Monday, April 29, 2013

ANDRES in Acts 17:34

Wayne Grudem and Vern Poythress argue that ANDRES is not used generically in Acts 17:34. In part, they write:

"We could go on with further examples from the New Testament, but the analysis would be similar. There are many cases in which the context by itself would not require the meaning "man." But in all of these cases the meaning "man" makes sense and is not foreign to the context. Our approach here is just the same that Greek lexicographers regularly use in studying the meanings of word. We are not arguing that ANHR could never lose its male semantic component in specialized idioms, but only that the argument that it loses its male marking in any New Testament examples is based on very doubtful evidence, and is not sound lexicography."


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Moulton and Milligan on BASILEUS

This discussion is based on M-M's Vocabulary of the New Testament.

BASILEUS was a title adopted by Alexander the Great and it was used by his successors "in the Syrian and Egyptian monarchies." It was a title known to Jews of the Diaspora and later came to be applied to the Roman Emperor.

Concerning the title BASILEUS BASILEWN (Rev 17:14; 19:16), Deissmann presented evidence that this phrase was "in very early Eastern history a decoration of actual great monarchs and also a divine title." Furthermore, "Dittenberger (p. 648) contests Strack's attempt to claim BASILEUS as well as BASILISSA as a term applicable to non-regnant members of a royal family: he notes that there is all the difference between BASILEUS and its feminine. Wilcken Archiv iii. p. 319 supports him, and notes inscriptions where BASILEUS is promptly dropped when a mere H. R. H. is named after the king and his consort. He also commends Dittenberger's remark that Augustus and Augusta had the same difference after Domitian's time."

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I have the BDAG Greek-English Lexicon in print, but do not own the electronic form. It's a little much to type out. So I'll just post a brief snippet and those who want to consult BDAG may do so at their convenience.

BDAG notes that BASILEUS denotes "one who rules as possessor of the highest office in a political realm, king, [generally] of a male ruler who has unquestioned authority (exceptions are client rulers who owe their power to the grace of Rome) in a specific area POIEIN TINA B. make someone king J[ohn] 6:15."

The word is applied to human kings, Christ, God and Abaddon (Rev 9:11).

I also found an interesting reference in LSJ where Aristotle calls the queen bee "BASILEUS." But there are good reasons why this fact does not necessarily prove that BASILEUS was used generically (of males and females) in ancient Greece or in Scripture.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Melek Links

I've been arguing that MELEK means "king" and not "king or queen." It's interesting that Melek is also a Hebrew name for boys. Hebrew girls are evidently not named MELEK although I have not researched that particular issue with any semblance of thoroughness yet.

Here are some links that appear to support my position on MELEK:

From this site: "Every noun is either masculine or feminine. An obvious masculine noun is אישׁ (iysh - man) and an obvious feminine noun would be אשׁה (iyshah - woman). As can be seen in this example the suffix ה (ah) can be added to a masculine noun to make it feminine. Another example is the word מלך (melek - king), a masculine noun whereas מלכה (mal'khah - queen) is the feminine form." (See BDB at this link)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Commentary on Revelation 14:4

From Barnes' Notes on the Bible:

For they are virgins - παρθένοι parthenoi. This is the masculine form, but this form is found in the later Greek and in the Christian fathers. See Suidas and Suicer, Thes. The meaning of the word, when found in the feminine form, is well understood. It denotes a virgin, a maiden, and thence it is used to denote what is chaste and pure: virgin modesty; virgin gold; virgin soil; virgin blush; virgin shame. The word in the masculine form must have a similar meaning as applied to men, and may denote:

(a) those who are unmarried;

(b) those who are chaste and pure in general.

The word is applied by Suidas to Abel and Melchizedek. "The sense," says DeWette, in loco, "cannot be that all these 144,000 had lived an unmarried life; for how could the apostle Peter, and others who were married, have been excluded? But the reference must be to those who held themselves from all impurity - "unkeuschheit und hurerei" - which, in the view of the apostles, was closely connected with idolatry." Compare Bleek, Beitr. i. 185. Prof. Stuart supposes that the main reference here is to those who had kept themselves from idolatry, and who were thus pure. It seems to me, however, that the most obvious meaning is the correct one, that it refers to the redeemed as chaste, and thus brings into view one of the prominent things in which Christians are distinguished from the devotees of nearly every other form of religion, and, indeed, exclusively from the world at large.

From Vincent's Word Studies:

Virgins (παρθένοι)

Either celibate or living in chastity whether in married or single life. See 1 Corinthians 7:1-7, 1 Corinthians 7:29; 2 Corinthians 11:2.

From Clarke's Commentary on the Bible:

These are they which were not defiled with women - They are pure from idolatry, and are presented as unspotted virgins to their Lord and Savior Christ. See 2 Corinthians 11:2. There may be an allusion here to the Israelites committing idolatry, through the means of their criminal connection with the Midianitish women. See Numbers 25:1-4; Numbers 31:16.

John Gill also writes:
for they are virgins; for their beauty and comeliness in Christ, chastity, sincerity of their love, uncorruptness in doctrine and worship, and for the uprightness of conversation provides some helpful information too:

Some have suggested that spiritual celibacy be intended here. That is, the 144,000 remained faithful to the Lord and did not commit spiritual immorality with the woman presented in Revelation 17-18. However, the text refers to women and not the woman. For they have kept themselves chaste further defines this unique group. Literally, the Greeks [SIC] says, For they are virgins (parthenoi). Parthenoi usually refers to women exclusively. Here it refers to men only. These men have not engaged in sexual intercourse. They are Jewish celibates. Some have attempted to make "the women" refer to "the woman" of Revelation 17. However, this is unlikely. There is both a ritual and moral purity ascribed to the 144,000.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Anselm of Canterbury on the Divine Emotions or Lack Thereof

BUT how art thou compassionate, and, at the same time, passionless? For, if thou art passionless, thou dost not feel sympathy; and if thou dost not feel sympathy, thy heart is not wretched from sympathy for the wretched; but this it is to be compassionate. But if thou art not compassionate, whence cometh so great consolation to the wretched? How, then, art thou compassionate and not compassionate, O Lord, unless because thou art compassionate in terms of our experience, and not compassionate in terms of thy being.

Truly, thou art so in terms of our experience, but thou art not so in terms of thine own. For, when thou beholdest us in our wretchedness, we experience the effect of compassion, but thou dost not experience the feeling. Therefore, thou art both compassionate, because thou dost save the wretched, and spare those who sin against thee; and not compassionate, because thou art affected by no sympathy for wretchedness.

Taken from Proslogium (CHAPTER VIII).

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Arguments from Silence and Exegesis (BIOS)

Without getting into the issue of what constitutes an argument from silence, let's just say that I don't think I'm guilty of one where the application of BIOS is concerned. The Greek term BIOS does not simply mean "life" but it refers to a particular kind of life. It is possible to conceive of life in abstract or concrete terms: Hebrew makes this kind of distinction. On the other hand, we can refer to spiritual and physical life. In that case, Jehovah would fit into the former category, but not the latter one. But let me explain why my refusal to apply BIOS to God at present is not an argument from silence.

Let's imagine that we were never told men should be family heads. Suppose that the term KEPHALH (or its Hebrew equivalent) was never applied to men in the scriptures. Imagine that the concept of a male family head also was never introduced in the Bible. Do you think we would be justified in applying KEPHALH to males in that case? I personally would have a problem, if that were the case.

But now, let's move from the counterfactual to a factual situation. There are many people today who refer to certain buildings as "churches" or they call them churches. Granted, the word EKKLHSIA does appear in scripture, and I have no problem rendering it as "church, congregation" or "assembly." One problem, however, is that no first-century Christian ever understood the word church to signify a building. That use of the word comes much later in Greek history. So would you consider it an argument from silence, if a Christian today refused to apply the term "church" to a building in which people worship? IMO, it's just a matter of trying to do the scriptural terms justice. Use and usage are integral aspects of lexicography, semantics, exegesis and hermeneutics. I can't just decide to call an object (O) by a signification (S) with no lexical justification. Well, I guess that I could. But the speech act would mean very little to anyone except me.

Friday, April 05, 2013

David Conway and the Logical Problem of Evil

David Conway argues that the proposition "evil is omni-preventable" is true, regardless of whether it is necessarily or contingently true. He chides those who might make such modal distinctions regarding truth as necessarily or contingently true (at least, in this case he does). For a truth to be necessarily true means that it's true in all possible worlds. Contingent truths are true in some possible worlds, but could be false in others.

Let's accept Conway's claim that the proposition "evil is omni-preventable" is true although I have reservations about his approach since the modal distinctions make a huge difference here. I do not believe that it will suffice to say that the aforegoing utterance is true. Why is that the case? Imagine S (a 3 pack a day smoker) who has made a choice which could be described as "evil" (morally speaking) which leads to yet another evil, namely, lung cancer. Granted, one might argue that God could have prevented S from smoking 3 packs a day and he could have prevented S from getting lung cancer by dint of this "evil" habit. Yet, in order for God (the omnipotent and omniscient being of Christianity and Judaism, etc) to prevent these two evils, it seems that God could not have created S with the ability to perform (or refrain from performing) the action (A) which brought it about that S suffered the evil of lung cancer.

Even if Conway wants to argue that God could have made the world such that S could never have made the decision to smoke, etc, I truly do not see how that God's not preventing the aforementioned evils work to disprove his existence.

In summary, one of my objections to Conway's claim regarding the omni-preventability of evil is that he has failed to flesh out what he means by "evil" (moral or natural). It is not sufficient to say that the proposition "evil is omni-preventable" is true, even if one accepts Conway's point about the modal distinctions. We now have to make subtle distinctions regarding evil and show why God should bring it about that S cannot choose to smoke 3 packs a day, drink alcohol in great quantities or drive 120 mph on I-40, all actions which could be characterized as "evil" insofar as they have the potential to wreak great harm.