Thursday, June 28, 2012

Moulton-Turner and 1 John 5:20

In researching the subject of 1 John 5:20 and the Greek pronoun οὗτος, I have checked grammatical works by Smyth, Blass-Debrunner and Funk, J. W. Wenham, and Moulton-Turner, among others. Only Moulton-Turner proves to be helpful here (IMO)--I might add Winer to the list as well.

On page 44 of Moulton-Turner (Vol. III, Syntax), we are told that οὗτος appears frequently in the papyri and NT. It can refer to someone present (Luke 15:30), and may also refer to "the noun which is most vivid in the writer's mind."

Examples given after this statement are Matt. 3:3; 3:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Jn. 5:20. Concerning 1 Jn. 5:20, we read: "God, not Christ, is the true God" (Moulton-Turner, p. 44). Looking up 1 Jn. 5:20 in the older Interpreter's Bible, I found out that it too identifies the Father as the subject described by οὗτος. He is the main subject of 1 John 5, and the Father is the true God and life everlasting (cf. Jn. 17:3; 1 Jn. 5:11).

Just because Moulton-Turner, the IB, Winer, Zerwick, Westcott, Murray J. Harris and others say that the Father is represented by οὗτος doesn't make the case absolutely ironclad. But I thought you might appreciate the information found in Moulton-Turner.

Dialogue on Birthdays and Idolatry

I have left this dialogue unedited. The only thing I've changed is my dialogue partner's name for the sake of confidentiality.

Rather, it [i.e. Edgar's explanation concerning
birthdays] strikes me as arbitrary and strechted [sic]
beyond plausibility. Terms like 'extravagant' and
'idolatry' seem historically and metaphysically

I'm not sure that I understand what you're saying
here. I understand what it means for something to be
"historical" or "metaphysical," but I do not quite
grasp how my use of "extravagant" or "idolatry" fails
to be rooted with respect to history or metaphysics.
Surely it is logically or factually possible for glory
or honor to be extravagant or to approach the point of
idolatry. [Paul] Tillich even writes that when we treat
concerns that are less than ultimate as though they
are ultimate, then we commit idolatry. In my opinion,
terms like "idolatry" are primarily analytic. In the
words of phenomenologists like [Martin] Heidegger or
[Josef] Seifert, acts like idolatry show themselves from themselves.
It seems that if we render honor or glory to creatures
that is more properly reserved for the Creator, then
we have committed idolatry. I could stand to be
corrected. But that is how I understand matters.

I mean simply that their use doesn't seem to make much
sense either in terms of their common historical use
or common reality of human experience.

My use of the term "idolatry" is rooted in apostolic
thought. The Pauline Epistle to the Romans refers to
certain individuals worshiping and serving the
creature more than the Creator. While you may not
agree that birthdays fit into the category discussed
by the apostle in Rom 1:25, it is difficult for me to
understand how lavishing too much attention on
creatures fails to meet the criterion of a sufficient
condition for considering an act to be idolatrous.

As far as the common reality of human experience is
concerned, there are many aspects of Christianity that
conflict with "the common reality of human
experience." How much sense does it make from the
standpoint of l'etre pour soi (i.e. human reality) to
speak of covetousness or inordinate sexual desire as
idolatry? Yet, that is how early Christians and Jews
thought of PLEONEXIA or PATHOS (understood as
inordinate sexual desire).

[See Colossians 3:5]

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Erasmus of Rotterdam on Making the Scriptures Accessible

"I totally dissent from those who are unwilling that the Sacred Scriptures, translated in the vulgar tongue, should be read by private individuals. I would wish even all women to read the Gospel and the Epistles of St Paul. I wish they were translated into all languages of the people. I wish that the husbandmen might sing parts of them at his plough, and the weaver at his shuttle, and that the traveller might beguile with their narration the weariness of his way."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tertullian Believed that the Son of God was Lower than the Angels Before He Became a Man

Here is the text from Tertullian's work Adversus Marcionem 2.27 (Holmes' translation):

"Now we believe that Christ did ever act in the name of God the Father; that He actually from the beginning held intercourse with (men); actually communed with patriarchs and prophets; was the Son of the Creator; was His Word; whom God made His Son by emitting Him from His own self, and thenceforth set Him over every dispensation and (administration of) His will, making Him a little lower than the angels, as is written in David. In which lowering of His condition He received from the Father a dispensation in those very respects which you blame as human; from the very beginning learning, even then, (that state of a) man which He was destined in the end to become."

For more details, see

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jerome H. Neyrey on 2 Peter 1:1

After providing reasons why other scholars believe that 2 Peter 1:1 refers to Christ as God, Jerome Neyrey provides reasons which evidently support the view that 2 Peter 1:1 does not refer to Christ as God (2 Peter, Jude, p. 147-148). The reasons he gives are outlined below:

1) 2 Peter 1:2 evidently makes a distinction between God and Christ. In fact, Neyrey insists that "there appears to be an intended parallelism between 1:1 and 1:2." That is, 2 Peter 1:1 reads: EN DIKAIOSUNH TOU QEOU hHMWN KAI SWTHROS IHSOU XRISTOU; 2 Peter 1:2 states: EN EPIGNWSEI TOU QEOU KAI IHSOU TOU KURIOU hHMWN.

2) It is rare for the NT to call Jesus "God." Neyrey refers to John 1:1-3; 20:28 and he appeals to late first or second century occurrences of addressing Christ as QEOS in Ignatius of Antioch (Eph. 18:2; Smyrn. 1:1).

3) All references to DIKAIOSUNH (with the possible exception of Phil 1:11) refer to the righteousness of God, not to Christ's righteousness. It would not be clear from the context of 2 Peter 1:1 what is meant by the righteousness of Christ.

Neyrey thus indicates that the apostle has God's justice in mind when he writes what is now the opening verse of the Second Epistle of Peter. See 2 Peter 2:5.

Neyrey's observations are found in his Anchor Bible Commentary.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Present Tense Clarification (1 John 3:9, Etc)

Greetings all,

I want to post some thoughts here that clarify my stand on the Greek present tense.

Some have asked whether I deny that verses like Matthew 7:7 depict continuous (progressive) action or whether the present generally portrays continuous action. My previous remarks were not intended to deny that the present normally or does portray continuous action. However, I wanted to urge caution about too facilely reading the present tense as progressive action. That is the point I wanted to make.

Let's take 1 John 3:6-9 as an example.

S. M. Baugh writes:

"In my opinion, the fact that John chose to use the present infinitive hAMARTANEIN rather than the aorist hAMARTEIN, shows that he was thinking about 'sinning' in v. 9 as a characteristic action. Hence, John does not teach 'perfectionism'--that Christians can experience sinlessness in this life. Rather, when he says OU DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN he teaches that the genuine Christian cannot be characterized by a life of unrepentant sin" (1 John Reader, pp. 50-51).

Baugh believes that three factors buttress his interpretation of 3:9.

(1) The immediate context.

(2) The lexical significance of hAMARTANEIN.

(3) The influence of DUNAMAI upon the tense form of its complementary infinitive.

The idea expressed here by Baugh is that since the infinitival form of hAMARTANW does not appear elsewhere in the GNT, John must have used this verbal formation at 3:9 to signal an ongoing activity, not a state. He concludes:

"the phrase OU DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN in 1 John 3:9 expresses the fact that the Christian is prevented by the new birth and the abiding presence of God from falling into persistent sin" (52).

But the point I want to make is that it's not the present tense alone that signals continuous activity: other contextual factors affect the meaning of 1 John 3:6-9.

Contrast Baugh's treatment of 1 John 3:6-9 with Buist Fanning's approach. Regarding 1 John 2:1, Fanning argues (Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek) as follows:

"One solution to the problem [of the seeming contradiction between 1 John 2:1 and 3:9] is to note the difference in the tenses used to refer to the Christian's sin in 2:1 (aorists) vs. 3:4-10 (presents), and to trace a distinction in meaning along the line of 'occasional vs. habitual' sin or 'committing a single sin vs. being characterized by sin as a ruling principle'. Zerwick's phrasing of it is: 'commit sin in the concrete, commit some sin or other' as opposed to 'be a sinner, as a characteristic" (213).

Fanning goes on to demonstrate that while this view could well explain the apparent contradiction in the Johannine Epistles, other scholars take a different view. He himself opts for the approach that says 1 John 3:9 is likely not describing habitual sin. Nevertheless, Fanning acknowledges the possibility that 1 John 3:9 could be understood as referring to habitual sin. This is in harmony with what Greek professor Ralph Earle observes.

Commenting on 1 John 3:6ff, he explains: "The verb hAMARTANW in both cases is in the present tense of continuing action. This is brought out helpfully by 'keeps on sinning . . . continues to sin' (NIV). The same use of the present tense is found in 9. Here again it should be brought out: 'No one who is born of God will continue to sin . . . he cannot go on sinning"(Earle, 451).

This interpretation seems to make the most sense to me. But probably more than tense alone (i.e. morphology) leads us to the conclusion that habitual sin is the subject matter of 1 John 3:6-9.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Analyzing Grammatical and Ungrammatical Greek in the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:4)

Ἰωάνης ταῖς ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησίαις ταῖς ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ· χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἑπτὰ Πνευμάτων ἃ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου αὐτοῦ (Revelation 1:4)

Readers of the Apocalypse frequently claim that the syntax (word order) and grammar of Revelation 1:4 (among other places in the work) overtly violates standard rules of Koine Greek. Dionysius of Alexandria reportedly verbalized his criticisms of the Greek found in Revelation--his appraisal is taken from Eusebius of Caesarea's Church History (7.25.24-27):

Moreover, it can also be shown that the diction of the Gospel and Epistle differs from that of the Apocalypse. For they were written not only without error as regards the Greek language, but also with elegance in their expression, in their reasonings, and in their entire structure. They are far indeed from betraying any barbarism or solecism, or any vulgarism whatever. For the writer had, as it seems, both the requisites of discourse—that is, the gift of knowledge and the gift of expression—as the Lord had bestowed them both upon him. I do not deny that the other writer saw a revelation and received knowledge and prophecy. I perceive, however, that his dialect and language are not accurate Greek, but that he uses barbarous idioms, and, in some places, solecisms. It is unnecessary to point these out here, for I would not have any one think that I have said these things in a spirit of ridicule, for I have said what I have only with the purpose of showing clearly the difference between the writings.

One could translate Revelation 1:4: "from the one who is, the one who was, and the one who is coming." I will now examine whether the grammatical evidence indicates that this expression is an instance of nonstandard Greek forms in the Apocalypse.

Descriptivist and Prescriptivist Views of Language

Grammarians dutifully inspect extant literature, then take note of consistent patterns in order to formulate various rules regarding syntax or morphology (word formation). But it is possible to differentiate between a prescriptivist view of language and a descriptivist approach. By "prescriptivist" I am referring to a normative view of language in which grammatical rules are prescribed or outlined.

Descriptivism is the approach to language that just notes how people use abstract signifiers. With this distinction in mind, we can see how imperative it becomes to recall Ferdinand De Saussure's distinction between speech (la parole) and language (la langue). This differentiation of concepts posits a measure of disparity between the formal rules of a language and the way that people actually speak at home and work, or while shopping.

Saussure's observations indirectly shed light on the importance of Greek papyri: these documents provide evidence of how Koine Greek was used in daily ancient affairs. The papyri from Egypt were not intended to be literary or metaphysical documents per se; all such factors must be considered before we talk about anyone breaking grammatical rules. Rather than discuss grammatical rule-breaking in general, however, I will focus on Revelation 1:4.

Concerning Revelation 1:4

Daniel B. Wallace thinks that the syntax of Revelation 1:4 is intentionally violated. He argues that it's unlikely any audience would view this passage's grammar as a standard way of expressing Greek utterances. However, Richard A. Young takes a descriptivist approach to this issue. He realizes that cultures may communicate ideas in variously accepted ways:

"Charles (1920:10) calls John's use of the nominative in Revelation 1:4 a deliberate violation of the rules of grammar. Yet it can only be a violation if grammar is viewed prescriptively. With a descriptive view of grammar, it merely illustrates the range of expression that koine Greek tolerates. Thus John's use of the nominative is not a mistake in grammar" (Richard A Young, Intermediate New Testament Greek, 13).

While a number of ancient manuscripts did apparently try to correct John's grammar, scholar David Aune makes a persuasive case that Revelation 1:4 possibly regards the threefold attribution to God as "an indeclinable divine name" (Revelation 52A:24).

Aune suggests that John's usage is influenced by the Septuagint Version (LXX) of the Bible and its handling of the divine name. My conclusion: There is no need for us to believe that John's apocalyptic lingual patterns are not grammatical. David A. Black also proffers that "there is nothing wrong" with the phrase in Revelation 1:4 (Black, 13). Of course, more work needs to be done in order to develop a satisfactory account that explains the Greek of Revelation.

David Aune. Revelation: 1-5. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1997.

David Black. Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Survey of Basic Concepts and Applications. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Is It Possible to Know and Comprehend God?

There is much that one could say about knowing and comprehending God. What I write below is just an initial reply to some arguments posed by Trinitarians regarding God's cognoscibility.

(1) I think that Augustine of Hippo was wrong when he said that it's easier to know what God is not, as opposed to knowing what or who God is. This type of theology is clearly apophatic: it is an insidious form of "Christian" agnosticism that fails to treat the divine revelation found in the Bible justly. Matthew 11:27 proclaims that "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (NIV).

Additionally, John 1:18 informs us that the Son of God came and "explained" or "revealed" (EXHGHSATO) the Father. These verses indicate that we do in fact know God by means of the Son. If we do not know what God is, this would invalidate the fact that God has been revealed through His Son. Compare John 17:3; 1 John 5:20.

(2) Some persons may assert that God can be known in his economy, but not immanently (in his essence). Systematic theologian Gordon Kaufman insists that the distinction between God's "essence" and his "economy" is a misleading one. God is who he has revealed himself to be in his economy (OIKONOMIA). If God has been revealed in a certain way through his Son, then we can expect that the revelation conforms to God's essence. For example, if God has revealed that he is triune by means of his Son, then it would seem that God is triune in ESSENTIA. On the other hand, if God has not revealed himself to be three in one through the Son, then the divine one is likely not triune with respect to his ESSENTIA.

(3) Lastly, while I would agree that God is incomprehensible--we can never understand or know everything there is to know about God--I would also contend that there is no biblical evidence to suggest that the Supreme God is triune or that his essence is unknowable. The point can be illustrated by a story which the late historian Jaroslav Pelikan (who was a Trinitarian) tells. He relates a narrative about rabbi Herbanus who debated with the sixth century Orthodox Bishop Gregentius.

(a) Herbanus reasoned that "God is one, and not two or three, as you [Gregentius] say." He added that the Old Testament refers to "sons of God," who are not of the same OUSIA as the Father (i.e. they are not from the OUSIA of the Father, yet they are "sons"). Gregentius responded by quoting Genesis 1:26, where God utters the fateful words, "Let us make man in our image." Herbanus applied this passage to the angels but Gregentius disagreed. To this day the problem has not been resolved from an exegetical perspective, and it will undoubtedly serve as a perennial cause for debate in this AIWN. Be that as it may, certain Trinitarians have written essays demonstrating that neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament explicitly states or even implies that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. Alan J. Hauser of Appalachian State University concluded that the Trinity doctrine is a "later development" in Christian history. He does not reject the doctrine for this reason, but Hauser's candor about the Biblical testimony is refreshing.

See The Christian Tradition (Vol. II:204-206) by Jaroslav Pelikan.

Early Christian Thinkers By Foster, Paul (EDT)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Is Abraham Already A Son of God?

The answer to this question may seem obvious to some on this forum. One may either choose to say that Abraham is either a son of God right now or that he is not. Things may not be quite so simple when one reexamines Lk 20:34-36, however. For now, I want to focus on 20:36:

οὐδὲ γὰρ ἀποθανεῖν ἔτι δύνανται, ἰσάγγελοι γὰρ εἰσιν καὶ υἱοί εἰσιν θεοῦ τῆς ἀναστάσεως υἱοὶ ὄντες.

The text above typed in 'Greek' is made in a context involving certain Sadducees disputing with Jesus about the resurrection from the dead. After these men had posed a 'stumper' for the Christ, he in turn referred them to the Pentateuch, which the Sadducees accepted as authoritative, in order to overturn their fallacious use of Scripture and logic. As one reads Jesus' skilled use of the thornbush account to confute his adversaries, one cannot help but be astounded at his manner of teaching in the face of such formidable opposition.

For instance, Jesus points out that while people in this age marry and are often given in marriage, those whom God deems worthy of the resurrection will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Without trying to explain that perplexing statement, I will move on to Lk 20:34-36.

The context makes it clear that Jesus has Abraham in mind when he exclaims that the children of the resurrection will not be able to die anymore since they will be like angels, being children of God by virtue of the resurrection. A few points now merit our attention.

(1) Luke employs a hapax legomenon (ἰσάγγελοι) that is equivalent to ὡς ἄγγελοι as Matthew 22:30 shows (see Matthew Vellanickal. The Divine Sonship of Christians in the Johannine Writings. Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1977, page 62).

a) More importantly, however, Luke also utilizes the participial ὄντες which should no doubt be construed as a "causal circumstantial participle here" (NET Bible ftn on Lk 20:36). Vellanickal rightly contends that ὄντες in Lk 20:36 "is very significant" (page 63). We offer full consent to his observation. Yet, one is justified in asking, in what way is this participle highly significant?

b) Vellanickal argues that ὄντες is important in Lk 20:36 because the writer's use of this participial form shows that Jesus is saying it is by virtue of the resurrection that ones such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob become sons of God: "thus the resurrection becomes the cause and condition of the 'divine sonship' and the 'equality to the angels'"(Vellanickal, 63).

2) The author referenced above ultimately argues that it is only when Abraham and others are resurrected that they truly become children of God "in the full sense of the term." However, to be fair to the author and Luke's text, we must say that Abraham on one level is not a child of God yet; for he has not been raised from the dead. Still, there is a sense in which Abraham must be a child of God already. This is in the sense in that his resurrection has already occurred in the eyes of God. As Jesus exclaimed to the Sadducees: "He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him" (Lk 20:38).

a) So while I think it is technically correct to maintain that Abraham is not literally a son of God but only becomes one by virtue of the resurrection from the dead, he is still now a son since Jehovah God will certainly raise Abraham and others from the dead at the divinely appointed time. Abraham evidently became a son of God, in a sense, after he died. This still means that he was not technically one of God's children while he walked the earth. To the contrary, Abraham was one of God's friends, as Scripture indicates (Isa 41:8; James 2:23). In the resurrection, he will assuredly become one of God's earthly sons.

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Lastest Book Review: WHC Frend's The Rise of Christianity (link enclosed)

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Greek Grammatical Aids

From time to time folks ask me to recommend some good Greek grammars. I have sent out bibliographies previously, but I like to update them from time to time. Here is one of my latest bibliographies that includes both Greek works and religious ones.

Recommended Religious and Grammatical Works

Aune, David. Revelation. Word Biblical Commentary, vols. 52a-c. Dallas, TX: Word Book, 1997.

Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Baugh, S.M. _A First John Reader_: Intermediate Greek Reading Notes and Grammar_. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 1999.

Black, David A. (Editor). _Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Discourse Analysis_. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992.

Blackwelder, Boyce W. _Light From the Greek New Testament_. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1976.

Brooks, James A., and Carlton L. Winbery. _Syntax of New Testament Greek_. Lanham, MD, 1979.

Conybeare, F.C. and St. George Stock. _Grammar of Septuagint Greek: With Selected Readings, Vocabularies, and Updated Indexes_. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995.

Dana, H.E. and Julius R. Mantey. _A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament_. Toronto: Macmillan, 1955.

Earle, Ralph. _Word Meanings in the New Testament_. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997.

Hawthorne, Gerald F. _Philippians_. Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 43. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983.

Kennedy, George A. _New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism_. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina, 1984.

Longenecker, Richard N. _Acts_: The Expositor's Bible Commentary_. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.

Louw, Johannes and Eugene A. Nida. _Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains_. 2 vols. New York: United Bible Societies, 1988.

Mastronarde, Donald J. _Introduction to Attic Greek_. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1993.

Murray, George R. Beasley. _John_. Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 36. Waco, TX, 1987.

Robertson, A.T. and W. Hershey Davis. _A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research_. Nashville, Broadman Press, 1934.

Silva, Moises. _Explorations in Exegetical Method: Galatians As a Test Case_. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996.

Young, Richard A. _Intermediate New Testament Greek: A Linguistic and Exegetical Approach_. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1994.

Zerwick, Maximilian. _Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples_. Rome: Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1963.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Notes on Revelation 6:4


"Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword" (NIV).

"And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him" (NASB).

"And another horse came forth, a red horse: and to him that sat thereon it was given to take peace from the earth, and that they should slay one another: and there was given unto him a great sword" (ASV).

"The second [horseman], who rides a fiery red horse, is intent to engage the enemy in battle. God has given earth over to itself to engage in a global, civil war, preventing its inhabitants from attaining the very things that make for peace and security" (Robert W. Wall, Revelation, p. 110).

"A red horse (hIPPOS PURROS). Old adjective from PUR(fire), flame-coloured, blood-red (2 Kings 3:22), in N.T. only here and Revelation 12:3, like Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 6:2 (roan horse). To take peace from the earth (LABEIN THN EIRHNHN EK THS GHS). Second aorist active infinitive of LAMBANW, and here the nominative case, the subject of EDOQH (see verse Zechariah 2), "to take peace out of the earth." Alas, how many red horses have been ridden through the ages. And that they should slay one another (KAI hINA ALLHLOUS SFAXOUSIN). Epexegetical explanatory purpose clause with hINA and the future active of SPAZW(Zechariah 5:6) instead of the more usual subjunctive (verse Zechariah 6:2). Cf. Robertson, Grammar, p. 998f. This is what war does to perfection, makes cannon fodder (cf. John 14:27) of men. A great sword (MAXAIRA MEGALH). MAXAIRA may be a knife carried in a sheath at the girdle (John 18:10) or a long sword in battle as here. ROMFAIA, also a large sword, is the only other word for sword in the N.T. (Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12,16; Revelation 6:8; Revelation 19:15,21)" (Robertson's Word Pictures).

"The color red may symbolize blood, representing the death and destruction caused by the second cavalier" (David Aune, Revelation 6-16, p. 395).

"PURROS, A, ON . . . (s[ee] prec. entry; Aeschyl., Hdt. +; ins, pap, LXX; En 18:7. On the double R s[ee] B-D-F Section 34, 2; Mlt-H. 101) fiery red as the apocalyptic color of a horse (Theocr. 15, 53, of a fox standing on its hind legs) Rv 6:4 . . . In Rv, prob. because of the influence of the hIPPOS PURROS of Zech 1:8 and 6:2, the word ER. has been changed to its practical equivalent PURR" (BDAG, p. 900).

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Friday, June 01, 2012

More on the Greek Tense (Aorist)

For years, exegetes, pastors and Biblical translators "abused" the aorist tense by emphasizing the once-for-all-time understanding of the Greek tense. That was until Frank Stagg's groundbreaking article in JBL ("The Abused Aorist." Journal of Biblical Literature 91 (1972) 222-231.

Donald A. Carson highlights some of these abuses and briefly discusses the scholarship that resulted in a demythologization of the aorist. We now know that the AORISTOS generally delineates action as a whole and does not necessarily portray one act for-all-time over against the continuous action of the present tense, although the present tense (imperfective aspect) may at times depict continuous action (note how the aorist is also used in John 3:16 when the apostle stresses the Father's love manifested in sending His only-begotten Son for the sake of humanity).

Other factors such as context and lexis will also help us to discern the aspect or Aktionsart of a particular verb instead of loading a certain "tense" with a meaning such as the one discussed above.