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Friday, December 31, 2010

2 Thess 2:15 εἴτε δι' ἐπιστολὴς ἡμῶν (part 2

2 Thess 2:15 εἴτε δι' ἐπιστολὴς ἡμῶν (part 2)

2 Th. 2:15 Ἄρα οὖν, ἀδελφοί, στήκετε καὶ κρατεῖτε τὰς παραδόσεις ἃς ἐδιδάχθητε εἴτε διὰ λόγου εἴτε δι᾿ ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν.  

Nouns in prepositional phrases can be definite without an article and furthermore nouns with possessives ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν can be definite without an article. Is ἐπιστολῆς marked salient by being anarthrous even when a article isn't required to make it definite? According to  Levinsohn:2000[1] “If an anarthrous substantive has a unique referent and is activated, then its referent is prominent.” So it would appear that the question of definiteness (unique referent) is still with us. In the last post we saw that  ἐπιστολῆς is both discourse old and hearer old but that alone does not decided if ἐπιστολῆς has a unique referent. If it does not have a unique referent then being anarthrous does not mark it as salient according to  Levinsohn:2000[1]. It would appear that Levinsohn and R.Hoyle[2] are not in complete agreement on this and that there are some questions to worked out with both positions. If I am reading Levinsohn correctly (one never knows) then we still need a means of determining if ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν has unique referential identity. In Hoyle[2] you get impression this not important. 

[1] Levinsohn, Stephen H. .Discourse features of New Testament Greek: A coursebook. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics,  2nd Ed 2000,  pp.162-163.

2] Hoyle, Richard A. Scenarios, Discourse, and Translation  ©2008 SIL International, p.154.

2 Thess 2:15 εἴτε δι' ἐπιστολὴς ἡμῶν

A question posted on b-greek from Thursday Dec 30 12:12:55 EST 2010. You can follow this link to see the thread which is worth reading:

[B-Greek] 2 Thess 2:15
Thu Dec 30 12:12:55 EST 2010
“ In his commentary on 2 Thessalonians, W. Marxsen claims that since 2:15 εἴτε δι' ἐπιστολὴς ἡμῶν lacks an article (as in εἴτε δι' τῆς ἐπιστολὴς ἡμῶν) it does not refer back to a specific letter (e.g., to 1 Thessalonians) but is meant in a general sense to refer to any ole letter that he may have written (or not).  If he had wanted to refer to 1 Thessalonians in particular, he would have used the article.  I’m interested in the grammatical question.  What do y’all think?”
Bart  Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman
James A. Gray Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The use of the definite article in Classical and Koine Greek is a complex issue as this thread demonstrates. While I would agree with much of what was said, I would also take a somewhat different approach to the problem. Reading the passage 2nd Thess 2:15 

2 Th. 2:15 Ἄρα οὖν, ἀδελφοί, στήκετε καὶ κρατεῖτε τὰς παραδόσεις ἃς ἐδιδάχθητε εἴτε διὰ λόγου εἴτε δι᾿ ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν.  
Grammatically ἐπιστολῆς is unmarked for definiteness. It can be either definite or indefinite. Analysis of the syntax is not going to give us an answer.

What is the story, the situation, the occasion for these remarks? What sort of scenario[1] is invoked by Paul's use of λόγου and ἐπιστολῆς?

Iver Larsen SIL (Denmark, Africa) was the last post (so far) in this thread, he said: 

It seems to me that both LOGOS and EPISTOLH are here general rather than  focusing on a specific word or a specific letter. It is somewhat similar to Phil  1:20: εἴτε διὰ ζωῆς εἴτε διὰ θανάτου EITE DIA ZWHS EITE DIA QANATOU. The words  are general, life or death, not THE life or THE death. Of course, the context  may well limit the reference to the life or death of a particular person, here  Paul. We need to distinguish between grammar, semantics and reference.

The main point in 2:15 is to "hold on to the the teachings you received from  us", so I would take the genitive pronoun as indicating source. Whether these  teachings came to you through oral or written means does not matter, but it does  matter that they came from "us" as we are the ones with apostolic authority to  teach you.

The LOGOS would refer to when Paul (and other apostles) taught them in person,  and the EPISTOLH to one or more letters. That would include 1 and 2 Thess, but  we don't know if there were more letters. Paul has just warned them in 2:2 that  they should be critical about information whether by word or letter purporting  to come from "us" when in fact they did not. Therefore, the source is important,  not which particular letter or letters of his he was referring to.
Compare 2:2:
μήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε δι᾽ ἐπιστολῆς ὡς δι᾽ ἡμῶν

neither through a word (oral teaching) nor through a letter as if (it was) from  us. 
One of the ways that the recipients could judge whether a particular letter  truly came from Paul was that they could recognize his hand writing. This proof  of authenticity is what he refers to in 3:17:

Ὁ ἀσπασμὸς τῇ ἐμῇ χειρὶ Παύλου, ὅ ἐστιν σημεῖον ἐν πάσῃ ἐπιστολῇ· οὕτως γράφω. hO ASPASMOS THi EMHi CEIRI PAULOU, hO ESTIN SHMEION EN PASHi EPISTOLHi. hOUTWS  GRAFW.

The greeting is by my own hand, from (me) Paul, which is a sign/proof in every  letter (of mine). This is how I write.
Iver Larsen
Following Iver's contribution, I would suggest that the scenario invoked by 2 Thes. 2:2 ήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε δι᾽ ἐπιστολῆς ὡς δι᾽ ἡμῶν is the same or at least a very similar scenario as we find in 2 Thes. 2:15  ἐδιδάχθητε εἴτε διὰ λόγου εἴτε δι᾿ ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν. Paul and his fellow workers have been and still are in communication with the Church at Thessalonica. Letters are sent, words are spoken. Some letters and words are not authentic and Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to stand by what they have been taught from the beginning.

Letters from Paul was a scenario in the cognitive framework of the Thessalonians before it was mentioned the first time in this letter. The Thessalonians are aware of the letter(s) from Paul. The lack of the article with ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν 2 Thes. 2:15 does not indicate hearer new or discourse new information. The previous mention of letters in 2 Thes. 2:2 makes ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν 2 Thes. 2:15 discourse old. Discourse and hearer old information can be indefinite[2]. The fact that we have written you letters, you know this, you have read our letters. So a letter from us isn't introducing something new to hearers or new to the discourse at 2 Thes. 2:15.

Richard A. Hoyle[3] argues that "all anarthrous reference to 'things' identifies them as salient":
6.4. Lack of the article with Hearer-old items marks salience
As stated above, there are clear examples of Discourse-old and other Hearer-old items which are referred to anarthrously. Levinsohn[4] (1992:97) notes this problem:
Throughout the New Testament, nouns whose referents are “known, particular” (Blass, Debrunner, and Funk 1961, sec. 252) are at times preceded by the definite article (i.e. “arthrous”) and at times appear without it (i.e. they are “anarthrous”).
Levinsohn[4] (1992:99) interprets this as due to “salience”:
anarthrous references to particular, known participants either mark the participant as locally salient or highlight the speech which he utters.
I agree with Levinsohn’s basic conclusion, that the absence of the article for a “known, particular” referent (i.e. Hearer-old) shows salience or highlighting. However, I would like to draw a more broad-reaching conclusion, that all arthrous reference to “things” identifies them as Hearer-old, and all anarthrous reference to “things” identifies them as salient. The presence of the article marks Hearer-old and says “this is the same old known particular item, don’t pay special attention to it, as you already know what it is”. The absence of the article marks salience and says “hey, pay attention” or in technical terminology “use extra processing-effort”.
Richard A. Hoyle[3]

So if we follow Hoyle in 2 Th. 2:15 ... εἴτε διὰ λόγου εἴτε δι᾿ ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν both λόγου and ἐπιστολῆς would be marked as salient. I have one little problem with this. According to the traditional grammar framework[5] nouns in prepositional phrases can be definite with out an article and furthermore nouns with possessives ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν are definite without an article. So I would ask Hoyle, is ἐπιστολῆς marked salient by being anarthrous even when a article isn't required to make it definite? I suspect the answer is "no". 


[1]Scenarios, Discourse, and Translation
The scenario theory of Cognitive Linguistics,
its relevance for analysing New Testament Greek
and modern Parkari texts,
and its implications for translation theory
Richard A. Hoyle
©2008 SIL International
Library of Congress Catalog Number: 2008936127
ISBN: 9781556712234
ISSN: 1934-2470

[2] ibid, p. 142 

[3] ibid, p.154

[4] Levinsohn, Stephen H. 1992. Discourse features of New Testament Greek: A coursebook. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

[5] from the b-greek thread, a post by Ken M. Penner, Ph.D.
I have always taught that the article may be dropped in a prepositional phrase.

Robertson's Grammar XVI.VIII(c) (page 791) has the following under "The Absence of the Article."

"(c) PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES.  These were also often considered definite enough without the article. So ἐν οἴκῳ (1 Cor. 11:34. Cf. ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ, ‘in the house,’ Jo. 11:20)=‘at home.’ So we say “go to bed,” etc. Moulton pertinently cites English “down town,” “on ’change,” “in bed,” “from start to finish.” This idiom is not therefore peculiar to Greek. It is hardly necessary to mention all the N. T. examples, so common is the matter."
"For διά note διά νυκτός (Ac. 5:19), διὰ μέσου (Lu. 4:30), διὰ μέσον (17:11)."
"For classic examples see Gildersleeve, Syntax, p. 259 f. The papyri furnish abundant parallels (Völker, Syntax, pp. 15–17) as do the inscriptions (Radermacher, N. T. Gr., p. 92)."

The next section continues:

"(d) WITH BOTH PREPOSITION AND GENITIVE.  It is not surprising to find no article with phrases which use both preposition and genitive like εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ (Ro. 1:1), ἀπὸ ὀφθαλμῶν σου (Lu. 19:42), ἐκ δεξιῶν μου (Mt. 20:23), ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κόσμου (Mt. 24:21), παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας (Heb. 11:11), ἐν καιρῷ πειρασμοῦ (Lu. 8:13), ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου (Mt. 25:34), ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ (Lu. 1:51), etc."

I hope this helps,

Ken M. Penner, Ph.D.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Electra: blood vengeance, an old curse, an unbroken chain of slaughter

At the consummation of the plot in Sophocles Electra (lines 1417-21) we have a grim picture of an ancient pagan worldview. Clytemnestra is dead or dying,  Electra wants Aegisthus to be next in line, the Chorus responds:

Sophocles Electra 1417-21
{ΧΟ.} Τελοῦσ' ἀραί· ζῶσιν οἱ γᾶς ὑπαὶ κείμενοι·
παλίρρυτον γὰρ αἷμ' ὑπεξαιροῦσι τῶν
κτανόντων οἱ πάλαι θανόντες.

The curse is complete. Τελοῦσ' ἀραί
The dead,
laid out under earth are alive:  ζῶσιν … κείμενοι
Those long dead
are draining the blood of retribution.  παλίρρυτον … θανόντες.

Sounds contemporary doesn’t it? We have the undead, sucking blood out of the living from their dwelling place below, under the earth. We have a chain of bloodshed; death to avenge death. We have an old curse being fulfilled. Not sure what curse is in view here. Clytemnestra took revenge on Agamemnon, if you accept her story, because Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to appease Artemis so he could have favorable winds for launching an armada against Troy where his armies will spend ten years dying to conquer Troy only to be wasted away on their homeward journey. Electra and Orestes are avenging the murder of their father Agamemnon by murdering their mother Clytemnestra and her consort, Aegisthus.  The curse is behind all of this somewhere. There was a curse against the house of Atreus which may be the curse in view here. Atreus taking revenge on Thyestes for stealing his bride hacked up Thyestes' children and served them to him in a stew which became the the grounds for a curse against the house of Atreus.

Postscript: Such a lovely plot. Sounds so much like Hollywood. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cognitive Frames: reading the biblical text

"Cognitive frames create contexts for interpretation"[1]. Natural language is ambiguous. If you have a bible study application on your computer, iPad or iPhone, you probably can pull up a window with several different translations side by side. What you see there is often a source of consternation to bible students. If you don't believe this, look at a few threads in one of the myriad bible study forums. You will find endless discussions of differences between modern translations.

There is a myth running around that learning the original languages makes all of this confusion go away. Ambiguity is a feature of natural language. Ambiguity is one reason[2] for the divergence between the translations of the bible. Assuming that you attain a professional level of competence in the original languages, will that alone lead to greater level of confidence or certainty about the meaning of a particularly difficult text? To answer this question check out[3] a critical commentary written for scholars on your favorite book of the bible and pick out a particularly difficult passage (a.k.a "crux interpretum" or just "crux") and read the discussion of all the problems associated with understanding the meaning of the passage. Has the author of commentary reached a greater level of certainty about the meaning of the text than you had looking at twelve different versions in you bible study app? I will let you decide.

Sometimes when I read posts on apologetics blogs I get the feeling that the defender of the faith is demonstrating an unwarranted level of confidence in her reading the proof text she is using to defend her position on the trinity, intelligent design or whatever. The framework you bring with you to the reading of the text determines to a great extent what you will see in the text. This isn't bad, it is just the way language works. The old modern myth of "objectivity" is dead or dying even though there are hundreds of millions of people who seem to still believe it.

When I read some book or blog proposing some reading of a biblical text, the first thing I want to know is what sort of framework the author is coming from. To some extent this can be ferreted out by close attention to the author's text. But with 10-20mbit broadband at my fingertips I usually do a little research. Just to give you an example, back in the old days, before I had broadband, I used to haunt the used book stores for bargains on anything to do with biblical studies or linguistics. There was a period of several years when Eerdmans was remaindering academic books and you could pick them up at 75-90% off list. I purchased six titles by James D. G. Dunn for less than than the price of one book retail. When I started reading these I was somewhat perplexed at Dunn's treatment of christology in the early church. The problem was I could not find a known category that his point of view fit into. This reminded me of a story my late friend and former colleague Dave Hastings told me about a class he took at Denver Seminary where the professor assigned reading in christology by authors which were from Germany and Scandinavia. The point the exercise was to force the student to confront a interpretive framework they were totally unfamiliar with.

For about ten years I just more or less ignored my books by James D. G. Dunn. I actually tried to give them away but without success. I would pull one out now and then and read it and put it back and move on. During that era Jeffrey B. Gibson of Corpus Pauline, SBL, etc. had a colloquium with J. D. G. Dunn which I was invited to attend (online). It was interesting, this was before blogging so talking to a big name scholar was something special. However, it didn't improve my comprehension or appreciation for Dunn.

Now, years later, I have been reading Larry Hurtado and Richard Bauckham for quite a while and James Dunn has begun to come into focus. It took Bauckham and Hurtado to create a framework for understanding Dunn. I still don't agree with James Dunn but I think there is more understanding and appreciation of what has been doing for forty years or more.        

Well, this has kind of wander off the subject of Cognitive Frames: reading the biblical text. Perhaps I will pick up on that another day.

[1] a quote from Tom Smith's blog which I didn't read. You can find it by searching on the statement in quotes.

[2] A few of the other reasons include target audience; social, religious, cultural framework of the translator ... and so forth.

[3] A lot of these books are available online through Google Books. You can read select portions of them.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Revelation 22:12 who is speaking?

Rev. 22:12 Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ, καὶ ὁ μισθός μου μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἀποδοῦναι ἑκάστῳ ὡς τὸ ἔργον ἐστὶν αὐτοῦ.  13 ἐγὼ τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ, ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος, ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος.

This chapter Revelation presents a number of difficulties which can be generally characterized as a lack of textual cohesion. For example, there are several different speakers and the change in voice is frequently not identified. R. H. Charles[1] attempts to solve the problem by reconstructing the text and there have be a number of other proposals for understanding the structure[2].

Leaving the text as it has come down to us, we are presented with the problem of identifying who is speaking in Rev. 22:12. ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ, in the first person, is jarring and abrupt and appears to introduce a a change in voice[3]. The voice in Rev. 22:8 is John Κἀγὼ Ἰωάννης ὁ ἀκούων καὶ βλέπων ... in Rev. 22:9 we hear the voice of τοῦ ἀγγέλου. This is perhaps one of the bowl angels but it really doesn't matter. An attendant angel is a standard participant in Jewish apocalypse. John the seer has a personal "tour guide" for his visions. At this point John falls down in attitude of worship which the "tour guide" bluntly refuses. This refusal of worship is a key to identity of the angel. The angel cannot be Jesus Christ, because the Lamb is an object of worship throughout the vision, starting with Rev. 5:9ff.

In Rev. 22:10 Καὶ λέγει μοι· μὴ σφραγίσῃς τοὺς λόγους  it appears that the angel is still speaking here. In narrative, the typical pattern for encoding participant reference is a full noun phrase at the introduction of a participant and then to reduce the level of encoding to a pronoun or verb inflection. A voice which is reintroduced after someone else speaks may also need full encoding to avoid ambiguity.  Here we have verb inflection only λέγει. Under normal circumstances this would lead us to conclude that there has been no change in voice but John the seer doesn't follow these rules. It has been suggested that there may be a liturgical structure here with different voices answering one another[2]. Therefore, we cannot be absolutely certain who is speaking in Rev. 22:10. It could be the attendant angel, a.k.a, "tour guide" or the glorified Christ who is most probably the voice in Rev. 22:7 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ.

In Rev. 22:7 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ we encounter once again the question who is speaking. The only other active voices are John the seer and the angel. It doesn't make any sense for these words to be put in the mouth of John, perhaps the angel but that also seems unlikely. There are no other voices. The suggestion[4] that ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ could be spoken by ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς YHWH  ignores the fact that there are no speech acts recorded here for YHWH. Reported speech by YHWH is very rare in Revelation[5].  YHWH is not an active participant in the narrative structure. So to introduce direct speech would be abrupt and unusual but not impossible. A biblical text linguist might suggest that ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς  has the status of a global VIP (very important participant) in the Apocalypse and for that reason doesn't need to be introduced in the narrative as a speaker. A speech act by ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς without introduction in the Apocalypse is always possible but to reduce ambiguity identifying ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς as a speaker would be expected because such speech acts are rare.  As have seen already, John the seer doesn't always do this. It could also be argued ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς is not really a participant in the narrative and the patterns for participant reference do not apply to deities unless they are direct agents in the story. That fact that ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς is mentioned in the previous context[4] does not in and of itself make ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς a likely agent in a speech act. Being the subject of propositional content does not make one an active speaking participant.

If we understand the voice in Rev. 22:7 as the glorified Christ, then we have a block of verses all in one voice. If we read it as the voice of the angel, then we have an abrupt change of voice in Rev. 22:12. There are several reason why ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ cannot be the voice of the angel. In apocalyptic the role of the angel is define as a "tour guide". The "tour guide" doesn't predict his future advent, it is out of character. Furthermore, in our text, the coming one is clearly identified in Rev. 22:20 Λέγει ὁ μαρτυρῶν ταῦτα· ναί, ἔρχομαι ταχύ. Ἀμήν, ἔρχου κύριε Ἰησοῦ.

[1] R. H. Charles, Revelation ICC, v.2,pp. 211-222.
[2] David E. Aune,  Revelation v.3  WBC, pp. 1201-1208.
[3] voice is used here for to mean "the one who is speaking", not gramatical voice.
[4] David Barron, God in Christ, pp. 111-113.  

[5] Speech from ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς YHWH HaShem in Revelation:

Rev. 1:8 Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ, λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, ὁ παντοκράτωρ. 
Rev. 21:5 Καὶ εἶπεν ὁ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τῷ θρόνῳ· ἰδοὺ καινὰ ποιῶ πάντα καὶ λέγει· γράψον, ὅτι οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι πιστοὶ καὶ ἀληθινοί εἰσιν.

Friday, December 24, 2010

YHWH, Jesus Christ and the “divine identity” in Revelation 22:12-13.

YHWH,  Jesus Christ and the “divine identity”  in Revelation 22:12-13.

Rev 1:8 Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ, λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, ὁ παντοκράτωρ.

Rev. 21:5 Καὶ εἶπεν ὁ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τῷ θρόνῳ· ἰδοὺ καινὰ ποιῶ πάντα καὶ λέγει· γράψον, ὅτι οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι πιστοὶ καὶ ἀληθινοί εἰσιν.  6 καὶ εἶπέν μοι· γέγοναν. ἐγώ [εἰμι] τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ, ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος. ἐγὼ τῷ διψῶντι δώσω ἐκ τῆς πηγῆς τοῦ ὕδατος τῆς ζωῆς δωρεάν.

Identifying who is speaking in is a challenge in Revelation, particularly the last two chapters. In Rev 21:5-6 here we see YHWH as the agent of a verb of speech (cf. Rev 1:8) but there appears to be more than one voice indicated by repetition of the verb  εἶπεν … λέγει … εἶπέν. The first proclamation ἰδοὺ καινὰ ποιῶ πάντα is spoken by ὁ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τῷ θρόνῳ but the command to write following λέγει probably comes from the attendant ἄγγελος with the voice switching back to ὁ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τῷ θρόνῳ following the third verb εἶπέν. One is tempted to see verb aspect used here to identify the who speaking, the aorist εἶπέν for the voice from the throne and the present λέγει for the ἄγγελος. Another indicator of who is speaking is the nature of the content. Some words can only be spoken by YHWH in the first person. Other words, like the command to write this down are more likely to come from an attendant ἄγγελος. The words of YHWH can be put in first person in reported speech by the prophet; which is probably what we see in Rev 1:8 where λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός identifies the source of the proclamation but the speaker is the prophet. If we read the vision portion of Revelation as a narrative told by the prophet then the problem is to identify the speakers within that narrative. John does not always make this perfectly clear as we can see in chapter 22.

   Rev. 22:8 Κἀγὼ Ἰωάννης ὁ ἀκούων καὶ βλέπων ταῦτα. καὶ ὅτε ἤκουσα καὶ ἔβλεψα, ἔπεσα προσκυνῆσαι ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ποδῶν τοῦ ἀγγέλου τοῦ δεικνύοντός μοι ταῦτα.  9 καὶ λέγει μοι· ὅρα μή· σύνδουλός σού εἰμι καὶ τῶν ἀδελφῶν σου τῶν προφητῶν καὶ τῶν τηρούντων τοὺς λόγους τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου· τῷ θεῷ προσκύνησον.  10 Καὶ λέγει μοι· μὴ σφραγίσῃς τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου, ὁ καιρὸς γὰρ ἐγγύς ἐστιν.  11 ὁ ἀδικῶν ἀδικησάτω ἔτι καὶ ὁ ῥυπαρὸς ῥυπανθήτω ἔτι, καὶ ὁ δίκαιος δικαιοσύνην ποιησάτω ἔτι καὶ ὁ ἅγιος ἁγιασθήτω ἔτι.  12 Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ, καὶ ὁ μισθός μου μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἀποδοῦναι ἑκάστῳ ὡς τὸ ἔργον ἐστὶν αὐτοῦ.  13 ἐγὼ τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ, ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος, ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος.  14 Μακάριοι οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν, ἵνα ἔσται ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον τῆς ζωῆς καὶ τοῖς πυλῶσιν εἰσέλθωσιν εἰς τὴν πόλιν.  15 ἔξω οἱ κύνες καὶ οἱ φάρμακοι καὶ οἱ πόρνοι καὶ οἱ φονεῖς καὶ οἱ εἰδωλολάτραι καὶ πᾶς φιλῶν καὶ ποιῶν ψεῦδος.  16 Ἐγὼ Ἰησοῦς ἔπεμψα τὸν ἄγγελόν μου μαρτυρῆσαι ὑμῖν ταῦτα ἐπὶ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις. ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ῥίζα καὶ τὸ γένος Δαυίδ, ὁ ἀστὴρ ὁ λαμπρὸς ὁ πρωϊνός.

In Rev 22:8 John identifies himself as the one who heard and saw these things. Then he falls down in homage at feet of τοῦ ἀγγέλου who rebukes him and gives him more instructions through the end of verse eleven. Verse 12a presents us with a saying Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ that is not appropriate on the lips of τοῦ ἀγγέλου. There is no other indication that the speaker has changed other than the content. We know from the end of the chapter that only Jesus Christ can say Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ. The change in speaker may come earlier than verse 12a but certainly not later.

In Rev 22:13 we are once again presented with the question, who is speaking? The first part of the three fold formula ἐγὼ τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ is found in Rev 1:8 attributed to YHWH κύριος ὁ θεός  and in 21:6 the first part τὸ ἄλφα … and the third part ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος are spoken by the One Sitting on the Throne.  The second part ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος are spoken by Jesus Christ in Rev 1:17, 2:8. Therefore, the tree fold formula of Rev 22:13 combines content from speech acts attributed to both YHWH κύριος ὁ θεός who is  ὁ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τῷ θρόνῳ and Jesus Christ. Keeping in mind the change in voice at 22:12 without any signal other than the content of what is spoken, what is the best way of understanding the voice(s) in Rev 22:12ff? Should we assume that Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ introduces a series of says by Jesus Christ? That is the position of most commentators but Henry Alford has doubts that that John would have even the glorified Jesus Christ say ἐγὼ τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ which is bound together in Rev 1:8 with the exegesis of the divine name ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος. I can understand Alford’s reservations about this, it has nothing to do with Alford’s christology. On the other hand, following Richard Bauckham’s thinking about Jesus Christ sharing the “divine identity” with YHWH κύριος ὁ θεός, it seems to me that this duel use of the formula’s ἐγὼ τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ and  ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος would be a very effective way demonstrating the shared “divine identity” between The Father and The Son.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jesus Christ and Creation — Apocalypse of John 3:14, part four

Continuing work on Christology, I am in the process of collecting texts that might shed some light on the use of ἡ ἀρχὴ in Rev. 3:14 ….  ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ· Take a look at this passage from Philo where ἀρχὴ is apparently an epithet or a name of the τὸν πρωτόγονον αὐτοῦ λόγον.

Philo is in my admittedly uninformed opinion the "father of confusion" for which reason I have never expended the time and energy it would take to seriously interact with his system of thought. Just dragging home from the library the volumes of Philo from the Loeb Classical Library is enough to make you not want even get started looking at his works. However, I somewhat suspicious of R. Bauckham's waving off Philo[3] as one of several special cases which other scholars use in promoting the notion of a "single grand vizier or plenipotentiary of God" in Second Temple Judaism. I think that special cases which cause problems for our proposed reconstruction of Second Temple Judaism are exactly what we should look at with great care to avoid oversimplification. 

R. Bauckham shares with other authors in his field the habit of giving long lists of citations which are supposed to support his case at some point without presenting the text so we can look at it. The actual quotations of primary sources are few and far between. The trouble it takes to look up all the citations is daunting even with computerized texts. This makes it very difficult to evaluate the quality of the argument.      

Philo Judaeus Phil., De confusione linguarum 146 [1]

κἂν μηδέπω μέντοι τυγχάνῃ τις ἀξιόχρεως ὢν υἱὸς θεοῦ προσαγορεύεσθαι, σπουδαζέτω κοσμεῖσθαι κατὰ τὸν πρωτόγονον αὐτοῦ λόγον, τὸν ἀγγέλων πρεσβύτατον, ὡς ἂν ἀρχάγγελον, πολυώνυμον ὑπάρχοντα· καὶ γὰρ ἀρχὴ καὶ ὄνομα θεοῦ καὶ λόγος καὶ ὁ κατ' εἰκόνα ἄνθρωπος καὶ ὁ ὁρῶν, Ἰσραήλ, προσαγορεύεται.

(146) And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel. [2]

Rev. 3:14 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ·

Col. 1:15 ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως,  16 ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα, εἴτε θρόνοι εἴτε κυριότητες εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι· τὰ πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται·  17 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν,  18 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων,  19 ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι  20 καὶ δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν, εἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ, [δι᾿ αὐτοῦ] εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς εἴτε τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

[1] Philo Judaeus Phil., De confusione linguarum (0018: 013)
“Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt, vol. 2”, Ed. Wendland, P.
Berlin: Reimer, 1897, Repr. 1962.
Section 146 

[2] The Works of Philo,   C. D. Yonge

[3] R. Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, p.160

Sunday, December 19, 2010

worship & christology L. W. Hurtado

Along with my recent study of Richard Bauckham's work on the early Christianity I have also been reading Larry W. Hurtado works on early devotion to Jesus Christ. A couple of days ago he posted an essay on his blog which you will find here. Here is quote from page 6-7.

... the exalted claims and the unprecedented devotional practices that reflect a treatment of Jesus as somehow sharing divine attributes and status began among Jewish believers and within the earliest moments of the young Christian movement. This astonishing Jesus-devotion was not the product of an incremental influence of the larger pagan religious environment or the growing influx of Gentile believers in the latter decades of the first century CE.[1]

[1] EARLY DEVOTION TO JESUS: A REPORT, REFLECTIONS AND IMPLICATIONS L. W. Hurtado, University of Edinburgh  Expository Times 122/4 (2010): 167-76.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jesus Christ and Creation — Apocalypse of John 3:14, part three

b-greek discussion in 2001 includes a post from  James D. Ernest, Ph.D. an early church historian and editor for Baker Academic. J. Ernest give's an on the fly translation of Didymus, Commentarii in Zacchariam 1.153-154. I found his comments quite helpful so I though it would be good to post the text of Didymus along with his provisional translation and comments.

         Καὶ παράδοξον οὐδὲν εἰ
παντοκράτωρ ἐκ παντοκράτορός ἐστιν· καὶ γὰρ Θεὸς ἐκ Θεοῦ
καὶ φῶς ἐκ φωτός ἐστιν. Ὁμοούσιος γὰρ ὢν τῷ γεννήσαντι καὶ
ἓν ὢν πρὸς τὸν γεννήσαντα κατὰ τό· «Ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἕν
ἐσμεν», πάντα ὅσ̣α ἔχει ὁ Πατὴρ τοῦ Υἱοῦ ἐστιν. Ἔχει δ' ὁ
Πατὴρ τὸ Θεός, τὸ φῶς, τὸ ἅγιος, [τ]ὸ παντοκράτωρ εἶναι. Τοῦ 
Υἱοῦ δ' ἐστὶν ταῦτα. Παντοκράτωρ ἄρα ἐκ παντοκράτορος ὁ Υἱός,
παμβασιλεὺς ἐκ τοῦ πάντων βασιλεύοντος ὑπάρχων. Ἀναντιρ-
ρήτως ἐν Ἰωάννου Ἀποκαλύψει παντοκράτωρ ὁ Σωτὴρ ὁμολο-
γεῖται, αὐτοῦ περὶ ἑαυτοῦ οὕτω λέγοντος· «Τάδε λέγει ὁ μάρτυς
ὁ πιστός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ
ἐρχόμενος, Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ.»
τωρ ὢν ὁ ταῦτα λέγων οὐ κτίσμα τυγχάνει, ἵνα μὴ καὶ ἑαυτοῦ
κρατῇ. Παράλογον γὰρ τοῦτο, τὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι κτίζοντα καὶ κτι-
ζόμενον ὑφ' ἑαυτοῦ, καὶ βασιλεύοντα καὶ κρατούμενον· εἰ καὶ
λέγεται δὲ ἐν τῇ παραλημφθείσῃ φωνῇ «ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ
Θεοῦ» ὁ θεολογούμενος, ὡς βασιλικῶς ἄρχων καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο
παντοκράτωρ ὤν, ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεώς ἐστιν, βασιλεία δηλονότι
[ἡ]γεμονοῦσα καὶ ἡγουμένη πάντων κτισμάτων.

Commentary and translation by James D. Ernest:

I don't remember Rev 3:14 coming up in Athanasian texts I've read from the Arian controversy, where Prov 8:22 κύριος ἔκτισέν με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ was much belabored because it seems to say quite explicitly that God created Wisdom (the speaker in this verse, identified by Arians and anti-Arians alike with the Word, i.e., the pre-incarnate Christ).

But the Rev text at least had the potential to be so interpreted.  See Didymus, Commentarii in Zacchariam 1.153-154.  I'm not familiar with this commentary and don't have time to dig too much in it now--just popped it up in the TLG search.  But Didymus (a stoutly anti-Arian fourth-century biblical scholar at Alexandria) seems to be tracking the phrase kyrios pantokratwr in Zech 2:13.  He quotes the Rev text and seems to be worried about an Arian construal of it.  He says (pardon the sloppy on-the-fly translation-cum-transliteration):  "And it is not strange (paradoxon) if he is pantokratwr ek pantokratoros; for he is also God from God and light from light.  For being homoousios with the begetter and being one with the begetter (hen wn pros ton gennesanta), according to the [verse that says] I and the father are one, whatever things the father has belong to the son. For it belongs to the father to be light, holy, [and] pantokratwr.  And these things belong to the son.  So then the son is pantokratwr ek pantokratoros, being pambasileus from the one who rules over all things. Without contradiction (anantirrhetws) in the Revelation of John the son is Savior is confessed to be pantokratwr, himself saying about himself, "These things says the faithful witness, the arche of the creation of God, the one who is and was and is to come, the Lord God pantokratwr."  Being pantokratwr, the one who says these things is not created (ou ktisma), lest he rule also over himself.  For that would be strange (paralogon), for the same one to be creating and being created by himself, and reigning and being ruled.  Even if the sacred writer says in the text that has been handed down to us "arche of the creation of God", he is the arche of creation as ruling royally (hws basikikwv archwn), a reign (basileia)that has precedence (hegemonousa kai hegoumene) over all created things."

--The good old days, when the best exegetes could also be counted on to be careful theologians!  But maybe that's still the case, no?

I will probably have more to say about this in a later post.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Monotheism & the text of Deut. 32:8 MT & 4QDeut. Part two

 In  Deut. 23:8 4QDeut do YHWH  and Elyon ‏עליון ὁ ὕψιστος The Most High refer to two different deities? The literature on this question is voluminous and much of it highly technical. R. Bauckham's[1] treatment is relatively accessible. He finds it inconceivable that in Deuteronomy, where  YHWH is portrayed repeatedly as the only true God, we would find a reference to Elyon ‏עליון ὁ ὕψιστος The Most High as a distinct deity or even the father of YHWH. He cites from the immediate context to demonstrate: 

Deut. 32:39 ἴδετε ἴδετε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι
καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν θεὸς πλὴν ἐμοῦ
ἐγὼ ἀποκτενῶ καὶ ζῆν ποιήσω
πατάξω κἀγὼ ἰάσομαι
καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ὃς ἐξελεῖται ἐκ τῶν χειρῶν μου

Deut. 32:39      ¶ See now that I, even I, am he;
        there is no god beside me.
    I kill and I make alive;
        I wound and I heal;
        and no one can deliver from my hand.
Michael Heiser[3] in a more technical paper demonstrates the fallacies in the arguments for two separate deities. The article for Elyon in the DDD[4] considers the evidence for Elyon with reference to a separate deity in the OT as ambiguous but the use of Elyon as an epithet of YHWH is not. The evidence for Elyon as an epithet outside the OT is widespread.

Both Heiser and Bauckham are concerned with more than just resolving the referent of Elyon ‏עליון ὁ ὕψιστος in Deut. 32:8. The academic consensus which imposes an evolutionary framework on the history of monotheism in Israel is the primary target. Heiser[5] and Bauckham[6] demonstrate how this interpretive framework functions to control exegesis and how it distorts the evidence. On page one of his introduction Heiser states:

The polytheistic nature of pre-exilic Israelite religion and Israel’s gradual evolution toward monotheism are taken as axiomatic in current biblical scholarship. ...  Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and Psalm 82 are put forth as rhetorical evidence of this redactional strategy and assumed religious evolution. The argument is put forth that these texts suggest Yahweh was at one time a junior member of the pantheon under El the Most High, but that he has now taken control as king of the gods.
Bauckham and Heiser both point out that this interpretive framework is assumed prior to looking at the evidence. The evidence is filtered and structured according to a grand scheme of evolutionary religious development culminating in strict monotheism at late date. Heiser and Bauckham refer to Mark S. Smith[7] as a representative of this school of thought.  

... Deut 32:8-9, preserves the outlines of the older theology it is rejecting. From the perspective of this older theology, Yahweh did not belong to the top tier of the pantheon. [7]
This interpretive framework controls the reading of the text.  Bauckham and Heiser, using somewhat different strategies, have both set out to demonstrate that a hermeneutic which assumes Israel’s gradual evolution toward monotheism from a earlier polytheism is a closed system, a broadly circular argument and that it distorts the reading of the biblical text.  

[1] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, pp. 112.

[3]Michael Heiser, Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities in Deut. 32:8-9 and Psalm 82? October 3, 2006.  Also found here.

[4] E. E. Elnes and Patrick D. Miller, "Elyon," in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd rev. ed. (Leiden: E. J. Brill / Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999),

[5] Heiser, page 1

[6] Bauckhamh,  pp. 60-106.

[7] Mark S. Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts (OUP, 2001), 49. cited in Heiser:2006 p. 1

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monotheism & the text of Deut. 32:8 MT & 4QDeut.

Deuteronomy Deut. 32:8-9 has been caught up in recent discussions of ancient Jewish (Hebrew) monotheism. Central to this discussion is the textual history of passage as evidenced in the Masoretic Text (MT), Septuagint (LXX), and Qumran fragment 4QDeutj. The modern English translations reflect this textual variation.

Deut. 32:8-9  When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. 9 For the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage. — RSV

Deut. 32:8d ... according to the number of the sons of God. — RSV

Deut. 32:8d ... according to the number of the gods; — NRSV

Deut. 32:8d  ... According to the number of the sons of Israel. — NASB 1971

Deut. 32:8d ... According to the number of the angels of God — LXX Charles Thomson

Deut. 32:8 When the Most High was apportioning nations, as he scattered Adam’s sons, he fixed boundaries of nations according to the number of divine sons, — LXX NETS tr. Melvin K. H. Peters

Note the variations at the end of Deut. 32:8. The NASB 1971 follows the Masoretic Text (MT) ‏בני ישראל. The majority of Septuagint (LXX) manuscripts read ἀγγέλων θεοῦ which Charles Thomson translated directly. Two LXX manuscripts 848 and 106c read υἱοῖς θεοῦ which appears to agree with the tradition found in Qumran fragment 4QDeutj which reads ‏בני אל[הים where the text is broken after lamed. The possible readings include Beni El, Beni Elohim and Beni Elim. 

E. Tov [1] suggests that the MT reading reflects a theologically motivated revision of the an earlier text form preserved by 4QDeutj. The precise form of that early text is uncertain since the text  ‏בני אל]הים is broken after lamed and the LXX readings are not useful since θεοῦ serves as an LXX translation equivalent for El, Elohim and Elim. John F. Hobbins posted on this text a while back:  

Most scholars agree that the masoretic text of Deuteronomy 32:8 reflects a theological revision of a more original text reflected in 4QDeutj and the Septuagint. Biblia Hebraica Quinta 5 and the Oxford Hebrew Bible sample edition concur on this point, but differ on details.
— John F. Hobbins ancienthebrewpoetry
The idea that the text of Deuteronomy might have been revised to reflect concerns about monotheism might sound threatening to some people. There is however a perfectly normal literary process involved. A number of the poetic portions of the Hebrew bible appear to be poems appropriated[2] from cultures of the Ancient Near East (ANE) external to and often more ancient than biblical Israel. These poems reflect the polytheism and mythology of the pagan cultures of their origin. The process of appropriating these texts is not instantaneous. Some texts are just borrowed without revision and continue to reflect their origin in the MT. Other texts are "cleaned up" over time to make them more compatible with Jewish Monotheism. In Deuteronomy 32:8-9 according to R. Bauckham[3], both the MT and the 4QDeutj readings "were evidently extant in the Second Temple period", but no early support is provided for the MT reading.

If we adopt the 4QDeutj reading:
"... there two possible ways of reading the text. On one reading, the Most High apportions the nations to his sons ('the sons of God' in 4QDeutj), of whom YHWH is one. According to the other reading, the Most High and YHWH are the same. In his exercise of universal sovereignty over the nations (as the Most High), he allocates them to the heavenly beings of his entourage ('the sons of God' in 4QDeutj ), but reserves Israel for his on direct rule (as YHWH the covenant God of Israel)."  — R. Bauckham[3]     
Should we consider the first reading a viable option, where YHWH  and ‏עליון ὁ ὕψιστος The Most High refer to two different deities?  We will take a look at that question in the next post.

 [1] Emanuel Tov, Textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible, Fortress Press, Minneapolis 2001, page 269-270.

[2] On a somewhat tangential topic, the appropriation of human speech for divine use, see: Nicholas Wolterstorff, Divine discourse: philosophical reflections on the claim that God speaks, OUP 1995.

[3] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, p112.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jesus Christ and Creation — Ist Corinthians 8:6

 Richard Bauckham[1] argues that Paul's statements in 1 Cor. 8:6 are a development of the Shema to include Jesus in the "divine identity" and as an agent in the Creation of God. The Shema is found in Deut. 6:4-5
Deut. 6:4 καὶ ταῦτα τὰ δικαιώματα καὶ τὰ κρίματα ὅσα ἐνετείλατο κύριος τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἐξελθόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου ἄκουε Ισραηλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν  5 καὶ ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς δυνάμεώς σου
Deut. 6:4 And these are the statutes and the judgments, which the Lord commanded to the sons of Israel in the wilderness as they were coming out from the land of Egypt. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. 5 And you shall love the Lord your God with the whole of your mind and with the whole of your soul and with the whole of your power.
 — NETS tr. Melvin K. H. Peters
 1Cor. 8:5 καὶ γὰρ εἴπερ εἰσὶν λεγόμενοι θεοὶ εἴτε ἐν οὐρανῷ εἴτε ἐπὶ γῆς, ὥσπερ εἰσὶν θεοὶ πολλοὶ καὶ κύριοι πολλοί,  6 ἀλλ᾿ ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς ὁ πατὴρ ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν, καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς δι᾿ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς δι᾿ αὐτοῦ.
The critical portion for Paul's development is Deut: 6:4c ἄκουε Ισραηλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν. Paul first gives the pagan world view in 1Cor. 8:5, many gods and many lords and sets that in contrast  with "our view of things" ἀλλ᾿ ἡμῖν including himself with the Corinthian believers where there is One God The Father the creator/source of all things and One Lord Jesus Christ [the agent in creation] through whom are all things, and we through Him. This is not a carbon copy of Bauckham's argument. Paul adopts two terms from the Shema  θεὸς and κύριος which have same referent in Deut. 6:4 and supplies a new referent for κύριος, Jesus Christ and by adding the qualifiers from whom ἐξ οὗ and through whom  δι᾿ οὗ are all things, Paul combines the two main pillars of Paul's Jewish Monotheism, the oneness of God and the creator creature distinction, where all things created stand in contrast to the one Creator.

Of the Jewish ways of characterizing the divine uniqueness, the most unequivocal was by reference to creation. In the uniquely divine role of creating all things, it was, for Jewish monotheism, unthinkable that any being other than God could even assist God (Is 44:24, 4 Ezra 3:4, Josephus, C. Ap. 2.129) But, to Paul’s unparalleled inclusion of Jesus in the Shema, he adds the equally unparalleled inclusion of Jesus in the creative activity of God.

Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel page 102
Bauckham argues that the absolute Creator creature distinction was a nonnegotiable in Paul's Jewish framework. The inclusion of Jesus in Paul's reformulation of Shema combined with Jesus agency in creation brought Jesus into the divine identity and according to Bauckham, this was accomplished without compromising monotheism.         

[1] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

William A. Dembski, The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World.

I was rummaging in the local public library and ran across a book with a provocative title and well designed cover so I picked it up, thinking: So this guy is going to solve The problem of evil? Well, half a lifetime ago the primary reader for my MA thesis was still working on his dissertation at the University of Chicago and guess what his topic was; The problem of evil. Did he solve it? 

Eons later, in the early 90s, I was chatting with a sales clerk in Norman Baggs'  book store out on 85th & Greenwood (Seattle) — this young man was a voracious reader, working two jobs to support his young family and involved with some innovative street ministry in Seattle — some how we got talking about The problem of evil.  I told him to read John Frame's chapter on it in Apologetics to the Glory of God. The next time I saw him in the book store he told me he had read Frame but considered his treatment of  The problem of evil  "a cop out". Meanwhile, he had laid hands on a copy of A. Plantinga's book and was reading it and was impressed with Plantinga's argument. I had read some of Plantinga but wasn't excited about it. I think I had perhaps two more discussions with the young man before he became unreachable[1] .

The first chapter of Dembski's book is certainly better reading than my memory of other works on this topic. I tried to read my first reader's dissertation twenty years later but could not get through it. Plantinga was readable but I had a built in bias against his approach to the problem. I'm in no hurry to finish Dembski's book. I have other stuff from distant libraries, a whole pile of books by Richard Bauckham that need to be mined in the next two weeks so they can go back to where they came from. The problem of evil isn't going anywhere in meantime, it has been with us for millennia.  

I just googled the single word "Dembski". The first page of hits were all but one about William A. Dembski. I am not sure what this means. Perhaps I should stick with reading R. Bauckham, L. W. Hurtado, and J. D. G. Dunn. I have long term project going on Christology.

William A. Dembski, The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing, 2009

[1] the young man's name was Mark Driscoll, currently "one of the pastors at Mars Hill Church" Seattle.

Jesus Christ and Creation — Apocalypse of John 3:14, part two

Rev. 3:14 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ·

Every treatment of Rev 3:14 worth reading mentions Colossians 1:15,18 see especially J. B. Lightfoot, Colossians pages 41-44. 

Col. 1:15 ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως,

Col. 1:18 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων,

Rev. 1:5 καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ μάρτυς, ὁ πιστός, ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς. 

G. K.  Beale[1] makes a case for reading τῆς κτίσεως as “the new creation”, not the creation of Genesis one. Beale’s reads Rev. 3:14 in light of Col. 1:15,18 and Rev.1:5. He notes the obvious similarities like  ὁ μάρτυς, ὁ πιστός in Rev. 1:5, 3:14, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως Col. 1:15 and ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ Rev. 3:14. He uses ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν Rev. 1:5 as a key to unlock the meaning of ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ Rev. 3:14. Beale argues that ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν refers to the new creation on the basis of Col. 1:18 where ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν follows immediately after  ἡ κεφαλὴ … τῆς ἐκκλησίας. The proximity of ἡ κεφαλὴ … ἐκκλησίας with ἀρχή and πρωτότοκος is considered evidence that all three expressions refer somehow to the new creation. On this basis Beale thinks that we should look for the same referent in ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ Rev. 3:14.

Beale’s development of this is somewhat confusing and there appear to be some problems with his treatment of the evidence.  The mere proximity of descriptive expressions in clusters of two and three does not suggest similar meaning. That is the major flaw in his argument.     

 “Despite what most commentators think, the titles in 3:14 do not link Jesus to the original creation, but are an interpretation of Jesus’ resurrection drawn from 1:5. His resurrection is viewed as the beginning of the new creation, which is parallel with Col. 1:15b, 18b, cf. ‘first‐born of all creation in Col. 1:15b, which may refer to the original creation in Genesis, and ‘the beginning, the firstborn from the dead’ in v 18. The latter phrase refers to the resurrection as a new cosmic beginning (as evident from the link not only with Col. 1:15–17 but also with 1:19–20, 23). ... Christ as ‘firstborn from the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth’ in 1:5 is interpreted in 3:14 as designating Christ as the sovereign inaugurator of the new creation. Consequently, the title ‘beginning of the creation of God’ refers not to Jesus’ sovereignty over the original creation but to his resurrection as demonstrating that he is the inauguration of and sovereign over the new creation.”
—  G.K. Beale [1] 

The final step in Beale’s argument “ … the title ‘beginning of the creation of God’ refers not to Jesus’ sovereignty over the original creation but to his resurrection as demonstrating that he is the inauguration of and sovereign over the new creation” sounds a little too “creative” for my tastes. If John had intended to say something about the new creation, the phrase  ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ would not serve his purpose. The expression τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ  is first of all a reference to a foundational affirmation about the divine identity. It is the reason given for worship by the twenty four elders Rev. 4:11 … ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα it is the first action attributed to ὁ λόγος in John 1:3 πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο. Taking into account the total fabric of John’s theology, τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ can have only one referent: the creation of the cosmos.

[1] G. K. Beale, Revelation NIGTC pp. 298-301, You may be able to read this section in Google Books but using a Google search: "rev 3:14" Beale "new Creation"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Posting on the Apocalypse — an unscientific unfinished postscript

"The Apocalypse of John is a work of immense learning, astonishingly meticulous literary artistry, remarkable creative imagination, radical political critique, and profound theology.”
 — Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy (Intro., p. ix)

So why is it that after 25 years of studying the greek text every time I start to write something about The Apocalypse I am overwhelmed by a crushing sense of futility? Have you ever entered a room where there were several alpha males/females engaged in a noisy heated discussion where the most exalted supreme alpha is prevailing by means just slightly short physical violence? Let’s back off a little bit. Have you ever arrived for a committee meeting late to find the discussion already well underway and two or three dominate voices controlling the discussion? That is what I feel like just before I start to write something about the Revelation of St. John. What’s the point? Who will listen?

I grew up on edges of the prophecy conference culture. If you are too young to know about this just Google “prophecy conference movement” and do some reading. I just tried a search on ““prophecy conference” and everything that came up was dated sometime in 2010; so it appears that the prophecy conference culture is still with us in some form, but the culture I am talking about started in the late 19th century and continued into the 1960’s.The end of which was marked by the publication of Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth.

My exposure to this culture was primarily guest preachers, missionaries, conference speakers and so forth. My family was not interested in the “end times”. One of the elders at our church had some books by Walvoord and Pentecost, I can remember him loaning them to my father but I doubt my father read them. Our pastor was a Dallas Seminary student for four years where he shared a dorm room with Hal Lindsey. However, our pastor was not terribly excited about the “end times” and rarely taught from the prophetic literature. So my experience of the prophecy conference culture was sort of second hand. It was going on, I knew about it but I wasn’t involved.

I became engaged in study of John’s Apocalypse in the second half of the 80’s when I was reading linguistics and learning Koine Greek. My primary interest was the Christology of the Apocalypse. 

Richard Bauckham, quoted above, has the right idea about The Revelation of St. John. It is a world class, without peer, work of literary genius. Read some other books in this genre, the best are probably the visions in the book of Daniel and Zachariah, there are other works not in the canon and you will fall asleep reading them.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jesus Christ and Creation — Apocalypse of John 3:14, part one

Rev. 3:14 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ·

Rev. 4:8 καὶ τὰ τέσσαρα ζῷα, ἓν καθ᾿ ἓν αὐτῶν ἔχων ἀνὰ πτέρυγας ἕξ, κυκλόθεν καὶ ἔσωθεν γέμουσιν ὀφθαλμῶν, καὶ ἀνάπαυσιν οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς λέγοντες· ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ, ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος.

Rev. 4:11 ἄξιος εἶ, ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, λαβεῖν τὴν δόξαν καὶ τὴν τιμὴν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν, ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα καὶ διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου ἦσαν καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν.

In the next few posts we will explore an Arian proof text Apoc. 3:14d ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ. To set the stage we should first look at two hymns from the throne room scene in chapter four. The first hymn chanted by the four living creatures does not mention creation explicitly:

ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος
κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ,
ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος.

The third line is a exegesis of HaShem, YHWH the divine name which implies the notion of the Creator who stands apart from all others because He alone, is not created. The second hymn sung by twenty four elders is more explicit. HaShem YHWH ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν is worthy to receive glory and honor and τὴν δύναμιν followed by a ὅτι clause which introduces the grounds for the previous affirmation: σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα καὶ διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου ἦσαν καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν. The universal of scope of creation σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα is followed by providence ἦσαν and creation ἐκτίσθησαν as expressions of the divine will διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου. 

Here we see creation as a central feature in what R. Bauckham calls the “Divine Identity”. If you can say only one thing about HaShem YHWH ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, you should say The Creator. That sets Him apart from all other kinds of beings that exist. He alone is Creator all others are creatures. This is the foundation upon which John builds his Christology so we must keep it in the forefront of all discussion of Jesus and Creation.

Jesus Christ and Creation — Hebrews 11:1-3, 1:1-4 part four conclusions

Hebrews 11:1-3
1  Εστιν δε πιστις ελπιζομενων υποστασις, πραγματων ελεγχος ου βλεπομενων· 2  εν ταυτῃ γαρ εμαρτυρηθησαν οι πρεσβυτεροι. 3  πιστει νοουμεν κατηρτισθαι τους αιωνας ρηματι θεου, εις το μη εκ φαινομενων ⸂το βλεπομενον⸃ γεγονεναι.  —SBLGNT M. Holmes

Hebrews 1:1-4
1  Πολυμερως και πολυτροπως παλαι ο θεος λαλησας τοις πατρασιν εν τοις προφηταις 2  επ εσχατου των ημερων τουτων ελαλησεν ημιν εν υιῳ, ον εθηκεν κληρονομον παντων, δι ου και ⸂εποιησεν τους αιωνας⸃· 3  ος ων απαυγασμα της δοξης και χαρακτηρ της υποστασεως αυτου, φερων τε τα παντα τῳ ρηματι της δυναμεως, ⸂δι αυτου⸃ καθαρισμον ⸂των αμαρτιων ποιησαμενος⸃ εκαθισεν εν δεξιᾳ της μεγαλωσυνης εν υψηλοις, 4  τοσουτῳ κρειττων γενομενος των αγγελων οσῳ διαφορωτερον παρ αυτους κεκληρονομηκεν ονομα.  —SBLGNT M. Holmes

Having addressed a few of the exegetical issues that confront us with these two passages, it seems to me that Hebrews 11:3b εις το μη εκ φαινομενων ⸂το βλεπομενον⸃ γεγονεναι is not the best proof text for creation ex nihilo. We find it used for that early on (see Henry Alford[1]) but all the arguments suffer from the same weakness of equating μη εκ φαινομενων with something like ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων. There are several ways to read εις το μη εκ φαινομενων ⸂το βλεπομενον⸃ γεγονεναι. In one reading μη negates the whole clause: that which is seen, the visible cosmos, was not created from things which are visible. Here the negation denies the predicate. The other reading, μη negates εκ φαινομενων: The visible cosmos was created out of the invisible — where invisible can refer to “nothing” or “things not open to human view”. The referent  does not exclude the notion of processes. It could included both materials and means. The εκ in μη εκ φαινομενων could be causal which might include everything associated with the creation event, not just materials. All of these readings a viable.

In regard to Christ and Creation, we have two statements, one about Christ’s agency δι ου και ⸂εποιησεν τους αιωνας⸃ and the other about the agency of ρηματι θεου. The expression ρηματι θεου refers to καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός from Genesis 1:3ff. While there are some points of contact with ὁ λόγος in John’s prologue, we should resist the temptation to read John 1 into Hebrews.

By combining these two texts from Hebrews we see Jesus Christ as the agent in creation and we are told that the visible cosmos το βλεπομενον was not made out of things or by processes which which are open to empirical observation. It seems reasonable to put these two ideas together and say that Christ was agent of making the visible cosmos and the creation event was not something open to empirical observation.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Jesus Christ and Creation — Hebrews 11:1-3, 1:1-4 part two

Hebrews 11:1-3
1  Εστιν δε πιστις ελπιζομενων υποστασις, πραγματων ελεγχος ου βλεπομενων· 2  εν ταυτῃ γαρ εμαρτυρηθησαν οι πρεσβυτεροι. 3  πιστει νοουμεν κατηρτισθαι τους αιωνας ρηματι θεου, εις το μη εκ φαινομενων ⸂το βλεπομενον⸃ γεγονεναι.  —SBLGNT M. Holmes

Hebrews 1:1-4
1  Πολυμερως και πολυτροπως παλαι ο θεος λαλησας τοις πατρασιν εν τοις προφηταις 2  επ εσχατου των ημερων τουτων ελαλησεν ημιν εν υιῳ, ον εθηκεν κληρονομον παντων, δι ου και ⸂εποιησεν τους αιωνας⸃· 3  ος ων απαυγασμα της δοξης και χαρακτηρ της υποστασεως αυτου, φερων τε τα παντα τῳ ρηματι της δυναμεως, ⸂δι αυτου⸃ καθαρισμον ⸂των αμαρτιων ποιησαμενος⸃ εκαθισεν εν δεξιᾳ της μεγαλωσυνης εν υψηλοις, 4  τοσουτῳ κρειττων γενομενος των αγγελων οσῳ διαφορωτερον παρ αυτους κεκληρονομηκεν ονομα.  —SBLGNT M. Holmes

Picking up where we left off yesterday; What is the referent of το μη εκ φαινομενων Heb. 11:3? Looking once again at the chiasm perhaps it would help to see this in English, I will adapt from Craig Koester (Hebrews, AB p.474).

1a was fashioned     1b came into being
2a the universe         2b that which can be seen
3a by the word of God     3b by what cannot be seen

a1 κατηρτισθαι a2 γεγονεναι
b1 τους αιωνας b2 ⸂το βλεπομενον⸃
c1 ρηματι θεου c2 μη εκ φαινομενων

Koester and Ellingworth suggest that we should understand το μη εκ φαινομενων as coreferential with ρηματι θεου. In other words, “what cannot be seen” is a substantive with same referent as ρηματι θεου. To make this work εκ with the genitive is understood as causal. The agent of creation is the referent of both c1/3a and c2/3b and εκ with the genitive in εκ φαινομενων marks agency as the dative marks agency in ρηματι θεου which are rendered by Koester “by the word of God” and “by what cannot be seen”. In some ways this is an attractive solution. It underscores the non-empirical aspect of creation. However, the idea that the word of God active in creation is not visible, not open to human observation almost sounds like a statement of the obvious. Perhaps there are parallels in wisdom literature that suggest this reading, I should look into that question. I’m not ruling it out. 

On the other hand, if we read εκ in μη εκ φαινομενων as a genitive of source, we end up with a chiasm that serves as a proof text for creation ex nihilo or at least what might look like one if we assume that μη εκ φαινομενων implies something like “not from the realm of physical cosmos”.   

The location of μη in το μη εκ φαινομενων has been a source of difficulty since ancient times. Henry Alford[1] shows how it was often understood as if the wording ran something like εκ των μη φαινομενων. This is demonstrated by several ancient translations Syriac, Codex Bezae (D) Latin “ut ex non apparentibus”, Vulg. “ut ex invisibilibus”.   
Καὶ πῶς τοῦτο δείκνυσιν, εἰπέ μοι; Πίστει νοοῦμεν, εἰπὼν, κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι Θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὰ βλεπόμενα γεγονέναι. Δῆλον, φησὶν, ἐστὶν, ὅτι ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων τὰ ὄντα ἐποίησεν ὁ Θεὸς, ἐκ τῶν μὴ φαινομένων τὰ φαινόμενα, ἐκ τῶν οὐχ ὑφεστώτων τὰ ὑφεστῶτα.   — Chrysostom[2]
Note how Chrysostom cites the original word order μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων but reads it as ἐκ τῶν μὴ φαινομένων. While Chrysostom and other ancient authorities (see Alford[1]) make this passage a proof text for creation ex nihilo ὅτι ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων τὰ ὄντα ἐποίησεν ὁ Θεὸς (Chrys. see above)  that involves making the expression μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων semantically equivalent with ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων;  the not visible becomes the nonexistent.  This equation is not self evident as C. Koester points out. The referent of μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων could very well be things, events, processes not open to human observation but none the less real things that exist beyond the our capacity to perceive. 

[1]Henry Alford has a detailed discussion of the history of interpretation which is available from Google Books. This passage was located by searching on: ut ex invisibilibus, Erasmus (without quotes). See also BDF #433.3 and A. T. Robertson page

[2]Joannes Chrysostomus Scr. Eccl., In epistulam ad Hebraeos (homiliae 1–34) (2062: 168); MPG 63.
Vol 63, pg 154, ln 48

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Jesus Christ and Creation — Hebrews 11:1-3, 1:1-4 part one

Hebrews 11:1-3
1  Εστιν δε πιστις ελπιζομενων υποστασις, πραγματων ελεγχος ου βλεπομενων· 2  εν ταυτη γαρ εμαρτυρηθησαν οι πρεσβυτεροι. 3  πιστει νοουμεν κατηρτισθαι τους αιωνας ρηματι θεου, εις το μη εκ φαινομενων ⸂το βλεπομενον⸃ γεγονεναι.  —SBLGNT M. Holmes

Hebrews 1:1-4
1  Πολυμερως και πολυτροπως παλαι ο θεος λαλησας τοις πατρασιν εν τοις προφηταις 2  επ εσχατου των ημερων τουτων ελαλησεν ημιν εν υιῳ, ον εθηκεν κληρονομον παντων, δι ου και ⸂εποιησεν τους αιωνας⸃· 3  ος ων απαυγασμα της δοξης και χαρακτηρ της υποστασεως αυτου, φερων τε τα παντα τῳ ρηματι της δυναμεως, ⸂δι αυτου⸃ καθαρισμον ⸂των αμαρτιων ποιησαμενος⸃ εκαθισεν εν δεξιᾳ της μεγαλωσυνης εν υψηλοις, 4  τοσουτῳ κρειττων γενομενος των αγγελων οσῳ διαφορωτερον παρ αυτους κεκληρονομηκεν ονομα.  —SBLGNT M. Holmes

Hebrews 11:1-3 affirms that knowledge of creation is attained by faith and this is a knowledge that cannot be attained by observation: ου βλεπομενων. With this the author of Hebrews establishes the first principle for a christian understanding of origins; it is a subject, the knowledge of which is not attained by empirical investigation because the matters about which our author is speaking are not open to empirical observation. So don’t go asking some astrophysicist for help with this question. Two discourse features underline the importance of faith as the means to this knowledge. In verse three and following faith πιστις is clause initial which makes it salient (i.e., noteworthy). The repetition of πιστις faith through out this section serves as rhetorical underlining.

In the third verse Heb. 11:3 our author states: what can now be observed ⸂το βλεπομενον⸃ was created from what cannot be observed το μη εκ φαινομενων. What on earth does the author mean by το μη εκ φαινομενων? C. Koester (Hebrews AB) following P. Ellingworth Hebrews NIGTC) detects a chiasm (X pattern) in  Heb. 11:3:

a1 κατηρτισθαι
b1 τους αιωνας
c1 ρηματι θεου
c2 μη εκ φαινομενων
b2 ⸂το βλεπομενον⸃
a2 γεγονεναι

Ellingworth suggests that the first half a1 b1 c1 is repeating more or less in the second half c2 b2 a2. “This general assumption  is that the meaning of the two halves of this verse is generally the same …” Ellingworth p.568. He suggests with several qualifications that μη εκ φαινομενων is coreferential with ρηματι θεου. The word of God being that which is not seen. I don’t find his analysis very compelling.

Looking into A. T. Robertson, G. L. Cooper[1] , BDF, Moule, N. Turner. The constituent “εις το” construes with the infinitive γεγονεναι, there is no problem with the hyperbaton (discontinuous syntax) which is common enough. One issue I had some difficulty with is understanding the NT grammars treatment of “εις το”. At times they seem to treat it as if it were some sort of special case, like “εις το” with the infinitive transforms into a conjunctive particle which marks final, causal, telic … constituents. G. Cooper’s[1] approach was quite different. Cooper develops a general framework for understanding the article, the infinitive and prepositions and then explains “preposition + article + infinitive” as an extension of what we already know about the substantive function of the infinitive. The infinitive is a substantive by nature, it does not require an article to identify it as a substantive. Being a substantive, the infinitive can follow a preposition. The article is used to disambiguate the construction, mark case and so forth. The combination of “εις το” with an infinitive is commonly used to indicate “purpose” or “results”.

 The expression μη εκ φαινομενων means the realm of the unseen, i.e. not empirical. A chiasm is not always a restatement of the same thing. The second half often adds an element of significant new information. That is how I would read this. The first half is a statement about agency, τους αιωνας was created by ρηματι θεου. The second half is a statement about phenomenology, that which we now see (i.e. the created order) came into being from that which we do not see. The referent of το μη εκ φαινομενων is still an open question which will have to wait for another post.

This is a work in progress. I could change my views on the exegesis tomorrow without even pausing for breath. Exegesis is a process which never ends in this life.

[1] Guy L. Cooper,  Attic Greek Prose Syntax, vol. 1, 50.6.2, 50.6.3, 50.6.8. 

Monday, December 06, 2010

Richard Bauckham or Sophocles Electra?

I see that I have another ILL book waiting at the library, JESUS AND THE GOD OF ISRAEL. I now have three weeks to read about 2,000 pages of  Richard Bauckham. Not sure I am going to get all of that read before Jan 1, 2011.

I normally put off secondary literature until after dinner and do my work on primary sources  in the morning because it is far more demanding work. This morning I went back and took another pass at the chorus S.El 1384-96. This is near the climax of the play so I want to really read chorus, not just plow through it to get it out of the way. There are a significant number of unusual words and the syntax is not always simple.  

Here is the passage for anyone who wants to read it.

S.El 1384-96
{ΧΟ.} Ἴδεθ' ὅπου προνέμεται {Str.}
τὸ δυσέριστον αἷμα φυσῶν Ἄρης·
βεβᾶσιν ἄρτι δωμάτων ὑπόστεγοι
μετάδρομοι κακῶν πανουργημάτων
ἄφυκτοι κύνες·
ὥστ' οὐ μακρὰν ἔτ' ἀμμενεῖ
τοὐμὸν φρενῶν ὄνειρον αἰωρούμενον. 
Παράγεται γὰρ ἐνέρων {Ant.}
δολιόπους ἀρωγὸς εἴσω στέγας,
ἀρχαιόπλουτα πατρὸς εἰς ἑδώλια,
νεακόνητον αἷμα χειροῖν ἔχων·
ὁ Μαίας δὲ παῖς
Ἑρμῆς σφ' ἄγει δόλον σκότῳ
κρύψας πρὸς αὐτὸ τέρμα κοὐκέτ' ἀμμένει.

Ares, the subject of the first clause is postponed until the end of the line 1385. The subject of the next clause starting with the verb βεβᾶσιν isn't specified, but is understood as Orestes and Pylades. The adjective ὑπόστεγοι "under the roof " qualified by genitive δωμάτων "house" and followed by another adjective μετάδρομοι, this entire cluster might be construed as a substantive serving as the subject of βεβᾶσιν but probably not.  The expression μετάδρομοι κακῶν πανουργημάτων is really opaque. The etymology of μετάδρομοι is "running after" and as a hapax legomena we can only guess — LSJ gives these alternatives "running after, pursuing, taking vengeance for".  I would construe μετάδρομοι  with the genitive phrase κακῶν πανουργημάτων, "evil deeds achieved through stealth" and I assume the referent is the murder of Agamemnon. So we have two adjectives, either of which might serve as substantive subjects of βεβᾶσιν, it really doesn't matter but at this point I lean toward reading μετάδρομοι as the subject and δωμάτων ὑπόστεγοι as location modifier of μετάδρομοι which refers to Orestes and Pylades.  ἄρτι "right now" a temporal adverb qualifying the verb βεβᾶσιν.  

This is not really "reading", rather more like decoding an encrypted message. But short of being a senior professor of classics this is the sort of preparation that is required before reading can commence with difficult material. 

Sunday, December 05, 2010

What does history have to do with it? — Christology & History

I found this text in  Antony Buzzard's Christological Confession found in this discussion forum :

...I am convinced that a biblical Christology must be rooted in history.

I am not sure that I would make such a statement. I am all for studying the history of the faith but my Christology is rooted in revelation, not history.  Take Paul for example, how much time does Paul spend talking about the life of the historical Jesus? Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, his Christology was rooted in a divine human encounter with the risen Christ. The historical reality, that Jesus Christ lived as a real man and died a real death and was raised on third day in real history, is indispensable to Paul's Christology. But Paul's Christology was rooted in revelation. Without the revelation, none of the history would have counted for anything.

Jesus Christ, Creation & Chaos — 2 Peter 3:5-7

Continuing to look at primary sources which will give us a window into the early exegetical tradition with regard to the creation account in Genesis 1 we will now take a look at a difficult text 2Peter 3:5-7:  

2Pet. 3:3 τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες ὅτι ἐλεύσονται ἐπ᾿ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν [ἐν] ἐμπαιγμονῇ ἐμπαῖκται κατὰ τὰς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας αὐτῶν πορευόμενοι  4 καὶ λέγοντες· ποῦ ἐστιν ἡ ἐπαγγελία τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ; ἀφ᾿ ἧς γὰρ οἱ πατέρες ἐκοιμήθησαν, πάντα οὕτως διαμένει ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως.  5 Λανθάνει γὰρ αὐτοὺς τοῦτο θέλοντας ὅτι οὐρανοὶ ἦσαν ἔκπαλαι καὶ γῆ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ δι᾿ ὕδατος συνεστῶσα τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ,  6 δι᾿ ὧν ὁ τότε κόσμος ὕδατι κατακλυσθεὶς ἀπώλετο·  7 οἱ δὲ νῦν οὐρανοὶ καὶ ἡ γῆ τῷ αὐτῷ λόγῳ τεθησαυρισμένοι εἰσὶν πυρί τηρούμενοι εἰς ἡμέραν κρίσεως καὶ ἀπωλείας τῶν ἀσεβῶν ἀνθρώπων.

2Pet. 3:3 First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions 4 and saying,  “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.”  5 They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water,  6 through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. RSV

There are at least two big questions we must ask about this text. Does it support creation ex materia? Does τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ have significance for christology?

In 2Pet 3:5 the agent of creation is not mentioned until the very end of the verse … συνεστῶσα τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ which indicates that  being purposely forgetful: Λανθάνει γὰρ αὐτοὺς τοῦτο θέλοντας “They deliberately ignore”, is in focus not the notion of agency. Furthermore agency is embedded in a participle clause which might suggest that it is background information. Never the less, we have an expression τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ that reminds us of John 1:3 where ὁ λόγος is the agent of creation. However, there is some question about the the referent of τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ 2Pet 3:5. James D. G. Dunn [1] thinks that our author was not aware of John’s Prologue (Jn 1:1-18). Dunn and others suggest that the referent of τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ was the same as Psalm 33:6  and Hebrews 11:3.   

Psa. 32:6 τῷ λόγῳ τοῦ κυρίου οἱ οὐρανοὶ ἐστερεώθησαν καὶ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ πᾶσα ἡ δύναμις αὐτῶν

Heb. 11:3 Πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι.

 2Pet 3:5-7, with a repetition of the word ὕδωρ water, draws on imagery from Genesis 1 LXX where ὕδωρ water appears twelve times.  The first occurrence of ὕδωρ water is the last word of Gen 1:2.

Gen. 1:2 ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος

Here we are faced with the exegetical decision we discussed in the last post. I would suggest that τοῦ ὕδατος water in Gen 1:2 represents the first phase of creation, not an eternal uncreated matter or an anti-creation chaos monster.  2Pet weaves together the water of creation with the water of the flood which suggests that the flood was a return to the pre-creation state. This language is both ancient and symbolic (i.e. pre-modern) we are not talking only about a physical substance H2O. In the Ancient Near East (ANE) the Sea, went under various names but regularly had a supernatural referent as well as a physical referent, the two were not kept separated. This feature of the ANE worldview is difficult for moderns to appreciate. While the author of 2Pet certainly understood that the Deluge in Genesis was a physical event, it also had cosmological and supernatural aspects. 

In 2009, Chris Tilling was exploring question of  ἐξ ὕδατος … δι᾿ ὕδατος …  ὕδατι on his blog  where he posted a private communication from Richard Bauckham:

"Another possibility is that 'chaos' was a sort of mythological way of imagining 'nothing.' To imagine a pre-creation chaos and to say that God created all things was perfectly consistent, because no 'thing' existed until God formed it out of chaos"
         — Richard Bauckham (e-mail to Chris Tilling).
The notion that the Genesis account of creation had completely de-mythologized the ANE combat cosmologies (e.g. Baal and Yam, Marduk and Tiamat) by making the sea monsters just another creature created by YHWH is somewhat oversimplified. The combat cosmologies continued to exert their influence on the literature of the Old Testament  (Job, Psalms, etc.) and we still find traces of them in the New Testament, for example Jesus calming of the Sea. The mythical imagery in the form of metaphor lived on long after the the myths had been left behind.    

[1] James D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making, 2nd Ed. Eerdmans 1989, page 234, see also 217.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Jesus Christ, Creation & Chaos — Genesis 1:1-2 Septuagint (LXX) part 2

Gen. 1:1 ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν  2 ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος  3 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός γενηθήτω φῶς καὶ ἐγένετο φῶς

RE: the LXX rendering of  Gen 1:2a ‏והארץ היתה
Here we see vav + noun + finite verb, Wenham[1] states that the syntax of Gen 1:2a makes the first clause “disjunctive”.  The LXX renders this ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν. The particle δὲ is not typically a disjunctive in Hellenistic Greek.This could be a quibble over metalanguage, Hellenistic Greek people don’t always use the same metalanguage as the Biblical Hebrew people.

I am working on the assumption that the discourse function of δὲ is to mark development in the narrative. I am wondering if δὲ in the “translation greek” of Gen LXX is used to mark development or if it if merely represents some surface structure feature in the Hebrew vorlage. To address this question I compared the usage of δὲ and καὶ within Gen LXX.  

I built several search patterns,  for example:  “noun  δὲ  verb” and “article δὲ noun verb” and ran them against Gen LXX, studied the corresponding hebrew text (MT) to see what was potentially[2] the vorlage reading behind the LXX Old Greek (OG). I did a similar searches using “καὶ [article] noun verb” to see how it compared to the “noun  δὲ  verb” pattern. Here are two examples:

Gen. 4:3 καὶ ἐγένετο μεθ᾿ ἡμέρας ἤνεγκεν Καιν ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν τῆς γῆς θυσίαν τῷ κυρίῳ  4 καὶ Αβελ ἤνεγκεν καὶ αὐτὸς ἀπὸ τῶν πρωτοτόκων τῶν προβάτων αὐτοῦ   

Gen. 6:1 καὶ ἐγένετο ἡνίκα ἤρξαντο οἱ ἄνθρωποι πολλοὶ γίνεσθαι ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ θυγατέρες ἐγενήθησαν αὐτοῖς

After several hours of building searches I am now drowning in data. The discourse function of καὶ in καὶ Αβελ ἤνεγκεν and καὶ θυγατέρες ἐγενήθησαν appears to be similar to δὲ in the “noun  δὲ  verb” pattern. I don’t detect any sort of preference in Gen LXX for δὲ over καὶ when the Hebrew text reads “vav [article] noun verb” both δὲ and καὶ appear where they seem to mark development in the narrative. In some of the examples δὲ or καὶ appear to be mildly adversative, but that would not necessarily negate the development function. This is all very preliminary and uncertain. I’m sure someone has written a monograph on this but I’d rather study the text than read monographs.

Well, I spent some more hours on this, looking at the literature on the use of  δὲ and καὶ in discourse marking in Gen LXX. I have some doubts about pursuing this further, I don't think the use of δὲ in Gen 1:2 is going to shed much light on the difficult exegetical problems in that text. Here is a quote from S. Levinsohn[3] from his discussion of Gen. 22:4–6

I am not suggesting for a moment that δέ in the LXX is used to signal perceived DUs [development units] in the Hebrew text. I am simply observing that, by rendering waw with δέ, its translators may have been reacting instinctively to the discourse significance of the seemingly redundant references to Abraham in this passage.
Levinsohn was looking at redundant participant reference in the MT of Genesis as a means of marking development.

[1] Gordon J. Wenham  Genesis WBC v1, p.15

[2] We do not have the vorlage for the LXX (Old Greek) of Genesis.

[3] Stephen H. Levinsohn, Towards a Typology of Story Development Marking (Repeatedly Naming the Subject: The Hebrew Equivalent of Greek ∆έ)