Saturday, February 25, 2023

How the Genitive Case Works in Greek

The genitive case delimits or describes things. As William D. Chamberlain explains: "The genitive case, hH GENNHTIKH PTWSIS (Lat. CASUS GENITIVUS), is primarily the 'describing' case. Its function is adjectival. In fact, comparative grammar shows that this usage is older than the adjective" (An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 29).

Daniel B. Wallace (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pp. 78-88) relates that in the case of the attributive genitive, "The genitive substantive specifies an attribute or innate quality of the head substantive. It is similar to a simple adjective in its semantic force, though more emphatic: it 'expresses quality like an adjective indeed, but with more sharpness and distinctness.' "

The last part of that quote is taken from A.T. Robertson's "big grammar."

As Wallace points out, the genitive itself (whether possessive or descriptive, etc.) is grammatically substantival, but semantically adjectival; that is, the genitive functions like an adjective, although it is formally a substantive (i.e., a noun case).


Compare J.H. Greenlees, "The Genitive Case in the New Testament."
The Asbury Seminarian: Vol. 5: No. 3, p. 108-109.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

John 6:45--"And All Will Be Taught Of God"

Greek (NA28): ἔστιν γεγραμμένον ἐν τοῖς προφήταις· καὶ ἔσονται πάντες διδακτοὶ θεοῦ· πᾶς ὁ ἀκούσας παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μαθὼν ἔρχεται πρὸς ἐμέ.

Jesus declares that "it is written in the prophets"; what exactly is written in the prophets and where is it written?

The verse he quotes is Isaian, Isaiah 54:13, where the prophet foretells that "they" all will be taught by God (Jehovah). Moreover, everyone who hears and obeys divine teaching from Jesus' Father comes to the Lord Jesus Christ. According to the Isaian text in Hebrew, all of "your sons" will be those taught by YHWH (Jehovah).

However, one point I want to expand on, is the text that serves as a backdrop for Jesus' utterance. To whom were these words originally addressed? What textual issues should we notice about Isaiah 54:13, and is there an expanded application for the prophetic text?

1) As we look back to Isaiah 54:1, it informs us that a woman hitherto barren will become more fruitful than a married woman with presumed fertility. Who is this barren woman? Isaiah 54:5-6 (RSV) reveals that the woman is figurative, standing for the ancient nation of Israel:

For your Maker is your husband,
    the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
    the God of the whole earth he is called.

For the Lord has called you
    like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
    says your God.

In conjunction with this promise, Jehovah affirms that his everlasting love and "covenant of peace" will perpetually abide with the nation that is like a wife to him. Of course, Jehovah's Witnesses see an extended application to this prophecy in view of John 6:45 and Galatians 4:24-31. One thing we know for sure is that Paul applies Isaiah 54:1ff to "Jerusalem above," whom he calls "our mother." Isaiah 54:11-12 likewise compares the barren wife to a fortified city bestrewn with diverse gems just as we see in the case of New Jerusalem, which is not to say that I'm identifying Jerusalem above with New Jerusalem. Yet there are similarities in the descriptions of each metaphorical city.

2) What textual issues should we notice about Isaiah 54:13?

JPS, 1985 Tanakh:

וְכׇל־בָּנַ֖יִךְ לִמּוּדֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה וְרַ֖ב שְׁל֥וֹם בָּנָֽיִךְ׃


καὶ πάντας τοὺς υἱούς σου διδακτοὺς θεοῦ καὶ ἐν πολλῇ εἰρήνῃ τὰ τέκνα σου


"All your children will be taught by Yahweh, and your children's peace will be great."

3) What extended application can be made for John 6:45? Jesus manifestly applied the text to his early followers, who in large part were Jewish although he knew that many would listen to divine teaching and then follow him. Paul's words in Galatians 4:24-31 indicate that the children of Jerusalem above would continue to multiply. No longer would the figurative woman be barren but she would become more fruitful than her fertile counterpart. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God is still drawing people to his Son today via divine teaching that occurs through his Word and spirit.

In conclusion, I will quote Francis J. Moloney (The Gospel of John, page 218, Sacra Pagina Series), who makes interesting points about John 6:45:

The prophets had foretold that “they shall all be taught by God” (v. 45a, freely citing Isa 54:13). Thus Jesus asks that “the Jews” listen to God that they might be instructed. God taught Israel through the gift of the Law, but Jesus claims that all who have truly learned from God will come to him (v. 45). The instruction God gives to all peoples (v. 45a: pantes) draws them to Jesus (v. 45b: pas . . . erchetai pros eme). Continuing the theme of universality of vv. 35-40, Jesus now claims that in fulfillment of the prophetic promise (v. 45a) a process is in motion that leads to the true believer’s coming to Jesus. No longer is Israel the object and the Law the source of God’s instruction. It is aimed at all believers without limitation of race or nation, and it comes through Jesus.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Prayer Moved Jehovah to Intervene-The Case of Hezekiah (Modified Talk)

Prayer Moved Jehovah to Intervene

I want to start out by giving you a brief quiz.

Is the following statement True or False?

"The prayers of righteous people are completely ineffectual."

The Bible Answer Is found at James 5:16 where it assures us that "A righteous man’s supplication has a powerful effect." 

Hence, supplications or intense prayers can have a powerful effect when they're uttered by righteous people. King Hezekiah of Judah was one such righteous person. Did his prayers have a powerful effect?

2 Kings 20:1-We can just imagine the scene. The Assyrians brought major force against Jerusalem while Hezekiah was sick to the point of death, and Isaiah told the king that he would not recover from his illness: he would certainly die. To make matters worse, Hezekiah had no heir to succeed him. Therefore, he wondered who would fight for Jerusalem after his demise? What would Hezekiah do in this situation?

2 Kings 20:2-3-what kind of prayer did Hezekiah offer? He offered supplications because the account says he begged Jehovah to remember his faithful course and how he had walked with a complete heart before God. Hezekiah's prayer was intense, even accompanied by profuse tears. 

What was the result of this earnest entreaty to Jehovah?

2 Kings 20:4-6 answers.

Would you say that Hezekiah's prayer had a powerful effect? Yes, it caused Jehovah to intervene and extend the life of Hezekiah by fifteen years. Is there a lesson for us today?

We learn that our supplications to Jehovah are never in vain. It is possible that Jehovah might be moved by our supplications to act and do something he otherwise might not have done; our supplications might cause Jehovah to intervene as he did in Hezekiah's case. However, we don't necessarily expect miraculous healings today or longer lives because we offer supplications. Nevertheless, we can be confident that Jehovah will give us what we need to endure hardship and distress if we earnestly implore him (1 Corinthians 10:13). Jehovah invites us to pour out our hearts to him (Psalm 62:8). So, regardless of the outcome, it is good to know that the prayers of righteous persons are effectual and powerful.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Psalm 139:16 and The Rendering, "Embryo"

Oxford Languages Definition for "Embryo":

an unborn or unhatched offspring in the process of development, in particular a human offspring during the period from approximately the second to the eighth week after fertilization (after which it is usually termed a fetus).
Some choose to render the Hebrew word golem in Psalm 139:16 as "unformed substance" or something to that effect, but Brown-Driver and Briggs (BDB) Hebrew-English Lexicon tells us that golem is a word at times used for the "embryo." Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon likewise says that golem refers to something "rolled together" or "rude and unformed matter, not yet wrought, the parts of which are not yet unfolded and developed." It then states that the word is used "of the embryo." The word occurs one time in the Hebrew Bible.

Nancy Declaisse-Walford prefers the translation "unshaped form" for the Hebrew word, which she points out is a hapax legomenon (Latin for a saying that happens once). She writes: "In Babylonian Aramaic, the word is used to designate a formless mass or an incomplete vessel. The Syriac word galmā means 'uncultivated soil.' "

Declaisse-Walford is critical of the translation, "embryo" because she thinks it is too precise and potentially misleading, probably in light of what the ancients knew about embryology. However, as we have seen, two lexicons (BDB and Gesenius) give embryo as the term's potential sense, even if that is not the strict meaning. Some translations opt for "before I was born" language in Psalm 139:16 (NET Bible). Yet see the entry for golem in HALOT.

A recent translation of the Hebrew Bible by Robert Alter renders the word "unformed shape." In my humble assessment, whether one handles the word like Alter does or like the NWT and other Bibles, it seems that David did not know (at least not in any great detail) as we do today that a baby goes through an embryonic state which differs markedly from the fetal state. One cannot know such things in any great detail without modern technology, but the ancients knew that babies were conceived, started out real tiny, then began to grow bigger. We call the early stage "embryonic."

Having said the foregoing, I see nothing wrong with the NWT handling of the verse: it communicates what we would understand by "unformed substance" in the womb. As you all know, when it comes to babies, there are even finer distinctions we could make, like talk about the blastocyst. But none of these tangential matters were likely David's inspired concern.

Friday, February 10, 2023

A Reflection on Revelation 12:10

Greek (NA28): καὶ ἤκουσα φωνὴν μεγάλην ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ λέγουσαν·

ἄρτι ἐγένετο ἡ σωτηρία καὶ ἡ δύναμις

καὶ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν
καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ,
ὅτι ἐβλήθη ὁ κατήγωρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἡμῶν,
ὁ κατηγορῶν αὐτοὺς ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός.

John now hears a "loud voice" (φωνὴν μεγάλην) in heaven: the voice is not identified, but based on what the voice utters, I would submit that it issues from Christians who have been raised to heaven postmortem (brothers of Christ).

In what sense does salvation and power (
ἡ σωτηρία καὶ ἡ δύναμις) come to pass? Within the context of this utterance, Satan the Devil and his angels (demons) previously have been expelled from heaven after warring with Michael and his angels (Revelation 12:7-9). The Devil's expulsion causes great joy in heaven and it's a sign that Christ is ruling as Jehovah's appointed king.

G.K. Beale (The Book of Revelation) offers these remarks:

The kingdom formulas in 4:11 and 5:12–13 confirm that here the focus is on Christ’s resurrection, which has launched the initial stage of the kingdom. The introductory ἄρτι (“now”) emphasizes the beginning aspect of fulfillment (this use of ἄρτι is equivalent to the same use of νῦν or νυνί [“now”] by Paul — e.g., Rom. 3:21, 26; 2 Cor. 5:16; 6:2; Eph. 3:5, 10).Therefore, v 10 does not merely anticipate the future kingdom, but celebrates the fact that the kingdom has begun immediately following Christ’s death and resurrection.The second part of v 10 elaborates on how the kingdom has begun, specifically on what it means that Christ’s death and resurrection have resulted in Satan’s expulsion from heaven. This will require detailed comments.
I believe that one can extract something useful from Beale's comments but I don't believe it necessarily follows that the salvation and the power came to pass in the first century CE after Christ's death and resurrection. However, the issue of when Christ started to rule goes outside the scope of this blog entry. I find Beale more utile when it comes to his observations about ἄρτι and it's certainly true that Christ's death and resurrection paved the way for the Kingdom of God and his Christ.


Thursday, February 09, 2023

Contentment or Self-Sufficiency (Pauline Use of Autarkeia)

The Greek adjective αὐτάρκης occurs in Philippians 4:11, its only appearance in the GNT. NWT 2013 still renders the adjective with "self-sufficient" while grammarian and scholar William Mounce offers the rendering, "for I have learned to be content." Either translation is acceptable.

On the other hand, in 1 Timothy 6:6 and 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul uses the Greek noun ατάρκεια. This noun is a cognate of the adjective αὐτάρκης, so they are related words. Here are some translations that I found for ατάρκεια:
  • sufficiency
  • contentment
  • self-sufficiency
  • independence
So either "contentment" or "self-sufficiency" are fine renderings for ατάρκεια. Nevertheless, to show the difference between Paul and the Stoics, please consider these points: "self-sufficiency" is contextual: the Stoic view of being autarkic is not the Pauline view. The inspired apostle said that he learned to be self-sufficient regardless of what he possessed, whether he had much or little. Note how he goes from describing self-sufficiency/contentment to identifying the source of his ability to be self-sufficient (Philippians 4:13). Compare also 1 Timothy 6:6-8.


Monday, February 06, 2023

A Word of Encouragement For When You Feel Unappreciated

Have you ever done a good deed for someone, then felt unappreciated afterwards? This can easily happen with our fellow humans but Jehovah our God never forgets what we do for him. The Bible provides a guarantee that Jehovah will always appreciate the work we do for his name. Read 1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 6:10.

Even if advanced age or bad health may limit what we can do in Jehovah's service, he will never forget the past deeds of those who love him. God is a faithful and loyal Creator: "
So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19 HCSB).

Sunday, February 05, 2023

What Are Some Commentators Saying About Daniel 1:17?

Divination (Merriam-Webster):

1: the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers

2: unusual insight : intuitive perception

When I refer to "divination" here, I mean definition (1).

Some scholars think there is an approved form of divination in the Bible: I disagree. Granted, certain supposed servants of Jehovah (YHWH) practiced divination and they even consulted the dead at times. However, I find no place in Scripture where God approved such practices. As a matter of fact, in more than one place or time period, the Bible explicitly forbids divination. See


But what about Daniel 1:17? Does it prove that the prophet Daniel practiced divination? While there will never be unanimous consent on this question in the present age, I would like to post what some scholars have noted about this verse.

Anchor Bible Commentary on Daniel
(Hartman, Louis Francis, and Di Lella, Alexander A.): "In the ancient Near East, ritual and ascetical purification was always regarded as a necessary preparation for contact with the deity and as a prerequisite for receiving mystical revelations. But even stronger emphasis was laid on this idea in the Hellenistic age, as evidenced by the practices of the Therapeutae, the Essenes, and the Qumran sectaries. Thus, our heroes too obtain their deeper knowledge and wisdom by fasting and apparently, since no reference is made anywhere in the book to wives or children of these men, also by celibacy. Our author, however, is careful to note that the superior knowledge and wisdom of these men came, not as a direct result of their asceticism, but as a gift from God."

Daniel: Wisdom Commentary to the Wise (Stefanovic, Zdravko, page 69):
"Among the four Hebrews, Daniel excelled because God gave him the ability to interpret visions and dreams of all kinds. If wisdom was a highly priced virtue in Babylon, the ability to explain dreams was supreme there. In fact, the topic of visions and dreams was the favorite field of study among the Babylonians. In the Bible, on the other hand, God speaks through dreams (Gen. 28:10-22; 1 Kings 3:5) but not through the other forms of divination that the Babylonians practiced. "Dream interpretation is one mode of divine revelation understood by Babylonians and accepted by pious Israelites."78 Divine wisdom meets people where they are.79 It was not a mere coincidence that 'of all the various divinatory 'techniques' used in the ANE [Ancient Near East], only dreams and dream interpretations find an acceptable place within orthodox Hebrew religion.'80The statement about Daniel given here prepares the reader for the rest of the stories in the book, in which Daniel exhibits this ability to interpret dreams on more than one occasion. It is best to credit his ability to interpret dreams to his life of prayer and to the revelations given to him by God. This prepared him for the role that he assumed later as described in the story in chapter 2. It has been correctly observed that 'with the possible exceptions of Moses (Acts 7:22) and Solomon, Daniel was the most learned man in the Old Testament.'81"

Daniel in the OTL Series (Carol Newsom, page 51):
"Nebuchadnezzar’s command concerning the education of the young men in v. 5 clearly assumed that the instruction he provided, like the food, would produce the results he desired. Here, however, their proficiency in the learned literature of the Babylonian curriculum comes from God. A second note distinguishes Daniel from his three companions through his special competency in understanding visions and dreams, gifts he will display in chs. 2 and 4. The interpretation of dreams was never a particularly important part of Mesopotamian manticism and was not a specialized technical divinatory practice (Husser 27–29, 38) nor a consistent concern of Mesopotamian monarchs, although the Neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus was preoccupied with revelatory dreams (Beaulieu 1989, 108–13). The focus on dreams and visions as means of divine revelation in Daniel reflects more the interests of emergent Jewish apocalypticism and may be seen as part of the author’s negotiation with the cultural context of the Mesopotamian Diaspora. even as the story cycle acknowledges the status of Babylonian divinatory science, it imaginatively creates a world in which the knowledge that the king vitally needs is the kind of knowledge cultivated not by Babylonian diviners but by Jewish manticism. Thus the narrative shifts the cultural contest to a framework in which the Jewish figures have a divinely granted advantage."

Friday, February 03, 2023

Some Places in the Bible Where "Angel" Has to Mean a Spirit Being

 All occurrences are from the NET:

Genesis 21:17-But God heard the boy’s voice. The angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and asked her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Don’t be afraid, for God has heard the boy’s voice right where he is crying.

Genesis 22:11-But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered.

Genesis 22:15-The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven

Judges 13:20-As the flame went up from the altar toward the sky, the angel of the Lord went up in it while Manoah and his wife watched. They fell facedown to the ground.

2 Samuel 22:11-He mounted a winged angel and flew; he glided on the wings of the wind.

1 Chronicles 21:16-David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between the earth and sky with his sword drawn and in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem. David and the leaders, covered with sackcloth, threw themselves down with their faces to the ground.

Matthew 22:30-For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

See Matthew 24:36; 28:2; Mark 13:32. Compare Zechariah 14:5.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Words of the Month (February 2023)

1. Parataxis and hypotaxis (English)-See the explanation given here:

Parataxis connects or coordinates sentences or clauses whereas hypotaxis refers to grammatical subordination:
"A sentence is subordinate when it is made part of another, with the value of a noun, adjective, or adverb."

2. Monogenes/
μονογενής (Greek)-See

There is some debate as to whether the word means "only, unique, sui generis" or "only-begotten."

Latin Vulgate-Judges 11:34: 
revertenti autem Iepthae in Maspha domum suam occurrit unigenita filia cum tympanis et choris non enim habebat alios liberos

Translation: "And when Jephte returned into Maspha, to his house, his only daughter met him with timbrels and with dances: for he had no other children."

καὶ ἦλθεν Ιεφθαε εἰς Μασσηφα εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἰδοὺ θυγάτηρ αὐτοῦ ἐξεπορεύετο εἰς ἀπάντησιν αὐτοῦ ἐν τυμπάνοις καὶ χοροῗς καὶ αὕτη μονογενὴς αὐτῷ ἀγαπητή καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτῷ πλὴν αὐτῆς υἱὸς θυγάτηρ

Is Daniel 8:25 MT Textually Reliable? (Comments by Holger Gzella)


Latin Vulgate (Jerome):

secundum voluntatem suam et dirigetur dolus in manu eius et cor suum magnificabit et in copia rerum omnium occidet plurimos et contra principem principum consurget et sine manu conteretur

"According to his will, and craft shall be successful in his hand: and his heart shall be puffed up, and in the abundance of all things he shall kill many: and he shall rise up against the prince of princes, and shall be broken without hand"