Thursday, November 30, 2023

Remain Humble and Modest Before Jehovah (Modified Talk)

There is one indispensable quality that all servants of Jehovah need--that is humility. In addition to humility, we also need to be modest or aware of our limitations. King Saul was initially humble and modest, but did he remain that way?

Jehovah picked Saul as the first human king of Israel, yet how did he react to this divine selection? Let's notice Saul's reaction in 1 Samuel 9:21 (read)

Was Saul humble and modest at the outset? Yes, since he referred to his family as insignificant and the smallest tribe in Israel. Saul displayed lowliness of mind, and he was aware of his limitations. 1 Samuel 10:20-22 confirms this point. (read)

When Saul was officially selected, where was he? He was "hiding himself among the luggage." Why did he do this? Saul was humble and modest at first: he did not assume more responsibility despite being chosen by Jehovah through the prophet Samuel. However, did Saul remain humble and modest? He did not but later displayed presumptuous and undue pride. This ancient king is a warning example for us today: he illustrates how we must always work on being humble and modest.

However, as long as Saul relied on Jehovah, he kept a proper estimation of himself. For example, he did not act rashly when others unfairly criticized him. Let's read 1 Samuel 10:27.

Who criticized Saul. The scripture says it was "worthless men." How did Saul react to their unjust criticisms? He refused to answer or respond in kind. 1 Samuel 11:12-13 further illustrates how Saul viewed criticism.

So did Saul take undue criticism to heart? No, he did not, and the reason why is because he was humble and modest. Saul refused to punish Israelites who spoke out against his kingship even though he could have felt justified in defending his God-given position, and when he defeated the Ammonites, to whom did he direct the credit? Saul gave credit to Jehovah. What humility he first displayed.

One other way that Saul showed humility and modesty is mentioned in 1 Samuel 11:5-7 (read)

Saul followed the leadings of Jehovah's spirit. Did you notice the courage he displayed because the spirit of Jehovah empowered Saul and he humbly followed the spirit's leadings? What a good start that Saul had; he should have continued to show humility and modesty.

[picture and discussion]

Humility will help us view our privileges and abilities as gifts from Jehovah. (Romans 12:3, 16; 1Corinthians 4:7) Also, if we are humble, we will continue to rely on Jehovah for guidance.

May we start and then remain humble and modest before Jehovah.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Sketching Infinity: The Makings of a Book?

I may never write a book on infinity, but these are some of my meditations in sketch form:

A Relatively Short History of Infinity (Greek Thought)

1) Etymology and background of the word/concept "infinity" in Greek

intensive infinity

extensive infinity

negative infinity

5) potential infinity

6) actual infinity

7) conceptual problems

an infinite God

9) transfinite math

10) infinite sets

11) an infinite past?

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Scriptures for Encouragement and Support

1) Isaiah 33:24; 35:1-5; 41:10-13; 43:1-7; 59:1.

2)  Psalm 23:1-6; 34:19; 41:1-3; 56:8; 68:19; 145:14, 18; Job 14:13-14.

3) Matthew 11:28-30; Revelation 21:3-5; Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:4-6;

4) 2 Corinthians 1:1-9; 
4:7-10, 16-18; 7:4-7; 12:9-10.

5) Philippians 4:6-9; 1 Chronicles 7:20-22; 1 Peter 5:6-7; James 5:11.

Matthew 6:9-15--Is Calling It the "Model Prayer" Wrong?

Some places on the Internet where Matthew 6:9-15 is called the "model prayer":

Numerous examples here:

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Acts 1:3 and the The Hapax Legomenon, "Infallible Proofs"

Acts 1:3-Greek (NA28): Οἷς καὶ παρέστησεν ἑαυτὸν ζῶντα μετὰ τὸ παθεῖν αὐτὸν ἐν πολλοῖς τεκμηρίοις, δι’ ἡμερῶν τεσσεράκοντα ὀπτανόμενος αὐτοῖς καὶ λέγων τὰ περὶ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ·

Louw-Nida: " 'by many convincing proofs he showed himself alive after his death' Ac. 1:3. In a number of languages 'convincing proof' is rendered as 'that which causes one to know for sure' or 'with certainty' " (Semantic Domain 28.45).

BDAG Greek-English Lexicon: τεκμήριον, ου, τό ⟦tekmḗrion⟧ (Aeschyl., Hdt., Thu.+) that which causes someth. to be known in a convincing and decisive manner, proof (demonstrative proof: Aristot., An. Pr. 70b, 2; Rh. 1357b 4; 1402b 19; Diod S 17, 51, 3 τεκμήρια τῆς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γενέσεως; SIG 867, 37 μέγιστον τεκμήριον w. ref. to Artemis; 685, 84; PGiss 39, 9) ἐν πολλοῖς τεκμηρίοις by many convincing proofs Ac 1:3 (DMealand, ZNW 80, ’89, 134f [Hell. reff.]; cp. Jos., Ant. 5, 39 διὰ πολλῶν τεκμηρίων.— τεκ. used w. παραστῆσαι Jos., Ant. 17, 128. Cp. Libanius, Or. 18, 13 τὸ τῆς φύσεως βασιλικὸν πολλοῖς καὶ μεγάλοις τεκμηρίοις ἐμηνύετο=his regal nature was attested by many exceptional signs).—DELG. M-M.

Herodotus writes:

[2.13.1] "This, too, that the priests told me about Egypt, is a strong proof : when Moeris was king, if the river rose as much as thirteen feet, it watered all of Egypt below Memphis. Moeris had not been dead nine hundred years when I heard this from the priests. But now, if the river does not rise at least twenty-six or twenty-five feet, the land is not flooded."

[The Histories, 2.13.1] ἔλεγον δὲ καὶ τόδε μοι μέγα τεκμήριον περὶ τῆς χώρης ταύτης οἱ ἱρέες, ὡς ἐπὶ Μοίριος βασιλέος, ὅκως ἔλθοι ὁ ποταμὸς ἐπὶ ὀκτὼ πήχεας τὸ ἐλάχιστον, ἄρδεσκε Αἴγυπτον τὴν ἔνερθε Μέμφιος: καὶ Μοίρι οὔκω ἦν ἔτεα εἰνακόσια τετελευτηκότι ὅτε τῶν ἱρέων ταῦτα ἐγὼ ἤκουον. νῦν δὲ εἰ μὴ ἐπ᾽ ἑκκαίδεκα ἢ πεντεκαίδεκα πήχεας ἀναβῇ τὸ ἐλάχιστον ὁ ποταμός, οὐκ ὑπερβαίνει ἐς τὴν χώρην.

Additionally, Sophocles pens these words in one of his plays:

Clytemnestra states:

"No, not in vain; how can you say 'in vain' when you have brought me sure proofs of his death?" (Soph. Electra 774)

Greek: οὔτοι μάτην γε: πῶς γὰρ ἂν μάτην λέγοις, εἴ μοι θανόντος πίστ᾽ ἔχων τεκμήρια

Ralph Earle (Word Meanings in the New Testament, page 97) commenting on Acts 1:3: "Infallible Proofs--This is one word in Greek, tekmeriois--a strong term (only here in the NT). J. R. Lumby says, 'A tekmerion is such an evidence as to remove all doubt.' "

In the final analysis, Earle cites "convincing proofs" (NASB, NIV) as a suitable rendering for tekmeriois.

The Amplified Bible prefers "unquestionable evidence" and another possibility is
"indubitable proof." The word's semantic range allow for this rendering. In the context of Acts 1:3, "unquestionable" or "indubitable" seems to be a good choice. The apostles are being shown signs that will make them suitable witnesses of Christ throughout the earth (Acts 1:8). Surely they would have needed strong proof to be convinced and to persuade others.

Another consideration here is the Classical usage of tekmerion. When consulting LSJ, I found that tekmerion was variously defined as "sure proof" or "strong proof" as well as "evidence." The word seems to have strong connotations of evidence that is undeniable. 

The Cambridge Greek Lexicon: τεκμήριον ου η.

1 sure sign or principle, criterion (for adopting a particular course of action) A.

2 piece of evidence seen or heard, sign, evidence, proof (of sthg.) Hdt. Trag. Men.

3 evidence from facts or logic, evidence, proof (of sthg.)

Hdt. Trag. Th. Ar. Att.orats. +

4 evidence which constitutes proof in a logical argument, necessary sign Arist.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Proverbial Sayings in the Epistles of Paul?

I wrote these thoughts some years ago, but I've since found reason to believe that my question could be answered in the affirmative now. 

This may be an off the wall question, but I've often wondered if the apostle Paul used sayings that were rooted in Roman proverbs or common maxims. After all, we know that everyday proverbs from the ancient world are found in his writings (see 1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Timothy 6:9-10), but when I read classical Latin, there are times when the language reminds me of Paul's letters. E.g., "me miseram" ("wretched woman that I am!"). Compare Romans 7:24 (Vulgate): "infelix ego homo" or "O frustra, inquit, mihi suscepti labores!" which can be translated "O that in vain, he said, my labors have been undertaken." Think of how Paul refers to "toiling in vain."

Monday, November 20, 2023

What's In a Word? Trying to Define An Oft-Used Term

Linguists try to discern what a "word" is. For instance, George Yule thinks that we're probably better off talking about "linguistic forms" or lingual elements rather than words: he suggests that "word" is a slippery concept (See Yule, The Study of Language).

D.A. Black maintains: "The WORD has yet to be given a satisfactory universal definition. People sometimes assume that a word is recognizable because it represents a 'whole thought' or a 'complete thing.' But this view is clearly wrong when one looks at the lack of correspondence between words from different languages."

He then goes on to illustrate this point by referring to the "best-known definition" of "word" that was put forth by Leonard Bloomfield, namely, "a minimal free form." But Black insists that even this definition is not that helpful when we are dealing with non-English languages. He then makes a distinction between the spoken and written word (See his work Linguistics for Students of NT Greek, pp. 57-58).

However one may choose to define "word," when studying Greek, it is good to remember that we want to advance beyond words to sentences, phrases, clauses, paragraphs and whole discourses. In this way, one can begin to get the sense of the words. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

1 Peter 1:8 (Parsing, Syntax and Semantics)

Greek: ὃν οὐκ ἰδόντες ἀγαπᾶτε, εἰς ὃν ἄρτι μὴ ὁρῶντες πιστεύοντες δὲ ἀγαλλιᾶτε χαρᾷ ἀνεκλαλήτῳ καὶ δεδοξασμένῃ,

"Whom having not seen, you love: in whom also now though you see him not, you believe and, believing, shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorified" (1 Peter 1:8 New Advent Translation)

It's an okay translation, but the rendering would be more idiomatic if the NAT constructed the English syntax differently. I believe the translation strives to mirror the original Greek structure/order. Nevertheless, I want to parse some of the words in 1 Peter 1:8 to see what points we can learn from Peter's correspondence with first-century Christians living in Asia Minor.

ὃν οὐκ ἰδόντες ἀγαπᾶτε-We begin with an accusative singular form of the relative pronoun ὅς: translate "Whom" as NAT does or use "him." This pronoun is the direct object of ἀγαπᾶτε and it's apparently the object of the aorist participle (P.J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, page 102): the pronominal term ὃν refers to the Lord Jesus in 1 Peter 1:7.

Contrariwise, I like how the ESV, NWT and other translations add the idea of concession for this part by using "Although" or "Though." That is a good way of handling οὐκ + the aorist active participle. Furthermore, the action delineated by ἰδόντες is likely antecedent to the action delineated by ἀγαπᾶτε.

Why is οὐκ and not μὴ employed with ἰδόντες here? See Achtemeier, page 103. 

Despite not having seen Jesus, these first-century followers of Christ still believed in the Son of God and rejoiced with ineffable joy over their faith in him. In the last part of 1 Peter 1:8, NAT translates "with joy unspeakable and glorified." The Greek is χαρᾷ ἀνεκλαλήτῳ καὶ δεδοξασμένῃ

χαρᾷ is dative singular feminine of χαρά; ἀνεκλαλήτῳ is equally dative singular feminine of ἀνεκλάλητος. Finally, δεδοξασμένῃ is perfect passive participle dative singular feminine of δοξάζω.

ἀνεκλάλητος-"ineffable, unspeakable, inexpressible"

δοξάζω-"glorify, praise, honor" (Mounce)

These Christians could say regarding Jesus, "though we never personally met you, we believe in and love you."


Monday, November 13, 2023

1 Corinthians 15:53 in the NLT

"For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies" (1 Corinthians 15:53 NLT).

This rendering is a stretch in my opinion. The text does not actually say that mortal bodies will be changed to immortal bodies. Rather, mortality itself (a mortal body) is replaced with immortality itself. What immortality means should be ascertained from the context, not read into the passage. Secondly, if Paul said that immortality would be "put on" then how does this proclamation affect the belief in immortal souls? What an interesting biblical chapter.

I'm not denying the Pauline teaching that Christians will undergo a change from humiliated bodies to glorified bodies, which Phil 3:20-21 explicitly states and Corinthians certain indicates. But what terms, syntax or concepts in the text lead us to the NLT translation of 1 Cor 15:53?

Friday, November 10, 2023

Greek Word of the Day: συντάσσω

Greek word of the day: συντάσσω. Some definitions for this word are "to put in order together, to draw up, to put in array" (LSJ).

See Herodotus, "The Histories" 7.78.

BDAG Entry: 
συντάσσω ⟦suntássō⟧ fut. 3sg. συντάξει LXX; 1 aor. συνέταξα, mid. συνεταξάμην (Sus 14 Theod.; Papias [2:16]); pf. συντέταχα Job 38:12. Pass.: 2 aor. ptc. gen. συνταγέντος Da 11:23; pf. 3 sg. συντέτακται LXX (Hdt. et al.; TestSol 22:11 B; TestAbr B 5 p. 109, 19f [Stone p. 66]; Jos., Ant. 3, 213; 7, 305 al.; Just., Tat.) 1 to direct that someth. be done in an explicit fashion, order, direct, prescribe (X., Cyr. 8, 6, 8; Polyb. 3, 50, 9; ins [e.g. IAndrosIsis, Kyme 14 of origins of paths for sun and moon], pap, LXX) τινί ( for) someone (PEdg 10 [=Sb 6716], 2 [258/257 b.c.] Ἀμύντου μοι συντάσσοντος) Mt 21:6 (προστάσσω v.l., cp. 1:24); 26:19; 27:10 (cp. Ex 37:20; 40:19; Num 27:11 al.; RPesch, Eine ATliche Ausführungsformel im Mt, BZ 10, ’66, 220–45). 2 to arrange various parts in an organized manner, organize Ματθαῖος … Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτῳ τὰ λογία συνετάξατο M … . organized the sayings in Hebrew (i.e., some form of Aramaic) Papias (2:16).—M-M.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

The Latin Pluperfect Passive Indicative and the Latin Vulgate

Latin forms the pluperfect passive indicative by compounding the perfect passive participle with the imperfect tense of sum (the "to be" verb). Here are the principal parts of the verb, porto:

porto, portare, portavi, portatus ("carry").

Examples of the pluperfect passive indicative:

1) portatus eram ("I had been carried")-1st person singular
2) portati eramus ("We had been carried")-1st person plural

I've been looking for a scriptural example of the pluperfect passive indicative, and there may be one or more, but I've noticed that the Vulgate tends to translate Greek pluperfects with Latin participles or a form of the perfect. 

If you ever look into Latin pluperfects, it's good to know that some books call them, past perfects.

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Dwell With Them According to Knowledge (1 Peter 3:7)

Greek: Οἱ ἄνδρες ὁμοίως συνοικοῦντες κατὰ γνῶσιν, ὡς ἀσθενεστέρῳ σκεύει τῷ γυναικείῳ ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν, ὡς καὶ συγκληρονόμοις χάριτος ζωῆς, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐγκόπτεσθαι τὰς προσευχὰς ὑμῶν.

ESV: "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."

There are two things in 1 Peter 3:7 that constitute the foci of this blog entry:

1) How is it possible for a Christian husband to dwell with his wife, κατὰ γνῶσιν?

2) What things might "hinder" a husband's prayers?

Craig Keener and other commentators locate this Bible passage within the context of the so-called Haustafeln ("household codes"). In 1 Peter 2:13-25, the apostle gives counsel to slaves, he provides counsel for how Christians should comport themselves in the midst of secular rulers, then one finds guidance for husbands and wives in 1 Peter 3:1-7. See Keener, 1 Peter: A Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021.

But how should one construe the language, Οἱ ἄνδρες ὁμοίως συνοικοῦντες κατὰ γνῶσιν?

Charles Bigg explains the construction this way (The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, 154): " 'According to knowledge,' like wise and sensible men who understand the due gradations of honour. The Pauline sense of γνῶσις, in which it signifies the understanding of spiritual mysteries, is quite foreign to St. Peter. In the following words we observe the same elegant classicism as in i. 19."

Moreover, the Greek qualifies how a husband should live with his wife "according to knowledge," when it adds: ὡς ἀσθενεστέρῳ σκεύει τῷ γυναικείῳ ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν.

From the commentary quoted earlier that's written by Bigg, one learns that Peter apparently encourages husbands to show "consideration, wise guidance, marital helpfulness" (154). It seems that showing honor is part of dwelling with one's wife according to knowledge.

On the other hand, a husband's prayers could be hindered in two fundamental ways: 1) Maybe a man would not feel up to approaching God because of failing to give his wife due honor; 2) God might possibly not want to hear the prayers of a man, who does not show proper consideration for his wife. See Lamentations 3:44.

In the Sacra Pagina commentary by D.P. Senior for Peter's first epistle and some other letters, we read:

"The passive form of the infinitive implies that God is the one who would not hear the prayers of a husband who treats his wife without respect."

The passive infinitive appears in the part that gives the admonition, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐγκόπτεσθαι.