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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Expansion of the Divine Name in Old Greek Isaiah

Yesterday we looked at the simplification of divine name אדני יהוה “Lord HaShem” in  Isaiah 61:1 MT to  κύριος “Lord” in Isaiah LXX which which is the form we see in Jesus reading of Isaiah in Luke 4:18. I noted that the LXX/Luke 4:18 reading appears to be supported by the Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsa-a. But after looking at a lot of evidence, I was skeptical about attributing this to a difference in the Hebrew manuscript (vorlage) used by the translator(s) of Isaiah. Today I followed up by looking at places where Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT) reads יהוה “HaShem” alone but Isaiah LXX expands the divine name to read κύριος ὁ θεὸς [1] “The Lord God.” I checked the notes in E. Tov’s MT/LXX to see if any of these readings were supported by Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsa-a. The results were negative. Not a single one of them was supported by the 1QIsa-a.

I found an old critical text, translation and commentary on Isaiah LXX [2] available on the web. Looking through the notes and introduction I found only one reference to this variation, where R. Ottley simply stated that  Isaiah LXX added ὁ θεὸς. In the introduction R. Ottley made a general reference to naming variations which he considered too common and too self-evident to warrant special mention:

LXX. often present proper names in different forms from the Hebrew, and with wide variations among the MSS. These differences are passed by without comment, unless required for some special reason, e.g. where it seems probable that a different name altogether from the Hebrew is intended.
— R. Ottley Vol. 2 Page 136.          

The lack of support in 1QIsa-a for the LXX expansion of יהוה “HaShem” in the Masoretic Text to κύριος ὁ θεὸς  “The Lord God” increases my previous skepticism about a different Hebrew vorlage being responsible for differences in divine names. It seems more likely that the variations in the divine names are nothing more the peculiar habits of the translator.

[1] Is. 26:12, Is. 28:13, Is. 38:22, Is. 41:17, Is. 41:21, Is. 42:6, Is. 42:8, Is. 42:13, Is. 42:21, Is. 43:1, Is. 43:10, Is. 43:12, Is. 43:14, Is. 43:15, Is. 44:2, Is. 45:1, Is. 45:3, Is. 45:5, Is. 45:6, Is. 45:7, Is. 45:11, Is. 52:12, Is. 57:21.

[2] Ottley, Richard R. The Book of Isaiah according to the Septuagint (Codex Alexandrinus). 2 vols. Cambridge: University Press, 1904–1906. Note: This .pdf is almost 60meg.

Full title from title page:


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me ...”

Luke 4:18 πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ᾿ ἐμὲ ...
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me ...”
Isaiah 61:1a MT רוח אדני יהוה עלי
“The Spirit of the Lord HaShem is upon me”

When Jesus stands up to read in synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, his opening words (Luke 4:18a) from Isaiah 61:1 do not match the reading found in the Masoretic Text (MT). Jesus’ opening words match the Greek (LXX) version of Isaiah. In Isaiah we see a pattern, where the MT reads אדני יהוה “Lord HaShem” the LXX reads κύριος (alone) with one exception Isa. 25:8 which reads ὁ θεὸς (alone). Elsewhere in the Greek versions of the hebrew prophets we find אדני יהוה translated with two words, e.g. Jeremiah 4:10 δέσποτα κύριε “Master HaShem” or κύριος κύριος in Jeremiah 44:26(51:26 LXX) but also κύριος (alone) in Jer. 7:20. Isaiah LXX is more consistent than Jeremiah.   

Isaiah 61:1a MT רוח אדני יהוה עלי
“The Spirit of the Lord HaShem is upon me”
Isaiah 61:1a 1QIsa-a  רוח יהוה עלי
“The Spirit of the HaShem is upon me ...”

In Isaiah 61:1, the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa-a) supports the Greek version of Isaiah in regard to the omission of אדני “Lord” from אדני יהוה “Lord HaShem.” In other words, where the LXX reads κυρίου (alone) 1QIsa-a reads  יהוה (alone). A close look at the sources[1] indicates that 1QIsa-a only supports Isaiah LXX in about seven out of seventeen readings[2]. This qualified support from 1QIsa-a for Isaiah LXX is complicated by a number of factors. The most obvious factor is the pattern in Isaiah LXX of never using a double formula like we find in Jeremiah δέσποτα κύριε “Master HaShem” or κύριος κύριος. In other divine name patterns e.g. Is. 7:11 יהוה אלהיך “HaShem your God” Isaiah LXX uses κυρίου θεοῦ σου “HaShem your God.” A massive study of the translation habits demonstrated in Isaiah LXX[3] would be required before one could say anything substantive about habits. However, speculating on what I have observed, I would guess that there is more going on with Isaiah LXX reading κύριος (alone) for  אדני יהוה than simply a different hebrew manuscript.    

[1] I compiled these from three sources, a transcription of 1QIsa-a, photo images of 1QIsa-a and E. Tov’s MT/LXX The Parallel Aligned Text of the Greek and Hebrew Bible which includes notes about readings in 1QIsa-a. This was a difficult project, the transcription and images are indexed primarily by column numbers, locating a chapter and verse takes a little time particularly with images. The style of Hebrew script used by the scribe of 1QIsa-a takes some getting used two. I wanted to cross check the notes in E. Tov’s MT/LXX since my experience with critical texts has taught me that looking at the raw data is much more enlightening than reading an apparatus.

[2]  1QIsa-a reads יהוה “HaShem” (alone) in support of  the LXX in Isa. 28:16(?), 28:22, 30:15, 49:22, 52:4, 61:1, 65:13. 1QIsa-a reads אדני יהוה “Lord HaShem” where the LXX reads κυρίου (alone) in Isa. 10:24, 22:5, 40:10, 48:16, 50:4,7,9, 56:8, 61:11, 65:15.  The question mark after 28:16(?) doubtful a doubtful reading where there appears in the image of 1QIsa-a a word above the line but the transcription and E. Tov’s note indicate support for the LXX reading .  

[3] Almost certainly this “massive study” has been done. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Genealogy of Mary? — the syntax of Luke 3:23b

One occasionally hears a argument that the syntax of Luke 3:23b lends support to a claim that Luke’s genealogy traces Mary’s lineage and not Joseph’s. On the general question of Genealogy of Christ in Matthew and Luke see the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Luke 3:23 Και αυτος ⸀ην Ιησους ⸂αρχομενος ωσει ετων τριακοντα⸃, ων ⸂υιος, ως ενομιζετο⸃, Ιωσηφ του Ηλι 24  του Μαθθατ του Λευι του Μελχι του Ιανναι του Ιωσηφ  —SBLGNT

Luke 3:23  και αυτος ην ο ιησους ωσει ετων τριακοντα αρχομενος ων ως ενομιζετο υιος ιωσηφ του ηλι 24  του ματθατ του λευι του μελχι του ιαννα του ιωσηφ — Byz Textform Robinson-Pierpont

Luke 3:23  και αυτος ην ιησους αρχομενος ωσει ετων τριακοντα ων υιος ως ενομιζετο ιωσηφ του ηλει 24  του μαθθαθ του λευει του μελχει του ιανναι του ιωσηφ — Tischendorf

I spent more than two days looking through mountains of secondary literature to find a serious discussion of the syntax, particularly the lack of an article with Joseph. What I found was some apologetics websites claiming that the syntax lent support to the Genealogy of Mary hypothesis  but no real analysis of the syntax other than the lack of an article before Joseph.  The Greek text exegetical commentaries very rarely suggest that the lack an article supports anything what so ever. I found one note by  Matthew B. Riddle the American Editor of H. A. W. Meyers Exegetical Handbook on Luke. Riddle disagreed with both Meyer and Henry Alford (!!) by supporting the Genealogy of Mary hypothesis. Riddle’s mentions both the lack of the article before Joseph and also the word order found in the Alexandrian text (SBLGNT, UBS3/4 NA27, Tisch., Westcott-Hort):

... ων ⸂υιος, ως ενομιζετο⸃, Ιωσηφ του Ηλι — Alex. Text
... ων ως ενομιζετο υιος ιωσηφ του ηλι — Byz Text 

Riddle claimed that Alexandrian syntax makes it appear as if Joseph is bracketed out of the genealogy, which supposedly leads to the implication that this is a genealogy of Mary. Beyond that, there is no real substantive argumentation about the syntax. No real case is made. On the other hand, the other Greek exegetical commentators don’t really make a case against this hypothesis either, the just reject it out of hand. 

The standard reference grammars are not much better. They talk about the article with proper names and some of them cite Luke 3:23 but none of them see it as evidence for any particular view of the genealogy problem. J.H. Moulton in his Prolegomena (v1 Moulton-Turner pps. 83, 263 bottom) talks about Classical, Koine and New Testament patterns of articles with proper names but leaves the impression that the presence or absence of the article is really not well understood (c.a. 1902). The other grammars include H. W. Smyth, #1142.a, BDF 162.2, A. T. Robertson page 761. These are all old-school grammars, reflecting the way Greek syntax was handled from the Reformation up through the early 20th century.

Fast forward to the third millennium, Richard A. Hoyle [2] has written what I would call the NT Greek monograph of the decade. He specifically deals with the lack of the article before Joseph in Luke 3:23b. R. Hoyle’s claims that any discourse old or hearer old personal name without the article is marked as salient. This fits into his general theory about salience marking and anarthrous nouns.

In Luke’s genealogy, 3:23–38, only two names occur without the article, Jesus and Joseph (3:23). These are marked as salient, since they have no article even though both are Discourse-old (3:21, 1:27). Here Jesus and Joseph are salient at PARAGRAPH level, i.e. throughout the whole genealogy, strongly suggesting that this is Joseph’s lineage being listed.

This is paragraph is a small portion of the best treatment I have read so far on the Ancient Greek article. The whole monograph is available for downloading from SIL. I would not expect any light to come on by simply  reading the above paragraph out of context. Hoyle's framework will be new to a lot of greek students. It takes some time and several readings to get comfortable with his overall approach to analysis. The good news is R.  Hoyle is far more understandable than some of the other authors writing on these topics.  

[1]H. A. W. Meyer Handbook Mark-Luke, page 303 note by  Matthew B. Riddle, DD, Professor of New Testament Greek Exegesis in Hartford Theological Seminary (ca. 1884).

[2]Richard A. Hoyle, Scenarios, discourse and translation.  SIL 2008, page 157.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"a steaming cup of coffee"

I was too tired after dinner to read anything challenging so i picked up a ancient paperback of a best seller that has been hanging around in the family for over fifty years and decided to read it again. I wasn't more the ten pages into it when I ran into the expression "a steaming cup of coffee" which I have seen numerous times in stories published in the last decade.  Why is "a steaming cup of coffee" a standard prop in English fiction that has survived for half a century or more. I seem to recall that Hemingway had better way of saying it. He could make you experience the steam, the taste and the aroma without telling you about it. The secret of good writing is what you leave out.        

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Benedict XVI on Secular Biblical Studies

The following paragraphs are taken from an APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION VERBUM DOMINI[1] by Benedict XVI. This citation is taken directly from page 35 "The danger of dualism and a secularized hermeneutic" which can be found on the Vatican website under the heading" The Interpretation Of Sacred Scripture In The Church.

The danger of dualism and a secularized hermeneutic

In this regard we should mention the serious risk nowadays of a dualistic approach to sacred Scripture. To distinguish two levels of approach to the Bible does not in any way mean to separate or oppose them, nor simply to juxtapose them. They exist only in reciprocity. Unfortunately, a sterile separation sometimes creates a barrier between exegesis and theology, and this “occurs even at the highest academic levels”.[109] Here I would mention the most troubling consequences, which are to be avoided.

•    First and foremost, if the work of exegesis is restricted to the first level alone, Scripture ends up being a text belonging only to the past: “One can draw moral consequences from it, one can learn history, but the Book as such speaks only of the past, and exegesis is no longer truly theological, but becomes pure historiography, history of literature”.[110] Clearly, such a reductive approach can never make it possible to comprehend the event of God’s revelation through his word, which is handed down to us in the living Tradition and in Scripture.  
   •    The lack of a hermeneutic of faith with regard to Scripture entails more than a simple absence; in its place there inevitably enters another hermeneutic, a positivistic and secularized hermeneutic ultimately based on the conviction that the Divine does not intervene in human history. According to this hermeneutic, whenever a divine element seems present, it has to be explained in some other way, reducing everything to the human element. This leads to interpretations that deny the historicity of the divine elements.[111]    
•    Such a position can only prove harmful to the life of the Church, casting doubt over fundamental mysteries of Christianity and their historicity – as, for example, the institution of the Eucharist and the resurrection of Christ. A philosophical hermeneutic is thus imposed, one which denies the possibility that the Divine can enter and be present within history. The adoption of this hermeneutic within theological studies inevitably introduces a sharp dichotomy between an exegesis limited solely to the first level and a theology tending towards a spiritualization of the meaning of the Scriptures, one which would fail to respect the historical character of revelation.
All this is also bound to have a negative impact on the spiritual life and on pastoral activity; “as a consequence of the absence of the second methodological level, a profound gulf is opened up between scientific exegesis and lectio divina. This can give rise to a lack of clarity in the preparation of homilies”.[112] It must also be said that this dichotomy can create confusion and a lack of stability in the intellectual formation of candidates for ecclesial ministries.[113] In a word, “where exegesis is not theology, Scripture cannot be the soul of theology, and conversely, where theology is not essentially the interpretation of the Church’s Scripture, such a theology no longer has a foundation”.[114] Hence we need to take a more careful look at the indications provided by the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum in this regard.

:end of citation

Pope Benedict XVI has delivered a wise word to those persons of faith and members of the Church of Jesus Christ who would make it their calling to do biblical studies and participate in the secular academic domain where a hermeneutic of skepticism dominates the field of biblical studies.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Son of God syntax

RE: υἱοῦ θεοῦ Son of God syntax, H. W. Smyth's Greek Grammer, page 314, #1301 Smyth explains how the genitive is used for relations between persons.

θύγατερ Διός  daughter of Zeus

Sophocles Trag., Oedipus tyrannus
Line 158

ἀμφὶ σοὶ ἁζόμενος τί μοι ἢ νέον
ἢ περιτελλομέναις ὥραις πάλιν
ἐξανύσεις χρέος·
εἰπέ μοι, ὦ χρυσέας τέκνον Ἐλπίδος,
ἄμβροτε Φάμα. 
Πρῶτά σε κεκλόμενος, θύγατερ Διός, {Ant. 1.}
ἄμβροτ' Ἀθάνα,
γαιάοχόν τ' ἀδελφεὰν
Ἄρτεμιν, ἃ κυκλόεντ' ἀγορᾶς θρόνον
εὐκλέα θάσσει,
καὶ Φοῖβον ἑκαβόλον, ἰώ,

παῖς Διός child of Zeus

Sophocles Trag., Trachiniae
Line 513

Ὁ μὲν ἦν ποταμοῦ σθένος, ὑψίκερω τετραόρου {Ant.}
φάσμα ταύρου,
Ἀχελῷος ἀπ' Οἰνιαδᾶν, ὁ δὲ Βακχίας ἄπο 
ἦλθε παλίντονα Θήβας
τόξα καὶ λόγχας ῥόπαλόν τε τινάσσων,
παῖς Διός· οἳ τότ' ἀολλεῖς
ἴσαν ἐς μέσον ἱέμενοι λεχέων·
μόνα δ' εὔλεκτρος ἐν μέσῳ Κύπρις
ῥαβδονόμει ξυνοῦσα.

Διὸς Ἄρτεμις Artemis, daughter of Zeus

Sophocles Trag., Ajax
Line 172

Ἦ ῥά σε Ταυροπόλα Διὸς Ἄρτεμις –  {Str.}
ὦ μεγάλα φάτις, ὦ
μᾶτερ αἰσχύνας ἐμᾶς – 
ὥρμασε πανδάμους ἐπὶ βοῦς ἀγελαίας,
ἤ πού τινος νίκας ἀκάρπωτον χάριν,
ἤ ῥα κλυτῶν ἐνάρων

Sunday, February 12, 2012

υἱοῦ θεοῦ “Son of God” in Romans 1:4

There has been a week long discussion of translating “Son of God” for Islamic cultures on the Better Bibles Blog . I have extracted some  comments of mine in regard to υἱοῦ θεοῦ  “Son of God” in Romans 1:4. Since this was part of conversation, there will be some lack of cohesion.

Rom. 1:1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, 2 ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις 3 περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, 4 τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, 

ESV Rom. 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,

The phrase υἱοῦ θεοῦ is rendered “Son of God” in a dozen of the most commonly cited English versions. But what is the relationship [syntax] between υἱοῦ and θεοῦ? Is θεοῦ in apposition or is it a genitive with a head noun? The English translations support the latter but there isn’t an English equivalent for the former. Assuming we read υἱοῦ θεοῦ as a genitive with a head noun -- in a recent book (2009) addressing the current iteration of the πίστις Χριστοῦ debate, Porter & Pitts[1] argue that the meaning of the head noun, in a noun +genitive construction is restricted but not changed by the genitive. In other words, the meaning of πίστις can be determined independent of the genitive, i.e., the decision to read πίστις  as faith or faithfulness is independent of the genitive construction. I am not convinced by Porter & Pitts’ argument.

In Romans 1:4 I would argue that the meaning of υἱοῦ is substantially altered by collocation with θεοῦ and any attempt to do lexical semantic analysis of υἱοῦ without consideration of its collocation with θεοῦ would wrong headed. It is quite possible that I am missing the point with Porter & Pitts. The article is classic Porter, maximal obfuscation. Porter & Pitts[1]  page 47 "... the lexis of the head term should be disambiguated before asking how the genitive modifies the head term."  In their article, πίστις should be disambiguated independent of Χριστοῦ. I don't buy that. Χριστοῦ is indispensable for the disambiguation of Πíστiς. 

In regard to υἱοῦ θεοῦ in Rom 1:4, υἱοῦ has a semantic range in Hellenistic Greek, but when collocated with θεοῦ in light of the NT & LXX use of θεοῦ, the semantic range shrinks. We could say that θεοῦ places semantic constraints on υἱοῦ, restricts its meaning but it also disambiguates. But we would never attempt to determine the lexical contribution of υἱοῦ independent of θεοῦ, that just doesn't make sense.
I haven't found any exegete of Rom. 1:4 suggesting we read θεοῦ in apposition to υἱοῦ, "Son, who is God."  Apposition  seems improbable in light of περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ in Rom. 1:3. I had in the back of my mind Murray J. Harris[1] who reads μονογενὴς θεὸς apposition in John 1:18.

There are several other reasons for NOT reading θεοῦ in apposition to υἱοῦ in Rom. 1:4. The genitive case is commonly used for paternity for example οἱ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου "the sons of Zebedee."

John 21:2 ἦσαν ὁμοῦ Σίμων Πέτρος καὶ Θωμᾶς ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος καὶ Ναθαναὴλ ὁ ἀπὸ Κανὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ οἱ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ ἄλλοι ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο.

John 21:2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathana-el of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.

Paul uses similar language elsewhere,

Rom. 8:14 ὅσοι γὰρ πνεύματι θεοῦ ἄγονται, οὗτοι υἱοὶ θεοῦ εἰσιν.
Rom. 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Rom. 8:19 ἡ γὰρ ἀποκαραδοκία τῆς κτίσεως τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τῶν υἱῶν τοῦ θεοῦ ἀπεκδέχεται.
Rom. 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;

Rom. 9:26 καὶ ἔσται ἐν τῷ τόπῳ οὗ ἐρρέθη αὐτοῖς· οὐ λαός μου ὑμεῖς, ἐκεῖ κληθήσονται υἱοὶ θεοῦ ζῶντος.
Rom. 9:26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” 

2Cor. 1:19 ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ γὰρ υἱὸς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν δι᾿ ἡμῶν κηρυχθείς, δι᾿ ἐμοῦ καὶ Σιλουανοῦ καὶ Τιμοθέου, οὐκ ἐγένετο ναὶ καὶ οὒ ἀλλὰ ναὶ ἐν αὐτῷ γέγονεν.
2Cor. 1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes.

Gal. 2:20 ζῶ δὲ οὐκέτι ἐγώ, ζῇ δὲ ἐν ἐμοὶ Χριστός· ὃ δὲ νῦν ζῶ ἐν σαρκί, ἐν πίστει ζῶ τῇ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντός με καὶ παραδόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ.
Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me

Gal. 3:26 Πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ θεοῦ ἐστε διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ·
Gal. 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Eph. 4:13 μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ,
Eph. 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;

On the other hand, it is curious that no one seems to have even made the attempt to read θεοῦ in apposition to υἱοῦ in Rom. 1:4. I could not find anyone, perhaps someone else can cite a scholar ancient or recent that suggests this reading. 

I did a search of TLG for υἱὸς θεοῦ in various permutations. Outside of Philo and LXX, it is rare. One reason we don't see lots of examples of υἱὸς/υἱοῦ/... [τοῦ] θεοῦ in pagan literature; in polytheistic frameworks designating divine paternity would normally use the proper name or an epitaph for the deity. I did find υἱοὶ θεῶν in Pindar.

Pindarus Lyr., Pythia (0033: 002)
“Pindari carmina cum fragmentis, pt. 1, 5th edn.”, Ed. Maehler, H. (post B. Snell)
Leipzig: Teubner, 1971.
Ode 11, line 62
⸏εὐώνυμον κτεάνων κρατίσταν χάριν πορών·
ἅ τε τὸν Ἰφικλείδαν
διαφέρει Ἰόλαον
ὑμνητὸν ἐόντα, καὶ Κάστορος βίαν,
σέ τε, ἄναξ Πολύδευκες, υἱοὶ θεῶν,
τὸ μὲν παρ’ ἆμαρ ἕδˈραισι Θεράπνας,
τὸ δ’ οἰκέοντας ἔνδον Ὀλύμπου.
Αʹ Αἰτ σε, φιλάγˈλαε, καλλίστα βροτεᾶν πολίων,
Φερσεφόνας ἕδος, ἅ τ’ ὄχθαις ἔπι μηλοβότου
ναίεις Ἀκράγαντος ἐΰδˈματον κολώναν, ὦ ἄνα,

Scholia In Pindarum, Scholia in Pindarum (scholia vetera) (5034: 001)
“Scholia vetera in Pindari carmina, 3 vols.”, Ed. Drachmann, A.B.
Leipzig: Teubner, 1:1903; 2:1910; 3:1927, Repr. 1:1969; 2:1967; 3:1966.
Ode P 11, scholion 91, line 4
EGQ τὴν ἐν τοῖς κτήμασι κρατι-
στεύουσαν εὐφημίαν· ταύτην γὰρ λέγει χάριν. 92E
BDEGQ ἥτις εὐδοξία ἔνδοξον ὄντα
καὶ τὸν Ἰφικλέους παῖδα Ἰόλαον πανταχοῦ διάγει καὶ ἐπί-
σημον ποιεῖ, καὶ τὸν Κάστορα καὶ σὲ, ὦ δέσποτα Πολύδευ-
κες, υἱοὶ θεῶν, καὶ ἀπὸ κοινοῦ τὸ διάγει ἡ εὐφημία, ποτὲ
μὲν παρ’ ἡμέραν ἐν ταῖς Λακωνικαῖς ὄντας καθέδραις, ποτὲ
δὲ ἐν τοῖς τοῦ Διὸς οἰκοῦντας. (fin. sch. E)
DEGQ πανταχοῦ διάγει καὶ ἐπίσημον ποιεῖ καὶ διαστέλλει. 91E
BDGQ τὸ τοῦ Ὁμήρου παραφράζει τὸ
(λ 302)·

I have neglected the most obvious reason for NOT reading θεοῦ in apposition to υἱοῦ in Rom. 1:4. Paul is setting up a contrast between κατὰ σάρκα “according to the flesh” and κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης “according to the Spirit of holiness” and also between messianic sonship ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ “descended from David” and metaphysical sonship υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει “the Son of God in power” … that is the general idea, James Dunn wrote an article on this in 1973[3] which is at times hard to understand since Dunn’s christology is a little strange from my perspective. 

[1] Porter, S.E., and A.W. Pitts 2009 ‘Πíστiς with a Preposition and Genitive Modifier: Lexical, Semantic, and Syntactic Considerations in the πίστις Χριστοῦ Discussion’, in Bird and Sprinkle (eds.) 2009: 33-53

 [2]Murray J. Harris, "Jesus as God", Baker Book House, 1992

[3]James DG Dunn, “Jesus-Flesh and Spirit: An Exposition of Romans 1: 3-4,” JTS 24 (1973)

Friday, February 03, 2012

Son of God, Begotten of God & Islamic readings

If I were an Islamic apologist seeking support for the notion that Christianity teaches a pagan form of divine paternity I might start out with Psalm 2:7.   

I will tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, “You are my son,
today I have begotten you.

διαγγέλλων τὸ πρόσταγμα κυρίου
Κύριος εἶπεν πρός με Υἱός μου εἶ σύ,
ἐγὼ σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε·
 אספרה אל חק יהוה
אמר אלי בני אתה אני
היום ילדתיך
J. A. Fitzmyer in his discussion of 4q246, the Aramaic “son of god” fragment, refers to ילדתיך "begotten" in Psa 2:7 as a “graphic expression” and goes on to state “Commentators are usually hesitant to assert that this implies a physical divine sonship for the king, such as might be the connotation of similar expressions in the ancient myths of the eastern Mediterranean world.”[1]

From there moving to the New Testament, I might focus on one particular reading of μονογενὴς, i.e., “only begotten” in the Johannine Prolog.

John 1:14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth

John 1:18 Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο.

John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Anyone who reads the NIV or RSV will know that μονογενὴς is not translated only begotten. Tyndale translated it only begotten and hundreds of years later we still see it in ASV, NKJV and NASB (ca. 1969) with footnote noting alternate translation. The second and third editions of the late F. Danker's lexicon[2] , TDNT[3] and EDNT[4] demonstrate  that the jury is still out on how to best render μονογενὴς and only begotten is still one of the contenders.    

The word μονογενής, in reference to an only child, is found with τέκνον and πατρί already in Aeschylus.

μονογενὲς τέκνον πατρί
Aeschylus Line 898

This citation from Aeschylus Line 898 μονογενὲς τέκνον πατρί is found in a speech by Agamemnon’s treacherous wife who is laying on the irony, nothing should be taken at face value. Obviously Agamemnon is not an only child of his father. A century ago, Herbert W. Smyth, the great classical Greek grammarian translated the passage:

“But now, having born all this, my heart freed from its anxiety, I would hail my husband here as the watchdog of the fold, the savior forestay of the ship, firm-based pillar of the lofty roof, only-begotten son of a father, or land glimpsed by common earth the foot, my King, that has trampled upon Ilium.”

Note that “only-begotten son of a father” is still with us. Smyth obviously hadn’t read B.F. Westcott's commentary on John (1881), which points out that only-begotten is a not the best translation. Keep in mind, we are simulating apologetic argumentation by an Islam foe of Christianity. Assuming that only-begotten is a mistranslation, it should be noted that mistranslations are very common in apologetics. The reading used by an apologist is the one which supports his argument.

Another early use of μονογενὲς is found in Herodotus Book 7.221
 Herodotus 7.221
 Ὁ δὲ ἀποπεμπόμενος αὐτὸς μὲν οὐκ ἀπέλιπε, τὸν δὲ παῖδα συστρατευόμενον, ἐόντα οἱ μουνογενέα, ἀπέπεμψε.

He however when he was bidden to go would not himself depart, but sent away his son who was with him in the army, besides whom he had no other child. G. C. Macaulay, [1890].
The word μονογενὲς is frequently found in a context where fatherhood or parents and children are part of the cognitive frame. The often repeated certain results of modern greek-lexicography, found in bible translation handbooks and the J. P. Louw & E. A. Nida Semantic Domain Dictionary of the NT, where μονογενὲς is defined:
58.52 pertaining to what is unique in the sense of being the only one of the same kind or class — ‘unique, only. 
The problem with this definition is that ignores the cognitive frame of family relationships. The samples given in the same entry demonstrate what is lacking in the definition.

58.52  τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν ‘he gave his only Son’ Jn 3:16; τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἀπέσταλκεν ὁ θεός ‘God sent his only Son’ 1Jn 4:9; τὸν μονογενῆ προσέφερεν ὁ τὰς ἐπαγγελίας ἀναδεξάμενος ‘he who had received the promises presented his only son’ or ‘… was ready to offer his only son’ He 11:17. Abraham, of course, did have another son, Ishmael, and later sons by Keturah, but Isaac was a unique son in that he was a son born as the result of certain promises made by God. Accordingly, he could be called a μονογενής son, since he was the only one of his kind.

There is significant disagreement among NT scholars on the precise meaning of μονογενὲς. The ancient hand me down Vulgate-Tyndale-KJV-ASV-NASB tradition of "only begotten" isn't dead by any means. Claims of consensus are always premature, you take long hard look at the secondary literature and you will find real diversity. Our hypothetical Islamic apologist will find cracks large enough for driving in a wedge which is all one needs to build an argument.    
There is no lack of material in the Christian canon for an Islamic apologist who is set on proving the that christianity teaches a pagan form of divine paternity. All these texts are read by orthodox christians in light of the doctrine of the trinity worked out in detail after the canon was complete. If the question is simply one about the language used in an isolated text like Psalm 2:7 or John1:18 then the Islamic apologist will be difficult to refute. 

[1]Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea scrolls and Christian origins, 2000, page 66.

[2] BAGD 1979, p. 527. BDAG 2000, p. 658.

[3] TDNT, IV, 737-741.

[4] EDNT, v.2, 439-440.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Son of God, Peter, Nathaniel and the Demon

The biblical expression "Son of God" has been a point of contention among bible translators who work  among Islamic peoples for a long time. In the last twelve years this discussion has wandered into Christology and NT lexical semantics[1]. One point of controversy: Is “Son of God” in reference to Jesus a messianic title? A different question: Are “Son of God” and Messiah/Christ synonyms? In this post we will examine texts where “Son of God” is used in reference to Jesus by Peter, Nathaniel and demons.
Peter’s confession:
Matt. 16:16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Mark 8:29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
Luke 9:20 And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

In Matthew 16:16, do we have two affirmations or a single affirmation repeated? Mark and Luke appear to support the notion that Peter was affirming Jesus as the Messiah.

John 1:49 Nathaniel answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Should we read this as an equivalent to Peter’s confession in Matt. 16:16? Is Nathaniel making one or two affirmations about Jesus?

All three accounts of the Gerasene demoniac use “Son of God” language.

Matt. 8:29 “What have you to do with us, O Son of God?”
Mk 5:7 “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”
Lk. 8:28 “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”

The other demonic affirmations use a messianic title “Holy One of God”

Mark 1:24  “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
Luke 4:34 “Ah! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 
Are all the demons affirming the same notion, that Jesus is the Messiah? My natural inclination is to read trinitarian dogmatic definitions developed in the fourth century back into “Son of God” title. In other words, to understand this expression as equivalent to God the Son, the second person of the trinity. I don’t think the NT uses “Son of God” as a technical term. On the other hand, I think that calling  “Son of God” merely a messianic title and nothing more is also an error. The evidence from Peter’s confession suggests that there was significant semantic overlap between “Son of God” and Christ. But that alone does not entail a restriction on the meaning of “Son of God.”  When the gospels were written the title Christ had probably absorbed all the implications of divine sonship. In other words, the semantic significance of the Messiah had expanded to include all implications of “Son of God.”     

[1] most of these articles are available as .pdf files on the web.

Abernathy, D. (2010). Translating “Son of God” in Missionary Bible Tranalstion: A Critique of “Muslim-idiom Biblie Translations’: Claims and facts.” St. Francis Magazine, 6(1).

Abernathy, D. (2010). JESUS IS THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD St Francis Magazine 6:2 (April 2010).

Horrell, J. S. (2010). Cautions Regarding “Son of God” in Muslim-idiom Translations of the Bible: Seeking Sensible Balance. St. Francis Magazine, 6(638-676.

Brown, R., Penny, J., & Gray, L. (2009). Muslim-idiom Bible Translations: Claims and Facts. St. Francis Magazine, 5(6), 87-105.

Brown, Rick. 2000. The ‘Son of God’: Understanding the messianic titles
of Jesus. International Journal of Frontier Missions. 17(1):

Brown, Rick. 2005a. Explaining the biblical term ‘Son(s) of God’ in Muslim
contexts. International Journal of Frontier Missions. 22(3):

Brown, Rick.  2005b. Translating the biblical term ‘Son(s) of God’ in Muslim
contexts. International Journal of Frontier Missions. 22(4):

Brown, Rick. 2004. Son of Man, Son of God, Word of God, Christ: An
exegesis of major titles of Jesus, with suggestions for translation
and explanatory notes. Unpublished monograph.

Brown, Rick. 2001. Presenting the deity of Christ from the Bible. International
Journal of Frontier Missions. 19(1): 20-27.