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Prof. Cory M. Marsh to present at the ETS Far-West Regional in 2018

Prof. Cory M. Marsh to present a paper on, “Christological Doxology Through Suffering: A Hermeneutical Case Study of John 9 Concerning Physical Handicaps,”  at the Evangelical Theological Society in Arizona in April, 2018.
In John 9:2–4, Jesus gets hung on the horns of a false dilemma when His disciples asked for the reason why a man suffered from congenital blindness. Rather than accepting His disciples’ premises, Jesus asserts a third option: that God be glorified through it. Thus, the man’s lifelong handicap provided a powerful and public catalyst for God to be revealed in Jesus as “the Light of the World.” However, certain Johannine scholars do not favor the traditional English punctuation of vv.3–4 which take the Greek construction in its plain sense. Holding disdain for implications concerning God, evil, and suffering, some scholars choose to repunctuate vv.3 and 4, and thus bypass what they consider to be an unthinkable act attributed to God. As such, this particular episode marks what many consider to be both an exegetical and theological problem, with one’s view of Christian suffering hanging in the balance. With this mind, the paper seeks to answer one hermeneutical question: When should verse three end, and verse four begin?                               
The proposed article will highlight the trustworthiness of mainline English punctuation of John 9:3–4 as an accurate reflection of the Greek text, specifically via two conjunctions: ἀλλά (but) and ἵνα (so that). While various interpretations will be explored—representing a wide range of denominational traditions—the method promoted throughout will be one that takes grammar at face value against the backdrop of those who do not. In so doing, a defense is made of a literal, grammatical-historical interpretation which reveals that God purposely ordained the man’s blindness—and by extension, all physical handicaps endured by believers—as a catalyst carrying a doxological intention and function. With this paper, attention is given to the person and work of Christ highlighted in dramatic fashion, as His power of recreating the blind man’s eyes is showcased.

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