever" when everybody assembled there can see how bad the king's cough is. Still, even though "may the king live forever" can be justfied (Dan. 6:21), I still much prefer a more sober and reasonable wish -- "long live the king," which is actually a possibility in the real world. The other word is God -- the phrase under God was added in the Eisenhower years, and the whole thing hinges upon which God is meant. Just substitute the word Christ, and you will be good.

What about the problem of Mr. Bellamy, the radical who composed the Pledge after the War Between the States in order to shape the schoolchildren into docile worker bees for the new society? The origins of the Pledge are certainly corrupt, but so are the origins of Yuletide, Easter, and tomorrow, which is Thor's Day. The question for us is what it means here and now.

And last, what about the frequency with which people want everybody to say the Pledge of Allegiance? I don't have a problem with frequent recitation necessarily, especially with young schoolchildren who are being liturgically shaped by it. The problem here is not the repetition. The problem is what we don't repeat in addition to the Pledge. The problem is not the expressed loyalty to the republic, the problem is that we have no layered structure of loyalties in what we have them recite. Because we don't have them repeat something like the Apostles Creed, along with a clear statement of which is senior, we are training the kids to answer the question "who's the boss?" with "the state," and then we provide no follow up question -- "who's the real boss?" It is idolatry by omission.

Take another example. If I were running a Christian school with three flagpoles outside, one for the American flag, one for the state flag, and one for the Christian flag, I would have a real problem with having the flag that represents Christendom flapping right alongside Delaware's, and the American flag above them both. Better to have no Christian flag at all than to have Christ bowing symbolically to His servants. We really need to think through all this. We live in a time when flag burning is protected speech. So why not move in the opposite direction? Why would it not be protected speech to have the American flag defer symbolically before Christendom?

But even with such problems of patriotism in our midst (and they are very real, let me assure you), let me offer one thought experiment. When our accelerating idolatries in the civil realm finally catch up with us, and the time comes for Christians to take a stand that might actually result in actual civic confrontation and conflict that would involve making real sacrifices (in the uproar that followed canceled presidential elections, say), who do you think will be manning the ranks of the real resistance? Folks who used to say the Pledge routinely or those who would not?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Indispensable Lewis

"Have you no idea of progress? Or development?"

"I have seen both in an egg. In Narnia, we call it going bad."

History Paper

Rough draft number one.

Philip of Macedon
And His Army: Heir to the World

J. A. Broussard
Nicea Term History Paper, 2200 Words

Alexander began his inexorable campaign in 333 B.C. Ten years later, he died of a high fever on June 11, 323 B.C, in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. In these ten years, he overran Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Judea, Gaza, Egypt, Bactria and Mesopotamia, remaining (we presume) undefeated in battle: we know of not even a single loss. He was 32 years old when he died, and his empire became the foundation for the Roman Empire, the largest and longest standing empire that has yet been on the earth. And he began all of this the when he was as old as an average college graduate today.

How is this even possible? The nations that he fought were not weak: many of his battles were fought tooth and nail, and he himself was seriously wounded on several occasions. His army was by no means the largest; his very first battles in foreign territory are battles in which he was severely outnumbered, despite drawing on the resources of the League of Corinth (essentially all of Greece, notably excluding the Spartans ). Yet he never lost a single battle. There is no denying that Alexander was one of the greatest military minds that ever existed, but still: to not once be overmatched to the point of defeat?

The key to Alexander’s success, outside of his own unmatched military genius, lies in the changes that his father, Philip II of Macedon began. The greatest changes were the emphasis upon training, speed, reliance upon non-hoplite troops, and devastatingly, the introduction of the sarissa (see illustration).

To emphasize these changes, you have to see the contrast between the Pre-Philip Macedonian army and the Post-Philip Macedonian army. Before Philip, the primary, almost exclusive force of the Greek world was the Hoplite (see illustration): well protected by a shield of one meter in diameter (just over three feet) called an aspis (which was primarily for the protection of the right side of the man to their left), a helmet, breastplate, and shin greaves. They were armed with a dora (a spear of between seven and nine feet in length), which had a leaf shaped blade on one end and a weighted point on the other (most likely used for planting into the ground or killing wounded enemies as the hoplites advanced over them) as well as a short sword with a concave curve (which greatly increased its efficacy for severing spear shafts and limbs alike). All told, the hoplite’s weapons and armor would combine to a hefty sixty plus pounds, not including the supplies.

The hoplites were a slow moving unit, the first three rows of which could engage an enemy, but there is great debate on how exactly a battle would be fought. Probably the leading opinion is that the strength of hoplites was in shock combat. The two phalanxes would smash into each other to break or encircle the enemy force's line. Failing that, a battle degenerated into a pushing match, with the men in the rear trying to force their front lines through those of the enemy (the othismos), battles rarely lasting more than an hour with very few casualties. Once one of the lines broke, the troops would generally flee from the field, sometimes chased by peltasts or light cavalry.

More probably, there seems to have been a greater element of individual warfare among the front ranks before the supporting ranks (usually seven supporting ranks in the typical eight-rank deep formation) would end up lending much weight to the combat, each side supported by the peltasts the entire time, with each battle lasting on average from two to four hours. Otherwise, with the “othismos” pushing match, the greater force would inevitably win, which history vehemently refutes.
Then, Philip of Macedon decided to take over Greece, and, to increase the strength of his army, he developed the phalanx, with its famous sarissa.Thesarissa wasa spear reaching a length of up to eighteen to twenty-four feet, depending upon the account. In any case, it was a great deal longer than the seven to nine foot dora, and allowed the first five rows of spears to be in contact with the enemies front line before the enemy was within four feet of reaching you, causing a five-one ratio of weapons to targets on one side, and a zero-one on the other. These spears were held with both hands, so a much smaller shield strapped to the left arm (to free their left hand to support the spear) replaced the usual “aspis.” Philip also removed the heavy breastplates to increase mobility and speed. The increased vulnerability to projectiles was somewhat compensated for by the spears of the lines behind the fifth rank deep, who would hold their spears above the first five rows, creating a literal shield of spear heads that, from all accounts, was surprisingly effective. The twenty-foot tall spears of the back rows served also to hide any ongoing activity behind the phalanx (see illustration two).

The flanks of this force would generally be supported by cavalry to prevent any attack upon the unprotected sides, and the most experienced soldiers as well as generals would as a rule take the far right file, which was least protected by the shield upon their left arm. Some accounts hold that the first several ranks wore armor, but, while this seems easily plausible, there appears to be no decisive evidence one way or the other. We do not, of course, know exactly how the sarissa was used, but it seems quite probable that they were not simply held extended as the phalanx marched upon an enemy, but that they were constantly jabbing and slashing, a wall of incessantly moving blades inexorably advancing. Hence, at the battle of Pydna, Roman shields and breastplates were transfixed, and the commander later recalled exactly how terrifying the spectacle of an advancing phalanx was.

The amount of cavalry used was itself somewhat of an innovation, though how they were armed is uncertain (we know that they carried a spear of some type and a short, heavy sword). The appellation “sarissa-bearing” is applied to them, but the sarissa is a very unsuitable weapon for a mounted person, as it needs two hands to be used effectively. It could be that they used it by bracing it against the horse (possibly lain across the neck), but this seems likely to unseat them if they strike with any impact, as stirrups were unknown. Another possibility was that they bore the sarissa in case they needed to be of use when dismounted. More probably, they carried a somewhat shorter sarissa (still longer than the seven or nine foot dora of the other hoplites, and far longer than the swords used by some other nations) for running down fleeing soldiers and breaking through shield walls (again, they also had a stout, heavy sword). They were divided into units called ilai, and became the main striking arm of the Macedonian army. The leading Macedonians primarily supplied the cavalry, and one squadron in particular was used to fight beside Alexander in Asia, reputedly saving his life at one point.

Prior to Philip, cavalry were primarily used to protect the flanks and chase fleeing troops, as they were far less stable than the heavily armed, tank-like hoplite force, however, Philip began using them more and more in the battle itself, both to protect the flanks of the phalanx and to charge the enemy in formation at the precise moment when the line was stretched too thinly or the flank exposed. Alexander perfected this tactic to a devastating extreme, and his cavalry became the most powerful portion of his army, partly due to the great levels of training that were imposed upon them, and partly due to the fact that the horses were most likely developed from Persian stock that was superior to the usual Greek stock. He also preferred to use the Persian “V” shaped formation as opposed to the rectangular Greek formation, which may or may not have made a large difference, but was used to deeply penetrate the front line, which led to the phalanx simply decimating the shield wall that was now presenting its flank to them.

Along with the cavalry, Philip began relying more and more on the “lightly armed” peltasts (some accounts say that he actually used them in the phalanx, behind the shields of the hoplites). The peltasts were lightly armed and not armored. They would have one shield, a short sword, and would generally carry several smaller javelins, which may have been equipped with a sling-like cord to increase their throwing power. They were used to cause confusion and general mayhem. Philip used them to a very great effect upon the other Greeks, who generally held them in an attitude of disdain. In fact, the Spartans would only use their slaves as peltasts, holding it to be an unfit position for a free-born Spartan. Thucydides records of peltasts in the battle of Anapus that “they put each other to flight as you would expect with lightarmed.” Philip had no such qualms. Due to the fact that his phalanx had such an increased range, any disarray in the enemies shield wall would rapidly be exploited to the utter decimation of the impotent hoplites, which were unable to retaliate against either the rapid peltasts or the out-of-reach phalanx.

Also, the level of professionalism within Philip’s army was far superior to that of most of the other Greek city-states, excepting, of course, Sparta. Spartan slaves, “helots,” supported the Spartans so that the free-born Spartan men could practice arms full-time (which was quite necessary, as the helots outnumbered them ten to one, and frequently revolted). Most hoplites were amateurs, which is one of the reasons that the Spartans were as feared as they were: warfare was mandatory up until the age of sixty. Philip saw this, exempted his military from all other vocations at the expense of the state, and began their training full-time, constantly parading them and giving them forced marches and exercises. He saw from this that their speed and mobility was hampered by the amount of equipment that needed to be carried by other, non-military units. So, he removed some of their equipment and compensated (perhaps more than compensated) by having each man carry his own rations: thirty days of rations. As a result of this, they had a vast advantage over all of their enemies in speed and mobility; they became professionals among amateurs.

The greater number of cavalry and lightly armed forces, the smaller shields and the loss of the breastplate for the phalanx (along with each person being required to carry thirty days of rations on his person) removed the need for a baggage train. This, combined with the constant training, drilling and forced marches increased the speed and mobility of the phalanx (along with the rest of the army) to unheard of rates: this was the army that Philip used to conquer nearly all of Greece, and this was the army that Alexander inherited from Philip. It was trained to beat all other Greek armies, who had already demonstrated their superiority to the Persian army, which had conquered all of the cultures surrounding it. It was, therefore, the greatest known army on the earth.

It is in the foreign campaigns of Alexander that the changes to the military become most apparently decisive. His lightning advances in Asia became the stuff of legends. In the battle of the river Granicus, it was his phalanx force that simply annihilated the Greek hoplites and Persian cavalry combined. In the battles of Issus, Pamphylia and Gordium, his cavalry was the deciding force. And in the entirety of his campaign, for ten years, it was his ability to throw his opponent’s forces into chaos while maintaining the order and formation of his own that decided battle after battle, a feat accomplished by vastly superior experience and the application of the ever Dionysian peltasts and cavalry that liberally sowed unbounded chaos.
Without his father’s innovations, Alexander would still have been great. But he would never have been able to do what he did: Philip is the one that united most of Greece into an empire that Alexander drew from; Philip is the one that created an army so fast that when Alexander appeared, armies would surrender on the spot, not having expected him for another week. Philip is the one that created the nearly indestructible phalanx (which has almost never been beaten in a head-on conflict) that Alexander swept Persia with; Philip is the one that introduced cavalry and peltasts that became so essential to Alexander’s army. Were it not for Philip II of Macedon, the great Alexander could not have made deistic claims, would not have inspired a Caesar to become a grave-robber; the great Alexandria would not have been, nor Bucephalus, the city he named after his horse. Were it not for Philip II of Macedon, Greek culture would not have swept the world and enticed, even infected Rome. Were it not for Philip II of Macedon, we would have a different world.

Bavink on Depravity

From Leithart:

Bavinck makes the interesting, Augustinian, and important point that sin can never become our essence because it is not a substance: “it does indeed inhabit and infect all of us, but it is not and cannot be the essence of our humanity. Also, after the fall, we human beings remain humans. We have retained our reason, conscience, and will, can therefore control our lower sensual drives and inclinations, and thus force them in the direction of virtue.”

Talking of “sinful nature” is thus ambiguous. Sinners have depraved, rebellious, infected, dead, but still human nature.

Wodehousian Fun