Wednesday, August 31, 2016

1 Thessalonians 4:17 ("caught up in the clouds")

The verse (1 Thess 4:17) proclaims:

ἁρπαγησόμεθα ἐν νεφέλαις εἰς ἀπάντησιν τοῦ Κυρίου εἰς ἀέρα

Clouds are heavenly like the air. The celestial meeting discussed in 1 Thess 4:17 surely does not suggest that the meeting occurs on earth.

E. J. Richard (First and Second Thessalonians. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1995) suggests four bits of data that point toward a heavenly entrance in 1 Thess 4:17. I want to list three of the factors that Richard discusses.

(1) The clouds and "snatching" imagery indicate that
the chosen ones enjoy an "aerial meeting." The Greek term
for air is employed within Jewish cosmology to delineate
the "ethereal region between heaven and earth." See
Richard 247 and TDNT 1:165-66.

(2) The Son of Man sends out angels to gather his elect when he comes in the clouds (Matt 24:30-31).

(3) 2 Cor 5:8 indicates that the believer's future dwelling will be heavenly sans an earthly or fleshly body. Some would argue that human bodies will be glorified by the Lord. See Philippians 3:20-21.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

John 1:1b-c and the LOGOS: Again? (Gender and Intimacy)

Brooks' and Winbery's Syntax of NT Greek (Lanham, MD: Univesity Press of America, 1979) points out that ὁ Λόγος in Jn 1:1c is the subject nominative within the construction since that noun phrase has the article while the preverbal anarthrous PN does not (page 78).

Of course there are exceptions to the aforesaid general rule, as Richard A. Young shows in his Intermediate NT Greek: A Linguistic and Exegetical Approach (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1994) on pages 64-65. Nevertheless, I think it's safe to conclude that ὁ Λόγος is the subject nominative in 1:1c.

There is a question about whether one could rightly conclude that the articular occurrence of Λόγος in 1:1c necessarily signifies a person over against a non-personal entity (especially in view of the fact that the article can be and is used in the NT to describe impersonal objects). But there are possibly other indicators in the context that suggest ὁ Λόγος is a person.

Jn 1:1b declares that ὁ Λόγος was πρὸς τὸν θεόν. A number of grammarians and commentators believe this part of the verse describes the intimate relationship between ὁ Λόγος and τὸν θεόν.

1:9-14 also indicates that John delineated the features of a person. As he writes in 1:14:

"So the Word became flesh and resided among us . . ."

Additionally from Young (page 101): "John writes that the Word was with God (John 1:1 acc.). Harris (1978:1205) suggests that the πρὸς in John 1:1 refers to active communication rather than passive association."

Lastly, ὁ Λόγος is masculine: so is αὐτοῦ and μονογενοῦς, which doesn't necessarily mean the Word is a person, but the gender of nouns and pronouns along with the literary context definitely affects how we translate Bible verses.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ginomai Verses

Here are some examples of GINOMAI (the aorist middle form EGENETO is employed in John 1:14) and brief comments about how it is utilized in each cited verse:

Matt. 4:3-used by Satan who asks Jesus to make some stones become loaves of bread.

John 1:3-John writes that all things (PANTA) came into being through the LOGOS.

John 1:12-Humans who exercise faith in Jesus and receive him are given the authority "to become" (GENESQAI) God's children (TEKNA QEOU).

John 1:14-The LOGOS became flesh.

Heb. 11:3-TOUS AIWNAS came to be out of things that do not appear.

Cf. Matt. 5:45 and countless other examples.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

G. C. Berkouwer and Holy Scripture as the Word of God

Theopedia supplies this description for G. C. Berkouwer:

Gerrit Cornelis Berkouwer (1903-1996) was a minister of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands (GKN) and a Christian theologian. He was the chair of Systematic Theology at the Free University of Amsterdam, and a prolific author. While critical of the teachings of Karl Barth, Klaas Schilder, and Roman Catholicism, he is also known for leading the ecumenical movement of his day.

Berkouwer allows us to perceive his view of Scripture in one important work:

"We are also reminded in the discussion of Scripture of the function of the phrase 'it is written' as the final and ultimate appeal of the Lord himself in his temptations (Mt. 4:4, 6, 10), and we are reminded of many statements, both warning and admonishing, 'to live according to the scripture' (1 Cor. 4:6). Such statements constituted the background of the discussion and the heeding of the Word in the church and of the conviction that Holy Scripture is the trustworthy Word of God." (Holy Scripture, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1975, page 12.)

While making such lofty professions about Scripture, Berkouwer disappointed many Evangelicals by means of his insistence that a priori formalizations of the Bible should be eschewed. He believed that we should pay close attention to the divine and human elements of Holy Writ.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Physical Kosmos in Relation to the Spiritual Kosmos: God, Cause and Effect

It's logically possible for a Christian physicalist to accept the existence of a non-physical God, who created a wholly physical universe filled with stars, planets, atoms, particles, humans and animals, etc. So I don't see a necessary entailment between a defeater for anthropological dualism and a defeater for the existence of an omnipotent spirit person. By "defeater," I mean an argument that overcomes/refutes another contention. So we can have one without necessarily having the other: God can exist without dualism being true.

1) A non-physical God exists.
2) A physical world exists.
3) Dualism is false.

These three propositions do not inherently conflict with one another. Hence, it's logically possible for a non-physical God to exist alongside a physical kosmos. By "dualism," I mean "anthropological dualism."

Secondly, pace my dualist friends, I wonder why we have to reject David Hume's three causal elements. While I don't accept Hume's take on causation, let it be sufficient to note that causes possibly take place within a nexus of relations (i.e., there are causal linkages).

The astrophysicist Paul Davies refers to "causal linkages" (networks) rather than ascribing causal potencies to objects themselves. For example, I put my foot on the accelerator, and this event increases the velocity of my car. Therefore, I say that the cause of my car picking up speed is the act of pressing the accelerator with my foot. However, if there's no gas in the car or if some other factor prevents the vehicle from moving (no engine, someone stole all of my tires, bad spark plugs), then pressing the gas pedal will have little to no effect. For simplicity's sake, though, there's nothing wrong with insisting that pressing the accelerator (gas pedal) makes cars go, and pressing the brake with enough force causes vehicles to stop. Yet it seems that there is a causal relationship which exists between event A (pressing the gas pedal) and event B (the car picking up speed) to provide the glue that joins them; different causal events likely will not make my car go (i.e., the event of pitching a baseball or the event of opening the door to my house). By the way, Immanuel Kant wrote that cause-effect relations are not analytic a priori, but synthetic a priori whereas Hume suggests they are synthetic a posteriori.

Part of John H. P. Reumann's Commentary on Philippians 1:1-2 (Jesus as Kurios)

Reumann's commentary is part of the Anchor Bible series.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2 Corinthians 5:8 (The Lexical Semantics of SWMA)

About the Greek word σῶμα.

θαρροῦμεν δὲ καὶ εὐδοκοῦμεν μᾶλλον ἐκδημῆσαι ἐκ τοῦ σώματος καὶ ἐνδημῆσαι πρὸς τὸν κύριον· (2 Cor. 5:8).

The operative words for me are ἐκδημῆσαι ἐκ τοῦ σώματος. Regarding the use of σῶμα in Rom. 8:10, we read:

"It should first be noted that SWMA (body) should be taken literally. That it refers to the physical body [in Rom. 8:10] is almost certain" (Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the NT, 177).

σῶμα also signifies the physical body in 2 Cor. 5:8. If this observation is true, however, then 2 Cor. 5:8 does not pose a difficulty for my theological beliefs about the condition of the dead. For while the physical body of those Christians who are privileged to "see God and be like him" (1 John 3:1-2) may be "dissolved" at death (2 Cor. 5:1-2), 1 Cor. 15:42ff indicates that these same Christians are given new spiritual bodies when God resurrects them. As Paul so clearly expressed matters: "If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one" (1 Cor. 15:44).

Therefore, when the apostle speaks of Christians being "absent from the body," he is evidently referring to the physical body. Those who put on/assume immortality and incorruption, however, will acquire renewed bodies made like unto the Son's glorious corpus (1 Cor. 15:49; Phil. 3:20, 21). These new bodies will not be souls, but nonetheless they will be spiritual.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

John W. Cooper on Names for the TRES PERSONAE

John W. Cooper (Professor of Philosophical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary) contends that the triune name for God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) cannot be replaced salva veritate. Names or titles such as Lover, Beloved, and Love (Augustine of Hippo) or Source, Word and Comforter do not adequately describe God and neither does the language, "God, Christ and Spirit" as Cooper explains:

"God, Christ, and Spirit is also impeccably biblical (cf. 2 Cor. 13:14). Moreover, this formula uses personal names or titles. But it is not equivalent to the triune name. For taken on its own, it seems to imply that Christ and the Spirit are not God. That implication might not be disastrous for Christ as a referent to the human nature of Jesus. But it still leaves the Holy Spirit out of the Godhead. It also juxtaposes God with the humanity of Jesus, failing to communicate that Jesus is God the Son. Though this trio of terms is biblical, it is not even close to the meaning of the triune name. Like the other formulas, it depends on the triune name to be understood in a trinitarian sense" (Our Father in Heaven: Christian Faith and Inclusive Language for God. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), page 212.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Old Dialogue Concerning Religion, the Intellect, and Authority

I personally do not find subsuming your intellect, the authority of the scriptures or your reputation to a religious organization. Whatever Paul meant by 1 Cor 1:10, it would be distressing to think that he meant this [speaking in agreement as Witnesses do].

Who said you have to "subsume your intellect" to a religious organization? A sacrificium intellectus is most abhorrent to yours truly. Jesus taught us to love God with our whole mind. However, I believe that it is perfectly viable and legitimate for a theologian or Christian thinker to work within his or her own religious tradition while simultaneously refusing to turn a blind eye to error. The Bible encourages Christians to submit to those taking the lead among them, to wit, those who govern (Heb 13:7, 17). That may not sound so lovely to our postmodernist society which takes delight in flouting authority, for the most part. But the Bible shows that the first-century Christians submitted themselves to the apostles and older men of Jerusalem and other local overseers of the Primitive Congregation (Acts 2:40-42; Acts 15:1-29). Likewise, Jehovah's Witnesses strive to do the same in their worship to God the Father today.

There is one major difference between us and the Catholic Church. In the Roman Catholic Church, the buck stops at the pope. You can't question the papacy because it supposedly has the "requisite authority" to interpret Scripture and even to declare certain doctrines infallible. You technically have to submit to the pope whether what he says is backed by Scripture or not. Jehovah's Witnesses do not go beyond the things written (1 Cor. 4:6). We believe in "making sure of all things," including what we're taught by the Governing Body (1 Thess. 5:21). Of course, we believe that we are being taught Scriptural truth, therefore we humbly submit to the Governing Body. But if a teaching ever turned out to be unscriptural or downright harmful, we would not just follow along like gullible little puppies. [No Jim Jones people here!]

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jesus and Proverbs 30:8-9

In Proverbs 30:8-9, we read:

"Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the bread of my daily need: lest I be full and deny [thee], and say, Who is Jehovah? or lest I be poor and steal, and outrage the name of my God" (Darby).

The words above are said to be the utterances of Agur the son of Jakeh (Prov 30:1-Darby). However, for our present purposes, who pinned the words is not as pertinent as the intended meaning of the individual, who spoke or wrote these utterances.

Agur exclaims that he desires neither poverty nor riches; he only wants "the bread of his daily need" or "the food that is [his] portion" (NASB). In other words, Agur believes that there is a "golden mean" between the pecuniary extremes of poverty and riches: he desires a proper monetary balance and only wants sustenance and covering for each day. In this way, he might avoid becoming either self-satisfied or (morbidly) autarchic (i.e., self sufficient) and forget his God or steal because of depleted funds and thereby assail the name of his God, YHWH.

Those of us who accept the full inspiration (= the theopneustic or God-breathed character) of the sacred writings believe that Almighty God Himself inspired the words of Prov 30:8-9. We think God is telling us that we should seek a balance when it comes to money or material possessions. This is why I find Paul's words in 2 Cor 8:9 of so much interest:

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich" (ESV).

There are many "gems" contained in this verse, but one point I would like to consider is the thought of God's Son becoming poor, so that we might become rich by means of his poverty.

Jesus was materially poor during the time of his earthly enfleshment. (This assertion does not imply that I believe Jesus is still enfleshed in the celestial heights.) He apparently did not experience that "golden mean" which Agur suggests in Prov 30:8-9 since Jesus did not even have a place to lay his head. Yet we are told that Christ set an example for us by the way he conducted himself on earth. Did he therefore show us a new and more exalted way than that espoused by Agur?

How do we harmonize Prov 30:8-9 with 2 Cor 8:9, if such a harmonization is even necessary? Is there anything we can learn from Paul's words about how we ought to view pecuniary matters as Christians? Thomas Aquinas would later write that the poverty of Christ was voluntarily undertaken for our sakes. Maybe his words ring true in this case.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ktisis (Colossians 1:23)

Although I take a specific position in my blog entries, I just want to remind those on this site that my positions are always up for revision or correction.

What does κτίσις mean in Colossians 1:23? The verse most certainly uses κτίσις (the lexical form) as a reference to the known human creation which existed in Paul's time. At the very least, a subset of humanity is being discussed in this passage. While it might seem odd to argue that κτίσις bears this meaning in 1:23, we must note that the long conclusion of Mark's Gospel found in MSS that include aleph, B (et al.) contains a similar use of κτίσις at Mark 16:15. Are we to believe that animals or non-humans are the referents there?

Most importantly Revelation 5:13 proclaims:

καὶ πᾶν κτίσμα ὃ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης ἐστίν, καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς πάντα, ἤκουσα λέγοντας Τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ τῷ ἀρνίῳ ἡ εὐλογία καὶ ἡ τιμὴ καὶ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων.

In the foregoing passage, κτίσις certainly refers to animate rather than inanimate creatures. It does not have reference to the earth or the heavens or to any other inanimate referent that someone might have in mind. Compare Colossians 1:15.

Matthew Poole's Commentary: "Creature with the Hebrews doth eminently signify man, by an antonomasia, or a synecdeche [sic], putting the general for a particular. In the original it is, in all the creature; and so it may be, in all the world, (creature being sometimes used for the system of the world, Romans 8:19-21), in opposition to Judea, i.e. in those other parts of the earth which the Greeks and Romans knew to be then inhabited: under heaven, which is a pleonasm, but of the greatest emphasis, as Acts 4:12."

For more about the rhetorical device, pleonasm, see

More On Interaction Between Body and Soul/Spirit (Dialogue with a Friend)

I've edited the material below to preserve anonymity and to make the discussion more concise. Sean K., maybe this material will be helpful to you.

God could make a human with a non-material mind, then fully determine that mind (theological determinism). Dualism doesn't automatically make the problem of free will go away, and it [actually] raises a new problem of agent-causation. How does an immaterial will bring about action in conjunction with all of the physical factors that exert causal influence on us? That question is not easily answered with the tools of science or philosophy. See Watson, Gary (editor). Free will. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2003. Flanagan, Owen J. The problem of the soul: two visions of mind and how to reconcile them. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

Here is where I'll broach the problem of overdetermination again. I'm not that comfortable saying "I am my brain" or "free will does not exist." It just seems that higher-level processes of the brain could explain free will and other conscious states. Conversely, I'm curious as to why you'd say that we need dualism to explain Alzheimer, addiction, hormones (etc.)? Could we not explain all of these phenomena by appealing to neurobiological processes? And if a physical cause is able to explain an effect, then why propose another cause for the effect (i.e., the problem of overdetermination)?

Addendum: On that last point, to illustrate, if pain can be explained adequately by natural factors and it's made better through analgesics, then why propose a supernatural factor to account for pain? Or if psychosis explains why a person hears voices, why claim that the person must be demon-possessed? If water can be explained by H20, why say that there must be something else that makes water, water?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Some Trinitarian "Takes" on 1 Corinthians 12:3

To illustrate how many Trinitarians interpret 1 Cor. 12:3, I will provide some quotes from We could multiply such statements, but this way of producing them is most expedient for me. Nevertheless, I agree with Kaz that it seems incredible to assert that no Jew ever questioned the move from monolatry/strict monotheism to the veneration/worship of Christ and the holy spirit.

JFB Bible Commentary: "Lord—acknowledging himself as His servant (Isa 26:13). 'Lord' is the Septuagint translation for the incommunicable Hebrew name Jehovah."

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible: "And that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost; or Jehovah; which, with the Jews, was a name ineffable, to which the apostle might have respect. Christ is Lord of all, of angels, good and bad; of men, righteous and wicked; of the chief among men, the kings, princes, and lords of the earth; as he is God by right of nature, and as Creator of them by virtue of that; and because of his providential power and influence in the government of the universe; he is Lord of his church and people, by the Father's gift of them to him"

Pulpit Commentary: "No man can say that Jesus is [the] Lord, but by [in] the Holy Ghost. It involved a strong rebuke to the illuminati, who professed a profound spiritual insight, to tell them that no man could make the simple, humble confession of the divinity of Jesus (for 'Lord' is here an equivalent of the Hebrew 'Jehovah') except by the same inspiration as that which they so terribly abused."

Alford's GNT: "So κύρ. Ἰης., Jesus is Lord (all that is implied in κύριος, being here also implied: and we must not forget that it is the LXX verbum solenne for the Heb. Jehovah). By these last words the influence of the Holy Spirit is widened by the Apostle from the supernatural gifts to which perhaps it had been improperly confined, to the faith and confession of every Christian."

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Body and Soul/Spirit Interactionism?

Conceptually or scientifically, it's not possible to know for certain that dualistic interactionism is taking place. All one can do is believe or surmise/reason that dualistic interactionism is more probable than physicalism, but the veracity of soul/spirit-body interaction cannot be known apodictically through natural means (reason, observation or experimentation). While I believe that some kind of interaction is now taking place between God, angels and the material universe, I don't know exactly how it occurs--nor does anybody else on our planet. One way that such interaction occurs is probably through secondary causes: Jehovah uses natural mechanisms to interact with physical things (e.g., the water cycle, hydrogen fusion, and weather patterns); nonetheless, secondary causes likely do not exhaust divine causation. That is where things become murkier in my view. How does Jehovah's holy spirit guide the apostles and others "in all the way of truth"? Not even a dualist can definitively answer this question. And there's also the problem of overdetermination, which I have not yet pressed.

I also hate to repeat myself, but it's problematic to use something we don't know much about to explain another phenomenon that we do not fully understand. Immanuel Kant would caution us against invoking noumena (Dinge-an-sich) to explain phenomena. Now I'm not saying that I fully buy into Kant's famed distinction--he's only brought into the discussion because it seems that invoking divine causation to explain mental causation is possibly an ill-advised move. It is like invoking the largely unknown to shed light on something else that is not completely understood. However, none of what I've said up to this point is meant to deny that Jehovah created the world, guides his congregation by means of holy spirit, and has performed miracles in the past. We just don't understand how divine causation works although we believe it works. So then how can we use an unknown to explain another largely unknown? To illustrate, some Trinitarians appeal to the Godhead to elucidate human personhood. That move likewise seems ill-advised because we know less about how spirit persons relate to one another than we know about human relations. I intentionally refrain from mentioning how wrong the Trinity is.

It would take me some time to word matters carefully and spell them out as I would like, but the spirit world and the physical/material sphere are qualitatively different in my frame of reference (Isaiah 31:3). Does that mean I view heaven and the material world as two separate realities? It depends on what is meant by "separate." For now, I say that they're qualitatively different, which means that the spirit realm is non-spatial, non-material, non-atomic, and devoid of elementary particles, and does not have any physical bodies, is not bound to the laws of physics, contains minds that are differently constituted from ours, but interaction with the physical world is still possible. I would submit that a spirit/spiritual person became human and that some humans have become/will become spirits/spiritual. Hence, there is a slight difference in how I frame the issue (spirit "minds" versus spirit persons and human "minds" versus human persons). In other words, personhood is the basic template which determines how I distinguish the spirit from the material world.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Most High God and His Witnesses

The writer of Psalm 83:18 professes that Jehovah/YHWH is the Most High God (EL ELYON) and the Most High himself made another emphatic declaration over 2000 years ago: "You are my witnesses" (Isaiah 43:10-12). But fleshly Israel did not render Jehovah implicit obedience. As a result, the nation lost its unique privilege to exalt God's majesty (Exodus 19:5, 6). The Christian congregation is now a "people for God's name" (Acts 15:14). It is this congregation that not only witnesses about Christ, but also testifies with respect to the God and Father of Christ Jesus.

Please see Revelation 1:9 which informs us why John was placed in prison. Not only was he incarcerated because he bore witness to Christ, but he also was bound "for the word of God." John was persecuted for magnifying the Most High--the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

"and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee (καὶ δύναμις Ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι)"-Luke 1:35

Compare Luke 1:32, 76; 6:35; 8:28.

Monday, August 08, 2016

The Meaning of KATABOLH in the GNT

For KATABOLH, BDAG Greek-English Lexicon has:

(1) "the act of laying someth[ing] down, with implication of providing a base for someth[ing], foundation" and

(2) "a [technical term] for the sowing of seed, used of begetting" (page 515).

Therefore, I'd say that KATABOLH potentially means "foundation" or in certain contexts may have that "meaning" or sense.

But a friend stated:

"I know from experience that if we consult a lexicon, it is simply asking the writer of that lexicon his/her opinion of a word meaning. This is why a concordance is always safer than a lexicon."

My reply:

I'm not sure that I agree with this assessment. BDAG, Louw-Nida, Abbott-Smith or LSJ, IMO, do more than give opinions on word meanings. BDAG is the product of rigorous lexicography; Danker (and others before him) has examined a number of texts and contexts. Ergo, though BDAG is far from being infallbile, I would not just want to chalk up Danker's lexical judgments to personal opinion. On the other hand, I'm not too trusting of concordances when it comes to lexical semantics.

My friend continues:

"For example, here is the word KATABOLE found in Heb 11:11 from the NWT: 'By faith also Sarah herself received power to CONCEIVE seed...' Why not say that she FOUNDATIONED seed...? The word here clearly 'means' something else. In fact, Sarah was 'casting down', or discharging seed from her ovaries... The very elements of KATABOLE: 'Down Casting.'"

My reply:

You seem to be relying on etymology or diachrony; a more reliable approach, linguists have shown, is synchrony or how a word is used at a particular time in a particular literary context (i.e., cotext). I have no problems with the NWT rendering of Heb 11:11: it is an acceptable and good way to translate this passage. But the reason we don't say that she "foundationed" seed is because of sense issues vis-a`-vis the target language and because of contexual considerations. Moreover, as [Marcus] has already stated, etymology is often not a reliable guide when it comes to establishing the meaning of a word. BDAG shows that KATABOLH is elsewhere employed with TOU SPERMATOS to mean "the sowing of seed."

Friend's reply:

"A word has one basic meaning, even tho' we can use 'variants' at times. Usage is another thing. But the basic meaning of a word must be present in its contexts.

My reply:

Do words have "basic meanings"? What is the basic meaning of LOGOS or PARQENOS? How about PAIS? One more we might add to the list is PAQOS.

For the record, I'm not in total disagreement with you. I just tend to believe that words have "potential meanings" or senses (Sinnen); contexts determines which sense is being communicated by the author.


Friday, August 05, 2016

The New Testament Is Reliable (Sir Frederic Kenyon)

No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading. Constant references to mistakes and divergencies of reading, such as the plan of this book necessitates, might give rise to the doubt whether the substance, as well as the language, of the Bible is not open to question. It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance, the text of the Bible is certain. Especially is this the case with the New Testament. The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations of it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world. Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil, yet our knowledge of their writings depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds, and even thousands. (Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, Frederic G. Kenyon, 10-11)

Please see

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Peter and the Rock (Chrys Caragounis)--Matthew 16:18

On page 89 of Peter and the Rock, Caragounis writes that "in normal [Greek] syntax a phrase like KAI EPI TAUTHi THi PETRAi can only refer to something outside of the speaker and his interlocutor. Therefore, if this phrase here--contrary to syntax--is to be referred to Peter, some very good reasons for this anomaly will need to be presented. However, to date no one seems to have been able to produce any such reasons. Consequently, it must be firmly asserted that Greek syntax goes against the assumption that PETRA refers to PETROS, and since there is no valid explanation for this violation of syntax, it must be concluded that there are no objective grounds for referring PETRA to PETROS."

He concludes (in this section of his book) that if Matthew had wanted us to think Peter is the "rock" of Matt. 16:18, he probably would have written: SU EI PETROS, KAI EPI SE OIKODOMHSW. This construction, avers Caragounis, "would have put the matter beyond reasonable doubt" (89).

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part VII)

This entry is my penultimate submission on the topic of Caragounis v. Porter. One other post will follow this one.

Caragounis not only criticizes Stanley Porter's treatment of various biblical passages and his papyri translations, but he's also less than kind to the "aspect only" approach. He points out that the advocates for "aspect only" either root their theoretical claims in a) secondary moods of Greek verbs (i.e., imperative, subjunctive, and the optative "along with the infinitive and the participle") or b) appeal to "a few odd or special cases of the indicative." See Caragounis, 331.

According to Caragounis, Buist Fanning employs the first method, while Porter relies upon the second:

"This is a fatal methodological error that leads to a distorted picture of tense and aspect" (332). Why does he see the need to correct the aspect only view?

1. One should begin with ordinary instances of the indicative mood, not odd or unusual cases. These represent the bulk of uses for the indicative mood, and the "ordinary indicative" is "the mood most frequently-occurring" (332). Caragounis provides data which allows us to test his claims. Even a cursory look at how Greek moods are employed in the GNT shows that writers overwhelmingly use the "ordinary indicative." So why not start there instead of beginning with special uses of the indicative or with the non-indicative moods?

2. Caragounis next looks at particular texts that Porter analyzes in Verbal Aspect in order that he might critically discuss where he thinks Porter falls short. Some of the texts that are considered include 2 Cor. 9:7; Mt. 7:19; 26:18; 2 Pet. 2:19; James 5:2-3; Acts 10:45. Porter analyzes other texts, but Caragounis uses the aforementioned passages to illustrate how wrongheaded it is to conclude Greek is tenseless, based on passages like these. Some of the verses represent special cases, whereas others occur in contexts that show the uses are gnomic, omnipresent or future. On the other hand, Caragounis believes that Porter disregards Acts 10:45 which seems to militate against his thesis that Greek is "aspect only."

3. Therefore, based on 15 texts or so, Porter concludes that Greek verbs do not grammaticalize tense. To quote Caragounis:

"This is Porter's evidence. On the basis of this 'evidence,' which he explains in an eigensinnig manner (texts, which are capable of other and better explanations), he arrives at the untenable conclusion that the Greek verb expresses no time - a conclusion that flies in the face of seventeen million Greeks, who daily use the verb to express time! And it is on the basis of these texts that he decides that the Greek verb expresses only aspect."

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Matthew 16:18ff (Super Hanc Petram)

The Jesuit commentator Maldonatus says:

"'There are, among the ancient authors those who interpret SUPER HANC PETRAM to mean upon this faith, or upon this confession of faith, by which thou hast acknowledged Me to be the Son of God, as S. Hilary, S. Gregory of Nyssa, S. Chrystostom, and S. Cyril of Alexandria. S. Augustine, going even further, interprets SUPER HANC PETRAM to mean upon Me Myself, that is, upon Christ Himself, since Christ is the Rock. And Origen says that SUPER HANC PETRAM means upon all those who hold this faith'" (Qt. in F.N. Oxenham, The Validity of Papal Claims, page 26).

"For what was said to him was not 'Thou art the rock,' but 'Thou art Peter.' But the rock was Christ, having confessed whom (even as the whole Church confesses) Simon was named Peter. Which of these two interpretations is the more likely to be correct, let the reader choose" (Augustine, Retractions, Book 1, Chap. 21). Now as for the interpretation he preferred and expounded in sermons, Augustine made it clear that he 'frequently explained [that] the words of our Lord' refer to 'him whom Peter confessed when he said: 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God'" (Ibid.).

"But, as a matter of fact, so far from this being the 'clear' meaning of this text [that Peter is the rock], there is nothing whatever in this text itself to make this meaning 'clear,' and there is a great deal in other parts of Scripture which renders such a meaning inadmissible" (F.N. Oxenham p. 25. The Validity of Papal Claims).

Zechariah 12:10--Pierced Whom?

"They shall look at him [whom] they pierced"
(Aramaic John/Yoch
19:37 quoting Zech)

Now if we take a look at the texts the Greeks had
available to quote

"They shall look upon me (ET) whom ..." (Hebrew
Zech 12:10)
"They shall look upon me ..." (Greek Zech 12:10)
"They shall look upon me at him ..." (Aramaic
Peshitta Zech 12:10)
"They shall look at him ..." (Aramaic John/Yoch
19:37 quoting Zech)
"They shall look at him ..." (Greek John/Yoch
19:37 quoting Zech)

It's clear that the Greek John must have been a
translation of the


It is far from clear that the Greek John is a translation of an Aramaic John/Yochanan. Besides the burden of proof being upon you to provide evidence of an Aramaic John preceding the "Greek" John, there are a number of possibilities that you are overlooking in trying to set forth your argument. For instance, the NJB reads: "They will mourn for the one whom they have pierced . . ." The Zech 12:10 footnote in the NJB then informs us:

"We preserve the MT reading by making a clear break after 'to me'. Theodotion understood 'to the one whom they have pierced', and this reading is followed by John (Jn 19:37)."

David Aune adds:

"Jellicoe (Septuagint, 87) claims that the citation from Zech 12:10 in Rev 1:7 [and also in Jn 19:37] reflects a Theodotiontic reading, perhaps more accurately described as a proto-Theodotiontic reading. Justin reads 'and your people will see [OYETAI] and will recognize whom they have pierced [EIS hON EXEKENTHSAN]'(Dial. 14.8); cf. 1 Apol. 52.12: 'and then they will see the one whom they pierced [EIS hON EXEKENTHSAN]'; this is identical with the Lucianic text" (Revelation 1-5, p. 56).

The point is that John is not the only person to have read the Hebrew text in the way that he did. On the other hand, another possibility is mentioned by Gerald Borchert in his commentary on John:

"The Johannine renderings of these Old Testament texts [Zech 12:10, etc.] are not exact quotations as though he had a copy of the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures in front of him, but in substance they certainly represent accurately the meanings of those cited texts" (John 12-21, p. 279).

Finally, the Expositor's Greek Testament observes:

"John gives a more accurate translation: OYONTAI EIS hON EXEKENTHSAN: 'They shall look on Him whom (EKEINON hON) they pierced'. The same rendering is adopted in the Greek versions of Aquila, Theodotion and Symmachus, and is also found in Ignatius, Ep. Trall., 10; Justin, I. Apol., i. 77; and cf. Rev. 1:7, and Barnabas, Ep., 7" (p. 860).