Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Luke 2:50: "they did not understand" (NIV)

My personal view is that there are few, if any, slam dunks in exegesis: we base our understanding of biblical texts on things other than grammar when all is said and done. Rolf Furuli brings out this point in his book on biblical translation and bias. Now exegesis is not reading one's preconceptions into the Bible; that would be eisegesis. Nevertheless, to illustrate how Greek texts have various possibilities when it comes to translation or exegesis, I would like to draw a contrast between Jesus' parents being shocked and his parents lacking comprehension in Luke 2:50. In my humble opinion, the Greek text communicates the latter understanding as opposed to the former:

"SUNHKAN aor. ind. act. SUNIHMI (# 5317) to bring together, to understand, to comprehend" (Rogers and Rogers New Linguistic and Exegetical Key, p. 114).

Moulton-Milligan say that the "literal meaning" of SUNIHMI is "bring together"; metaphorically speaking, it conveys the sense "perceive" or "understand" (Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, p. 607-608).

Finally, the NIDNTT confirms this way of approaching Luke 2:50:

CL & OT 1. In cl. Gk. the vb. syniēmi originally meant to bring together, a meaning not found in the NT. Fig., syniēmi means to perceive, take notice of, understand, comprehend. The noun synesis originally meant a joining (e.g., of rivers); then, in a transferred sense, the faculty of judgment, apprehension, understanding, insight, comprehension. Neither vb. nor noun acquired any great philosophical importance. The adj. synetos means quick at apprehending, clever; also intelligible. The opposite is asynetos, stupid or unintelligible.

In [Luke] 2:47 the insight of Jesus at twelve years of age is the subject of amazement, and there is no doubt that such insight is regarded as a gift from God. Conversely, his parents' failure to understand (2:50) must be seen as the opposite. In addition, it is the risen Christ who enables the downcast disciples on the Emmaus road to understand the Scriptures and to grasp the fact that his sufferings were foreordained by God (24:45).

This brief exercise illustrates how when we're faced with two or more possible options for translating a Greek word, the deciding factor will be context and passages in which a word is similarly used by other writers. We must also consider the synchronic features of a word--not just the diachronic features.

Aspect, Aktionsart and 1 John 3:9

There are a number of fine works that examine aspect and Aktionsart from different perspectives. However, I
would initially like to mention Rolf Furuli's approach to tense and aspect.

Rolf, like Bernard Comrie, evidently defines tense as "the grammaticalization of location in time" (Furuli, The Role of Theology, 75). He then writes:

"Given Comrie's definition of 'tense,' neither Hebrew nor Greek have tenses, save possibly Greek future, which is viewed by most researchers as a tense" (ibid).

Alhough I have read the studies produced by Porter, Furuli, Fanning and McKay, I have been very hesitant to concur with the non-temporal view of Greek tenses ex toto. In my personal estimation, there does not seem to be good reason for totally removing the notion of tempus from Greek tenses, even when the future "tense" is not under consideration. But I do believe that aspect is more prominent than the concept of tempus when it comes to Greek tenses. Furthermore, Wallace and Fanning seem to have a point when they contend that a number of factors (i.e., affected vs. non-affected meaning) provide temporal data in Greek.

Firstly, as Richard Young points out, "Although the thesis that time is not grammaticalized in Greek may sound extreme, it seems to be the logical conclusion one draws from the study of the nuances of Greek 'tenses'" (Young, Intermediate NT Greek, 105). However, Young qualifies this remark:

"Nevertheless, there is still merit in the traditional view that temporal distinctions are grammaticalized in the indicative mood, even though it results in a greater number of anomalies. This does not necessarily indicate a flaw in the analysis, since all languages have forms which overlap into the semantic domain of other forms" (ibid., 107).

S. M. Baugh (A First John Reader, 52) argues that "the function and force of tense forms varies with the different moods." Therefore, "An author chooses the tense form of a participle and the tense form of a complementary infinitive for different reasons" (ibid.). He then illustrates this argument with the example of 1 Jn. 3:9.

Baugh believes that three factors buttress his interpretation of 1 Jn. 3:9.

(1) The immediate context.

(2) The lexical significance of hAMARTANEIN.

(3) The influence of DUNAMAI upon the tense form of its complementary infinitive.

He contends that since the infinitive form of hAMARTANW does not appear elsewhere in the NT, John must have used the infinitive at 3:9 to signal an ongoing activity, not a state. He concludes: "the phrase OU DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN in 1 John 3:9 expresses the fact that the Christian is prevented by the new birth and the abiding presence of God from falling into persistent sin" (52).

In ftn. 16 on page 52 of his A First John Reader, Baugh also addresses views posited by Smalley and Wallace regarding this verse. He demonstrates that 1 John 5:16 with its use of hAMARTANONTA does not eradicate the iterative force of 1 Jn. 3:9--hAMARTANONTA is an adverbial present participle utilized to express action contemporaneous with the main verb. John's discussion of sin differs in this regard.

Baugh thus insists that time may be grammaticalized in certain moods. I encourage you to read his entire Excursus in A First John Reader as well as Baugh's comments regarding aspect in the Primer that he produced. You might also want to review D. B. Wallace's assessment of the temporal and non-temporal views of Greek "tense." See Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 504-510. Compare Stanley Porter's research with Buist Fanning's Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hebrew Names and Greek Morphology

One work I'd highly recommend is A Morphology of New Testament Greek: A Review and Reference Grammar (Lanham and New York: University Press of America, 1994) by James A. Brooks and Carlton L. Winbery. You will have access to a number of morphological forms by using this grammar.

This reference work shows that IEREMIAS (nominative) would be IEREMIOU in the genitive singular. But IOUDAS would be IOUDA because some -AS nouns (masculine first declension) end with a genitive -OU, whereas others terminate with the Doric ending -A in the genitive singular. This phenomenon is what might be confusing at first--Brooks and Winbery provide helpful information on p. 49ff of their book.

Notes on Colossians 2:9: "Bodily"?

Robertson's Word Pictures states: "Paul here asserts that 'all the PLHRWMA of the Godhead,' not just certain aspects, dwells in Christ and in bodily form (SWMATIKWS, late and rare adverb, in Plutarch, inscription, here only in N.T.), dwells now in Christ in his glorified humanity (Philippians 2:9-11), 'the body of his glory' (TWi SWMATI THS DOXHS)."

Louw-Nida (8.2): "SWMATIKWS: EN AUTWi KATOIKEI PAN TO PLHRWMA SWMATIKWS: 'in him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily' or . . . in physical form' Col 2.9. It is also possible to interpret SWMATIKWS in Col 2.9 as meaning 'in reality,' that is to say, 'not symbolically' (see 70.7)."

BDAG suggests that SWMATIKWS (adverbial of SWMATIKOS) bears the potential sense "bodily, corporeally" and probably should be understood from Col 2:17 "as = in reality, not fig." See page 984.

Roger and Rogers New Linguistic and Exegetical Key agrees with Robertson concerning SWMATIKWS: "The word [in Col 2:9] refers to the human body of Christ (Johnson, 310), indicating also the full humanity of Jesus a humanity which was not simply a covering for His deity (Lohse; TDNT; Moule; Lohmeyer; O'Brien).

But Petr Pokorny is most certainly right when he concludes: "The
concept SWMA has a further meaning that comes to light especially in
---> 2:17. SWMA is also the archetype (---> 1:15), the reality in
contrast to the shadow and copy. This is the most probable meaning
here, given the framework of the interpretation of 2:19" (Colossians:
A Commentary
, 122).

Saturday, April 21, 2018

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (An Emphasis on Divine Comfort)

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (SBLGNT): Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ πατὴρ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν καὶ θεὸς πάσης παρακλήσεως, 4 ὁ παρακαλῶν ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν, εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι ἡμᾶς παρακαλεῖν τοὺς ἐν πάσῃ θλίψει διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως ἧς παρακαλούμεθα αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ. 5 ὅτι καθὼς περισσεύει τὰ παθήματα τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς, οὕτως διὰ τοῦ Χριστοῦ περισσεύει καὶ ἡ παράκλησις ἡμῶν. 6 εἴτε δὲ θλιβόμεθα, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν παρακλήσεως καὶ σωτηρίας· [a]εἴτε παρακαλούμεθα, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν παρακλήσεως τῆς ἐνεργουμένης ἐν ὑπομονῇ τῶν αὐτῶν παθημάτων ὧν καὶ ἡμεῖς πάσχομεν, 7 καὶ ἡ ἐλπὶς ἡμῶν βεβαία ὑπὲρ [b]ὑμῶν· εἰδότες ὅτι [c]ὡς κοινωνοί ἐστε τῶν παθημάτων, οὕτως καὶ τῆς παρακλήσεως.

"Note that the word 'comfort,' as a noun or a verb, occurs ten times in this passage. It has the connotations of encouragement and strength as well as consolation" (Philip B. Harner, An Inductive Approach to Biblical Study, 100).

Also notice how Paul elsewhere uses words for comfort in his second letter to the Corinthians.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Attributive Genitive (Wallace)

Daniel B. Wallace (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pp. 78-88) explains that in the case of the attributive genitive, "The genitive substantive specifies an attribute or innate quality of the head substantive. It is similar to a simple adjective in its semantic force, though more emphatic: it 'expresses quality like an adjective indeed, but with more sharpness and distinctness.'"

The last part of that quote is taken from A.T. Robertson's big grammar.

As Wallace points out, the genitive itself (whether possessive or descriptive, etc.) is grammatically substantival, but semantically adjectival; that is, the genitive functions like an adjective, although it is formally a substantive (i.e., a noun).

See Luke 16:9; Romans 6:6 for potential examples.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Joel Green on Luke 17:21

Joel B. Green explains:

Attempts to read Luke's ἐντὸς ὑμῶν as a reference to the inward, spiritual dynamic of the kingdom of God (e.g., Caragounis, “Kingdom of God?” 423–24) find ready adherents in this age of psychology and individualism here in the West. But they falter especially on the grounds that (1) nowhere else in Luke-Acts is the dominion of God regarded as an inner, spiritual reality; and (2) the notion that the Pharisees contain within themselves the kingdom of God is inconsistent with the Lukan portrayal of persons from this Jewish group. For the usage of ἐντός + plural object with the sense “among,” see the survey in Mattill, Last Things, 203–7. Cf. Lebourlier, “Entos hymōn”; Maddox, Purpose, 134; Carroll, End of History, 79. An alternative translation is grammatically possible and makes sense within this co-text—namely, “within your purview” (cf. the related views of Darr, Character Building, 11314; Beasley-Murray, Kingdom of God, 102–3).

See The Gospel of Luke, page 1607.

Source: https://www.scribd.com/book/276704356/The-Gospel-of-Luke

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies (A Review)

Tremper Longman III and Mark L. Strauss. The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2018.

I'm amazed at how useful this concise dictionary is. One usually encounters numerous technical terms in academic biblical studies: many of the words tend to perplex unseasoned readers. Even those of us who have become acclimated to reading professional biblical studies may find ourselves confounded by theological vocabulary or termini technici associated with scriptural studies.

The new work written by Longman III and Strauss provides definitions for unfamiliar terms and it contains entries for place names, personal names, academic specialties, and the definitions are clear and specific. Not only do the authors discuss strictly biblical topics or words, but even words that apply to the ancient world at large are found in the dictionary. For example, an informative paragraph about the Epicureans not only defines the word, but says that Epicurus was a materialist who believed that matter and space exist--bodies and motion--but nothing else.

There is not much written about Shekinah, other than the term is rabbinic and derives from a Hebrew verb meaning "to dwell." The book provides more information for the word "Ketuvim." An acronym for the Hebrew Bible is Tanakh (also spelled Tanach or Tanak): these letters stand for Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), Nevi'im (the Prophets), and Ketuvim refers to "the Writings." Which books comprise the Nevi'im and the Ketuvim? The Baker Compact Dictionary supplies accurate and helpful definitions for each one of these words.

While I by no means endorse everything that this dictionary asserts, readers of academic biblical literature will be hard pressed to find a resource that has this much content for such a low price. I also want to thank Baker Books for sending me a review copy of this publication; I was not under obligation to give a favorable review.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

DOXA in Exodus and Ezekiel LXX

Exod. 16:10 proclaims that Jehovah's glory "appeared" in the cloud--it was some kind of visible manifestation. Compare Exod. 13:21; 16:7; 24:16; 40:34-35; Numbers 16:42; Ezekiel 3:23. Ezekiel 43:2 states that the earth shone because of God's glory.

It's hard for me to understand how one can deny that YHWH's glory in Ezekiel 1:28 is visible, bright, and overwhelming to the prophet. I also do not necessarily see the brilliance restricted to lightning in the verse: "The meaning is, In the brightness, or light, that was about what I saw, was the appearance of the rainbow" (Benson Commentary).

2 Cor. 3:18 mentions beholding the Lord's glory-DOXA "as in a glass" (KJV) which again connotes visibility on some level. Furthermore, Paul urges that "we" are changed "into the same image from glory to glory" by the spirit of God.

This page contains plenty of information on DOXA: https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/greek/gwview.cgi?n=1391

The rendering "glory" is vague, but the basic idea is still conveyed that the word DOXA potentially refers to external splendor, an outward manifestation of brilliance, etc.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

John 1:29 and "Sin"

Τῇ ἐπαύριον βλέπει τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει· ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου. (John 1:29 NA28)

" The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (ESV)

Why does 1:29 say τὴν ἁμαρτίαν (singular) instead of the plural form "sins"?

Robert Mounce: Temple, 1:24, writes that John uses the singular (“sin”) because there is only one sin and it is characteristic of the entire world, “the self-will which prefers ‘my’ way to God's— which puts ‘me’ in the centre where only God is in place.”

See Mounce, Robert H.. John (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 1758-1760). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Stanley Porter believes that 1:29 uses the singular form "to represent sin in its collective sense" (John, His Gospel, and Jesus, page 210). Compare Westcott (John, 1:40).

Rogers and Rogers claim the singular form appears in 1:29 in order to reference "the mass of sin and the subsequent guilt incurred (Godet; Hoskyns)."

On the other hand, before reading too much into the singular, maybe one should compare 1 John 3:5 and other texts that speak of the Lamb (Jesus) taking "sins" away.