I am honored to announce the release of the Fall 2020 edition of The Master’s Seminary Journal. This issue addresses a variety of theological disciplines with articles we believe will serve our readers in a number of important ways. Without question, the mind of the pastor must be multi-disciplined. He must be versed in New Testament, Old Testament, linguistics, biblical languages, systematic theology, historical theology, and biblical theology, to name several. His calling requires him to weave these disciplines together each week in his study. The Master’s Seminary exists to serve and benefit the church, and to do that well, we must serve in ways that equip the pastor to better exposit the Word and to guard the truth entrusted to him.

As President, my desire is that The Master’s Seminary Journal will serve you well by informing, equipping, and encouraging you in your own pursuit of faithful service to Christ through the careful, accurate exegesis and exposition of God’s Word. To that end, our goal is that each edition of the journal will be marked by faithful scholarship for the edification of the Church.

To God be the glory.

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Below are the abstracts for the articles included in the fall edition.

Analysis of Geerhardus Vos’ Nature and Method of Biblical Theology

Richard C. Barcellos (Ph.D., Associate Professor of Exegetical Theology, IRBS Theological Seminary)

When Geerhardus Vos stood to give his inaugural address for the “new chair” of biblical theology at the College of New Jersey in 1894 (now Princeton University), the field of study had been dominated by “the liberal/critical biblical-theological enterprise” for over one-hundred years. He was a Reformed-orthodox theologian entering a field of “perverse influences.” This paper traces the thought of Vos historically, beginning with his inaugural address (1894) and concluding with his last published work (1948). The focus of this paper is the nature and method of biblical theology as presented by Vos. This historical study discovers a harmony of thought—a hermeneutic grounded not only in how Scripture is formed, but in what it says and how it says it. He views revelation as pre-redemptive, redemptive, historical, organic, progressive, Christocentric, epochal-covenantal, and multiform. Vos would one day be considered “an all-time master in the field of Biblical Theology.” Whether or not readers agree with his methodology and/or doctrinal formulations, his work merits our attention, respect, and appreciation.

A Methodology for Janus Parallelism

Nathan LeMaster (Ph.D. Candidate, Cambridge University)

The Greek god of beginnings and endings had two faces, one looking to the future and the other to the past. This god was known by the name Janus. Thus, the masterful Hebrew literary device used to intentionally exploit a single word with two meanings—one meaning pointing to what has come before, and the other meaning to what has come after—was deemed Janus Parallelism. The conclusions one draws about Janus Parallelism impact a proper understanding of authorial intention and the semantic connections which existed in the mind of the Hebrew writer. The purpose of this article is to establish an initial methodology for identifying Janus Parallelism, as well as to expound the implications of Janus Parallelism for biblical studies. The pertinent question for this study is, how can one affirm that the biblical author purposefully exploited both meanings? While recent scholarship has been insightful on this issue, the danger of presuming upon the intention of the biblical author remains. This article argues that the first step in identifying Janus Parallelism is to prove a case of polysemy or homonymy (not ambiguity) within the Janus word. The second step is to demonstrate previously established semantic connections between both meanings of the Janus word and the immediate context. This initial methodology for determining Janus Parallelism will help to prove the intention of the biblical author, rather than allowing imagination of possible meanings to overshadow sound exegesis.

Divine Timelessness: A Recovery of the Foundational Doctrine of Classical Theism

Peter Sammons (Ph.D., Director of Academic Publications and Faculty Associate in Systematic Theology, The Master’s Seminary)

The doctrine of the timelessness of God has long baffled laymen and theologians alike. This article will address the current debate over the timelessness of God, providing a definition of time and uncovering the Scriptural foundations for this doctrine in the process. This article will also trace the development of this critical doctrine throughout church history. God’s timelessness is of no small consequence, because to tamper with this single doctrine is to send an eroding ripple effect through all the other attributes of God. The church must remember, regain, and rejoice over this forgotten doctrine in order to preserve the integrity of Christian theology.

Toward the Worship of God as Actus Purus

Alan Quiñones (Ph.D. Candidate, The Master’s Seminary)

God is Actus Purus, which is to say that He is eternally all that He can be. Potentiality is a trait of creatures, not God. The concept of Actus Purus was first articulated by Aristotle in his argument for the unmoved mover, and through its history, the church has considered this notion a valid articulation of the absolute perfection and preeminence of God over all things. This paper, then, explores the exegetical footing of Actus Purus. It also will seek to understand its implications for systematic theology. Careful exegesis will demonstrate that the doctrine of pure actuality is deducible from Scripture by good and necessary consequence. It is an instrument that helps to sound the unbounded perfection of God and arrive at a more settled understanding of His meticulous sovereignty. In short, pure actuality conveys that life cannot but belong to God, because He decrees, wills, knows, and does everything entirely from Himself.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on “Unity”

Kevin D. Zuber (Ph.D., Professor of Theology, The Master’s Seminary)

This article is the second in a two-part series that surveys several messages from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in an attempt to better understand his perspective on “unity.” In this second article, particular attention is paid to the message delivered at the meeting of the National Assembly of Evangelicals in October 1966—a message that marked a turning point in twentieth-century British evangelicalism. Two other messages on unity after 1966 are also examined. This examination will demonstrate that Lloyd-Jones’ message on unity in 1966 was consistent with his stance on unity before and after 1966. The article concludes with suggestions as to how Lloyd-Jones’ teaching on unity has application for twenty-first century evangelicalism.

Recent Scholarship and the Quest to Understand Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

Peter J. Goeman (Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages, Shepherds Theological Seminary)

This article analyzes Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. One of the most debated parts of these prohibitions is the phrase “as one lies with a female” (מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה). Although many modern scholars have attempted to explain this phrase as a technical phrase referring to incest or specific homosexual behavior, this phrase should be understood as a general reference to sexual activity. Thus, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 should be read as general prohibitions against sex between homosexual partners.

The Hermeneutics of the American Revolution

Gregg L. Frazer (Ph.D., Professor of History and Political Sciences, The Master’s University)

The American Revolution was a time not just of conflict between nations, but also between preachers. The differences of opinion between the Loyalists and the Patriots concerning rebellion resulted in differences in their interpretations of Scripture. This article compares two sermons—one by a Patriot, and one by a Loyalist. Patriot preachers largely began with a natural understanding of the biblical text, but then filtered that meaning through the lens of rebellion. The result was a creative, emotion-filled interpretation intended to bolster the cause of revolution. The Loyalists, on the other hand, interpreted and applied Scripture with a strict grammatical-historical hermeneutic. Through a comparative analysis of these two early-American sermons, modern readers have an opportunity to understand the importance of hermeneutics to practical living.

Postmodernism and the Gospels: Dancing on the Edge of Disaster

David Farnell (Ph.D., Professor of New Testament, The Master’s Seminary)

A saying that is so true for today’s liberal and evangelical critical scholars’ investigation in Gospel studies is found in the words of a nineteenth-century German philosopher, Against that positivism which stops before phenomena, saying ‘there are only facts,’ I should say: no, it is precisely facts that do not exist, only interpretations. The state of Gospel studies among liberals is always expected to be pathetically conflicting and arbitrary. Unfortunately, now evangelical-critical scholars evidence no substantive qualitative difference in Gospel studies from their more liberal counterparts. Increasingly as the twenty-first century develops, such distinctions between these two groups blur at an alarming rate, making both groups increasingly unified in presuppositions as well as conclusions in Gospel studies. This article will consider recent developments in the field of Gospel studies with the goal of illuminating shortfalls and providing productive alternatives in scholarly methods.


Read this issue online here, or email journal@tms.edu for more information about TMSJ.