Sunday, July 30, 2023

1 John 5:7 in the Douay-Rheims, NABRE, and Nova Vulgata

Today, it is widely acknowledged that 1 John 5:7 is a spurious text (an interpolation): even Catholic scholars admit that the passage was added later to the NT text. It seems that the so-called Comma Johanneum was a theologically motivated corruption that entered the GNT in light of the early Arian controversies, but some refer to the corruption euphemistically as a "gloss." However, "textual corruption" fits the case better. 

A discussion as to how the Papal Office shifted positions on the interpolation can be found here:

Other sources attest to the shift that occurred by Rome, which I will adduce upon request. For now, please note the comparison of texts below:

Catholic Douay-Rheims: "And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one."

Catholic NABRE: "So there are three that testify, 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord."

Nova Vulgata: Quia tres sunt, qui testificantur:

Compare the Nova Vulgata with the older Biblia Vulgata.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Moderator's Decision on Nincsnevem Posts

 Greetings all,

I'm not prohibiting Nincsnevem from ever posting here: he's raised a lot of issues that have been addressed before on this blog or elsewhere and some other issues need to be addressed IMHO. However, I've made a moderator's decision that none of the current discussions now transpiring will be allowed past 12:30 PM EST tomorrow. Those threads will be locked.

It seems to me that enough posts have been allowed on the current diverse subjects. Moderators have to make these decisions and they might not always (probably hardly ever) please everyone. Thanks to all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Translating 1 Samuel 1:24 (Three or One?)

"And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young" (1 Samuel 1:24 KJV).

"and she causeth him to go up with her when she hath weaned him, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and she bringeth him into the house of Jehovah at Shiloh, and the youth is but a youth" (YLT).

"As soon as she had weaned him, she took him up to Shi′loh, along with a three-year-old bull, one e′phah of flour, and a large jar of wine, and she came to the house of Jehovah in Shi′loh and brought the young boy with her" (NWT).

"And after she had weaned him, she carried him with her, with three calves, and three bushels of flour, and a bottle of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord in Silo. Now the child was as yet very young" (Douay-Rheims).

Was there one bull or three? Textual evidence from the LXX, DSS and Syriac versions suggests that there was only one bull brought to Shiloh.


Monday, July 24, 2023

Peter Green Offers Remarks on Isotheotes

"The notion of isotheotes, mortal parity with a god, goes back to Homer and Sappho. Heracles had bridged the gap, had been admitted to the Olympian pantheon. Empedocles as shaman drew a huge following when he proclaimed, 'I go among you a god immortal, mortal no longer.'" See Peter Green, The Hellenistic Age: A History, pages 50-51.

Compare Philippians 2:6-7, wherein Christ refused to grasp at equality with God.

Incarnation and Immutability

The Catholic doctrine of Incarnation teaches that the second Person of the Trinity (God the Son/the Logos) united humanity with his preexistent deity. The Catholic Encyclopedia states:
The Incarnation is the mystery and the dogma of the Word made Flesh. ln this technical sense the word incarnation was adopted, during the twelfth century, from the Norman-French, which in turn had taken the word over from the Latin incarnatio.
However, I have serious reservations about divine immutability (in a strong sense) being compatible with the so-called Incarnation of Christ:

1) If God is immutable in a strong sense, then he cannot assume human nature. (P---->Q)
2) God is immutable in a strong sense. (P)
3) Therefore, he cannot assume human nature. (Q)

Maybe I could rework the argument this way, but I think the results are the same:

1*) If God the Son is immutable in a strong sense, then he cannot assume human nature.
2*) God the Son is immutable in a strong sense.
3*) Therefore, God the Son cannot assume human nature.

Uniting one thing to another sounds like a change to me but Trinitarians (most) will deny that any such change occurred. However, if I unite a man and woman by marrying them in a formal ceremony, then it could be said that a genuine change has taken place. But Trinitarian logic works differently I suppose.

One move for the Incarnation crowd is to propose an ad hoc idea called potentia oboedientialis. I want to say more about this idea in the future. For now, it seems ad hoc to me. 

Having said all of the foregoing, I do believe the truth of John 1:14, just not its distortion.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Matthew 20:23 and Christology

The apostle Matthew records Jesus telling the mother of Zebedee's sons: "He saith unto them, My cup indeed ye shall drink: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left hand, is not mine to give; but it is for them for whom it hath been prepared of my Father" (Matthew 20:23).

It's hard for me to imagine Almighty God qua the Son telling someone that this divine prerogative is not mine to give, but those who believe Christ is God enfleshed have tried to explain these words by recourse to the kenosis (self-emptying) of the Lord.

"The Lord makes answer to His disciples in His character of servant; though whatever is prepared by the Father is also prepared by the Son, for He and the Father are one" (Augustine of Hippo).

Augustine undoubtedly has John 10:30 in mind when explaining Matthew 20:23, but that text needs to be examined grammatically and carefully. I also wonder what are the scriptural grounds--besides John 10:30--for claiming that what is prepared by the Father is also prepared by the Son. Christ differentiated between the Father's prerogative and his own in texts that include Matthew 25:34 and Acts 1:6-7. Compare Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Benjamin Merkle's "Exegetical Gems" (A Discussion)-Part XII-Imperfect Indicatives

As we continue with this book discussion, which I will conclude on 7/31/2023, this entry is for chapter 14 of Exegetical Gems. In this unit, Merkle considers imperfect indicatives: his focus text is Galatians 1:13.

We all know Saul of Tarsus' history; he was advancing in the ranks of Judaism as a Pharisee and tried ardently to ravage the ecclesia of God and Christ. Saul's efforts were sincere but he later spoke about his earlier course in 1 Timothy 1:13, calling himself a blasphemer, an insolent man and the foremost of sinners. However, because he was ignorant (lacking the requite knowledge), Jehovah forgave Saul and assigned a ministry to him. He became an apostle to the nations and we know him as Paul. The apostle recounted his prior course to the Galatians: it's interesting how translators render 1:13:

NWT 2013: "Of course, you heard about my conduct formerly in Juʹda·ism, that I kept intensely persecuting the congregation of God and devastating it"

ESV: "For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it."

Byington: "For you have heard about my life back in my Jewish days, that I was extraordinarily active in persecuting and ravaging God’s church"

Why do translators handle Galatians 1:13 in these diverse ways?

Greek (WH): Ἠκούσατε γὰρ τὴν ἐμὴν ἀναστροφήν ποτε ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ, ὅτι καθ' ὑπερβολὴν ἐδίωκον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐπόρθουν αὐτήν

The verb 
ἐπόρθουν is imperfect: the imperfect morphology (tense-form) is imperfective aspect, which means that the verb depicts action as "progressive, internal, or incomplete" (Merkle, page 63). The imperfect "almost always" grammaticalizes past time since it's in the indicative mood. But how does markedness potentially affect imperfect-tensed verbs? Given marked features, the imperfect functions like the present tense does:

Progressive (Luke 4:15), inceptive (John 5:9), iterative (Acts 2:40), and tendential (Acts 18:4) Aktionsarten. The last category known as tendential could apply to Galatians 1:13.

Merkle explains that Greek tends to wield the imperfect in order to communicate attempted action or an action that is tried but not necessarily completed. Several verses in the NT appear to confirm that imperfect indicatives have the ability to portray conative or inchoate action.

I will conclude the last part of this discussion with some prior research I've done on this question:

James Brooks and Carlton L. Winbery classify ἐδίωκον and ἐπόρθουν in Galatians 1:13 as examples of the Greek descriptive imperfect, meaning that the verbs describe what has taken place at some time in the past. However, they note that ἐπόρθουν "could also be interpreted as a tendential imperfect" (Syntax of NT Greek, 91).

Compare the tendential imperfect at Acts 26:11. In the final analysis, I agree that it is a judgment call when translating Galatians 1:13, but it seems to me that Paul did not lay waste or destroy the Christian congregation. Rather, he tried laying waste to God's congregation.

Walter W. Wessel (in Mounce's grammar) states that ἐπόρθουν at Galatians 1:13 is a tendential imperfect, expressing attempted action (BBG, 176). Again, the reasoning is that Paul did not really devastate the congregation of God, but only attempted to do so. Moreover, ἐδίωκον appears to express repeated action in the past (customary action), which explains the NASB's "used to persecute . . . "

Ralph Earle writes: "The imperfect tense would suggest that Paul 'was ravaging' the Church and trying to destroy it, but that he did not completely succeed" (Word Meanings in the NT, 271).

Hans D. Betz, Galatians, page 67--Hermeneia Series:

112 Bauer's tr. uses the imperfect de conatu: "I tried to destroy." So also BDR, § 326. Cf. the same term Gal 1:23; Acts 9:21, in the same context. The term is common as a description of political oppression. See 4 Macc 4:23; 11:4; Philo Flacc. 54; Josephus BJ 4.405; Ant. 10.135. For passages see also LSJ, s.v., and Philippe- H. Menoud, "Le sens du verbe Porqein," in Apophoreta, Festschrift fur E. Haenchen (BZNW 30; Berlin: Topelmann, 1964) 178-86. G reads ἐπολέμουν ("I attacked") instead, perhaps an influence of the Latin expugnabam.

Douglas Moo, Galatians, page 100:

With a ὅτι (hoti, that), Paul elaborates on the specifics of that “former way of life in Judaism.” First, he was “intensely persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it” (καθ᾿ ὑπερβολὴν ἐδίωκον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐπόρθουν αὐτήν, kath’ hyperbolēn ediōkon tēn ekklēsian tou theou kai eporthoun autēn). Both verbs are in the imperfect tense, the former because it is a durative idea—“I was persecuting”—and the second because it is conative—“I tried to destroy” (Wallace 1996: 551).

The conative use is synonymous with the tendential Aktionsart. Other verses that Merkle cites to support the case for Galatians 1:13 being conative are Matthew 3:14-15; Luke 4:42; Mark 15:23. 

De Re and De Dicto in Latin

The de re and de dicto distinction became important during the Middle Ages and still has relevance today in modal logic. Additionally, de re and de dicto illustrate how de + the ablative case can function in Latin: "de" in this context can be translated "of, concerning, respecting, about" for both phrases (de re and de dicto). Both re and dicto are ablative forms (respectively of res and dictum), so when the noun is coupled with the preposition, de re could be translated "of the thing" or "concerning the thing." On the other hand, de dicto is "concerning the statement/utterance/word" or "of the statement/utterance/word." I hope this illustrates how writers can use de + the ablative to state something concerning or about an object whereas the de re and de dicto distinction is used to describe either a thing, an utterance or part of an utterance. A question that we can ask about an utterance is whether the thing is meant (i.e., whether the utterance is de re) or whether the utterance itself is being emphasized (i.e., the de dicto sense of the utterance). As a side point but related to theology, numerous Patristic writers employ de in the titles of their works (e.g., De Trinitate, De civitate Dei) and Thomas Aquinas wrote De ente et essentia.

Alvin Plantinga (The Nature of Necessity): "An assertion of modality de dicto predicates a modal property of another dictum or proposition, while a claim of modality de re asserts of an object that it possess a property either essentially or contingently."

Consider the possible difference between the two statements:

1) Necessarily, the number nine is odd.

2) The number nine is odd.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Benjamin Merkle's "Exegetical Gems" (A Discussion)-Part XI-Present Indicatives

Merkle begins chapter 13 with some sage advice that concerns reading the biblical text and the presuppositions that we bring to the Bible. Yet his primary objective is to discuss present indicatives with 1 John 3:6 as the focus.

1 John 3:6 (WH): πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει· πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν.

Four options are presented in the chapter as to how one should understand this passage. The main issue is whether John claims that true Christians are now sinless or can get to that point before this ungodly world ends. However, before addressing these questions, Merkle reviews aspects of the present indicative.

While it would seem that Greek present indicatives signify present action, and they certainly do, there are cases where present indicative verbs refer to past action, future action or action that is omnitemporal/gnomic. Present indicatives are imperfective vis-à-vis their aspect: this means that "the action is portrayed as progressive, internal, or incomplete" (Exegetical Gems, page 58). What ultimately determines how present indicatives function are marked features of discourse such as lexicality, grammar or context/linguistic setting. Here is an example of how markedness affects a present indicative verb's kind-of-action. The functions of these verbs include:

Progressive (1 John 2:8), durative (Luke 13:7), iterative (Acts 7:51), gnomic (Matthew 7:17), instantaneous (John 11:41), historical (Mark 1:40), futuristic (Revelation 1:7).

Getting back to 1 John 3:6, the point of contention is οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει: the verb is present active indicative third person singular of ἁμαρτάνω. See 1 John 5:18. Is John asserting that Christians never sin? Both experience and the very first epistle of John militate against such a view. Compare 1 John 1:8-10; 2:1; 5:16.

Robert Yarbrough reveals why it's not easy to untangle John's exact meaning (1-3 John, page 183 in the BECNT Series):
It is unlikely that John has forgotten what he wrote earlier or changed his mind in the interim. Nor is it advisable to resort to the understandable but unsatisfactory expedient of stressing the alleged continual nature of the sinning John has in mind (e.g., NIV/TNIV: “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning”). This may be true, but “keeps on sinning” (adopted also by ESV) probably overreads the verb tense (cf. Wallace 1996: 524–25; contra Kruse 2000: 120 and many other commentators). Smalley (1984: 159–60) effectively unmasks this misuse of the present tense, along with the dubious proposal that 2:1 in contrast uses aorist forms to connote isolated sinful acts. This is oversubtle. In addition, as Smalley points out, 5:16 uses the present tense to describe specific sinful acts, not chronic transgression. The present tense cannot bear the weight that the translation “keeps on sinning” places on it in 3:6, 9 (cf. Culy 2004: 73; yet note Caragounis 2006: 90: the issue is complicated!).
Daniel Wallace proposes an eschatological reading of 1 John 3:6; in other words, he argues that John is using the present indicative gnomically to state a general truth about followers of Christ, but he's also looking forward to the eschaton when believers will be free of sin. Merkle just relates this proposal without truly supplying much interaction at this point. However, the most likely interpretation of 1 John 3:6, according to Exegetical Gems, is that ἁμαρτάνει is an iterative present which means that the action portrayed by the verb would be continuous, repetitive or customary.

Merkle thinks the verb is iterative based on the epistolary context of 1 John and the immediate context of 1 John 3:6. Christian perfectionism seems to be ruled out and it's doubtful that John's word apply eschatologically, given the context; neither idea fits the setting of John's letter or the surrounding verses of the passage in question. The chapter concludes by appealing to 1 John 3:9 and its grammar, then Merkle references and quotes The First John Reader by S.M. Baugh. I tend to concur with him that the verb in 1 John 3:6 likely functions iteratively rather than gnomically or duratively.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Scott Baugh and BAGD/BDAG Lexicon (Reflections)

Written 4/23/2004 & edited 7/17/2015; 7/17/2023:

S. M. Baugh (A First John Reader) recommends that one consult BAGD (now BDAG) when he/she undertakes a study of Greek words: "This should be your first stop--and for most words, your last stop--for every Greek word study"
(page 128).

Those of us who own BDAG no doubt (haud dubie) concur with Baugh. For most Greek words, BDAG is the last stop, but neither Baugh nor I recommend the uncritical employment of this Greek-English lexicon. Baugh has his own criticisms of BDAG, but I'm sure he would admit that these quibbles in no way diminish its overall and surpassing value.
One problem that Baugh had with BAGD was that it contained "glosses" rather than "word meanings." That is, the older lexicon would give readers/students the rough approximate meaning of a word in English rather than saying what the word roughly meant in ancient Greek. But the new BDAG is miles ahead of the older lexicon in this respect. For instance, with the entry for APODEIXIS:

"a pointing away to [something] for the purpose of demonstration, proof."

Linguists such as Anna Wierzbicka have pointed out that words are better defined sententially as opposed to being defined by one word "glosses." This is why the new BDAG is a vast improvement over Strong's and the old BAGD. Another important point to keep in mind is that context often helps us determine how a term is being used by a writer or speaker. Moreover, words have semantic domains or semantic fields; the referent and context of a term surely determine how a writer is using it. One must consider the usus loquendi. BDAG is helpful in this respect.

Lastly, I would issue a gentle warning concerning J.H. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon. Thayer's work was produced before lexicographers began to utilize the ancient Greek papyri in word studies. Now that the papyrological evidence has been examined, assessed and published, the fruits of this research now appear in works like BDAG. One may also consult the text Vocabulary of the Greek Testament by J.H. Moulton and G. Milligan although I think this work is in the process of being updated or has been superseded by now.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Blog Break For a Couple of Days

Due to a busy schedule for the next two days, I will neither be posting nor approving posts until Monday, July 17. Appreciate your patience and hope you all have a good weekend.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Blog Moderation: Comment Boxes

 Greetings all,

I've had an pseudonymous Trinitarian post mostly/ almost all quoted material to the comment boxes. The moderated posts number 25 so far and they're lengthy and somewhat misrepresent what I believe or have previously said.

Comment-box bombing is not welcomed here. If you don't want to dialogue on the subject-matter, please don't post and please try to get my position right too. Thanks.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Diabolos, Daimonia, and the Gospels

The Gospel of Mark doesn't use διάβολος (diabolos), but still refers to Satan tempting Jesus (Mark 1:13) and Mark makes use of the word δαιμόνια (daimonia). See Mark 1:34, 39; 3:15, 22; 6:13; 9:38.

The Gospel of John teaches that διάβολος put the idea in Judas' heart to betray Jesus (John 13:2). Yes, the Bible does teach there's a malevolent spirit ruling the world that's alienated from God and that spirit is misleading the earth (Revelation 12:9): we encounter this idea in John's Gospel and in 1 John 5:19. Compare John 12:31; 14:30; 1 John 3:8.

Herman Ridderbos (The Gospel According to John, page 458): 
Jesus' departure from this world (vs. 1) was also the hour of his great contest with "the ruler of this world" (see the comments on 12:31), which now had to be fought to the finish (cf. 14:30). In this respect as well there is now no longer any delay. The devil had already taken position, deep in the intimate circle of Jesus' disciples, in the heart of Judas Iscariot, by nudging him to the decision to "betray" Jesus. How he would do this is sufficiently well known and not described here, but the word used is the key word in the entire Passion narrative for Jesus' being "handed over into human hands." Here it is the demonic starting point in the process that pervades the entire story from start to finish as a chain of faithlessness.

Saturday, July 08, 2023

Benjamin Merkle's "Exegetical Gems" (A Discussion)-Part X-Verbal Aspect and Aktionsart

Chapter 12 of Exegetical Gems is about verbal aspect, and the Bible verse for discussion is Matthew 16:24 (WH): Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι.

This passage contains two aorist imperatives and one present imperative. Why does Matthew switch when recording the third imperative given by Jesus here? To answer these questions, it's important to know something about verbal aspect and verbal Aktionsart. Merkle gives a brief discussion of aspect, which I'll now supplement.

Two influential and competing types of aspect theory are those developed by Stanley Porter and Buist Fanning. To see numerous criticisms of Porter's approach, consult Chrys Caragounis, 
The Development of Greek and the New Testament: Morphology, Syntax, Phonology, and Textual Transmission (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2006).

Concerning aspect, Richard A. Young explains: "Although the thesis that time is not grammaticalized in Greek may sound extreme, it seems to be the logical conclusion one draws from the study of the nuances of Greek 'tenses' " (Young, Intermediate NT Greek, 105). However, Young qualifies this initial observation:

"Nevertheless, there is still merit in the traditional view that temporal distinctions are grammaticalized in the indicative mood, even though it results in a greater number of anomalies. This does not necessarily indicate a flaw in the analysis, since all languages have forms which overlap into the semantic domain of other forms" (ibid., 107).

S. M. Baugh (A First John Reader, 52) argues that "the function and force of tense forms varies with the different moods." Therefore, "An author chooses the tense form of a participle and the tense form of a complementary infinitive for different reasons" (ibid.). He then illustrates this principle with the example of 1 John 3:9.

Grammarians and linguists use the term Aktionsart in disparate ways, but older grammars often employ Aktionsart as a reference to action delineated by the verbal stem. Porter writes that K. Brugmann in 1885 was the first writer to use the German term Aktionsart for the purpose of describing "the kind of action indicated objectively by the verb" (Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the NT, Stanley Porter, 29). So when I talk about "kind of action" in this context, I am referring to action in terms of completed, durative, ingressive or conative (inchoative) activities that are objectively signaled by the respective verb stem (root + affix) or in some other fashion.

Merkle defines verbal aspect as "the viewpoint or perspective by which an author chooses to portray an action or state" (53). That is, on this view, a writer has the option to present an action as imperfective (present or imperfect morphology), perfective (aorist morphology) or stative (perfect morphology). The pluperfect morphology is also stative and Daniel B. Wallace (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, page 501) classifies the future tense as perfective or "external" aspect. But how does this information about verbal aspect relate to Matthew 16:24?

Before aspect theory bloomed into its current form, scholars argued that the aorist "tense" (morphological form/morphology) signified a once-for-all-time kind of action while the present tense indicated that action was ongoing or continuous. However, that has now largely changed: Greek grammarians/scholars now contend that verbs are only punctiliar or continuous based on markedness or some kind of factor besides a verb's morphology (Merkle, page 54). Hence, Matthew 16:24 in all likelihood is not contrasting punctual and continuous action. Exegetical Gems quotes R.T. France who still offers what seems like an older explanation of Jesus' words but Merkle thinks the exegesis of France is not solidly based on the most current understanding of aspect theory. Yet I'm sure that France's take on Matthew 16:24 is not the only outdated view since another interesting target for Merkle, one whom he appears to correct, is Stanley Porter. Does Porter read too much into the aorist imperatives and the present imperative? Exegetical Gems gives that impression.

Merkle maintains that some verbs with a "natural terminus" usually occur in the aorist tense -form (morphology) but verbs that do not have a natural end-point tend to appear in the present tense-form (page 55). ἀπαρνησάσθω and ἀράτω are putative examples of verbs that have a natural terminus; on the other hand, we would expect a verb of motion like ἀκολουθείτω to occur in the present tense-form.

Near the end of the chapter, Merkle demonstrates that the once-for-all-time action versus the continuous action distinction will not hold up under scrutiny: see Acts 12:8 and Luke 9:23.

For an excellent critique of the aorist as a once-for-all-time action, see 
Frank Stagg. "The Abused Aorist." Journal of Biblical Literature. June 1, 1972. 91 (2): 222–231.

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Asking Questions About Scriptural Texts?

Greek (THGNT): Ἡμῖν δὲ ἀπεκάλυψεν ὁ θεὸς διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος· τὸ γὰρ πνεῦμα πάντα ἐραυνᾷ, καὶ τὰ βάθη τοῦ θεοῦ.

1 Corinthians 2:10 (YLT): "but to us did God reveal [them] through His Spirit, for the Spirit all things doth search, even the depths of God"

We're encouraged to meditate (think deeply) when reading the Bible (Psalm 1:1-3). For instance, it's good to ask what a Bible account tells us about Jehovah, how we can apply what we're reading, and also how can we use the material to help others? Moreover, how does the Bible account we're reading help us to appreciate the overall tenor of Scripture?

It's essential to think about the context of what we're reading. Why did the Bible writer pen those words? What point was he trying to make? What is the setting of the Bible book? For example, the Pauline epistles normally address specific issues, questions or problems.

I've included a sample text above, on which one might meditate. In addition to the foregoing questions, things I would ask about this verse include: What is the identity of "us" (to whom does the plural pronoun refer?); to what does the understood "them" refer in the passage? What does it mean for God to reveal something through his Spirit/spirit? In what sense does the spirit search into all things? What is the referent of πάντα? What are the depths or deep things of God? Does the context elucidate these questions?

This is just a brief review of how we might ask questions about Bible texts. We must meditate on Jehovah's Word since his thoughts are deep and multifaceted (Psalm 92:5; Romans 11:33).

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Benjamin Merkle's "Exegetical Gems" (A Discussion)-Part IX-A Few More Thoughts About 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Chapter 11 of Merkle's Exegetical Gems concentrates on Greek adjectives and uses 2 Timothy 3:16 as a case example. The Greek there reads (SBLGNT): πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος πρὸς διδασκαλίαν, πρὸς ἐλεγμόν, πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν, πρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ

How should this verse be rendered?

CSB: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,"

NABRE: "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness"

In the footnote, NABRE supplements the translation by adding: All scripture is inspired by God: this could possibly also be translated, “All scripture inspired by God is useful for….” In this classic reference to inspiration, God is its principal author, with the writer as the human collaborator. Thus the scriptures are the word of God in human language. See also 2 Pt 1:20–21.

Three questions arising from the Greek in 2 Timothy 3:16: How should one treat the adjectives πᾶσα and θεόπνευστος? Do they function attributively or predicatively? Furthermore, what are the possible implications of how one views the adjectives? See Merkle, page 48.

Adjectives normally modify, qualify or describe; in Greek, they "must agree with the nouns" they modify "in gender, case, and number" (Merkle, page 49). The two basic functions of the adjective are the general use and "that which conveys degree."

By "general use" Merkle means that adjectives may function predicatively, attributively, substantivally or adverbially. When a writer employs an adjective predicatively, it is used together with a copula and the article does not directly occur before the adjective
 (See Mark 10:18). So if an article occurs together with an adjective, the latter is not being used predicatively.

Attributive adjectives modify expressed nouns; Merkle describes three familiar adjective-noun constructions before explaining how they differ from one another. For examples of adjectival functions, see 2 Thessalonians 3:3; John 10:11; Romans 1:7; Matthew 6:33.

Chapter 11 of Exegetical Gems makes another distinction concerning adjectival degrees: positive, comparative, superlative, and elative. To see examples of each use, read Revelation 11:8; 1 John 3:20; 1 Corinthians 15:9; 2 Peter 1:4.

Returning to θεόπνευστος, the adjective is not attested in the LXX and appears just once in the NT. While it could be passive (Scripture is "God-breathed") or active (Scripture is "inspiring" or filled with God's breath), most commentators now consider it to be passive (Merkle, page 50). The important consideration for now is whether θεόπνευστος is an attributive or predicate adjective. Merkle reviews both sides, first giving evidence for the attributive view as follows:

1) "All God-breathed [inspired] Scripture is also profitable" is grammatically possible and should be weighed carefully before one discounts the rendering.

2) It usually is the case that πᾶς combined with a noun-adjective is attributive. See 2 Timothy 3:17.

3) "This usage would make πᾶσα γραφή parallel with ἱερὰ γράμματα" in 2 Timothy 3:15. See Merkle, page 51.

Despite these points, he reckons that the bulk of evidence favors the predicative view of θεόπνευστος. Merkle gives three reasons:

1) The attributive view would make καὶ ascensive which doesn't appear to be likely since it apparently joins two adjectives (θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος). See 1 Timothy 4:4 and Wallace (GGBB, pages 313-314).

2) Paul always utilizes γραφὴ to mean Scripture: he is not suggesting that some of the Bible/Tanakh is uninspired/non-theopneustic, a view that would be foreign to the ancients.

3) Adjective-noun-adjective constructions in Greek that appear in equative clauses typically have conjoined predicative and attributive adjectives. Compare Wallace, page 314.

Merkle Concludes:
Thus Paul declares that all of the Bible is sacred Scripture because of its divine source and is therefore profitable. In the original context, “Scripture” (γραφή) refers primarily to the OT but it also possibly includes the oral/written gospel message (cf. 1 Tim. 5:18; see, e.g., Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 568). Most important, Paul indicates that it is the divine nature of Scripture that makes it so beneficial in producing individuals who are spiritually mature. This verse, then, gives Christians confidence that the Bible (God’s inspired word) is the tool through which believers grow and mature in their faith.

In the recent discussion about 2 Tim. 3:16-17, I don't think these points were mentioned. On page 314 in footnote 56 of GGBB, Daniel B. Wallace mentions that some ancient texts omit 
καὶ (non-Greek sources) and if this practice represents the original Greek reading, then θεόπνευστος would "almost surely" be attributive rather than predicative. However, Wallace observes that neither Nestle27 nor Tischendorf "list any Greek MSS omitting the καὶ; they give only [non-Greek] versions and patristic writers."

In footnote 57, Wallace immediately adds that an attributive 
θεόπνευστος would not necessarily mean that all scripture lacks divine inspiration, which is the same point that John Feinberg makes in his book, Light in a Dark Place.

LSJ Entry for θεόπνευστος: 
ον, inspired of God, σοφίη Ps.-Phoc.129; ὄνειροι Plu.2.904f; πᾶσα γραφή 2 Ep.Ti.3.16; δημιούργημα Vett.Val.330.19.

Monday, July 03, 2023

1 Corinthians 15:51 (Observations from Various Sources)

1 Corinthians 15:51 (WH): ἰδοὺ μυστήριον ὑμῖν λέγω· πάντες οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα,

Abbott-Smith Lexicon: ἰδού, [in LXX chiefly for הִנֵּה,] prop. imperat. 2 aor. mid. of ὁράω, used as a demonstrative particle, with frequency much greater in LXX and NT than in cl. (v. M, Pr., 11)

Paul D. Gardner (1 Corinthians, ZECNT Series): 

Paul normally uses the word “mystery” (μυστήριον) of things pertaining to God’s wisdom and his plan of salvation in Christ (2:7; 4:1; cf. Rom 11:25; 16:25; Eph 1:9; 3:3, 4, 9). In fact, generally speaking, the “mystery” is something that has now been revealed in Christ. As was noted in the last verse, Paul saw Christ in his resurrected glory. The mystery revealed is therefore that all who are to inherit the kingdom of God will be changed to be like Christ. What this will be like has been revealed in Christ, who has been seen in this changed condition by all the witnesses established at the start of this chapter. In this specific instance, Paul speaks now of those who will be alive at his coming and of the radical change that will occur for all.
EF: μυστήριον is accusative singular neuter: it refers to data that only God can reveal. Only then is it manifested, revealed or known.

Marcin Kowalski (pages 56-57): The announced μυστήριον, in NT can denote the unmanifested or private counsel of God, his secret thoughts, plans, or that which transcends normal understanding, transcendent/ultimate reality45. Recurring 21 times in Pauline letters, the expression refers to the secret truth, hidden and inaccessible in the past, but now revealed to and through Paul46. Like in 1 Cor 2:7 it refers to the ultimate reality, the lot of the living and carries the argument in the prophetic authority of Apostle initiated in the mysteries of God47. Altogether, the expression resounds as a powerful, hope-giving breakout in the present situation experienced by believers.

C.K. Barrett (The First Epistle to the Corinthians):

Sources Cited in This Blog Entry:

Barrett, C.K. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. London: A & C Black, 1968.

Gardner, Paul. 1 Corinthians. Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018.

Kolwalski, Marcin. " 'We Shall All Be Changed' (1 Cor 15:51c): Transformation of the Living at the Parousia of Christ. An Exegetico-Rhetorical Study of 1 Cor 15:50-57." a w 2011 pracę doktorską.