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TrueTheology.net • View topic - Challenged by Sulla

Challenged by Sulla

Challenges to the article, "The Body of Christ and the Identity of God," by Rotherham
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:24 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:46 pm

I think we can conclude, if this is Sulla's final comment on my questions, that his anwers are logically inconsistent. They are a contradiction. I'll retain my claim to victory.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 4:26 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:55 am

While it's somewhat fascinating to see this attempt of yours to dismiss as unimportant Beduhn's affirmation of the very grammatical and semantic point you've been denying for several months and 16 pages, it's not particularly impressive or convincing.

I haven't read anything from Beduhn on NT exegesis, beyond what comments he may have made in Truth in Translation. However, if you read that book, you will notice that he's quite careful not to argue in favor of one Christology or another or to take any position on whether Christ was or was not created, or whether he is or is not God. I forwarded your question to him because you asked me to, but I had no expectation that it was somehow going to cause him to take a stand on it one way or the other. What I do know is that over the course of the fairly lengthy discussion we had over the course of several weeks, the only aspect of my analysis and argumentation with which he found any fault or disagreement was on the authorship of Revelation, which of course is not unexpected, but even then he agreed that if it does have the same author as the gospel of John then that point was sound too.

So, even if he's unwilling to take a public stand on a particular Christology or aspect of Christology, he has been willing to endorse the soundness of the analysis and argumentation as well as the grammatical and semantic conclusions and said in the first response I posted from him here that he thought I'd discerned the author's meaning correctly here.

Now, if you decide that you'd like to both ignore the absence of a meaning of "source" for arche in scripture as well as champion a new Theo-Philosophical position of creatio ex christi(?), creation out of the substance of Christ, such that Christ is partitive in creation in the sense of his substance being the thing all creation is made of, then you could probably escape the implications of what Beduhn's has said. But if you are going to do that, you should have done it 16 pages ago and saved us all a lot of time.

The three most common translations here are "beginning", "ruler", and "source". "Ruler" is out, "beginning" (first in time or sequence) is the only one with precedent, and "source" must be taken partitively (as must any other translation), which still places Christ within "the creation by God."

When it comes to Philo, you have once again seized on a quote that you think helps your case when it really doesn't at all. I'm covering why in my response to your long post, so there is no point repeating myself here. But it reminds me to mention that Beduhn didn't think that either the quotes from Aristotle or Clement of Alexandria helped your case either.

I'm well along in my response to that long post of yours, but I'm pretty swamped for the next two days, so I'll try to get it on here my Monday.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:26 am

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:04 am

Hi Sulla,

You don't seem to be recognizing the distinction between what he has done in Truth in Translation and what you're asking him to do here.

While he argues in Truth in Translation that John 1:1 and 8:58 cannot reasonably be read the way Trinitarians generally like, in so doing he is simply removing a few Trinitarian proof-texts. He is saying that those scriptures can't be used to prove the Trinitarian argument. But he is not saying that any part of the Trinitarian perspective is proved wrong. He is simply saying these passages aren't evidence for it.

To take a position on Rev 3:14 such that he says it must prove Christ is the first creation is to say that this is Biblical proof-positive that an extremely significant aspect of one Christology is in total conflict with a Biblical statement while another particular Christology has got it right ... not just the unitarian perspective in general but the brand of unitarianism that believes in Christ's personal pre-existence rather than the brand that believes he was a regular human who became God's son only by adoption.

These are two very different things.

Nonetheless, he has agreed with the analysis and argumentation as well as the grammatical and semantic conclusions. That is what I approached him about. Taking the kind of stand you were asking for was not what I approached him about. I passed on your question because you asked me to, what I take to be his response to your question is in the vein I expected based on the type of conversation I was having with him. I'm not inclined to go back to him to ask for a more direct stand on what it must mean as a Christological statement. I approached him to weigh in on how it must be read from a grammatical and semantic perspective. His response is something you've been disagreeing with all this time, but you now dismiss is it as unimportant.

As for Philo, it doesn't matter who uses it, it doesn't support your position. I have a hard time believing that whoever you got the citation from (was it Bauckham? I think so) was attempting to use it to prove a non-partitive source, because that's pretty obviously not how he's using it. But again, I'm going to be addressing this in my other response, so no point going at it here.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:44 am

Hello heks,

Since Sulla wont answer my questions, I'll present this here to you and maybe you can get him to listen.

There can really be no question as to how arche in the phrase "beginning and end" is meant to be understood when you compare the lexical meanings of the words it is paralleled with, protos and alpha. Whatever arche is supposed to mean must be found within the overlap of meanings assigned to both protos and alpha. Sulla has agreed that they are parallels and he has agree that the meanings assigned to the words would not be outside their lexical range. What does that cause us to find?

Arche has been defined as source(?), ruler or beginning. Protos is defined as first in time, number or rank. Since source is not within the lexical range of protos, then it rules that out as the meaning of arche. Alpha of course is just the first letter of the alphabet. Ruler and source are not within the lexical range of alpha. Alpha is certainly not the ruler of the alphabet, nor the source, but the first member of the class. Therefore, when we see what protos and alpha MUST refer to, there is but only one meaning that is lexically shared by all three, and that is beginning in relation to a series.

To take any other meaning than that is to assign meanings to both protos and alpha which are outside of their lexical range of meanings. This proves that arche in this phrase means "beginning", not ruler and not source.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:52 am

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:55 am

As I told you, Rotherham, the method for determining the meaning of those titles is not properly the one you pursue here. As I already told you, we need to follow the method I have already outlined. You are reading in a way you should know is not correct.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:00 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:18 pm

I don't think I said we should pay no attention whatever to the dictionary. On the other hand, as your source, Burney, has demonstrated, we cannot be bound to an unresponsive and wooden dependence on dictionary meanings, especially when the context suggests additional levels of meaning.

Thus, Burney expands the set of meaning for the Hebrew resith to include sum-total and other concepts, even though these are not, strictly speaking, in the definition of the word. He does this simply because the context (St. Paul's letter) requires him to do so.

So, you see, we couldn't let ourselves allow a dictionary to override the other relavant factors.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:58 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:22 pm

I'm sure you grasp the process and argument that Burney followed, Rotherham, no need to play dumb.

In any case, I have outlined the reasoning we find from respected academics like Bauckham and even the sources that HeKS quotes approvingly (when they happen to say something he likes). This is fairly uncontroversial stuff and is pretty standard. I'm sorry you don't like it, but there it is.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:28 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:40 pm

There's not much point in me responding to any of this right now because I cover all of it in my longer response.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:19 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sat Dec 05, 2009 2:27 am

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:42 am

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:18 am

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Dec 07, 2009 5:17 pm

OK, let me know when you have your summary ready. I would expect I'll need at least a couple days before I am prepared. We can post & close the topic.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Dec 07, 2009 6:08 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:26 pm

While it may be obvious, I just want to point out that the closing summary from each side shouldn't be used as an opportunity to present brand new arguments and lines of reasoning. The intent is to sum up one's position and to note where that position has been adjusted over the course of the discussion (if at all) and where it remains unchanged. If either side wants to draw attention to points they feel have not been addressed by the opposing side, that's fine. Let's just keep in mind that we're summarizing our impressions of the issues that have been discussed, not trying to offer new argumentation that the other side won't have an opportunity to address.

Also, as much as possible, let's try to be respectful of each other in the process, however much we may frustrate each other at times.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:22 pm

It is indeed obvious, but thanks for pointing it out. It is why I was trying to determine when we could post at the same time. Will you and Rotherham post independently or jointly?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:34 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:51 pm

Yes, no new lines of argumentation. Still obvious, but thanks for pointing it out again.

I'd like to take a minute to make sure that we all agree that no new lines of argumentation should be presented in the summaries. Even though you made sure you had the last word and then closed the debate. No new lines. None. Of argumentation.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:19 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:58 am

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:17 am

I agree with Rotherham.

I agree that your response to my long post did not cover new ground and that any response I made to it would not have covered any new ground. The long post was probably the last thing that needed tot be said on the topic, since Rotherham had been calling for an alternative model for some weeks and since it is important to see how others have done the analysis.

Obviously, in a thread this long, we were often sidetracked, but I suspect the main criticisms of Rotehrham's paper have been addressed, usually more than once. Anyway, I will e-mail or post when I am ready.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:17 pm

Hi Sulla,

In a discussion that has spanned 18 pages now, you and Rotherham were bound to agree on something :)

So, just to be clear then, you do not feel you have been strategically denied an opportunity to respond to some line of reasoning? (As a coincidental side point, as I was typing that question I was listening to a song in the background in which the words "an opportunity" were sung at the precise moment I finished typing them in the question.)

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:59 pm

I am prepared for my summary. Let me know when you are ready.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:23 pm

I've made a fair bit of progress with mine but I still have a way to go ... not much time lately, I'm afraid.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:45 am

Unfortunately, I haven't even started, but i'll get on it now that I know you're ready.

Hopefully by the end of the week.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:54 pm

I've had a bit of a water catastrophe at home this past week. The property mgmt company failed to remove snow and ice from the roof and it worked its way inside and leaked into our unit. The carpet in our 2nd bedroom got soaked through and now needs to be replaced. Been dealing with that all week so not much time to work on the summary. I'll finish it as soon as I have time.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:53 am

If you think it would help pass the time, Rotherham and I can spend a few days insulting each other.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:03 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:27 am

Well, I hear Rotherham has been busy hanging out with the only JW who has a greater pretentiousness-to-knowledge ratio than he.

On the other hand, I doubt even the One Who Dialogues With Theologues would swallow Rotherham's "explicit teaching" schtick. "Whilst our brother Rotherham, he of the appellation of that eminent scholar -- most fitting, indeed, draws the most intriguing argument for the explicitness of Holy Writ vis-a-vis the ontology of Our Brother, Christ, as revealed by the author of Apocalypse, and while such can hardly be considered adiaphora to those who follow the Lord, and while the passage certainly underlines the apophatic nature of YHWH as opposed to the creatura of Christ, a long list of Reformation theologians I got in class probably said other things." Etc.

Man, it's like riding a bike. Felt good.

Anyhow. Did you get my other challenge? Is this site still operational? Shold I just go ahead and post my summation? Did you fix your pipes?

S.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:52 pm

Hey Sulla,

I haven't had much time to check challenges lately. Not much time for anything, really. But Rotherham and others are free to check the challenges and start addressing them.

My leaking wasn't from pipes, it was from an ice dam that built up on the roof and pushed in behind the siding. It was a maintenance issue that the property management company didn't take care of and now I'm waiting on them to fix it.

My summary is coming along, but it's not done yet and I can't say exactly when it will be. I'm working on it whenever I have time.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:05 pm

Leaking behind the siding! That could get in to the insulation, the drywall, the electrical... Ugh.

Not trying to rush you -- things just seemed a little quiet around here.

Is there anybody ... out there?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:50 pm

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:54 pm

I made it up. It seemed like something the guy who runs that "Theologues" site might say. Start with some terms from a theological dictionary, add essence of thesaurus, deglaze with some completely idiosyncratic terminology, and voici, an exotic, fluffy statement with zero calories.

I always thought he was a little heavy-handed with the theological dictionary, but people say the same thing about me and basil, so I guess it's a matter of taste.

But, you know I sent my challenge in three days ago. And, you know, like ... nothing. So, like, what's up with that?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:05 pm

You did a pretty good job making that up. It actually does sound quite a bit like the way he wrote. :)

I've posted to the challenge to the our review area for Rotherham to take a look at. I'll let him follow up with you on that. Not sure yet whether or not I'll be actively involved as the discussion side here is preventing me from spending any time on other things I'd like to get done.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:53 pm

Sulla,

I've removed your last post. This isn't the place to post comments about a pending challenge to a different article. Your comments on that article can be made if and when the two of you choose to start a discussion on it.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:20 pm

My bad. Where, exactly is the place to post comments about a pending challenge?

-- And this just in: Rotherham has done exactly as I predicted (but as readers will never know I predicted).
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:52 am

OK, this delay is stupid. Here is my summary.

Four months is a very long time to discuss one little paper. Five, if you count the last month of silent, exhausted gaping at all those pages of argument. So, we want to summarize the arguments and move on to the next thing.

Really, I’ve been thinking about the discussion for a while, and I don’t see any point in rehashing the main elements of the conversation. Frankly, the point is quite simple.

Rotherham’s position is that the explicit meaning of Rev. 3:14 is that Jesus belongs only to the created order, that this explicit meaning controls the reading of the rest of the Bible, and that a church that does not teach Jesus belongs only to the created order is therefore false.

I suggested at the beginning of this discussion that the claim was preposterous enough that it shouldn’t be published on a site that takes itself seriously and I’m afraid nothing has been said that moves me from this position. Readers, of course, will have to make up their own minds on the question, but here is a sketch of the process.

The question must ultimately be, simply: whether anyone can seriously believe that there is really only one legitimate meaning to this passage and that one meaning is Rotherham’s.

As it happens, every person who has written anything in one of those peer-reviewed journals, or written even a commentary that is in general use, has failed to support Rotherham’s position. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that they assert more nearly the opposite position: that Rev. 3:14 cannot possibly be read to mean that Jesus belongs only to the created order. And the reason for this universal conclusion is pretty simple: while arche usually has a partitive meaning, it is also used in a non-partitive way; and it is used in a non-partitive way when contemporaneous Jews and Christians speak about God. Since this is the case, and since the book of Revelation cannot be read as if the author held Christ to be merely a creature, and since the other uses of the term arche use a chiastic structure to compare Jesus to God, we can’t read the passage the way Rotherham wants.

Not only that, but we have a very interesting and much-cited paper by C. F. Burney (“Christ as the Arche of Creation, JTS, 1926) that argues persuasively that the Revelation 3 passage is making use of a midrash that St. Paul applied in Colossians – that of re-interpreting the arche of Genesis 1:1 to apply to Christ. Thus, “In Jesus Christ, God created the heavens and the earth.” Moreover, the passge in Colossians 1 plays on this theme in several different ways:

 In him were created all things
 By him were created all things
 Into him were created all things (meaning with Christ as the goal of all things)
 Before all things
 All things are summed up in him
 He is the head of the Church
 He is first-fruit from the dead

So, here we have St. Paul working the idea of “beginning” for all it is worth. And, indeed, expanding the strict set of lexical meanings associated with the word. Indeed, this idea of Christ as the source and goal of creation is a persistent Pauline (and, therefore, NT) theme (2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 6:15, Eph. 2:10). It is this same broad meaning that is applied to the “beginning” in Revelation 3.

As a side note, one reason readers should discount the seriousness of the JW position is due to the selective quoting of sources like Burney. So we find the JWs quoting from the last paragraph of the paper that the arche as a title for Christ has “not a shadow of authority for limiting in meaning to ‘the Source of God’s creation.’” The implication supposedly being that “Source” is wrong and the JW position has academic support.

Of course, this is another example of JWs attempting to tell readers that sources say something that is nearly the opposite of what they intend. Because, if we read the paper, we know that Burney intends that the meaning of Rev. 3 should be expanded to include the additional meanings suggested by St. Paul. Indeed, there is no reason to limit the meaning to “source,” and there is every reason to expand the meaning to include those additional meanings.

So, there it is. Readers may decide for themselves whether the unanimous conclusions of many extensive analyses of the theology of the book of Revelation, serious reviews of the meaning of this particular passage, and the constant witness of the church are overturned by some anonymous and entirely unqualified fellow on the internet. And not merely overturned, but are explicit in the text and are therefore control the reading of the entire NT.

As a final note, we know that Rotherham is the kind of writer who will openly admit that historical context is meaningless when determining the right way to read a biblical text and who has also demonstrated a remarkable ability to simply and plainly misunderstand simple concepts such as numerical identity. Readers will also have to decide for themselves whether this is the kind of writer who can be counted on to deliver a coherent account of any subject.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:15 pm

I just wanted to make the comment to anyone who has followed this discussion that the reason I have not posted our summary yet is because my schedule has been such that it has been literally impossible for me to complete it.

I've already had this discussion with Sulla privately. I'm 17 pages into the summary but I haven't had a chance to work on it at all in the past month or two. My hope is that I'll get a chance to finish it over the last two weeks of April and be able to post it some time during the first week of May.

Thanks to all for their patience ... especially Sulla.

Take care,
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri May 14, 2010 2:57 pm

Last edited by HeKS on Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed typo
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