Saturday, February 09, 2013

Thomas F. Torrance on Divine "Father" Terminology

Torrance indicates that "Father" (a divine epithet for the Christian deity or first person of the tripersonal Godhead) is a relation rather than a description of God's essence or substance. He then continues:

"Hence Gregory Nazianzen like Athanasius insisted that they [the terms 'Father' and 'Son'] must be treated as referring imagelessly, that is in a diaphanous or 'see through' way, to the Father and the Son without the intrusion of creaturely forms or sensual images into God. Thus we may not think of God as having gender nor
think of the Father as begetting the Son or the Son as begotten after the analogy of generation or giving birth with which we are familiar among creaturely beings."

Quote taken from Thomas F. Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1996), 158.

See Nazianzen's Orationes 29.16; 31.7, 31ff.


Matt13weedhacker said...

Interesting post again Edgar.

It, (i.e. Gregory and Athanasius theory), is just a way of trying to avoid the obvious really. Isn't it.

Roman's 1:20 is interesting in this regard.

Good New Bible: "...Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his ( divine nature ), have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made. So those people have no excuse at all!..."

Others Tri{3}nitarians say:

Wesley's: "...Godhead..."
Moffatt: "...divine being..."
Lexham English Bible: "...deity..."
Wuest: "...divine Being..."

What this Scripture is saying, is that this is discernable or capable of being understood by the "...creation..." or things made.

Or the ( natural ) order discernable in the creation.

Particually of man, created in his "...image..."!

The natural, discernable, order in the family.

I.e., the Father is the head, proginator, older, wiser than a Son etc. The Son and children are subject to the Father etc, etc.

Thus, we can discern the basic understanding of the relationship between the Father and the Son ( naturally ).

By "...things He has made..." contra Athanasius and his cronies.

That's my take anyway.

aservantofJehovah said...

Acts17:28NIV"'For in him we live and move and have our being.'As some of your own poets have said,'we are his offspring.'"
The bible explains itself.It is when we seek to explain it rather than allow it to speak for itself that we get into trouble.

Edgar Foster said...

I agree with certain aspects of Gregory's thinking. In my dissertation, I argued that God's fatherhood is metaphorical. Jehovah is not like Zeus or the other gods of Olympus. He does not literally generate children, it seems. I'll grant that God is our Father. But is he not Father by virtue of being Creator? I'm not trying to be dogmatic on this point: I'm open to correction. However, on the other hand, I believe that God's metaphorical paternity strikes a blow against the eternal generation doctrine. Gregory and Athanasius would likely disagree. None of what I've written means that I deny our ability to learn about God's paternity through creation.

All the best!

aservantofJehovah said...

Like Zeus?likely trinitarians would protest at such a comparison,but I can certainly see why it would seem apropriate especially in the case of athena who is spoken of as springing fully formed from his head.
I think that in a way Jehovah's creatorship makes him more of a father than any human father could ever be.When you think about all a human father contributes to our conception is half of the necessary information the other half or the information comes from the mother most of the matter would be transmitted through the mother's body,neither are the source of any of these things merely the channels/custodians of them.Whereas Jehovah God is the ultimate source of all the energy and information that constitutes who and what we are.He is the original father,man is the copy Matthew23:9

Edgar Foster said...

Your point about Athena is well taken. Zeus was also described (by the Greek poets) as the Father of gods and men. He literally fathered children by having relations with women or goddesses.

On the other hand, some Trinitarians say that God eternally generates his Son (i.e. timelessly and without a feminine consort). Firstly, I believe the eternal generation doctrine is not logically consistent. Secondly, it appears to be unnecessary. If God is a metaphorical Father, there is no need for some kind of mysterious generation of the Son.

I agree that Jehovah is our Father in the sense outlined above. But I guess it seems to me that He is called "Father" in a metaphorical sense. It's the kind of language we can understand: a figure of speech that helps us to comprehend spiritual truths. Jehovah is called the Father of "the celestial lights" at James 1:17. Do you think the use of the word Father there is literal or metaphorical?



aservantofJehovah said...

I agree that it is important to communicate in language that is readily understood.So most people have a particular understanding of what constitutes a literal fatherhood,its not necessary to resist this to make our point.So from the standpoint of what is commonly understood Jehovah's fatherhood would be figurative.
But going deeper Jehovah's fatherhood is the original fatherhood and in that sense can be referred to as the literal fatherhood,and I of course refer not only to the fact that he is the source of all the raw material and information that constitute us but also the fact that he has endowed us with the capacity to enjoy a relation with him that would resemble in certain important respects what would be considered an ideal parent/child relationship in a human setting.
As for James1:17 While the heavenly luminaries certainly owe their existence to Jehovah,they would not enjoy the kind of relationship with him that his faithful intelligent creation would and so would not be sons in the same sense as these.

Edgar Foster said...

Hi aservantofJehovah,

Thanks for the good natured discussion. It seems that we agree with the view that Jehovah is not a biological father: He has not consorted with a heavenly female in a sexual way.

I guess our minor disagreement comes down to the nature of God's fatherhood wherein humans and Christ/the angels are concerned. I agree that Jehovah is the "source of all the raw material and information" that make us who we are. But that is just another way of saying that God is our Creator IMHO. And my point is that a Creator isn't technically a Father in the literal sense (as that term is commonly used in many human languages).

We also agree that James 1:17 evidently describes God's fatherhood by means of figurative language. It seems that God was also the Father of Israel metaphorically as well.

All the best.

Edgar Foster said...

One more brief remark. The first person in scripture to have the word "king" applied to him was a human (not Jehovah). Kings first appeared in the human realm. Jehovah apparently is called "King of eternity" (etc) to help us relate to his position and function towards creation. I see a parallel between the use of the title "King" for Jehovah" (a term taken from the human realm and applied to God) and the word Father as a divine title.

aservantofJehovah said...

Perfect example,the first person to be called king(at least on earth) would have been human but certainly no human king would have wielded the power that Jehovah has,his kingship is the more complete one and is the original kingship.I'd hardly think anyone acquainted with the facts would refer to Jehovah's kingship as a figurative one.
So while Jehovah did not become father to us by biological means this does not make him less of a father to us than our biological fathers,Fatherhood via creation makes Jehovah God more of a father.

Edgar Foster said...

There are a number of biblical scholars, who do argue that God's kingship and fatherhood is figurative. That doesn't mean they're correct. However, they could be on the right track.

I hope you know that I'm not trying to be argumentative. So I'll make two points and keep my peace for now.

1) A literal king is male, usually has a crown, scepter, and throne. Jehovah is not a male, nor does he possess material thing. Nor is he circumscribed by a literal throne. The language of royalty for God seems to be anthropomorphic.

2) Secondly, a father is also male, whether he's biological, adoptive or a father figure. Jehovah is none of those things (Numbers 23:19). Deuteronomy 1:31 says he acted "as" a father to Israel. I.e. Jehovah was not a literal father to the nation. If Jehovah is a literal father by virtue of being Creator instead of our Procreator, then we'd have to understand fatherhood in a totally different sense for him. Maybe that's an adjustment I'll have to make. Thanks.

aservantofJehovah said...

I hope you realize that I am not trying to be argumentative either.
But in as much you have admitted that the biblical scholars that you refer to are not necessarily right,and I believe that this is one of those topics where there need not be a right or wrong as such,I invite you to consider another possibility.1Corinthians11:7NIV"A man ought not to cover his head,since he is the image and glory of God;but woman is the glory of man." So God is Male and in a higher sense than any human male is because the human male is merely the image/copy of Jehovah who is the original male.He would not be male according to the common understanding of that term(i.e sex),but he is male.I would agree that the imagery(the human form,throne etc.) that has come to be associated with terms like "king"and "father" When applied to Jehovah must be taken figuratively,as said imagery is derived from our experience in the physical world and Jehovah is spirit,but the essential function of a king i.e to govern/rule,the essential function of a father to give and sustain life.Were originally initiated by Jehovah and were performed by him in a more complete and ideal way than by any human,and this long before any human existed.As for his relationship with the nation of Israel,remember here we are dealing with the personification of a corporate entity so certainly he would not be father in the same sense as to the individuals who owe him their life/existence.So if we're talking about any anthromorphic imagery that the scriptures apply to Jehovah certainly any such would be illustrative.But if we are dealing exclusively with function,then it really does seem to me that Jehovah is more king and more father than any human could possibly be.

Edgar Foster said...


I appreciate the discussion. IMO, you are not being argumentative. It's possible that the Bible scholars who believe that God is genderless are wrong. I too could be mistaken. But it just seems that Father is a metaphor for God's relationship to his only-begotten Son or to his creatures. At any rate, I think we'd both agree that Paul is not denying the truth of Genesis 1:26-28: that God created "them" (male and female) in his image. But the apostle is apparently extending this Jewish teaching by pointing out that woman is the glory of man. On the other hand, the scriptures clearly say that God is not a man. See Numbers 23:19; Hosea 11:9 (I believe).

Mothers also play a role in giving life. We even find texts that compare Jehovah to a mother. But most Christians would not say that Jehovah literally is our mother in heaven. And if Jehovah is king in a functional sense (i.e. he does the functions/work of a king), then I would say that this view still leaves room for understanding his kingly rule in a metaphorical sense.

Best regards!

aservantofJehovah said...

Some may say that function is all that matters.If you needed some carpentry done would you prefer one who is carpenter in name(by certification) or one who is carpenter in expertise?

aservantofJehovah said...

And as you well know,brother,not all males are men.So in refering to Jehovah(after the apostle Paul)as the original and transcendent male I was in no way attempting to suggest that he is human.I apologize if I gave that impression.

Edgar Foster said...

Thanks for posting, aservantofJehovah. I have two brief points to make this time:

1) We normally distinguish between someone/something that's functional and someone/something that's ontological. I guess we both agree that Jehovah is a Father in a functional sense(i.e. he does the work of a father with great expertise). Maybe the only slight disagreement is the nature of his functional paternity or whether or not Jehovah is a father from an ontological standpoint.

2) I'm not sure that Paul actually calls Jehovah a male. But I did not interpret your words to mean that God is a human, my brother. It seems to me that the Bible denies Jehovah is male or human. Maleness is a sexual category. Yet isn't God sexless?

Edgar Foster said...

K r i s t i n a L a C e lle -
P e t e r s o n (Baylor Uni) writes:

In Deuteronomy, as Moses reviewed Israelite history before entering the Promised Land, he observes of the people: You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.

Deuteronomy 32:18

Moses characterizes God’s formation of the nation of Israel as giving birth. The Psalmist compares his contentment with God to a child with its mother:
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
Psalm 131:2

aservantofJehovah said...

We may be up against the limits of language here.In English male,female would be limited to sexual categories,there are other languages in which this is not the case,including,I believe,hebrew and greek.Of course any comparison of the human with the divine would of necessity be imprecise,I would say that this is because Jehovah's carrying out of the functions with which we make these comparisons is transcendent,not because it is figurative.Of course the bible does use figurative language to refer to Jehovah,The nation of Israel is not a literal person so Jehovah couldn't function as a literal father to it.Psalm131:2 again a person's soul/inner self would not literally be their offspring.Lets for instance consider Jehovah's personhood.Would you say that Jehovah God is a figurative person?Some hold that view.How might you counter such an assertion?


Edgar Foster said...

While both Hebrew and Greek contain instances of words that are grammatically masculine or feminine, but their referents are not (e.g. Qoheleth or PARAKLETOS), I believe that both languages contain gender words for men and women, although we must speak in a qualified sense here.

But I agree that we're dealing with the limitations of human language in this case.

Regarding Jehovah's personhood, it could be literal, figurative or analogical. IMO, it's hard enough to define the term "person" when it applies to human beings or angels. So explaining in what sense Jehovah is a person becomes particularly sticky.

The Bible implies that God is a person, but it doesn't make this idea precise. I would allow for the possibility that Jehovah could be a metaphorical or analogical person. However, if we define a person as an individual substance of a rational nature, then it seems that we could reason our way to the personhood of God like the Live Forever in Paradise book does.

I'll try to spell out this idea in more detail later.

aservantofJehovah said...

"If we define person as an individual
substance of a rational nature,then it seems that we could reason our way to the personhood of God" I am going to assume that you have no reason to think that Jehovah is anything less than a conscious and rational being,and take this statement to mean that you believe that Jehovah is likely a literal person in that sense,and you make this conclusion even though his personhood is unique.So then his uniqueness as a person does not make him less than a literal person.Do you believe that Jehovah is literally the God of Jesus as stated at 1Peter1:3 or is this in your view more figurative language?

Edgar Foster said...

I chose the definition "individual substance of a rational nature" to merely illustrate how the term "person" might be defined. But I recognize that this is not the only acceptable way to define the term. For instance, in the modern era, person generally has been defined as an individual center of consciousness. But regardless of how we define "person" I believe that we can refer to Jehovah as a person (a supernatural person).

I do believe that Jehovah is conscious (he hears prayers) and he is rational (he purposes, probably infers and he wills things). I thus have no problem calling Jehovah a person. My only point is that the Bible might not explicitly say he is a person. Moreover, if we call God a person, then we should probably qualify our talk about him being a person.

I would not say that Jehovah is less than a person. He's just not a person (more than likely) in the exact same way that we're persons.

I do believe that Jehova is literally the God of Jesus, which brings me to another point. According to the scriptures, Jehovah has always been God (Psalm 90:2). Natural reason would tend to suggest this notion as well. For how could God be God, if the Most High Being became ha Elohim/ho Qeos? So I mosty certainly believe that Jehova is literally the God of all (Jesus Christ included).

However, the Bible does not say that Jehovah has always been a Father. Nor does it teach that he is the first person to have the designation "Father" applied to him. Now, I'm not trying to be dogmatic, but just staking out a position that's based on years of researching this subject.

aservantofJehovah said...

I certainly find it comendable that you are not being dogmatic.
I think though you would likely agree that Jehovah was the first to perform function of father Proverbs8:22-30 and that it is not inconceivable that his pre-human progeny may have addressed him with an appellation that could have been translatable as "Father" in human speech Job38:7.Also as you know the term "God" is the masculine form of the noun(the feminine being goddess) and I think you are being very reasonable in not allowing this to be a stumbling block to your acceptance of Jehovah's literal deity despite of what ever qualifications you would assign to Jehovah's masculinity.I also think that you would likely agree that while not explicitly stating that Jehovah is a person the Holy Scriptures necessarily imply as much.Basically we have quite a bit of common ground.I would like,if I may,to suggest an idea for a future article,a look personhood of Satan the Devil through the eyes of various theologians of note.

Edgar Foster said...

Jehovah evidently performed the function of a Father (as we humans use that term) when he created his only-begotten Son and by means of his only-begotten created all other things. But we're looking at those events in retrospect. From our vantage-point, God was possibly doing the work of a father. But I still see no necessary disconnect between doing the work (function) of a father and being a metaphorical father (i.e. the church fathers and the founding fathers). But whereas the literal use of father normally references a male figure (divine or otherwise), I don't believe the Bible writers conceived Jehovah as a divine male.

Do you believe that Jehovah also performs the function of a mother? But if it's true that God functions as a mother at times, we probably would not want to say that God is the most authentic of mothers (ontologically speaking), would we?

As you're aware, grammatical masculinity and femininity do not necessarily map onto biological maleness and femaleness. Masculinity and femininity (in grammatical terms) are accidents of human language. That's why Qoheleth is grammatically feminine and so is Sophia (Proverbs 8:22ff LXX).

Lastly, I will agree that the scriptures do imply Jehovah's personhood. It's just that if we look up the original word translated "person" in scripture, it's not as clear as the English counterpart.

All the best!

aservantofJehovah said...

Some would say that designation is what designation does.Function is the only proper criteria for assessment.I don't believe that the use of the masculine to refer to Jehovah is accidental the scriptures are inspired by him and I believe their portrayal of him as masculine is by his design.He is also portrayed as sexless,the concept of a sexless male is likely beyond our understanding,but this is probably one of those times when we just have to say that it is what it is.
The ideal father would also function as mother at times,so that need not be a stumbling block.
"Sophia" and "qoheleth" are common names/nouns while "Jehovah" is a proper noun/name so his portrayal as Male is not simply a grammatical matter.I guest we will just have to agree to disagree here friend.I don't think this is a major issue.

Edgar Foster said...


I appreciate the discussion. And I'm not trying to have the last word, but just wanted to clarify something.

The distinction is normally made between "being" (ontological) and "doing" (functional). Are there not times when Jesus functions as God, but he is not almighty God? The same can be said for Jehovah's angel (mentioned in Exodus) who has God's name within him.

When I used the term "accidental," my intent was to show that masculinity is a feature of human language. It's just how our abstract systems of signifiers work. Why do inflected languages sometimes depict the sun as masculine and the moon as feminine? I don't believe we can read anything ontological into such uses. These examples just highlight how language works.

I too believe there's a reason why Jehovah is portrayed as masculine in the Bible. But I don't think we can read something about God's being into such imagery. God is evidently communicating in ways that we can understand.

Finally, I find it interesting that some (not necessarily you) want to read masculinity into the term "Father" but do not want to view God as ontologically feminine when maternal language is used for Jehovah. Deut 32:18 actually uses paternal and maternal language for God: Jehovah begets and gives birth. But all such uses are figurative IMHO.

All the best, my friend.

aservantofJehovah said...

The logos is a god even if he isn't almighty God,he never functions more effectively as God than Jehovah would,Jehovah functions as God,King,Father,Creator at the very highest level.The bible always portrays Jehovah the person as masculine.He may peform roles that may be regarded as feminine.But he himself is always portrayed as masculine.You earlier referred to "qoheleth" which is a grammatically feminine common noun ascribed on one occasion to a definitely masculine king Solomon here we can note that a masculine person can perform a feminine designated role.
Mother is never used as a title for Jehovah in scripture,I believe that this is no accident Moses also employed both masculine and feminine imagery to refer to his role or expected Role in the founding of the nation of Israel at numbers11:12 but Moses the person is always like Jehovah the person depicted as Masculine.
If we can go back to the apostle Paul's words at 1Corinthians11:7,8.Paul shows that the order of the creation of the first couple has illustrative significance,that is why the man is to be properly regarded as head in both the congregation and the family see 1 timothy2:13,"Ish" the (male Man) was formed before "ishah"the (female man),this is so,according to Paul,because "Ish"is primarily the image of Jehovah "ishah" being the Glory of "Ish" is also by extension the Glory of Jehovah.But "Man" is the head of family and congregation for an illustrative reason.At verse8 he also mention that the woman was formed not fom the lifeless earth like the man,but from living tissue extracted from the man's torso.I suppose poetically we can say,that the Man was father/mother to the one who eventually became his mate.Without implying that he was other than masculine.Note how a similar expression to the one used by Adam with regard to eve at Genesis2:23 is also employed at 2Samuel5:1,2.Hopefully even if you remain unpersuaded you would at least appreciate why someone may reason along these lines.

Best regards.

Edgar Foster said...


I agree with a lot of what you're saying, although it may seem that we're currently focusing on our differences.

My point about the Logos is that he may function as God (capital 'G') but he's not Almighty God. He is "a god" as you noted in your remarks. But Jehovah does not merely function as God, he IS Elohim/ho Qeos (Psalm 90:2). Our God is also Creator. Now the point at issue for us, is whether he is Father and King in a non-metaphorical sense.

I'm not sure that Jehovah is always portrayed as masculine. I believe there are maternal similes and metaphors used for God in scripture. That does not mean that I believe the Soverein Lord is ontologically feminine. But there are times when Jehovah appears to be portrayed as feminine. I mentioned Deut 32:18 last time, which includes a mixed metaphor that encompasses masculinity and femininity. There is also Isa 45:9-11.

A writer doesn't have to call God "mother" to portray the Most High as feminine. It can be done through the use of similes and metaphors. See Isa 42:14; 66:13.

I understand and appreciate the reasoning used with respect to Moses and Adam. But your comments seem to imply that a man can only be mother in a figurative or functional way. It takes a woman to be the literal "mother of everyone living" (Gen 3:20), just as it evidently takes a man to be the literal father of anyone or anything. Even the church fathers are all men. Yet Hosea 11:9 proclaims that God is not a man. Cf. Isa 31:3.

aservantofJehovah said...

can you point to a specific passage where a feminine personal pronoun is ever used of Jehovah.
And I am not particularly concerned about the way the writers designate him,although it is noteworthy that all their designations are in the masculine.
Father and king are Jehovah's self-designations See Acts13:33 and Malachi1:14.So for me the question would be whether these are authentic designations or not.
The answer would lie in whether he is authentically performing the functions of Father And King at the very highest level.If Jehovah is not Literally father or king,well then,I humbly submit, there are no such things.
As for the thought that only the human male could literally be father I am not sure on what authority you are basing this claim,do you have some scripture in mind perhaps?
What about subhuman males do you consider them figuratively father to their offspring.
When people speak of the logos as functioning as Jehovah I doubt anyone means for that to be taken literally.The only person who can literally function as Jehovah would be Jehovah,And the only reason that the logos can satisfactorily represent Jehovah is because of being enabled by Jehovah to do so John5:30,so,I am not sure about this comparison.
Jehovah,of course is a single parent and as any successful single parent would tell you this of necessity would mean performing the roles of both mother and father although of course any such single parent would be designated according to gender.
So its not surprising that feminine type language would be used of Jehovah as it was used of Moses,Jesus also used feminine type language of himself at luke13:34,
Note too the androgynous description of the locusts at revelation9.
Let me ask you though,would you consider Mary to be the figurative mother of Jesus?

Best regards.

Edgar Foster said...

At the moment, I cannot think of a verse that uses a feminine pronoun for Jehovah. But that is not a major problem for me, because I'm arguing that God is ontologically genderless. Language that uses masculine or feminine imagery for God is only metaphorical (in my view).

With all due respect, I don't think it logically follows that fathers or kings don't exist, if Jehovah is neither a father nor a king. Deut 32:4 calls Jehovah "the Rock." Yet we know that he is not a genuine rock--only like a rock. But let's suppose that Jehovah is not a literal rock. It would not mean that created rocks are any less real.

My claim that only a male could literally be father is based on how language generally works (including scriptural language). When we speak of created fathers (even in Hebrew or Greek), we usually are talking about males (Eve is the mother of everyone living, but Adam is our father).

My biological father is a male, one of my friend's adopted father is male, and the founding fathers are all male. Scripture follows this same pattern (Deut 1:31). The Hebrew "ab" refers to men, when it's used literally of created persons.

Subhuman males are normally fathers by virtue of their biology. Hence, my dog's father is her literal "pater" because he sired her. However, Jehovah has not literally sired anyone. He created the mountains. Yet would we say he literally begot them? Psalms 90:2 possibly uses maternal language to describe God's creation of the mountains (i.e. they were born with travailing). But the language there seems to be figurative.

The articles I've read on the Logos functioning as Jehovah use the term Shaliach to describe his function. He is not Almighty God, but represents him by means of his messianic work. My point, however, is that we have to consider more than the function of something or someone to determine its being. I don't have time to quote the sources now, but I think that those who refer to the functions of ho Logos mean for the language to be taken literally. For example, God creates through Christ in a non-figurative way.

Regarding your single parent example. Single human parents can't bring forth children without some help. They must have a partner or use artificial means of reproduction; otherwise, no begetting or birthing occurs. Although Jehovah does not have a literal consort, however, he still brings forth "children." Now we surely don't want to posit some kind of (literal) weird androgyny for God to explain how God can beget and give birth (like a mother), do we? The metaphorical route just seems much easier.

I have no problem with any of the examples you employed at the conclusion of your message. They actually drive home the point I want to make: although gender language is used for Jehovah, God is neither masculine or feminine (literally speaking). The deity is neither male nor female.

aservantofJehovah said...

Its odd that you take my examples to mean that Jehovah must be genderless,since all of them refer to someone with a specific gender.
I was actually trying to point out that Jehovah's being masculine does not preclude the ocassional use of feminine type language to decribe him.
Likely we would both agree that the vast majority of gender refrences to Jehovah in the inspired text are masculine.
There must be some significance to this.
Your original claim which,I am happy to see you have since correctd,was that only a MAN can be a father,not that only a male can be such.
Your example of Deuteronomy32:4 does not fit because Jehovah is not literally serving in the role of rock,only figuratively so whereas he literally governs creation and literally gives life/existence to other rational beings.
Your reference to biology is why I brought up the issue of Mary.Certainly her motherhood of Jesus transcends biology does that mean that she is not literally his mother.
And while single human parents cannot beget children there are some subhuman single parents that just that no one will argue that they are not literally mother to their children.
As for the mountains they are non-living are not in the likeness of Jehovah,So he is not literally functioning as father.
Where ever one is Literally carrying out the function,not figuratively,then we must take the designation as literal.
Jehovah being the divine father does not require a consort to give life to others in his likeness.this does not make his fatherhood any less authentic.I would argue that this in fact makes his fatherhood more authentic.
best regards

Edgar Foster said...

Hi aservantofJehovah,

I'l try to be concise as possible to make sure my intent is clear:

1) I'm not claiming that you meant to say Jehovah is genderless; that's my belief on the matter. I'm just saying that we should not confuse masculine terminology (a grammatical phenomenon) with masculine persons (a social or ontological phenomenon). Just because God is called father or king does not make God masculine, IMO.

2) We agree that the bulk of language about Jehovah is masculine. I guess we just part ways on what it all means. If I may ask a question of you, do you think angels are gendered? I believe that masculine terms are always used of the angels. But does that mean they're masculine from an ontological perspective?

3) I have not changed my original claim regarding fathers. In this context, male and man are synonyms. After all, a woman cannot be a literal father, can she?

4) How do we know Jehovah is not a literal rock? I'm not particularly criticizing you at this moment, but here is where I see an inconsistency among those who want to insist that Jehovah is a literal father, but then say that he's a metaphorical shepherd, lion, temple or rock. Of course, I agree that the rock language is figurative. But why can't we apply the same logic to father imagery? Rocks are creations. So Jehovah is probably not a literal rock. Fathers are also created entities. If that's true, then how can Jehovah be a literal father?

5) I will concede that Jehovah governs creation and causes things to become. But I do not agree that he is a literal king or father.

6) Mary could be viewed as Jesus' literal mother because she gave birth to him (among other things). There is a biological connection between Christ and his mother. She is his mother in his capacity as a human. Mary was not his mother prior to the event described in Phil 2:6-7.

7) I would reason that if there are children, then they must be parents. My dog (as a puppy) had 2 parents. So did my cats. If we're going to use the term "children," would that not imply that parents are involved?

8) We cannot beg the question about literal speech. When Jesus teaches us to pray, "Our father who art in heaven," that use seems figurative to me. but you would probably say it's literal. How can we tell whether the use of father is symbolic or literal without committing a logical fallacy known as "assuming the what needs to be proved"?

9) A final problem I have with understanding God's paternity in literal terms is that it requires us to portray God's divine fatherhood in a way that differs almost completely from earthly fatherhood. You say, God is a father, but God is not a male (a man). Or God begets people in his image, but he doesn't need a consort to do it. There is no bilogical connection between us and Jehovah. Yet he is supposed to be our literal father.

I'm winding down my part of the conversation because I don't want to repeat myself. But thanks for the dialogue.

aservantofJehovah said...

Well here we go
1)I did not ay that you claimed that I said that Jehovah is genderless,only that your using my examples as proof that Jehovah is likely genderless seemed inconsistent;I doubt that you would take the ssame position with regard to any of the other examples I employed.
2)Don't you find it interesting that angels always materialized in the male form throughout the scriptures,or that even in visions they appear in masculine form.
That Satan used the female form to lure the apostate angels from their post see genesis6:3.It seems that angels are also superhuman sexless males like their father.
4)I know this because the account does not show him literally functioning as a rock.Let me illustrate what I am getting at.
a music composer's style of composing music might be likened carpentry or knitting.He may even come to be designated the carpenter.But as he is not literally making furniture or other wooden items nor is he literally producing any knitting we understand these terms figuratively.That would be different from saying that someone who literally produces wooden items of the highest quality is figuratively a carpenter simply because he accomplishes his carpentry in a unique way.
Which seems to me to be equivalent to what you are trying to say of Jehovah's fatherhood.
5)Causing things to become makes him a creator,Causing persons to become is what makes him Father.
We agree that he is rightful governor of all creation but you don't think he is king.Well if that's your belief that's your belief,but it seems a bit contradictory to me.
6)There is also a biological connection between Mary and her other relatives,And certainly Mary's motherhood of Jesus is not in keeping with any biology known to man.I agree that she is Jesus literal mother but I think that fact should give us pause before we deny Jehovah's literal fatherhood of Jesus simply because it too is not in keeping with biology as usual.
7)I am not sure as to which particular point this would be a response,so this is a shot in the dark.I did make the point that some species reproduce asexually.But I was merely attempting to show that even on the physical level there are ways to obtain offspring other than by sex.So we should not be in any mad rush to deny Jehovah's literal fatherhood simply because it is asexaul or not in keeping with biology as currently understood.
8)I take Jehovah to be the literal Father because he literally performs the function of Father i.e to give life/existence to rational beings.He performs this function at a higher level than any other so called father and is therefore more worthy of the designation.
I have no problem with the expression also being used of him in a figurative sense,For instance Abraham while being the literal father of Isaac and Jacob is also the figurative father of the faithful See James2:21.How do we know whether any reference to Abraham's fatherhood in scripture is meant to be taken literally or figuratively.
Obviously those references that deal with is literal causing of life,or those that deal with his interaction with those whose life he has literally caused are to be taken literally.
9)This last point reminds of those who claim that if individual existence totally ceases at death there can be know literal resurrection,because all a resurrected individual would be is a clone with artificial memories and not literally the same individual.Jehovah invented physics,chemistry,biology he therefore trancends them all.
physics,chemistry or biology can no more be a barrier to Jehovah's becoming an authentic father,than they can to his peforming an authentic resurrection.
We have probably both said all that we can on our respective positions so I'd have no problem with leaving our readers to make up their own minds from here.

Edgar Foster said...

I think you laid out your position well, but it seems that neither one of us convinced the other, and that's okay since this issue does not revolve around essential Christian doctrine. I will undoubtedly post other things from time to time that bear on this question. But concerning the angels, Jesus implied that they neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Although they appeared in male form--they are probably not ontological males. Angels have wings and multiple eyes in visions too. But do they have wings and many eyes in reality?

I know it may seem that I'm suggesting Jehovah produces carpentry in a unique way (to use your analogy), yet he's not a carpenter. However, that is not what I'm claiming at all. I believe that Jehovah can be likened to a human father when he creates persons or inanimate beings (stars, persons, etc.). See James 1:17.

Creating does not necessarily mean to father something. Mothers also bring things into being. Yet most theists (Witnesses and others) deny that Jehovah is a literal mother or divine female. I understand how visions and scripture generally portray God. But that could be for our benefit, in order to help us comprehend spiritual things.

The truth of the matter is that IMO, Jehovah can be said to govern the universe. That's a human way of speaking and it's fine with me. The only thing we have at our disposal is human discourse. But most of this language is likely metaphorical or anthropomorphic. We say that God has arms, eyes, ears, and hands. But hardly anyone takes such language at face value. God created eyes; he does not need them.

One problem I have with the asexual example is that Jehovah is compared to a man when the Bible writers call him "Father." They evidently were not likening him to asexual beings. Do we call the productions of asexual things, "children"? That would be a question I have about this example.

It seems inconsistent to call Jehovah a literal father because he produces life, but to think of him as a figurative mother, although he also gives birth (in a sense). Just to clarify, would you restrict literal speech about Jehovah as a parent to the father attributions and not view God as a literal mother too?



aservantofJehovah said...

Are you familiar with the seahorse,You probably know that it is the male of the seahorse species that bear the young and give birth.I know,wierd.
I have tried to make it clear that the imagery that is often ascribed to Jehovah as pertains to masculinity or kingship,fatherhood is metaphorical.I have tried to make a distinction between this figurative imagery and the literal functions that Jehovah performs.
It seems to me that their is a continual confusion of these two issues on your part.
Not all males are men.There are human males,subhuman males,superhuman males and then there is the supreme male.And they are all very different in nature etc.
As a single parent Jehovah would be required to perform both the functions of mother and father.
While this would constitute a limit to a Human male it is no limit to the supreme male.
When the bible refers to Jehovah as father any comparison to human fatherhood would be partial,but this would not make his parenthood any less authentic.And I don't see why anyone would want to deny that creatures that reproduce asexually are any less parents to their offspring than those who reproduce sexually are.
on the human level one who invents or creates a thing is also called father to his invention or creation.Although we all understand this to be meant in the figurative sense only when he causes another person to exists do we understand the term father in a literal way.
Consider please"Luke1:32KJV"He shall be great,and called son of the highest:and the Lord God shall give him the throne of His father david." I doubt that you would insist that David is only figuratively the father of Jesus why then insist that the one who Jesus himself said was more of a father to him than David is not Jesus' authentic father See Matthew22:41-43.
Here is my problem You would say that Jehovah is literally creator even though there is lot of figurative imagery in the bible pertaining to Jehovah's creating,likening it to the way humans create,even though the way Jehovah creates is very different from the way anyone else creates.
You would not say that Jehovah is like a creator.No,you would acknowledge that Jehovah is creator in the very highest sense.
It just seems inconsistent then that you are unable to make the same conclusion re:his authentic parenthood(to use a nice gender neutral term.).
I agree though that its o.k to disagree on this issue.Its an interesting aside but its not the meat and potatoes of our faith.

best regards.

Edgar Foster said...

One thing about the seahorse, however, which I'm sure you've not overlooked is that he still needs a female to bring forth his young. He can't do it alone.

You say I'm confused about Jehovah's masculinity as it pertains to his kingship or paternity. Okay. But that does not solve the problem with reasoning that because something has a function (F), then something (X) is G (some determinate entity). For instance, my teeth can perform the function of a bottle cap opener. But that does not make my teeth synonymous with a bottle cap opener. It is similar with Jehovah functioning as a father.

I was under the impression that we were primarily talking about human males. All human males are men. And that's the important point (IMO) because the Bible compares Jehovah to a human father: not to a subhuman father (Deut 1:31; Psalm 103:13-14). While you insist that there are superhuman males or a supreme male, that has yet to be proved from scripture. No Bible verse speaks of God as a male with respect to his ontos. Maybe in visions or symbolic language, but not as a matter of fact.

I had a question about asexual productions being called "children." That may be the proper use of the term for them; I don't know. But the point seems to be tangential since Jehovah explicitly is likened to a human father per Deut 8:5; Heb 12:7-11.

When we call inventors, "fathers," the word is being used in a transferred or derivative sense. An inventor is not literally a father of his invention. We appear to concur on this point.

David had a biological connection to Jesus: he was the literal forefather of Christ. But Jehovah was his father by performing a miracle whereby a virgin could give birth to the Son of God. Jehovah did not impregnate Mary like Zeus reportedly impregnated fleshly women. The Virgin Birth was a wondrous deed. It did not involve Jehovah transferring any of his DNA to Mary.

I refer to Jehovah as creator because the Bible identifies him as such. There is a sense, however, in which all of this language is anthropomorphic insofar as it's humanly formulated. I refer to God as father and even use the personal pronoun "he" when referencing him. But none of these things mean that I believe Jehovah is a literal father or that God is gendered. Nor do I believe that Gabriel or any other angel is gendered, although I call refer to them with masculine pronouns.

The Bible uses numerous images to help us comprehend God's works. Jehovah formed Adam from the dust of the ground. The original Hebrew used in Genesis implies that God formed Adam like a potter forms a vessel. But while Jehovah is called the great Potter, again, I think that's simply another metaphor for the work of God. There's nothing wrong with calling Jehovah "our maker" or the great "potter" or "creator." Human discourse is all we have to communicate spiritual ideas.

Best regards.

aservantofJehovah said...

It seems to me that you are using the human as the standard of the fully authentic.I would take the position that the divine should serve as the standard of the fully authentic.
My point about the seahorse is that there are even on the natural level several diferent pathways to parenthood.All of them are authentic.
I am certainly not saying that Jehovah's parenthood is synonymous
with human parenthood,Just that it is more authentic than human parenthood.
Jesus himself made the point that Jehovah's parenthood was the genuine one that his human ancestry was less authentic than his divine ancestry Matthew22:41-43.I agree that when inventors are called father of their inventions that this is not meant to be taken literally that was my whole point.
We make a distinction between causing things to exist and causing people to exists.
Again you are confusing the imagery with function.In addition to being likened to a human father,he is also likened to an eagle over its fledglings at deuteronomy32:11.The imagery his figurative,the designation is not.
Because Jehovah did not become father by way of sex does not mean that his fatherhood is somehow less authentic than those who do.
As is the case with his creatorship the imagery is figurative,the method unique but the designation is literal.
I would raise the same point as to the isue of masculinity the human is a mere copy of the divine and should not be view as the standard of authenticity in my view.

Edgar Foster said...

I'm using humaninity as what constitutes authentic fatherhood because scripture compares Jehovah to a human father. We have no clear biblical evidence that God was a father before he created human fathers. Metaphors are often used in holy texts without the reader being explicitly told that they're metaphors. We must use reasoning and context to separate literary devices from prosaic discourse.

The point I'm making about the seahorse is that it involves mating and birth doesn't happen alone in its case. But in Jehovah's case, no sexual union occurs when he fathers something or someone. Nor is there any sexual union when God gives (figurative) birth.

I don't think Matt 22:41-43 is teaching us that God's fatherhood is more authentic than human paternity. The Messiah was David's son. However, in his preexistence, he was the Son of God. But "son of God" could be a metaphor like "sons of the prophets" or "sons of the Devil" or the "sons of disobedience." The language does not have to imply that divine paternity is more authentic.

Jehovah is called father when he causes things and persons to exist. He's the father of rain and of the stars, sun and moon. In both cases, it seems to be figurative discourse. I do not make a sharp distinction between these 2 uses (in God's case).

I'm not sure how we know the designation "father" is not figurative. The metaphor was common in antiquity. If God is literally father, the point must be rigorously demonstrated, would you not agree?

It's not simply that Jehovah does not become father by means of sex. Jehovah is also not a male (according to the way we use language). God does not have a sex. Yet being male is a sexual category. It's hard to understand how a sexless being can be classified as a male.

Have a good afternoon.

aservantofJehovah said...

Well if he is a figurative father because his fatherhood is compared to human fatherhood,then he must be a figurative creator,Lord,because his Lordship and creatorship are also compared to human creatorship and human Lordship.We know that he functioned as a creator and lord before any man did albeit by different methods,We also know that he functioned as father before any human did also by unique methods proverbs8:22-30.
This is how I would distinguish between the literal and the figurative.There is much about Jehovah that is difficult to understand.So our being unable to understand the concept of a sexless male is neither here nor there.
Some might find the idea that he is without beginning just as confusing.
And it is clear to me that a comparison is being made between Jesus' Sonship Of david and his higher sonship of God at matthew22:41-43,
the devil,disobedience,etc. did not literally give life to those spoken of as their sons.
Jesus is dealing with his origin.
This did not begin at the human level,but at the level of the divine.Jehovah was more responsible for his existence than any human see John6:57.
I don't know why you keep bringing up the issue of sex.
If one can accept the literal parenthood of Mary apart of sex or even normal biology.Why is it being deemed such an extraordinary leap to accept the literal parenthood of Jehovah apart from sex.
The fact that Jehovah creates by a unique method does not prevent us from accepting his literal creatorship,the fact that he rules,exercises power by unique means does not prevent us from accepting his literal Lordship,Why should the fact that he procreates by unique means be deemed a stumbling block to accepting his literal parenthood.
It is difficult to be sure of anything about Jehovah.But it seems to me that his being a literal father can't be ruled out any more than his being literal Lord or creator.
Most of your objections thus far would apply with equal force to these other designations.

Edgar Foster said...

I bring up sex because "male" is a sexual term when we're talking about persons, animals and even plants. A sexless male person seems contradictory.

I accept the literal parenthood of Mary because there's a physical/biological connection between her and Jesus. But there is no biological tie between us and Jehovah: he's our Creator--not our Procreator.

Jehovah's lordship and kingly rule have been interpreted in metaphorical terms. And, as I said earlier, his creatorship could also be anthropomorphic.

I don't think that "procreate" is the right verb to use for Jehovah's activity unless one is using it figuratively. We normally are rerring to reproduction when that term is employed literally.

In Psalm 2:7ff, Jehovah declared that when he installed his messianic king upon Mt Zion, that day, his king was "begotten."

The Greek scriptures apply ps 2:7ff to the resurrection of Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses have applied the passage to Christ's enthronment in 1914. Either way, do you understand that verse literally or metaphorically? In what sense did Christ become God's Son and Jehovah become his Father?


aservantofJehovah said...

I would submit that there is a biological connection between Jehovah and every living thing.Psalms36:9.
So for me this is not an issue.
Male need not be a sexual term we see that in other languages it is used in other ways,are you suggesting that a male who can't reproduce is neuter,I don't consider the way these other languages used the term to be any less authentic than the way it is used in English.
At acts13:33 the apostle used the expression begotten to refer to Christ resurrection i.e his literally recieiving life from Jehovah,which is pretty much the way it is used in referrence to humans and the fact that he lived before was not an issue with mary so it need not be an issue with Jehovah.
But in an attempt to remove the gender issue from the equation I am going to take a different approach.
That is to suggest that terms like Father,King,Lord as used of Jehovah are not gendered terms,they are generic classifications that have nothing to do with Gender.
For instance at Daniel2:47.Jehovah is called a Lord of Kings.we properly understand kings to include Female rulers as well.
(I note with interest that you would put Jehovah's Lordship at a lower Level than those kings over which he is said to be Lord).
Genesis8:21,We properly understand man Here as a generic term that includes woman,the heart of woman is also wicked from her youth up.
At John6:49 Fathers in this Verse is understood to include Mothers.If we take this approach to Jehovah's designations then "Father" would simply refer to a parent,progenitor,ancestor
irrespective of whether same is male, female or neuter,"King"would refer to a sovereign/regent/monarch irrespective of whether same is male,female or neuter.Even his masculinity can be viewed as generic expression refering to one possessing a certain vigor and fitness for rulership with no indication as to gender or lack there of.If we approach the matter in this way the gender issue becomes a non-issue.

Edgar Foster said...

One definition for "biology" is "the science of life or living matter in all its forms and phenomena, especially with reference to origin, growth, reproduction, structure, and behavior."

Jehovah is not a biological organism. So, how can there be a biological connection between us and God? My mother and I are biologically connected because she is one organism, who gave me life. But categories like biology do not apply to spirit beings.

No, I'm not suggesting that males who cannot reproduce are neuter. But here are two definitions for the term "male":

"1. a person bearing an X and Y chromosome pair in the cell nuclei and normally having a penis, scrotum, and testicles, and developing hair on the face at adolescence; a boy or man.
an organism of the sex or sexual phase that normally produces a sperm cell or male gamete."

What examples do you have in mind of a language that uses the word "male" (especially when pertaining to humans or animals) in a literal non-sexual way?

If you say that father (etc) are not gendered terms, then we're closer now (positionally) than when we began.

I don't have a lot of time to address your remarks about lordship. I'd rather abstain from commenting than be too brief and fail to clarify my position. But do you apply the term "king" to females rulers as well? Is that based on the biblical usage of "king" or some other factor?

I agree that "man" is generic in Gen 8:21, but John 6:49 is probably talking about male forefathers, not using the term generically. I could be mistaken, but it seems to be referencing males only.

I could accept much of what you say at the last part of your reply. But my preferred terminology for such an approach would be metaphorical.

Best regards.

aservantofJehovah said...

The point is that you have attempted to limit gender to roles in sexual reproduction,even at the level of the natural this limit does not apply,there are naturally non-reproductive females and naturally non-reproductive males.As for genetics that is neither here nor there,biologist can only elucidate on what they have studied.No biologist has made a study of superhuman life.
Jehovah is Absolutely Immortal it does not get any more biological than that.And he is the source of everyone else's biology psalm36:9.
So there is definitely a biological connection between him and every living person.The implications of the claim that John6:49 excludes mothers are untenable in my view.So too any implication that Daniel2:47 excludes female rulers.
The Metaphorical would exclude things that the generic does not so "metaphorical" would be the incorrect term,"Generic" would be the proper term.

Edgar Foster said...

I actually make a distinction between gender (masculine/feminine/neuter) and sex (male/female). Male is a sexual category; gender is not. It's not my definition. That's how the word "male" is defined in numerous dictionaries. Just ask a biologist whether the word "male" or "female" is a sexual term or not.

By definition, biology doesn't apply to superhuman life. Jehovah created biological organisms: he is not one. Nor are the angels. Just because he's the source of life does not mean God is biological. The Greeks even made a distinction between bios and zoe.

As we commonly use the term "biology," it can't apply to God. Nor does the discipline of physics apply to Jehovah. He transcends the physical.

For the use of "fathers" in Jn 6:49, see

Compare Malachi 2:10; 4:6; Luke 1:55; John 7:22; Acts 3:13, 25; 7:12-15.

Is there a lexical basis for including female rulers in Dan 2:47?

I guess you prefer "generic" whereas I think father is metaphorical (in Jehovah's case). But to say that divine masculinity may stand for vigor or fitness to rule sounds metaphorical to me, especially if it doesn't involve gender. But I understand the difference between generic and metaphorical.

aservantofJehovah said...

I am not dealing with the lexical meaning of the words I am dealing with their meaning by implication.
For instance Matthew1:23,quotes Isaiah7:14 rendering the word maiden in Isaiah as virgin in greek
maiden in this context is virgin by implication,Not lexically.
Similarly to suggest that Jehovah's authority does not queens or female rulers is not on in my view,by implication kings would include Queens and other female rulers.
and again to Suggest that the ancestral matriarchs did not also parttake of the manna is untenable.
Male/female may or may not refer to one's role in sexual reproduction.We were all sexless males/females from birth to puberty.In a termite colony the vast majority of males/females remain sexless for their entire lives.
Male/female need have nothing to do with sex.And Jehovah isn't merely the source of life he is living "zontos" from "Zoe",also of his logos it is said at John1:4 that in him was "Zoe" And he is living on far higher level than any biologist.If we define biology as Science:knowledge/truth about life Jehovah is biology personified.I prefer generic because it does not rule out the idea that he is literally male.
it leaves the question of gender undetermined.Even a generic male could also be male in the more specific sense of gender.
Also consider 1Corinthians15:22KJV"For as in Adam all die,even so in Christ all will be made alive."
What relationship with Adam causes death?Is it not our literal descent?even those who don't manifest Adams rebellious spirit also die Romans5:14.So this can't refer to figurative fatherhood.
The apostle then goes on to state that those Who have the same relationship to Christ will get perfect life.So Christ's Divine Fatherhood is adjudged by Jehovah God(the only opinion that matters)as being as least as authentic Adams human fatherhood.If this were not so there would be know legal basis for Jehovah's granring the Children of the second Adam perfect life.If I go to the baker to by literal bread I cannot offer him figurative money can I?I think that he would likely insist on literal money for his literal bread,at the very least literal money would involve a lot less negotiating.We all know what a stickler for propriety Jehovah God is,he deemed the life of the one nearest and dearest to him a bargain for the sake of propriety.

Edgar Foster said...


I appreciate your replies.

1) Admittedly, there is controversy regarding the Hebrew word Almah. But it seems that the word can possibly have the lexical meaning, "virgin."

"There is no instance where it can be proved that 'almâ designates a young woman who is not a virgin. The fact of virginity is obvious in Gen 24:43 where 'almâ is used of one who was being sought as a bride for Isaac." (R. Laird Harris, et al. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p. 672.)

2) I believe there's a good reason why the Bible speaks of "kings" in the verse you cited (Dan 2:47) instead of using the feminine "queens." Maybe "queens" is implied, but I'm not that comfortable with drifting away from the lexical approach. I'd like to see a clear example of this use.

3) I am not saying that the female ancestors did not partake of manna. My point is that the Bible writers normally focused on men when penning their works. For example, Genesis reports that Jehovah God drove the man out of the garden. It doesn't mention the woman being driven out. Why is that? Nor does the Bible talk about the foolishness of a young girl. Does that mean young girls do not practice folly? I don't think so. But there's a reason why the texts focus on males.

4) I disagree with the idea that we were all sexless males from birth to puberty. that just cannot be true; or else, we would not have been known as little boys or little girls when we were born, nor when we were young. Male and female (when applied to humans) are certainly sexual categories. A number of dictionaries bear this point out. The fact that ants are male or female mean that they have a sex. That's what I mean by male and female being sexual categories. I don't mean that a sexual being necessarily has sexual relations.

5) when I stated that Jehovah is the source of life, I was alluding to Psalm 36:9.

6) Biology is not science: it's ONE of the sciences that deals with part of our physical world. Biology studies biological organisms. Its subject matter is not Jehovah.

7) We agree that Adam is not our figurative father. But I think that Christ is (Isa 9:6-7). Metaphors can also be authentic: not every level of metaphoricity is necessarily false.

The price that Jesus paid is somewhat figurative. He gave his literal blood in our behalf. However, the transactional nature of the ransom is likely figurative.

aservantofJehovah said...

1.Well "alma"certainly could not have meant "virgin" in the initial fulfillment of this prophecy."
2.Most monarchs are kings so yes the emphasis would be on kings,if you carefully examine the context however the point being made by nebuchadnezzar is obviously that Jehovah's authority is above all monarchs irrespective of sex. What about revelation19:19 do you likewise believe that "kings" excludes queens/female rulers in this passage.
3)John6:49NIV"Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and yet they died."
John6:49CEB"Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and they died"
John6:49CEV"Your ancestors ate manna in the desert,and later they died"
John6:49GNT"Your ancestors ate manna in the desert,but they died"
John6:49NRSVA"Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness,and they died."
John6:49NLT"Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness,but they all died."
John6:49GW"your ancestors ate the manna in the desert and died"
Well you get the idea the possibility can't be ruled out same holds true of Daniel2:47.
Kings here must include queens for the text to make sense.
Interestingly at Genesis Jehovah is quoted as saying "Adam" has become like us not "ish" has become like us,As you know "Adam" could also include the woman Genesis1:27.
And the scriptures evidently did not mention the foolishness of a young girl because there was no need to do so.The audience would understand "boy" as "child"regardless of gender.
4)Before puberty our gender classifications had nothing to do with sexual reproduction,this is what I mean by sexless.So yes we thought of as being either male or female but those were not sexual categories,Similarly with termites most males and females are incapable sexual reproduction,naturally,not due to injury or disease,as is the case with humans before puberty.
5)I don't know why you think this is an issue the point I was making was that He himself is also the living God.Indeed if he was lifeless he could not serve as the source of life"
6)I most certainly did not say or imply that biology was science in toto,I specifically stated that it was science about life,This of necessity would involve a study of living organisms,and no it did not slip me that Jehovah and his angels are unavailable for scientific scrutiny but this fact does not make them non-biological,once one is alive one is biological,on the subject of life there is no higher authority than Jehovah God.
7)Well apparently Jehovah does not regard Christ's fatherhood as figurative or in could not adequately substitute for Adam's literal fatherhood any more than his figurative death would be equivalent to Adam's literal death.The figurative would be inauthentic as a substitute for the literal."Jesus' loss was literally equivalent to Adam's loss that is all that was necesary.Likewise his Fatherhood must also be precisely equivalent(although achieved by very a different method) in Jehovah's eyes or in would carry no legal force."

Best regards

aservantofJehovah said...

Ps.In response no.7 I of course meant to say that Jehovah regards Christ's fatherhood as literal,and not as stated.

Edgar Foster said...

1) I would say that almah probably did not refer to a virgin in the minor fulfillment, but the word could still have the lexical meaning "virgin." Admittedly, there's a debate over the semantics of the Hebrew noun. Nonetheless, there have been many arguments put forth to demonstrate that it can denote a "virgin" or maiden.

2) I'm not sure that the context of Daniel 2:47 lends itself to understanding "kings" to include all monarchs. I have yet to find a source that shows the word can be used that way, although you may be right. I know that "kings" is sometimes used metonymically for "kingdoms." But that's not the same as claiming that the term encompasses queens too.

I'm not going to quibble about John 6:49, although I still believe that Christ had the males in mind when making that utterance. They were the ones who died in the wilderness. Compare Numbers 14:29-30; Joshua 5:6.

3) I thought about the point regarding "Adam" being generic. But one thing that indicates otherwise might be the words: "and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever-" (Gen 3:22 ASV)

Compare Gen 3:21, 23-24 which is also rendered with the singular pronoun, suggesting that the man was driven out, but we only learn in Gen 4:1ff that the woman was also expelled.

4) Male and female are sexual categories, whereas masculine and feminine are gender classifications. I have tried to make it clear that my meaning is that male and female are sexual categories insofar as those designated as such (on the human level especially) have genitalia, hormones and chromosomes. My point is not that a male or female must reproduce, but male and female are still sexual categories in the sense I've described:

"A male (♂) organism is the physiological sex which produces sperm" (wikipedia).

5) I agree that Jehovah is the living God. I was only explaining why I said he is the source of life.

6) I offer a correction on my remarks about biology. My apologies. Yet my overall point was that biology does not study Jehovah or the angels, and I stick by that comment. Biology studies biological organisms. Here is how the American Heritage Dictionary defines biology:

"The science of life and of living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution. It includes botany and zoology and all their subdivisions.
The life processes or characteristic phenomena of a group or category of living organisms: the biology of viruses.
The plant and animal life of a specific area or region."

So, it's not just life. Biology is the study of particular kinds of life within the empirical world.

7) When I refer to Jesus as a figurative "pater," I mean that he did not reproduce children by means of sexual intercourse. Nor was a literal female involved with the process. Christ produces "children" by making it possible for humans to have everlasting life. However, I do believe Christ literally died for our sins.

All the best.

aservantofJehovah said...

4)"Produces sperm"So then if one produces no sperm one is not Male?
before puberty mammals produce neither sperm nor ova.does this mean they are neither male or female until they start producing such.
6)Have you ever heard of the term exobiology.every living thing whether discovered by biologists or not must be biological in some way.Biology transcends biologists,who merely attempt to discover biology.
7)The fact that Jesus produced his children by asexual means does not render his fatherhood figurative in Jehovah's eyes.His opinion is the final authority on the issue.
5)No problem then.
3)The singular pronoun need not be a problem see Judges1:3KJV
2)Nebuchadnezzar was not likely refering to kingdoms it makes no sense to say that Jehovah's kingship does not also extend over queens.And what about revelation19:19 are female rulers also excluded in this verse.
Christ did not mention dying in the wilderness he simply said that they died.Which is true of all the hebrew ancestors.Even those who made it to the promise land.
1)I did not say that "alma" could not be,depending on context,understood as "virgin"Just that this,apparently,is not the primary meaning of the word.

Edgar Foster said...

4) That's one definition for "male." I used it to show that the term has reference to a sexual category. Earlier, I also quoted another source, which defined "male" as:

"1. a person bearing an X and Y chromosome pair in the cell nuclei and normally having a penis, scrotum, and testicles, and developing hair on the face at adolescence; a boy or man.
2. an organism of the sex or sexual phase that normally produces a sperm cell or male gamete."

6) Exobiology is an interesting concept. But even that kind of biology does not study angels or God. It's still concerned with things that (in principle) can be demonstrated by empirical methods, isn't it?

7) We'll have to agree to disagree on Jesus' paternity, I guess. I would not call his fatherhood an "asexual" one (based on the definition of that word). Nevertheless, I respect your view on the matter.

3) Did you mean Judges 1:4? If so, point taken, although it doesn't seem to obviate the point from Genesis 3:21-24 since the text explicitly says "And Jehovah God proceeded to make long garments of skin for Adam and for his wife and to clothe them" NWT).

So Adam or "the man" must refer to the husband of Eve in this context. It cannot include her. Other scholars have observed that Genesis 3 only says the man (Adam, husband of Eve) was driven out. The writer only reports Eve's ouster in Gen 4:1ff.

2) Here again, I was not implying Dan 2:47 has kingdoms in mind. My remark was only intended to show the semantic range of the word "kings" in the Hebrew-Aramaic scriptures. It can sometimes mean "kingdoms". For example, in Daniel 7:17-24. But I have yet to see the word "kings" include female monarchs.

Rev 19:19 evidently does refer to male rulers. Note how John uses the Greek expression in Rev 17:2; 18:3; 21;24. Furthermore, he uses the term metonymically as well.

Jamison, Fausset and Brown explain Jn 6:49 thus:

"recurring to their own point about the manna, as one of the noblest of the ordained preparatory illustrations of His own office: 'Your fathers, ye say, ate manna in the wilderness; and ye say well, for so they did, but they are dead—even they whose carcasses fell in the wilderness did eat of that bread; the Bread whereof I speak cometh down from heaven, which the manna never did, that men, eating of it, may live for ever.'"

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible also makes this observation:

"It was an opinion of the Jews themselves that their fathers, who perished in the wilderness, should never have a resurrection. Our Lord takes them on their own ground: Ye acknowledge that your fathers who fell in the wilderness shall never have a resurrection; and yet they ate of the manna: therefore that manna is not the bread that preserves to everlasting life, according even to your own concession."

1) We differ on "alma." I believe that "virgin" could be the primary meaning (i.e. sense) of the term.

aservantofJehovah said...

1)Many others equally qualified would beg to differ,everyone ate the manna and they all died, the manna through Moses did save the nation but not completely, the better manna through Christ saves completely that is the point revelation2:17.
2)So is it your position then that Babylon the great is a literal female who commits literal fornication with all the male world rulers?
If he uses the term metonymically then it definitely includes female rulers. As I said even though lexically kings would refer to male rulers by implication the text at Daniel2:47 must include female rulers for it to make sense likewise the text at revelation19:19.
3)Well the going back and forth between the singular and the plural would seem to confirm the point.
By Jehovah's decree the Man and his wife were one Genesis2:24.No,I meant Judges1:3KJV but Judges1:4KJV helps to make the point that the going back and forth between singular and plural likely suggest some kind of collective singular.
7)All "asexual" means is apart from sex,I am not thereby comparing it with any of the forms of asexual parenthood with which humans are familiar. A lot of people disagree with me(some even find me disagreeable) its never been a problem.
6)No biologists can scrutinize Jehovah and his angels but it is interesting that Biologists don't confine the term biology to those lifeforms with which they are familiar.Every lifeform is biological in some way whether its biology is known or unknown.
4)So there are two definitions of male only one of which has anything to do with sexual reproduction.As you have admitted biologist are no authority on superhuman life and so cannot make any authoritative input on the issue of whether such life could be gendered though sexless.
Even on the level of the natural there are males who don't fit either description as these descriptions apply only to human males.

Edgar Foster said...

1) Granted, men and women ate the manna. But it was certain males who were fated to die in the wilderness, although they consumed bread from heaven.

2) I believe that Babylon the Great is a figurative woman, who commits spiritual fornication with literal male rulers. I don't think John envisioned a symbolic women figuratively courting male and female rulers. He evidently means what he says: Kings (i.e. male rulers).

If we read Dan 2:47 or Rev 19:19 through ancient eyes, I don't think we then have to conclude that female rulers must be included. I would actually be surprised if "queen" was part of the semantic range for "king." Nor do I deem it likely that "queen" is to be understood by implication (within its original context).

3) The man and his wife were one. But when Gen 3:21 speaks of Adam's "wife," it must have reference to the male (Adam) and not both the male and female.

4) Asexual means more than "apart from sex." These kinds of organisms reproduce in a way that makes them asexual. But, for the record, although we may be divided on this point, I don't find you disagreeable.

5) As we commonly use the word "biology" (even exobiology), the term cannot and does not apply to God or angels. Now we may choose to use our own vocabulary and apply the word to Jehovah or his spirit sons. But I doubt that hardly any biologist will practice this convention because of what "biology" usually signifies.

7) Male and female (when literally applied to humans) are always sexual terms. I'm sure you've probably checked one of those boxes on an application that asks for your sex. The choice is "male" or "female." Even before puberty, we could tick off those boxes and be telling the truth. We are sexual beings in that we're males and females.

aservantofJehovah said...

1)Jesus made no reference to anyone's dying in the wilderness at John6:49.
The manna through Moses by its saving of the nation became a type of the superior manna of the greater Moses,revelation2:17
2)So then is it your position that false religion makes no attempt to court female rulers?I am not dealing with the lexical meaning of the term King I am dealing with the obvious implications Babylon the great as an empire over all the kingdoms of the world so that must include those headed by female monarchs Revelation17:18,you said the term "kings" was being used metonymically by the writers I am open to that suggestion but then "kings" would certainly include queens.There were queens in ancient times.What about revelation14:4 are these all males as well,incidentally here we have a good example of the "generic male"
3)"Adam" is being used as proper noun in this verse,if you check strong's you will see that it even has its own number.
4)Any reproduction that happens apart from sex would be asexual.Whether biologist are familiar with it or not.
And I am most please to hear that you don't find me disagreeable.
5)I am dealing with the literal meaning of the word "Bios"=Life every living thing is biological.
Biologist don't determine biology,scientist don't determine science,Biologist attempt to discover biology.But biology does not await the discovery of biologist to become biology,neither does science await the discovery of scientists to become science.
7)"When applied to humans"Interesting what about when applied to superhumans,When applied to a human infant these terms are only sexual in prospect it is expected that eventual the child will acquire a capacity for a role in sexual reproduction,most do,a few don't.As I continue to say Gender may or may not be related to capacity for a role in sexual reproduction.

Edgar Foster said...

1) The context and the Hebrew-Aramaic scriptures themselves show that although males ate manna in the wilderness, they still perished there. See Numbers 14:29-30; John 6:31; 1 Corinthians 10:5; Heb 3:17. Gerald Borchert I(a Johannine scholar) has called John 6:31ff a possible Exodus typology. I agree that the manna given through Moses was a type of the greater bread offered by means of Christ.

2) I believe we're dealing with two different things on the king issue. In the fulfillment of the prophecy, false religion evidently courts rulers or kingdoms, period. So we masy have a slight disagreement at the most on that point. But I have tried to argue that the lexical meaning of "kings" in scripture does not have "queens" as part of its semantic range (probably), nor does the term "kings" (whether in Hebrew or Greek) technically reference female rulers. Yes, it seems that "kings" is used metonymically, which would mean that the word stands for "kingdoms." That's still different from saying "kings" includes queens by implication (etc).

There were queens in ancient times, and I believe the Bible makes it clear when a female monarch is being discussed as opposed to a male ruler. Rev 14:4 is a tough verse in some ways. Those referenced in the passage seem to be depicted as males. The generic view is possible (IMO). But there may be other ways to explain John's portrayal of the group.

3) Adam is being used as a proper noun in Genesis 3:21. But 3:23 is also referring to the male. He was taken from the ground, but the woman was not. Furthermore, from the way that ha Adam is used elsewhere in Genesis (depending on the context), it's perfectly reasonable that 3:24 only has reference to the male human.

4) As I understand asexual reproduction, and I could be wrong, it usually involves "reproducing by reproductive processes (as cell division, spore formation, fission, or budding) that do not involve the union of individuals or gametes" (Merriam-Webster).

Another definition for "asexual reproduction" is "a mode of reproduction by which offspring arise from a single parent, and inherit the genes of that parent only; it is reproduction which does not involve meiosis, ploidy reduction, or fertilization. The offspring will be exact genetic copies of the parent" (Wikipedia).

Neither one of these definitions seem to fit Jehovah. That likely why we normally don't apply the descriptive signifier "asexual" to God.

5) Regarding bios: etymology can be misleading. How a word is used at a certain time is a more reliable way to flesh out meanings. For example, I'm now reading Hesiod (Works and Days), and "bios" in that work normally means "livelihood" or sustenance. Compare 1 Jn 3:17.

IMO, "biology" is a word derived from a natural language: men are responsible for originating the study of bios. People give words their respective denotations; even if God provided the apparatus for us to do it. Biology and science are what they are because people bequeathed labels to these activities.

For the record, I don't believe that bios is ever applied to Jehovah in the Greek scriptures. See

7) Even before a child has sex, we can still refer to that young one as a male or female, can we not? See Rev 12:5. Children are born male or female. It doesn't matter whether they ever reproduce. That's what little boys and girls are: male or female. BTW, I make a distinction between sex ( as in male and female) and gender (masculine and feminine).

aservantofJehovah said...

1)Everyone ate the Manna and everyone died,that is the point that Christ was trying to make Whether they died in the wilderness or in the promised land is beside the point.There is no specific reference to to dying as punishment in the text.And the only reason that the Manna can serve as a type of Christ flesh is because it saved the nation.
2)I never said that kings can lexiically mean queens only that text refers to all rulers whether male or female kings at both Daniel or revelation refers especially to the dynasty of the chief ruler.whether he is Male or female,The text at Daniel 2:47 is not refering to any specific prophecy Nebuchadnezzar is simply acknowledging the fact that Jehovah is higher that all earths Chief rulers whether they be male or female.That is the true metonymic implication.I see that you did not address my reference to revelation14:4 which is a clear demonstration of how the Male can include by implication include the female
3)The Woman came out of the man so by extension she was also taken out of the ground here we have an example of the head being employed as a metonymy for the whole.
4)these are forms of asexual reproduction known to man so they are supplied as examples if some other form of reproduction apart from sex were discovered it would also soon be included in the dictionaries,But facts don't await the discovery of biologist or scientist to become facts,so whether you or the biologist accept it Jehovah is literal father of all intelligent creation Just as he is literal God
Ephesians4:6 We both know what his being the one God means and we don't reject it as figurative because God is a masculine noun.
So logically what would his being the one father mean?
5)The word "zoe" from which we get the term Zoology a subdivision of biology is used of Jehovah and his logos,and if we are to be guided by scripture,men did not originate the study of biology."Bios" and "Zoe" were being studied/scrutinized long before men walked the earth.The label is less important than the contents of the vessel.
7)It's not so much that infants don't reproduce as that they can't reproduce,the labels Male and female have no importance re"sexual reproduction.I'm certainly glad that you have now pointed out that you are making a distinction, between Gender and sex.I've been trying to make the same distinction myself for the past twenty odd posts,I certainly think you could have saved us both a lot of trouble had you mentioned this a little earlier.

Edgar Foster said...

1) But Christ didn't say everyone. True, all ate the manna, but that's not his focus in Jn 6:49. He is probably just talking about the males. There's only one use in the Christian-Greek scriptures where the plural form of PATHR designates both parents. but the expression "fathers" is generally formulaic for male ancestors or forefathers. We have the same practice in English.

Christ actually seems to be making the opposite point that you state. He argues that although they ate manna, they died. Those first century listeners were familiar with the desert wanderings. They knew he was not merely speaking about Israelites in general, nor about those who entered the promised land.

2) I see no good reason to think that queens are included (lexically or by implication) in the verse from Daniel or the one in Revelation. If the book of Daniel wanted to signify or reference the concept "queen," it could have done it another way than use "kings." In fact, a word for queen does appear in Daniel. Or Babylon also refers to "herself" as a queen. There was no need to include queens within the concept "king." That's reading something into Dan 2:47; Rev 19:19 that's not there.

As for Rev 14;4, I did say that the 144,000 are evidently being presented as males (they have not defiled themselves with women). But I don't agree that there's a need to view the language in that text as generic.

3) If we're going to appeal to metonymy to explain a text, there must be a good scriptural or lexical reason why. do any Bible verses ever say that the woman or women) were taken from the ground? It seems hard to believe that the author of Genesis would have woven a somewhat incoherent narrative by teaching us that the man was created from the dust (Gen 2:7), while the woman was taken from Adam's rib, but then later include Eve's creation within Adam like you suggest. the explanation does not lend itself to good narration.

4)We can only work with what we know. To go beyond the known is to enter the realm of the speculative. And we're then on shaky ground. We must do more than assert that Jehovah is the literal father. It must be proved. But even proof can be person-relative, I guess.

God is a masculine noun in some languages. But we must not mistake grammatical masculinity with ontological masculinity. For example, Allah is called "he" in the Qur'an, but Allah (deity) is genderless (ontologically speaking). See

I view father as a metaphor for the creative and sustaining work of Jehovah. God "begets" the Firstborn Son, the angels, stars, the moon, animals and those who are adopted as spirit-begotten children. But these births can all be understood metaphorically. We don't have to read maleness or masculinity into this biblical language.

5) As I'm sure you know, zoology studies the animal kingdom. And scripture does not say that God originated biology (the study of biological organisms). Jehovah would have no reason to study biology (however we define the term) since he created biological organisms and bios in the first place. The fact remains that zoe is applied to God (with a different significance than our English "zoology"), whereas bios is not.

7) Sorry for assuming that the distinction was understood, but I believe we're still stuck at first base. For I don't attribute maleness or masculinity to Jehovah when it comes to ontology. but you seem to view God as ontologically masculine: not simply masculine via metaphoric speech or by human convention. And, with the example from Rev 12:5, we see that a baby can be viewed as a male or female before puberty sets in. Male and female are still sexual terms, even before puberty, since they designate the sex (not simply gender) of a boy or girl. I have in mind sexual dimorphism like van Inwagen says.

aservantofJehovah said...

1)Everyone who ate the manna died that is the point,He was responding to the audience's request for proof of his prophethood they were the ones who brought up the issue of moses' saving the nation by the manna John6:30,31 in their eyes this demonstrated Moses prophethood for certain.They were in effect asking"What are you offering as a sign of Your prophethood?"Then in response Christ pointed out at John6:49 that the salvation brought by Moses through the manna was incomplete,yes,the nation was saved but eventually all who parttook of the manna died.What Jehovah is providing through me is far superior to what he provide through Moses again the issue is not the lexical range of the term but the implication of the context,that is why a number of translators render the verse the way they do.
2)So nebuchadnezzar has to specify that Jehovah's authority also extends over queens as well,
And John as to specify that Jesus being king of kings also means that his authority also extends over all female rulers or that by"the kings of the earth" he also refers earth' female rulers?Revelation17:14,revelation19:19,daniel2:47.
That doesn't seem a reasonable position to me. At revelation 14:4Those presented are presented as males but they include females(in fact they maybe mostly females),pick what ever term with which you are comfortable,but this is the type of language construct to which I am referring when I speak of the "generic Gender or Generic Male".
3)It's the commonsense interpretation,the woman by being taken out of the man,who was taken out of the ground was by extension also taken out of the ground,Just as she is the image of God by being in the image of the man who is the image of God, 1Corinthians11:7
4)I am not here dealing with whether he is ontologically masculine or not I am saying that this is irrelevant as to whether we regard him as literally God or Lord(not Lady)revelation11:15,and so should likewise be irrelevant as to whether we regard him is literally parent.The pairing of the both titles at Ephesians4:6 and the fact that he is not only called the one God but the one Father shows that both titles are to be taken literally.Not only that but that Just as we understand his being the one God to mean that he is God in a higher and more authentic sense than anyone else called god,in fact he is the only true God,likewise his being the one father must mean that he is father in the very highest sense the only true father if you will Matthew23:9.He is true Father of every intelligent being because he truly gave us life Psalms36:9 and because we are truly in his image and likeness 1Corinthians11:7
5)irrelevant,Jehovah possesses "zoe" so do humans and Jehovah was not the only prehuman intelligence.
The third definition of biology in the encarta dictionary is the structure of a living organism.So in this sense Jehovah did originate biology."bios" means life in toto and so includes "Zoe"
And I never said or implied that "Zoe" and "Zoology" are synonymous Just as I never said or implied that "bios"and "biology"are synonymous.
7)I am saying that Jehovah is literally of the masculine gender I never said or claimed that he was of the Male sex there is no mrs.Jehovah I got that a long time ago.And if you check your google profile form under "gender" you will see that the options listed are male and female.The terms Male/female are gender terms.Revelation12:5 does not prove that male is always a sexual category.
8)Would you say that Jehovah is the literal author of the bible or merely its figurative author?What about Jesus is he literally Christ or merely figuratively such?

Edgar Foster said...

I just typed a long post and it seems to have disappeared. So I'm going to make this one relatively short.

1) William Milligan and William Moulton (in their commentary on John) point out that Jesus' mention of the wilderness (Jn 6:49) is not accidental. It calls to mind verses like Numbers 14:35, which indicate that the wilderness was the place of disobedience and where obstinate men perished.

2) I'm doing research on BASILEUS and the feminine form BASILISSA now. And it seems that BASILEUS would hardly be used to reference a queen (neither directly, nor by implication). I'm sorry, but the lexical approach along with context generally holds sway for me. As for Rev 14:4, I'd rather not discuss whether the males are literal or figurative. Suffice to say that one doesn't have to read the passage as an example of inclusive language.

3) You infer that Eve was taken from the ground. That's not what the Bible apparently teaches. Conversely, we do read that Eve was created in God's image. The situations are not completely analogous.

4) The metaphorical view can accomodate figurative lords. That's really no problem. Metaphorical terms may also be combined with literal terms. We commonly see this use of tropic language. As the KJV says, "The LORD is my shepherd." Or we can say, "Our God is a sun and shield." "God is the great potter."

Do you think that shepherd and potter are used literally of Jehovah since he guides us and shaped (formed) us?

5) I've never denied that Jehovah possesses zoe. Nor do I believe that he was the only intelligent being prior to man's creation. We've been talking about biology within the context of studying biological organisms. Whether we're referring to the study of biologial organisms or the organisms themselves, God doesn't have to study anything. What you're also overlooking is the distinction made by the Greeks betweeen bios and zoe. The scriptures do not apply bios to Jehovah. I've yet to see evidence that bios refers to life in toto. It may be a true claim. However, the evidence must be weighed before I'll accede to this suggestion. Lastly, I don't remember saying that you were confusing zoe or bios. My comments above do not reflect any such idea.

7) Excuse me, if I misunderstood you, but it seems that you did call Jehovah a male, earlier in this discussion. You said that superhuman males exist and I thought you spoke of Jehovah in this way. Here's a quote from your earlier submission:

"It seems that angels are also superhuman sexless males like their father."

So you did speak of Jehovah as a sexless male, but a "male" nonetheless. Now you say that he is literally of the male gender, although he is not a mister. Peter van Inwagen points out that people are increasingly referring to sexual dimorphism (male/female) by the term "gender." But they've traditionally been understood as sexual terms. My use of Rev 12:5 was not intended to prove that male always refers to someone's sex. Rather, I was just showing that a newborn child could be identified as male, before puberty.

8) I have no major problem with vieing Jehovah as a literal author, depending on how we define his authoring. Christ is also the Messiah. He was anointed with holy spirit at the Jordan River.

Edgar Foster said...

Regarding Gen 3:23, certain scholars think that Gen 2:7-3:23 form an inclusio, which would mean that 3:23 refers to Adam (the male). Compare Gen 2:15, which shows that God intended for the male to till the ground. A similar point is made in 3:23.

aservantofJehovah said...

1)Well Jesus had to mention the wilderness in connection with the Manna because Generally speaking that is where the Manna was provided,there is however no mention of any death as punishment.
And as I pointed out he was only responding to his audience he himself did not raise the issue.
2)So then queens and female rulers
,according to you are exempt from the authority of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ.I am sorry but I prefer to add Just a bit of commonsense in my interpretative approach.What about here at acts5:29 I suppose it is also your position that Peter meant that we can put obedience to female rulers above obedience to God.There is a sense in which all language is figurative language but clearly revelation14:4 includes literal males, even though they all would not be literally virgins for this reason I like the term "generic" which would be figurative language of sorts.
3)The bible implies that the human species as a whole including eve was taken out of the dust
That why we read at proverbs3:19,20 that all are RETURNING to the dust see also at psalm90:3,psalm104:29.
4)Jehovah is not portrayed as a figurative Lord in scripture.We are neither literal sheep nor literal pottery but we are literal servants of his.Are you saying that he is less of a Lord than those kings and Lords over which he is Lord Deuteronomy10:17,daniel2:49.Psalm23 which you quoted shepherd is not being employed either as a proper name or title for Jehovah.God,Lord,Father are all used as titles for Jehovah God.That puts these terms in a different class from potter and shepherd which are never used as titles for Jehovah God.
5)Who said anything about Jehovah studying anything?Every living organism has a biology so by creating living organisms he founded their biologies.And the bible alludes to the curiousity that superhuman intelligences have with regard to humans likely other lower lifeforms we are a spectacle to them.So one can say that they were the first human and social biologists.if there is no "Zoe" there can be no "bios" "Zoe" is the foundation of "bios"
7)"Male" could be a reference to either Gender or sex at least Google thinks so.
8)Why would you take the position that Jehovah is the literal author of the bible and not the 40 penmen that did the actual writing?How can one be literally anointed with Holy spirit?

Edgar Foster said...

1) The manna stopped when Israel entered the Promised Land. So, he could not have been saying that the Jewish "fathers" or "ancestors" died there. See Joshua 5:4-6, 12. His listeners would have known that the fathers died as a result of divine punishment.

2) Please don't read something into my words that I did not say. With all due respect, my claim is not that queens are not subject to Jehovah. The point I'm making is lexical rather than theological. When I speak of the "Queen of England," I'm talking about a woman. The utterance does not include the monarch's husband. If I wanted to mention the English king (James, Henry, etc), I would employ the masculine "king." That's all I'm saying about Dan 2:47; Rev 19:19. I did not claim--nor do I believe--that queens are not subject to God. We agree that the men of Rev 14:4 (depicted as males) would not be literal virgins in fulfillment of the vision.

3) We agree that humans are ultimately products of dust. Adam's rib had been produced from the dust. So, when Eve was created, it's reasonable to say that she could also be viewed as dust. But the language of Genesis 3:23 points back to Gen 2:15, where it clearly has reference to the male. The Bible speaks of humanity being dust (in some sense). But we don't read, to my knowledge, that the woman cam from dust. Furthermore, I would say that the context of Gen 3:23-24 and the way "ha Adam" is used throughout Genesis favors understanding 3:23-24 as a reference to the male.

4) I guess much depends on what we mean by Lord. But there's a lot of scholarly literature that argues we are not literal servants (slaves) of God. That language is also metaphorical, just like slaves of sin. No, I'm not lessening Jehovah's lordship. We just have to be circumspect when describing what it entails.

5) What makes you think that Potter or Shepherd cannot function as titles for God? If Rock can be a title-it's a metaphor and not a proper name-then why not Shepherd? See Appendix 1J in the NWT Refbi. includes shepherd as one of God's titles. Cf. Gen 49:24; Ps 80:1.

These words, "the Rock" are described this way, at "An OT title for God and a Messianic title signifying that God’s people can rely on him for absolute protection and salvation."

5) You have previously employed "biology" to describe one of the physical sciences. Biology (used that way) involves the study of something. Have you also forgotten this comment by yourself? Quote:

"men did not originate the study of biology. 'Bios' and 'Zoe' were being studied/scrutinized long before men walked the earth."

So, is it your position that angels originated the study of living organisms? They were the ones studying humankind before men waled the earth?

Zoe may be the foundation of bios. But they evidently reference different concepts in Koine and Attic Greek. Furthermore, in the Greek scriptures, one is applied to the divine realm. The other apparently is not.

7) I hope you get a chuckle from this comment. But you'll have to forgive me if I don't believe that Google is the end-all and be-all of lingual usage. But it admittedly has a growing number of adherents in this respect (according to van Inwagen). I guess the important factor is how the Bible uses terms for male or female. Are they understood as sexually dimorphic words by the Bible writers?

8) Well I did say that it depends on how author is defined. An author does not have to do the actual writing, does he/she? Secondly, by anointed can be synonymous with the term "appointed." God imbued Christ with power by means of the holy spirit and designated him to be king, prophet and priest at the River Jordan.

I'm taking off for the rest of the night. I'll be back tomorrow. Cheers!

aservantofJehovah said...

1)So no one who ate the manna entered the promised land?
2)Its the implications of your interpretation of the verse Nebuchadnezzar was clearly referring to All rulers and ascribing universal authority o Jehovah.The idea that queens would be exempted is irrational.
3)No the verses I quoted speak of a returning to the earth.everyone was taken out of the earh with adam
because we were all in him including eve that is why we were all born in sin Romans5:12.The male is bein used as a metonymy for the entire species.
4)One cannot in any way compare slavery to sin with service to Jehovah.Jehovah is a living intelligent person and sin is a lifeless abstraction.Jehovah is not a mere personification.So he is not a figurative Lord.What about Jesus do you also consider him a figurative Lord.The inauthentic Lord cannot be Lord over the Authentic ones.Deuteronomy10:17
5)The purpose of science is the aquisition of truth with men this requires study with Jehovah it doesn't,so you can say that Jehovah is scientist in the very highest sense.But yes others have also been studying Jehovah's works with the aim of refining their understanding of truth long before men walked the earth,so men are not the founders of science of any kind.I did not say cannot serve as titles only that they are not used as titles in direct address in scripture.
So for instance you would read Jehovah God,Lord Jehovah,God the Father.But never Jehovah potter,Or Jehovah shepherd,or Jehovah rock.
The fact that he is only directly and formally addressed in scriptures with the former set of titles(i.e God,Father,Lord) and the fact that these are his self-designations puts them in a different class from the metaphors which are also used to indirectly refer to him.
"Zoe"is also used of humans in scripture.And even animals.
7)I've checked a number of other sources who are aparently no better or worse than Google.Because they also allow Male as reference to gender and not merely sex.At any rate this is how I have been using the term,not as a reference to sex.

Edgar Foster said...

1) The manna did not stop until they entered the promised land. Hence, people who ate the miraculous bread from heaven had to enter the land promised to Abraham. But I'm just urging that Jn 6:49 be read in context and in light of the wilderness wandering typology.

2) My view of Dan 2:47 is that Nebuchadnezzaar was talking about male rulers, not just monarchs in general. My position could be wrong, but it's clearly not irrational. I.e. there's nothing contradictory about what I'm proposing.

3) You claim that the male is being referenced generically in Gen 3:23. That seems pretty hard to swallow in view of how similar language is used elsewhere (Gen 2:15, et. al.) and the immediate context, which identifies the man as having a wife. But I've also thought a little more about Eccl 3:19-20. That verse could be speaking of men only: it might not include women. We must ask who is being referenced in Ps 104:29. Does this passage even apply to humans? As for Ps 90:3, it too could be referring to males alone. But please don't take any of these comments to mean that Eve was not taken from Adam's rib or that we (men and women) are not all children of Adam and Eve.

4) An integral part of good dialogue is being charitable. I respect you, my friend, but I would ask that things not be read into my statements. To serve Jehovah (slave for him) is an inestimable privilege. Slaving for sin, however, is onerous and burdensome. So I'm not comparing the two forms of slavery in that way. My simple point is that both types of slavery are metaphorical. And metaphorical does not necessarily mean "inauthentic." paul Ricoeur notes that metaphors both affirm and deny something about those things of which they're predicated. I am not saying that the authority of Jehovah or Christ is inauthentic, even if I do interpret "lord" language to be figurative.

5) I concur with your thought that angels might have studied things on earth prior to man's existence. We just might disagree on whether that activity should be called science.

Earlier, you wrote: "God,Lord,Father are all used as titles for Jehovah God.That puts these terms in a different class from potter and shepherd which are never used as titles for Jehovah God."

Now in this prior comment, I read nothing about direct address. Your lastest remarks thus seem to be a clarification of what you wrote previously. That's fine. I have no problem with someone clarifying his/her statements. But I think you may now see why I gave the response above.

But Ps 80:1 does use the title "Shepherd" in direct address to Jehovah. Invoking God doesn't always require using his personal name. Let's not add rules as we go along. :)

While zoe may be used of humans and animals, I emphasize again that bios is not used for Jehovah. There's some debate about its exact semantic properties, but one source observes: "But zoe and bios view life from different perspectives and so are not synonymous. Inevitably, by using one word to translate both Greek words, we have concealed the important differences between zoe and bios" (Trench's NT Synonyms).

Trench adds these points as well: "Although zoe refers to intensive life, bios refers to extensive life, the period or duration of life. In a secondary sense, bios also refers to the means by which that life is sustained. And in a tertiary sense, bios refers to the manner in which that life is spent that is, one's profession or career."

7) Let's assume that you are using male as a gender term (not a sex term). I still would not impute gender, maleness or masculinity to Jehovah. problems still remain with this convention.

please excuse any potential typos.

aservantofJehovah said...

1)If it were not for the Manna no one would have entered the promised land,that is the point the people were making when they brought up the issue John6:29-31.They knew that Moses was from God Because he saved the nation with the manna,they were challenging him to do something equally spectacular if he wished to be put on the same level.Christ reponse was to the effect that he was not on Moses level but much higher.
2)"Your God is gods and a Lord of kings"this is not,in your view,an ascription of universal authority to Jehovah?And what about acts5:29 is Peter likewise refering exclusively to male rulers.
3)All the text that I used are crossreferenced to genesis3:19 in fact any text that refers to humans returning to the dust is usually cross-referenced to this verse,at the text that refer to Adam and his wife Adam is being used as a proper name.The expression sons of men refered to at ecclesiastes3:19,20 likely includes to Daughters of men as well.And I find the notion that psalm90:3 excludes females extremely unlikely.
4)The implications of your reasoning are what are being uncharitable to you not me.If the Lords over which Jehovah is Lord are literal then he must likewise be a literal ruler.If he is merely figuratively ruler then his rulership is less authentic than theirs.You can't eat your cake and have it as well,and in saying this I mean you no disrespect.
5)We may have run into a bit of a cultural barrier,in the local vernacular "title" is used to mean handle to a proper name or proper name equivalent.But can a word have more than one literal meaning.You said that anointed as used of Jesus Christ means simply appointed by holy spirit.Is that a literal meaning of the word or a figurative meaning.Nothing that you said but a block on applying bios to Jehovah or his logos.In fact in seems that where there is fullness of "zoe","bios"would be a natural consequence.
8)suppose you tell me what you mean when you say that Jehovah is the literal author of the bible and we can proceed from there?

Edgar Foster said...

1) The context of Jn 6:31 actually suggests that the Jews were bringing up the manna issue because they wanted Jesus to perform a similar miracle; they were not trying to say that the manna saved their (male) ancestors. Granted, Abraham's seed would not have entered the Promised Land without manna. However, Christ actually made a contrast between those who ate manna, yet died and those who could consume manna from heaven, and live forever.

2) At present, since my mind could always change, I view Dan 2:47 (or any similar reference) as language depicting male rulers only.

The Weymouth NT translates Acts 5:29: "Peter and the other Apostles replied, 'We must obey God rather than man.'" In other words, that version does not include the word "ruler" (although it could be implied." At any rate, Acts 5:29 has ἀνθρώποις which could be a more generic term referring to "humans" as opposed to the Greek term ANHR. But cf. 1 Tim 2:5.

3) Jehovah is addressing Adam (the male) in Gen 3:19. But Ps 104:29 may not apply to humans at all. The context of the psalm leads me to that conclusion. I'm not going to nitpick the verses from Eccl 3:19-20; Ps 90:3. The Hebrew terminology could refer to men or both men and women. It just depends on the context and similar uses elsewhere.

4) What you're suggesting is not logically necessary. Just because humans in some relational statement vis-a-vis God are literal, it does not mean that God also must be a literal "ruler" or lord. That simply is not a necessary inference and a brief look at the ANE literature or ancient Greek writings can quickly show the proposition is not true. For example, Plato depicts the Demiurge as a metaphorical father, who creates a literal world (in his work Timaeus). Other ANE writings follow this practice.

I don't feel disrespected, but I think you're overlooking the point I made earlier: metaphorical doesn't have to mean "inauthentic." Kevin J. Vanhoozer has adeptly brought out this point in his study on meaning and texts. A statement can be metaphorical and yet true (authentic) on one level without being authentic on another level. And you write "merely figurative," yet that's often the sole way we comprehend spiritual things.

5) You're probably right about how we're each using the word "title." Thanks for clarifying that point. But words can have more than one literal meaning. Terms are quite normally polysemic. E.g. the Greek word LOGOS. But I'm not sure that I said anointed can only mean "appointed." It certainly has other literal meanings (daub, smear, rub). I just used "appointed" because of our discussion. However, that definition is also generally considered a literal meaning of the English "anoint."

My concern with the term BIOS is that it applies to the natural world rather than to God or his heavenly Christ. I have yet to see a lexical justification for describing Jehovah with the Greek BIOS. Maybe someone has done work on this subject and presented convincing evidence to alter my views. But, for now, the way that BIOS is used scripturally (in the Christian Greek Scriptures) leads me to believe that the Greeks distinguished between BIOS and ZOE in the case of divine life. Use or usage is what determines my view here.

8) Earlier, I believe the position I expressed was that much depends on what it means to call Jehovah the author of the Bible. An author does not have to personally write something to be considered the author of a work. But I think you already know that. My view of God's authorship lines up with the modern organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. I assume that there's biblical support for saying that Jehovah authors scripture.

Edgar Foster said...

Remember that Trench defined BIOS in such a way that it could not apply to God:

(BIOS) is "the period or duration of earthly life . . . in a secondary sense, the means by which life is sustained; and thirdly, the manner in which that life is spent" (R. Trench).

Here's what Thay'er Lexicon says. I'll check BDAG later:

βίος, βίου, ὁ (from Homer down);

a. life extensively, i. e. the period or course of life (see below and Trench, § xxvii.): Luke 8:14; 1 Timothy 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:4; 1 John 2:16; 1 Peter 4:3 (Rec.).

b. (as often in Greek writings from Hesiod, Works, 230, 575; Herodotus, Xenophon) that by which life is sustained, resources, wealth (A. V. living): Mark 12:44; Luke 8:43 (WH omits; Tr marginal reading brackets the clause); Luke 15:12, 30; Luke 21:4; 1 John 3:17 (goods). (For לֶחֶם in Proverbs 31:14 ().) [SYNONYMS: βίος, ζωή: ζωή existence (having death as its antithesis); βίος the period, means, manner, of existence. Hence, the former is more naturally used of animals, the latter of men; cf. zoology, biography. N. T. usage exalts ζωή, and so tends to debase βίος. But see Lightfoot, Ignatius ad Rom. 7 [ET].]

aservantofJehovah said...

1)They brought up Moses,because Jesus was claiming to be the Son of Man John6:27,a clear reference to Daniel's messianic prophecy Daniel7:13,14.That is why they wanted a similar sign to moses'."If you want us to put you on the level of the messiah you have to perform greater signs than feeding a handful of people"they were in effect saying,"Why Moses who was not the messiah did better than that."
And what was the contrast?even if we confine the reference to the males we know that more than six hundred thousand of those who ate the manna entered the promise land.We also know that even if one ate the spiritual manna he can still die as punishment Jude1:5,hebrews10:26.So,no,death as punishment cannot be the issue.The contrast clearly is between the respective salvations.The physical manna only saved temporarily alowing one to live out one's seventy or eighty years in Jehovah's service,the spiritual manna saves absolutely allowing permanent service to Jehovah.
2)as you know strong's shows that both "basileus" and "melek" can be used generically.Why then do you allow the possibility of the generic at acts 5:29,and yet remain so adamantly opposed to it at Daniel2:47 and revelation17:14,when the case for the generic at these latter cited passages is at least as strong if not stronger.
3)The male as head can be used as a metonymy for the whole hence the reason the passage is crossreferenced Genesis32:11.Psalm104:23KJV"Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until evening" So Adam is included here.
4)If your employers told you that from today you would be expected to perform al your usual duties but would henceforth receive a figurative salary,what might your response be.Jehovah is caled God of gods because he outranks all others than can be regarded as divine deuterononomy10:17.He is called Lord of lords because he outranks all other supremos.if we accept him as literal God we must likewise accept him as literal Lord or find ourselves at odds with scripture.
5)The way that the greco-roman ancients use words can only serve as a rough guide when coming christian metaphsics.likely you know that words like "hades" "tartarus" "psyke" are all used very differently in scripture from the way that they are employed by the greco-roman ancients.The only definition for "bios" that would positively exclude it from Jehovah from a scriptural standpoint is the rather abitrary limiting of "bios" to earthly life by mr.Trench.Likely this is as a result of the ancients understanding of the nature of the "psyke" and life as a whole but we know that the scriptures give us a very different understanding of these matters Acts17:32.So from scripture only an argument from silence can be brought forth excluding "bios from being applied to Jehovah"In any case the substantive issue was and is does Jehovah have a biology.As that term is defined to be the structure and function of a living thing,and in as much as scripture clearly shows that jehovah is very much alive.It cannot be sensibly denied that Jehovah definitely has a biology of some kind.Even if it is not of a kind that can be grasped by humans or even angels.
8)So would it be proper to say that you consider Jehovah God to be the composer of the bible?

Edgar Foster said...

1) It seems to me that Jesus' remarks in 6:31 actually follows the request in 6:28 which is premised upon the requisite works that please God. They asked for a sign because Jesus claimed to be the one God had sent (6:29). They may or may not have perceived a link between Jesus' utterance and Dan 7:13-14. Either way, I don't see how death as punishment cannot be the issue. The "death in the wilderness" motif is cited in 1 Cor 10:3-5; Heb 3:17. Even Jude 5 refers to those males who died in the wilderness despite eating manna.

2) I have yet to see a clear case of BASILEUS being used generically for a female ruler. The Greeks had BASILLISA to reference the queen or the king's wife. Why would they use the noun BASILEUS to reference the queen? Secondly, there's a difference between using a Hebrew verb that can mean "to reign" when speaking about a queen beginning to rule and employing a masculine noun for a female monarch.

As I explained above, ANQRWPOS is a generic Greek term which can be contrasted with ANHR. That's why I accept the possible generic reference to "man" in Acts 5:29.

3) I'm not sure about the relevance of Gen 32:11. Psalm 104:23 could be using "man" generically or otherwise. Do you have an example of the male being used as metonomy for the whole? Someone has also pointed out Gen 4:16-17 to me, which uses interesting language for Cain and his wife.

4) When deciding what's literal or figurative, context or linguistic convention is normally the deciding factor. Due to the normative social relationship that exists between my employer and me, I usually would not expect to receive figurative pay for literal work. But there is a huge difference between what happens in the workplace and the world of sacred literature. Scripture doesn't say Jehovah is a literal lord. He's called ADONAI/KURIOS but context and convention (in part) must determine what such language means. You may interpret the language in a matter-of-fact way. That's no guarantee that God is a literal lord, however.

5) I'm trying to also use Greek words as the bible writers used them. No scriptural writer evidently applies BIOS to God. In English, we normally don't speak of Jehovah as a biological or zoological entity. I am not denying that Jehovah is "alive." What I am gainsaying is the notion that God is "biological" in any meaningful sense of that term and secondly, that we have a sound biblical reason for imputing such language to Jehovah.

I'm not in a rush to start using words non-standardly. We can't just define words any old way. Or else we might invent a Derridean playground of infinite signifiers.

8) I have no problem calling Jehovah the author of Scripture. But my preferred way to describe him is by employing the language of 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21. God is the Inspirer of scripture.

As an aside, suggesting that some speech concerning God is metaphorical does not commit me to the position that all speech about God is figurative.

aservantofJehovah said...

1)The issue is not whether you don't it see or not.You are arguing from silence there is no mention of death as punishment anywhere in the text.Only some of the males died as punishment more than 600,000 of them entered the promised land.The issue was Jesus' qualification to be reckoned as one sent by God or even the messiah
Jude shows that some of those who ate the spiritual manna will also die as punishment,hence there is no contrast here with regard to death as punishment.death as punishment cannot be the issue.
2)you are missing the point revelation17:14 refers to Christ struggle against all of human rulership and there final defeat so basileus must include female rulers the term is being used generically.Also the context of Daniel2:47 the prophecy that Daniel had Just related to nebuchadnezzar showed Jehovah's Mastery over all Nations and there gods.It is this universal Mastery to which Nebuchnezzar refered,When he proclaimed Jehovah God of gods,and Lord of kings.As you know the march of world powers dictated in that prophecy includes some notable queens.These would be included under Jehovah's sovereignty and would be included generically in nebuchadnezzar comments,The Male as head includes the female.Of course Adam is being used Generically at psalm104:23 and also as a collective singular,here again the male as head stands for the whole.
Genesis32:11 again shows the head being used as a metonymy for the whole an attack on any part of the whole is an attack on the head.
4)According to strong's the definition of "kurios" is one possessing supreme authority.If this is not literally true of the Commander in chief of the angelic hosts,of whom is it literally true?
B)And if Jehovah's universal sovereignty is a mere figure of what is it a figure?
5)Jehovah is alive that is all that is necessary for him to have a biology as universally accepted reference works define that term.
Again you are arguing from silence with respect to "bios" which in any case is an aside.
8)You have no problem accepting him as the literal Author/composer of scripture even though his method of authoring/composing his work is radically different from that possible by any human author is that right?

Edgar Foster said...

1) I didn't make my seeing it or not the criterion for what's right or wrong. I've done more than argue from silence, but also tried appealing to context and the very text that started this issue in the first place. Furthermore, we agree that the issue was Jesus' role as Messiah. Where we seem to not concur is regarding what Jesus meant when he spoke about those eating manna undergoing death. Maybe we should move on.

2) Rev 17:14 does not say that Christ struggles against all human rulership. That's your interpretation of the passage. The fact of the matter is that we have yet to see an example of BASILEUS being used generically. No lexical resource that I've checked so far supports the idea that BASILEUS refers to both kings and queens. And Rev 17:14 is restricted to ten figurative "horns" that side with the scarlet colored wild beast.

Daniel 2:44 restricts its scope to specific kingdoms. Notice the use of the plural demonstrative pronominal "these" in that verse. That is, the kingdoms depicted in the dream image. Nebuchadnezzar's pronouncement in 2:47 may also be more restricted than it seems to be. Either way, I have not discovered lexical evidence for the claim that BASILEUS can refer to female monarchs.

How can Psalm 104;23 refer to Adam at all, much less allude to him generically? Or do you mean, it references Adam qua humankind? I'm still not sure how Gen 32:11 helps your case. Maybe I need to consult the footnote in the Refbi? The verse doesn't exactly tell us that an attack on the any part of the whole constitutes an attack on the head.

4) There are a number of definitions for KURIOS. One source gives these denotations: "he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord,
the possessor and disposer of a thing, the owner; one who has control of the person, the master
in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief" (etc)

Context will determine the exact meaning in any given passage. The term could be literal. I certainly have not made an issue of this subject. But it could also be figurative. KURIOS is but one term that could be used to express Jehovah's universal sovereignty. It evidently does not communicate that idea when used for the Lord Jesus Christ. I have not said that Jehovah's sovereignty is figurative. Any comments made along these lines have been mere suggestions.

5) We have reached consensus that Jehovah is the living God. The problem is whether Jehovah should be called a biological personage or entity. As that term is commonly used in English, the answer has to be no. Furthermore, what you're calling "argument from silence" is an accepted lexical practice. We don't just apply words in a willy-nilly fashion without some type of precedent. Considering use and usage is a necessary part of doing lexical work. We have to avoid anachronism and exegetical fallacies. It's probably no accident that the Bible writers did not use BIOS for God.

8) I don't make an issue of every description used for Jehovah in scripture. We have to consider the context or pattern of use for a given term. Author/composer could be literal or figurative; let's settle the Father question first.

Edgar Foster said...

Definitions for biology: "Biology is the study of life and living organisms, from the smallest bacteria to giant sequoias. Biologists use observation and experimentation to gain an understanding about the natural world. Branches of biology include anatomy, biotechnology, botany, cell biology, ecology, genetics, medicine, microbiology, molecular biology, and zoology. Many people entering the field of biology become specialized in a particular area." See

"1. [Syn. biological science] the scientific study of life

2. the branch of science concerned with the structure, function, growth, evolution, and distribution of living and non-living organisms

3. the characteristic life processes and phenomena of organisms, e.g. the biology of viruses

4. [Syn. biota] all the plants and animals of a specific region, e.g. the biology of Pennsylvania

5. the way of learning the way of life and its interactions"


I don't know of hardly any scientist, who is going to use "biology" to encompass Jehovah and the angels.

aservantofJehovah said...

1)Your attempts to appeal to context have all been matter how you slice it."Death as punishment" does not end up as probable interpretation.Even if we confine the reference to the Males,all of the males did not die as punishment more than 600,000 of them survived to enter the promise land,not even all of the males who died in the wilderness died as punishment numbers27:3.Further more those who partake of the spiritual manna can die as punishment,so Jesus cannot be stating that eating of the spiritual manna exempts one from dying as punishmentJeremiah31:29,30.Do you also believe that Jehovah God established his covenant with only the males of the israelite nation for Jeremiah31:32 states that he made the covenant with their "Fathers"?
2)The ten horns(revelation17:14) refer to all human rulership in the last days the number ten being used figuratively to denote completeness as you ought to know.They are the same as the kings of the earth mentioned at revelation19:19.So denote all kings.The kingdoms mention at Daniel2 are adjudged by Jehovah God as being the most prominent and even as having rulership over all the earth,therefore his control of them automatically gives him supremacy over those nations that are inferior.Jehovah is thereby shown to be the real Ruler of heaven and earth.By being able to dictate the destiny of the highest rulers in both realms it is to this universal supremacy that Necbuchadnezzar is alluding,when he refers to nebuchadnezzar as God of gods and Lord of Kings in Daniel2:47.
Any reader who cares to check strong's will see that the first meaning of basileus is sovereign regardless of gender,and that the word specifically refering to a male sovereign is basileuo,also "melek"can mean a "royal" again regardless of gender.can you produce an example "Anthropos"being used to refer to an individual woman,or is it than when ever a specific woman is refered to the word "gune" is alays used?So once again you are found arguing against yourself because you acknowledge that anthropos can be used as a generic in spite of these facts.
4)I was dealing with strong's definition of the word,So you agree that Jehovah is literally Lord as defined by strong's?
5)The argument from silence to which I refer is your continuing to mention that "bios" is never used of Jehovah and his angels as if this has some bearing on the matter.Neither is "bios" used of subhuman life in scripture are we to take this as meaning that animals and plants have no biology.
The definition of biology that is of particular relevance in this discussion is "the structure and function of a living thing."Whether Scientists acknowledge the reality of Jehovah and his angels or not Christians have the testimony of reliable informants as to their existence and the fact that they are alive and hence have a biology of some kind even if this is beyond human understanding.The apostle Paul warned with Good reason that the wisdom of this world is foolishness and that its bearers were in darkness mentally,1Corinthians3:19,Ephesians4:17,18.
The musings of the wisemen of the present age Cannot serve as reliable guides re:sacred truth.
8)The problem is that the arguments that you are employing to settle the Father question can be used to rule out Jehovah God's being a literal anything.Reducing him to a lifeless abstraction.

Edgar Foster said...

1) I'm not the only one who advocates the death as punishment idea. Jesus speaks about the fathers eating manna in the wilderness. Then he points out that they died. Your interpretation would have us believe that there's a huge disjunction between the act of eating manna and their death. But this understanding fails to do justice to the passage. J. Ramsey Michaels thinks that Jesus implied God had already judged the generation who died in the wilderness. On the other hand, those who consumed the genuine bread from heaven would live forever.

The rest of your remarks form a caricature of my view. I never said that all males who died in the wilderness did so, because they were punished. I specifically noted that only males around a certain age perished. The word translated "fathers" or ancestors must be interpreted within a context of utterance. Context will determine whether the verse refers to males only or to ancestors in general (male and female). Both renderings fall within the semantic range of the Hebrew term. The term could refer to males only in Jer 31:32. I would not be dogmatic in this case though. Compare Exod 6:14; Lev 26:40; Numbers 1:2, 16.

2) The Revelation Climax book explains that the beast in Rev 17:14 refers to the scarlet-colored wild beast (i.e. the United Nations). Hence, the ten horns do not refer to all rulers in the last days. To quote the Rev Climax book, "The ten horns depict all the political powers that presently hold sway on the world scene and that support the image of the wild beast" (par. 12, pp. 254-255). They clearly do not denote all kings. Regarding your second point, I have never denied Jehovah's supremacy over all nations. We can use the term "ruler" for Jehovah, if we like. I'm just trying to demonstrate that such language could be figurative. Moreover, we can hardly construct a theological understanding of the true God from a statement made by a pagan king.

Edgar Foster said...

Keil-Delitzsch make this observation: "Dan 2:47, where Nebuchadnezzar praises the God of the Jews as the God of gods, does not stand in contradiction to the rendering of divine honour to Daniel in such a way that, with Hitz., in the conduct of the king we miss consistency and propriety, and find it improbable. For Nebuchadnezzar did not pray to the man Daniel, but in the person of Daniel to his God, i.e., to the God of the Jews; and he did this because this God had manifested Himself to him through Daniel as the supreme God, who rules over kings, and reveals hidden things which the gods of the Chaldean wise men were not able to reveal. Moreover, in this, Nebuchadnezzar did not abandon his heathen standpoint. He did not recognise the God of the Jews as the only, or the alone true God, but only as God of gods, as the highest or the most exalted of the gods, who excelled the other gods in might and in wisdom, and was a Lord of kings, and as such must be honoured along with the gods of his own country."

I would not rely on Strong's to decide the issue about BASILEUS. Secondly, I'm not convinced that you're understanding this resource in the proper way. The online version of Strong's states: "Probably from BASIS (through the notion of a foundation of power); a sovereign (abstractly, relatively, or figuratively) -- king." The quote says nothing about the term being used as a reference to kings and queens. It doesn't exactly say, "sovereign regardless of gender." That's an interpretation of the quote. As I've also tried to explain in previous missives, there's a difference between using a verb that can mean "to rule, to reign" and employing a noun that refers to a male sovereign. That's what you're overlooking with regard to the word MELEK or the Greek BASILEUO.

Edgar Foster said...

I am clearly not arguing against myself when it comes to ANTHRWPOS. Latin makes a similar distinction between a man (VIR) and humanity (HOMO). How does my acknowledgement that ANTHRWPOS could be used generically militate against my overall argument? The Greeks also used ANHR to speak of males. That word is evidently not generic. Even ANQRWPOS might not be generic.

However, LSJ shows that the word could apply to females in classical Greek.

4) To say that someone possesses strong authority is a human way of putting things. But that's all we've got is human language and speech. I have no problem with speaking of God as the supreme authority. Amen! :)

5) JP Moreland and Scott Rae write that BIOS is the Greek word for physical or biological life (Soul and Body, p. 30). We know its range of meaning because of countless examples that show it can apply to the physical world (animals and plants included). See LSJ. Compare Xenophon, Mem. 3.11.6; Epicr. 11.14. So, it's not just an argument from silence. The Greeks probably would not have used the word in the way you suggest. At least, I've seen no lexical example of this use in the entire Greek corpus. BIOS was employed to denote physical (not spiritual) life. This case is similar to calling a building an EKKLHSIA when no scriptural precedent exists for deeming it thus. But the difference is that the Greeks consistently made this distinction between BIOS and ZOE.

No one has questioned whether or not Jehovah is living. but what you're failing to differentiate is various kinds of life that may be exemplified. It's not that I want to let the world's philosophy about Jehovah and the angels corrupt me: I just don't want to develop my own language which makes sense to me and no one else. Words can't just mean whatever we want them to mean. There are good reasons why biology is a term that normally applies to the physical world and not the spiritual realm. I'm sorry, and with no disrespect, but I can't be restricted by definitions that seem AD HOC to me. You'd have a better case, IMO, if the bible writers or ancient Greeks utilized BIOS as you suggest. So far, I've seen no evidence that any sacred writer or native Greek thought of BIOS as applying to God or the angels.

8) I do not believe that all language about Jehovah is figurative. The main problem I have is with people imputing gender to God when a term should be read metaphorically. That's what partly moved me to write a dissertation on metaphor and divine paternity.

Edgar Foster said...

I had to split up my post b/c of its length

aservantofJehovah said...

1)The question is can you find an instance in scripture where 'anthropos' is used to refer to an individual woman? Where as there are a number of instances where 'anthropos' (lit.manfaced)is use to refer to an individual male there is no place where this is done with respect to a particular woman .You used the fact that 'melek''basileus' is never used in reference to a specific female ruler to argue that the term can never serve as a generic.Clearly you adhering to conflicting positions.I would like to make one retraction apparently 'basileuo' can also serve as a generic which in a way actually strengthens my position
4)Therefore he is literally Lord,not figuratively.
5)The scriptures make no dichotomy between Soul and body,hence like I have been trying to point out the way the Greco-Roman ancients use the word cannot serve as reliable guide in this instance as it is based on a false assumption about the nature of life.In any case whether one has a 'bios' has nothing to do with whether 'biology' applies to one or not,one only need possess 'Zoe' to be biological.The Encarta dictionary gives as a definition of biology the structure and function of a living thing(thing possessing 'Zoe').Hence every living thing(thing possessing'Zoe')Has some kind of Biology.
8)That is why I have attempted to remove the gender issue by showing how the masculine can serve as a generic,but I see you are determined to resist that as well.

aservantofJehovah said...

2)Sovereign is a generic term edgar,so there should be no need to specify that gender is irrelevant.And 'melek' at daniel2:47 is definitely a noun according to strong's which can also mean a 'royal'
3)I am curious as to how exactly your quote from keil-delitzsch was meant to prove that 'melek'cannot serve as a generic.

Edgar Foster said...

1) Firstly, I said that ANQRWPOS "could" be generic. That means that it might not be. Secondly, it's not simply that Melek/BASILEUS are not used to reference female rulers: such use does not seem to be within the semantic range of either term. Where is the substantial evidence which supports the generic claim for both terms? It's gonna take more than a sentence from Strong's to resolve this issue. Lastly, BASILEUO is a verb. There is no such thing as a generic verb in this sense, is there?

4) As I said earlier, I see no need to make an issue of whether Jehovah is literally Lord or figuratively Lord. Human language has inherent limitations just like finite cognition does.

5) We must consider how ancient Greeks used a word in Scripture and other writings (papyri, etc), if we're going to stand a chance of grasping what these signifiers mean.

The last thing I'll say about "biology" is that it's a modern word. Wikipedia is helpful in this instance:

"The Latin form of the term first appeared in 1736 when Linnaeus (Carl von Linné) used biologi in his Bibliotheca botanica. It was used again in 1766 in a work entitled Philosophiae naturalis sive physicae: tomus III, continens geologian, biologian, phytologian generalis, by Michael Christoph Hanov, a disciple of Christian Wolff. The first German use, Biologie, was used in a 1771 translation of Linnaeus' work."

Wikipedia calls "biology" a "natural science" that studies life and living organisms. That's the point I think you're overlooking. Biology only focuses on physical things. As we normally use the term, it only applies to physical entities. But Jehovah is not a physical thing. Therefore, Jehovah has no biology, nor is God a biological object whose taxonomy or function can be studied by natural scientists.

Edgar Foster said...

8) I disagree with the idea that PARQENOI is used generically in Rev 14:4.

2) BASILEUS does not simply mean "sovereign." It's referring to a particular kind of sovereign: a male. There is a noun form of the Hebrew term and a verbal form. The noun form (MELEK) evidently does not have anything to do with queens, but basically references male rulers.

3) The quote from K-D was not designed to show that MELEK cannot be used generically. I was just trying to provide some context to Nebuchadnezzar's statement.

aservantofJehovah said...

1)if as your own reference admits nebuchadnezzar was ascribing supremacy to Jehovah.then clearly 'Melek' is being used as generic here and 'basileus'is also being used as generic at revelation17:12,revelation19:16 Christ has been given all Authority in heaven and earth Matthew28:18.So that he is ruler of all rulers not Just the males.It is the commonsense position.Ps.please note how 'basileuo' is used at 1Timothy6:15.
4)It is an issue because your argument has been that once human males hold the title it can only be figuratively ascribed to Jehovah.
So hitherto Jehovah was only figuratively Lord,creator,father etc.The one exception apparently was 'God' although I am not sure why that should be the case.After all God is also a masculine noun ascribed to human males.
5)it is more important to consider how the bible uses the words.The manner in which the ancients used certain words is tainted by there false religious ideas.
like I said the meaning of biology that I am drawing upon is the encarta dictionary's to wit "the structure and function of a living thing,any living thing".This would most certainly include God and his angels.whether modern scientists acknowledge their existence or not.
We as christians are not to be guided by scientist re:sacred truth.We have the testimony of reliable witnesses as to the conscious existence of Jehovah and his angels.
8)arguing from personal incredulity noted.
2)strong's makes no reference to gender as regards 'sovereign'.although acknowledging that the word is generally understood as being a reference to a king I have no problem with that and please I never said that Melek or basileus can mean queen.My point has always been that the masculine can serve as a generic.As at John6:31 and Jeremiah31:32.Another example of this is acts17:34.
3)Your reference interestingly is making my very point i.e that Nebuchadnezzar is ascribing universal authority to Jehovah God hence the masculine is being employed as a generic reference to all rulers irrespective of Gender.

Edgar Foster said...

1) I agree that Nebuchadnezzar was ascribing supremacy to Jehovah (i.e. of all the gods recognized by the king, he's preeminent). I likewise concur that Christ has been given authority over heaven and earth: he is over all rulers (male and female). Where we differ is that I believe that point is not being communicated in texts that speak of kings. An in-depth study of BASILEUS will show that the term is only used for male rulers in scripture. I have yet to see one shred of evidence that buttresses the generic position.

4) I don't have a definitive position on the KURIOS issue. It was not me who brought up the term. I believe that things have also been read into my statements about Jehovah's having created all things. But I do think that God is most certainly a symbolic father, shepherd and rock. He could be a figurative Lord. But I have not stated that definitively.

God is a grammatically masculine noun. Similarly, Allah has the masculine pronoun applied to "him" in Arabic. Neither fact means that Jehovah or Allah are ontologically masculine. Moreover, God is primarily applied to Jehovah and only secondarily to humans.

5) Just studying the biblical use of Greek words will not suffice as far as lexical semantics are concerned. The words in scripture were spoken within part of a whole culture. For instance, the Greek papyri have shed great light on what biblical words mean.

I don't think encarta intended for the definition to be read as an affirmation that angels and God are biological. Statements must be understood in context. Lastly, who is denying that angels or Jehovah enjoy conscious existence? Certainly not me.

Number 8) is not an argument from personal incredulity. I posted an entire blog entry addressing this topic. I would call that more than an argument from personal incredulity.

2) Masculine can serve as generic; no disagreement from me. But that's different from proving that BASILEUS or PARQENOS actually function that way.

3) It doesn't logically follow that because Nebuchadnezzar is ascribing universal authority to Jehovah that Melek or BASILEUS must be examples of the generic use. A person can believe that God is supreme and still not express the idea in a particular utterance.

Edgar Foster said...

When I say that BASILEUS is only used for male rulers, I am referring to cases where the word applies to humans.

aservantofJehovah said...

If Nebuchadnezzar limited Jehovah's authority to only male rulers then logically the statement at Daniel2:47 is not ascription of universal authority because female rulers are exempted.The only way that Nabuchadnezzar statement at Daniel2:47 can logically be view as an acription of universal authority is if 'Basileus/Melek'is being used as a generic.So too revelation17,19 If Christ is merely the king of Male rulers then this statement is not ascribing Supreme authority to Jesus,Because the statement as it stands says nothing of the status of Female rulers unless we understand 'Basileus' as a Generic.
4)you said that you believe that he literally possesses supreme authority.Are you now retreating from this position.Jehovah assigns himself the masculine gender,and as he is the reality and man is merely the copy it would be improper to refer to his fatherhood as the figure.The figure ALWAYS follows the reality never the other way around. So man is the figure.According to our Lord Jesus Jehovah God is primarily Father not Man.Matthew23:9.
5)I never said that we must only look at the biblical usage,merely that it was more important to do so especially regarding terms that have religious significance,the scriptural use of the word must be assign greater weight.the encarta statement was meant to refer to all lifeforms hence whether the writers acknowledge Jehovah and his angels as such or no is irrelevant,they are covered.And if you acknowledge Jehovah and his angels as lifeforms then you are contradicting yourself by denying that they possess a biology as defined by the encarta dictionary.

2)Strong's disagrees,And the context of scripture strongly disagrees.
3)If necbuchadnezzar statement at Daniel2:47 does not address the status of female rulers re:Jehovah's authority then it is not an ascription of universal authority.The only way that it can be view as such if we view 'Melek'as a generic reference all paramount rulers regardless of title or Gender.Actually you said that Jehovah God was merely a figurative 'Basileus'Are you now adjusting that position?

Edgar Foster said...

Since Nebuchadnezzar's cultural context was patriarchal, it's no surprise that he might fail to include female monarchs, while stressing God's universal rule. We must read the text through his eyes rather than by means of our viewpoint. The generic explanation is not the only satisfactory account. Regarding the texts in Revelation, we also have to consider the sociohistorical context in which they were produced. Males were mentioned as rulers (kings) since they made up the bulk of monarchs then. Furthermore, I cannot find one lexical source that agrees with the generic explanation.

4) I believe that Jehovah possesses supreme authority. My position has not changed on that issue.

Jehovah speaks of "himself" (through his spokesmen) by using the masculine and feminine gender. Both paternal and maternal language is used of God in scripture. But that's so we can understand (to some degree) Jehovah's nature and character. We know that the Bible uses similes and metaphors for God. Father is one of those metaphors/similes. Humans (men and women) are made in God's image. But we are never told that human males who procreate or adopt children are "copies" of God the Father (in that sense). And Mt 23:9 doesn't exactly say that Jehovah is primarily Father. The verse must be read in context.

5) I'm glad you think it's permissible to look outside the Bible canon in order to discern a Greek word's potential meaning. Those who wrote the Bible had to make use of the language systems that existed in their day. They were not always investing words with new meaning. I thus see no conflict with saying that BIOS could refer to physical life in secular Greek and in the Bible.

I'm sorry, but none of us can assign a meaning to a dictionary entry, beyond what the compilers intended. Isn't it important to read lexical entries and books in context? Secondly, I'm not bound by any one dictionary or lexicon: they can be mistaken. But, in this case, I think the problem is reading a meaning into the encarta definition. Most people simply do not use biology like you're employing it.

2) I also believe that there's a possible misunderstanding about what Strong's is claiming. Moreover, scripture does not spell out this generic idea that you are positing for PARQENOS and BASILEUS. Revelation 14:4 is clearly not an example of the generic use, and the passages in Revelation 17 and 19 don't support the contention either. My observations are based on TDNT, BDAG, Spicq, LSJ, and Moulton-Milligan.

3) I still believe that Jehovah is a figurative BASILEUS. Yet he could be a literal genderless sovereign. I'm trying to avoid presumptuousness.

aservantofJehovah said...

There were queens in nebuchadnezzar's time it is precisely because of the patriarchal culture in which nebuchadnezzar lived that these queens would have been included in his reference.It is precisely because of the patriarchal culture of the time that it is unreasonable to expect a separate reference to these queens.We are not concerned primarily with what Nebuchadnezzar believed but with what his statement at Daniel2:47 implies.If it is silent on the position of female rulers and only concerns itself with the status of male rulers then it is not an ascription universal authority to Jehovah God.
4)if he possesses supreme authority then he is literally Lord(kurios) so you do have a definite position.Regardless of whether you refer to his masculinity as literal or not.Secondly feminine personal pronouns are never,ever used to refer to the person of Jehovah.Feminine type Language is also used of other males (e.g the human Christ) in scripture but no one ever uses that as an excuse to deny the fact of their masculinity.(Although I am trying to put the gender issue aside because it is really is not central to my argument)We are told that the human male is the image of God 1Corinthians11:7 we know for a fact that God was Father before Man Luke3:38.Proverbs8:22-31.So the divine Fatherhood is the original Fatherhood,and human fatherhood is the figure.Incidentally Srong's also states that "Pater" can be used generically in others words a parent with no reference to gender.
For The believer God is especially the only Father because it is Jehovah's Fatherhood that opens the way for eternal life.Our human fathers left us death/sin as a legacy,another reason why Jehovah God is to be regarded as true father,rather than any man.
5)Where in the bible is 'bios' translated as physical life.And besides the definition of 'bios'is irrelevant to our discussion.
Most people don't use the word Soul the way the bible uses it either.There was a time when experts in european countries did not regard certain races of men as being fully human.Did this change the fact regarding these races of men?So whether scientists acknowledge the existence of certain lifeforms or not does not change the facts re:these lifeforms i.e they would have some kind of biology.
2)Well strong's does not say that parthenos can be a generic.But the context of 14:4 suggest that some kind of inclusive language is being does say 'Basileus'can mean sovereign.Which any half decent dictionary would confirm is a generic term.Only if the passages at revelation17,and19 are not to be regarded as designations of supreme authority to Jesus Christ can we successfully deny that 'basileus'is here being used generically.
3)Well you are odds with your own references here then none of them seems to indicate that Jehovah is merely a figurative 'Basileus'.If he is a literal Sovereign then according to strong's he is a literal 'basileus'So you actually agree with strong's,but just can't bring yourself to admit it for some reason or the other.

Edgar Foster said...

The Hebrews and Babylonians had terms for "queen"; even within patriarchal cultures. (See the book of Esther for references)The word for queen appears in the Hebrew-Aramaic Bible. That makes it unnecessary to have a generic word, which serves as a placeholder for both kings and queens. Besides, how do we know that Nebuchadnezzar was ascribing universal authority to Jehovah? His intent and sociohistorical context bears on the meaning of his utterance.

4) I have not been dogmatic about the nature of Jehovah's position as Lord (KURIOS). I just want to avoid imputing literal masculinity or maleness to god. Feminine pronouns are not used of God but feminine similes and mixed metaphors are. I don't reject the historical masculinity of Christ because he was once human. but he is no longer masculine or a male.

It could be said that God was Father before humans were created. However, in what sense was God, Father? I believe that Jehovah was an emblematic Father insofar as he created the Son and other spirit sons. We only have a depiction of things post creation. How do we know that the Michael or the other angels considered God to be their Father before humans were created? It makes more sense to construe Father as a term that elucidates our view of the Creator. It's figurative language for the One who brought all things into being. For example, at Luke 3:38, God is called the Father of Adam. That denote his role as Creator of Adam. Jehovah did not engage in some literal reproductive process or heavenly equivalent to bring forth Adam. God fathered Adam like he fathered the stars, sun and moon (James 1:17). The language is figurative.

PATHR can refer to a parent, regardless of a referent's gender. But, as you implied earlier, context is king. If god grants us everlasting life, that's a symbolic use of Pater: it's not literal procreation we're talking about.

There is a long section on PATHR in TDNT (volume V). This reference work states that "when the term father occurs [in the Hebrew Scriptures or Tanakh], it is fundamentally applied to God only in a metaphorical sense, and if we are to understand it everything depends on finding the right point of comparison [tertium comparationis]" (TDNT, V:970). See Deuteronomy 8:5; 2 Samuel 7:12-14; Psalm 2:7; 89:26; 103:13; Proverbs 3:12.

LSJ just notes that PATHR is used of God the Father of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:6), the Father of Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:21) and the Father of humans (Matthew 6:9). It then states that the use of PATHR at James 1:17 is metaphorical. But I would include the OT and Matthean passages as well. Many other authors do the same thing.

I looked at the entry for PATHR in the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. It too mentions that God is a metaphorical Father to Israel and other creatures. But this work insists that the term is not metaphorical in the case of Jesus Christ.

Edgar Foster said...

5) BIOS does not necessarily have to be translated "physical life" to have that denotation or something akin to it. In 1 John 3:17, BIOS refers to one's worldly goods, sustenance or livelihood. See Mark 12:44; Luke 8:14; Acts 17:28; 2 Tim 2:4. And there's a difference between how people use soul and how they employ "biology." The ancients really didn't know about the modern science known as biology. Granted, Aristotle was dissecting animals at his school (the Lyceum) and he wrote a book entitled Historia Animalium. However, biology as such did not exist in the first century. So the Bible does not contain a discussion or meaning for the term. We're thus reliant on how moderns use the word within our cultural milieu. So if you began using biology as you'd like to utilize the concept from the stage at your local Kingdom Hall, the brothers/sisters would probably have no idea what you're talking about. One can acknowledge the existence of God and angels without ascribing a biology to them. I believe Jehovah and the angels are living. Yet I reject the idea that God or the angels are biological entities. Scripture communicates no such idea.

The individuals at Revelation 14:4 are clearly celibate males, who have not defiled themselves with women. Don't take my word for it. Do research on this passage. BASILEUS does not simply mean "sovereign." That's one reason why my classics professor said it is not used generically. We can't just read part of the lexical entries for words: we need to be thorough in our studies. Does Jesus have supreme authority? I guess that depends upon what you mean by "supreme authority." Regardless of your answer, not every verse that speaks of Christ's rulership has to his supreme office as BASILEUS.

3) Greek studies have come a long way since Strong's. At that time, probably few scholars thought of paternal or royal language for God as metaphorical. I have no problem with thinking of Jehovah as a "literal" sovereign, as long as we don't bring in carnal images when discoursing about God's sovereignty. For example, God does not have a literal throne, scepter, nor does God wear some type of royal garb. God also does not have a literal crown. All such images should be eschewed, where Jehovah is concerned.

Finally, it does not logically follow that God's being a literal sovereign means that he's a literal BASILEUS. The BASILEUS is a male monarch; not simply a sovereign or monarch. All BASILEIS are sovereigns but not all sovereigns are BASILEIS.

aservantofJehovah said...

1)Queens would exclude kings,so I Don't know why you keep bringing up this issue,The discussion is about inclusive language.Nebuchadbezzar,because of the patriarchal culture in which he was immersed would have felt no need to specify that queens also came under the authority of Jehovah.It would have been sufficent for him to state that all kings were under Jehovah's authority and his audience would immediately understand that all queens were also under Jehovah's authority.Kings would include queens,Just as Fathers include mothers at Jeremiah31:32.
4)Well you limit masculinity to role in sexual reproduction so certainly Jehovah is not male in that sense.But different does not mean figurative.The figure followsthe reality Jehovah's Fatherhood and Lordship precede humans' so it is different not because it is a figure but because it is absolute being the original.Jehovah did not breathe the breath of life into the stars and the inanimate creation after forming them so his fathering of them is a bit different.It is man's fatherhood,Lordship,kingdom and Godhood that is the figure of Jehovah God's.Abraham is also a figurative father but this does not mean that he is not also a literal father.Jehovah is both a figurative father and a literal Father.Because he gives eternal life he is more of a Father than any human father.
5)here we go again with 'bios''bios'is utterly irrelevant with regard to this discussion.All that is necessary for a person to have a biology as defined by several commonly accepted reference works is that they be alive.even plants have a biology.If you want to say that Jehovah and his angels are not observable and thus their biolgy is beyond our grasp,fine.But denying that they have a biology is the same as denying that they have life.
So it is your position that all of the hundred and forty four thousand are celibate Jewish males.Well you certainly did not hear that at the kingdom hall did you?
My main concern is always the context of scripture.Jesus Said at Matthew28:18 that ALL authority in heaven and earth had been given him.So the statement at revelation19:16 and revelation17:14 are meant to reflect this reality.If these inspired statements are intentionally silent on the now many female rulers as you claim where is the statement that outlines Jesus supremacy over these.
3)From the very beginning I made it Clear that the anthropomorphic imagery employed in the bible re:Jehovah's Fatherhood,Kingdom,Lordship etc.were to be regarded as figurative,so I have no idea as to what the basis for this caveat could be.Again Basileus usually means King but it can be and is employed inclusively in the scriptures.That is all that strong's is saying:
e.g Revelation16:14ASV"for they are spirits of demons,working signs;which go forth unto the kings of the whole world,to gather them together unto the war of the great day of God,the almighty."also Revelation6:15ASV"And the kings of the earth,and the princes,and the chief captains,and the rich,and the strong,and every bondman and freeman hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains" To not understand 'Basileus'and indeed the masculine in general as being used inclusively in these passages is to reduce them to absurdities.

Edgar Foster said...

1) We've been through the inclusive issue many times. No use repeating what has already been uttered. Re: Jer 31:32, the Hebrew word rendered "fathers" evidently could refer to ancestors (male and female), it seems. Context must determine how we understand the word's use. There are verses where "fathers" clearly refers to males only. Ancestors could be understood in Jeremiah 31:32 although I believe the text has males only in mind. After all, Moses dealt with the elders of Israel who represented the entire nation.

4) Actually, I limit maleness to roles in sexual reproduction. Masculinity (as I understand the word) is a gender term. For example, nouns can be grammatically masculine without having a particular sex. Regardless of how we construe masculine/maleness, I see no scriptural evidence that Jehovah is a male. Nor are the angels males or females: they are probably genderless. To be a literal father, we would normally expect Jehovah to be male. You want to believe that God is literally male although scripture never refers to Jehovah as a male. Moreover, you want to believe that God is a male, but "he" is not a man. Maybe God is a male along the lines of a seahorse (you earlier suggested) or like a plant? No biblical evidence buttresses that line of reasoning either.

The paternal language that you interpret literally of Jehovah could just as well be understood metaphorically. Paternal imagery is old as it spans many cultures. Furthermore, men are called fathers in scripture way before Jehovah is identified as such.

We might appeal to the example of a shepherd. When Ps 23:1 calls God a shepherd, does that mean Jehovah is the original sheepherder and humans are faint copies? Let's not get too Platonic in our reasoning. :) And I'm not claiming that figurative paternity makes literal paternity impossible. My dissertation on divine paternity demonstrates how both might be true of the same entity. I just see no reason to identify God as the first king or father. The metaphorical approach makes more sense to me.

5) We're at an impasse on what biology means, so I'll move on to the next point in this section. I've never denied that plants have a biology. But as you point out, they're physical entities or biological organisms, so they're proper objects of biology. What I'm really denying is that God and the angels are biological organisms. They are "alive" as we understand that term. But neither Jehovah nor the angels are proper objects of study for biological science as we currently use that terminology. More importantly, the writers of scripture did not apply BIOS to spiritual beings.

Edgar Foster said...

My actual position is that the 144,00 are DEPICTED as celibate Jewish males since they did not defile themselves with women and because the masculine form is used in that text (CAPS for emphasis). Interpretation of the verse is another matter. I'm merely focusing on depiction.

I consider it evident that Christ has authority over kings and queens, if he's ruling heaven and earth. He's also over cherubs and seraphs; but we don't have a clear statement of that fact either (seraphs are not even mentioned in the GNT). The culture in which scripture was written accounts for a less than explicit utterance that Christ is ruling over both kings and queens. Based on the culture, I wouldn't expect the idea to be made explicit.

3) I made the caveats because you seemed to have a difficult time understanding how I could view Jehovah as a literal Sovereign with any logical consistency. I was just outlining how I understand God's sovereignty. However, I still do not agree with your interpretation of Strong regarding BASILEUS.

What throws you about Rev 16:14 and 6:15 is that you want to read them through the gaze of a 21st century interpreter. Yet they were composed in an utterly different context than ours. The writers were not as concerned about inclusive language as some expositors seem to be in our time.

aservantofJehovah said...

4)Well of course if one limits masculinity to role in sexual reproduction he is not male.So that was never issue,I don't no why you keep making as if it ever was.
But gender is never limited to role in sexual reproduction.And it is one thing to refer to a thing as male or female and another to refer to a person as male or female.All the personal pronouns that are ascribed to the personal name 'Jehovah' are in the masculine and this is so not because of human convention but by his own will.So not merely is the titles 'God' and 'Lord' Grammatically Masculine.The person who holds those offices depicts HIMSELF as masculine,as he is first and man is after it would be improper to regard his masculinity as a mere figure of human masculinity."Shepherd" can also refer to one who shepherds people certainly in this sense Jehovah is the original shepherd.
At Genesis1:26 Jehovah is recorded as conversing with another who already bore his image LONG before man existed,A Son,Jehovah is the original Father so imply the scriptures.
5)The fact that a thing cannot be observed by Man does not render it non-biological.It need only possess "Zoe".
6)and yet we know that non-jewish males and females are included included in the group.but this is probably a good point from which to move on from this particular issue.Christ is clearly shown to have been given authority over all God's angels see hebrews1:6 a Generic term that includes seraphs and cherubs so there is no need to argue from silence unless one wishes to insist that "angels" is not being used inclusively in this scripture.The culture of the times is precisely why viewing masculine terms as inclusive language where context demands is commonsensical.

3)You are not suggesting that John and his contemporaries were unaware of the existence of queens are you?at acts8:27 one of these queens is even mentioned.And Strong's quite axiomatic requiring no extensive interpetation both sovereign and king are listed as possible meanings for basileus,a king is a male sovereign so if this is the only possible meaning of the word,there would be no reason to mention the generic as well.The Bible is the inspired word of God so the culture of the time is not as big a factor as some moderns insist.

Edgar Foster said...

4) I keep repeating myself on this point because I'm still not being understood. I'm not limiting masculinity to a role in sexual reproduction. I have repeatedly denied that masculinity has any role in sexual reproduction. There is a distinction being made here (by me) between sex and gender (i.e. maleness and masculinity).

How do you know that the personal pronouns ascribed to Jehovah are not metaphorical or a result of human convention? God created language. So why couldn't his Word communicate ideas to us in our language? Besides, the only thing we have is human language and speech. The Word of God had to be written according to human lingual conventions.

We cannot justly conclude that because Jehovah depicts "himself" as masculine that he must be masculine in an ontological sense. Understanding the word "shepherd" as a shepherd of people is an extended meaning of the word. It primarily applies to literal sheep.

Okay, let's consider Gen 1:26. There are many possible ways the text could be understood--including that only one person is speaking there. But I'll grant that Jehovah is speaking to Michael (the preexistent Christ) in 1:26. It still would not follow logically or scripturally that Jehovah is the primordial Father. You would first have to demonstrate that God is the literal father of Christ, which is not an easy task to do.

aservantofJehovah said...

No you have not repeatedly denied that masculinity is unrelated to sexual reproduction.If you are now denying that masculinity is unrelated to sexual reproduction that would be an adjustment to your earlier position.Go back and read your own earlier comments.I have no more reason to not believe that when Jehovah refers to himself as male that that is exactly what he means(although this would be different from the way the word is used of humans)Than I do for for not believing that when Jehovah declares himself as Lord,God,King he means that these terms be understood literally(although,again these words would be used of humans in a lesser sense).Well sheep preceded humans who shepherded them before humans got here?What about wild sheep who shepherds them?See psalm50:10,11.How could "our"possibly refer to a a self address by a single speaker.The one being addressed is said to be in the image and likeness of the speaker.Note the similarity of this expression to what is written at Genesis5:3.
The expression image and likeness at Genesis1:26 refers to kin.
All your arguments so far on this issue have been along the lines of 'it could be figurative therefore it must be'or 'it differs from what humans are or do so therefore it must be a mere figure of what humans are or do' don't you find that kind of reasoning a bit undercooked?

Edgar Foster said...

With all due respect, my friend, this is a distinction I made in my dissertation and that has been constantly made by me during our entire discussion. I have not used gender as a sexual reproduction term in our discussion. For me, it's a social or cultural category.

Metaphors and similes are abundant in the Bible. Jehovah does not explicitly say that "he" is a male anyway. Personal pronouns or masculine nouns applied to God does not make God a male. You may infer that God is a male. But that does not necessarily make God a male. The "literal" understanding of a term is usually dictated by how we humans use words. Kings by definition are males. They also have trappings associated with royalty. But God cannot have such trappings.

Maybe sheep had no shepherds before humans were created. The book of Genesis indicates that Abel was probably the first shepherd. Think of how many animals had no guide before humans were made.

Firstly, the texts in Ps 50:10-11 was obviously written post-creation. Secondly, it does not explicitly teach that God was the original shepherd of animals prior to humans. Thirdly, notice that the passage applies to more than just sheep. It does not teach that God is some literal shepherd of animals.

I've had some Internet problems for the last 24 hours. However, I'll be glad to show why the Hebrew of Genesis allows for the possibility that only one person is speaking in Gen 1:26. Now I'm not advocating the position: just laying it out there as a possible understanding of the text.

I've never said that because something could be the case, it must be the case. That is just a misreading of my arguments. I've allowed for the possibility that I could be wrong in some cases.

Edgar Foster said...

While I have a good inet connection, I want to briefly reply to your recent comments.

On the 144,000 issue, I'm only dealing with grammar and surface depiction. I have not remarked upon the deep structure of the text or its interpretation. But, on the surface, if you compare Rev 14:4 with Rev 7:1-8--it becomes obvious that this groups is being portrayed as 144,000 Jewish celibate men. At the interpretive level, that might not be the case. But my major point is that Rev 14:4 is not using PARQENOS generically. Consult BDAG, LSJ and Barnes' NT Studies.

Maybe the word "angels" at Heb 1:6 does include seraphs because of the qualifier "all." But seraphs are never explicitly mentioned in the GNT. Cherubs, however, are referenced by the expression "living creatures" in Revelation. They are not just encompassed within a generic term "angels." I'm sure you recognize the ambiguous nature of the term "angels." It could also refer to just the messenger angels. I guess my point was that some things are either omitted in documents or presupposed. But we don't always need a generic explanation to account for things.

I have repeatedly pointed to the existence of queens during our discussion. So I'm not denying the ancients had knowledge of queens. I've actually used this point to show there was no need for a generic use of BASILEUS because the Greek term BASILISSA (queen) was available to the Greeks. We need to be careful with sources like Strong's. I've consulted all the major lexica on this question. The position you espouse does not seem tenable in light of the various lexica like BDAG, LSJ, etc.

Edgar Foster said...

I would like to tie up some loose ends (so to speak) in this post. Sorry if I don't follow a strct order here, but I've gotten behind with no inet connection.

Firstly, as I've noted in earlier correspondences, all kings are sovereigns but not all sovereigns are kings. That's why Strong's make a distinction of the kind that you mention. Additionally, not all human BASILEIS are kings, but to my knowledge, they're all males. A magistrate is a BASILEUS but not a king. See BDAG and Spicq's Theological Lexicon.

Some time ago in our discussion, I wrote:

"I'm not claiming that you meant to say Jehovah is genderless; that's my belief on the matter. I'm just saying that we should not confuse masculine terminology (a grammatical phenomenon) with masculine persons (a social or ontological phenomenon). Just because God is called father or king does not make God masculine, IMO."

Notice that I connected the categories of masculine/feminine with gender (not sex) I have repeatedly made this distinction throughout our entire dialogue.

May I ask how you know that the words image and likeness refer to kinship at Gen 1:26?

Edgar Foster said...


for an example of how I clearly distinguish sex from gender. And this piece was written before 2008.

Edgar Foster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edgar Foster said...


for an example of how I clearly distinguish sex from gender. And this piece was written before 2008.

aservantofJehovah said...

Alright we are going over well-worn ground here this seems as good a place as any to end this discussion.

Edgar Foster said...

Thanks for the discussion. When time permits, I would like to make a few blog entries based on this thread.