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." It refers to a particular kind of life. Life can be conceived in abstract or concrete terms: Hebrew makes this kind of distinction. Or 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 was also 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 true.

But now, let's move from the counterfactual to a factual situation. There are many people today who refer to certain buildings by using the term "church." 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.

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