Saturday, July 04, 2015

Translating Matthew 10:6, 28, 39; 16:25-26 ("Lost"?)-Addressing Bowman Again

Robert M. Bowman has questioned the NWT handling of Mt 10:28 for the way it renders ἀπολέσαι ("to destroy") in that verse. His exact words are:

Louw-Nida agrees that there are "contexts in which YUXH refers to existence beyond death" (26.4), though in such contexts "it may be referring figuratively to the person" (citing Acts 2:27 as an example). Their identification of APOLLUMI THN YUXHN as an idiom meaning "to experience the loss of life, to die" (23.114) does not prejudge the question of what happens at death. (It does, though, support my claim that APOLLUMI in this context means something more like "cause to be lost" than something like "render nonexistent.")

πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ (Mt 10:6 WH).

"Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (NET Bible).

The translation "lost" works in Mt 10:6 since the context and other parts of the NT indicate that Jesus' disciples are hunting for those who are spiritually "lost" rather than spiritually "destroyed." Yet the gathering of sheep is not under consideration in 10:28: the verse specifically mentions Gehenna along with the destruction of soul and body. Furthermore, Luke uses τὸ ἀποκτεῖναι and ἐμβαλεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν in the parallel account thereby indicating that the "loss" of body and soul is not the issue (Luke 12:5); the writer is concerned with divine "killing" and the possible annihilation of unfaithful ones. Being thrown into Gehenna figuratively depicts this everlasting destruction of body and soul, and not simply the death of the former or the latter.

In Mt 10:39 and 16:25-26, the rendering "lost" is appropriate in view of the contrasts set up by Matthew between "find" and "lose" or "win" and "lose." Mt 10:28 does not have this type of chiastic contrast.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Origin of Proto-Semitic Language

I'm way out of my element here, and I'm not going to offer many comments. Duncan sent along these links:,+Horus,+mighty+king,+Bull,+conqueror+of+bulls.&source=bl&ots=QVX-y5xvW4&sig=pK-D_W63QJeYYGL4KZ-RUMaWbEU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=l5SVVZPVOMOX7QbgiLKgAg&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Homage%20to%20thee%2C%20Horus%2C%20mighty%20king%2C%20Bull%2C%20conqueror%20of%20bulls.&f=false

Then he said: "Bearing in mind that protosemitic is seen as originating amongst workers in Egypt."

Good question. Just what is Proto-Semitic language, and if it existed, then who originated it? I believe that we must use Budge with extreme caution. It's the work found in these links.

See also:

Matthew 28:19-20-Following the Logic of these Verses

1) Jesus commanded his eleven disciples to go forth, and teach people (make disciples).
2) Teaching others includes providing instruction about all Jesus' teachings.
3) So the eleven disciples were to teach others how to make disciples, since the disciple-making work constitutes an important part of Jesus' teachings.
4) Therefore, all of Jesus' disciples (by imitating the original eleven to whom this commission was given) have the obligation to make disiples.

I still need to hammer out the details, but I just wanted the progression of this argument to make sense to me.

Monday, June 29, 2015

God, Time and Stephen T. Davis

Stephen T. Davis argues that God is temporal: "Time, perhaps, is an eternal aspect of God's nature rather than a reality independent of God" (Logic and the Nature of God, 23). He reasons that "time was not created" since it possibly exists in a manner analogous to numbers.

Nicholas Wolterstorff ("God Is Everlasting") also contends that God is temporal. He nevertheless apparently suspends judgment about whether God has always been "in time." But at the conclusion of his paper, Wolterstorff provides this summary:

This conclusion from our discussion turns out to be wholly in accord with that to be found in Oscar Cullmann's Christ and Time. From his study of the biblical words for time Cullmann concluded that, in the biblical picture, God's "eternity" is not qualitatively different from our temporality.

There are a number of technicalities that one could get into while discussing God and time. One might consider what others have said about the A-theory of time (tensed) versus the B-theory of time (tenseless) or one could possibly make
distinctions like "metaphysical time" versus space-time. But regardless of how we choose to understand divine temporality, it seems that we do not have to reject Einstein's view of time to believe that God is temporal (Ps 90:2). A theist like me would say that space-time was created, but the time wherein God has sempiternally existed need not have been made. We need to distinguish (I would humbly submit) between uncreated and created time.

Is metaphysical time (time simpliciter) merely a symbol or an abstraction of the mind? While it's clearly possible to articulate space-time in such terms, we must consider the noion that time seems to be objectively affected by gravity, suggesting that it's not just a mental abstraction. For a scientific treatment of the issue, I recommend
Paul Davies' God and the New Physics; in particular, see pp. 119-134.

Relativity theory has been empirically verified in many respects. There is no need, however, to reason that Einstein's theory of time discounts the existence of metaphysical time, since his theory only accounts for material phenomena that constitute the immense and awe-inspiring cosmos.

As a closing note, it is interesting that Einstein was greatly influenced by Kantian epistemology, but the "non-scientific" intuitions which Einstein derived from the Kant's theory of knowledge actually have proved to be capable of empirical verification.

On the other hand, I would agree with those who insist that God does not dwell within the space-time continuum. However, Jehovah may subsist in absolute metaphysical time as posited by William Lane Craig. Admittedly, the Biblical evidence for God's temporality or atemporality is meager. nevertheless, Witnesses believe (based on Ps 90:2) that God is from time indefinite to time indefinite (OLAM ADH OLAM).

Alan Padgett develops this point quite well in a recent book on God and temporality while Craig further contends that if the A-theory of time is correct, then God must be temporal. Finally, Nelson Pike (in his classic God and Timelessness) provides scholarly evidence and rigorous argumentation that points to the following possible conclusion: God "exists in the 'age of ages', He exists prior to and through measurable times" (186). But see Stephen T. Davis' Logic and the Nature of God (9-24).

William Lane Craig's work on God and time is also instructive. Here is one of his books about the subject:

λαλέω (LALEW)-A Few Remarks on Speaking

I remember seeing the verb form EIPON come up every now and again while studying Homer. The work "Homeric Vocabularies" (compiled by William B. Owen and Edgar J. Goodspeed) provides the gloss: "spoke, said" for EIPON. BDAG (as usual) also has a helpful entry for LALEW:

"In older Gk. usu[ally] of informal communication ranging from engagement in small talk to chattering and babbling, hence opp. of LEGW; in later Gk the trend, expressed esp. in the pseudepigr. and our lit., is toward equation with LEGW and broadening of earlier usage" (582).

From a historical or diachronic point of view, LALEW appears in the writings of Sophocles. In Jn 12:49, it could mean to speak or express oneself (an act), though it might refer to the content of speaking. See BDAG 583.

Moulton-Milligan also contains these comments based on the ancient papyri:

"The above exx. all bear out the usual distinction that, while LEGW calls attention to the substance of what is said, the onomatopoetic LALEW points rather to the outward utterance . . . With LALEW, 'I make known by speaking' with the further idea of EXTOLLING, as in Mt 26:13 al., cf. the inscr. with reference to a mother and brother-hWN KAI hH SWFROSUNH KATA TON KOSMON LELALHTAI (Archiv v. p. 169, No. 24:8). M Gr LALW (-EW), 'speak.'"

Sunday, June 28, 2015

KOSMOS in Classical and NT Literature (Brief Remarks)

From some material that I'm now editing:

The Greek word cosmos is often rendered "world" but that English translation results in a degree of ambiguity. What do we mean by the "world"? Is the world a section of humanity, the entire human race, the framework in which humans move and breathe? Or is there another possible referent for this expression? Cosmos may also denote the universe—the entirety of all there is. Both Pythagoras and Heraclitus use the signifier to convey this idea. In the present context, when talking about cosmological dualism, the Greek term refers to the universe. The expression "world" is not an invalid handling of cosmos, but it does produce a rather fuzzy representation of the expression. In any event, cosmological dualism is the philosophical view that asserts the world (universe) is fundamentally two things. It claims that there are two absolute metaphysical principles representative of this particular species of dualism.

See H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, ninth edition with revised supplement (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 985.

See Acts 17:24ff.

Compare this link:

The discussion starts on p. 282.

John 5:19-Does It Teach the Impeccability of Christ?

There are some, who think Jn 5:19 proves that Jesus (God Incarnate, they say) was impeccable (not able to sin). Robert M. Bowman asserts that we should understand 5:19 to say, "I would never act independenty of my Father." Or it appears to be teaching that the Lord would never sin against his Father and that he could not sin.

Jn 5:19 is a response to two accusations: (1) Jesus broke the Sabbath; (2) the Son was calling God his Father, seemingly making himself equal to God. In reply, the Lord does not say that "he would never act independently of the Father." Rather, he utters the words, Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ δύναται ὁ υἱὸς ποιεῖν ἀφ' ἑαυτοῦ οὐδὲν ἂν μή τι βλέπῃ τὸν πατέρα ποιοῦντα· ἃ γὰρ ἂν ἐκεῖνος ποιῇ, ταῦτα καὶ ὁ υἱὸς ὁμοίως ποιεῖ.

Paul N. Anderson (The Christology of the Fourth Gospel, 3, 267) observes that Jesus is asserting that he "can do nothing on his own authority" and is "totally dependent" on his Father. For Anderson, Jn 5:19 is a Johannine "subordinationist" passage. In other words, Christ is evidently stating that he does not have the ability (οὐ δύναται) or authority to act on his own initiative. He is not suggesting that he would never act on his own. Such an interpretation of 5:19 is much too strong and it misrepresents the pragmatic meaning of Jesus' words. Moreover, when the Lord insists that he does what he beholds the Father doing, the relative pronoun ἃ ("whatsoever") is delimited by the context. In particular, the things Jesus' Father does in this case regard sustaining the creation. Jn 5:17 supports this point by showing that God's ability to split seas or know all things is not the issue. Jn 5:19 is not claiming that Christ does exactly what the Father does in all respects. Robertson also offers this comment:

"Can do nothing by himself (οὐ δύναται ὁ υἱὸς ποιεῖν ἀφ' ἑαυτοῦ οὐδὲν). True in a sense of every man, but in a much deeper sense of Christ because of the intimate relation between him and the Father. See this same point in Joh_5:30; Joh_7:28; Joh_8:28; Joh_14:10. Jesus had already made it in Joh_5:17. Now he repeats and defends it" (Word Pictures).

If the utterance is true (in a sense) of all humans, then how could the text prove that Jesus Christ was impeccable? The quote above certainly indicates that Robertson does not think Christ's declaration means that he could not sin, even if the famed grammarian believed in Christ's impeccability.

In conclusion, I agree with Charles Hodge (Systematic Theology 2:457) who argued that the temptations of Christ were not genuine and were ineffectual, if he was impeccable (incapable of sinning). I also believe that a free moral agent always maintains the ability to perform A or to refrain from performing A. Christ was a free moral agent: he could choose to act independently of the Father, if he had so desired. However, he would then have been powerless, and incapable of healing anyone or doing any good portentous works (Acts 2:22 NWT):

Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ δύναται ὁ υἱὸς ποιεῖν ἀφ' ἑαυτοῦ οὐδὲν

Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Volume 3) on the Greek Word "PRO"

I'm particularly thinking about our conversation on John 17:5.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Morphe in the Christian-Greek Scriptures (NT): Synchronicm and Diachronism

I pull this quote from Christology and the Trinity to make a point about what words can mean synchonically versus what their meaning potential is diachronically.

To discern how Paul uses morphe, please note the words of Moises Silva below:

If we stress the classical usage of this term [morphe], the technical sense of Aristotelian philosophy suggests itself: morphe, although not equivalent to ousia ("being, essence"), speaks of essential or characteristic attributes and thus is to be distinguished from schema (the changeable, external fashion). In a valuable essay on morphe and schema, [Lightfoot] argued along these lines and remarked that even in popular usage these respective meanings could be ascertained. The many references where morphe is used of physical appearance . . . make it difficult to maintain Lightfoot's precise distinction, though there is an important element of truth in his treatment. (Silva 113-114)

Upon closer examination, it becomes manifestly obvious that Phil 2:6-7 (by its use of morphe) does not unequivocally establish the essential deity of Christ. The employment of morphe in Philippians does not necessarily substantiate the teaching that Christ is God incarnate. To derive this conclusion from Phil 2:6 demonstrates a mistaken over-reliance on a single Greek term. Moises Silva offers further valuable comments along these lines as follows: "[Lightfoot's] claim that morphe (opposite schema) refers to unchangeable essence can be sustained by some references, but too many passages speak against it" (122). To verify this contention, Silva quotes Plato (Republic 380d) who inquires about God's ability to alter His "shape" (to autou eidos eis pollas morphas). The New Testament professor subsequently references Xenophon, Philo, Lucian and the fourth century writer, Libanius, who wrote: ouch ho tois theos tes morphen eoichos (123). All of these classical references indicate that morphe [in Phil 2:6] refers to an entity's outward appearance (not to a thing's intrinsic essence).

At this juncture, we must inform our readers that all of the foregoing information does not mean Silva denounces Trinitarianism; he surely does not concede that Phil 2:6 is dissonant with Trinitarian claims. His comments do help us to see, however, that one cannot base his or her belief in Christ's Deity on the mere occurrence of morphe vis-à-vis the preexistent Christ.

Friday, June 26, 2015

John 17:5 and EINAI

There is a YT channel known as TheTrinityDelusion. The owner had made a video on John 17:5:

I believe that he errs by not being aware of how the Greek infinitive EINAI is sometimes used idiomatically or in certain settings. The rendering "was" is perfectly fine for John 17:5; more specifically, as A.T. Robertson writes, we should understand the passage to be saying: "'before the world was' (pro tou ton kosmon einai), 'before the being as to the world' (cf. verse John 24)."

I'm also including a link to Lesley Brown's article on EINAI in Greek philosophy.


See also

Thursday, June 25, 2015

QANAH (Proverbs 8:22) and BARA

Admittedly, the exact sense of QANAH in Prov. 8:22 is highly contested. But there appear to be good reasons
for understanding the Hebrew word as "created" in this verse:

"Some scholars question whether the first verb mentioned in v. 22a (QANAH) means anything more than 'to acquire, possess,' but the evidence from Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Hebrew is clear that 'to create' is one of its meanings. In Ugaritic, the fivefold repeated epithet of Asherah, QNYT 'LM, can only mean 'creator of the gods.' In Phoenician, 'L QN 'RS (KAI 26.iii.18) can only mean 'El, creator of the earth.' A similar epithet appears in Gen 14:19, 22, where El Elyon is called 'creator of heaven and earth.' In Deut 32:6 QANAH is parallel to 'to make' and 'to establish.' Thus, the Hebrew verb QANAH, in addition to the meaning 'to acquire, possess,' can also mean 'to create'" (Richard J. Clifford, Proverbs: A Commentary, p. 96).

On the other hand, BARA does not necessarily convey a sense of creating something EX NIHILO. A brief search in the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament confirms this point. See TDOT 2:242-249.

TDOT notes that the LXX translates BARA by KTIZEIN ("to create") 17 times and POIEIN ("to make") 15 times. Other Greek terms that are used to render BARA are ARXEIN ("to begin"), GENNAN ("to beget"), KATADEIKNUNAI ("to show clearly, make known, establish"), DEIKNUEIN ("to show"), GINESQAI ("to become") and KATASKEUAZEIN ("to build, create"). But KTIZEIN is evidently not used in the LXX book of Genesis, though "the Hexaplaric translations choose KTIZEIN as a technical term" (2:246).

At any rate, BARA is certainly employed in Gen 1:27 to describe a divine creation that is not produced EX NIHILO. Ps 104:30 also does not allude to CREATIO EX NIHILO when it speaks of God creating animals through His emanative spirit of holiness. See also 1 QH 1:7; 1 QH 4:38; 1 QS 3:17-18. These Qumranic texts use BARA in a way that does not imply divine creation from nothing (EX NIHILO).

Additionally, Clifford (whom we quoted earlier) adds:

"In Biblical Hebrew, QANAH had two distinct senses--'to possess (by far the most common meaning) and 'to create, beget'" (Clifford, 96). Clifford himself seems to prefer the latter sense for QANAH in Prov 8:22 (Clifford, 94-96). But see the commentary on Proverbs by Michael V. Fox.