Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Using New Testament Greek (David A. Black)-Part V

We have now focused on historical analysis, one step in Black's suggestions for approaching the biblical text. Now I want to talk about literary analysis by using Philippians as an example. I emphasize that I'm not reviewing his book, but simply discussing and expositing parts of it. Black writes:

"Usually three levels of literary analysis are recognized: the canonical, the remote, and the immediate. The canonical context is the text’s place in the Bible itself. The remote context embraces paragraphs, a chapter, or even an entire book of Scripture. The immediate context consists of those verses or paragraphs that immediately precede or follow the text."  
In the foregoing paragraphs, I will illustrate what Black mentions above.

Would you read one paragraph of War and Peace but then forget the rest? That would hardly shed illumination on the famed text by Leo Tolstoy, and the same could be said for the Bible. Just knowing a verse that's isolated from it's setting is somewhat beneficial, but far from sufficient. We often quote 1 Corinthians 15:33; however, what about its context or setting? Why did Paul write that counsel? Are there verses in the Hebrew Bible that shed light on Paul's words? We won't know the answer without consulting the remote or immediate context. Black invokes Hebrews 13:5b as another example which is fruitless without considering 13:5a and I would say, 13:6.

Why is prooftexting so common? Why do many people rip a Bible passage from its original context and treat it as an isolated text? Black places the blame on Robert Estienne, who divided scripture into chapters and verses with his 1551 GNT as other versions followed suit; nevertheless, I'm thankful for what Estienne did, but it does not give us license to take a verse out of context or fail to learn from its context. Yet how can we practically implement Black's suggestions in order to shed light on what we're reading?

1) As we think about the text's place within the Bible itself, using Philippians as an example, we must acknowledge that it's difficult to understand Philippians 3:1-6 without knowing the Jewish history of circumcision (e.g., Genesis 17:9-14; Leviticus 12:1-3) from Abraham onward. The same thing could be said for comprehending Philippians 3:10-11: studying what the Bible teaches about resurrection and knowing the Sadduceean and Pharisaic beliefs concerning resurrection from the dead could illuminate 3:10-11. Not that I advocate the way that Mark D. Nanos reads Paul, but his work is an example of what it means to study Philippians within the context of ancient Judaism: https://www.kobo.com/us/es/ebook/reading-corinthians-and-philippians-within-judaism

2) What about reading the Bible with the so-called remote context in mind? One example might be Philippians 4:4. Why did Paul pen this verse? This is where a look at the macrostructure of Philippians can assist us (studying the big-picture view). In 1:3-11, the apostle commends the Philippian ecclesia: he lets them know the content of his prayers for them; moreover, Paul tries inciting them to further activity. The apostle's prayer is that his brothers and sisters will make sure of the things that matter, that their love will abound and knowledge will increase.

He mentions causes for rejoicing in 1:12-26, then turns to exhortation (1:27-30); joy again is repeated in 2:2 with tautological earnestness (Lightfoot). The Philippians should "Do everything without grumbling or arguing" (2:14 NIV); See also Philippians 2:17-19 and compare 2:28-29. Notice how Philippians 3:18-19 contributes to the overall message, and especially for our purposes, Philippians 4:4.

3) The final part of literary analysis as described by Black is the immediate context. Continuing with Philippians 4:4 as our example, what do we find when probing the immediate context? Philippians 4:1 mentions Paul's potential joy, then he requests that assistance be given to Euodia and Syntyche: why that might have been the case will be considered at a future time, but likely accounts for his words in 4:4.

Rejoicing is mentioned again in Philippians 4:10. In fact, the apostle shares how the congregation can experience joy by praying to God, fully trusting in him, and practicing generosity (Philippians 4:14-18); if they do these things, then Jehovah would supply their need in its entirety (Philippians 4:19) and they would have cause for rejoicing.

I've attempted to employ Philippians as a test case for how literary analysis might be conducted. There are many ways to analyze a Bible text or its structure. Sources to follow up on my blog entry will be posted below.

Sources for Further Reading:

David A. Black. "Paul And Christian Unity: A Formal Analysis Of Philippians 2:1-4."
JETS 28:3 (September 1985): p. 299.

Jeffrey T. Reed. A Discourse Analysis of Philippians. Method and. Rhetoric in the Debate over Literary Integrity. JSNTSS 136. Sheffield: Sheffield University Press, 1996.

Richard Weymouth Thesis. https://ourarchive.otago.ac.nz/handle/10523/6389

See https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270024482_A_Rhetorical_analysis_of_Philippians_127-218

Monday, August 30, 2021

Using New Testament Greek (David A. Black)-Part IV

As we continue to discuss the book Using New Testament Greek, I will now concentrate on Black's observations about historical analysis; the next post will deal with literary analysis.
This paragraph serves as our guide for now:

"Typical concerns of historical analysis include author, audience, date, occasion, purpose, cultural and sociological influences, and all other related background matters. Sensitivity to these matters does not call for yawn-producing lectures on ancient history; a brief explanation of the most important details will suffice."  

In this entry, I want to illustrate what Black is referencing by using 1 Corinthians as a case example. Historical analysis involves the following:

Author: 1 Corinthians is one of the well-known letters written by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 1:1) and he mentions Sosthenes in the opening verse. While some might question Paul's having written the letter, scholarship exists that gives abundant testimony for the claim of Pauline authorship. I will not dwell on this point since I'm merely trying to illustrate how historical analysis works; nevertheless, I will provide sources within this entry for those who want to read further on the subject.

Audience: The letter is addressed to Christians living in ancient Corinth (Greece): Paul identifies the recipients as ones God has sanctified and called to be holy ones ("saints"). The ESV introduction claims that 1 Corinthians is one of four missives that Paul wrote to the Corinthian ecclesia. Regardless of how many letters he wrote, the evidence from his epistles themselves testify that Paul wrote more than two letters to the Corinthians. Not only have 1 and 2 Corinthians survived unlike some of his other correspondences, but they are canonical letters unlike the other proposed writings that ESV mentions.

Date: The ESV gives three potential dates for the writing of 1 Corinthians--possibly the spring of 53, 54 or 55 A.D. (CE). Most sources I've checked are similar: the NABRE reckons that Paul wrote the letter circa 56 CE.

Occasion: What caused Paul to write this epistle? What was taking place in the congregation? The Corinthians evidently had a number of spiritual problems that needed to be resolved. With the help of the NABRE, I will name some of the issues that occasioned this letter: factionalism or schisms (1 Corinthians 1:10-13); contentiousness and envying (1 Corinthians 3:1-3); spiritual immaturity; fornication and incest (1 Corinthians 5:1-13); bringing legal cases against one another (1 Corinthians 6:1-7); reviling and idolatry (1 Corinthians 6:9-11); possible religious prostitution (1 Corinthians 6:12-20); disrespect shown for the Lord's evening meal (1 Corinthians 11:17-22); marital problems (1 Corinthians 7:1-16); doubts about the resurrection and more (1 Corinthians 15:1-58). Besides these problems, a number of members had questions that needed to be addressed forthwith (e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:1).

The apostle wrote in order to encourage obedience, resolve moral/spiritual problems, and answer the sincere questions raised by the Corinthians. The NABRE has some helpful information pertaining to Paul's reason for writing this letter:

"He always treats the questions at issue on the level of the purity of Christian teaching and conduct. Certain passages of the letter are of the greatest importance for the understanding of early Christian teaching on the Eucharist (1 Cor 10:14–22; 11:17–34) and on the resurrection of the body (1 Cor 15:1–58)."

Cultural and Sociological Setting: The Romans commandeered Corinth in 146 BCE: it became a Roman colony about one hundred years later in 44 CE. While the Romans "Latinized" much of the city, evidence now exists for not viewing the city as strictly Roman, but a mix of Latin and Hellenic elements. Archaeologists have made finds that show Greek continued to be employed even when the Romans took over the city. See https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/places/main-articles/corinth

David Horrell plays down Corinth's supposed lasciviousness and blatant iniquities; he seems to think Corinth was no more idolatrous than any other city of its kind. Nevertheless, Paul suggests that fornication was prevalent and he indicates that other forms of iniquity existed within Corinth (1 Corinthians 7:1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:21).

This entry served as an example of historical analysis, whereas the next piece will address literary facets of Philippians.

Sources for Further Reading:

Jeremy Corley. "The Pauline Authorship of 1 Corinthians 13." The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 2004.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer. First Corinthians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

Anthony C. Thiselton. The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Interesting Variants for Revelation 4:8 (STEP Bible)

ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος] A Byz ς WH
ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος] (‭א) al

See https://us.stepbible.org/?q=version=VarApp|reference=Rev.4

Friday, August 27, 2021

Using New Testament Greek (David A Black)-Part III

On page 70 of the version I'm using, Black now explains what he means by the "view from under." Up to this point, he's been discussing various ways to approach the biblical text through the use of Hebrew/Aramaic or Greek. Now he explains that the view from under the text means applying the biblical text to contemporary life. How can I apply the text? How does the Bible affect my life? For example, how can I apply Ephesians 5:33?

Secondly, to view the text from under encompasses "theological analysis" and homiletical analysis": the former asks what type of truth resides in the text under consideration? The latter approach queries how to best proclaim this truth. While Black has pastors or church ministers chiefly in mind, these forms of analysis could easily be modified for other types of ministering.

If we go back and reflect on the task set for the minister or exegete, just what is involved? The exegete must try to establish the original reading of the text: this work yields probable results, but is essential for drawing meaning from Scripture. For example, does 1 John 5:7 belong in the biblical text? If it does, what reasons are there for including the famed Comma? If the verse does not belong, why not? That is a question for the exegete. Other examples of texts that can be examined are 1 Timothy 3:16 and John 7:53-8:11.

Another job incumbent upon the exegete is the reconstruction of historical settings. I mentioned the Hebrews letter earlier, but another example of working out the historical setting is Paul's letter to Philemon. This epistle raises all sorts of questions pertaining to historical setting, the ancient institution of slavery, and other questions revolving around the ancient world. We could even pose questions about the nature of ancient houses and apartments, but the point is that the exegete has these responsibilities as he seeks to draw meaning from the text.

From this point onward in his book, Black will clarify to an even greater extent what each type of analysis entails. I will continue to explicate these forms of analysis in posts that follow this one.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Using New Testament Greek in Ministry (David A. Black) Part II

Exegesis is bringing meaning out of the text, not reading meaning into it; to exegete involves asking what the biblical text meant to the writer and his audience. What can help a student of Hebrew or Greek to exegete rather than eisegete? Black suggests that one needs to stand (figuratively speaking) above, within, and under the text (page 68). What are some ways this process can be accomplished?

To ascertain the meaning of biblical passages, the exegete must seek textual, lexical, syntactical, structural, rhetorical, and tradition-critical meaning. Black offers a more expansive view of what these steps entail.

The view "from above" entails historical and literary analysis: a historical question would be what situation faced the writer and readers of a book or letter. For instance, what were conditions like for the Hebrews? Or what about the writer of 1 Corinthians? What was his historical setting like?

Literary analysis asks how a given text contributes to a book. For example, how does 1 Corinthians 15:33 contribute to the first letter written to the Corinthians? I think such questions are beneficial and help to elucidate the text. The view "from within" equally asks what a text meant to ancient readers. What significance did Hebrews 6:1 have for the ancient Hebrews? Other questions that belong to the "from within" category (type of analysis) include, what did the original text say? What are the key words in the text? See Proverbs 13:20 as a case example or Proverbs 14:15.

Syntactical analysis asks how words relate to one another. See 1 John 4:8, which raises more than one syntactical question: other examples could be adduced including the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1. Structural analysis seeks to understand how a writer arranged a text: numerous studies have been done on the structure of Hebrews and Revelation.

Two other "view within" questions are: what rhetorical forms/devices did the writer employ to communicate meaning? See https://fosterheologicalreflections.blogspot.com/2014/07/why-are-some-utterances-of-paul-hard-to.html

Something else to consider is, how did the writer use previous traditions in the text? These are the "from within" questions.  In my next entry, I will discuss what Black calls the view "from under" the text.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Galatians 1:1, 3 and Greek Prepositions

I posted this information on B-Greek back in 1998 and wanted to edit it, then post to this blog:

Galatians 1:1, 3 reads in part:

ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς  . . . χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

In both verses of this Pauline epistle, there is one preposition (διὰ and ἀπὸ) governing two substantives. Is this structure very common in the NT? If so, is this syntactical arrangement important?

Normally, I would make a marked distinction between διὰ and  ἀπὸ: Paul seems to employ the prepositions carefully throughout his writings.

According to Dana-Mantey, ἀπὸ apparently places more emphasis on the idea of separation (ἀνέβη ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος). They write that ἀπὸ is only used in the ablative case (in the eight-case system); while ἀπὸ seems to approach ἐκ in meaning, ἐκ evidently focuses more on "from within" as opposed to "from the edge of." An example of this usage is τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καταλλάξαντος ἡμᾶς ἑαυτῷ διὰ Χριστοῦ (2 Cor. 5:18). Conversely, διὰ is utilized to describe through-hood or agency. It does not appear to stress the idea of separation like ἀπὸ does: καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, δι' οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς δι' αὐτοῦ. (1 Cor. 8:6).

I wonder if Paul uses διὰ in Galatians 1:1 to describe the agency of his apostolic office; in 1:1, there is less of a need to emphasize the idea of separation. As he continues writing in 1:3, however, it is necessary to accentuate separation: "may you have unmerited favor and peace from (ἀπὸ) God the Father and Christ Jesus." That could be the reason why Paul utilizes ἀπὸ instead of διὰ in the verse.

Some writers believe that one preposition governing two substantives in Galatians 1:1, 3 suggests that Paul is placing God and Jesus Christ on the same level. Bob Utley reckons that Paul employs
διὰ to affirm the deity of Jesus Christ:
" 'Jesus Christ' and 'God the Father' are linked by one preposition which was the NT author's way of asserting the full deity of Christ; this occurs both in v. 1 and v. 3 (cf. 1 Thess. 1:1; 3:11; 2 Thess. 1:2,12; 2:16)."
Frank Matera (Galatians in the Sacra Pagina series, page 38):
"but through Jesus Christ and God the Father: The preposition dia ('through') governs both Jesus Christ and God. Thus Jesus is accorded the honor of being associated with God. It also stands in contrast with the same preposition in the phrase above and emphasizes that Paul's apostleship comes directly from God and Jesus."

Gerald Borchert (Tyndale Cornerstone BC for Romans, Galatians):
"The linking of  'God' with 'Jesus' (as in 1:1) is a Christian affirmation of their oneness of purpose, which is further explained in 1:4."

Borchert's observations appear to be less emphatic than the previous commentators, but one of the best commentaries to learn about the many issues that arise for Galatians 1:1-3, see Bruce Longenecker, Galatians in the WBC series.

Using New Testament Greek in Ministry (David A. Black)--A Discussion, Part I

Many moons ago, I benefited from reading David Black's work, Using New Testament Greek in Ministry. It has many wonderful features, but rather than officially review it, I'm going to discuss certain parts of the book.

Black gives some helpful warnings in the first portion of his work although he seems to have an axe to grind in at times. The book cites 1 Corinthians 8:1--a verse that blog readers likely know well. Then Black urges those who study Greek or ones who preach not to use Greek in front of a lay audience: he later takes some time to lambaste "cultists":

"Here we might learn a lesson from the cultists, who love to flaunt their 'superior' knowledge of the Scriptures by appealing to the original languages to 'prove' orthodox interpretations of the Bible wrong. The fact is that most cultists have only a superficial knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, if any at all (page 25)."

The "cultists" remain unnamed, at least here, but we can imagine ones that he might have in mind. Again, I like most of the book but find his criticism to be somewhat odd. I won't belabor the point; however, I wonder why it's such an act of pride to question "orthodox" beliefs; secondly, just how many cultists does Black know and what does he know about their background in Hebrew or Greek?

Black argues that "truth" will never be settled merely by appealing to grammatical rules or the meaning of words. I agree with him although I think both grammar and lexical semantics are important and it seems that he would concur. Yet Black assures us that people listening to a preacher or biblical expositor don't want to know about words or grammar. As another point of agreement with him, I try to avoid discussions with people who know little to nothing about aorist verbs or passive participles: we discuss such things on the blog or I talk with some of my students and friends about grammar and semantics, but not at someone's door while engaged in the public ministry like we did back in the pre-Covid days.

So Black again sounds the warning--I will quote him, then discuss other parts of his book in subsequent posts:

"Preachers are regrettably prone to try and impress people with their profound exegetical abilities. The greater the education, the greater the danger. But the truth is that people aren’t impressed with participles and prepositions. They are not even faintly interested in the aorist passive imperative. People want preaching anchored in their world, preaching that says: 'Here is what the text says, and this is what it is calling us to do.' Exegetes should never forget that the Greek New Testament was written in the common language of the day. Its appeal was to the people in the street, for it spoke clearly a language they understood."
See Proverbs 16:18; 1 Corinthians 14:9.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

God's Knowledge (Scientia) and Divine Simplicity

Is it scriptural to claim that God lacks knowledge concerning some matters? Are there times when God is nescient? Maybe it is better to say that God knows indeterminate states, facts and properties indeterminately, and he possibly knows future contingents in a contingent way (William of Ockham). At least two factors indicate that Jehovah might know indeterminate data indeterminately.

1) Quantum mechanics may provide an example of something that God knows indeterminately: he possibly knows the position or the momentum of a subatomic particle indeterminately, but not with infallible certainty. One source explains Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle:

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that there is inherent uncertainty in the act of measuring a variable of a particle. Commonly applied to the position and momentum of a particle, the principle states that the more precisely the position is known the more uncertain the momentum is and vice versa. This is contrary to classical Newtonian physics which holds all variables of particles to be measurable to an arbitrary uncertainty given good enough equipment.

2) I would submit that human actions are potentially indeterminate; it would seem that God knows such actions indeterminately or possibly with a degree of certainty before they happen, but not exhaustively. The Insight book and other WT publications have advanced the view that God could have selective foreknowledge. If true, there would be things that God could choose to know or not know. This view might very well be true even if the scriptures don't give a full-blown account of how God knows what he knows.

At the end of the day, I must admit that my knowledge of how God knows future actions or what state the universe will be in 2028 is beyond me. His thoughts and ways are certainly higher than mine, and we don't know if quantum physics indicates that the universe is contingent, or does it only tell us that our knowledge is limited (ontology versus epistemology). However, I would like to make two closing observations.

Someone once asked me, "Isn't 'knowing indeterminately' the same as 'not knowing,' then?"

I don't see matters this way. It appears that some things by their very nature are indeterminate like quantum states and human actions. Take Schrodinger's hypothetical cat, for instance. How could anyone know whether the cat is alive or dead before the superposition of quantum states collapsed to a single state? Now it is possible that an omniscient being who knows all true propositions or facts could know what the single state of the cat will be, but if the state is indeterminate, there is also the possibility that God knows the quantum state as possible. Worded another way, knowing indeterminately could mean that a subject (S) knows the possibilities but does not know exactly how matters will transpire, that is, whether the cat will be alive or dead.

Finally, these reflections impinge on God's simplicity. If God is simple (having no temporal or spatial parts nor having any composition whatsoever, and no potency/potential), then God's knowledge would not change as the world changes (simplicity implies immutability); nor would God know anything discursively or gradually--he would just know simpliciter and intuitively. If God knows things discursively or progressively, then God has some kind of potency or potential and possibly some accidental properties. Yet a simple God is not supposed to have any of these things. On the other hand, do these ideas regarding divine simplicity accurately depict Jehovah?



Friday, August 20, 2021

Acts 18:24-28 (Some Key Terms and Apollos)

This is my last entry for Acts 18: vss. 24-28 cover Paul's third missionary journey and his encounter with Apollos, a Jew who arrives at Ephesus (Asia Minor then, but now Turkey). Paul worked hard in Ephesus as he spent two years in the city. Furthermore, we read about Timothy being in Ephesus to shepherd the flock there (1 Timothy 1:3). Nevertheless, I now turn my attention to Apollos.

Greek (SBLGNT):  Ἰουδαῖος δέ τις Ἀπολλῶς ὀνόματι, Ἀλεξανδρεὺς τῷ γένει, ἀνὴρ λόγιος, κατήντησεν εἰς Ἔφεσον, δυνατὸς ὢν ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς. οὗτος ἦν κατηχημένος τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ κυρίου, καὶ ζέων τῷ πνεύματι ἐλάλει καὶ ἐδίδασκεν ἀκριβῶς τὰ περὶ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, ἐπιστάμενος μόνον τὸ βάπτισμα Ἰωάννου. οὗτός τε ἤρξατο παρρησιάζεσθαι ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ· ἀκούσαντες δὲ αὐτοῦ Πρίσκιλλα καὶ Ἀκύλας προσελάβοντο αὐτὸν καὶ ἀκριβέστερον αὐτῷ ἐξέθεντο τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ. βουλομένου δὲ αὐτοῦ διελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Ἀχαΐαν προτρεψάμενοι οἱ ἀδελφοὶ ἔγραψαν τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἀποδέξασθαι αὐτόν· ὃς παραγενόμενος συνεβάλετο πολὺ τοῖς πεπιστευκόσιν διὰ τῆς χάριτος· εὐτόνως γὰρ τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις διακατηλέγχετο δημοσίᾳ ἐπιδεικνὺς διὰ τῶν γραφῶν εἶναι τὸν χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν.

Translation (HCSB):
A Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was powerful in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught the things about Jesus accurately, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately. When he wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers wrote to the disciples urging them to welcome him. After he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.

David Bentley Hart:  And a certain Judaean by the name of Apollos, Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man with a great command of the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and, fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately about things regarding Jesus, while knowing of only the baptism of John; And this man began boldly speaking out in the synagogue. And, on hearing him, Priscilla and Aquila took him to their place and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. And, when he wished to proceed onward into Achaia, the brethren, feeling encouraged, wrote to the disciples to welcome him—who, when he got there, made a great contribution to those who by grace had come to have faith; For he confounded the Judaeans in public debate with great rhetorical power, demonstrating through the scriptures that Jesus is the Anointed.

I cannot make comments on each part of these verses; instead, I'm going to highlight some key terms or ideas:

1) ἀνὴρ λόγιος-Louw-Nida Greek and English Lexicon supplies this definition for λόγιος (semantic domain 27.20): "pertaining to one who has learned a great deal of the intellectual heritage of a culture - ‘learned, cultured.’" However, the lexicon observes the word could be taken to mean "eloquent" in Acts 18:24 (Compare semantic domain 33.32 in Louw-Nida). Ralph Earle quips that Apollos possibly was learned and eloquent. I've also seen significance in Luke's mention of Apollos being a native Alexandrian. See https://fosterheologicalreflections.blogspot.com/2018/03/apollos-of-alexandria.html

2) δυνατὸς ὢν ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς-"powerful in the scriptures"; Abbott-Smith Greek Lexicon:

δυνατός, -ή, -όν (< δύναμαι), [in LXX for גִּבּוֹר, חַיִל, etc. ;]

1. strong, mighty, powerful: absol., Lk 1:49, 1 Col 1:26; οἱ δ., the chief men, Ac 25:5 ; of spiritual strength, Ro 15:1, II Co 12:10 13:9; seq. ἐν, Lk 24:19, Ac 7:22 18:24; πρός, II Co 10:4.

2. C. inf., able to do; Lk 14:31, Ac 11:17, Ro 4:21 11:23, II Ti 1:12, Tit 1:9, He 11:19, Ja 3:2.

3. Neut., δυνατόν, possible: Mt 19:26, Mk 9:23 10:27 14:36, Lk 18:27, Ac 2:24 20:16; εἰ δ. (ἐστι), Mt 24:24 26:39, Mk 13:22 14:35, Ro 12:18, Ga 4:15; τὸ δ. (= ἡ δύναμις) αὐτοῦ, Ro 9:22.†

With the help of BDAG, we find that δυνατὸς can mean "well-versed" in Acts 18:24.

ζέων τῷ πνεύματι ἐλάλει καὶ ἐδίδασκεν ἀκριβῶς τὰ περὶ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ- According to Darrell Bock, "Τῷ πνεύματι is syntactically a dative of reference or respect: Apollos is fervent with respect to the Spirit/spirit (Moulton and Turner 1963: 220). The description of someone as fervent means that the person is enthusiastic, excited, or 'on fire' (BAGD 337; BDAG 426; 'talked … with great enthusiasm,' NLT). The term literally means 'boiling' or 'seething' (Josephus, Ant. 13.12.6 §345). It is often used in a positive context about emotions, as here. The only two NT uses are here and in Rom. 12:11."

There is some question about what exactly ζέων τῷ πνεύματι means in Acts 18:24. Does it signify that Apollos had "great enthusiasm" (NET Bible) or that he was guided by God's holy spirit when preaching to others? After weighing the options, Bock concludes that Apollos was a Christian believer who was "fervent in spirit," that is, guided by the spirit of God.

ἀκούσαντες-aorist active participle nominative plural masculine of ἀκούω ("hear, obey, listen, give heed to").

ἀκριβέστερον αὐτῷ ἐξέθεντο τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ-"they explained the way of God to him more accurately"; it's interesting that Luke switches from "Lord" (possibly Jesus) earlier or "Jehovah" (NWT) to "God" here.

ἀκριβέστερον is a comparative adverbial form of ἀκριβής; see Plato, Philebus 57e: ταύτας οὖν λέγομεν ἐπιστήμας ἀκριβεῖς μάλιστ᾽ εἶναι. In the words of Bock, "ἀκριβέστερον (akribesteron, v. 26) is a comparative used as an elative with an adverbial force (Moulton and Turner 1963: 30; Culy and Parsons 2003: 357)."

προτρεψάμενοι οἱ ἀδελφοὶ ἔγραψαν τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἀποδέξασθαι αὐτόν-The participle in this construction (προτρεψάμενοι) is aorist middle nominative plural masculine of προτρέπω ("to impel, excite, exhort"). Culy and Parsons identify it as a participle of attendant circumstance (page 357). ἔγραψαν is aorist active indicative third person plural of
γράφω. ἀποδέξασθαι is an aorist middle-passive infinitive of αποδέχομαι: it possibly communicates the idea of purpose (Culy and Parsons).

εὐτόνως γὰρ τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις διακατηλέγχετο δημοσίᾳ ἐπιδεικνὺς διὰ τῶν γραφῶν εἶναι τὸν χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν-Apollos robustly confuted (
διακατηλέγχετο) his Jewish opponents in Achaia. See Robertson's Word Pictures: he renders the adverbial εὐτόνως as "powerfully." Other translations include "vigorously" and "vehemently." NWT 2013 chose "with great intensity."

διακατηλέγχετο is an imperfect middle indicative third person singular of διακατελέγχομαι; it occurs once in the GNT. "For he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah" (William Mounce). The Alexandrian "confounded" the Jews openly, and he ἐπιδεικνὺς  διὰ τῶν γραφῶν; however, the main point of his activity was to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah.

8) NET Note on Acts 18:27:
sn To cross over to Achaia. Achaia was organized by the Romans as a separate province of Greece in 27 b.c. and was located across the Aegean Sea from Ephesus. The city of Corinth was in Achaia.

See the NET Bible note for Acts 18:12.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

A Brief Note Pertaining to Histories 1.13.6-7 by Polybius

The Greek historian Polybius lived from circa 200 BCE-120 BCE. Most of his works are no longer extant, but his large collection known as Histories survived: it covers the classical period from 246 BCE-146 BCE. Polybius set the agenda for modern-day historiography.

While researching some things for my Epaphroditus post, I came across Histories 1.13.6-7 which reads: τὸ μὲν οὖν ἐξαριθμεῖσθαι τὰ κατὰ μέρος ὑπὲρ τῶν προειρημένων πράξεων οὐδὲν οὔθ᾽ ἡμῖν ἀναγκαῖον οὔτε τοῖς ἀκούουσι χρήσιμον.
οὐ γὰρ ἱστορεῖν ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν προτιθέμεθα, μνησθῆναι δὲ κεφαλαιωδῶς προαιρούμεθα χάριν τῆς προκατασκευῆς τῶν μελλουσῶν ὑφ᾽ ἡμῶν ἱστορεῖσθαι πράξεων.

Notice that
ἀναγκαῖον occurs in this passage, the same term that Paul uses in Philippians 2:25.

The Loeb edition for Polybius by W.R. Paton gives this translation: "Now to recount all these events in detail is neither incumbent on me nor would it be useful to my readers ; for it is not my purpose to write their history but to mention them summarily as introductory to the events which are my real theme."

Another similarity noted is that Hebrews 9:5 uses
οὐκ ἔστιν νῦν λέγειν κατὰ μέρος. See https://fosterheologicalreflections.blogspot.com/2013/07/paraleipsis-paralipsis-in-scripture-by.html

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Acts 18:5 (Inceptive Use?)

I am drawing my Acts 18 discussions to a close; after this post, I will conclude with vss. 24-28, which narrate details about Apollos, a devout Jew from Alexandria. But this entry will concentrate on Acts 18:5 now.

Greek (WH):
Ὡς δὲ κατῆλθον ἀπὸ τῆς Μακεδονίας ὅ τε Σίλας καὶ ὁ Τιμόθεος, συνείχετο τῷ λόγῳ ὁ Παῦλος, διαμαρτυρόμενος τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις εἶναι τὸν χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν.

Translation (NASB): "But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ."

Issues: How should we understand the verb συνείχετο (from συνέχω), which NASB renders "began devoting himself"? J.B. Phillips translates the entire verse thus: "By the time Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia Paul was completely absorbed in preaching the message, showing the Jews as clearly as he could that Jesus is Christ."

Darrell Bock (Acts, BENTC): offers this explanation:
"The verb συνείχετο (syneicheto) is imperfect and has an ingressive force (became 'absorbed in' or 'devoted to'). The verb can have the meaning of being 'constrained' or 'compelled' to do something (BDAG 971 §§6–7). The dative τῷ λόγῳ (tō logō) has the syntactical force of reference or respect: Paul devoted himself 'with respect to' the word (Moulton and Turner 1963: 220)."

NET Bible appeals to BDAG and likewise translates the verb inceptively: "Paul became wholly absorbed with proclaiming the word"

NWT 2013:
"When, now, both Silas and Timothy came down from Mac·e·doʹni·a, Paul began to be intensely occupied with the word, witnessing to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Christ."

F.F. Bruce: "he was able therefore to concentrate on the preaching of the gospel, and he sought to convince his Jewish hearers that the promised Messiah had come, and had come in the person of Jesus."

See The Book of Acts (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Kindle Locations 12149-12151). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition.

The verb διαμαρτυρόμενος
refers to the witnessing, preaching or testifying that Paul did in Corinth: it is a present middle participle. See Deuteronomy 30:19; Acts 20:21; 28:23; 2 Timothy 2:14; 4:1.

Just who were these Jews? In view of previous conversations here, I wonder if we can limit these individuals to Judeans.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Acts 18:4 (Paul Was Discussing and Persuading)

Greek (THGNT): διελέγετο δὲ ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ κατὰ πᾶν σάββατον, ἔπειθέν τε Ἰουδαίους καὶ Ἕλληνας.

NABRE: "Every sabbath, he entered into discussions in the synagogue, attempting to convince both Jews and Greeks."

NET: "He addressed both Jews and Greeks in the synagogue every Sabbath, attempting to persuade them."

NWT 2013: "He would give a talk in the synagogue every sabbath and would persuade Jews and Greeks."

Greek Verbs, Denotation, and Aktionsart: Two important words in this passage are the verbs, διελέγετο (imperfect middle indicative 3rd person singular of διαλέγομαι) and ἔπειθέν (imperfect active indicative 3rd person singular of πείθω).

The NET Bible prefers to render διελέγετο with "addressed" since the classical meaning of the word does not seem to fit the context in Acts 18:4. Eckhard J. Schanabel indicates that Paul "led discussions" in the synagogue: he refers us to Acts 17:2. Compare Acts 20:7.

ἔπειθέν as a conative imperfect (attempting to X); NABRE does the same, but Schnabel acknowledges that while translators customarily treat ἔπειθέν like a conative imperfect, he sees no reason why the verb cannot have an "ongoing sense" in view of the fact that Paul's discussions produced results among the Jews and Greeks in Corinth. 

Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT makes this comment on
ἔπειθέν: "Imperfect active, conative, he tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks (God-fearers who alone would come)."

Susan Wendel concedes that we possibly have a conative imperfect in Acts 18:4, but she points toward Acts 18:8, which might suggest that Paul had a measure of success when he talked to the Jews in Corinth. See Scriptural Interpretation and Community Self-Definition in Luke-Acts, pages 185-186.

The LEB translates Acts 18:4: "And he argued in the synagogue every Sabbath, attempting to persuade both Jews and Greeks"

The Footnote reads: "Here the imperfect verb has been translated as conative ('attempting to persuade')"

However, a warning about conatives is given here: https://brill.com/view/journals/nt/62/3/article-p302_4.xml

Six Excellent Church History Sources

 1. Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, Five Volumes (The University of Chigago Press).

See https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/series/CT.html

2. Everett Ferguson, Church History, Two Volumes (Zondervan)

See https://zondervanacademic.com/products/church-history-volume-one-from-christ-to-the-pre-reformation

3. W.H.C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity (Fortress Press)

SEe https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/9780800619312/The-Rise-of-Christianity

4. R.P.C. Hanson,
The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381 (T & T Clark)

See https://www.amazon.com/Search-Christian-Doctrine-God-Controversy/dp/080103146X

5. Edmund Fortman, The Triune God (Wipf and Stock)

See https://www.amazon.com/Triune-God-Historical-Doctrine-Trinity/dp/1579102239/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=edmund+fortman+trinity&qid=1629060655&s=books&sr=1-1

Harold O. J. Brown, Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church (Hendrickson)

See https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1565633652/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=ligoniminist-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399369&creativeASIN=1565633652

Too many great works to mention: these six are just the tip of the iceberg.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Blass Debrunner, and Funk (The Epistolary Aorist)


Moises Silva professes that Philippians 2:25 is an instance of the epistolary aorist and rightly categorized this way by most commentators. He adds this valuable observation:

"the action is viewed as past, according to the perspective of the recipients when they read the letter (cf. Col. 4:8; Philem. 12; BDF §334 has some inaccuracies; cf. the fuller discussion in Robertson 1934: 845). If so, Epaphroditus should be viewed as the bear- er of the letter. NASB and NIV attempt to convey the force of δέ with the phrase “who is also.”

So BDF is not fully accurate in section 334: Silva advises his readers to confer the fuller treatment in Robertson. Blass, Debrunner, and Funk is a fine work but inaccuracies can plague just about any book.