Monday, April 23, 2012

Carl Conrad's Remarks on Philippians 2:6-7 (MORFH)

From Carl Conrad. Originally appeared on B-Greek forum. I now quote Carl:

Like Bob Fuller, I'm hoping we may have a fruitful discussion of the question Edgar has presented to us (where have you been, Edgar; long time, no hear from!); I hope too that we can keep the discussion focused on lexical evidence and clear indicators deriving from immediate context of passages in which the word MORFH is found, both in the GNT and in extra-biblical literature. For my part I don't see any justification whatsoever for the definition of MORFH cited above, "the outward display of the inner reality or substance."

The word is found only in two texts in the GNT, once in the questionable "late-ending" of Mark's gospel, Mk 16:12, where the word pretty clearly means "external appearance"--and we'd have to assume, I think, that hETERAi certainly indicates that this MORFH is NOT identical with the inner reality of the risen Jesus.


The other passage is the Christ-hymn of Phil 2, where the word appears in successive verses 6 (EN MORFHi QEOU hUPARCWN) and 7 (MORFHN DOULOU LABWN).


And here, of course, the real problem is that, if MORFH means "essential form" in verse 6 for MORFH QEOU, it does not SEEM to mean the same thing in verse 7 for MORFHN DOULOU. It seems to me that Louw & Nida have a clear sense of what the problem here is but they have some problem in applying their perspective to Phil 2:6-7, inasmuch as they deem MORFH to have the sense "nature or character" as opposed to discernible form. With respect to MORFHN DOULOU they understand not "guise of a servant" but rather being and doing what a servant is and does as MORFH QEOU is supposed by them to mean "being and doing what God is and does."

58.2 MORFHa, HS, f: the nature or character of something, with emphasis upon both the internal and external form - 'nature, character.' hOS EN MORFHi QEOU hUPARCWN 'he always had the very nature of God' Php 2:6; MORFHN DOULOU LABWN 'he took on the nature of a servant' Php 2:7. In view of the lack of a closely corresponding lexical item such as 'nature,' it may be necessary to restructure the form of Php 2:7 as 'he became truly a servant.'

58.15 MORFHa, HS, f: a visual form of something - 'visual form, appearance.' EFANERWQH EN hETERAi MORFHi 'he appeared in a different form' Mk 16:12.

The problem, it seems to me, as evidently it did to Edgar, that this sense of "nature" is not readily found attested elsewhere for the noun MORFH. Although Aristotle's metaphysics/ontology is sometimes called "hylomorphism" because it involves the interrelations of hULH (matter) and MORFH (form) at the various levels of the Scala Naturae, Aristotle himself doesn't use the term MORFH of "essential form" but speaks rather of OUSIA
or TO TI HN EINAI, which latter phrase (lit. something like "being what it(in fact) is") comes close to the phrase I've used above, "being and doing what X is and does."

LSJ doesn't even HINT at any sense of MORFH as "nature" or "essential form":

MORFH, HS, hH , form, shape, twice in Hom. (not in Hes.), SOI D' EPI MEN MORFH EPEWN thou hast comeliness of words, Od.11.367 (cf. Eust. ad loc.); so prob. ALLOS MEN ... EIDOS AKIDNOTEROS PELEI ANHR, ALLA QEOS MORFHN EPESI STEFEI ? God adds a crown of shapeliness to his words, Od.8.170: freq. later, MORFAS DUO ONOMAZEIN Parm.8.53 ; MORFHN ALLAXANTA Emp.137.1 ;MORFAN BRACUS Pi.I.4(3).53 ; MORFHS METRA shape and size, E.Alc.1063: periphr., MORFHS FUSIS A.Supp.496 ; MORFHS SCHMA,TUPWMA, E.Ion992, Ph.162; THN AUTHN TOU SCHMATOS MORFHN Arist.PA640b34 ; KAI GAIA, POLLWN ONOMATWN MORFH MIA A.Pr.212 ; ONEIRATWN ALIGKIOI MORFAISIN ib.449; NUKTERWN FANTASMATWN ECOUSI MORFAS Id.Fr.312 ; PROUPEMYEN ANTI FILTATHS MORPHS SPODON S.El.1159 ; of plants, Thphr.HP1.1.12 (pl.); esp. with ref. to beauty of form, hUPERFATON MORFAi Pi.O.9.65 ; hOIS POSTISTAXHi CARIS EUKLEA MORFH ib.6.76, cf. IG42 (1).121.119 (Epid., iv B. C.), LXX To.1.13, Vett.Val.1.6, etc.; SWMA MORFHS EMHS OGI383.41 (Commagene, i B. C.); MORFHS EIKONAS ib.27; CARAKTHRA MORFHS EMHS ib.60.

2. generally, form, fashion, appearance, A.Pr.78, S.Tr.699, El.199 (lyr.); outward form, opp. EIDOS, HEKATERW TW EIDEOS POLLAI MORFAI Philol.5; ALLATTONTA TO AUTOU EIDOS EIS POLLAS MORFAS Pl.R.380d ; MORFH QEWN X.Mem.4.3.13 , cf. Ep.Phil.2.6, Dam.Pr.304; hHRWWN EIDEA KAI MORFAS A.R.4.1193 ; KATA TE MORFAS KAI FWNAS gesticulations and cries, D.H.14.9; THN MORFHN MELAGCROUS, THi MORFHi MELICROAS, in complexion, Ptol.Tetr.143,

3. kind, sort, E. Ion 382, 1068 (lyr.), Pl.R.397c, etc.

The meanings cataloged in LSJ seem then to range from a more fundamental "aesthetically gratifying guise" through "outward form" to "discernible variety." The focal element seems to be "discernible framework" or "Gestalt" or "pattern."

When we turn to Fred Danker's latest revision of Bauer (BDAG), we have:

MORFH, HS, hH (Hom.+) form, outward appearance, shape gener. of bodily form 1 Cl 39:3; ApcPt 4:13 (Job 4:16; ApcEsdr 4:14 p. 28, 16 Tdf.; SJCh 78, 13). Of the shape or form of statues (Jos., Vi. 65; Iren. 1, 8, 1 [Harv. I 67, 11]) Dg 2:3. Of appearances in visions, etc., similar to persons(Callisthenes [IV BC]: 124 fgm. 13 p. 644, 32 Jac. [in Athen. 10, 75, 452b] LIMOS ECWN GUNAIKOS MORFHN; Diod. S. 3, 31, 4 EN MORFAIS ANQRWPWN; TestAbr A 16 p. 97, 11 [Stone p. 42] ARCAGGELOU MORFHN PERIKEIMENOS; Jos., Ant. 5, 213 a messenger fr. heaven NEANISKOU MORFHi): of God's assembly, the church Hv 3, 10, 2; 9; 3, 11, 1; 3, 13, 1; s 9, 1, 1; of the angel of repentance hH MORFH AUTOU HLLOIWQH his appearance had changed m 12, 4, 1. Of Christ(EN MORFHi ANQRWPOU TestBenj 10:7; Just., D. 61, 1; Tat. 2, 1; Hippol., Ref. 5, 16, 10. Cp. Did., Gen. 56, 18; of deities EN ANQRWPINHi MORFHi:Iambl., Vi. Pyth. 6, 30; cp. Philo, Abr. 118) MORFHN DOULOU LABWN he took on the form of a slave=expression of servility Phil 2:7 (w. SCHMA as Aristot., Cat. 10a, 11f, PA 640b, 30-36). This is in contrast to expression of divinity in the preëxistent Christ: EN MORFHi QEOU hUPARCWN although he was in the form of God (cp. OGI 383, 40f: Antiochus' body is the framework for his m. or essential identity as a descendant of divinities; sim. human fragility [Phil 2:7] becomes the supporting framework for Christ's servility and therefore of his KENWSIS [on the appearance one projects cp. the epitaph EpigrAnat 17, '91, 156, no. 3, 5-8]; on MORFH QEOU cp. Orig., C. Cels. 7, 66, 21; Pla., Rep. 2, 380d; 381bc; X., Mem. 4, 3, 13; Diog. L. 1, 10 the Egyptians say; Philo, Leg. ad Gai. 80; 110; Jos., C. Ap. 2, 190; Just., A I, 9, 1; PGM 7, 563; 13, 272; 584.-Rtzst., Mysterienrel.3 357f) Phil 2:6. The risen Christ EFANERWQH EN hETERAi MORFHi appeared in a different form Mk 16:12 (of the transfiguration of Jesus: EDEIXEN hHMIN THN ENDOXON MORFHN hEAUTOU Orig., C. Cels. 6, 68, 23). For lit. s. on hARPAGMA and KENOW 1b; RMartin, ET 70, '59, 183f.-DSteenberg, The Case against the Synonymity of MORFH and EIKWN: JSNT 34, '88, 77-86; GStroumsa, HTR 76, '83, 269-88 (Semitic background).-DELG. Schmidt, Syn. IV 345-60. M-M. EDNT. TW. Spicq. Sv.

The first several lines of the above accounting are consistent in pointing in the same direction as LSJ: an outward form that may change, as in the compound verb and noun METAMORFOW and METAMORFWSIS. But when it comes to
our text in Phil 2:6, I'm frankly not quite sure what is intended by what is said: is it that the pre-existent Jesus somehow "expressed" or "manifested" God? And if so, is that really quite the same thing as the "nature" that Louw & Nida seem to understand MORFH to convey?

The end of the BDAG offering points us to Spicq, _Theological Lexicon of the New Testament_ (tr. James Ernest). Spicq has a fuller, more articulate discussion of MORFH, one that is, on the one hand, thoughtful and illuminating, and on the other hand, not as conclusive as one might perhaps have hoped. In the first place he offers the following as potential senses: "stature, form, condition, feature, external appearance, reproduction"--and note that this doesn't include "nature" or "being and doing what X is and does." Here are the key pair of paragraphs:

"Although MORFH is often very close in meaning to EIKWN, 9 and later on even becomes synonymous with it in Gnosticism,10 the texts cited disallow identifying them, as does this inscription from Laodicea, which distinguishes the two terms: "I bear the (bodily) form of Docticius, but the image of his divine virtue is carried on the lips of each person."11 This should be taken into account in the translation of Phil 2:6-7 (hOS EN MORFHi QEOU ... MORFHN DOULOU LABWN), which the Bible de Jérusalem correctly renders "Lui, de condition divine . . . prenant la condition d'esclave."12 It is characteristic of MORFH to be modified, to appear to be changed, to take on new features,13 like the risen Lord appearing to the disciples at Emmaus en hETERA MORFH. 14 He had a new mode of being and a new appearance, analogous to that at the transfiguration (METAMORFOUSQAI, Matt 17:2). This is why in epiphanies of heavenly beings the MORFH is indeed said to be different, but not without affinities with earthly forms.15
"This changing of MORFH is to be compared on the one hand with the theme of "descent and ascent" because of the double MORFH in Phil 2:6-7(MORFH QEOU, MORFH DOULOU )-which owes nothing to the gnostic redeemer myth, which had not yet been concocted-and on the other hand with the consistent meaning of this term in the magical papyri. Whereas the Christian faith affirms that God is invisible and that no human has seen him or can see him (John 1:18; 6:46; 1John 4:12; Rom 1:20; 1Tim 1:17;6:16), the magicians call upon the deity as having a "form"16 and pray him
to appear in his "true form."17 This is a signal favor, for the Eight Books of Moses acknowledge that no one has been able to see this true divine form.18 The devotee of Hermes Trismegistos knows that his god appears in the East in the form of an ibis, in the West in the form of a dog's head,in the North in the form of a serpent, and in the south in the form of a wolf.19 What the mystic wishes to contemplate and be united with is "the sacred form" (Pap.Graec.Mag. 4, 216; vol. 1, p. 78; cf. XIII, 271; vol. 2, p. 101), the "gracious or joyous form,"20 and in the case of Aphrodite, her beauty made manifest: EPIKALOUMAI SE . . . DEIXASA THN KALHN SOU MORFHN.211"

Spicq cites the French Jerusalem Bible here with approval, "Lui, de condition divine . . . prenant la condition d'esclave." I don't know whether English "condition" is quite equivalent to the French "condition." Perhaps better would be "circumstances, terms of existence." Certainly he's right to call attention to the fact that the usage of MORFH in Phil 2:6-7 is closely bound up with the context of "transformation" or METAMORFWSIS. If that's the case, then MORFH in 2:6 EN MORFHi QEOU hUPARCWN and in 2:7 MORFHN DOULOU LABWN are indeed to be understood in the same sense, something like "mode of existence," the underlying assumption being that "mode of existence" is something that can undergo alteration. This is a notion that does seem consistent with other usages of MORFH, and it certainly doesn't approach the sense that Edgar cites: "the outward display of the inner reality or substance." "Outward display" is right, but if we say "outward display of the inner reality or substance," then we'd have to accept that the OUTWARD DISPLAY may mislead the one who views it regarding the "inner reality or substance" of what one beholds.

To sum up, Spicq writes, "It is clear from all of these examples that the use of MORFH in the hymn in Phil 2 is entirely to be expected in a context of metamorphosis or incarnation, but that it would be risky to give it a precise theological meaning."

And that seems like an appropriate imprecise formulation in which to end this endeavor to "divide the word."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Robert Bowman, Philippians 2:13 and QEOS as Subject

Contra Robert M. Bowman, there is sufficient reason to construe QEOS in Philippians 2:13 as the subject rather than the predicate of the syntactical construction. Rogers and Rogers Linguistic and Exegetical Key points out that QEOS (Philippians 2:13) is fronted which indicates that it's the subject rather than the predicate (see p. 452).

John Calvin also seems to understand QEOS as the subject in this verse. Calvin writes: "God,'says he, 'is hO ENERGWN TO ENERGEIN he that worketh in us to do.' He brings, therefore, to perfection those pious dispositions which he has implanted in us, that they may not be unproductive, as he promises by Ezekiel, --'I will cause them to walk in my commandments.'"

(Ezekiel 11:20.) See his commentary on Philippians.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Cry of Dereliction in Luke's Gospel

In his commentary on Acts, Professor Richard Longenecker makes this comment on Acts 2:25:

"It should be remembered that only Luke among the synoptists omitted the cry of dereliction from the cross: 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34); and only Luke has included the more filial, final word: 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit' (Luke 23:46). Both the omission and the inclusion are in line with the quotation of Ps 16:8 here [in Acts 2:25]: 'I saw the Lord always [DIA PANTOS] before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken'" (Longenecker 77-78).

Friday, April 06, 2012

My Slightly Revised Amazon Review of Richard Young's Intermediate New Testament Greek Grammar

Richard A. Young has produced a useful work that certainly provides assistance to students of intermediate NT Greek. Being an intermediate Greek textbook, it predictably deals with syntax and not morphology or phonology. One particularly distinctive feature of Young's work is that he mixes modern linguistic findings and insights based on classical rhetoric with his discussions of syntax. For instance, he supplies brief discussions on metaphors, "kernels," figurative language in general, and speech acts. Moreover, Young has included a helpful chapter on discourse analysis and he also references the prominent theories of aspect formulated by Stanley Porter and Buist Fanning. In many ways, he is also fair with his presentation of syntactical possibilities as illustrated by his approach to 1 Cor 15:29. However, it seems that more than a few of his explanations regarding word order are driven by certain theological preapprehensions. For example, on page 66, he criticizes the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures' rendering of Jn 1:1c as "a god" rather than the traditional "God."

His criticisms are based (in part) on his notion of what constitutes a "monadic noun." Young utterly misunderstands the thrust behind the NWT rendering when he implies that the "a god" translation is polytheistic--which it is not, when rightly understood. Even worse, he depends on the inadequate (often abused) rule of E. C. Colwell to buttress his opposition to the NWT reading. Regardless of whether the NWT is justified in treating the Johannine text as it does, it is clear that Young sometimes allows theology to govern his syntactical judgments. He unfortunately overlooks the possibility that "a god" just might be a very plausible way to translate Jn 1:1c. In the final analysis, there is really no need for him to read polytheistic notions into the NWT rendering. Despite some issues that I have with Young's intermediate text, however, I recommend it and say, caveat emptor!

The Abuse of Colwell's Rule (John 1:1c)

I want to make it known from the outset that I think Colwell's rule has generally been abused by NT exegetes and GNT grammarians. But the following quotes primarily are for informational purposes: 
"Although there are exceptions, the Colwell rule does seem to be correct for the majority of cases. Colwell (1933:13) states, 'A definite predicate nominative has the article when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb.' For example, a definite predicate nominative with the article follows the linking verb in John 8:12 EGW EIMI TO FWS TOU KOSMOU, whereas the same predicate nominative without the article precedes the verb in John 9:5 FWS EIMI TOU KOSMOU. The problem in applying the Colwell rule is to determine when the predicate nominative is definite. The rule itself does not establish the definiteness of a noun, an observation sometimes ignored when applying it to John 1:1. We have already mentioned that monadic and proper nouns are definite. The same applies to nouns qualified with a genitive. Colwell notes that proper names in the predicate regularly do not have the article. Other examples of the Colwell rule include Matthew 13:37 (cf. John 5:27), 27:42, John 1:49, and 19:21" (Intermediate NT Greek, p. 65). 
The next quote is taken from Daniel B. Wallace's GGBB, page 260, ftn. 18: "This is not to say that his [Colwell's] rule is invalid. Rather, it is to say that its validity is for TEXTUAL CRITICISM rather than for grammar. Textual criticism was Colwell's real love anyway (he is frequently regarded as the father of modern American NT textual criticism). The rule's validity for textual criticism is as follows: If it is obvious that a pre-verbal PN is definite, the MSS that lack the article are more likely to support the original reading. The issue of meaning is not in view; rather, the presence or absence of the article is."

Monday, April 02, 2012

Matt13 Weedhacker Post on Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32 (Etc) Textual Issues

Hi Edgar.

I did a post touching what your talking about. It has the earliest references I could find to Matt 24:36, Mark 13:32, Acts 1:7, in Patristic writers.

It may or may not be of use.

Origen in his Commentary On Matthew 55, has a big section on Matt 24:36. I haven't been able to find an English translation of the text. I think it would make an interesting read.

Big hat tip to Matt13. This information is very useful. Please check out his blog.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Translating 1 Clement 11:1 (The Last Part)

Greek: τοὺς δὲ ἑτεροκλινεῖς ὑπάρχοντας εἰς κόλασιν καὶ αἰκισμὸν τίθησιν

The version of Lightfoot that I'm using translates this passage: "but appointeth unto punishment and torment them which swerve aside."

He's translating:

δὲ = "but"
τοὺς = "them"
τίθησιν = "appointeth"
εἰς κόλασιν καὶ αἰκισμὸν = "unto punishment and torment"
ἑτεροκλινεῖς ὑπάρχοντας = "which swerve aside"

I would probably not change much about Lightfoot's rendering. Maybe "but set [placed, assigned] to punishment [pruning, mutilation, cutting-off] and harm them which are inclined to other loyalties."

1. κόλασιν can denote "punishment" (BDAG, Robertson's WP). See as an example. While I do not agree with Robertson's overall explanation for Mt 25:46, I believe that the Greek word may denote "punishment" which is not the same as the verb "punishing." See 1 John 4:18. BDAG includes the definition "retribution" as well.

2. BDAG points out that when αἰκισμὸν is used with κόλασιν (or their related lexical forms) that αἰκισμὸν evidently means "punishment." It cites 1 Cl 11:1. So what we appear to have in this passage is a redundancy or pleonasm. The words essentially communicate the same idea.

3. BDAG also cites 1 Cl 11:1 for the entry ἑτεροκλινεῖς. The word may convey notions of "leaning to one side" or "inclined to, having a propensity for" but in 1 Cl 11:1 probably means "having other allegiance" since it's used in the context of rebellious or apostate peoples.

By the way, ὑπάρχοντας is a present active participle ("being") in the accusative form.

Hope this helps,