Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Psalm 55:22: A Discussion in the Light of Brueggemann's and Bellinger's Commentary

ASV: "Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee: He will never suffer the righteous to be moved."

The NET Bible states that the Hebrew word translated "burden" (
yehab) appears in the Hebrew Bible only in this verse; the singular pronoun "thee" (i.e., you) within the expression yə-ḵal-kə-le-ā indicates the psalmist was addressing his audience as individuals. While that may be true, one thing I'd like to do is explore a suggestion I once read about Psalm 55, namely, how David could have been addressing himself--he might have been reminding himself of the need to rely on Jehovah. Moreover, when we consider the setting for this psalm, it might illuminate David's reason for penning these words.

Psalm 55 is addressed to the leader with stringed instruments: the superscription describes the song as a "maskil of David" (possibly involving "complex antiphony"). Walter Brueggemann and William H. Bellinger, Jr. explain that readers encounter the traditional cadences of lamentation and complaint within this psalm (New Cambridge Bible Commentary on Psalms, page 250). Not every point that Brueggemann/Bellinger make salient pertains to this blog entry, but it's worth mentioning three prominent motifs contained in Psalm 55: the discourse of complaint, the language of petition to YHWH (Jehovah), and assurance language from the writer (David).

Brueggemann/Bellinger takes note of David's "candor" and use of hyperbole in Psalm 55 (page 251). The psalm is a personal prayer, but it's written such that others may rightly appropriate the words as their own. See Romans 8:26-27.

One thing that truly depresses David is that his intimate friend has betrayed him (Psalm 55:12-14). The friend practiced deception and used rank trickery to deceive David: this friend turns out to be
Ahithophel, the king's trusted counselor. The hurt that David expresses in this psalm is palpable, heartrending, and poignant. Brueggemann/Bellinger insists that the song contains retaliatory language so that the writer wishes YHWH (Jehovah) would act to bring eternal harm on his former friend (Psalm 55:15). No doubt David felt great anger, and maybe he wanted God to retaliate against his new enemy, but I'm not sure if retaliate is the right word to describe his wishes.

Despite painful experiences and the use of potentially imprecatory language, David concludes Psalm 55 on a high note--he displays trust in Jehovah, and he instructs others to place their trust in the living God (Ibid.). See Psalm 55:22-23. Although it's grammatically clear that David is addressing others and teaching them via this psalm, I still find the idea that he is reminding himself to throw his burdens on YHWH, a plausible suggestion.

Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford (The Book of Psalms): "The one praying now offers advice directly to the audience, but not about being betrayed by a friend. Again an abrupt shift in thinking takes the audience by surprise. The speaker is now back to assurance and the certainty that God will sustain and not let the righteous fall. One wonders if the assurance is really for the audience, or is it another way of convincing the soul that God’s promises are sure? It is the heart of what the person crying out to God is depending on — it is a wish expressed as an affirmation."

See 1 Peter 5:6-7.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Hebrews 5:14 (Maturity, Solid Food, and Perceptive Faculties)

SBLGNT: τελείων δέ ἐστιν ἡ στερεὰ τροφή, τῶν διὰ τὴν ἕξιν τὰ αἰσθητήρια γεγυμνασμένα ἐχόντων πρὸς διάκρισιν καλοῦ τε καὶ κακοῦ.

The cooordinating conjunction that begins this verse in terms of translation (a postpositive particle) is
δέ, which probably is adversative whereas the grammatical subject of ἐστιν is ἡ στερεὰ τροφή ("solid food"); by the article, we know that the noun phrase is grammatically feminine with respect to its morphology. See Going Deeper with NT Greek for a discussion of how Hebrews 5:14 transitions from 5:13.

τελείων is genitive plural masculine of the adjective τέλειος ("perfect, mature, complete, adult, full grown") and functions predicatively here (Zerwick-Grosvenor, page 664; Robertson, Grammar, page 497). Robertson calls τελείων, a "predicate genitive" (Word Pictures in the New Testament), and David Allen insists the word is fronted in order to make it emphatic (Hebrews in the NAC Series). Moreover, he severely criticizes the NIV handling of Hebrews 5:14, especially the latter part of the verse.

Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: "Here, τελείων functions substantively, in the slot of the predicate nominative. Yet, as a genitive, τελείων communicates possession. Solid food belongs to mature Christians."

Köstenberger, Andreas J.; Merkle, Benjamin L; Plummer, Robert L. Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament (Kindle Locations 12385-12387). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Rogers and Rogers:
"[τέλειος] refers to those who should assume adult responsibilities. The author is using terms of human development to describe the readers’ development in faith (Buchanan; BBC; for a parallel in the DSS s. 1QS 1:10-11)."

τῶν refers back to τελείων (Zerwick-Grosvenor), both are genitive plural masculine forms. Compare Going Deeper with New Testament Greek (Kindle Edition, Location 12389).

διὰ τὴν ἕξιν-William Lane explains that one can interpret ἕξις as referring to a state ("condition, capacity") or to a process ("exercise, use"). In other words, one could construe the term passively or actively. He cites Philo, Allegorical Interpretation of the Law 3.210 and The Prologue to Sirach. After weighing the options, Lane appears to favor the second sense: compare RSV, NEB, ESV and NET. One tipping point for Lane is the participle γεγυμνασμένα, which possibly favors the active sense.

For the potential meaning of
ἕξις, see BDAG and John A. L. Lee. “Hebrews 5:14 and Ἕξις: A History of Misunderstanding.” Novum Testamentum 39, no. 2 (1997): 151–76. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1561248.

BDAG on τὰ αἰσθητήρια-αἰσθητήριον, ου, τό ⟦aisthētḗrion⟧ (Hippocr. et al.; Herm. Wr. 7, 3; Jer 4:19; 4 Macc 2:22; Philo) lit. ‘organ of sense’; fig. capacity for discernment, faculty, of the ability to make moral decisions (s. PLinde, De Epicuri Vocab., Bresl. Philol. Abh. X/3, 1906, 32) τὰ αἰσθητήρια γεγυμνασμένα ἔχειν πρὸς διάκρισιν καλοῦ τε και κακοῦ have one’s faculties trained to distinguish betw. good and evil Hb 5:14 (cp. Galen, De Dign. Puls. 3, 2 vol. VIII 892 K. αἰσθητήριον ἔχειν γεγυμνασμένον; Iren. 4, 38, 2 [Harv. II 294, 12] appears to have Hb 5:14 in mind).—DELG s.v. 1. ἀΐω. TW.

γεγυμνασμένα ἐχόντων-the first word is a perfect participle middle-passive accusative neuter plural; ἐχόντων is a present active participle genitive masculine plural and it's adverbially modified by the prepositional phrase διὰ τὴν ἕξιν. See Going Deeper with the New Testament (location 12391) and the Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek entry for γυμνάζω, page 445.

Robertson's Word Pictures:
"For this predicate use of the participle with εχω see Luke 13:6; Luke 14:19. 'By reason of use' one gains such skill." But see Paul Ellingworth, Hebrews, page 309.

πρὸς διάκρισιν καλοῦ τε καὶ κακοῦ-Most writers see the distinctions made here as moral categories. The Hebrew Bible undoubtedly shaped the writer's language for good and evil, but Harold Attridge says Hellenistic writings are closer parallels. See Attridge, Hebrews, page 161; B.F. Westcott (The Epistle to the Hebrews, page 136) cites Genesis 3:5; Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 7:16. Compare Numbers 14:23 LXX.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Hebrews 5:13 (Babes, Milk, and Solid Food)

WH: πᾶς γὰρ ὁ μετέχων γάλακτος ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης, νήπιος γάρ ἐστιν·

Logically, when translating, begin with
γὰρ for this verse as well. Some translations have "for, now" while others leave the conjunctive particle untranslated.

Expositor's GT: "
The reference of γὰρ is somewhat obscure. It seems intended to substantiate the last clause of Hebrews 5:12 : 'Ye cannot receive solid food, for you have no experience of the word of righteousness.' But he softens the statement by generalising it."

The writer of Hebrews generalizes his words in 5:12 by supplying the adjective πᾶς to 5:13.

When clarifying the significance of
γὰρ in the passage, E.C. Wickham writes: "The particle implies that the sentence so introduced is meant to justify and explain the metaphor" (Epistle to the Hebrews, page 38). He believes the writer of Hebrews wants to get across the idea that his audience needs milk, which is suitable food for babes, but not for mature adults. The Hebrews apparently are not ready for "full moral teaching" (Ibid.). They must be stirred mentally to this point. Moffatt suggests that the "solid food" in Hebrews involves the Melchizedekian high priesthood of Christ, which seems plausible in view of the literary context.

Dr. Randolph Yeager refers to
γὰρ as a "causal conjunction" (Renaissance New Testament).

ὁ μετέχων-William Lane explains that in this setting, the articular present participle likely denotes "living on (a diet of)." See Hebrews 1-8 in the WBC Series; compare Zerwick-Grosvenor, page 663. The present participle agrees grammatically with the adjective πᾶς as does the article ὁ and the construction as a whole functions substantivally.

γάλακτος (genitive singular neuter of γάλα)-I talked about this word in my post regarding Hebrews 5:12: "milk" when used as a scriptural metaphor refers to the elements or mere rudiments (the ABCs of the Christian faith). Commentators point out that ancient writers commonly employed this metaphor (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:2).

ἄπειρος is a predicate adjective (Yeager) and occurs only here in the GNT.

ἄπειρος, ον ⟦ápeiros⟧ I pert. to lack of knowledge or capacity to do someth., unacquainted with, unaccustomed to (‘lacking the ability to make trial [s. πεῖρα] of’; Pind., Hdt., et al.; Epict. 2, 24, 3; OGI 669, 11; pap e.g. PSI 522, 4 [also s. Preis.]; LXX; Philo, Agr. 160 [a beginner is ἄ.], Op. M. 171; Jos., Bell. 6, 291; Iren. 1, 8, 1 [Harv. I 68, 5]), of an immature Christian ἄ. λόγου δικαιοσύνης unacquainted w. the teaching about uprightness Hb 5:13 (the gen. as freq., e.g. PGiss 68, 17 ἄ. τῶν τόπων; Jos., Ant. 7, 336; Ath. 27, 1).—DELG s.v. πεῖρα. M-M. TW.

λόγου δικαιοσύνης-Dana Harris (Hebrews) follows William Lane and cites P. Ellingworth while offering six possible ways to understand this genitival construction. L.T. Johnson (Hebrews: A Commentary, page 156) cites Hebrews 2:2; 4:2; 7:28; 13:7 along with four classical references that might shed light on λόγου δικαιοσύνης. He thinks that λόγος here refers to "calculation or reasoning" as opposed to speech. Compare Herodotus I.209. Zerwick and Grosvenor reckon that Hebrews 5:14b "implies teaching of uprightness or even Christian doctrine as a whole" (pages 663-664).

νήπιος γάρ ἐστιν-The conjunction γὰρ introduces an explanatory clause and we encounter a "copulative sentence" at the conclusion of this passage (Going Deeper with New Testament Greek, Revised Edition).

Allen: "The final clause introduced by gar functions as a reason for the immediately preceding statement and is translated 'being still an infant.' Although a subordinate clause, it receives semantic emphasis by being placed at the end of v. 13. The word 'infant' here refers to a child who has not been weaned."

Allen, David L. Hebrews: 35 (New American Commentary) (Kindle Locations 10489-10491). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Hebrews 5:12 (A Mix of Syntax and Morphology)--Solid Food and not Milk

SBLGNT: καὶ γὰρ ὀφείλοντες εἶναι διδάσκαλοι διὰ τὸν χρόνον, πάλιν χρείαν ἔχετε τοῦ διδάσκειν ὑμᾶς τινὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ γεγόνατε χρείαν ἔχοντες γάλακτος, οὐ στερεᾶς τροφῆς.

Paul Ellingworth indicates καὶ γὰρ buttresses the view that
ἐπεί in Hebrews 5:11 is causal since καὶ γὰρ explains what precedes it. See Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, page 302.

ὀφείλοντες occurs in Hebrews 2:17; 5:3. Ellingworth maintains that the participle is concessive in this case. See the NRSV. Morphologically speaking, ὀφείλοντες is the present active participle nominative plural masculine of ὀφείλω.

Dana Harris (Hebrews) observes that the infinitive εἶναι complements
ὀφείλοντες, which depends on ἔχετε. Furthermore, the construction suggests concession. διδάσκαλοι is a predicate nominative: "In Hebrews the term does not denote a particular office, but rather the responsibility of mature believers" (Harris).

Harris suggests that διὰ τὸν χρόνον, which is idiomatic, modifies ὀφείλοντες εἶναι with respect to causality. πάλιν χρείαν ἔχετε-the first word of this portion is adverbial ("again"); the noun χρείαν is accusative singular feminine of χρεία ("use, need, necessity") and is the direct object of ἔχετε (Dr. Randolph Yeager, Renaissance NT).

τοῦ διδάσκειν ὑμᾶς τινὰ-The indefinite and ambiguous pronoun that could be interrogative or indefinite (τινὰ) is likely the subject of τοῦ διδάσκειν, "which takes a double accusative" (William Mounce, A Graded Reader of Biblical Greek, page 122). 

Harold W. Attridge (Hebrews: A Commentary, page 158): "Making ὑμᾶς the subject of the infinitive destroys the antithesis with the preceding clause."

τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ-J. Ramsey Michaels explains that τὰ στοιχεῖα and τῆς ἀρχῆς reinforce one another and they are co-referential: they point to the same thing in this verse, namely, to the rudiments (ABCs) of the divine oracles (Galatians 4:3, 9). See The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary for 1-2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews. Attridge notes that τῆς ἀρχῆς is pleonastic here (Hebrews, page 158-159).

What does the writer mean by καὶ γεγόνατε χρείαν ἔχοντες γάλακτος, οὐ στερεᾶς τροφῆς?

Ven. F.W. Farrar refers to Philo (De Agric Opp. I.301) and Paul (1 Corinthians 3:1-2) when commenting on γάλακτος (The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, page 78). Attridge quotes Phil, Agric. 9 in his commentary.

Expositor's GT: "Milk represents traditional teaching, that which has been received and digested by others, and is suitable for those who have no teeth of their own and no sufficiently strong powers of digestion. This teaching is admirably adapted to the first stage of Christian life, but it cannot form mature Christians. For this, στερεὰ τροφή is essential."

So "milk" signifies the basics, the ABCs or rudiments of the divine oracles, specifically, concerning Christ. However, Christians should not remain with the milk, but they should "press on to maturity," thereby becoming able to digest more advanced teachings about Christ: the deeper things of God or "solid food." It seems that the Hebrews were regressing in some way, possibly as the result of persecution and other trials.

In view of their spiritual condition, the writer of Hebrews admonished them not to be content with "milk" (fundamental Christian doctrines). Westcott writes that the "true explanation" of Hebrews 5:12ff lies in Hebrews 6:1ff (Hebrews, page 134). He adds: "The older Christian ought to be able to assimilate fresh and harder truths" (Ibid.). Milk and solid food could be metaphors "for levels of instruction" (Craig Koester, Hebrews, page 302). There is a difference (spiritually speaking) between a high schooler and one who has finished K-12.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Romans 8:20 (subjected to futility on the basis of hope?)-Primarily Syntax-Focused

WH: τῇ γὰρ ματαιότητι ἡ κτίσις ὑπετάγη, οὐχ ἑκοῦσα ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα, ἐφ' ἑλπίδι

Start with the postpositive conjunction,
γὰρ, which here can be rendered "for" as a continuation from Romans 8:18. The CEV translates γὰρ with "In fact."

τῇ ματαιότητι-The dative feminine singular article goes with the datival noun, which John D. Harvey identifies as a dative of manner from ματαιότης ("vanity, folly, futility, emptiness"). One writer suggests "purposelessness" as a translation. Harvey mentions that the article is emphatic and coupled with an abstract noun (Romans, EGGNT Series). Compare Ecclesiastes 1:2 LXX; Romans 1:21.

ἡ κτίσις-the article here is anaphoric (Harvey) and the verb ὑπετάγη could be a constative aorist and divine passive (Harvey); Robert Jewett (Romans, page 513) likewise understands ὑπετάγη to be an instance of the divine passive whereby God is the implied subject of the verb. Moreover, there is possibly an allusion to Genesis 3:17-19. In this regard, Dunn mentions that the divine passive notion seems to be the consensus view among scholars of Romans. See James D.G. Dunn, Romans in the WBC Series, page 470.

οὐχ ἑκοῦσα-A.T. Robertson writes in Word Pictures of the NT: "Common adjective, in N.T. only here and 1Co 9:27. It was due to the effect of man's sin."Jewett offers the rendering, "not willingly" or "not voluntarily." He points out that Paul's words militate against Gnosticism because they suggest that creation is not intrinsically flawed or corrupt--the fault is placed at the feet of humans, who continue to ruin God's creation (Revelation 11:18). Compare Philemon 14.

ἑκοῦσα is nominative feminine singular of κων.

ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα, ἐφ' ἑλπίδι-the one who subjected creation to vanity (futility) must be God since it was done ἐφ' ἑλπίδι. This thought accords with 4 Ezra 7:11-12. See Jewett, page 513. Dunn tries to point out some complications in the grammar of the verse, and he suggests that creation was subjected to Adam by God, even fallen creation (page 471). He thinks Paul's syntax probably reflects an awkward attempt to express this idea. One reason for perceiving awkwardness in Romans 8:20 is the accusative form
διὰ τὸν, the object of ὑποτάξαντα. However, as Robert Mounce (Romans in the NAC Series) observes, διά + the accusative may be used instead of διά + the genitive. See John 6:57.

ὑποτάξαντα is a substantival participle that expresses the one who subjected creation to futility (Harvey).

Thomas Schreiner (Romans in the BECNT Series):
"The words ἐϕʼ ἑλπδι (eph’ helpidi, in hope) are somewhat awkward to interpret, and it is difficult to identify what they modify. Εϕʼ ἑλπδι probably modifies the verb πετγη (so Sanday and Headlam 1902: 208; Murray 1959: 303; Cranfield 1975: 414; Moo 1991: 553), although it is possible that it modifies the immediately preceding word,ποτξαντα (Fitzmyer 1993c: 508). Paul has overloaded the sentence, so it is difficult to follow the train of thought. The point seems to be that even though God subjected creation to futility, it also has the sure confidence that it will be liberated from corruption."

EF: Checking Fitzmyer, page 508, one finds it unlikely that
ἐϕʼ ἑλπδι modifies πετγη. Rather, it's more probable that ποτξαντα is being modified. In fact, Fitzmyer says that one "has to" understand ἐϕʼ ἑλπδι goes with the substantival participle: the syntax supports this view.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Amos 4:13 (Forming mountains, creating the wind, and declaring thought)

ESV: "For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!"

ASV: "For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought; that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth—Jehovah, the God of hosts, is his name."

Tchavdar S. Hadjiev (Joel and Amos: An Introduction and Commentary): "This is the first of the three ‘hymnic fragments’ in the book of Amos (5:8–9; 9:5–6) which are united by their common use of participles to describe God, the shared theme of creation and the recurring cultic formula the Lord . . . is his name. The hymn paints an awesome and terrifying picture of the God whom Israel is about to meet (v. 12). The five participles correspond to the five occurrences of the refrain you did not return to me. The power of the Lord is demonstrated first and foremost in acts of creation. He is the one who forms the solid, immovable mountains, as well as the fleeting wind. Both stability and dynamic motion emanate from him. He has complete control over Israel’s universe. The third participial phrase, which occupies the centre, could be translated ‘declares to mortals their thoughts’ (nab); in other words, he brings to the surface the hidden plans and desires of human beings. Most scholars, however, prefer reveals his thoughts to mortals – that is, God not only controls the created world but communicates with humanity (3:7). Makes the morning darkness is unsettling. Whether it refers to a solar eclipse (Paas 2003:277) or to clouds and smoke hiding the morning sun (Hubbard 1989:162) the phrase does not depict the normal rhythm of day and night and carries omi- nous overtones. Treads on the heights of the earth (Job 9:8; Mic. 1:3) depicts a divine march and the subjection of the earth to the authority of its creator. The hymnic conclusion evokes a sense of awe with its picture of unstoppable divine power."

Thomas E. McComiskey and Tremper Longman III (Hosea, Amos, Micah, EBC Series): "A hymnic element, portraying some aspects of the nature of the God the Israelites are to face in judgment, closes this section. 'For' (, untranslated in the NIV) connects v.13 to the preceding reference to God. The word 'forms' (ēr) refers to God’s activity in creation and is paralleled by 'creates' (bōrē ʾ). In Hebrew these words are participles, which are typical of hymnic elements. This phenomenon is often used as an argument for their lateness, for participial constructions may be found in other poetic celebrations of God’s creative power, especially in 'Second Isaiah' (Isa 40:22–23, 26–29; 42:5; 44:24;
45:7, 18). The phenomenon also occurs in Jeremiah (Jer 10:12–16; 51:15–19) and in certain psalms (Pss 94; 104). While the passages in Jeremiah are considered late additions by some scholars, there is good reason to believe that both psalms cited are of preexilic origin (cf. M. Dahood,
Psalms II and Psalms III [AB; New York: Doubleday, 1968, 1970]), thus placing the tradition much earlier than 'Second Isaiah.' The reason for the participial structure is difficult to determine. It may be that the Hebrew theology assumed a role for God both in creating and in sustaining his universe. It is also possible that the participial construction may be simply a stylistic device. The word 'form' (ar) has as its basic emphasis the shaping of the object involved, whereas 'create' (bārāʾ) emphasizes the initiation of the object. Not only does God form the mountains and create the wind, but he also reveals to humanity 'his thoughts' (śēô). The word for 'thoughts' is never used of God in Hebrew; and, in the light of 3:7, it is unlikely that Amos believes that God reveals his thoughts to all people. It is best to interpret the suffix ô ('his') as applying to man and understand the verse to speak of God’s activity in searching the hearts of all humankind and revealing their thoughts and motives. In describing God’s treading the high places of the earth, the hymn takes on a theophanic tone. The Hebrew word for 'high places' (bāmâ) basically means 'height.' It may refer to pagan religious sanctuaries (Jer 7:31), but in the cosmic atmosphere of this hymn, it must refer to the mountains and hills. In ancient times possession of the heights of enemy territory meant that the enemy was virtually brought into subjection (Dt 33:29; Eze 36:2). The majestic picture of God as striding over the hills and mountains shows his sovereignty over the earth. A similar theophany occurs at the beginning of Micah, where it precedes the description of God’s judgment in Samaria and Jerusalem (Mic 1:3–7; 3:9–12). The theophany presages judgment, as God steps into history and treads the heights of the earth. This theophanic language, depicting God’s presence in the events of history and in natural phenomena, shows their belief in his immanence."

See Adu, Frank. “The Concepts of Yahweh in the Hymnic Doxologies of Amos 4:13, 5:8–9, and 9:5–6.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 52, no. 1 (February 2022): 3–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461079211038493.

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Hebrews 5:11 (Morphology, Syntax, and Semantics)

SBLGNT: Περὶ οὗ πολὺς ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος καὶ δυσερμήνευτος λέγειν, ἐπεὶ νωθροὶ γεγόνατε ταῖς ἀκοαῖς·

The preposition
Περὶ + the relative pronominal genitive οὗ could be rendered "concerning, about, regarding" this/whom/which. M.J. Harris (Prepositions, page 180) says that Περὶ standing absolutely at the head of a sentence may denote "[now] concerning/with regard to" as it "marks a new subject," for instance in Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 7:1, 25; 8:1. Compare Craig Koester, Hebrews, page 300.

Is the antecedent of the relative pronoun masculine or neuter? David L. Allen discusses the possibilities but concludes that there is no practical difference between the options. See
Hebrews: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, pages 334-335. Compare B.F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews, page 131.

The expression, πολὺς ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος, commonly sets forth the notion that the writer/speaker has "much to say." See William L. Lane, Hebrews 1-8 in the WBC series.

δυσερμήνευτος is a hapax legomenon, occurring only here in the GNT. It can mean "difficult to explain" or "difficult to interpret." The first meaning is probably best here: the writer finds it hard to explain his subject matter due to the spiritual condition of his addresses (see infra).

Ralph Earle (Word Meanings in the New Testament, page ):
"Hard to Be Uttered This is all one word in Greek, the compound adjective dyser-mēneutos (only here in NT). The prefix dys has the idea of 'difficult.' The rest of the word is based on the verb hermēneuō, 'explain' or 'interpret' (cf. hermeneutics). So 'hard to explain' (RSV, NASB, NIV) is the correct translation here."

λέγειν-present active infinitive of
λέγω ("say" or "speak," "express").

Craig Koester (Hebrews, page 300):

Luke T. Johnson (Hebrews, pages 154-155) :
The author’s discourse is not only lengthy, it is also "difficult to express” (dysermēneutos legein). The complaint is not uncommon among ancient speakers (see Philo, On Dreams 1.188; Artemidorus, Oneirocritica 3.67), and can serve to suggest the author’s struggle with difficult subject matter. Hebrews, however, connects the difficulty to the disposition of his hearers. They have become—and the perfect gegonate suggests, still are—nothroi tais akoais. The adjective nōthros means lethargic or careless (see Prov 22:29; Sir 4:29; 11:2). When combined with the dative of respect tais akoais (“in hearing”), it indicates a dullness or even a reluctance to listen (see Heliodorus, Ethiopians 5.1.5; Epictetus, Discourses 1.7.30). I use the translation “reluctant listeners” in order to stress what I consider the deeper implication of the passage. Jesus has just been portrayed as one who became mature/perfect by “learning obedience” from the things he suffered (5:8). Obedience, as we have seen, is a form of responsive hearing. The listeners’ reluctance to learn more about such a messiah, therefore, may have much to do with their perception that such learning leads them into the same path of suffering. The difficulty faced by the author is not simply mental laziness, but spiritual resistance.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Words of the Month for June 2022

The first entry for words of the month will be a Hebrew word, and a term used in the study of language. My goal is to offer a little information about each word, and I will alternate each month between a Hebrew and Greek term as one of the words. These entries are not intended to be extensive discussions of each word, but it's more to whet the appetite of readers. Maybe you all will pursue more details about the words I post. Thanks for reading.

1. Lamad (
לָמַד). A Hebrew word, which depending on the context, may be translated "teach, learn, train, exercise in." See Deuteronomy 4:5, 10; 6:1; Psalm 34:12. Strong's 3925.

2. Morphology. Rodney A. Whitacre offers this definition:
"Morphology (cf. µορφή, 'form') is the, 'study of the structure of words and the system of forms of a language.' ”

Stanley Porter:
"Morphology is concerned with the smallest units of meaningful structure in a language" (Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament).

For example, morphology as a science studies the principal parts of verbs, and seeks to ascertain whether they're passive or active and what their "tense" might be.