Saturday, July 30, 2016

John 1:1c and the Deity of Christ

Regarding Jn 1:1c, Jehovah's Witnesses and Trinitarians both say that the Logos was deity in a qualitative sense (i.e., he was "divine"):

Careful translators recognize that the articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone. Therefore, John’s statement that the Word or Logos was “a god” or “divine” or “godlike” does not mean that he was the God with whom he was. It merely expresses a certain quality about the Word, or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same as God himself (Rbi8, 1579).

The 10/15/93 WT (pp. 27-28) clarifies this statement even more:

The New World Translation, correctly viewing the word “God” as indefinite, as well as bringing out the qualitative aspect indicated by the Greek structure, uses the indefinite article in English: “The Word was a god.”

So Witnesses say QEOS in John 1:1c has both indefinite and qualitative semantic force: the Word is a god or divine being. One difference, however, is that Witnesses employ the adnominal "divine" in its weaker sense, whereas Trinitarians utilize "divine" with a stronger sense or meaning, so that it only applies to God (compare the AT at 1:1c). Professor Dale Tuggy helpfully has made distinctions between the strong and weak sense of "divine" in his work on the Trinity doctrine. I highly recommend his analyses.

Another difference is that while Trinitarians like Richard A. Young or Daniel B. Wallace are inclined to view QEOS in Jn 1:1c as a "monadic" or one-of-a-kind noun, Jehovah's Witnesses evidently believe QEOS is a count noun since we encounter the plural QEOI in both the LXX and NT with no indication that the writers in these particular instances are using the nominal QEOS pejoratively (Ps 8:4-5).

Now it's a well-known fact that Trinitarians make the afirmation, "Jesus is God." But one nagging logical difficulty that I think attends the Trinitarian proposition "Jesus is God" is that Trinitarians seem forced to view the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as "relatively identical" with the Godhead (i.e., God). Yet those who study identity in a non-theological context have pointed out that "relative identity" appears to be a sketchy concept. A logician named Peter Geach developed a sophisticated argument for relative identity that Richard Cartwright and other logicians aptly tried to refute, and did refute IMO.

Some elementary principles of logic are that A = A, identity relations are transitive, and identity is absolute/necessary:

(1) Cicero is Tully.
(2) Water is H20.
(3) Heat is the motion of molecules/atoms.
(4) Hesperus is Phosphorus.
(5) 2 + 2 = 4.

Leibniz' law also comes into play here and says that if X and Y commonly exemplify all properties, then X and Y are identical. The converse of this statement is that if X and Y are identical, then X and Y commonly exemplify all properties. That is why Cicero (X) is said to be identical with Y (Tully), KAI TO LOIPON. 2 + 2 = 4 is also a statement of identity.

But Trinitarians are saying none of the above when they assert that "Jesus is God." Rather, the proposition "Jesus is God" only claims that the Son of God is relatively identical with the Godhead, according to Geach and others. The Trinitarian proposition is thus akin to the assertions: "Aristotle is rational" or "Socrates is wise."

Friday, July 29, 2016

Klaus Koch and Daniel's Canonical Status

I've saved the file to my computer, but you can see the information online here:

Koch concludes that Daniel progressively became part of the Hebrew-Aramaic canon, but Jews and Christians likely accepted the book as canonical by the end of the 1st century CE.

Addressing Charges of Historical Inaccuracy or Lack of Grammaticality in John's Gospel

"John 1:35 seems to create a conflict with Mark 1:12 in the Greek Gospels, since both place him at different places 3 days after His baptism. However, the Aramaic version of John/Yoch 1:35 reads 'on another day' instead of the Greek 'the next day', eliminating any conflict with Mark 1:12."

Firstly, I must point out that this is not an example of a Johannine grammatical or linguistic error. At most, it would be a textual error, but there is nothing ungrammatical about John writing THi EPAURION PALIN hISTHKEI IWANHS in Jn 1:35. What you are actually positing is a historical inaccuracy or biblical contradiction, not a grammatical error. However, I fail to see how you can even discern a conflict between Mk 1:12 and Jn 1:35. Mark records the events that immediately transpired after Jesus' baptism. John, on the other hand, recounts Jesus' baptism without actually recording that Jesus was immersed by the Baptizer or that he even went into the wilderness afterwards. His focus is on what happened after Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. Larry Hurtado writes concerning Mk 1:9-13:

"It is interesting, by comparison, that the Fourth Gospel does not actually say that Jesus was baptized by John (John 1:29-34) but includes a lengthy passage where the Baptist explicitly describes Jesus' superiority (John 3:22-30). In the passage before us [Mk 1:9ff], there is no such reluctance to associate the beginnings of Jesus' ministry with the Baptist" (Mark, p. 19).

"The Greek version of John 19:31 contains one line of bad grammar, which reads, 'the Jews did not want the bodies [plural] left on the cross [singular] during the Sabbath'. The Aramaic version says, "the Jews did not want the bodies [plural] left on the crosses [plural] during the Sabbath". So which ancient version should be considered more reliable - the Greek version with bad grammar or the Aramaic version without any?"

I think it is a bit strong to call EPI TOU STAUROU TA SWMATA EN TWi SABBATWi "bad grammar." To be sure, we apparently do have an example of what is called a CONSTRUCTIO AD SENSUM in Jn 19:31. However, Daniel B. Wallace explains:

"Although there is a lack of concord in such constructions, they are not infrequent. Indeed, a neuter plural subject normally takes a singular verb. It is an example of CONSTRUCTIO AD SENSUM (construction according to sense, rather than according to strict grammatical concord). Since the neuter usually refers to impersonal things (including animals), the singular verb regards the plural subject as a collective whole. It is appropriate to translate the subject as a plural as well as the verb, rather than translate both as singulars" (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 399).

Examples of AD SENSUM constructions are:

Acts 2:43; 1 Cor 10:7; Rev 8:9; 11:18.

Interestingly, David Aune also notes concerning the so-called barbarisms or solecisms in the book of Revelation:

"In most of these instances, there is MS evidence that scribes have tried to correct these constructions by making them congruent in number . . . In each instance, however, the presence of the CONSTRUCTIO AD SENSUM is probably LECTIO ORIGINALIS" (Revelation 1-5, p. CCV).

Translating Genesis 2:19 (An Exploration)

There have been questions raised about Genesis 2:19, and how it should be rendered:

"And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was its name" (KJV 2000).

"And Jehovah God formeth from the ground every beast of the field, and every fowl of the heavens, and bringeth in unto the man, to see what he doth call it; and whatever the man calleth a living creature, that is its name" (YLT).

"And out of the ground Jehovah Elohim had formed every animal of the field and all fowl of the heavens, and brought [them] to Man, to see what he would call them; and whatever Man called each living soul, that was its name" (Darby BT).

Should one translate the Hebrew with the English "formed" or "had formed"?

There is certainly not unanimous consent on this issue, although many translations choose "formed" to convey the thought in 2:19.

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament: "The arrangement may be explained on the supposition, that the writer, who was about to describe the relation of man to the beasts, went back to their creation, in the simple method of the early Semitic historians, and placed this first instead of making it subordinate; so that our modern style of expressing the same thought would be simply this: 'God brought to Adam the beasts which He had formed.'"

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible:
"And out of the ground Jehovah formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof."

"God formed every beast ..." The proper way to translate this is "God had formed,"[26] etc. This is not the record of another creation, or a contradictory account of that given in Genesis 1, but a sub-section evidently given to reveal the intelligent genius of Adam, thus demonstrating the necessity of finding a mate for him who would partake in every way of his genius and ability, a problem that God solved by creating woman out of Adam himself. "Whatsoever the man called every living creature..." As Whitelaw commented:

"In this it is implied that man was created with the faculty of speech, the distinct gift of articulate and rational utterance, and the capacity of attaching words to ideas ... Already man had received from God his first lesson in the exercise of speech in the naming of the trees (in Eden) and the imposing of the prohibition."[27]

The NET Bible uses "formed," and here is the note provided (note 58):

tn Or “fashioned.” To harmonize the order of events with the chronology of chapter one, some translate the prefixed verb form with vav (ו) consecutive as a past perfect (“had formed,” cf. NIV) here. (In chapter one the creation of the animals preceded the creation of man; here the animals are created after the man.) However, it is unlikely that the Hebrew construction can be translated in this way in the middle of this pericope, for the criteria for unmarked temporal overlay are not present here. See S. R. Driver, A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew, 84-88, and especially R. Buth, “Methodological Collision between Source Criticism and Discourse Analysis,” Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, 138-54. For a contrary viewpoint see IBHS 552-53 §33.2.3 and C. J. Collins, “The Wayyiqtol as ‘Pluperfect’: When and Why,” TynBul 46 (1995): 117-40.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part VI)

Just to keep readers up to date, these set of posts deal with Chrys C. Caragounis' analysis/critique of Stanley Porter's verbal aspect theory. I am basing this discussion on Caragounis' book, The Development of Greek and the New Testament.

Caragounis finds Porter's translation of Acts 15:38, Acts 21:12, and Matthew 18:25 to be deficient. Another text he examines is Philemon 21.

A. Acts 15:38

Greek: Παῦλος δὲ ἠξίου, τὸν ἀποστάντα ἀπ' αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Παμφυλίας καὶ μὴ συνελθόντα αὐτοῖς εἰς τὸ ἔργον, μὴ συνπαραλαμβάνειν τοῦτον.

Porter: "was thinking not to take him."

NWT 2013: "Paul, however, was not in favor of taking him along with them"

Caragounis: He calls Porter's rendition, "a strange translation," then continues by writing, "That this is not simply a question of a mere thought on Paul's part, but of a demand or insistence, is proved beyond any doubt by the quarrel that ensued between Paul and Barnabas" (330).

NET Bible: "but Paul insisted that they should not take along this one"

B. Acts 21:12

Greek: ὡς δὲ ἠκούσαμεν ταῦτα, παρεκαλοῦμεν ἡμεῖς τε καὶ οἱ ἐντόπιοι τοῦ μὴ ἀναβαίνειν αὐτὸν εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ.

Porter: "we and those with us were beseeching him not to go."

NWT 2013: "Now when we heard this, both we and those of that place began entreating him not to go up to Jerusalem."

Byington: "And when we heard this, both we and the people of the place appealed to him not to go up to Jerusalem."

Caragounis: ἐντόπιοι certainly does not denote "those with us," but rather "the local people" or "the people who lived in that place" (330).

C. Matthew 18:25

Greek: μὴ ἔχοντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἀποδοῦναι ἐκέλευσεν αὐτὸν ὁ κύριος πραθῆναι καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ τὰ τέκνα καὶ πάντα ὅσα ἔχει, καὶ ἀποδοθῆναι.

Porter: "When he did not have by which to pay back, the master ordered him to sell both his wife and children and all that he had, and to be repayed!"

NWT 2013: "But because he did not have the means to pay it back, his master ordered him and his wife and his children and all the things he owned to be sold and payment to be made."

Caragounis: He calls Porter's translation, "hair-raising" on the basis of πραθῆναι being the passive aorist infinitive form. So he maintains that the word or this particular morphology doesn't mean "to sell." Moreover, Caragounis accuses Porter of "playing havoc with tense and voice" (330-331). So he prefers the rendering: "his master ordered that he and his wife and his children . . . be sold, and that payment be made."

D. Philemon 21

Greek: Πεποιθὼς τῇ ὑπακοῇ σου ἔγραψά σοι, εἰδὼς ὅτι καὶ ὑπὲρ ἃ λέγω ποιήσεις.

Porter: "being persuaded of your reputation I write to you"

Caragounis: "Since when has the word ὑπακοῇ taken on the sense of 'reputation?'"

NWT 2013: "I am confident that you will comply, so I am writing you, knowing that you will do even more than what I say."

NET Bible: "Since I was confident that you would obey, I wrote to you, because I knew that you would do even more than what I am asking you to do."

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

2 Timothy 3:17 (ARTIOS)

"The adjective 'perfect' [in 2 Tim. 3:17] is ARTIOS (only here in NT), and 'thoroughly furnished' is the perfect passive participle of the verb EXARTIZW, based on the adjective. The verb is found here and in Acts 21:5 ('accomplished'; that is, 'finished'). The basic meaning of ARTIOS is 'fitted' or 'complete.' Trench comments . . . the man of God, St. Paul would say (2 Tim. 3:17), should be furnished and accomplished with all which is necessary for the carrying out of the work to which he is appointed" (Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the New Testament).

Robertson's Word Pictures:
The man of God (ο του θεου ανθρωπος). See 1Ti 6:11.

May be complete (ινα η αρτιος). Final clause with ινα and present subjunctive of ειμ. Αρτιος is old word (from root αρω, to fit), specially adapted, here only in N.T.

Furnished completely (εξηρτισμενος). Perfect passive participle of εξαρτιζω, rare verb, to furnish (fit) fully (perfective use of εξ), in N.T. only here and Ac 21:5. In Josephus. For καταρτιζω, see Lu 6:40; 2Co 13:11 .

"our saving faith derives its force, not from capricious reasonings, but from what may be proved out of the Bible" (Cyril of Jerusalem).

"Vincent of Le'rins (c. 450) took it as an axiom the Scriptural canon was 'sufficient, and more than sufficient, for all purposes'" (J. N. D. Kelly 43).

"'How then,' says one, 'shall we be able to renew it [i.e., the soul], thus fallen and relaxed, to strength? what doing, what saying?' By applying ourselves to the divine words of the prophets, of the Apostles, of the Gospels, and all the others; then we shall know that it is far better to feed on these than on impure food, for so we must term our unseasonable idle talking and assemblies" (HOMILY XVIII. JOHN 1:35-37).

John Trapp's Commentary: May be perfect] αρτιος ( omnibus numeris absotutus), with a perfection of parts, able and apt to make use of the Holy Scriptures to all the former purposes, for the behoof or benefit of his hearers. The authority of the Fathers, saith a grave and learned divine, I never urge for necessity of proof (the Scripture is thereto all-sufficient and superabundant), but only either in some singular points to show consent; or, 2. In our controversies against anti-christians, anti-nomists, Neopelagians; or, 3. When some honest passage of sanctification or seasonable opposition to the corruption of the times is falsely charged with novelty, singularity, and too much preciseness. (Mr Bolton’s Four Last Things.)

For a time, oral teaching served a vital purpose in the Christian ecclesia. But in order to preserve the Gospel and facilitate its spread, the ecclesia committed its beliefs to writing (Cf. 2 Pet. 3:1, 2). Interestingly, Lucius Lactantius also contended that Holy Writ did not grow out of the Christian religion, but the Christian religion out of Holy Writ (Divine Institutes 4.4.5). Yes, Christians are supposed to be "people of the book." Jehovah God always purposed that the teachings of Christ would be committed to writing, and these writings as Vincent said, are sufficient "and more than sufficient" for all Christian purposes, even though Vincent thought tradition was vital to avoid misinterpreting Scripture. I'm not sure he would insists that tradition precedes the Bible though.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Luke 20:36, Angels, and Immortality

Written 7/17/03 and edited 6/27/16; 7/24/16; 8/6/16.

The Greek is οὐδὲ γὰρ ἀποθανεῖν ἔτι δύνανται, ἰσάγγελοι γάρ εἰσιν, καὶ υἱοί εἰσιν θεοῦ τῆς ἀναστάσεως υἱοὶ ὄντες (WH).

This portion of the Lukan verse has, for some time, perplexed me. But I'd rather not get into the aporetic facets of this passage since it would force me to speculate on what Luke might have intended, thus carrying me beyond what the Greek found in the account putatively states.

Suffice to say that angels are evidently not immortal. The only beings that seem to possess immortality (i.e., the quality of deathlessness, indestructibility, and autarchy qua life) are God the Father (Hab. 1:12); the Risen Christ (Rom. 6:9-10; Heb. 7:16) and Christians who participate via divine χάρις in the first resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:53-54). But immortality is never predicated of the angels by any scriptural writer. In fact, some angels actually sinned and apostatized from God, including the one called Devil and Satan (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Rev. 12:9). These beings now stand on death row, as it were: it thus seems that angels are not inherently immortal.

δύνανται is the present indicative middle/passive 3rd person plural of δύναμαι(can, am able, be capable, have the power to do X). Hence, I like the way that NWT renders the verse. Rotherham also has "For they cannot even die anymore."

However, if these words do apply to those who will live forever on earth, do they necessarily convey the idea that those privileged to dwell eternally on earth will be immortal? Could not Luke simply be professing what the apostle John also prophesies concerning the future inhabitants of the "new earth" in Rev. 21:3-4?

Grammatically, I don't see why we should make a distinction between the individuals mentioned in Lk. 20:34-35 and those mentioned in 20:36. Notice that the Gospel writer employs the Greek postpositive γὰρ, which NWT renders "In fact" (Lk. 20:36):

"Now that" (KJV) "But that" (REV) "But even" (NET)

Luke's use of γὰρ after discussing those who neither marry nor are given in marriage suggests that verse 36 is a continuation of what one finds discussed in 20:34-35. The NWT also evidently construes γὰρ as an emphatic particle by employing the translation, "In fact . . . "

NWT 2013: "In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God's children by being children of the resurrection."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Redundancy, Pleonastic Speech, and the Bible

When I say that the Bible contains redundancies, I use the term in the way that linguists do. Moises Silva offers the following input with regard to Biblical redundancies:

"It is unfortunate, however, that the term redundancy continues to be viewed in a purely negative light. Linguists, drawing on the work of communication engineers, have long recognized that redundancy is a built-in feature of every language and that it aids, rather than hinders, the process of communication" (Philippians, 12-13).

A prime example of redundancy in the Bible is Philippians 2:1 which B. F. Lightfoot describes as a "tautology of earnestness." This observation does not make Scripture any less sacred, but it simply recognizes the fact that God had Scripture recorded in human language and thus Bible writers follow normal syntactical and morphological rules and other standard speech conventions.

D. A. Black likewise provides discusses this subject in Linguistics for Students of NT Greek. On pp. 132-136, Black supplies examples of rhetorical devices like anaphora, anastrophe, asyndeton, polysyndeton, litotes, and pleonasm (redundancy).

Some examples of pleonasm are Colossians 1:23; Philippians 1:23; 2:1.

As for Philippians 2:1 in Greek, it reads:

Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part V)

So far in this analysis of Caragounis' criticisms of Porter's aspect theory and biblical translations (verses that he has rendered from Greek into English), we can see that Porter has not fared well at the hands of Chrys Caragounis. But I'm not trying to determine which scholar is correct: my objective is to spell out the disagreement between these men, then let my readers decide whose argument best explains the biblical data. In this post, I'll also continue to see how NWT 2013 renders the verses that Caragounis has chosen to analyze.

A. Matthew 18:15

Greek in part: ἐάν σου ἀκούσῃ, ἐκέρδησας τὸν ἀδελφόν σου· (WH)

Porter: "if he hears you, you gain your brother."

Caragounis: He is highly critical of this rendering since it appears "to miss the force of the aorist" (page 329).

NWT 2013: "If he listens to you, you have gained your brother."

One criticism of Porter's translation is that his rendering possibly confuses the aorist and present verbal forms. As a side note, I also like "listens" for ἀκούσῃ better than "hears." Another thing Caragounis notes regarding Porter's translation is that while Matthew could/should have used the future indicative here, he employed the aorist instead to rhetorically "dramatize the effect of winning a falling brother . . . " (277). Hence, the act is also treated as a fait accompli.

NET Bible: "If he listens to you, you have regained your brother."

B. Mark 3:24

Greek ex toto: καὶ ἐὰν βασιλεία ἐφ' ἑαυτὴν μερισθῇ, οὐ δύναται σταθῆναι ἡ βασιλεία ἐκείνη·

Porter: "if a kingdom might be divided upon itself, that kingdom is not able to stand."

NWT 2013: "If a kingdom becomes divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand"

Needless to say, Caragounis thinks that Porter once again misses the mark.
C. Mark 3:22

Greek: καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς οἱ ἀπὸ Ἰεροσολύμων καταβάντες ἔλεγον ὅτι Βεεζεβοὺλ ἔχει, καὶ ὅτι ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια. (WH)

Porter: "in the power of the demons he cast out demons."

Caragounis: ἄρχων does not signify "power," but "Prince" or "Leader." Porter might have mistook ἄρχων for ἀρχὴ.

NWT 2013: "he expels the demons by means of the ruler of the demons."

NET Bible: "By the ruler of demons he casts out demons."

Friday, July 22, 2016

John 1:3-4 (PANTA, Etc.)

John 1:3-4 (Greek): πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων·

It is possible that John 1:3c-4 addresses the same time frame as 1:3b:

"4b ('this life was the light of men') seems to indicate that not all creation but only living creatures or, more likely, men are meant by 'that-which-had-come-to-be in 4a'" (Raymond E. Brown, Anchor Bible Commentary on John, Vol. 1:7).

Quoting from Brown again:

"following vs. 3, the clause represents a narrowing down of creation; v. 4 is not going to talk about the whole of creation but a special creation in the Word [i.e., men]" (Ibid.).

I partly concur with Brown's construal of ὃ γέγονεν, but I would not limit v. 4 to the creation of men. Instead it potentially refers to the entire material order and not only references humans. At any rate, Brown's comments show that πάντα in John 1 may be understood in a relative sense. Moreover, ὃ γέγονεν might elucidate "all things." Read in context, John 1:3-4b possibly does not refer to the earthly ministry of Jesus, but could deal with his preexistent activity as the Word, whereby he shares in creating the material universe as a whole.

To reiterate, I am saying that John 1:3-4 narrates the creation of the material order (including humans): the content of those verses potentially does not encompass the angels or the spiritual realm.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ephesians 3:3 (Ignatius of Antioch)

Greek: καὶ γὰρ Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, τὸ ἀδιάκριτον ἡμῶν ζῆν, τοῦ πατρὸς ἡ γνώμη, ὡς καὶ οἱ ἐπίσκοποι, οἱ κατὰ τὰ πέρατα ὁρισθέντες, ἐν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ γνώμῃ εἰσίν.

"For even Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the [manifested] will of the Father; as also bishops, settled everywhere to the utmost bounds [of the earth], are so by the will of Jesus Christ" (New Advent).

"Surely, Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, for His part is the mind of the Father, just as the bishops, though appointed throughout the vast, wide earth, represent for their part the mind of Jesus Christ" (Kleist).

"for Jesus Christ also, our inseparable life, is the mind of the Father, even as the bishops that are settled in the farthest parts of the earth are in the mind of Jesus Christ" (Lightfoot).

"For Jesus Christ—that life from which we can't be torn—is the Father's mind, as the bishops too, appointed the world over, reflect the mind of Jesus Christ" (Cyril Richardson).

For the complete Greek text of Ephesians 3:3ff, see

Monday, July 18, 2016

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part IV)

I base this part of the discussion on page 329 of Caragounis' The Development of Greek and the New Testament. Translations of Stanley Porter are analyzed by Caragounis, then he explains why he finds them wanting. My posting this information does not necessarily signal my consent with Caragounis: I just want to put this data out there. Additionally, I'm going to post NWT 2013 renditions to compare them with Porter and Caragounis.

A. Mark 11:27

Greek in Part (NA28): Καὶ ἔρχονται πάλιν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα.

Porter: "and they were coming again into Jerusalem."

Caragounis: "And they came again to Jerusalem."

NWT 2013: "They came again to Jerusalem."

B. John 17:14

Greek in Part: ὁ κόσμος ἐμίσησεν αὐτούς

Caragounis argues that Porter misinterprets this Johannine verse. He avers that one should not translate these words as "the world is going to hate them" since the passage is talking about a fait accompli. See John 15:18ff.

Caragounis writes: "it is true that this process, which has already begun, will continue and be accentuated in the future" (329). Nevertheless, as he explains in footnote 323 on the same page: "But if, in spite of this, the main weight is placed on the future, then it is the special use of the perfect treated in the present Chapter, 4, above. In either case it is not susceptible to PORTER's interpretation."

NWT 2013: "the world has hated them"

C. Ephesians 5:29

Greek in Part: Οὐδεὶς . . . τὴν ἑαυτοῦ σάρκα ἐμίσησεν

Porter: "no one ever hates . . . "

Caragounis: He reasons that Porter's translational choice is not erroneous per se, but "no one has ever hated his own flesh" more closely reflects the apostle's intention.

NWT 2013: "for no man ever hated his own body [lit., 'flesh']"

D. Luke 16:14

Greek in Part: ἔγνων τί ποιήσω

Caragounis thinks Porter "does not take account of the special force of the verb itself. In English it corresponds to 'I('ve) got it!'" (page 329).

NWT 2013: "Ah! I know what I will do"

Friday, July 15, 2016

Thomas Aquinas on the Blessed Who Witness the Massa Damnata Suffer

"I answer that, A thing may be a matter of rejoicing in two ways. First directly, when one rejoices in a thing as such: and thus the saints will not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked. Secondly, indirectly, by reason namely of something annexed to it: and in this way the saints will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked, by considering therein the order of Divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy. And thus the Divine justice and their own deliverance will be the direct cause of the joy of the blessed: while the punishment of the damned will cause it indirectly."

(Summa Theologica, Supplement, Question 94, Article 1)

The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas

Second and Revised Edition, 1920

Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province

Online Edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight

Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.

Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.


Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.

Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part III)

In part III of my review about the debate between Caragounis and Porter, I now focus on Revelation 1:8 and how one might translate the verse:

Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ Ἄλφα καὶ τὸ Ὦ, λέγει Κύριος, ὁ θεός, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, ὁ παντοκράτωρ (WH).

"'I am the Alʹpha and the O·meʹga,' says Jehovah God, 'the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.'" (NWT 2013 Rev.)

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." (KJV)

"I am the A and the Z, says the Lord God; the one who Is and Was and Is Coming; the Almighty." (Byington)

"the one who is and who was and who is coming" (Porter).

Caragounis suggests that the way Porter renders 1:8 indicates present time, but he criticizes Porter, accusing him of misunderstanding the import of Euripides, other classical Greek texts and Revelation 1:8.

Porter's error in this case is supposed to be that he thinks the aorist, present, and future tenses are not used of "past, present, and future time as some would expect. Instead, the Perfect and Present are each used for past reference, and the Present is used for future reference." See Caragounis, page 328; Porter, Verbal Aspect, 82, ftn. 5.

There is a problem with this explanation of Revelation 1:8, however, and other related texts--Caragounis would say.

He notes that ἦν is imperfect (not present) and the verb expresses past time; "ὁ ἐρχόμενος expresses future time not because it is a present participle, but because future time is natural to this verb, cf. υπαγω, etc." (328, ftn. 321).

Caragounis closes this part of his analysis, though there's more to come, with these remarks:

"The above was a critique of Porter's Introduction and first chapter, in which he tried to prove previous scholars wrong in order to establish his own theory. It was shown that Porter often fails to represent his opponents correctly, considers all scholars to have misunderstood the nature of Greek including both ancient and modern Greeks, and seems to regard himself as the only one who really knows what the verb expresses. Further, he often misunderstands and mistranslates the ancient authors" (p. 328).

I need to review Porter for myself, since I read his study in grad school, but not much since that time. Nevertheless, you get a feel for how strongly Caragounis critiques Porter's material.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Ignatius (Updated Replying to a Trinitarian)

From time to time, I get requests for information dealing with Ignatius of Antioch. I'm providing a variant of a post submitted here before. I've also linked to an earlier discussion on this subject.

Ephesians 3:3 (Ignatius)
Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the mind of the Father (IHSOU CRISTOU TO ADIAKRITON HMEN ZHN TOU PATROS H GUWMH WS)

I think the transliteration should be GNWMH and not GUWMH. I am not being pedantic or mean but it is important to understand that Ignatius is comparing Jesus to the divine "will" of God and not to God's mind. GNWMH is at times used in Greek literature as a substitute for QELHMA. See Plutarch De def. orac. and Schoedel (page 50). Schoedel translates the passage:

"Indeed Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the Father's purpose; as also the bishops appointed in every quarter, are in the purpose of Jesus Christ" (Schoedel 48).

Schoedel also points out, though he is a Trinitarian, it seems: "The theological implications of Christ as the 'purpose' of the Father are thus probably minimal" (50).

Ephesians 7:2
There is one only physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, Son of Mary and Son of God, first passable and then impassable, Jesus Christ our Lord (EIS IATROS ESTIN SARKIKOS KAI PNEUMATIKOS GENNHTOS KAI AGENNHTOS EN ANQRWPW QEOS EN QANATW ZON ALHQINH KAI EK MARIAS KAI EK QEOU PRWTON PAQHTOS KAI TOTE APAQHS IHSOUS XRISTOS hO KURIOS HMEN)

Schoedel writes that the distinction made by Ignatius above cannot apply to the "internal relations of the Godhead" but only applies to the incarnate Christ. However, I am puzzled over how one can stipulate that Ignatius' words refer to the immanent Trinity or the economic Trinity. Subsequent professed believers of Christ declared that the Son is
begotten, not created and that the Father is unbegotten. But how does one consider Christ "unbegotten" in relation to the cosmos (humanity) that he came to save? It is no wonder that Bart Ehrman writes in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture that theologians would later find Ignatius' formulation in Eph. 7:2 to be "vague." It does not seem to assist the Trinitarian case at all, IMHO, and therefore has no theological force.

Interestingly, Cyril C. Richardson plainly writes that Christ is called hO QEOS by Ignatius and he further points out that the bishop "does not explain, he only asserts that Christ is God" (Ignatius of Antioch, page 45). Nevertheless, Richardson goes beyond the surface structure or prima facie meaning of Ignatius' terminology and he explores "what type of picture Ignatius has in mind" when he employs the signifier QEOS or even hO QEOS. What does he conclude?

"Unlike Theophilus of Antioch, he has nothing to say about God as creator; His eternity and invisibility are mentioned only in Pol. 3.2, and He is never predicated with immortality, the chief attribute of the heathen 'Gods'. For Ignatius QEOS means essentially a superhuman, moral being" (45).

Richardson adds: "There is never a hint in his writing that Christ was in any way absorbed in God or confused with Him. He always stands in a place secondary and inferior to him" (44).

Consult The Christianity of Ignatius of Antioch, New York: AMS Press, 1967.

I also recommend Milton P. Brown, The Authentic Writings of Ignatius: A Study of Linguistic Criteria, Durham, N.C: Duke University Press, 1963 for a solid analysis of the textual issues appertaining to the Ignatian epistles and a look at how he uses QEOS.

One Trinitarian writes: "8:2 there is one God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, who is His Word (hOTI EIS QEOS ESTIN hO FANERWSAS hEAUTON DIA IHSOU CRISTOU TOU UIOU AUTOU hOS ESTIN AUTOU LOGOS)

Once again Ignatius returns to the theme of the ONE TRUE GOD became evidential reality through the agency of Jesus. The case becomes more and more overwhelming that Ignatius believed Jesus to be God in the unqualified sense more and more.

EDGAR RESPONSE: I think you need to read this text more carefully. The "one God" who manifested Himself through the Son, according to Ignatius, is the Father. I thus do not believe that this passage serves as an effective prooftext
for you. Please note:

"There is one God, who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ, His Son--who, being His Word, came forth out of the silence into the world and won the full approval of him whose Ambassador he was' (Magnesians 8).

Notice how the context of Magnesians 8 militates against your interpretation of this text.

Another good source is William R. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch: A Commentary on the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch, edited by Helmut Koester, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.

See also

Friday, July 08, 2016

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part II)

I have already pointed out that Caragounis severely castigates Stanley Porter in The Development of Greek and the New Testament: Morphology, Syntax, Phonology, and Textual Transmission. On pages 327-328, he continues the onslaught against Porter's translation and/or exegesis of biblical and other ancient Greek texts. Firstly, Caragounis selects the papyri to level criticisms at Porter before he deploys Platonic texts and one Euripidean passage from classical Greek.

In terms of classical works (non-Greek papyri), Caragounis quotes what's supposed to be Plato's Politeia 329d, although I tried to confirm the passage, and could not find the exact words in the Republic (Politeia). But Caragounis asserts that Porter improperly translates this passage as "it is a narration of the things that have come about, that are and are intended" instead of "are to come/will come."

The problem reportedly arises when Porter attempts to treat the future as though it does not express future action:

"His eagerness to prove the thesis, that the future does not express future time, leads him to treat reference and meaning less carefully than desired" (Caragounis 327).

The next bit of Greek that Porter supposedly does not understand aright is Plato's Parmenides 141d-e. But Caragounis avers that the words really derive from Euripides' Troades 467-468. Now I had a much easier time finding the exact quote for these Euripidean sentiments:

ἐᾶτέ μ᾽ — οὔτοι φίλα τὰ μὴ φίλ᾽, ὦ κόραι —
κεῖσθαι πεσοῦσαν: πτωμάτων γὰρ ἄξια
πάσχω τε καὶ πέπονθα κἄτι πείσομαι.

(Taken from Gilbert Murray's Greek Text of 1913. See

Porter renders part of this text: "I am suffering and I have suffered and I intend to suffer" (πάσχω τε καὶ πέπονθα κἄτι πείσομαι)

Caragounis proffers the rendition: "let me lie fallen (on the ground); the things that I suffer and have suffered and will yet suffer are only fit for corpses (i.e. those that lie down (fallen) on the ground)."

E. P. Coleridge translates these fateful words thus: "Leave me, my maidens—unwelcome service does not grow welcome—lying where I fell; my sufferings now, my troubles past, afflictions yet to come, all claim this lowly posture" (ἐᾶτέ μ᾽ — οὔτοι φίλα τὰ μὴ φίλ᾽, ὦ κόραι — κεῖσθαι πεσοῦσαν: πτωμάτων γὰρ ἄξια πάσχω τε καὶ πέπονθα κἄτι πείσομαι).

G. Theodoridis offers yet another way of treating the Greek: "The body knows its proper place. It is here, on the ground. Because of what I have suffered, because of what I am suffering and because of what I am about to suffer, this is its rightful place. O, Gods!"


Part of this whole debate seems to be muddled by the challenge of tracking down the correct references, but Caragounis probably raises a legitimate issue regarding Porter's handling of Troades 467-468.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Revelation 1:1 Syntax

Revelation 1:1:

Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἣν ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ ὁ θεὸς δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει, καὶ ἐσήμανεν ἀποστείλας διὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλου αὐτοῦ τῷ δούλῳ αὐτοῦ Ἰωάννῃ, (UBS5)

"Revelation of-Jesus Christ which gave to-him the God to-show to-the slaves of-him which(things) it-is-binding to-occur in quickness and he-showed-by-signs having-sent off through the angel of-him to-the slave of-him to-John (Kingdom Interlinear).

We have three occurrences of "of-him," αὐτοῦ, the singular genitive case of αὐτός.

How can we tell from the syntax whether the referent of αὐτοῦ is God or Jesus Christ?

I have personally grappled with the syntax of this passage for years and can say that it is quite hard to determine the pronominal referents on the basis of syntax alone. It is quite possible, however, that the referent of τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ and τῷ δούλῳ αὐτοῦ Ἰωάννῃ and διὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλου αὐτοῦ is God. But Christ could be viewed as the intermediate agent of the revelation. That is, God is possibly the specific referent in Rev. 1:1, but He acts through Christ. Conversely, God (Jehovah) could have given the revelation to Christ, who in turn sent "his" angel to God's servant, John.

Rev 22:6 explicitly states: Καὶ εἶπέν μοι, Οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι πιστοὶ καὶ ἀληθινοί, καὶ ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν προφητῶν ἀπέστειλεν τὸν ἄγγελον αὐτοῦ δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει (UBS5).

In Rev 22:16, the Risen Christ himself makes this expression: Ἐγὼ Ἰησοῦς ἔπεμψα τὸν ἄγγελόν μου μαρτυρῆσαι ὑμῖν ταῦτα ἐπὶ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις. ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ῥίζα καὶ τὸ γένος Δαυίδ, ὁ ἀστὴρ ὁ λαμπρὸς ὁ πρωϊνός.

As I mentioned earlier, I think it is hard to be dogmatic about Rev. 1:1, especially when it comes to basing one's decision on syntax alone. For example, David Aune writes that "the subject of the verb ἐσήμανεν, 'he made known,' is ambiguous: it could be either God or Jesus Christ, though the latter is logically more probable since the revelation was transmitted by God to Jesus Christ, and it must be Jesus Christ who then further communicates the revelation" (Aune, Revelation 1-5, 15).

Aune observes that it could be either God or Christ who sent the angel. John later writes that both parties did in fact send the angel (Rev. 22:6, 16). But I think the seeming confusion can be resolved if we appeal to the notion of divine agency and note what other NT texts say about the relationship between Jesus Christ and the other angels.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part I)

This series of blog posts will revolve around a book written by Chrys Caragounis entitled The Development of Greek and the New Testament: Morphology, Syntax, Phonology, and Textual Transmission (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2006).

I will start on page 316, then pick out certain portions of Caragounis' work to make my focus. On pp. 316-321, Caragounis argues by means of numerous sources that Greek has both tense and aspect (contra Porter). His entire critique of Porter's work is quite strong and direct: he mercilessly castigates Porter's findings.

I'm not going to spend much time on the tense-aspect debate, because it's already been covered many times, including on this blog. Interested parties can see:

I will spend more time on subsequent analyses of Caragounis' book and his major disagreements with Porter.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

2 Chronicles 24:17 (LXX) and Proskynesis

2 Chronicles 24:17:

καὶ ἐγένετο μετὰ τὴν τελευτὴν ᾿Ιωδαὲ εἰσῆλθον οἱ ἄρχοντες ᾿Ιούδα καὶ προσεκύνησαν τὸν βασιλέα· τότε ἐπήκουσεν αὐτοῖς ὁ βασιλεύς.

"And it came to pass after the death of Jodae, that the princes of Juda went in, and did obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened to them" (Brenton LXX).

"And it happened after Iodae's death that the rulers of Ioudas entered and did obeisance to the king. Then the king heeded them" (NETS).

Friday, July 01, 2016

Isaiah 9:6 (Otto Kaiser's OTL Commentary)

(1) Otto Kaiser (OTL) professes that the King (or Messiah) mentioned in Isa. 9:6 is EL GIBBOHR insofar as he is "the representative and viceregent of God on earth, who, as the one endowed with this spirit (cf. 11:1), shares in his nature and his will" (Isaiah 1-12, Page 213).

When Kaiser claims that the Messiah-King shares in "the nature" and "will" of God, his statement should not be construed to mean that he believes the King shares the essence of God (i.e., the divine attributes). To the contrary, the King that Kaiser provides commentary about is fully human. This point is clearly brought out when Kaiser explains that the words "Wonderful Counselor" characterize: "the ruler as a man who, like God, can make extraordinary resolves and then carry them out. Illuminated by Yahweh himself, he needs no counsel from others . . . The second name [Mighty God] stresses his abundance of power, calling men to their God" (213).

Kaiser also contends that Isa. 9:6 possibly shows hints of Egyptian influence on the royal ritual of Israel (a point some have insisted applies to Ps. 45 and Heb. 1). For an interesting discussion of this matter vis-a'-vis Revelation 5:1ff and the coronation of the Lamb, see David Aune's thorough notes in his Word commentary (Revelation 1-5). But whether Isa. 9:6 shows Egyptian influence or not, Kaiser demonstrates by means of parallels why Isa. 9:6 is not necessarily proof for the Deity of Jesus (even though it is clearly Messianic). Please see the Catholic NAB and its handling of this OT passage since the NABRE appears to have changed the footnote found in the older NAB.

(2) Isa. 9:7 indicates that the Messiah would rule by the power of YHWH. A similar point is made at Mic. 5:4, where the Messiah is said to rule in the strength of YHWH. There is abundant proof that Mic. 5:1-4 is what we would today call--a subordinationist delineation of the Messiah.

For Kaiser's commentary, see