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Sunday, June 05, 2011

The weak shall be strong Rev 1:2

Rev. 1:2 ὃς ἐμαρτύρησεν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὅσα εἶδεν.

Rev. 1:2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. NIV2011

Gordon Fee, once again, wants to nail down the meaning of an ambiguous genitive. The NIV2011 rendered τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ directly as “the word of God” which is almost as ambiguous as the greek. Fee doesn’t like what E. A. Gutt calls “weak communication,” where multiple readings are possible. The job of the exegete is to explore the various options but not necessarily nail one of them down. Weak communication is what makes great literature different from an automobile maintenance manual. Weak communication is goodness. Fee argues that the genitive in τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ should be understood as “the word from God.” But this doesn’t seem that obvious. It is also a word that belongs to God, a word uniquely identified as God’s word, and not inconsequentially associated with the The Word in the prolog to the Gospel of John. All of these associations some others are shut down by making this strong communication, “the word from God.” 

G. Fee treats the greek genitive as an enemy of clarity, i.e. one and only one sense. But that kind of clarity isn’t desirable in great literature. E. A. Gutt argues that multiple inference is a very desirable feature of great literature and the weak communication is very powerful.       


Anonymous Refe said...

I agree with your last statement and I find that this is my biggest problem with the Daniel Wallace school of Greek grammar. In the quest for ever more specific syntactical categories I believe that grammarians and exegetes risk missing the nuance and depth of scripture and what it communicates. Language - and by extension literature - is not a one-to-one formula.

9:42 AM  
Blogger C. Stirling Bartholomew said...


Well I have sort of taken a sabbatical on Wallace comments. He has about fifty thousand friends on the web, so every time you suggest that his big grammar is perhaps not the best work on NT greek you end up with at least one or two people sending you hate mail.
The b-greek heavy weights have take over the last decade have done pretty good job of exploring the weakness in the traditional approach to the greek case system and Wallace comes up regularly in that discussion.

Ten years ago I sent some material on the case system to a scholar & linguist who was teaching greek in Ethiopia. She was critical of my minimalist approach to the semantics of the cases. That really amazed me, she was a linguist, I had read her dissertation. I thought she would understand what I was doing.

Thanks for the comment.

7:25 PM  

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