Saturday, June 24, 2017

John H.P. Reumann's Commentary on Philippians 2:6

Hurtado, Philo and Morphe Qeou (Form of God)

Larry Hurtado has suggested that a particular occurrence of μορφή in Philo might comprise "certain virtues, a way of being, not simply outward/visual appearance." The passage he discusses is Embassy to Gaius (110-114). He then tries to ascertain whether there is a possible link (conceptually or linguistically) between Philo's text and Philippians 2:6.

I find the question interesting because of the work I've done on Phil. 2:6ff. Granted, the Philippians text is vexed with exegetical issues and one has to concede that μορφή could denote "status" rather than "external appearance" in Philippians, one has to ask whether the Philo text has any bearing on what Paul wrote. Secondly, how should Philo be interpreted?

One translation of Philo reads: "What connexion or resemblance was there between him [Gaius] and Apollo, when he never paid any attention to any ties of kindred or friendship? Let him cease, then, this pretended Apollo, from imitating that real healer of mankind, for the form of God is not a thing which is capable of being imitated by an inferior one, as good money is imitated by bad."

Hurtado also quotes Embassy 114: "Have we not, then, learned from all these instances, that Gaius ought not to be likened to any god, and not even to any demi-god, inasmuch as he has neither the same nature, nor the same essence, nor even the same wishes and intentions as any one of them"

From these passages, Hurtado extracts the idea that Philo has moral/ethical attributes connected with a deity in mind. But does he?

The late Dr. Rodney Decker writes:

Lightfoot is a classic example of those who base the meaning of μορφή on Greek philosophy. He explains that it refers to "the specific character" (129); that "μορφή must apply to the attributes of the Godhead" (132). "In Gk philosophical literature, μορφή acquires a fixed and central place in the thought of Aristotle. For him the term becomes equal to a thing's essence (οὐσία) or nature (φύσις).”1

However, Decker provides ample reasons to reject this understanding of μορφή in Philippians 2:6. We also learn that Hurtado's suggestion isn't new at all. Lightfoot thoroughly plumbed Philo, Aristotle, and other writers to examine the potential denotation of μορφή. His view of the word fell along similar lines as Hurtado's. Yet Lightfoot was almost surely mistaken as I have pointed out in the first volume of Christology and the Trinity and so has Moisés Silva, in his Philippians commentary.

For Decker's analysis, see

Concerning "the specific character" understanding of μορφή, Lightfoot himself maintains that the ancient Neoplatonists and Philo both knew and utilized the word in this manner. See Lightfoot's analysis at

Nonetheless, I emphasize that Paul likely did not use μορφή this way.

Hurtado's discussion is here:

About the Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (Link Enclosed)


The page explains why Brill published this helpful resource for Greek students. Sorry, but I still eagerly await the Cambridge Greek lexicon, although Brill is good too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Proverbs 8:22-QANAH Possibly Means "Created"

I think that most, if not all, commentators are aware
of the Hebrew word that appears in Prov. 8:22. When they talk about
QANAH (QNH) being used, they are evidently referring
to the lexical form and not to what strictly appears
in Proverbs. Let us consider what Whybray's commentary

"Created me (QANANI): the meaning of this word has
been disputed since very early times. LXX, Targ.,
Pesh. have 'created'; Vulg. 'possessed'. The verb
QANAH, which occurs frequently, together with its
cognates, in the Old Testament, almost always means
'acquire' or, more specifically, 'purchase' (and so
also 'possess'). In Proverbs, apart from this verse,
it occurs thirteen times" (Proverbs, 129).

Whybray then discusses the semantic range of
QANAH. He subsequently concludes:

"The meaning of QANANI here remains uncertain. Of the
three possibilities, 'begot, procreated' has less
evidence to support it than the other two. 'Acquired,
possessed' is perhaps more likely than 'created' in
view of the overwhelming number of passages in which
this verb has this meaning. But scholars who argue
that QANAH in the sense of 'acquired' must imply that
Wisdom is here seen as having pre-existed before
Yahweh acquired her (Vawter, 1980, pp. 205-16; de
Boer, 1961) are reading too much into the text. This
conclusion, however, is subject to the interpretation
of 8:22-31 as a whole" (Proverbs, 130).

C.H. Toy (ICC on Proverbs), who
definitely knows how the text reads (as shown on page
181 of his work) observes:

"The rendering formed (=created) is supported by the
parallel expressions in v. 23, 24, 25 (made or
ordained and brought into being); the translation
possessed (RV.) is possible, but does not accord with
the context, in which the point is the time of
Wisdom's creation" (Toy, 173).

Admittedly, the exact sense of QANAH in Prov. 8:22 is
highly contested, but there appear to be good reasons
for understanding QANAH as "created" in this verse:

"Some scholars question whether the first verb
mentioned in v. 22a (QANAH) means anything more than
'to acquire, possess,' but the evidence from Ugaritic,
Phoenician, and Hebrew is clear that 'to create' is
one of its meanings. In Ugaritic, the fivefold
repeated epithet of Asherah, QNYT 'LM, can only mean
'creator of the gods.' In Phoenician, 'L QN 'RS (KAI
26.iii.18) can only mean 'El, creator of the earth.' A
similar epithet appears in Gen 14:19, 22, where El
Elyon is called 'creator of heaven and earth.' In Deut
32:6 QANAH is parallel to 'to make' and 'to
establish.' Thus, the Hebrew verb QANAH, in addition
to the meaning 'to acquire, possess,' can also mean
'to create'" (Richard J. Clifford,Proverbs: A Commentary, p. 96).

Additionally, Clifford offers this explanation:

"In Biblical Hebrew, QANAH had two distinct
senses--'to possess (by far the most common meaning)
and 'to create, beget'" (Clifford, 96). Clifford
himself seems to prefer the latter sense for QANAH in
Prov. 8:22. See Clifford, 94-96.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Online Article Pertaining to the Book of Isaiah

I am enjoying an article by J. Blake Couey found here:

While I don't endorse every comment made in this article, the following remarks are worth posting in light of past discussions we've had about Isaiah's place in the canon:

The final stages of the formation of Isaiah, including the appearance of something like its present form, occurred sometime between the 5th and 3rd centuries bce. More precise dates remain contested, owing to the paucity of both specific historical references in the later chapters of the book and external historical sources from this period. The Great Isaiah Scroll from Qumran (1QIsaa)—a complete copy of the book whose content is very similar to manuscripts from nearly a millennium later—dates to the late 2nd century bce; near the beginning of the same century, the author of the biblical book of Sirach knew a form of Isaiah that included both chapters 36–39 and 40–55 (Sir. 48:23–24). Additional editorial work may have continued until the turn of the Common Era, as suggested by differences among copies of Isaiah from Qumran, the early Greek translation of Isaiah in the Septuagint, and later Hebrew manuscripts.9 At the same time, Qumran marks the point at which interpretation of Isaiah began to appear in separate commentaries on the text, instead of additions to the book itself.10 Although it would be historically anachronistic to speak of a biblical canon at this point, this development suggests that Isaiah was viewed as possessing some degree of religious authority.

An Addendum to The Revelation 5:10 Post

The more I think about Bowman's objection regarding NWT treatment of epi for Rev. 5:10, the less sense his objection makes. Nouns are classically defined as parts of speech that name persons, places or things. So we're to believe that epi (in some cases) can be rendered/understood as "over" when it comes to persons (Revelation 17:18) or things (Acts 8:27), but it cannot be so understood when referring to places? Who made this rule and which grammar states it?

Another question for Dr. Bowman would be, is Egypt a place-noun? If he concedes that the noun does name a place, I would draw Bowman's attention to Genesis 41:41:

εἶπεν δὲ Φαραω τῷ Ιωσηφ ἰδοὺ καθίστημί σε σήμερον ἐπὶ πάσης γῆς Αἰγύπτου

Examples have already been provided to show that epi ths ghs also can be rendered "over the earth."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Revelation 5:10: Answering Dr. Robert Bowman

I and other Witnesses have written material addressing the NWT rendering of Revelation 5:10, "over the earth" as opposed to "on the earth." Yet Robert Bowman evidently continues to insist that "over the earth" is an unjustified and potentially agenda-driven translation. He maintains that NWT "has almost no scholarly support" and "is certainly wrong." While admitting that epi can mean "over" at times (Rev 9:11; 11:6), he still asserts that epi never denotes "over" when used in conjunction with a "place-noun" like earth. See Rev 5:3, 13. What should we make of Bowman's claims?

My assessment is that Bowman is "certainly wrong" about the NWT handling of Rev 5:10.

JFB Commentary:
Kelly translates, "reign over the earth" (Greek, "epi tees gees"), which is justified by the Greek (Septuagint, Jud 9:8; Mt 2:22). The elders, though ruling over the earth, shall not necessarily (according to this passage) remain on the earth. But English Version is justified by Re 3:10. "The elders were meek, but the flock of the meek independently is much larger" [Bengel].

Bengel's Gnomon: ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, upon the earth) Ἐπὶ here denotes locality, as ch. Revelation 3:10 and everywhere: or rather power, as ch. Revelation 2:26; as it is said, βασιλεύει ἐπὶ τῆς Ἰουδαίας, Matthew 2:22. And thus the Septuagint, Jdg 9:8; 1 Samuel 8:7; 1 Samuel 12:12; 1 Samuel 12:14; 2 Kings 8:20; 2 Kings 11:3. I should not therefore venture to assert, from this phrase, that these remain on the earth, though they rule over the earth. The elders were meek (comp. Matthew 5:5): but the flock of the meek independently is much larger.

Brenton translates 2 Kings 11:3: "And he remained with her hid in the house of the Lord six years: and Athaliah{gr.Gotholia} reigned over the land."

"Gotholia was reigning over the land" (NETS).

On page 166 of his Revelation commentary, Grant R. Osborne explains that epi for authority or rule ("over") is "common"--then he cites Rev 5:10 as an example and Rev 17:18. However, to be fair, see the remarks that he later makes on 5:10. The point nonetheless stands that "over" is far from being wrong. Furthermore, there is adequate scholarly support for the NWT rendering.

See also

Cf. the discussion on epi in BDAG.

If one consults the major lexica and grammars on this issue, he/she will likely find that Bowman's place-noun rule dissipates under the heat of evidence.

The Case for Revelation Being Written Under Domitian's Reign

Jonathan Knight (Revelation, Sheffield: Sheffield
Academic Press, 1999) concludes that the book of
Revelation was written "in the last decade of the
first century CE at some point before the murder of
Domitian in 96 CE" (page 19). He makes this conclusion
for reasons that are listed below:

(1) Papias of Hierapolis (ca. 70-163 CE) knew the Apocalypse and he
lived during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 CE). The
evidence from Papias places the book's date in the first century CE.

(2) Justin Martyr (150 CE) and Irenaeus (ca. 185) both
were familiar with the Apocalypse of John (Die
Offenbarung des Johannes
). Thus the book was already
being used by Christians prior to that time.

(3) Irenaeus writes that the book of Revelation was
produced near the end of Domitian's reign (around 96

(4) Eusebius of Caesarea observes that John was sent to Patmos by
Domitian (Hist. Eccl. 3.18.1).

In addition to Knight's proposal for the date of
Revelation, G.K. Beale (Revelation, Cambridge:
Paternoster Press, 1999) also thinks that Revelation
was written around 96 CE. He makes this proposal:

"Therefore, a date during the time of Nero is possible
for Revelation, but the later setting under Domitian
is more probable in the light of the evidence in the
book for an expected escalation of emperor worship in
the near future and especially the widespread,
programmatic legal persecution portrayed as imminent
or already occurring in Revelation 13, though the
letters reveal only spasmodic persecution" (page 9).

All in all, while there may be some debate about
when Revelation was written, I think a good case can
be made for the 96 CE date.

Genesis 3:24-A Comparison of Texts

Targum Onkelos Genesis 1-6: And He drove out the man, and before the garden of Eden he caused to dwell the kerubaya, and the sharp sword which revolved to keep the way of the Tree of Life.


Latin Vulgate: eiecitque Adam et conlocavit ante paradisum voluptatis cherubin et flammeum gladium atque versatilem ad custodiendam viam ligni vitae.

Septuagint: καὶ ἐξέβαλεν τὸν Αδαμ καὶ κατῴκισεν αὐτὸν ἀπέναντι τοῦ παραδείσου τῆς τρυφῆς καὶ ἔταξεν τὰ χερουβιμ καὶ τὴν φλογίνην ῥομφαίαν τὴν στρεφομένην φυλάσσειν τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς

Brenton Septuagint Translation: And he cast out Adam and caused him to dwell over against the garden of Delight, and stationed the cherubs and the fiery sword that turns about to keep the way of the tree of life.

Targum of Jonathan Gen 1-6: And the Lord God removed him from the garden of Eden; and he went and dwelt on Mount Moriah, to cultivate the ground from which he had been created. And He drave out the man from thence where He had made to dwell the glory of His Shekina at the first between the two Kerubaia.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

John 17:3-Ginoskw as Coming to Know?

Melito of Sardis: Modalism and the Passover Homily

It has been a few years since I perused the writings
of Melito in any detail. However, it appears safe to assert
that he was a modalist, who thought Jesus possibly
exhausted the reality of God the Father, Son and
the holy spirit.

Jaroslav Pelikan (The Christian Tradition, volume I)
alludes to the words of Tertullian, who argued that
certain believers in or around his time "protect[ed]
the 'monarchy' of the Godhead by stressing the
identity of the Son with the Father without specifying
the distinction between them with equal precision"

Melito of Sardis was one such Monarchian, according to
Pelikan. He applied Psalm 96:10 to Jesus through
a so-called "christian midrash," whereby one
interprets the words "The Lord reigns from the tree"
as a polemic against Jews who opposed the glorious
Lord, Jesus Christ.

I notice that the Ecole Initiative states:

"The Peri Pascha addressed Marcionite teaching, even
if by extreme rhetoric. Jesus was not just prefigured
in the Hebrew scriptures, he was in the Hebrew
scriptures, suffering with the prophets, David, Moses,
Joseph, et al (415-504). Melito's graphic descriptions
of Jesus's death would be in direct opposition to the
docetic denial of Jesus' material body. Moreover,
Melito's modalism allowed him to affirm that God was
in all of these events and that he even suffered as
the person of Jesus. Marcionites must have found this
link to the Hebrew scriptures coarse and distasteful."

John 13:3-Why Is It Translated with "God" Despite Being Anarthrous?

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος. (John 1:1)

We have a preverbal anarthrous predicate nominative in John 1:1c along with the expression πρὸς τὸν Θεόν in 1:1b: the Word is with the God. However, there is a different construction in John 13:3. There, we find ἀπὸ + the genitive noun Θεοῦ, which suggests definiteness despite being anarthrous. It is not uncommon to find definite anarthrous nouns that are made such by virtue of prepositions.

In the latter part of John 13:3, we encounter τὸν θεὸν (signifying definiteness) describing the one earlier referenced by the anarthrous Θεοῦ. So how we render a scriptural passage involves more than whether the article is omitted: other syntactical and contextual factors must also be considered, but NWT critics generally overlook these factors.

Acts 20:33-No Coveting

ἀργυρίου ἢ χρυσίου ἢ ἱματισμοῦ οὐδενὸς ἐπεθύμησα· (Acts 20:33 WH)

You will notice that all nouns in this verse occur in the genitive case, and so does the adjective οὐδενὸς. As for the verb, it comes at the end: ἐπεθύμησα. James A. Brooks and Carlton L. Winbery (Syntax of New Testament Greek, 20) explain that the construction is the genitive of root idea, wherein the verbs take genitive nouns as their objects.

A question that also preoccupies my mind is why Paul spoke this way. What scriptural antecedents influenced his view of covetousness? Obvious candidates are Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21: both verses contain the tenth commandment of the Mosaic Decalogue.

οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ πλησίον σου οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ πλησίον σου οὔτε τὸν ἀγρὸν αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὸν παῖδα αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὴν παιδίσκην αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ βοὸς αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ ὑποζυγίου αὐτοῦ οὔτε παντὸς κτήνους αὐτοῦ οὔτε ὅσα τῷ πλησίον σού ἐστιν (Exodus 20:17 LXX)

οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ πλησίον σου οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ πλησίον σου οὔτε τὸν ἀγρὸν αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὸν παῖδα αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὴν παιδίσκην αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ βοὸς αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ ὑποζυγίου αὐτοῦ οὔτε παντὸς κτήνους αὐτοῦ οὔτε ὅσα τῷ πλησίον σού ἐστιν (Deuteronomy 5:21 LXX)

Moreover, the teachings of Jesus (an observant Jew) supplied Paul with the needed impetus to avoid coveting anyone's silver, gold or garb (Luke 12:15). In the Sermon on the Mount and when telling the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus emphasized the vital necessity of eschewing covetousness (Matthew 6:24-34; Luke 16:14).

Many verses could be summoned to demonstrate Jehovah's view of covetousness, but one scriptural passage that also catches my eye is Exodus 3:22: αἰτήσει γυνὴ παρὰ γείτονος καὶ συσκήνου αὐτῆς σκεύη ἀργυρᾶ καὶ χρυσᾶ καὶ ἱματισμόν καὶ ἐπιθήσετε ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς ὑμῶν καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς θυγατέρας ὑμῶν καὶ σκυλεύσετε τοὺς Αἰγυπτίους (LXX)

Again, we see the mention of silver, gold, and garb. While it may be too much to ask whether Paul had this verse in mind as he uttered the words of Acts 20:33, it is not a stretch to assert that he was familiar with Exodus 3:22. Lastly, Achan's confession likely is a candidate for Paul's dogged refusal to covet anyone's material possessions: εἶδον ἐν τῇ προνομῇ ψιλὴν ποικίλην καλὴν καὶ διακόσια δίδραχμα ἀργυρίου καὶ γλῶσσαν μίαν χρυσῆν πεντήκοντα διδράχμων καὶ ἐνθυμηθεὶς αὐτῶν ἔλαβον καὶ ἰδοὺ αὐτὰ ἐγκέκρυπται ἐν τῇ γῇ ἐν τῇ σκηνῇ μου καὶ τὸ ἀργύριον κέκρυπται ὑποκάτω αὐτῶν (Joshua 7:21 LXX)

Compare 2 Kings 7:8.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Did Enoch See Death?

As you well know, there are some commentators, who reckon that Enoch was transferred from earth to heaven without seeing death. The new BDAG Lexicon and Louw-Nida both put forth this understanding of Heb. 11:5. William Lane (Word Biblical Commentary) also writes that Enoch did not experience death since he equates the articular infinitival clause TOU MH IDEIN QANATON with the expression in Heb. 2:9, namely, the idiom "taste death." Lane also quotes 1 Clement 9:3: "Let us take Enoch, who having been found righteous in obedience was translated, and death did not happen to him." Cf. Lane, Hebrews, 336-337.

Against this interpretation, however, seems to be John 3:13 and Heb. 6:19-20.

John 3:13 assures us that no man (prior to Christ) ascended to heaven except the Son of Man, who descended from heaven. Heb. 6:19-20 indicates that Christ prepared the way for others to enter the heavens by means of his death and subsequent resurrection. The phrase in Heb. 11:5, while seemingly problematic, may simply be informing us that God made sure Enoch died peacefully without being aware of the pangs of death.

It appears that Enoch did not see death in that God cut his life short and may have placed Enoch in a trance when his life was cut short. Therefore, his death could be identified as a transference.

Gen. 5:24 uses an expression that is commonly implemented as a poetic euphemism for death ("And he was not"); furthermore, the Targum Onkelos says that God caused Enoch to die. The Jewish traditions surrounding
Enoch's death, therefore, makes me wonder whether the Greek METAQESIS was ever used euphemistically.

Compare Genesis Rabba 25.1.

Rashi adds:

And Enoch walked: He was a righteous man, but he could easily be swayed to return to do evil. Therefore, the Holy One, blessed be He, hastened and took him away and caused him to die before his time. For this reason, Scripture changed [the wording] in [the account of] his demise and wrote, “and he was no longer” in the world to complete his years. — [from Gen. Rabbah 25:1]

ויתהלך חנוך: צדיק היה וקל בדעתו לשוב להרשיע, לפיכך מיהר הקב"ה וסילקו והמיתו קודם זמנו [וזהו ששינה הכתוב במיתתו לכתוב ואיננו בעולם למלאות שנותיו:

for God had taken him: Before his time, like (Ezek. 24:16):“behold I am taking from you the desire of your eyes.” - [from Gen. Rabbah 25:1]

כי לקח אותו: לפני זמנו] כמו (יחזקאל כד טז) הנני לוקח ממך את מחמד עיניך

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Issues Related to Colossians 2:16-17

Col. 2:16-17 was written to the "holy ones" in Colossae, so yes, it strictly applies to the anointed but also is incumbent on all followers of Christ. Whether 2:16-17 is referring to written laws or spoken ones, the principle is the same: Christians are not under Jewish dietary laws and they should not let others judge them adversely because they refrain from such laws. The referent for τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων is not clear. Does it refer to Greek, Phrygian, or Jewish traditions? We don't know for sure, but the point from 2:16-17 still holds in my estimation. The law was a shadow, but Christ is the reality/substance: divine edicts concerning food, drink, Sabbath, and new moon all issued from the written law.

Again, I don't see how the translation/interpretation of τῶν ἀγγέλων changes any implications for our understanding of 2:16-18. Even "messengers" could be used to describe spirit beings rather than human prophets (Ps. 103:20; 2 Pet. 2:11). We must also think about the context in which 2:18 was written and what necessitated its composition. In other words, what is the Sitz-im-Leben for the verse?

2:16 is fairly specific when it maintains what Christians should reject. The dietary laws of Lev. 11 seem to be encompassed along with Jewish festivals like new moon and the Sabbath. Historically, keeping the Sabbath has been an identifying marker for reverent Jews (Exodus 31:14-17). Furthermore, according to the Tanakh, Sabbath was only given to Israel--not to Gentiles.

I also keep asking myself, why observe dietary laws for devotional reasons if Christ died for my sins and I'm now justified by exercising faith in his shed blood? What religious purpose would keeping dietary laws serve?

From Coffman's Commentary on Col. 2:16:

All of these refer to Jewish observances; as Macknight said, "Some of these were enjoined in the Law, and others by private authority." Of particular importance is the appearance of the sabbath commandment in this list. "Although the article the is not in the Greek, it clarifies the meaning; Paul was resisting the Judaizers who insisted on legalistic sabbath observance." As F. F. Bruce expressed it, "It is as plain as may well be that Paul is warning his readers against those who were trying to impose the observance of the Jewish sabbath upon them." The sabbath observance is here placed upon the same footing as the other things abolished, and "Thus Paul commits himself to the principle that a Christian is not to be censured for its non-observance."


Euphemisms in the Bible and 2 Samuel 12:14 (Links)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Philology" by James Turner (Initial Comments)

James Turner has written a work that's informative, dense, comprehensive and sometimes pleasurable. It is Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2014). A friend gifted me a copy: I will ever be indebted to him. Turner's book not only illuminates the work of philology and how the humanities developed, but it also contains material that should interest students of the Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Bible.

What is philology? How should the term be defined? One philologist told me (quoting another source) that philology is the art of reading slowly. Turner says philology covers three distinct modes of research: 1) textual philology; 2) theories of the origin and nature of language; 3) comparative language studies and how they developed including their respective language families. Examples include classical and biblical studies, studies of Sanskrit literature, and etymological or dialectal analyses. By means of such investigations, Proto-Indo-European was discovered.

Turner emphasizes that philology is inherently historical and comparative: all philological approaches use historical methods and they compare texts in the light of other texts and contexts. So, for instance, philologists examine Greek literature through the prism of Sanskrit texts or other Indo-European languages. They believe that Greek texts can only be understood or illuminated by this kind of historical and comparative approach. A.T. Robertson insists: "there is no doubt about DIA being kin to DUO, DIS. (cf. Sanskrit DVIS, Greek DIS, b = v or U); German ZWEI; English two (fem. and neut.), twain (masc.), twi-ce, twi-light, be-tween, two-fold, etc." See A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, page 580. Similarly, for Hebrew-Aramaic, a number of Semitic languages are consulted in order to shed light on biblical texts. All such work is part of the philological task.

Since reading Turner's research, I have started wondering exactly what philology is. While the word itself (according to its components) means "love of words" or "love of learning," the term has come to signify something deeper. There is no one universal definition of philology, but a consensus seems to have developed that the object of knowledge in philological studies is language/languages--"the branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages" (Oxford dictionaries). Apparently, North Americans understand the task of philology to be the study of literary or classical texts while using the aforementioned historical or comparative methods. I notice that one can still earn a Ph.D. in classical philology from Harvard.

In the coming months, I want to discuss specific contents from Turner's study. For now, I will just say one thing that caught my attention while reading this book was the preoccupation with textual criticism that philologists have. In other words, they want to establish the original reading of a text. Furthermore, something distinguishes philologists from linguists. Exactly what are the criteria that make one a linguist rather than a philologist?


Lucian of Antioch and Arianism (Duchesne)

"Lucian of Antioch was a really learned man; his work on the text of the Old Testament, which he corrected from the original Hebrew, soon became famous; he was a Hebrew scholar, and his version was adopted by the greater number of churches of Syria and Asia Minor. He occupied himself also with the New Testament.

His exegesis differed widely from Origen's. In Antioch, allegorical interpretation was not in fashion; the text was by way of being interpreted literally. The theological trend of this school is shown by the well-established fact that Lucian was the originator of the doctrine, which soon became so famous as Arianism. Around him were grouped, even as early as this time we now speak of, the future leaders of this heresy, amongst others Arius himself, Eusebius, the future Bishop of Nicomedia, Maris, and Theognis. It was, they found, necessary to abandon the theories of Paul, and to admit the personal pre-existence of Christ, in other words the Incarnation of the Word. But they granted as little as possible. The Word, according to the new doctrine, was a celestial being, anterior to all visible and invisible creatures; He had indeed created them. But He had not existed from all eternity; He was created by the Father, as an instrument for the subsequent creation. Before that He did not exist. He was called out of nothing."-Louis Duchesne, Early History of the Christian Church: From its Foundation to the End of the Fifth Century (Volume I)p. 362.

A blog reader, friend, and brother contributed this material. My thanks to him.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quick Note on F.F. Bruce and 1st Century CE Corinth

I am trying to finish New Testament History by F.F. Bruce. On pp. 314-315, Bruce reviews the history of Corinth, then he mentions that after the city was restored, it became economically prosperous once again, but also started practicing immorality as evidenced by the temple of Aphrodite. The temple sanctioned a Hellenized version of "the Syrian cult of Astarte." However, while immorality existed in 1st century Corinth (compare 1 Cor. 7:1-5), Bruce remarks that a synagogue also was there--a place that contrasted sharply with Aphrodite's temple.

Eikon in Colossians 1:15 (Christ)

The Image of God: Christ in Colossians 1:15

ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

What does the clause ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου mean (Colossians 1:15)? When the Apostle Paul speaks of Christ as the "image of the invisible God," what does he have in mind? Is the clause proof for the full deity of Jesus Christ? Admittedly, exegetes part ways in their understanding of εἰκὼν and its semantic relationship to the Son of God. Some commentators see in this Greek word, unequivocal proof that God's Son is ontologically equal to his Father. For example, Ralph Earle insists that εἰκὼν means a "likeness"--it is not, however, an accidental similarity (per accidens), but a derived similitude that apparently occurs by means of divine generation. Earle also quotes Thayer's Lexicon which avers that Christ is the εἰκὼν of the invisible God: "on account of his divine nature and absolute moral excellence" (Earle 349). Biblically, this word is likewise implemented to describe the Roman emperor's image on a silver coin, and the relation of humanity to God (Matthew 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:7ff). Nevertheless, numerous scholars continue to view εἰκὼν as a delineation of Christ's pantocratic nature, thereby making the Son of God ontologically equal to his Father. By ontological equality, they mean that the Son of God is equal to his Father with respect to being or ontos, but the Son is not hypostatically identical to his Father.

B. P. Lightfoot writes that εἰκὼν involves two prominent notions: (a) it connotes an archetype of some copy; (b) the word implies the divine epiphaneia of the incarnate or preincarnate Son (Earle 349). Charles J. Ellicott buttresses Lightfoot's comments by adding: "Christian antiquity has ever regarded the expression 'image of God' as denoting the eternal Son's perfect equality with the Father in respect of His substance, nature, and eternity" (ibid.) The view of Trinitarians accordingly can be summed up in the following words: "Thus EIKWN does not imply a weakening or a feeble copy of something. It implies the illumination of its inner core and essence" (Kleinknecht qtd. in Earle 349). Trinitarian scholars generally believe the word εἰκὼν provides evidence that Christ is one in nature with the Father and the Holy Spirit: this Greek word allegedly strengthens the doctrine that God's Son is homoousios to patri although Lightfoot acknowledges that εἰκὼν in and of itself "does not necessarily imply perfect representation" (145).

How should we view the arguments made by Earle, Ellicott, and Lightfoot (et al.)? Is Christ equal to Almighty God or not? Is Colossians 1:15 strong proof of his divinity? Upon closer examination of εἰκὼν, we must question the confidence with which Trinitarians speak vis-a'-vis the language "image of the invisible God" when it's applied to the preeminent Son of Jehovah. After reviewing the lexical evidence for εἰκὼν, it can be said that there seems to be no adequate proof for this frequently asserted claim. If we examine the word in se, it is difficult to ascertain a meaning that definitively substantiates Trinitarianism simpliciter. According to BAGD [now BDAG], εἰκὼν primarily denotes "image, likeness" (222); humanity (andros) is said to be the εἰκὼν καὶ δόξα θεοῦ (1 Corinthians 11:7). Paul also (in eschatological terms) contends that Christians will one day bear φορέσομεν καὶ τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ ἐπουρανίου (1 Corinthians 15:49). When citing this passage from Corinthians, BAGD/BDAG states that "the image corresponds with the original" (222). However, although being used to denote "image" or "likeness," εἰκὼν also carries the sense of "form, appearance."

Hierocles reports that Pythagoras--in the estimation of his disciples--had Θείαν εἰκόνα (the appearance of a God). Romans 1:23 likewise wields εἰκὼν in a similar manner despite referencing other things. In Romans 8:29, Paul tells the holy ones of Rome that God purposes to shape them in the εἰκὼν of His beloved Son: συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ. But not only are Christians to enjoy heavenly existence in the Son's likeness, anointed Christians correspondingly are being progressively changed into the εἰκὼν of the Father (2 Corinthians 3:18).

At the culmination of this age, these followers of Christ will see God and be made like unto Him (1 John 3:1-2). This crowning moment signals that the "divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4) will be appropriated by spirit-begotten children of God in order that men and women might become like the Father (Clement of Alexandria). With these uses of εἰκὼν in mind, it is difficult to see how the term when applied to Jesus Christ, can denote that the Son of God is homoousios to patri. Yet there is one more area that needs to be investigated.

Philo of Alexandria is known for using "image" in his writings. Martin Hengel discusses this philosopher in the book, The Son of God: The Origin of Christology and the History of Jewish-Hellenistic Religion. According to Philo, the Platonic realm of transcendent Forms (Ideas) is God's "eldest and firstborn son." That realm is synonymous with the divine Logos (God's reason that exists immanently within the cosmos). For Philo, the Logos is the "mediator between the eternal Godhead and the created, visible world." At the same time, the Logos is also "God's image" (εἰκὼν): Philo is never quite clear about what he perceives the Logos to be. In varying delineations, he calls the εἰκὼν of God, the sinless mediator, the spiritual primal man, the spokesman, the archangel, and the second god (deuteros theos). This deuteros theos is neither created nor uncreated--yet Philo does not necessarily equate the εἰκὼν of God with God (52). This claim is substantiated by referencing Somn. I, 157, 228-230.

In this portion of his famous work, the Alexandrian refers to the εἰκὼν of God as both kurios and archangel. This point is significant because it is here that he distinguishes the Logos from the Father who brings forth the Logos. The Father is ho theos, but the εἰκὼν can only be considered theos (without the article). This indicates that Philo viewed the Logos as mediator of creation and a secondary god, inferior to the Father of Israel (Isaiah 64:8). This philosophical detour alerts us to the fact that εἰκὼν when used by Philo may not mean that Logos qua εἰκὼν is to be equated fully with its prototype. The sun's reflection in the water is not the same as the actual sun: it does not possess the same nature that the sun does, being only a reflection of the thing itself. Similarly, Jesus as the εἰκὼν of God, does not possess the substance of the Father, but is homoiousios with him. One day anointed Christians will enjoy this same privilege, to a lesser degree of course, when they experience life in the εἰκὼν of the Son--being made like unto his image and that of his Father's (Revelation 22:1-5).

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Uses of Katoikei in the GNT

There are 7 occurrences of κατοικεῖ in the GNT:

1. Matthew 12:45-τότε πορεύεται καὶ παραλαμβάνει μεθ' ἑαυτοῦ ἑπτὰ ἕτερα πνεύματα πονηρότερα ἑαυτοῦ, καὶ εἰσελθόντα κατοικεῖ ἐκεῖ· καὶ γίνεται τὰ ἔσχατα τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκείνου χείρονα τῶν πρώτων. Οὕτως ἔσται καὶ τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ τῇ πονηρᾷ.

2. Luke 11:26-τότε πορεύεται καὶ παραλαμβάνει ἕτερα πνεύματα πονηρότερα ἑαυτοῦ ἑπτά, καὶ εἰσελθόντα κατοικεῖ ἐκεῖ, καὶ γίνεται τὰ ἔσχατα τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκείνου χείρονα τῶν πρώτων.

3. Acts 7:48-ἀλλ' οὐχ ὁ ὕψιστος ἐν χειροποιήτοις κατοικεῖ· καθὼς ὁ προφήτης λέγει

4. Acts 17:24-ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν κόσμον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ, οὗτος οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὑπάρχων κύριος οὐκ ἐν χειροποιήτοις ναοῖς κατοικεῖ

5. Colossians 2:9-ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς,

Comment: Murray J. Harris thinks κατοικεῖ in this verse is a "timeless present," hence the verb is supposed to denote "permanently dwells" or "continues to live." So Harris reasons that the Godhead permanently dwells in Christ bodily, that is, he continues to be enfleshed forever and fully divine. See Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament.

Barth L. Campbell offers this explanation for 2:9: "The verb 'dwells' (κατοικεῖ) is a metaphor that suggests the residence of the Shekinah in the tabernacle of the OT. The fullness of deity has its 'permanent' or 'fixed abode'39 in bodily form."


6. 2 Peter 3:13-καινοὺς δὲ οὐρανοὺς καὶ γῆν καινὴν κατὰ τὸ ἐπάγγελμα αὐτοῦ προσδοκῶμεν, ἐν οἷς δικαιοσύνη κατοικεῖ.

7. Revelation 2:13-Οἶδα ποῦ κατοικεῖς, ὅπου ὁ θρόνος τοῦ Σατανᾶ, καὶ κρατεῖς τὸ ὄνομά μου, καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσω τὴν πίστιν μου καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἀντίπας, ὁ μάρτυς μου, ὁ πιστός μου, ὃς ἀπεκτάνθη παρ' ὑμῖν, ὅπου ὁ Σατανᾶς κατοικεῖ.

Psalm 103:20 (102:20 LXX) and 2 Peter 2:11

εὐλογεῖτε τὸν κύριον πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ δυνατοὶ ἰσχύι ποιοῦντες τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἀκοῦσαι τῆς φωνῆς τῶν λόγων αὐτοῦ (Psalm 103:20 LXX/OG)

"Bless the Lord, all ye his angels, mighty in strength, who perform his bidding, [ready] to hearken to the voice of his words." (Brenton LXX)

ὅπου ἄγγελοι ἰσχύϊ καὶ δυνάμει μείζονες ὄντες οὐ φέρουσιν κατ' αὐτῶν παρὰ Κυρίῳ βλάσφημον κρίσιν. (2 Peter 2:11 WH)

ἰσχύϊ is dative feminine singular; μείζονες is a comparative adjective that's nominative masculine plural.

οἱ ἄγγελοι are messengers (although ἄγγελοι is anarthrous in 2 Peter), but they clearly seem to be spirit creatures in this case. See 2 Kings 18:35.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Longman, Garland, and the Present Subjunctive in John 17:3

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Colossians 1:16-17--Passive Verbs and the Non-Use of hUPO

Paul uses ἐκτίσθη and ἔκτισται (perfect indicative middle-passive) in Colossians 1:16, and moreover, he employs the prepositions εἰς, διά and ἐν + dative of person (possibly)--but Paul does not use ἐκ as he clearly does when referring to the Father in 1 Corinthians 8:6.

Petr Pokorny also documents what he calls "the accumulation of prepositions" (an apparent Hellenistic device) and observes that the writer of Colossians uses this technique in order to show that God is the Creator, but Jesus Christ "represents" God's creation:

"Since God the Father is the initiator of creation, the preposition 'from' is not used here. Otherwise it is difficult to distinguish the functions of the various prepositions from one another. They, as a whole, are to have a cumulative effect. 'In' (instrumental ἐν) and 'through' mean almost the same thing; only the phrase 'for him' is capable of pointing to the eschatological goal of creation (Cf Rom 11:36)."

Quoted from Pokorny, Petr. Colossians: A Commentary. Peabody, 1991, pp. 78-79.

While some might look to Romans 11:36 as a proof-text which demonstrates ἐκ being applied to the "triune" God, the application of ἐκ to the Father only with respect to creation indicates that this Greek preposition is not being applied to the Son in 11:36.

From Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT:

Of him (ex autou), through him (di autou), unto him (ei auton). By these three prepositions Paul ascribes the universe (ta panta) with all the phenomena concerning creation, redemption, providence to God as the Source (ex), the Agent (di), the Goal (ei). For ever (ei tou aiwna). "For the ages." Alford terms this doxology in verses Romans 33-36 "the sublimest apostrophe existing even in the pages of inspiration itself."

Another quote that has a bearing on our understanding of Colossians 1:15-17 is taken from Emil Brunner's Dogmatics (Volume I:308):

"In this connexion the truth which we have already seen acquires new significance, that the world, it is true, was created THROUGH--διά--the Son, but not BY--ὑπό--the Son, that it has been created IN Him and UNTO Him, but that He Himself is never called the Creator. It has pleased God the Creator to create the world in the Son, through the Son, and unto the Son. The fact that between the Creator and the Creation there stands the Mediator of creation means that the world is an act of the freedom of God, that it does not proceed from the Logos."

While Brunner thinks that the Son of God is "eternal," he does not believe that the Son is ever called Creator in Scripture: the Logos is the mediate agent of creation and the one through whom God brings forth the KOSMOS. But the Son is never called Creator in Scripture. Not only does the apostle Paul describe the role of the LOGOS in passive verbal terms at Col 1:15-17, but the envoy of Christ who penned Colossians missive refuses to employ ὑπό (hUPO) to delineate the role of the LOGOS vis-à-vis creation.

Brunner insists hUPO shows us that Christ is not being identified as the Creator by the apostle in Colossians 1:15-17, and I would submit that researching Greek literature will support his point. If Paul had wanted to call Jesus the Creator in Colossians, he could and likely would have used hUPO instead of διά or ἐν.

John F. Walvoord on Revelation 19:6-8

Walvoord writes:

19:5-6 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Joining the praise of the tribulation saints, the twenty-four elders, and the four beasts, a voice is now heard coming out of the throne calling upon the servants of God to praise the Lord. It is probable that this is a voice of an angel rather than the voice of God or the voice of the saints. The occasion for the praise of God is His judgment against wicked men who have oppressed the people of God. The expression "his servants" does not refer to a particular group such as the tribulation saints, as J. B. Smith suggests, but rather as the passage itself says, to "all ye his servants." In other words, this is an occasion for every true servant of God to praise the Lord. The following expression, "ye that fear him, both small and great," is another descriptive phrase applying to the same group. This seems to be supported by the Greek text which links the phrases in apposition without a connective "and" as in the Authorized Version. Hence it reads, "Keep on praising our God, all his servants who fear him, small and great." The verb "praise" is in the present tense and is therefore a command to "keep on praising" the Lord.

In antiphonal response to this call to praise, John hears the voice of the great multitude, that is, the same as in verse 1, accompanied by the majestic sound of many waters and mighty thunderings, saying for the fourth time in this passage, "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."


Friday, June 09, 2017

J.F. Rutherford Book "Life" in Greek (For Sale)

I hardly ever mention anything commercial on this blog, and would like to keep things that way. However, while going through my library, I have made the decision to sell some of my books. For one book--I want to bypass Ebay/Amazon and see if there's interest from any blog reader.

The book is "Life" by J.F. Rutherford. It is written in Greek and the publishing date is 1929. I will sell this book on a first come basis. I am asking $10.00 or best offer + shipping costs. I am limiting shipping to domestic only. Please let me know within the next week if you have an interest.

The book's condition is acceptable.

Lastly, I would ask that you contact me by email at edgarfoster2003 at



The Grammatical Subject of Philippians 1:21

Ἐμοὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῆν Χριστὸς καὶ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν κέρδος. (Philippians 1:21)

A question that arises from reading this scripture: is the grammatical subject τὸ ζῆν or Χριστὸς? Max Zerwick (Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples) explains that either term could be the subject, but he favors τὸ ζῆν in this context, and I agree. But others say that Χριστὸς is the subject, even though it lacks the article. While I think the reasoning is wrong--Χριστὸς is not the subject, but rather, it is the predicate--I emphasize that Χριστὸς could be the subject as Zerwick states and it does not have an article.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

24 Elders Cast Their Crowns? (Revelation 4:10)

πεσοῦνται οἱ εἴκοσι τέσσαρες πρεσβύτεροι ἐνώπιον τοῦ καθημένου ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου, καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν τῷ ζῶντι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, καὶ βαλοῦσιν τοὺς στεφάνους αὐτῶν ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου, λέγοντες (WH)

πεσοῦνται οἱ εἴκοσι τέσσαρες πρεσβύτεροι ἐνώπιον τοῦ καθημένου ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν τῷ ζῶντι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων καὶ βαλοῦσιν τοὺς στεφάνους αὐτῶν ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου λέγοντες· (NA28)

"the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying:" (NET Bible)

"The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying," (KJV)

"the 24 elders fall down before the One seated on the throne and worship the One who lives forever and ever, and they cast their crowns before the throne, saying:" (NWT 2013)

So a question I have is how should βαλοῦσιν be understood--the verb is future active indicative 3rd-person plural of βάλλω (I throw, put, cast, hurl).

See Revelation 12:9.


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Romans 1:17 and Double Prepositional Phrases

The double prepositional phrase in Romans 1:17 is somewhat problematic and ultimately context determines how one should understand the grammatical construction there. I notice that NWT renders the passage:

"'for in it God's righteousness is being revealed by reason of faith and toward faith, just as it is written: 'But the righteous one—by means of faith he will live.'"

NWT inserts "and" to help us make sense of the double prepositional phrase. It renders the genitive EK PISTEWS as "by reason of faith" and the accusative EIS PISTIN with the words "toward faith" thereby drawing a contrast between the two prepositions EK and EIS. RSV handles the phrase by using "through" and "for" in its rendering: '"For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live."'

Rogers and Rogers say that the preposition EK (in Romans 1:17) "may indicate the source of righteousness" (The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key, p. 316). Another important point to consider is that EN AUTWi ("in it" NWT) probably refers to the Gospel mentioned in the preceding verse. If that is the case and the prepositional phrase EN AUTWi is construed as an independent construction, then it would lend credence to the NIV rendering:

'"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."'

Richard A. Young thinks that EK PISTEWS EIS PISTIN "is best explained as means that is perhaps intensified by the addition of the second phrase (by faith and faith alone)." See his work Intermediate NT Greek, p. 95.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Anthony Thiselton's "Semantics and New Testament Interpretation" (Link and Screenshots)

Anthony Thiselton gives numerous exegetical warnings in this article. I've included a couple of screenshots to give you some idea of the argument he is trying to make.


Saturday, June 03, 2017

Epiklesis and Theosis: Eastern Theology

One helpful book on the Eastern Church (particularly Eastern Pneumatology) is Stanley M. Burgess' The Holy Spirit: Eastern Christian Traditions published by Hendrickson (1989).

Burgess defines ἐπίκλησις this way:

"Invocation of the Holy Spirit. Such an invocation is common in Eastern Christian services, including during the Eucharist (or Mystery) when the Spirit is invited to make the elements into the Body and Blood of Christ. Some epikleses ask for the descent of the Holy Spirit on the people as well as on the elements. In the Egyptian Anaphora of St. Serapion, however, there is an epiklesis asking for the descent of the Logos instead of the Spirit. The epiklesis comes after the words of institution" (229).

Θέωσις (Théōsis) simply means "deification" or "becoming God-like." Burgess explains that théōsis is "the goal of the Christian life in Eastern Christianity" (232). The soteriological implications of théōsis are also worthy of consideration. Compare 1 John 3:1-2.

Written Friday, August 8, 2003 at 5:31 P.M. by Edgar Foster; slightly edited on October 14, 2013 and edited again on 12/26/14 at 11:50 P.M.

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part VIII)-Conclusion

The conclusion of my Caragounis vs. Porter entries has been too long in coming; nevertheless, I would like to make a few remarks in closing this discussion. The comments herein pertain to Caragounis, pages 333-336.

Caragounis aims many criticisms at Porter's aspect theory including how aspect is defined. For Porter, Greek verbal aspect grammaticalizes "the author's reasoned subjective choice of conception of a process" (Caragounis, The Development of Greek and the New Testament, 333).

Porter's definition for aspect is supposed to be less than clear, it's unintelligible, recondite, opaque, and ponderous although Caragounis' main objection is likely that Porter makes aspect subjective or speaker-dependent and tenseless. Other things to observe about Porter's aspect definition is that he's one of the first theorists to define Greek aspect, he clearly distinguishes aspect from Aktionsart , and Porter bases his theory on interrelationships between divergent "tense forms" in Greek. Caragounis still does not find Porter's theory very useful.

Page 333 introduces another technical term: deixis, and Porter depends on John Lyons (a linguist) to shape his conception of deixis. Deixis itself is a hard concept to grasp at first. Moreover, linguists differentiate between person, temporal, and spatial deixis. I learned to think of deixis along the lines of indexicals or demonstrative terms. At any rate, the important consideration for now is temporal deixis.

According to Porter, temporal deixis (temporal indexicality) is indicated by a) lexical items; b) words like arti or palin; c) "anaphorical words" (e.g., near or remote demonstratives, determiners and pronominals). An example of lexical items would be the Greek word, nun.

Caragounis' dissatisfaction with Porter's employment of deixis is multifaceted. He insists that Porter does not give specific NT examples where Greek adverbs determine temporal reference for verbs. Moreover, the "lexical items" usually are missing when one examine actual cases of Greek discourse, but yet Porter still contends that the present verb form references the present "and the imperfect and aorist" point to the past (334). Hence, Caragounis writes, "The time reference seems to reside in the tense forms themselves" (Ibid.).

Do Porter's explanations suffice? Do they account for general tendencies of the Greek aorist or the present tense form? Caragounis thinks he has shown that Porter relies on anomalies, special cases and obscure explanations to make his point. He has not established that ancient Greek is solely aspectual, that is, tenseless.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Genitive of Subordination?: Question I Posed to B-Greek

Greetings B-Greekers,

Text for Revelation 1:5: καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς τῷ ἀγαπῶντι ἡμᾶς καὶ λύσαντι ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ [KAI APO IHSOU XRISTOU hO MARTUS hO PISTOS hO PRWTOTOKOS TWN NEKRWN KAI hO ARXWN TWN BASILEWN THS GHS TWi AGAPWNTI hHMAS KAI LUSANTI hHMAS EK TWN hAMARTIWN hHMWN EN TWi hAIMATI AUTOU].

My question regards how the genitive hO PRWTOTOKOS TWN NEKRWN in this verse might be understood. Is it partitive or a genitive of subordination? Whether this grammatical construction is the former or the latter, another question that has occupied my thinking here lately is whether the so-called "genitive of subordination" is an example of a category that exemplifies the famed unnecessarily multiplied entities which Occam's Law militates against. I ask because of what Daniel B. Wallace (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pp. 103-104) writes about the genitive of subordination in his work.

Wallace writes that the genitive of subordination "is a subset of the objective genitive, but not always." Hence, "For this reason, most likely, such a category is not to be found in standard grammars."

I have looked in other grammars to see what they might say about the genitive of subordination. I did not find a mention of this category in Robertson, nor in William D. Chamberlain's An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament. I also do not think that the category appears in Brooks and Winbery's Syntax of New Testament Greek, or in Biblical Greek by M. Zerwick or BDF. Cf. Richard A. Young, Intermediate New Testament Greek: A Linguistic and Exegetical Approach.

I guess an additional question is, when did grammarians begin to call certain genitive constructs "genitives of subordination"?

Best regards,
Edgar Foster

Dr. Carl Conrad replied:

For my part, I think I would understand the genitive TWN NEKRWN in
this context as partitive: of those who have died, the first to come
to birth again is Jesus Christ.

As for the "genitive of subordination," it appears to be the
brainchild of Professor Wallace, perhaps "the firstborn of many
aporetic case-usages." On a more serious note: From the pages you cite
it would appear that he is concerned with the usage of the genitive to
indicate those governed by or commanded by one in a position of
authority, an ARCWN. My guess is that this is really an instance of a
genitive of comparison -- which is really a genitive of separation
(ablatival) used especially with comparative adjectives such as
KREITTWN; although ARCWN is a substantive participle, the verb ARCW
really means "have priority over" or "be in front." It is certainly
the case that verbs of command take a genitive object, and I suspect
that the category of "genitive of subordination" was created, like
some of those Aristotelian terms for virtues and vices of which he
says, "We know what the behavior is and can describe it even though we
have no word for it." I think that Professor Wallace has created a
name for a genitive usage with an expression of governance or command
that has always been there but has hitherto been nameless.

BUT: I really do NOT think the phrase PRWTOTOKOS TWN NEKRWN has a
sense of governance or command over the dead. That sounds more like
Milton's Satan: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."

Carl W. Conrad

He then gave a follow-up response:

Just to follow up on what I wrote last night about this, Smyth has an
account of genitive usage with adjectives (;
to be found among them is the following:
The genitive is used with many adjectives corresponding in derivation
or meaning to verbs taking the genitive.

The adjective often borrows the construction with the genitive from
that of the corresponding verb; but when the verb takes another case
(especially the accusative), or when there is no verb corresponding to
the adjective, the adjective may govern the genitive to express
possession, connection more or less close, or by analogy. Many of the
genitives in question may be classed as objective as well as partitive
or ablatival. Rigid distinction between the undermentioned classes
must not be insisted on.
Ruling (1370).—““ταύτης κύριος τῆς χώρας
[TAUTHS THS CWRAS]” master of this country” D. 3.16,
““ἀκρατὴς ὀργῆς [AKRATHS ORGHS]” unrestrained in
passion” T. 3.84. So with ἐγκρατής [EGKRATHS] master of,
αὐτοκράτωρ complete master of, ἀκράτωρ [AKRATWR]
intemperate in.

I still don't think that πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν
belongs properly in this (sub)category.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)