Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hebrews 2:14 (A Dialogue)

Under the entry for KATARGEW, BDAG has "to cause [something] to come to an end or to be no longer in existence, abolish, wipe out, set aside . . . TON TO KRATOS EXONTA TOU QANATOU destroy the one who has power over death Heb. 2:14" (page 525). This understanding of KATARGEW is consonant with Paul's words in Rom. 16:10 as well (note his use of SUNTRIYEI there and the part that Christians will play in the said "crushing" of the Devil).

[Jean] Why do you not mention the first meaning listed in BAGD for KATARGEW: "make ineffective, powerless, idle"? The fact that KATARGEW can mean "abolish" does not necessarily mean that Heb 2:14 automatically implies the destruction of the devil, although it may. According to LSJ the verb KATARGEW means "leave unemployed or idle." Other glosses includes: 1) make useless, cumber (the ground), 2) cause to be idle, hinder. LSJ also mentions as a second large category of meaning the idea to "make of no effect."

I did not mention the first definition because you had already alluded to it in your comments earlier. Secondly, BDAG lists Heb. 2:14 under the second definition (not the first one). While the significance attached to KATARGEW by BDAG is surely not definitive just because the lexicon construes KATARGEW in this manner, I think that BDAG's comments on KATARGEW in Heb. 2:14 certainly deserve consideration because we must not only ask what a word means: we must ask what a certain signifier denotes in a particular context. Based on other Scriptures that talk about the Devil, I believe that it makes more sense to group KATARGEW under the second definition found in BDAG (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20).

LSJ is fine and its unequalled in the information that it provides. But we must keep in mind the priority that synchronic definitions have over diachronic ones. BDAG lists a number of Bible passages where KATARGEW seems to denote destruction or annihilation. This defintion seem apropos vis-a'-vis Heb. 2:14.


Terence Kenehan said...

None of my business, but do you think "Jean" will ever come round to your viewpoint?

Is this email a dialogue via email or at your University?

I remember reading (I think it was Robert Bowman) that it appears that Jehovah's Witnesses have "created" a system of interlocking beliefs that are internally coherent and seemingly irrefutable, or something along those lines. I would argue that it is not the witnesses that have an "internally coherent", "interlocking system of belief" but that is what we have found in the scriptures themselves.

I find it interesting that certain lines of reasoning on certain Bible doctrines can't quite seem to "click" with people as I have found that the one particular point (or many points) they get stuck on is usually underpinned by another errant viewpoint or belief. In this case, I wonder if the Immortality of the Soul is the true limiting factor in your dialogue? If the soul is immortal, then it would naturally lead to the conclusion of eternal torment as literal not symbolic. Just a thought.

The semantic/linguistics of a text will always be debatable, but as you so rightly said, you've based your conclusions on what "the scriptures say about the Devil", not merely the linguistics of the texts in question.

As I say, this is none of my business, and I'm sorry if I have derailed the point of this post. But satisfactory conclusions are only as good as the correct suppositions gathered to that point in the discussion, IMHO. Then again, I have only fragments of context to go on.

Ignore me lol.

Edgar Foster said...


This discussion took place some years ago on a yahoogroup that I used to moderate. I try to avoid these kinds of electronic dialogues now, although "Jean" was a respectful interlocutor. I've also had discussions with Bowman, but I would now say it would not be the best use of my time.

I agree with your thoughts about the common view of the soul. My dialogue partner strongly believes in the immortal soul doctrine, and he was steeped in Babylonish teachings. I doubt that he's changed his mind in any way.

I appreciated your thoughts and questions. The original discussion included many different exchanges over many weeks. I've only posted some of that dialogue here.

Best regards.

Terence Kenehan said...

Yes, Jean comes across as very respectful. Not many are unfortunately.

I agree with your position on debates/conversations online. Even in person.

Thanks for acknowledging my comment.


dokimazo said...

It is always a surprise to see someone so quick to try and support a doctrine that dishonors God so much.