Evaluating Eis Apantēsin & Eschatological Hope

Paul's ConversIn Rapture or No-Rapture, That is the Question, I presented two different understanding of what Paul meant by the idea that Christians will be reunited again in the clouds to meet their returning Lord and King Jesus in the air ( 1 Thessalonians 4:17). Scholars who understand Paul as not teaching rapture, the idea that Christians will ascend to the sky to meet their Lord, have argued that eis apantēsin (“to meet”) ought to be understood as a technical term. Eis apantēsin, thus, connote the idea of meeting a visiting honorable dignitary.  In ancient Hellenistic Greek, the citizens of a particular city would often go outside their city to meet a visiting dignitary. These citizens will then joyously accompany him back to the city (Cameron 1922: 116; Gundry 1973; 104; Marshall 1983: 131; Elias 1995: 178-9; Martin 1995: 153; Green 2002:226; Wright 2004: 125).

Revisiting Erick Peterson’s work¹ , which I believe chiefly contributed to no-rapture reading, Michael R. Cosby explained that it is not always the case that eis apantēsin is used as a technical term to describing a Hellenistic Greek formal receptions. Cosby explained that “[s]ometimes ἀπάντησις describes a formal greeting of a dignitary, but often it does not. And some descriptions of such receptions do not use ἀπάντησις or ὑπάντησις (or the verb forms of these words)”(Cosby 1994: 20). The evidenced supporting “eis apantēsin” as a technical term for the formal reception of visiting dignitary is, thus, inconclusive (Weatherly 1996) Continue reading

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Rapture or No-Rapture, That is the Question

Rapture of Saint Paul

Rapture, following Andy Woods, is the reunion of Christians who were dead in Christ with the living up in the sky. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Woods explained, is “probably the clearest reference to the rapture found in all of the New Testament.” (Woods 2004: 312) Six decades back, Arthur B. Whiting made a similar declaration. This passage, according to Whiting, provides us with an orderly and detailed exposition of understanding the Rapture (Whiting 1945: 361).

Maintaining the cessation of the baptism with the Holy Spirit at the second advent of Christ Jesus, Merrill F. Unger holds that 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 provides evidence that the Church will be removed out of the world (Unger 1944: 362). Lewis S. Chafer concurred with Unger and added that Christ Jesus will come “only to the upper-air spaces and the believers [would be] gathered together unto Him” (Chafer 1952: 134) Continue reading

The God Who Knelt

Dirck van Baburen 1616

God in Christ Jesus poured out His infinity and unspeakable love when He knelt down before His own servants and washed their feet. In John 13:1-20 we encounter the King of the Jew who humbled Himself by taking a despised servants’ task of washing their masters’ feet and washed His disciples’ feet. Christ Jesus’ mastership was, as Guthrien Veech poetically captured, of “a towel to wash feet rather than a whip to drive people”(Veech 2006 )

“As with the crucifixion,” argued D. A. Carson, “so with the footwashing: each is simultaneously an act of God by which human beings are freed or cleansed—whether in reality (the cross) or in symbol (the footwashing)—and an example that Jesus’ followers are to emulate” (1991:459) N. T. Wright adds, “The footwashing—and the crucifixion itself, to which it pointed—was Jesus’ way of showing who God was and is.” (2004: 45)

God in Christ Jesus’ poured His love through serving.  Christianity is the art of mimicking Christ Jesus. It is the call to love and serve God with all we are and to love and serve our neighbors.

I kneel and bow down to this God who knelt. I chose to lead by serving.

_____________
Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

Wright, T. (2004). John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11-21. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Veech, G. (2006). Christian Minister’s Manual. Cincinnati, OH: Standard.

Tetragrammaton And Jehovah’s Witnesses

Unwarrantedly Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee added “Jehovah” in 237 places in New Testament. By doing so, New World Translation (NWT), Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible, blurs many passages that depicts Christ Jesus as Lord (Kyrios) of Old Testament.

In Journal of Biblical Literature, Kurt Aland showed that the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, does not appear in any of the 5,255 known New Testament Greek manuscripts (Aland 1968: 184). The Tetragrammaton is also absent in the writing of the early Christians. For example, Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians written ca. 100 A.D quoted Joshua 2 cf. Heb. 11:31(“I[Rahab] know assuredly that the Lord(“κύριος”) your God hath given you this city […](1 Clement 12), Ezekiel 33:11  “For as I live, said the Lord (Ky′ri·os), I do not desire the death of the sinner so much as his repentance”.(1 Clement 8). NWT’s  unwarrantedly added “Jehovah” in front of “Lord”.

In the same period,  the author of the epistle of Barnabas quoted Exodus 24:18, 31:18, 32:7; Deut. 9:12.  and Isa. 42:,6-7, 61:1- 2 in just chapter fourteen and in all times he used “κύριος”(Lord) .  While years later Irenaeus  quoted Matthew 1:20; 4:10, Romans 11:34, and Acts 2: 25 in Against Heresies using “Lord” and not “Jehovah”, contrary to Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee. Both Philo and Josephus, like New Testament writers and early Christians, probably used the complete  Septuagint (LXX ) which had “κύριος”(Lord). Some of older fragments of LXX do contain the tetragrammaton while others simply had blank spaces in place of the tetragrammation (e.g. Papyrus Rylands 458 )

Even though Watch Tower Society  do know as entailed by their own question , viz., “[w]hy, then, is the name absent from the extant manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures or so-called “New Testament”?”(Watchtower 1971: 887) that the tetragammaton does not appear in any known Greek manuscripts, they, without warrant, press forward and reject the use of Kyrios (Lord) in 5000+ Greek manuscripts dating from 2rd century and early Christians’ writings as corrupted. Watch Tower Society found their support, that New Testament must have had tetragammation, in 25 Hebrew J Versions of the Bible  and 2 non-version (J1 to J27),  the translations of New Testaments into Hebrew , which came to scene earliest  late 14th century onwards

New World Translation translators should be commend for restoring the tetragrammation in Hebrews Scriptures(Old Testament) but I think from their own reasoning which is in a form of a question and answer, namely:

How is a modern translator to know or determine when to render the Greek words κύριος and θεός into the divine name in his version? By determining where the inspired Christian writers have quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. Then he must refer back to the original to locate whether the divine name appears there.(Watchtower 1969: 18-19)

With the use of Lord and not YHWH (tetragrammaton) in all known copies of copies of originals (since historians have no surviving original or copies of originals) of New Testaments Greek manuscripts, contrary to Watch Tower’s Society, adding of the tetragrammaton in New Testament would not be restoration of God’s name but distorting and blurring the author’s meaning.

Blurring of 1 Corinthians 10:9: Who Is Put To The Test?

One of the passage which I believe Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee blurs with this maneuver  is 1 Corinthians 10:9: “Neither let us put Jehovah to the test, as some of them put [him] to the test, only to perish by the serpents.”(NWT). With this move  Jehovah’s Witnesses are led to believe that it is Jehovah the Father that the Israelites put to test and not Christ Jesus who is the rock to which Israelites drank a spiritual drink (v4).

Faithfully Watchtower Society’s traslators added a footnote in their translation of this verse. They explained that “Jehovah” appears in Hebrews J Versions of the Bible 18, 22 and 23, while Codex Sinaiticus(א), and Vatican ms 1209(B)  both of 4th century and Codex Ephraemi rescriptus(C) of 5th century have ton Ky′ri·on (Lord), Papyrus 46 of 3rd century and Bezae Codices(D) of 5th and 6th century have “the Christ” and last Codex Alexandrinus(A), of 5th century has “God.”

“On closer examination,” The NET Bible Bible First Edition Notes explained, “the variants appear to be intentional changed.”

Alexandrian scribes replaced the highly specific term “Christ” with the less specific terms “Lord” and “God” because in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.”(Biblical Studies Press 2006)

They argued that scribes were likely “to assimilate the word “Christ” to “Lord” in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages”.

The evidence from the early church regarding the reading of this verse is rather compelling in favor of “Christ.” Marcion, a second-century, anti-Jewish heretic, would naturally have opposed any reference to Christ in historical involvement with Israel, because he thought of the Creator God of the OT as inherently evil. In spite of this strong prejudice, though, {Marcion} read a text with “Christ.” Other early church writers attest to the presence of the word “Christ,” including {Clement of Alexandria} and Origen.(ibid)

If The NET Bible First Edition Notes is correct, which I believe it is, then Watch Tower Bible translators blurred 1 Cor. 10:9 that depicts Christ Jesus as the Yahweh of the Old Testament by selectively embracing a late 14th century J version of the Bible when convenient. Watch Tower Society ignored places in J versions, for example  J14’s reading of 1 Corinthians 12:3, “[…] no one can say “Jesus is Lord Jehovah, except by the Holy Spirit.” and  J7 and J8’s reading of Hebrew 1:10;  J13 , J14 and J20’s  reading of 1 Peter 2:3 which all applied the tetragrammaton to Jesus.

Question To Jehovah’s Witnesses: If the name “Jehovah” was changed to “Lord” in all 5000+ Greek manuscripts ranging from 2nd century, why don’t we have even a single early manuscripts with “Jehovah” nor do the early Christians make use of it?

Note: A free PDF for further study: The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scripture: A Comprehensive Study of the Divine Name In the Original Writings of the Christian Greek Scriptures. To know more about  NT Greek Manuscripts,  here is a table with a name of a manuscript, its branch, category, content and location arranged by date.

Bibliography:

Aland, Kurt (1968). Greek New Testament: its present and future editions. Journal of Biblical Literature 87.2: 179-186.

Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (1 Co 10:9). Biblical Studies Press.

Watchtower Society (1969) Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scripture. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

____________________ (1971) Aid To Bible Understanding. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

_____________________ (1984) New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures – With References. Rendered from the Original Languages by the New World Bible Translation Committee. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

______________________ (1989) Reasoning From the Scripture. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Brooklyn, New York.

Cover Photo Credit: Pre 1971 Board of Directors. Jehovahs-Witnesses.net

Penal Substitution: Nothing But The Blood

For over 130 years, many orthodox Christians have sang and are singing Robert Lowry’s (1826 –1899) treasured hymn with joy, delight and awesome conviction that the Old and the New Testaments testify that “Nothing but the blood of Jesus” can wash away our sin, make us whole again, white as snow, and our sin atone. “Naught of good that [we] have done”. Nothing but the blood of Jesus is Christians’ hope and peace. This is all their righteousness. “Glory! Glory! This [they] sing—Nothing but the blood of Jesus, All [their] praise for this [they] bring”.

The story is changing. The blood of Jesus shed for our sin, in our place as God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness is nothing than “a footnote to a gospel that is much richer, grander, and more alive, a gospel that calls you to become a disciple and to disciple others, in authentic community, for the good of the world”(McLaren 2003: 215)

The notion of God so loved the fallen world (John 3:16) that He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all (Rom. 8:32), a demonstration of His own love for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8) Christ died for us, so that by the grace of God, Jesus suffered and tasted death for everyone (Heb. 2:9) and we, thus, might live through him (1 John 4:9) since his atoning sacrifice (1 John 4:10) has freed us from our sins by his blood (Rev. 1:5) is sadistic and masochistic and in fact a form of cosmic child abuse, we are told.

In Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, Joel B. Green and Mark D. Baker, misrepresented penal substitution, I believe, as “God takes on the role of the sadist inflicting punishment, while Jesus, in his role as masochist, readily embraces suffering” (Green & Baker 2000: 30). They contented that “It will not do, therefore, to characterize the atonement as God‘s punishment falling on Christ” (ibid 113)

A Baptist minister, Steve Chalke, lines with Green and Baker, as he expounded:

The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse—a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement: God is love”. If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil.’(Chalke 2003: 182-3)

Is it true that Christ Jesus representing us as he lived, dead and rose again to bore our penalty by his blood a form of cosmic child abuse? What is Old and New Testaments understanding of Christ atoning work? I believe it is in the context of redemptive history as told in the Old and New Testaments that we can begin to understand the notion of Christ Jesus’ death.

Puzzling that N. T. Wright endorsed Chalke’s The Lost Message of Jesus, he correctly warned us that it is “to easy to belittle [the interpretation of Jesus’ death]”. Wright agrees that each model has its point to make. “But important though” is the model of Jesus “’representing’ his people, and through them the whole world” since it is “not only in the gospels but in Paul and elsewhere, it will scarcely carry all the weight required”. He explained,

There is too, third [first being exemplary, second representing], a massive sense in which Jesus’ death is penal. Jesus has announced God’s imminent judgment on his rebel people, a judgment that would consist of devastation at the hands of Rome. He then goes ahead of his people to take precisely that judgment, literally, physically and historically upon himself, ‘ Not only in theological truth, but in historic fact, the one bore the sins of the many’ This is both penal and substitutionary, but it is far bigger and less open to objection than some other expressions of that theory. Once you put it together with the previous model (Jesus as Messiah representing Israel and hence the world), you draw the sting of the main objections that have been advanced against it. (Wright 2011: 181)

I believe Wright is very correct. In the next article, I will begin with Passover Lamb of Exodus 12, sacrificial system of Leviticus 14 – 16, and the suffering Servant of Isaiah 52- 53 to show that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.” (Hebrews 9:22 ), “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Matt 20:28 ESV emp. added) and that “Christ Jesus’ blood of the covenant,[…] is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”(26:28 ESV).

Question: Why did N. T. Wright, who defended superbly penal substitution model in his works, endorsed Steve Chalke’s The Lost Message of Jesus which rejects this model?

Next: Penal Substation: The Lamb and the Suffering Servant

Previous: Penal Substitution: In My Place He Stood

Bibliography:

McLaren, Brian (2003). “The Method, the Message, and the Ongoing Story” in The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives. Leonard I. Sweet, Andy Crouch, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Brian D. McLaren, Erwin Raphael McManus, Michael S. Horton.

Green, Joel B. & Baker, Mark D. (2000). Recovering the Scandal of the Cross. Downers Grove: Inter Varsity.

Chalke, Steve (2003). The Lost Message of Jesus: Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Wright, Tom (2011). Simply Jesus: Who he was, what he did, why it matters. HarperCollins Publishers.

Bloody photograph is from Dexter.

Faith: Biblical Christian’s Definition

“Thoughts lead on to purposes;” writes Tryon Edwards, “purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny”. In other words, Edwards is trying to say, “Ideas have consequences”.

Faith as used in Christianity is among the most misinterpreted term. Caught in the strong downward streams of 18th century’s enlightenment, many Christians embraced “a strong belief in a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof”(Concise Oxford Dictionary) as a definition of faith.

Hebrews 11:1,6 “ Faith is the realization of what is hoped for, the proof of things not seen… without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and is a rewarder of those who seek him” and 2 Corinthians 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (LEB) are often quoted as proof text to support this definition of faith,viz.: a belief without proof.

M.S. Mills in The Life of Christ attempted to answer the question why Jesus gave a sign (performed miracle) to his disciples at wedding in Cana (John 2: 1-12) but refused to give a sign on demand of the Jews in Jerusalem (John 2:13-22). Mills writes: “Why should this be so? I suggest that the logic of this position is something like this: if Jesus gave signs in order to make man believe, firstly, this would have substituted evidence for faith, and God has decreed that He wants man’s faith, not his rationale.”[1] Mills’ reasoning echoes the consequences of holding the idea that faith and rationale are not on the same page.

In this article I attempted to argue that God wants both man’s faith and man’s rationale. Faith as used in Christianity is “trusting what we have reason to believe is true”(J. P. Moreland)

Moule On Faith As Used In Common Speech

H. C. G. Moule, in The Fundamentals, wonderfully explained what the English term “faith” means in our daily speech. He wrote, “What does Faith mean in common life and speech? Take such phrases as, to have faith in a policy, faith in a remedy, faith in a political leader, or a military leader, faith in a lawyer, faith in a physician. Here the word Faith is used in a way obviously parallel to that in which, for example, our Lord uses it when He appeals to the Apostles, in the Gospels, to have faith in Him; as He did in the storm on the Lake. The use is parallel also to its habitual use in the epistles; for example, in Romans 4, where St. Paul makes so much of Abraham’s faith, in close connection with the faith which he seeks to develop in us.”[2]

N.T. And Definition of Faith

New Testament’s definition of faith could be described as a complete trust in and loyalty to the person and work of Christ Jesus (Eph 2:8). Faith is an allegiance to Christ Jesus.( Ga 1:23) Faith is both a spiritual conviction of the things physically unseen, namely the promises of God i.e., adopting and conforming us to the image of Christ Jesus, holy and blameless before Him and a rational conviction of the work of Christ Jesus, namely God incarnated was really crucified, really died, and really rose again because if He did not our allegiance, trust, and loyalty in Christ Jesus is in vain, worthless and a delusion.

In his first known letter to the Corinthians, Paul of Tarsus wrote: “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hopein this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”(1 Cor. 15:12-19 ESV)

“Faith rests on what God has done in Christ for us once for all and in a universally valid way,” writes Ingolf U. Dalferth, “ and thus on God’s universal justification, whose converse that faith actually is” [3]

“Faith does not involve believing something without evidence.” argues Sean McDowell, “Rather, it is a trust in God in light of what we know to be true. Jesus healed the paralytic so the people would know that he has the authority of God (Mark 2:10).”

Faith And The Gospel According To John

In John 6: 29 we read “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” and John 20:30-31 “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” G. L. Borchert accurately concluded “[the author of John] was a great inspired artist and theologian who organized his episodes from the life of Jesus in such a way as to bring people to faith in Jesus as the Son of God.”

“Faith’s validation depends in part on the truthfulness of faiths object” D. A. Carson explained, “Faith as used in Christianity is not synonyms to religion or personal subjective religious choice not tied to truth or facts.” Moule concurs with Carson, “The virtue of Faith lies in the virtue of its Object.” The person and work of historical Jesus of Nazareth is the object of Christian faith.

Faith Is A Gift of God

Faith in Christ Jesus is a result of God’s salvation. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”(John 6:44a) No one has an ability to trust in Christ unless the Holy Spirit awakes what is foolishness to those who are perishing to the power of God as the Father draws us to the cross of His Son.

Paul of Tarsus argued, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”(Eph 2:8) Faith is a gift of God to see the power of the Cross, holding fast to its work as we abide in Christ.

So What About Hebrews 11:1,6 and 2 Corinthians 5:7

Reading the context of Hebrews 11:1,6, I discovered that faith is primarily used to designate truth, honesty, and loyalty to the character of God. The faith heroes named in Hebrews 11 knew their God. They both witnessed His mighty works and objectively experienced His presence. Thus faith is assurance in God’s trustworthiness, goodness and love (cf: Acts: 17:31)

Moule agrees with my observation of Hebrew 11. He writes ““If this[Hebrew 11:1] is a definition, properly speaking, it must negative the simple definition of Faith which we have arrived at above, namely, reliance… Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses—they all treated the hoped-for and the unseen as solid and certain because they all relied upon the faithful Promiser.”

Bob Utley echoes Moule “this[Hebrew 11:1] is not a theological definition of faith, but a picture of the practical outworking of it. The term is used twenty four times in this chapter. From the OT the primary idea is “faithfulness” or “trustworthy.” This is the opposite of apostasy. The Greek term for “faith” (pistis) is translated by three English terms: “faith,” “belief,” and “trust.” Faith is a human response to God’s faithfulness and His promise. We trust His trustworthiness, not our own. His character is the key.”[4]

Walking by faith and not by sight, in 2 Corinthians 5:7, is “a response which takes God at his word and acts upon it. Faith provides assurance of things we can only hope for and a certainty about things we cannot see.”(M. Anders)[5] Given Paul’s reasoning in 1 Cor. 15:12-19, it would be false to deduce that “not by sight” meant, “without prove”.

Thomas Aquinas explained that “faith pertains to the intellect as commanded by the will, it must needs be directed, as to its end, to the objects of those virtues which perfect the will, among which is hope” and “For this reason the definition of faith includes the object of hope”. He went on to ague that “Love may be of the seen and of the unseen, of the present and of the absent. Consequently a thing to be loved is not so adapted to faith, as a thing to be hoped for, since hope is always of the absent and the unseen… Substance and evidence as included in the definition of faith, do not denote various genera of faith, nor different acts, but different relationships of one act to different objects, as is clear from what has been said.”[6]

Faith: Last Words

It my hope that I kept my promise in attempting to argue that God wants both man’s faith and man’s rationale. Faith as used in Christianity is knotted to truth of the person of Christ Jesus and fact of a risen Son of God. I will end with C. S. Lewis quotes. He said, “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”

How do you define faith? Could give reasons to why you define it that way? And what could be consequences of your understanding of what faith is?

Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.

—Augustine


[1] Mills, M. (1999). The Life of Christ: A Study Guide to the Gospel Record. Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries.

[2] Torrey, R. A., Feinberg, C. L., & Wiersbe, W. W. Vol. 3: The Fundamentals : The famous sourcebook of foundational biblical truths (146–147). Public Domain.

[3] Fahlbusch, E., & Bromiley, G. W. (1999-2003). Vol. 2: The encyclopedia of Christianity (271). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill.

[4] Utley, R. J. D. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (114). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[5] Anders, M. (1999). Vol. 8: Galatians-Colossians. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (354). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Thomas Aquinas, S., & Fathers of the English Dominican Province. (2009). Summa theologica (Complete English ed.). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.