Challenged by Sulla

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

Postby HeKS » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:23 pm

PARTICIPANTS: Sulla, Rotherham, HeKS

The following is Sulla's initial challenge to the article, "The Body of Christ and the Identity of God," written by Rotherham (viewtopic.php?f=18&t=85)

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THE CHALLENGE

One of “Rotherham’s” main points in his paper, “The Body of Christ and the Identity of God,” is that Revelation 3:14 explicitly teaches Jesus was the temporally first creation by God and that he is, therefore, not infinite. This paper will argue that Revelation 3:14 does not explicitly teach that. We will argue

1. Rotherham’s set of comparison texts is hopelessly flawed
2. His analysis of the text itself ignores basic hermeneutical principles
3. He incorrectly changes the evidentiary rules, depending on the point he wishes to support

These points will establish that Rotherham has not shown Revelation 3:14 explicitly teaches Jesus is not infinite.


Point 1: Comparison Texts

Rotherham insists that, wherever an adequate scriptural database exists, we must limit ourselves to that set of passages – acting as a key to the passage under examination. He says,

If the Bible supplies a very large database of a particular grammatical construction, and that grammatical construction consistently portrays a certain characteristic in every instance, there is no reason for one to go outside the Bible to find an alternative application to the grammatical phrase found plentifully and consistently within the Bible. Doing so would be putting man's understandings and usages above that of God's, for God caused the Bible to be written the way it is written for setting matters straight and for teaching. (2 Tim. 3:16) WE "test the spirit" by testing our interpretations against the revealed words of God, not the revealed words of men. If we have a sufficient and consistent database in the scriptures that reveal the meaning and or usage of a grammatical pattern, it would be setting ourselves up for human error if we were to ignore that and look elsewhere outside the Bible for a way to make that word or grammatical construction to mean something else. How would that be testing the spirits with the word of God? It would basically be denying the word of God in favor of the words of men, denying inspired writings and their indicators for the uninspired and fallible indications of men.


Rotherham then offers his comparison texts where a construction similar to that in Rev 3:14 (the word arche followed by a genitive phrase) is found. Given this statement, one might be puzzled by the fact that Rotherham supplies nearly half his comparison texts from the LXX. As everybody knows, the LXX is – how to put this? – itself a translation into Greek. You simply can’t use a translation from Hebrew into Greek and claim that you are letting scripture interpret scripture.

Yet, eight of twenty examples in the paper are from the LXX.

I hope readers don’t misunderstand; I am perfectly happy to rely on the LXX, or any other contemporaneous Greek writings, to help explain the way the language was typically used. But that’s not what Rotherham wants to do. He wants to use these passages from the LXX and claim that he is letting scriptures “reveal the meaning” of NT grammar. That’s not remotely what is happening in his paper, contrary to his claim.

Frankly, we could stop right there. This sort of error is catastrophic, and a reader would be perfectly within his rights to assume that the writer has no idea what he is talking about, or else doesn’t care enough about the facts to speak honestly.


Point 2: Basic Principles

Rotherham makes sure to quote Daniel Wallace on the subject of obtaining sufficient data base to make statistical arguments about a particular grammatical construct. But he then makes the completely unsupported statement that, if a large number of examples exist, it would be wrong to use other evidence. This is complete nonsense, and the Wallace quote is not sufficient to hide this incorrect assertion.

For example, we can consult the same text by Wallace that Rotherham did and observe that Rotherham’s “statistical sufficiency” principle is flatly rejected. See Daniel Wallace’s Beyond the Basics: an Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament:

When we read the NT letters, it is as if we are tourists eavesdropping on a conversation between two locals. We are at a communications disadvantage that can only be overcome as we immerse ourselves in the customs, culture, history, and language of the first century, not to mention the specific interaction between Paul, say, and his churches. – p.8, note 35


And later,

2. Humility needs to be exercised where the data are insufficient or where the language is capable of man interpretations...

3. Much in language that is easily misunderstood is outside the scope of syntax, even broadly defined. Although a decent grasp on syntax is the sine qua non for sound exegesis, it is not a panacea for all one’s exegetical woes. Only rarely does the grammar hand the exegete his or her interpretations on a silver platter. In most cases, the better we understand the syntax of the NT, the shorter our list of viable interpretive options. – p.9


It is hard to see how these comments, coming as they do just a couple pages after the place Rotherham quotes, could have been ignored. In any case, Wallace – whom Rotherham clearly recognizes as an authority, flatly rejects Rotherham’s assertion that a sizeable database is the end of the matter. Rotherham ignores all these other keys to the meaning of the titles listed in the first part of Revelation; he ignores:

  • The historical context of the late first century persecutions
  • The genre of Revelation
  • The definition and etymology of the word in question
  • The philosophical relationship between the logos in the Gospel of St. John with the arche, alpha, and omega of Revelation
  • The general meaning of the book of Revelation

That’s a long list of things to ignore, especially given that Rotherham quotes an expert who points out how important all that list is.

So, given that Rotherham fails his own hermeneutical test for relying only on scripture and that he fails the requirements as outlined by his own expert, we have no reason to suppose the analysis is reliable at all. But there is more.


Point 3: Changing Rules

When Rotherham is making his points, he feels justified in citing evidence from the LXX version of Genesis, various historical books, other gospels, whatever. But when defending against the idea that arche means something like “ruler,” suddenly the test that matters is whether St. John uses the word in this particular way. Of course, there is not enough evidence is the writings of John to make any kind of case regarding the use of arche with a genitive phrase, so Rotherham appeals to whatever places he finds such a construct, but relying on that observation would have made a much shorter paper.

In any case, the idea that John’s usage of the word eleven times in one way precludes a different use on the twelfth is facile. Look, I might write a thousand times about my local bank, the banking system, my trip to the bank to get some cash, the bank that sold my mortgage, the teller at the bank… But when I say I will go down to the river and fish in the shade on the bank, it is obvious that I am simply using another of the common definitions of the word. Yet it is precisely the entire of context that Rotherham has excluded from his analysis – indeed, that he has de-legitimized in his polemic.

Thus we have a paper that can’t seem to apply its own principles internally, rejects the analytical guidelines offered by its own expert, and changes the rules of evidence depending on the situation. Given these serious problems, we can only conclude that the case is not made in this paper that Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus is not infinite.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:32 pm

POINT 1: Comparison Texts

Hello Sulla,

In order to enhance the clarity of the things we will discuss, I will address each of your poiints separately and then move on to the next.

For your first point, you claim that one can not use the LXX when making the statement that you are allowing scripture to interpret scripture because you evidently do not feel that the LXX qualifies as scripture. To that I would simply say that Jesus and the Apostles so trusted the LXX that they quoted it as the word of God, therefore, some parts of the LXX came to be incorporated as inspired words via those quotations. Unless there is due reason to think that the examples given from the LXX are somehow inaccurate or tainted, then your objection simply holds no weight. We have every reason to believe that they accurately portray a Hebrew genitive example of the beginning/"re-shyth" of something. Do you have reason to believe that these examples are not accurate?

As it stands, the NT alone presents a consistent example of "arche" with a genitive. It affords no exceptions to the stated observance that the arche is always the first thing in relation to time or in relation to a series of things.

Regards,
Rotherham
Last edited by HeKS on Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Reason: Removed massive quote of first post to save on space
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:42 pm

Of course, the LXX is is a perfectly viable translation -- as I noted in my comments already. But in the case where we are discussing the proper translation from Greek into English, and when one of us insists that the grammatical uses in other places in scripture are the only factor, it should be obvious that any appeal to a translation into Greek is not germane to the discussion.

Look, the LXX is a translation of the original writers' words. All that tells us is how the scholars who translated it from Hebrew into Greek thought it would work best. It is simply impossible to argue that this translation is inspired and, therefore, counts as scripture.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:21 pm

Hello Sulla,

Jesus and the Apsotles take exception to your conclusion that none of the Septuagint is tantamount to the inspired word. Otherwise, they would not have quoted it numerous times as the word of God. As mentioned before, if there is some reason to believe that the translations of the verses in question are wrong then you might have something that actually bears on the point, but you don't. In fact, no one does to my knowledge which means that the renderings of the LXX of those verses are also tantamount to the inspired word of God. Although translations are not directly inspired, it is easy to conclude that as long as they are rendered correctly, they reflect the inspired word of God as well as the original. That is why Jesus and his disciples could quote the LXX in places as if it were the inspired word of God and that is why God himself decided to include those renditions into the NT as the actual inspired word of God.

So let me use your style of dialogue and see if it helps you. Look, unless you can demonstrate that the LXX has erred in the way those expressions are rendered, which every translation I've encountered agrees with in thought if not in the exact wording, then this complaint about using the LXX because it's not scripture is not only headed in the wrong direction but has no bearing on the topic at hand.

As mentioned, all NT examples establish the point anyway.

Regards,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:Of course, the LXX is is a perfectly viable translation -- as I noted in my comments already. But in the case where we are discussing the proper translation from Greek into English, and when one of us insists that the grammatical uses in other places in scripture are the only factor, it should be obvious that any appeal to a translation into Greek is not germane to the discussion.

Look, the LXX is a translation of the original writers' words. All that tells us is how the scholars who translated it from Hebrew into Greek thought it would work best. It is simply impossible to argue that this translation is inspired and, therefore, counts as scripture.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:39 pm

Hi Sulla,

I'm a little pressed for time right now, so I'd just like to make a brief comment. (Famous last words, right?)

While I agree with you, obviously, that the LXX translation process wasn't inspired, I disagree with you that it is not useful to the point being made by Rotherham.

One of the benefits of using the LXX is that it gives us another linguistic point of reference to determine the intended meaning of the Greek construction ... that point of reference being Hebrew. Thus, we see not only how the LXX is translated into English at those points, and that the NT writers by all accounts understood these LXX translations precisely as we understand their own usage of such statements, but also the meaning of the Hebrew statements that the LXX translators saw fit to translate using this Greek genitive construction.

From one end to the other - From Hebrew, through Greek, all the way to English - the meaning is consistent. The arche is part of the group, and this even when arche means "ruler".

My time constraints don't allow me to say more, but I'll contribute as I can.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:32 am

Hey HeKS,

Perhaps we disagree about the point Rotherham is trying to make. As for the possible benefits of using the LXX, I couldn't agree with you more. It really does provide another linguistic point of reference, we really can see how NT writers understood those constructs, etc. & etc.

Indeed, I am more than happy to evaluate this evidence. But let's not pretend that when we look at the LXX we are doing something other than evaluating the translational choices of a bunch of smart men, OK? Whatever the grammar of some passage in Genesis as found in the LXX tells us, it is useless for Rotherham's argument which, as you can read, thinks that the LXX provides a large part of the grammatical database of inspired writing.

The grammatical constructs of the LXX are no more inspired than the grammatical constructs of the NAB, NIV, KJ, or NWT are inspired. I am quite confident you can see that we can use the LXX to see how users of Greek built grammar but that we cannot claim to be letting "scripture interpret scripture" when we do so. And Rotherham's claim is that he is not doing the first thing and that he is doing the second.

If he wants to use the LXX texts, that's fine with me. But he must remove the claim that he is letting scripture interpret scripture. It's one or the other.

S.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:03 pm

Hello Sulla,

I will stand by the notion that as long as the LXX is translated properly, it is tantamount to the original inspired words. Therefore, unless reason can be given not to trust that the LXX has properly rendered the Hebrew genitive examples in question, your objection doesn't hold. So let me ask plainly, "Do you have reason to believe that the LXX has misrendered those Hebrew genitive examples in question?

Really, I could just appeal to the Hebrew where re-shyth is arranged in a genitive phrase in the Hebrew. The point would be the same without the LXX factor involved. Point being, there are no scriptural examples where "arche" or "re-shyth" in a genitive phrase does not mean BEGINNING in relation to time or a series.

I think it's time to move on to your point number two.

Regards,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:Hey HeKS,

Perhaps we disagree about the point Rotherham is trying to make. As for the possible benefits of using the LXX, I couldn't agree with you more. It really does provide another linguistic point of reference, we really can see how NT writers understood those constructs, etc. & etc.

Indeed, I am more than happy to evaluate this evidence. But let's not pretend that when we look at the LXX we are doing something other than evaluating the translational choices of a bunch of smart men, OK? Whatever the grammar of some passage in Genesis as found in the LXX tells us, it is useless for Rotherham's argument which, as you can read, thinks that the LXX provides a large part of the grammatical database of inspired writing.

The grammatical constructs of the LXX are no more inspired than the grammatical constructs of the NAB, NIV, KJ, or NWT are inspired. I am quite confident you can see that we can use the LXX to see how users of Greek built grammar but that we cannot claim to be letting "scripture interpret scripture" when we do so. And Rotherham's claim is that he is not doing the first thing and that he is doing the second.

If he wants to use the LXX texts, that's fine with me. But he must remove the claim that he is letting scripture interpret scripture. It's one or the other.

S.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:16 pm

Stand by whatever you like, but everybody who reads your paper is going to know that the inspired writers of the book of Genesis or Daniel never wrote anything in Greek at all. The people who wrote in Greek were the (non-inspired) translators of those words.

It surprises me to have to make this point at all, let alone make it more than once: it does not matter whether the LXX properly translates anything at all. If you want to look at how inspired writers use certain grammatical constructs in Greek, you simply cannot use the work of people who are not inspired by God.

While we're at it: it does not matter at all whether the translators of the LXX properly rendered Hebrew genitive phrases or not. Frankly, I can't even understand why you bring that up. You paper is not asking whether and how those particular scholars translated Hebrew into Greek; your particular paper is asking how we ought to translate and understand inspired writings from Greek into English. Your paper analyzes this question by considering the inspired record only and, to belabor a belabored point, that ain't the LXX.

I am certain you can grasp this. If you are going to claim to use only the inspired writings to analyze grammar, then you really have to restrict yourself to using the inspired writings. The fact that you don't restrict yourself in this way, and the fact that you claim you can't even see why you should, highlights the reason why people should not trust your analysis.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:05 pm

Hello Sulla,

There is no reason to continue to go back and forth on this for I maintain the same position I stated before, that the LXX renders the correct grammar to express what was written in the inspired Hebrew within the passages in question. The fact that you don't contest that shows that you know it to be true. So, regardless if one should appeal to the LXX as "scriptural" examples, the point is maintained. I supposes if it would please you more I could take the long route to this same conclusion which will also demonstrate why your objection is moot and does not accomplish what you want it to.

Looking at the Hebrew, "re-shyth" is the word that corresponds to the Greek "arche" and the English "beginning". The LXX examples prove that "re-shyth" to a Jewish LXX translator meant "beginning". In Hebrew, which does not have an actual genitive case, a genitive phrase is formed by what is called the 'construct', which is a situation where two nouns are juxtaposed rather than separated. Whenever we find re-shyth juxaposed with another noun, it always means "beginning OF ...(whatever it is juxtaposed with), and the beginning is always in relation to time or a series of things. Therefore, the parallel Hebrew examples prove the point as well, which is proven by the way that the LXX renders the Hebrew construct in those cases. Therefore, in those cases, the LXX stands as a perfect example of what was intended in the original inspired scripture and as I said, it turns out to be tantamount to the inspired word of God because it even renders the grammactical construction properly as is found in the Hebrew in those cases under question.

So, both the Hebrew scriptures, as properly reflected by the LXX, and the Greek NT show the consistent pattern of how "re-shyth" or "arche" is to be understood in a genitive phrase.

The real question you need to answer Sulla is whether or not you can find an exception to this unmistakable pattern as found in the inspired word of God. If not, then your point is moot and we need to move on to your point two.

Do you deny that both the Hebrew, the LXX, and the Greek NT consistently use arche and/or re-shyth with a genitive in the manner stated? If not, then the point is solid. If you do deny it, then make your case.

Regards,
Rotherham
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:10 pm

I have more to say on this first point. I hope to get to it later tonight.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:22 pm


Rotherham, what makes you think I care about the Hebrew grammar? Since when has that been the topic for this discussion?

I am disinclined to repeat myself again on this question, but this is too god to pass up. You said:

So, regardless if one should appeal to the LXX as "scriptural" examples, the point is maintained.


And what point, exactly, would that be? Would it be the point that, by looking exclusively at inspired scripture, we can make conclusions about grammatical meaning? If so, then it would seem determining whether the LXX counts as a scriptural example matters a great deal. Your entire point, in case you somehow missed it, is that these LXX examples really do count as scriptural examples. So, not "regardless".

You do recall that little part in your paper talking about scriptural examples determining the meaning for us, do you not? If the LXX is not scripture -- if, for example it is a translation of scripture -- then you would be letting not scripture interpret scripture, wouldn't you?

Now, I am perfectly happy to admit all the LXX evidence you care to collect, so long as you admit you are departing from your position that including the opinions of mere men is not proper when there is an otherwise sufficient database from which to work.

Perhaps, at some point, you will care to address this issue. My guess is that you will not, but hope is a virtue we must work to cultivate.

Really, though, can't you bring yourself to answer this one little question: if you are going to look at how inspired writers use certain grammatical constructs in Greek, don't you think you should limit yourself to inspired writers who wrote in Greek?

Simple question, but you can't answer it. Strike that: I hope you will answer it.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:28 am

Sulla,

Let me ask you first and you answer, since you do not like my answer. Do you believe that translations that correctly carry forward the grammar and the syntax of the inspired writings are tantamount to the actual inspired writings? Or in other words, although the translators are not inspired, is it not true that what they copied or translated IS, if properly rendered?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:54 am

Rotherham, this debate is about the arguments you make in your paper; it isn't about my opinion of an argument you don't make in that paper. This is what I can't seem to make you understand.

It does not matter whether the translators got everything right or made a hash of everything. Your argument is that you don't want to rely on the opinions of men. However well the translators of the LXX did their job is not material to your point. If you agree that their translation choices are not inspired, then you cannot both include them in your analysis and claim you are not relying on the opinions of men.

It really is that simple. So I ask again: if you are going to look at how inspired writers use certain grammatical constructs in Greek, don't you think you should limit yourself to inspired writers who wrote in Greek?


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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:11 am

Hi Sulla,

I think it seems quite likely that we disagree on the point Rotherham is making ... or perhaps that should be points.

I understand him to be asserting the following (though this list may not be exhaustive):

  • In Greek, when arche is used in a genitive statement, the arche is always a part of the group identified by the genitive noun. This is so regardless of how we may ultimately translate arche. We see this uniformly in the Greek NT, and uniformly in the LXX with which the NT usage agrees perfectly. Whether one wishes to translate arche as "ruler" or "beginning", that partitive relationship stands in all cases.

    This is a matter of Greek grammar. In the case of the NT, it is an inspired choice of Greek grammar. In the LXX it is a demonstration of the common use of Greek grammar even before NT times, which can be compared to the original Hebrew from which it was translated to get an understanding of what types of statements and ideas the Greek arche genitive statements were naturally used to express even apart from directly inspired grammar choices.

    Additionally, as the NT writers both used and quoted from the LXX liberally, these LXX examples show us their frame of reference (as well as the frame of reference of their contemporary readers) for how such arche genitive statements were used to convey certain ideas in their common scriptural point of reference. In other words, in the version of the OT that they commonly used (and quoted as the word of God), they saw arche used in genitive statements where, in each case, the arche was always part of the group signified by the genitive noun. In their experience of scripture in the Greek language, this was the unanimous meaning of using arche in a genitive statement; that is, that arche was always considered partitive in such a case. And I repeat, this is so whether arche was considered to mean "beginning" or "ruler".

  • The Bible is the Bible, regardless of the language in which it is rendered, provided the translation accurately reflects the original language. Thus, when the Bible unanimously demonstrates in no uncertain terms, whether in Hebrew, Greek or English, that the "beginning of" something is part of that something, we ought not ignore that fact in favor of special pleading when we come across theologically significant passages.

    Since the NT writers seemed to have no qualms about directly quoting from the LXX as the word of God, we see no reason not to do the same, as we would do even when quoting an English Bible. To say that quoting from the LXX is not allowing scripture to interpret scripture would be the same as saying any translation into any language is not scripture, so that using the consistent internal meaning of any translation to interpret more difficult passages is a futile exercise since it's not in the original language. Following this line of reasoning, nothing prevents one from claiming that any and all translations are wholly unreliable for teaching, reproving or setting anything straight.

    But the point to be made here is that this argument doesn't specifically relate to divinely inspired grammar choices, but to divinely inspired methods of expressing ideas or concepts. That is why Rotherham said he could just as easily reference the Hebrew equivalent of arche. The point, in this case, is that in whatever original language the Bible identifies someone or something as the beginning of a group, the meaning is that it is part of the group ... the first part of the group. This is a consistent, divinely inspired method of expressing a type of relationship.

    If a person were to write a few dozen books in a few different languages and in each and every case used the target language equivalent of "beginning of" to identify something as the first member or part of some group, those various instances, regardless of the specific language in which they appear, would count as evidence toward the author's intended meaning in that type of statement. They would go towards demonstrating what type of relationship the author meant to convey between the 'beginning of something' and the 'something'.

    In this sense, the LXX serves perfectly well as scripture to be used in interpreting scripture. It has the added benefit of being in the same language as the passage in question, but as this point relates to scriptural methods and patterns of expressing concepts and relationships rather than the specific grammar of a particular language, the Hebrew would serve as well in its place.

Your critique of the argument regarding John's usage of arche in particular, along with your accompanying illustration, will be addressed in another post. Possibly later today.

Take care,
HeKS
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:38 am

Hello Sulla,

In addition to what Heks has very correctly presented, let me add the following:

The answer to your question is therefore a qualified no. We do not limit ourselves to how inspired writers in the Greek used the word for “beginning”, which for them was arche, in order to let scripture interpret scripture. Here’s why:

Although I used Greek examples in the article, it is nowhere stated nor intended that I was only examining the way inspired writers used the Greek. My intent was to show how certain words are understood in a given syntax or grammatical phrase throughout the entire Bible, not just the Greek NT. Re-shyth and arche are used as equivalents in Hebrew and Greek, which the LXX proves, and I examined the Hebrew construct examples via the LXX because they are properly rendered and can be considered tantamount to the word of God and therefore scriptures because of that. If the LXX accurately rendered the grammar and syntax of the Hebrew down to the proper case, than it is tantamount to letting the scriptures interpret the scriptures. It is the same thing. I never stated I was limiting the scriptural examples to how Greek inspired writers used a word in a particular syntax but how the entire Bible used a word in a particular syntax. Whenever the Hebrew, as demonstrated by the LXX, would use “beginning” {re-shyth} in a Hebrew construct, it was always a genitive example and it was always used in relation to time or a series of things in those genitive examples. Since the LXX rendered it properly, it is tantamount to saying that the scriptures always render it that way and scripture has therefore interpreted scripture for us in these examples.

Shall we move on to point two?

Regards,
Rotherham
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:54 am

The Bible is the Bible, regardless of the language in which it is rendered, provided the translation accurately reflects the original language. Thus, when the Bible unanimously demonstrates in no uncertain terms, whether in Hebrew, Greek or English, that the "beginning of" something is part of that something, we ought not ignore that fact in favor of special pleading when we come across theologically significant passages.


I'm sorry, HeKS, I must have missed the part in Rotherham's paper where he makes this point. I thought the entire paper was about Greek grammar and I missed the discussion of Hebrew grammar entirely.

But the point to be made here is that this argument doesn't specifically relate to divinely inspired grammar choices, but to divinely inspired methods of expressing ideas or concepts. That is why Rotherham said he could just as easily reference the Hebrew equivalent of arche. The point, in this case, is that in whatever original language the Bible identifies someone or something as the beginning of a group, the meaning is that it is part of the group ... the first part of the group. This is a consistent, divinely inspired method of expressing a type of relationship.



Then Rotherham should make that point instead of the one that is in his paper. I say that because the point Rotherham makes is specifically the divinely inspired grammar choices. See his coments here:

If we have a sufficient and consistent database in the scriptures that reveal the meaning and or usage of a grammatical pattern, it would be setting ourselves up for human error if we were to ignore that and look elsewhere outside the Bible for a way to make that word or grammatical construction to mean something else. How would that be testing the spirits with the word of God? It would basically be denying the word of God in favor of the words of men, denying inspired writings and their indicators for the uninspired and fallible indications of men. -- emphasis mine


I recommend the paper be rewritten to express his viewpoint about "divinely inspired methods of expressing ideas or concepts" instead of his viewpoint about divienly inspired Greek grammar. Perhaps you are correct to note that the Hebrew would work as well to make his point -- but that is not the argument presented in the paper. And what I am criticizing is the argument that is actually presented in the paper.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:05 am

Rotherham, please show me where your paper makes any point about Hebrew grammar. Is there some paragraph discussing "Re-shyth" that I missed?

Indeed, if your point is simply that the words that are translated from arche or Re-shyth are, when part of a genitive phrase, always partitive, what point is there in using examples in Greek at all? You could just grab any old English translation to make the point.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:31 am

Hello Sulla,

Just for you because I like you so much, I will edit the article so there is no confusion as to what was meant. I take it that you agree then that whenever the Hebrew and Greeks words for "beginning" are used genitively, (re-shyth and arche) they are always partitive and refer to being the beginning in relation to time or a series of things. Is that correct? All scriptural examples of such are thus consistent without exception, right?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:38 am

Don't do it for me, I'd as soon see you leave it as is -- it's easier to abuse that way. As for whether all scriptural use of those particular phrases are partitive, I don't know because I haven't checked. I'll get back to you.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:10 pm

Hi Sulla,

Well, I'm working from my understanding of Rotherham's paper as it was written.

You quote me as saying:

But the point to be made here is that this argument doesn't specifically relate to divinely inspired grammar choices, but to divinely inspired methods of expressing ideas or concepts. That is why Rotherham said he could just as easily reference the Hebrew equivalent of arche. The point, in this case, is that in whatever original language the Bible identifies someone or something as the beginning of a group, the meaning is that it is part of the group ... the first part of the group. This is a consistent, divinely inspired method of expressing a type of relationship.


and you respond:

Then Rotherham should make that point instead of the one that is in his paper. I say that because the point Rotherham makes is specifically the divinely inspired grammar choices. See his coments here:

If we have a sufficient and consistent database in the scriptures that reveal the meaning and or usage of a grammatical pattern, it would be setting ourselves up for human error if we were to ignore that and look elsewhere outside the Bible for a way to make that word or grammatical construction to mean something else. How would that be testing the spirits with the word of God? It would basically be denying the word of God in favor of the words of men, denying inspired writings and their indicators for the uninspired and fallible indications of men. -- emphasis mine


Read that portion you quoted from him in light of the bit you quoted from me. You'll notice that when he talks about grammatical patterns in that quoted bit, he doesn't limit it to Greek grammatical patterns, but more generically to scriptural grammatical patterns.

When I said, "this argument doesn't specifically relate to divinely inspired grammar choices," I meant it in the context of the Greek grammar specifically that I was speaking about in that section. I more generically referred to "divinely inspired methods of expressing ideas or concepts" because of the differences in precise grammatical structure between Hebrew and Greek. The precise grammatical structures are different, but there are analogous grammatical methods of conveying concepts and ideas like partitive relationships. There's nothing inherently wrong with referring to these as divinely inspired grammatical patterns. It just needs to be understood as analogous grammatical patterns used for conveying certain meaning even across separate languages rather than specifically Greek in this case.

So I think the distinction needs to be understood between the argument from Greek grammar specifically - inspired or otherwise - and the argument from scriptural grammatical patterns regardless of language, which are in all cases inspired.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:13 pm

I have a feeling that abusing the article is what you're really interested in, but that's just me. And I will take you up on your offer to get back with me. Please don't forget.

Shall we move on to point two?

Regrads,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:Don't do it for me, I'd as soon see you leave it as is -- it's easier to abuse that way. As for whether all scriptural use of those particular phrases are partitive, I don't know because I haven't checked. I'll get back to you.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:32 pm

Rotherham,

Yes, please remind me if I forget. By all means, let us move on to point two.

HeKS,

I'm satisfied with Rotherham's promise to revise his paper and make those points. I would say, however, that the paper talks about Greek grammar and no other grammar and that it uses examples that are all in Greek (translated into English, of course). One would have to be squinting pretty hard to think the point was something broader than the Greek grammar.

That said, I couldn't agree with you more that, with respect to the overall patterns, "there is nothing inherently wrong with referring to these as divinely inspired grammatical patterns." Moreover, you are perfectly correct to note that, "It just needs to be understood as analogous grammatical patterns used for conveying certain meaning even across separate languages rather than specifically Greek in this case." The way to make it understood in this way is to make the argument in the paper this way, which Rotherham has pledged to do.

So it seems we are all in violent agreement on this question.

On the other hand, expanding (or perhaps, making clear that the point was always just this expansive) the argument to include patterns of meaning in Hebrew as well as Greek, and including these examples from 1,000 years or more removed from the immediate context of the verse in question does seem to make the curious absence of any investigation of the immediate context all the more curiouser. But that is a matter for point two, I suppose.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:04 pm

Hi Sulla,

I would say that Rotherham focused on the LXX examples because:

1) They accurately convey the analogous Hebrew grammatical patterns in the same language as the case text of Rev 3:14

2) They provide a relatively contemporary example of the common Greek usage of arche in genitive statements in instances where we can establish the meaning from a different language (Hebrew), and are yet sufficiently removed in time to provide a broad perspective of such continued common usage over a few centuries from the time of the LXX to the close of the NT canon.

3) They show the scriptural frame of reference for the use of arche in genitive statements in the version/translation of the scriptures that was used and quoted from by the NT writers and with which their own usage is acknowledged to match in all cases other than, it is claimed, Rev 3:14.

That having been said, I'll see you on Point 2.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:06 pm

POINT 2: Basic Principles

The discussion will now move to Point 2 of the challenge.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:14 pm

Hello Sulla,

I'll post something on point two but it might be a couple of days. I have a busy weekend including Friday coming up.

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HeKS wrote:POINT 2: Basic Principles

The discussion will now move to Point 2 of the challenge.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:58 am

No problem. I'll just set the table for when you get a chance to address the second question.

Basically, the question is: how come there is no discussion of the direct context (according to genre, author, situation, audience, overall theme, etc.) in the paper? That is, how is it that you think a genitive partitive gramatical construct written in another language by another author in a radically different circumstance addressed to a different audience living in an entirely different culture 1500 years earlier counts as evidence, but none of the things I mention above are important enough to include in your analysis?

More to the point, perhaps: isn't an analysis that makes no mention of those elements really no analysis at all?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:47 pm

Hello,

On point two Sulla said:

Rotherham makes sure to quote Daniel Wallace on the subject of obtaining sufficient data base to make statistical arguments about a particular grammatical construct. But he then makes the completely unsupported statement that, if a large number of examples exist, it would be wrong to use other evidence. This is complete nonsense, and the Wallace quote is not sufficient to hide this incorrect assertion.


There are a couple of noteworthy things wrong in this first paragraph. First, Sulla misquotes me. Second, the statement that I did make was said to be “similar” to Wallace’s point, not the exact same point, but as we will see, certainly not contradicted by Wallace.

What I first stated was this:

If we allow scripture to interpret scripture and scripture to add to scripture before venturing outside the scriptural record to determine the meaning of a word or phrase or particular syntax, then we are in effect allowing the word of God to interpret the word of God, since scripture is the word of God. Whenever we can rely upon the inspired record to determine the meaning of a word or the intent of a certain phrase or syntax, we are allowing the word of God to interpret itself, rather than being unduly influenced by the thoughts of men.

It is easy to say that in the above I did not say that if there are a “large number” of examples found in the Bible, it would be “wrong” to look elsewhere. I then stated that this was similar to Wallace’s point which makes the statistical argument that one should not make significant statements about syntax, or grammar, or even the meaning of a word without a large number of examples. Like it or not, Wallace does present a statistical argument in saying that large numbers of examples afford the exegete the correctness of making significant statements about the particular linguistic element.

To that point, I added:

If the Bible supplies a very large database of a particular grammatical construction, and that grammatical construction consistently portrays a certain characteristic in every instance, there is no reason for one to go outside the Bible to find an alternative application to the grammatical phrase found plentifully and consistently within the Bible. Doing so would be putting man's understandings and usages above that of God's, for God caused the Bible to be written the way it is written for setting matters straight and for teaching. (2 Tim. 3:16)

You will note the difference between what I said and Sulla’a misquote. I did not just say that if there were a large number of examples that it would be wrong to look elsewhere, although I am puzzled as to why that would be such a problem. If the Bible offers a large number of examples of a particular linguistic element, then why WOULD one decide to look elsewhere, extrabiblically, to render it differently than what the large number of Biblical examples would call for? But, be that as it may, what I actually said was different than that as can be seen above.

What was stated was that if there are a large number of examples AND each example consistently portrays the same linguistic characteristic, then there is no reason to look any further to figure out what that particular phrase or word means. Sulla claims that such a conclusion is completely ridiculous but that seems to be the extent of his argument because the rest of the quotes he offers from Wallace certainly do nothing to overturn that statement. Scholars everywhere use statistics in this nature when exegeting and rendering certain passages, phrases and words, Wallace included. (See his treatment of John 1:1 in regards to the NWT rendering of “a god” for the anarthrous theos} Rather the ridiculousness is in claiming that such statistical arguments should be ignored in favour of what would be tantamount to a freak meaning not attested to anywhere within the scriptures.

Let’s continue with the quotes from Wallace and see if they do anything to overturn or contradict statistical arguments.

Sulla continued:

For example, we can consult the same text by Wallace that Rotherham did and observe that Rotherham’s “statistical sufficiency” principle is flatly rejected. See Daniel Wallace’s Beyond the Basics: an Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament:

When we read the NT letters, it is as if we are tourists eavesdropping on a conversation between two locals. We are at a communications disadvantage that can only be overcome as we immerse ourselves in the customs, culture, history, and language of the first century, not to mention the specific interaction between Paul, say, and his churches. – p.8, note 35


Sorry, I see nothing contained within that quote that flatly rejects the statistical sufficiency principle. It would seem that Sulla is searching for something to cause Wallace to contradict himself, but there is nothing there. Simply because we are at a communications disadvantage does not nullify a consistent grammatical presentation. In fact, those are the kinds of things linguists seize upon to better understand other languages.

Sulla continued:

And later,

2. Humility needs to be exercised where the data are insufficient or where the language is capable of man interpretations...


Wow, I can’t believe that Sulla would actually appeal to this as a point for his team. Its like he just sunk one for the opposing team. In the cases cited in the article there IS sufficient data and ALL the examples agree so there is no room for many interpretations if one allows scripture to interpret scripture. On the hand, it is the Trinitarian camp that refuses to show humility because despite these consistent examples, they unreservedly declare that they can’t mean what ALL the other examples mean. That is the exact opposite of humility and it is exactly what Wallace is addressing. Trinitarians are the ONES who are appealing to an insufficient database (in this case non-existent) to make “beginning” with a genitive mean something other than it always does.

The there was this quote to which I have inserted some comments at pertinent spots:

3. Much in language that is easily misunderstood is outside the scope of syntax, even broadly defined.


That of course is true but the problem is, what is presented is NOT outside the scope of syntax as the relevant syntax examples are unanimous in what they mean. Wallace is telling us that what is often misunderstood is often OUTSIDE the scope of syntax. Well when every example of the syntax in question leaves no question as to what is meant, then there is nothing to be misunderstood.


Although a decent grasp on syntax is the sine qua non for sound exegesis, it is not a panacea for all one’s exegetical woes. Only rarely does the grammar hand the exegete his or her interpretations on a silver platter. In most cases, the better we understand the syntax of the NT, the shorter our list of viable interpretive options. – p.9


Here again he confirms that a solid grasp of syntax is as an absolute essential for sound interpretation or exegesis. Why is it not the end all of every matter though? As he tells us, it is because it usually just narrows the possibilities, but rarely hands the exegete a solid interpretation. But what about our examples? The examples for this article were chosen because of the rare quality they all exhibit, which is a consistent, unwavering application throughout the Bible. Wallace of course would never say that it can’t happen that an interpretation could not be handed to the exegete on a silver platter, but he does rightfully say that it is rare thing if it does. The syntax involving “beginning” in a genitive phrase is just that, the rare incident when grammar actually does hand that unmistakable application to the honest exegete. There’s not even other options to consider in those genitive phrases and what they mean, but that was behind the very reason those phrases were appealed to, which is because they fit that rare category of being without question as to their meaning and application.


Sulla continued:

It is hard to see how these comments, coming as they do just a couple pages after the place Rotherham quotes, could have been ignored. In any case, Wallace – whom Rotherham clearly recognizes as an authority, flatly rejects Rotherham’s assertion that a sizeable database is the end of the matter.


Nothing was ignored because nothing stated did anything to undermine the points made, in fact, bolstered the already presented argument. And again, it was not stated that all you needed was a SIZABLE database. That’s a strawman. What was demonstrated was not just a sizable database but an absolutely consistent one. There is a huge difference between the two claims.

He continues:

Rotherham ignores all these other keys to the meaning of the titles listed in the first part of Revelation; he ignores:
• The historical context of the late first century persecutions
• The genre of Revelation
• The definition and etymology of the word in question
• The philosophical relationship between the logos in the Gospel of St. John with the arche, alpha, and omega of Revelation
• The general meaning of the book of Revelation


I have a feeling this isn’t Sulla’s list but someone else’s, but regardless it completely misses the mark. Nothing above was ignored because nothing above has any bearing or presents any pressure to overturn what has been presented. Sulla has to do better than this. One just can’t lay out a list and claim it was overlooked as if it actually had anything to do with the problem at hand when it doesn’t. Nothing in that list would affect the manner in which “arche” or “archon” was used by the Apostle John or “arche” with a genitive. If Sulla thinks it does, then that surely has to be presented because it appears to be completed disjointed from the topic at hand.

So I do not in any way fail my own hermeneutical test for relying on scripture to interpret scripture. Nor does the expert which I quote in any way contradict or overturn the argument presented but rather supports it once his words are looked at for what they actually say.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:45 pm

This feels to me like a very strange challenge, in that, in addition to inaccurately rewording the original argument, it seems to attempt to negate it by offering caveats to it that are either a) not clearly relevant, or b) mistaken and unsuccessful attempts to put it at odds with a source it quotes.

Sulla wrote:Rotherham makes sure to quote Daniel Wallace on the subject of obtaining sufficient data base to make statistical arguments about a particular grammatical construct. But he then makes the completely unsupported statement that, if a large number of examples exist, it would be wrong to use other evidence. This is complete nonsense, and the Wallace quote is not sufficient to hide this incorrect assertion.


This is a mischaracterization of the original argument. The thrust of Rotherham's argument is that, if one wants to allow scripture to interpret scripture, and a particular grammatical pattern can be found in sufficient number in the scriptures, and the meaning of that pattern is consistent throughout the scriptures, then one would naturally want to give that fact primary weight in interpreting the meaning of a single disputed instance of that grammatical pattern, rather than turning to extra-biblical sources in search of some entirely different and uncommon meaning. This doesn't mean that it is "wrong" to consider other evidence, but when faced with 20 or so examples of that grammatical pattern in the scriptures, unanimously sporting a particular meaning, it's reasonable to wonder why a person would feel the need to search for an uncommon meaning that lies outside of the Biblical usage in an attempt to make a passage with a natural meaning according to all other scriptural examples suddenly obscure and uncertain, supposedly capable of many interpretations.

Sulla wrote:For example, we can consult the same text by Wallace that Rotherham did and observe that Rotherham’s “statistical sufficiency” principle is flatly rejected. See Daniel Wallace’s Beyond the Basics: an Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament:

When we read the NT letters, it is as if we are tourists eavesdropping on a conversation between two locals. We are at a communications disadvantage that can only be overcome as we immerse ourselves in the customs, culture, history, and language of the first century, not to mention the specific interaction between Paul, say, and his churches. – p.8, note 35



The use of this quote is a bit of a head-scratcher. The very point of this paper is that when one immerses themselves in the history and language of the first (and surrounding) centuries, as evidenced by the consistent use of that language from the time of the LXX to the close of the NT canon, we find that when arche is used in a genitive construction, the arche is ALWAYS partitive. Stretching back even further to incorporate the original Hebrew OT, the analogous constructs and statements hold the same meaning.

It hardly seems Sulla could have found a better quote from Wallace to express the essential mentality that Rotherham's paper argues.

Sulla wrote:And later,

2. Humility needs to be exercised where the data are insufficient or where the language is capable of man interpretations...



I'm again unsure as to why this quote is offered. Certainly there is sufficient data, so I must assume Sulla believes that it is the second condition here that applies; that the language is capable of many interpretations.

Of course, that this language is NOT capable of many interpretations is precisely the argument made in this paper, because every time we find it in scripture the meaning is the same.

I again have to assume that by "capable of many interpretations," Sulla means capable of more than one translation, namely, one might choose to render arche as ruler rather than beginning. Temporarily setting aside John's consistent use of arche and archon for those two terms, respectively, Sulla doesn't seem to realize that even if one decided to render arche as ruler, it would not change the fact that that ruler would be considered partitve in the genitive noun, implied to be ruler on account of being the chief or most preeminent example of the group. Thus we have Young's translation of Rev 3:14 as: And to the messenger of the assembly of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the witness -- the faithful and true -- the chief of the creation of God;

Sulla wrote:
3. Much in language that is easily misunderstood is outside the scope of syntax, even broadly defined. Although a decent grasp on syntax is the sine qua non for sound exegesis, it is not a panacea for all one’s exegetical woes. Only rarely does the grammar hand the exegete his or her interpretations on a silver platter. In most cases, the better we understand the syntax of the NT, the shorter our list of viable interpretive options. – p.9



Sulla seems to be trying to suggest that when Wallace says "Only rarely does the grammar hand the exegete his or her interpretations on a silver platter," he really means that never happens. Of course, that's not what Wallace says. What type of situation might arise where the grammar does hand the exegete an interpretation on a silver platter? How about one where a sufficiently large database exists for reference, all examples have a consistent meaning, and all precedented translations carry, in the case of this construct, the same partitive significance? By choosing to render arche as ruler, one might open the door to quibbles about whether or not Christ was the first instance of creation, but it does not raise any question about whether or not he is part of creation. But it must be remembered that such an allowance for ruler ignores John's uniform use of arche for beginning and archon for ruler.

Sulla wrote:It is hard to see how these comments, coming as they do just a couple pages after the place Rotherham quotes, could have been ignored. In any case, Wallace – whom Rotherham clearly recognizes as an authority, flatly rejects Rotherham’s assertion that a sizeable database is the end of the matter. Rotherham ignores all these other keys to the meaning of the titles listed in the first part of Revelation; he ignores:

  • The historical context of the late first century persecutions
  • The genre of Revelation
  • The definition and etymology of the word in question
  • The philosophical relationship between the logos in the Gospel of St. John with the arche, alpha, and omega of Revelation
  • The general meaning of the book of Revelation

That’s a long list of things to ignore, especially given that Rotherham quotes an expert who points out how important all that list is.


Again, very strange. Without some accompanying explanation, it's hard to see how any of these points is supposed to change the consistent meaning of language everywhere else in the Bible so that arche should arbitrarily be considered non-partitive in a genitive statement in this one single case in all the Bible. It comes across as a roundabout way of saying, "Look, Jesus is God so he can't be part of creation, so the examples everywhere else in the Bible ought to be thrown out the window so we can find some other meaning that fits with Jesus being God."

And as a sub-point, one of the factors Sulla says Rotherham is supposed to take into account is the philosophical relationship between the Logos and the Alpha and Omega of Revelation. The problem here is that the application to Christ of the title, Alpha and Omega, is a Trinitarian claim that is hotly contested as demonstrably false from, in some cases, a very simple consideration of context, and, in other cases, a more detailed consideration of same. That Rotherham ought to allow this assertion to inform and mold his understanding of the natural meaning of consistently used language into something unprecedented seems rather silly.

That having been said, it is beyond me how Sulla thinks that referring to Christ as "the beginning of the creation by God," which according to the scriptural pattern marks him as the highest and most preeminent example of God's creation, far above all other living things, does not fit in with the rest of the titles given to Jesus in the early part of Revelation.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:47 am

I wonder why there seems to be such a strong feeling that the argument has been mischaracterized. Here is what Rotherham's paper says:

If the Bible supplies a very large database of a particular grammatical construction, and that grammatical construction consistently portrays a certain characteristic in every instance, there is no reason for one to go outside the Bible to find an alternative application to the grammatical phrase found plentifully and consistently within the Bible. Doing so would be putting man's understandings and usages above that of God's, for God caused the Bible to be written the way it is written for setting matters straight and for teaching.


I'm not sure how one can read this statement and then turn around and assert that the claim is not here advanced that it is wrong to consider additional evidence when there exist many examples of a particular grammar. My assumption, of course, is that "putting man's understandings and usages above that of God's" is, well, wrong.

So now comes HeKS to explain that the real point of all that is simply to ask why anybody would bother evaluating this other evidence when there is so much (at least twenty examples or so) already out there. Well, I sure wouldn't bother, not if doing so would be putting man's understanding above God's, because that would be some sort of sin, I expect. Not, I guess, that there is anything wrong with that.

Question: Can I suggest that if what the paper really means to say is that investigationg this additional evidence is not actually wrong, that the paper be changed to remove that part where it claims doing so would be elevating personal opinion above God's view? Some people might take that as it was written, not grasping that the real meaning is the opposite.

Now, HeKS does address the questions I raised, namely: why is all the other stuff that might help expalain the meaning of the passage in question ignored? As I read the response the reason is simple: We have twenty examples (this hodgepodge of evidence from both the NT and the OT; from the Bronze-age, tribal, Hebrew usages of similar constructs to the Classical, Hellenist, Greek usage; from historical works to apocalyptic literature; from an audience of ancient Jews to Classical Christians -- and, by jingo, none of those difference could possibly have the slightest effect on the meaning of any phrase) and so the case is closed.

So there you have it: twenty cherry-picked examples from anywhere in scripture -- any language, any time, any context, any audience, any author -- and you can safely ignore everything else. Even better, you can ask (with a straight face, I assume) how any of that other stuff could possibly matter at all.

Who cares about the genre of the book in question? Who cares about the overall meaning of that text? Who cares about the actual definition and etymology of the word itself? Who cares about the philosophical environment and definitions the author makes reference to? We've got twenty ripe cherries that mean the case is closed.

To this, I can only say that the case is not closed; not to anybody who is taking the question seriously or has not already heard all they desire to hear.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:12 am

Hello Sulla,

First, you still mischaracterize my argument. I spelled out the difference clearly as well as Heks. You failed to address the real argument once again.

Second, there was no cherry picking going on as ALL the scriptural examples of such construction demonstrate the same thing. One can hardly claim someone cherry picked something when all the examples are consistent.

Third, the rest of your objections are still waiting on a argument to accompany them. As it is they are simply objections without evidence.

Point three? Shall we move on?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:31 am

I'm sorry, can you clarify something? Given the state of the grammatical examplees, is it your position that it would be wrong to consider additional evidence or not?

If you think it would not be wrong, will you please explain your comment that considering additional evidence would be "putting man's understandings and usages above that of God's"?

As for cherry-picking -- I hope you are aware of what cherry-picking means. Casting your net just wide enough to grab all the examples you like is precisely this activity. Or do you have some particular justification for both including Hebrew examples and excluding other examples of the genitive phrase?

Finally, your point is that

    the genre
    the author
    the historical context
    the audience
    the meaning of the word
    the etymology of the word
    the philosophical references
    the message of the book itself

don't matter. If you feel like you don't need an argument to explain why you think they don't matter, then I certainly don't feel like I need to explain why they do. It's pretty straightforward, after all, and educated readers will know exactly why such a criticism is spot-on. But suit yourself.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:58 am

I'll be posting soon. Busy times.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:45 am

Sulla wrote:As for cherry-picking -- I hope you are aware of what cherry-picking means. Casting your net just wide enough to grab all the examples you like is precisely this activity. Or do you have some particular justification for both including Hebrew examples and excluding other examples of the genitive phrase?


I'm somewhat baffled by your attempt to defend your use of the term "cherry picking" here. The argument of the paper is that when the Bible contains a large and consistent database of usage for a particular term and/or grammatical construction, it is wise and preferable to give weight to such a pattern of usage rather than to ignore it in search of some less common, external usage. In line with this, the paper cites the examples of arche followed by a genitive phrase in the Greek NT and LXX. It can just as easily embrace all analogous examples in Hebrew and in English. Why limit the examination to these languages? The answer seems obvious. Hebrew is the (primary) original language of the OT and Greek is the original language of the NT as well as of the OT translation in the LXX. English is the first language of us three participants.

And yet, you claim that Rotherham has cherry picked examples in his paper by limiting himself to only all examples existing in the Hebrew OT, Greek NT, Greek OT, and entire English Bible. I fail to see how limiting oneself to Biblical examples of the usage is to be considered cherry picking in a paper that suggests giving Biblical examples priority when the number is sufficient and all examples are consistent.

I'm also at a loss to explain how you think a uniform use in analogous grammatical patterns across multiple languages over a number of centuries weakens the likeliness of the grammatical pattern meaning the same thing in Rev 3:14 as it does in every single other case.

Finally, your point is that

    the genre
    the author
    the historical context
    the audience
    the meaning of the word
    the etymology of the word
    the philosophical references
    the message of the book itself

don't matter. If you feel like you don't need an argument to explain why you think they don't matter, then I certainly don't feel like I need to explain why they do. It's pretty straightforward, after all, and educated readers will know exactly why such a criticism is spot-on. But suit yourself.


I wonder if these same educated readers will be able to spot a red herring.

You don't seem to get it. Our position is not that these factors don't or can't matter. Our position is that none of these things lead to a necessary change in the understanding of the language in Rev 3:14 so as to cause us to read it in a way that is entirely unprecedented in scripture. Conversely, your argument that they do is not only unconvincing ... it's non-existent. You have literally done nothing but trot out a list of factors that are supposed to counter the otherwise unanimous testimony of every other instance of such a statement in the Bible, but you've given no reason whatsoever why this is so. And you continue to cite the author as one of the factors we have not considered, when part of the argument was based on this author's specific usage, which you have attempted to negate in your point 3 by way of what seems to be a rather misdirected analogy.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:00 pm

You don't seem to get it. Our position is not that these factors don't or can't matter. Our position is that none of these things lead to a necessary change in the understanding of the language in Rev 3:14 so as to cause us to read it in a way that is entirely unprecedented in scripture. Conversely, your argument that they do is not only unconvincing ... it's non-existent. You have literally done nothing but trot out a list of factors that are supposed to counter the otherwise unanimous testimony of every other instance of such a statement in the Bible, but you've given no reason whatsoever why this is so. And you continue to cite the author as one of the factors we have not considered, when part of the argument was based on this author's specific usage, which you have attempted to negate in your point 3 by way of what seems to be a rather misdirected analogy.


HeKS, I am quite certain that the paper presents the claim that it would be wrong to consider these other factors. Is it necessary that I quote the section again? So, you are not entirely correct when you claim that your position is merely that these other factors don't change the conclusion, are you? The real claim in the paper is that, in the circumstance of this particular analysis, these other factors must not be considered, since that would be wrong. That's a different claim than the one you advance here, isn't it?

Can you please just answer straight whether you see where that claim is made in the paper and whether you agree with it? I'm afraid I am stuck on this point -- it seems to me we really have to get some clarity on this particular question pretty soon.

Second, I am afraid you are really missing the point about how this sort of paper needs to look if you want it to be taken seriously. You can't just ignore these other factors that are routinely included in this sort of exegetical analysis. You certainly can't just say that the reason you are ignoring them is because they don't matter -- you have to engage these other factors.

I asked why there is no discussion of these other factors in the paper. (Please note: I don't think that I have argued that they change thte conclusion, I have argued that they are necessary to the analysis.) Your response is that these other factors don't matter, so you don't need to discuss them. Indeed, you say that even bringing them up is a red herring. OK, I guess. But a paper that thinks even engaging in these standard pieces of exegetical analysis is morally improper and some sort of attempt to change the subject cannot be taken seriously. I'm sorry, but it just can't.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:43 pm

Hi Sulla,

I think I'm seeing where there has been a rather large misunderstanding or miscommunication. The list of additional things you think ought to be considered is not what the paper sets against giving primary weight to scriptural examples.

The point of the paper is that when one has a large and consistent database of usage for a particular term or grammatical construct in the scriptures, one should not disregard that database for some uncommon external occurrence of that term or pattern. To be a little more clear, the paper says it would be better to give primary weight to the totally consistent usage of arche in genitive statements throughout the scriptures when interpreting Rev 3:14, rather than looking for one different stray occurrence in the apocrypha or some secular piece of literature and trying to use that to support a reading that is unprecedented anywhere in scripture. In other words, this is an argument relating to what should be given the most weight as a grammatical reference or database. The paper argues that it is the Bible.

This argument says nothing about the propriety of considering the other factors you mention, which are mostly non-grammatical.

Now in terms of a treatment of those factors in a paper like this, I'm not sure how Rotherham ought to go about addressing certain of those factors in a way that doesn't seem like a simple attempt to lengthen the paper unnecessarily.

To explain what I mean, let's consider something like the historical context of the late first century persecutions. Now, if someone believed that this context gave necessary reason to disregard what the verse actually seems to naturally say in light of every other occurrence and translate/interpret it in an otherwise entirely unprecedented way, I could see them writing some lengthy consideration of the issue to explain this belief of theirs. But when one does NOT believe this context necessitates the disregarding of the relevant scriptural database and does not create any problem with the corresponding interpretation, what exactly is one to say that brings any significant meaning to the argument of the paper? To me, such a context presents no problem and ultimately has no bearing on the matter (of course, you will recognize that saying that it doesn't and saying that it can't or is wrong to consider are different things). I assume Rotherham feels the same. Were we presented with an argument to the contrary, then I'm sure one or both of us would address that, but I'm not sure I see the value of an author initiating the consideration of some factor that he feels has no bearing on the subject at hand, unless he is offering a rebuttal to claims that it does have a bearing right from the start.

Of course, I'm open the idea that I'm somehow missing a good and valuable way to do such a thing.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:18 am

Well, I trust you can see what the problem is, then. When you go and quote an expert like Wallace, who clearly states the necessity of looking at something like the list of factors I provided and who makes use of such analysis throughout his book, it seems entirely reasonable to suppose that the paper is attempting to utilize those standard methods.

It seems to me there is more than one way to engage these other factors. Probably, it would be good to acknowledge that the central idea of the paper -- that many examples that are ... etc. & etc. make other factors irrelevant is highly controversial itself. Right? This is a deep assumption -- in the sense that it is crucial to understanding the approach of the paper; it is a very controversial assumption -- in the sense that I think very few people would make a similar argument when the alternative translations are within the lexical field, as they say; it is also an entirely unstated assumption -- in that the paper never even explains why it views all this other stuff as irrelevant. In fact, as you explain the exclusions of the paper, it doesn't even actually say that it thinks all those other factors are irrelevant.

But we are stuck with the fact that those pieces of the standard analysis are not engaged when an educated reader would expect them to be. And while I agree that it would be impossible to engage every possible argument, it seems that there exists some duty to explain to the reader why the context or audience, say, doesn't matter as a specific rule in this case.

So I think what is mising is an explanation of why it might be that the examples in this case so completely trump the various contextual factors that they need not be addressed at all. I mean, I get it: you keep saying that with so many examples, nothing else matters. But I hope you can see that kind of assertion doesn't help -- it is not true of our everyday speech and it is, therefore, not clear why it would be true in the Bible. To take one obvious example, I may write about the banking system, my bank, going to get cash from the bank, the bank that sold my mortgage, the bank bailout, etc., 1,000 times. Yet my statement that I am going to fish in the shade on the bank cannot be governed by any number of previous uses. In this case, the immediate context absolutely trumps any number of previous examples.

So, if you are going to argue the other way around -- that many examples absolutely trump context -- then it seems to me you owe the reader some explanation for why you think that is. It is controversial enough that it demands some explanation.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:59 am

Hi Sulla,

While at first glance I don't disagree with your point in principle, where I find myself at odds is in your expression that the paper takes the unstated position that this list of examples trumps context, or any of the other factors you mention. The reason I disagree with the application of your general principle to the case of this paper is because, by saying it's written from the position that the database of examples trumps all those other factors, it suggests that those factors point to a different conclusion than that suggested by the database of other cases in the Bible. We don't believe that is so. We see no conflict between the rendering and interpretation suggested by that database and the context, textual or historical. You're the one who seems to think there is conflict, but you haven't clearly expressed what you think that conflict is.

The only arguments I've personally come across for the necessity of a different reading based on historical context have essentially boiled down to the assertion that the early Christians believed Jesus was uncreated and was Almighty God. Arguments from textual context have boiled down to essentially the same assertion, reading the text of Revelation with the Trinity in view and then arguing for the necessity of the Trinity to explain a reading that is based on a Trinitarian presumption in the first place. That is to say, I've yet to come across a historical or textual argument for a Trinitarian reading or interpretation that did not rely on the already existing assumption that the Trinity is a correct doctrine. I don't say a different kind of argument may not exist, but I've never seen it. If you have one, I'd be happy to look. But surely you see that raising the issue only to combat such a broad argument as the assertion of early belief in the Trinity is something that would be better suited to a book, or several books, rather than in a paper that considers the natural reading suggested by the use of the term and grammatical construct everywhere else in the Bible and the usage of the specific author himself, and that considers all the other factors you mention to fit in perfectly well with that suggested interpretation.

But at this point, can we just determine that we are on the same page in recognizing that when the paper talks about ignoring the internal Biblical database of examples for less common external cases, and that such a course would not be wise, those external cases are not the types of further factors you have mentioned but uncommon renderings of the word or grammatical pattern in extra-biblical literature?

As for your analogy, I'll address that when we move on to point 3.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:58 am

But surely you see that raising the issue only to combat such a broad argument as the assertion of early belief in the Trinity is something that would be better suited to a book, or several books, rather than in a paper that considers the natural reading suggested by the use of the term and grammatical construct everywhere else in the Bible and the usage of the specific author himself, and that considers all the other factors you mention to fit in perfectly well with that suggested interpretation.


I do see that first part, HeKS. I don't see where the paper shows the other factors actually fit well with your reading of the passage.

But at this point, can we just determine that we are on the same page in recognizing that when the paper talks about ignoring the internal Biblical database of examples for less common external cases, and that such a course would not be wise, those external cases are not the types of further factors you have mentioned but uncommon renderings of the word or grammatical pattern in extra-biblical literature?


We could, if we could also agree that that point should be made considerably clearer in the text of the paper.

So let me refine the criticism. If the paper is prohibiting only grammatical examples from extra-Biblical sources and is consciously declining to investigate the other factors I mention in a positive way (and by that I mean actively saying, 'This is how the context contributes to the interpretation of the meaning.'), shouldn't the claim be more humble? Shouldn't it be something along the lines of, 'A consideration of the similar examples suggests...' rather than this claim to have conclusively demonstrated?

Let me put it this way: The argument of the paper boils down to the clam that, because we can't find examples where arche is used with a genitive phrase where the referent is not partitive, that forces a partitive meaning in this other example, as well. (An aside: I think the claim is also that it forces one particular definition of the word, as well -- "beginning," and not source or ruler. But I don't know if that matters enough to discuss.) But isn't that a controversial point of view, itself: all discussion is ended by virtue of these examples?

So, given the debated meaning of the passage, isn't it the duty of one who would make such a strong claim (or set of claims, really) to discuss why additional factors are not relevant? Or, failing that, at least show how this reading fits with the other factors I mention?

Look, you haven't conclusively shown that the meaning must be partitive, etc. -- you've conclusively (? - I have something to say about that later today) shown that other similar constructions are read in a certain way. You assert, without support, that these other readings force a particular reading in this case.

I suggest the solution is in two parts. One, demonstrate through consideration of the other factors I mention how this reading is, in fact, consistent with those factors. Two, either support the implicit assumtion that twenty examples forces the reading of the twenty-first example or else reduce the strength of the claim from "plain meaning" to something like "good evidence".
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:02 am

Hi Sulla,

For now I'll leave Rotherham to comment on his thoughts as to your suggestions for how he might improve the paper. I don't think they are bad ideas in terms of broadening the scope of the paper.

I think, though, that we may disagree on what the paper proves conclusively. To me, it proves conclusively that, according to the uniform use of arche in such a grammatical construct in the scriptures commonly read by those living in NT times and in the scriptures produced by the NT writers - and according to the otherwise entirely consistent use of arche and archon by John himself - the use in Rev. 3:14 has a natural reading as the "beginning of the creation of/by God," with the natural meaning that this beginning is PART of the creation of God. From a Biblical point of view, it is, on a macroscopic and microscopic level, the precedented translation and interpretation.

As such, any meaningful discussion must acknowledge this fact and begin here. It does not do to approach this passage from the perspective that there are a variety of equally likely or feasible translations and interpretations. Grammar may not be a panacea for all one's exegetical woes, but it helps to severely limit the list of reasonable possibilities. More than that, it can also show which of those remaining possibilities is most likely. Attempts to argue for a different meaning must account for all these factors and demonstrate why external factors trump that most natural reading and elevate some other possibility to an equally likely (or more likely) status.

The paper could benefit from an expanded or broader consideration of the factors you have mentioned, but I think the paper establishes, at the least, where such a conversation would need to begin.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:03 am

Well, now here we have a valid point. Any analysis of the meaning of Rev. 3 really does need to engage the facts of the usage of similar phrases throughout the NT, at least. So I might as well engage them a little bit here; I hope that's all right. I have, I think, one thing to say.

The paper doesn't really have anything like unanimity in its examples.

Look, the paper quotes Mark 13:19 as an example of a partitive use, and it is. But as an examination will show, the word used in Mark 13:19 is arches and not arche. And that's fine with me.

But note an example of genitive use of arches that is not included: Col. 2:10:

and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power;


The point of this passage is sepcifically that the head of principality and power is set directly in opposition to those spirits thought to rule the world, those elemental powers referenced in verses 8 and 20 and in Gal. 4. So this is a counter-example.

Another can be found in Heb. 5:

For although by this time you should be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God. You have come to need milk, and not solid food.


This, too counts as a counter example. Principles of- are not part of.

An even stronger counter example is Heb. 6:1

Therefore leaving the teaching of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection--


The first principles of Christ are not actually part of Christ, so this is also a counter-example.

The paper also quotes John 2:11, which uses the word archen. If we look at the same word used in Heb3:14 we find this use:

For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm to the end:


Again, not part of our confidence. Sure, the beginning of confidence is part of the period of time when we had confidence, but that is not the same thing as our confidence. I would even argue that this is a good example where the word is better rendered as "source," but that doesn't change the non-partitive genitive. The paper incorrectly reports this as partitive.

So, the paper doesn't even establish the use of the partitive genitive -- here I've shown four NT exceptions. So, given that, it seems the claims of the paper are even more reduced


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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:07 pm

Hello Sulla,

Sulla wrote:[color=#800000]Well, now here we have a valid point. Any analysis of the meaning of Rev. 3 really does need to engage the facts of the usage of similar phrases throughout the NT, at least. So I might as well engage them a little bit here; I hope that's all right. I have, I think, one thing to say.

The paper doesn't really have anything like unanimity in its examples.

Look, the paper quotes Mark 13:19 as an example of a partitive use, and it is. But as an examination will show, the word used in Mark 13:19 is arches and not arche. And that's fine with me.


Mark 13:19-you will note that the lexicons gives two ways in which arche appears. It is either ache or arches, both representing the genitive case without any affect upon usage or meaning.

But note an example of genitive use of arches that is not included: Col. 2:10:

and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power;


The point of this passage is sepcifically that the head of principality and power is set directly in opposition to those spirits thought to rule the world, those elemental powers referenced in verses 8 and 20 and in Gal. 4. So this is a counter-example.


It is not a counter examples as it is not arche followed by a genitive. "Arche" in this case is the following genitive to the word "head" which means that "head" is partitive of "principality". Your backwards here.

Another can be found in Heb. 5:

For although by this time you should be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God. You have come to need milk, and not solid food.

This, too counts as a counter example. Principles of- are not part of.


Ther principles of the oracles of God are indeed PART of the oracles of God. It is ridiculous to claim otherwise.


An even stronger counter example is Heb. 6:1

Therefore leaving the teaching of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection--

The first principles of Christ are not actually part of Christ, so this is also a counter-example.


Another invalid example. The order of the Greek is "of the arches of the Christon of logos". There is no article before logon, which is logos, which is rendered 'teaching', so the combined genitive is "Christ's teachings". Therefore, the first principles are of the "teachings" of Christ, not just Christ and Indeed the first principles are part of the teaching of Christ. The word order you present this vers in is misleading as it does not reflect the Greek accurately.



The paper also quotes John 2:11, which uses the word archen. If we look at the same word used in Heb3:14 we find this use:

For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm to the end:

Again, not part of our confidence. Sure, the beginning of confidence is part of the period of time when we had confidence, but that is not the same thing as our confidence. I would even argue that this is a good example where the word is better rendered as "source," but that doesn't change the non-partitive genitive. The paper incorrectly reports this as partitive.


The beginning of one's confidence is certainly PART of their confidence. Again, it is ridiculous to claim otherwise.

So, the paper doesn't even establish the use of the partitive genitive -- here I've shown four NT exceptions. So, given that, it seems the claims of the paper are even more reduced


Your examples are invalid so the paper remains intact as to what it establishes. What it establishes is that if we allow scripture to interpret scripture, "arche with a following genitive" is always partitive. NO cherry-picking. No special pleading. No exceptions. We are told that interpretations belong to God. If the words of God give us all we need to make a solid interpretation, which it does in the case of "arche followed by a genitive", then only one thing would cause us to look elsewhere to overturn that natural meaning for an unnatural one, that being doctrinal bias.

As for these things you claim I have not considered, I also have not considered that John's mother could have had red hair, or that his father might not like goat cheese, but those have about as much bearing on these statistics as do the things you offer that I have not considered. I can't see for the life of me how any of those things would change anything in regard to how we read "arche with a following genitive" if we let SCRIPTURE interpret SCRIPTURE.

Since you bring up these things as if they do have a bearing, the burden is upon you to show why they even need to be considered.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:09 pm

Please tell me what are the different parts of confidence. I admit I was unaware that confidence had parts.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:35 am

Hello Sulla,

The beginning of one's confidence is the initial or first bit of confidence one develops on an issue. Hopefully, with time and an increased awareness of relevant matters, that confidence will grow. The result is an expanded confidence, an augmented confidence, a greater or more full confidence, but it is not a different or separate confidence. It is the same confidence as the one the person had at first, but that confidence they had at first doesn't exhaust the confidence they come to have. Thus, when one is speaking retrospectively of the beginning of their confidence, they are talking about something that equates to a portion of the fullness of their current confidence; the groundwork of their current confidence; a part of their confidence that came to exist before the other parts of their confidence began to be built upon that foundation.

The beginning of one's confidence is, indeed, partitive in that confidence.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:06 am

You know how much grammar bores me, HeKS. Still, confidence has parts? Child, please.

More likely, we are looking at a genitive of apposition (the source, who is our confidence), or genitive of product (the beginning, which produces our confidence).

Actually, there are other mis-classifications in the paper, too. Gen. 49, with Ruben dientified as the "beginning of my strength." I mean, he's clearly talking here about the idea that Ruben is the guy who produces the strength and all that. So, there are a couple examples that seem like mis-classification.

Also, how can anybody insist that Col. 2:10 is partitive instead of a genitive of subordination? That has Jesus being a part of the evil powers, which seems to be a heterodox notion, even for JWs.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:26 am

Sulla wrote:Actually, there are other mis-classifications in the paper, too. Gen. 49, with Ruben dientified as the "beginning of my strength." I mean, he's clearly talking here about the idea that Ruben is the guy who produces the strength and all that. So, there are a couple examples that seem like mis-classification.


I have no idea what you're talking about here. Or perhaps I should say you have no idea what you're talking about here ... no offense :)

The statement "beginning of my strength" was a common reference to a firstborn son. The "strength" referred to is the father's generative or reproductive strength. Thus the firstborn is the first example of his father's reproductive strength; the beginning of it. Further children will be further examples of same.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:47 am

I'm already bored with this post I am writing.

If a firstborn is a manifestation of generative power, then he is not that power or a part of that power. No more than a demonstration of anger is the same thing as the anger or a part of the anger. So I don't see how this fixes the problem, which is that Ruben is not a part of his father's power.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:08 am

Sulla wrote:I'm already bored with this post I am writing.

If a firstborn is a manifestation of generative power, then he is not that power or a part of that power. No more than a demonstration of anger is the same thing as the anger or a part of the anger. So I don't see how this fixes the problem, which is that Ruben is not a part of his father's power.


It seems you are trying to take an overly literal approach here, since from their historical perspective, they most certainly would have considered each of their children as PART of their generative strength, thus the beginning of their generative strength would also be a PART of it ... the first part.

However, even if you want to get hyper literal, a father's generative strength is his sperm that achieves implantation in an egg, resulting in conception and birth. Hence, Ruben really was his generative strength, the first example of it. Ruben was the first sperm to achieve implantation, conception and birth.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:30 am

I don't know anyone who was a sperm.

Seriously, can you substantiate the claim that the ancient Jews figured strength had parts? Honestly? Do you think strength has parts? It's got sources (which would be genitive of production), but pieces parts?

Partitive suggests the thing can be split into actual parts. "Some of the leaves," is a great example, isn't it? We can split the leaves into lots and lots of little leaves which are pieces of the group.

But come on, strength?

If you don't like a genitive of producer, perhaps you'd prefer a genitive of production: Ruben is the first caused by his strength, maybe.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:26 pm

Hello Sulla,

As heks has explained, Rueben was the beginning in relation to time and is the first manifestation, in relation to that series, of his father's regenerative powers, with others to follow, therefore partitive. The Hebrew word for "strength" is also gievn the lexical meaning of genital strength. Rueben was the first manifestation of that genital power.

Here is some more information on a couple of points about Mark 13:19 and Hebrews 6:1

You made the mention in Mark 13:19 of the word being "arches" instead of "arche". Turns out, arches is the actual genitive form of the word arche, which arche is the root word in its nominative form. Therefore, as stated, it has no bearing or affect upon arche of any case being followed by a genitive.

Hebrews 6:1 turns out not to be an example of arche followed by genitive anyway, so your exception is invalid. Christon and logon are in the accusatvie case, not the genitive, so it is not a parallel example.

Regards,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:I don't know anyone who was a sperm.

Seriously, can you substantiate the claim that the ancient Jews figured strength had parts? Honestly? Do you think strength has parts? It's got sources (which would be genitive of production), but pieces parts?

Partitive suggests the thing can be split into actual parts. "Some of the leaves," is a great example, isn't it? We can split the leaves into lots and lots of little leaves which are pieces of the group.

But come on, strength?

If you don't like a genitive of producer, perhaps you'd prefer a genitive of production: Ruben is the first caused by his strength, maybe.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:56 pm

Nope, sorry. We are going to have to look into this more. You can't just throw around a "therefore" and expect it will make something true, it has to all work together.

The first in relation to time and the first manifestation of [my love], in relation to that series [of my loves]/[b], with others to follow, is [b]not a part of my love.

More directly, the first manifestation of my genital power, impressive as that was, was not actually part of my genital power, which is more accurately thought of as a set of capabilities or potentialities. So, it should be clear that the set of capabilities is different from the set of acts accomplished.

On the other hand, a child is certainly caused by that power, which is a different type of genitive, as I have said. Thus, the first manifestation or example of that power, one of a series of examples of amazing power.

So, no, not therefore partitive. And repeating will not make it so.

We agree on that much, do we not?


You made the mention in Mark 13:19 of the word being "arches" instead of "arche". Turns out, arches is the actual genitive form of the word arche, which arche is the root word in its nominative form. Therefore, as stated, it has no bearing or affect upon arche of any case being followed by a genitive.


?

Hebrews 6:1 turns out not to be an example of arche followed by genitive anyway, so your exception is invalid. Christon and logon are in the accusatvie case, not the genitive, so it is not a parallel example.


?

Don't you a have a comment on Col. 2:10?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:33 pm

Hi Sulla,

The thing you're missing here, which is something I discuss in the paper I'm working on relating to prototokos (firstborn), is that with these types of genitive statements, you cannot always be as literal as you are trying to be right now. By this I mean that when we find prototokos or arche in a genitive statement, the group in which it is considered partitive is often indicated by the genitive noun without being explicitly stated.

For example, in saying that Eliphaz is the protokos of Esau, we know Eliphaz really is the prototokos and first partitive member of a group, but the group is not Esau, it is Esau's children. Thus the group in which the protokos is considered partitive is implied by "Esau," but that group is not explicitly stated.

That is the same thing we have going on here with Ruben being called the beginning of his father's (generative) strength. You are trying to argue that this arche is not partitive because it is not literally a piece of strength. The problem is that the (generative) "strength" indicates the group in which the arche is partitive implicitly. When one refers to the beginning of one's generative strength, the implied group is those resulting from that generative strength, the resulting examples or instances of that strength, namely that one's children. Thus, when one is identified as the beginning of his father's generative strength, the connection being made is to the group of ones resulting from that generative strength, whether actual or potential. The beginning, or arche, is the first member or part of that implied group. This meaning is clear in Genesis 49:3, where Ruben being called the beginning of his father's strength is placed in direct apposition to Ruben being called his father's firstborn. The same partitive relationship to Jacob's children is intended for both prototokos and arche.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:02 pm

Well, then, this is an example where the genitive is not partitive, then. You know, one of the genitive classes Wallace discusses is the possessive genitive. The examples are like this: "slave of the high priest." It has a related case, the genitive of relationship, with examples that go like this: "the sons of Zebedee."

Thus, this firstborn of Esau isn't partitive at all, it's a genitive of relationship. You are trying to force-map this relationship into something partitive by changing the statement to say "firstborn of Esau's children," (which is partitive) when the statement is "firstborn of Esau," (which is a genitive of relationship).

So, look, Ruben is the first thing of a bunch of things that are caused by the power of his father. Wallace categorizes this as a genitive of production: the first of things brought about by his power. You nearly stumble into this observation by saying that "the implied group is those resulting from that generative strength."

That's exactly it! That's what makes it a genitive of production as opposed to a partitive genitive.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:30 pm

Hi Sulla,

You have essentially just made my point.

Sulla wrote:So, look, Ruben is the first thing of a bunch of things that are caused by the power of his father. Wallace categorizes this as a genitive of production: the first of things brought about by his power. You nearly stumble into this observation by saying that "the implied group is those resulting from that generative strength."


Look at your statement I have bolded. My point is that in cases like these, a partitive relationship is always established by necessary implication. Even if one might classify the explicit statement in a slightly different way, it is impossible to escape the necessarily implied partitive relationship signaled by these types of statements. The arche or prototokos is always partitive in the group that is indicated by these constructions.

However, examples like these are not directly analogous to Rev 3:14, in the sense that in places like Rev 3:14 and Col 1:15, the group in which the arche and prototokos, respectively, is partitive is stated explicitly and thus they are properly categorized as partitive genetives. I don't know that all would classify genitives as strictly as Wallace seems to here (I don't have his book), but it is for this general reason that I don't refer to ALL of these statements as partitive genitives, but as genitive statements that necessarily indicate a partitive relationship, whether explicitly or by necessary implication. This is the approach I take in the paper I'm working on and is a divergence between the details of Rotherham's argument and mine.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:21 pm

The we agree that the genitive is not partitive of power -- Ruben is not a part of the power, he is a part of something else, namely: things brought about by that power. That makes the genitive NOT partitive but, rather, a genitive of production.

The things brought about by his power are not his power. This is precisely the same observation I made with the firstborn of Esau. There, the firstborn is NOT partitive of Esau, but partitive with something else; the firstborn is a genitive of relation to Esau, not partitive.

Now, if the statement was, "beginning of the things made by my power," then we have a partitive genitive all day long. If the statement was, "the firstborn of Esau's children," then we have partitive genitives as far as the eye can see.

But that's not what the sentences say.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:52 pm

We agree to a point. Where I think your treatment is deficient is in that you are making a hyper-literal distinction between the explicit words the person speaks and the obvious and necessary meaning of those words.

If you get hyper-literal, then sure, a child is not a piece of ability. However, in attempting this kind of reading to say that the child is merely an expression of the generative strength and not part of it, you're making a distinction that ignores the clear and necessary meaning of the statement and that is too literal for its own good. You see, there are not multiple methods of expressing generative strength, so that children are merely AN expression of it. They are the ONLY expression of it. A reference to generative strength is necessarily a reference to children. Generative strength only exists and is apparent in the existence of children. It is only demonstrated and proven to exist by the existence of children. They are the sole manifestation and proof of generative strength. As such, the statement, "the beginning of my (generative) strength," is the semantic equivalent of "the beginning (or first) of my children." The former statement means the latter statement and it will mean that every single time. Thus, "generative strength" is the semantic equivalent of "children". The difference is that it is a more poetic and expressive way of making the statement, but the meaning is identical.

Of course, you will notice that the latter statement is clearly a partitive genitive. The former is its semantic equivalent. By "(generative) strength", you take Jacob to mean his ability to produce children. I say he speaks poetically or expressively of the children he has produced.

In like manner, while Christ is called "the power of God," I don't take that to mean he is literally God's power or ability. Rather, he is an instance and example of God's power, the highest of such examples, both in the sense of being the preeminent example of what God accomplishes by his power and in demonstrating how God uses his power. But in either case, in calling Christ the power of God, "power" is not a reference to God's ability but to an example of his ability.

By trying to make a clean break between the types of statements found in Gen 49:3 and a partitive genitive construction, you are doing a disservice to the obvious meaning of the text and ignoring instances like 1 Cor 1:24 that clearly demonstrate a reference to "power" or "strength" can actually be a reference to an example or instance of power or strength rather than the general ability.

Gen 49:3 is made a genitive of production rather than a partitive genitive only by your insistence that, in using the word "strength", Jacob means his general ability rather than the product of that ability. This is not a necessary reading, as there is precedence for such language to be a reference to the product of an ability or characteristic rather than the ability or characteristic itself.

But beyond all this the point remains that these types of genitive statements, whether strictly classified as partitive genitives or not, carry a clear and necessary indication of a partitive relationship by necessary implication and the caveats you attempt to apply here do not apply to Rev 3:14, which explicitly states the group in which the arche is partitive, thus being a partitive genitive even by strict classification.


EDIT:

Just a quick additional note I forgot to include. In identifying Gen 49:3 as a genitive of production by interpreting the "strength" to be a reference to the general ability, we are causing the text to necessarily raise a question. As a gen. of production, we ought to understand Jacob's statement as: "the beginning produced by my (generative) strength."

With this reading, we must necessarily ask, "What beginning? The beginning of what? In other words, by identifying this statement as a genitive of production, we are forced to ask the very question that the statement is intended to answer. Jacob says, "beginning of X," we have to say, "Yes, but beginning of what?"

Like first and firstborn, beginning naturally indicates a partitive connection. By reading Jacob's reference to "strength" as being a reference to the product of the strength rather than the general ability, which has precedence, we have a partitive genitive where the statement means (and is the semantic equivalent of), "The beginning of my (children)," and we need not go on to ask what the statement itself intends to answer.

So it seems to me that Gen 49:3 might look like a genitive of production at first glance, but it actually makes more sense as a partitive genitive upon closer inspection.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:27 pm

Hello Sulla,

I believe Heks has explained well why we are under no obligation to take Genesis 49:3 as something different than a partitive genitive of the examples or products of one's generative power. Let me ask you this and see if it helps, what exactly does "arche" mean in that genitive phrase? I can answer that for you, it has to mean beginning. So then tell me, what is Rueben the beginning OF?
Once you identify that, even if one took it to be a genitive of production, the fact that the word means beginning requires it to ge partitive as well. How could it not be? So this example remains.

I already commented on Col. 2:11. You've missed it above as well as my comments on all the other examples you gave. Go back thorugh the thread you'll find it.

Regards,
Rotherham



Sulla wrote:Nope, sorry. We are going to have to look into this more. You can't just throw around a "therefore" and expect it will make something true, it has to all work together.

The first in relation to time and the first manifestation of [my love], in relation to that series [of my loves]/[b], with others to follow, is [b]not a part of my love.

More directly, the first manifestation of my genital power, impressive as that was, was not actually part of my genital power, which is more accurately thought of as a set of capabilities or potentialities. So, it should be clear that the set of capabilities is different from the set of acts accomplished.

On the other hand, a child is certainly caused by that power, which is a different type of genitive, as I have said. Thus, the first manifestation or example of that power, one of a series of examples of amazing power.

So, no, not therefore partitive. And repeating will not make it so.

We agree on that much, do we not?


You made the mention in Mark 13:19 of the word being "arches" instead of "arche". Turns out, arches is the actual genitive form of the word arche, which arche is the root word in its nominative form. Therefore, as stated, it has no bearing or affect upon arche of any case being followed by a genitive.


?

Hebrews 6:1 turns out not to be an example of arche followed by genitive anyway, so your exception is invalid. Christon and logon are in the accusatvie case, not the genitive, so it is not a parallel example.


?

Don't you a have a comment on Col. 2:10?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:49 pm

Hello Sulla,

Don't miss my comments above but here is what I said about Col. 2:10

It is not a counter examples as it is not arche followed by a genitive. "Arche" in this case is the following genitive to the word "head" which means that "head" is partitive of "principality". You're backwards here.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:08 pm

Rotherham, perhaps you missed my response to your response to Col. 2. If you insist that Jesus is part of the principality, then you are insisting that Jesus is one of the dark powers of this world. I trust you see why that is troubling.

HeKS,

I'm not sure that one must become "hyper-literal" hold the view that a child is not a piece of ability. I suspect that one could hold such a view while maintaining a reasonable sensitivity to metaphor and so on.

Moreover, I do not suppose that a child is "merely" an expression of generative strength at all. What I am saying is that that child in that particular gramatical construct is referred to with a genitive of production.

We may, if it suits you, discuss lots of different groups to which such a child might be said to belong. We can even speculate about different ways of constructing partitive genitives to talk about Ruben . Finally, we might spend an hour or two over a good pinot noir discusing the groups to which Ruben surely was part of (he is the beginning of the Sons of Israel who had affairs with their father's concubine, etc.). But none of that will change the fact that, in this particular grammatical construct, written under inspiration from God, the author had decided to describe him with a genitive of production.

That is, it is perfectly fine with me if you want to point out that, as a matter of fact, Ruben is part of some group of offspring from Jacob. Just don't go saying that the grammatical construct in Genesis is a partitive genitive, 'cause its not.

Rotherham makes this point well. He says:


So then tell me, what is Rueben the beginning OF?
Once you identify that, even if one took it to be a genitive of production, the fact that the word means beginning requires it to ge partitive as well. How could it not be? So this example remains.


Well, he is the beginning of a bunch of things that also are caused by the remarkable reproductive power of Jacob. And, by jingo, if you want to make your very own sentence using a partitive genitive to talk about that group, be my guest. Mazel tov.

But Jacob talked about him here by using a genitive of production.


Gen 49:3 is made a genitive of production rather than a partitive genitive only by your insistence that, in using the word "strength", Jacob means his general ability rather than the product of that ability. This is not a necessary reading, as there is precedence for such language to be a reference to the product of an ability or characteristic rather than the ability or characteristic itself.


Honestly, HeKS. If the statement was that Ruben is the beginningof my children, then it's clearly a partitive genitive because "my children" is a group with parts. What he expresses is a slightly different idea, poetic, like you say, that makes use of a different type of genitive phrase.

And I might as well repeat the observation that you are attempting to force the phrase "firstborn of Esau" into a similarly incorrect category.

Again, we can spend all day thinking about groups of which these guys were part. The terms in the Bible happen not to be partitive genitives, much as this might distress you.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:11 pm

Sulla,

I seem to be having a very hard time getting you to understand what I'm ACTUALLY saying versus what you seem to want to think I'm saying.

You say Gen 49:3 is a genitive of production BECAUSE strength is an ability that doesn't have parts. Thus, in order for this verse to be an example of a genitive of production, "strength" has to MEAN "abiliy to produce children" in this verse, so that the meaning of the statement, "the beginning of my strength," is "the beginning produced by my ability to produce children."

What I'm trying to tell you is that there is precedence for using words like power, strength, wisdom, etc, to MEAN the product of those abilities or characteristics rather than the abilities or characteristics themselves. In such cases, the word "power" or "strength" is a direct reference to one or more examples or products of power or strength and NOT to the general ability or characteristic of power or strength.

If this is the case in Gen 49:3, as clearly seems to be the case based on the obvious and necessary meaning of the statement along with the use of a term like "beginning", which naturally carries partitive implications, then Gen 49:3 is NOT a genitive of production, it's a genuine partitive genitive. The classification depends on the contextual meaning of "strength" in this verse. If it's a reference to ability, then it is technically a genitive of production that necessarily implies a particular partitive relationship for the arche. On the other hand, if it is a reference to the products of the ability, which, again, has precedence, then it is a partitive genitive.

In footnote 89 on page 105 of his book, Wallace describes his own discussion of this classification of a genitive of production as "admittedly in seminal form" and doesn't even provide definite examples (he lists all examples as "possible"). You, on the other hand, seem to be pounding your fist on the table pretty hard that this is definitely a genitive of production while ignoring those factors that demonstrate it could very well be an actual, legitimate partitive genitive.

Also, it will not do to dissemble as you have in talking about how Ruben is the beginning of many things and might be the beginning of this or that. The statement has one necessary partitive implication and meaning: that Ruben is the first of Jacob's children. This is obvious on its own, but its placement in apposition to Jacob calling Ruben his firstborn makes this meaning impossible to mistake.

Your genitive of production reading creates a kind of Who's On First merry-go-round of trying to figure out what the arche is actually the beginning of. It has Jacob saying Ruben is the beginning OF his generative strength - which implies a partitive relationship - but meaning Ruben is the beginning produced by his generative strength, which leaves us asking, "But what is it the 'beginning' of?" to which Jacob responds "Like I said, the beginning OF my generative strength." "Yes," we reply, "but what is it the beginning OF?" At which point somebody slaps someone.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:12 am

Let's be careful, then.

What I'm trying to tell you is that there is precedence for using words like power, strength, wisdom, etc, to MEAN the product of those abilities or characteristics rather than the abilities or characteristics themselves. In such cases, the word "power" or "strength" is a direct reference to one or more examples or products of power or strength and NOT to the general ability or characteristic of power or strength.


I agree that these words are used this way. These are metaphors, or poetic language, or personification, or something similar. Yes, I get it. It is not a direct reference to these particular manifestations at all, though; it is an indirect reference. The whole point of making this sort of (what we might call a) literary reference is to express an idea more completely or to express it in a special way. I have, as it happens, read a poem in my life.

But that doesn't change the grammar. Yes, I know Jacob means Ruben is the first of his children, but he doesn't say it that way. And what he says, the way he chooses to express this idea at this particular time, is with a genitive of a different sort.

It is entirely the point of the construction of the phrase to bring additional aspects of the relationship into mind. He could have simply said, "You are my first child," but he did not. The entire point of expressing it this way is to make the connection between his own reproductive power, his personal greatness, and this child. That's why he uses this genitive of production at this particular time rather than a simple partitive genitive. He is making the specific point that Ruben is not only one of a group, but that he is produced by Jacob.

And that is how genitives are used, in part. Look, if I call my wife the "queen of the household," I am using a genitive of subordination. I could also say that she is a "member of the household," using a partitive genitive. The whole point of using the different genitives is to express the different aspects of meaning or the different relationships between she and the household. I would be using different genitives on purpose for precisely this reason.

That's why you are mistaken. You are supposed to take the grammar and try to figure out what the meaning of the phrase is, you are not supposed to change the grammar to fit a meaning you infer -- even if that inference is correct. That's not how you are supposed to read.


In footnote 89 on page 105 of his book, Wallace describes his own discussion of this classification of a genitive of production as "admittedly in seminal form" and doesn't even provide definite examples (he lists all examples as "possible"). You, on the other hand, seem to be pounding your fist on the table pretty hard that this is definitely a genitive of production while ignoring those factors that demonstrate it could very well be an actual, legitimate partitive genitive.


Give me a break. Feel free, if it is your considered opinion, to use the subjective genitive here, as Wallace notes some feel is more appropriate. And the thing that would make it partitive would be if he had said, "my children," which naturally has parts instead of "my strength," which happens not to have parts.

Your genitive of production reading creates a kind of Who's On First merry-go-round of trying to figure out what the arche is actually the beginning of. It has Jacob saying Ruben is the beginning OF his generative strength - which implies a partitive relationship - but meaning Ruben is the beginning produced by his generative strength, which leaves us asking, "But what is it the 'beginning' of?" to which Jacob responds "Like I said, the beginning OF my generative strength." "Yes," we reply, "but what is it the beginning OF?" At which point somebody slaps someone.


No doubt.

"The unity of the Spirit -- genitive ofproduction."

"Yes, but what's it the 'unity' of?"

"I don't know, unity of the people, or something. Who cares?"

"So, it's partitive."

"No, it's a genitive of production; the Spirit produces unity."

"No, unity is necessarily a part of the things that the people have, so it's partitive."

"Look, man, that might be true, but the sentence uses a genitive of production to make this specific point in this specific way."

etc.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:11 pm

Sulla,

As I said, you're backwards on this example. Jesus is the "head" in that sentence, not the arche. This is not an example of what you want to argue at all.

Also you are still missing the point of Genesis 49:3. You know and I know the word there means "beginning". Do you not understand that the word "beginning is partitive by nature. It's like saying the first of something. It is naturally partitive. You have not answered exactly what Rueben is the beginning OF. He is clearly the beginning OF something in that statement. That necessitates a partitive nature to the word by the very fact that it means beginning. That's what you're missing in this example. "Beginning" is partitive by the very nature of the meaning of the word, THEREFORE, whatever other genitive you want to apply to this, you can not remove the partitive genitive from that phrase.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Sun Aug 23, 2009 12:57 pm

I take your point about Col. 2.

We do not know that the word in Gen. 49 means beginning; you know as well as I the various shades of meaning associated with that word in both the Greek and in the English equivalent. Besides which, it is not really always partitive of anything -- consider the passges in Revelation where God calls himself "the Beginning," we are sure that God is not really a part of anything or group you'd care to consider, I think.

It is easy to think of ways we can use the term "beginning" as a poetic or metaphorical term without it being partitive of anything.

Moreover, your insisting that I answer the question about what Ruben was the beginning of seem to show a misunderstanding of the genitive construct in this passage. What I have suggested is that we must not read this passage to say that Ruben is the beginning of some group of which he is a part. Rather, we must read the passage to say that Ruben is the first produced by the reproductive strength of his father.

The standard explanation of the use of the partitive genitive is something like identifying the whole of which the substantive is a part of. So, it is entirely mistaken to think that the genitive is paritive when the noun doesn't have parts.

Thus, I could refer to my wife as the "beginning of my love," but that doesn't make the genitive partitive. If I write a first novel I could call it the "beginning of my inspiration" without using a partitive genitive. In either case we could, if we were feeling particularly wooden and immune to nuance, insist that these phrases really mean "beginning of a time period when I was in love" and "beginning of a bunch of things I wrote."

And, of so, then the way to express those ideas with a partitive genitive is to say, "beginning of the time I was in love," and "beginning of the things I wrote." It is specifically by using a different grammatical construct than a simple partitive genitive that I would be expressing a different idea. And I am suggesting that it would be wrong to take the most wooden and soulless reading possible, supply the grammatical structure for that hypothetical phrase, and then turn around and claim that you've found the grammatical structure for the actual phrase.


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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:30 pm

Hello Sulla,



We do not know that the word in Gen. 49 means beginning; you know as well as I the various shades of meaning associated with that word in both the Greek and in the English equivalent.

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Well we have choices that we have discussed. It’s either ruler or beginning as we have already determined, or you could appeal to source which is a completely unattested meaning of the word. The only one that even fits is beginning.
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Besides which, it is not really always partitive of anything

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I think we will see that this is not correct as we continue.
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-- consider the passges in Revelation where God calls himself "the Beginning," we are sure that God is not really a part of anything or group you'd care to consider, I think.

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Actually this example demonstrates our point perfectly. Arche, when used as the beginning, is always used as the beginning of something in relation to time or in relation to a class of things, or a series. The fact that Almighty God is called the beginning AND the end, tells us he is indeed partitive of the class of Almighty God but he is the only one in that class. That phrase is simply a way of expressing God’s unique existence. He is the first and the last in the class of Almighty.

Thayer’s lexicon confirms that the title “beginning and end” is used in the sense of the first person in a series, in this case, the series of Almighty God, where there is but one.
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It is easy to think of ways we can use the term "beginning" as a poetic or metaphorical term without it being partitive of anything.


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Such as? The question that begs for an answer as soon as you designate someone as a “beginning”, is “beginning of what?”, which the subsequent answer always makes it partitive, even poetically.
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Moreover, your insisting that I answer the question about what Ruben was the beginning of seem to show a misunderstanding of the genitive construct in this passage. What I have suggested is that we must not read this passage to say that Ruben is the beginning of some group of which he is a part. Rather, we must read the passage to say that Ruben is the first produced by the reproductive strength of his father.

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But you prove my point again by saying he is the FIRST thing produced by the following genitive. FIRST is again a naturally partitive word. You are claiming that the word rendered as genital strength here really means “produced by genital strength”. That’s fine, but by saying he is the FIRST or the BEGINNING, he is therefore the of the class of things “produced by genital strength”. There is no escaping the partitive nature.
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The standard explanation of the use of the partitive genitive is something like identifying the whole of which the substantive is a part of. So, it is entirely mistaken to think that the genitive is paritive when the noun doesn't have parts.

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It doesn’t have to have parts in the case of a mass noun. But it is still partitive of whatever that mass noun represents.
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Thus, I could refer to my wife as the "beginning of my love," but that doesn't make the genitive partitive.

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Sure it does, the beginning of your love is definitely a part of your love. Just because love is a mass noun does not mean that something can’t be a part of what the mass noun designates.
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If I write a first novel I could call it the "beginning of my inspiration" without using a partitive genitive.

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not true at all. The beginning of your inspiration is definitely PART of your inspiration. It is ridiculous to claim otherwise.
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In either case we could, if we were feeling particularly wooden and immune to nuance, insist that these phrases really mean "beginning of a time period when I was in love" and "beginning of a bunch of things I wrote."

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And that is exactly what those things mean. There’s nothing wooden about it.
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And, of so, then the way to express those ideas with a partitive genitive is to say, "beginning of the time I was in love," and "beginning of the things I wrote." It is specifically by using a different grammatical construct than a simple partitive genitive that I would be expressing a different idea. And I am suggesting that it would be wrong to take the most wooden and soulless reading possible, supply the grammatical structure for that hypothetical phrase, and then turn around and claim that you've found the grammatical structure for the actual phrase.

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None of what you have stated here has nullified or shown in any way that the beginning of something does not have to part of that which it begins. It is always, in some fashion or another, mass noun or count noun, a part of that which it is the beginning of. You have not demonstrated an exception and I can think of none.

I believe point three is waiting.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Aug 24, 2009 3:07 pm

Wow.

With respect to the idea that there are only "ruler" and "beginning" among the choices for the translation of arche in this passage -- I think not, as I have said.


Arche, when used as the beginning, is always used as the beginning of something in relation to time or in relation to a class of things, or a series. The fact that Almighty God is called the beginning AND the end, tells us he is indeed partitive of the class of Almighty God but he is the only one in that class. That phrase is simply a way of expressing God’s unique existence. He is the first and the last in the class of Almighty.


It will suffice, I think, simply to reflect on the phrase, "partitive of the class of Almighty God," to dismiss this comment.

As for this:


But you prove my point again by saying he is the FIRST thing produced by the following genitive. FIRST is again a naturally partitive word. You are claiming that the word rendered as genital strength here really means “produced by genital strength”. That’s fine, but by saying he is the FIRST or the BEGINNING, he is therefore the of the class of things “produced by genital strength”. There is no escaping the partitive nature.


It is perfectly fine to observe that Ruben is part of some class of things. The question is whether he is part of the class of "my strength," since that is where the genitive in the sentence is placed. Indeed, had the scripture said, "You are the beginning of things produced by my strength, then we would not be having this conversation. Grammatically, it won't do to read into the text these words that don't exist, especially when the structure of the text as it is written conveys an important nuanced meaning to the statement.

It doesn’t have to have parts in the case of a mass noun. But it is still partitive of whatever that mass noun represents.


Really? Even if the noun is abstract? Substantiate that.

not true at all. The beginning of your inspiration is definitely PART of your inspiration. It is ridiculous to claim otherwise.


OK. You know what? I'm done having this conversation with you.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:26 pm

Hello Sulla,

Sulla wrote:Wow.

With respect to the idea that there are only "ruler" and "beginning" among the choices for the translation of arche in this passage -- I think not, as I have said.


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You've said alot, but you are not demonstrating anything and you don't even offer what you THINK the meaning of ARCHE is at Genesis 49:3. Go look up the word in a lexicon and tell me what it means in this sentence.
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Arche, when used as the beginning, is always used as the beginning of something in relation to time or in relation to a class of things, or a series. The fact that Almighty God is called the beginning AND the end, tells us he is indeed partitive of the class of Almighty God but he is the only one in that class. That phrase is simply a way of expressing God’s unique existence. He is the first and the last in the class of Almighty.


It will suffice, I think, simply to reflect on the phrase, "partitive of the class of Almighty God," to dismiss this comment.

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So you dismiss the fact that Thayer's specifically points to the "beginning and end" phrases in Revelation and uses them as examples to show that the word means the first thing in a series. I suppose if you don't have answers, just go ahead and fly in the face of facts.
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As for this:


But you prove my point again by saying he is the FIRST thing produced by the following genitive. FIRST is again a naturally partitive word. You are claiming that the word rendered as genital strength here really means “produced by genital strength”. That’s fine, but by saying he is the FIRST or the BEGINNING, he is therefore the of the class of things “produced by genital strength”. There is no escaping the partitive nature.


It is perfectly fine to observe that Ruben is part of some class of things. The question is whether he is part of the class of "my strength," since that is where the genitive in the sentence is placed. Indeed, had the scripture said, "You are the beginning of things produced by my strength, then we would not be having this conversation. Grammatically, it won't do to read into the text these words that don't exist, especially when the structure of the text as it is written conveys an important nuanced meaning to the statement.

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Then, pray tell, what is the meaning of arche in that sentence? If it is beginning, then it belongs to the thing it is the beginning of. You have not provided an actual contrary example to that and really can't because they don't exist.
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It doesn’t have to have parts in the case of a mass noun. But it is still partitive of whatever that mass noun represents.


Really? Even if the noun is abstract? Substantiate that.

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It is substantiated by the very fact that there are no examples otherwise. Good grief, go look up the actual meaning of "beginning".
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not true at all. The beginning of your inspiration is definitely PART of your inspiration. It is ridiculous to claim otherwise.


OK. You know what? I'm done having this conversation with you.[/quote]

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Well then, I'll move on to point three.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:54 pm

I still have a few comments to make on point two. I'll try to get to them tonight.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:07 pm

So you dismiss the fact that Thayer's specifically points to the "beginning and end" phrases in Revelation and uses them as examples to show that the word means the first thing in a series. I suppose if you don't have answers, just go ahead and fly in the face of facts.


You know, I guess I could look it up, though the idea that everybody is supposed to be on intimate terms with what Thayer says on the matter is risible, but the easiest thing to do with your sources is to assume you've misread them. That turns out to be right about 95% of the time.

It doesn’t have to have parts in the case of a mass noun. But it is still partitive of whatever that mass noun represents

Really? Even if the noun is abstract? Substantiate that.

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It is substantiated by the very fact that there are no examples otherwise. Good grief, go look up the actual meaning of "beginning".
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So, you decline to substantiate your claim? OK, so, given that you cannot substantiate your claim, what should a reader make of your opinion? Should a reader assume you are ignorantly holding to an assertion simply because you think it leads to a conclusion you prefer?

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Then, pray tell, what is the meaning of arche in that sentence? If it is beginning, then it belongs to the thing it is the beginning of. You have not provided an actual contrary example to that and really can't because they don't exist.
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You are ignoring my examples because you don't like them. Really, perhaps your assertion that, "The beginning of your inspiration is definitely PART of your inspiration. It is ridiculous to claim otherwise," may convince you that you're right, but you are easily convinced. For those who require more than your shoe pounding the table, comrade, this won't quite cut it.

Readers might rightly ask themselves whether abstract things really have parts. They might think of beauty, or truth, or kindness and wonder if we can really speak about these things as if they were a lamp or a car or a kitchen cabinet. A reader might wonder if the "first of beauty" really only means the first beautiful thing, or if the "beginning of hope" really means only the beginning of a time period when we had hope. And such a curious reader could look to your foaming non-argument and think that it doesn't really support your end of the argument so much as attempt to shut the argument down. Such a reader might wonder why you decline to substantiate the idea that abstract things have parts and wonder if you really haven't made the whole thing up. Such a reader might think back on his college philosophy courses and recall that Plato observed that things like beauty and truth have shadow-like analogues in this world, but are not the abstract ideas themselves and wonder if maybe Jacob was trying to communicate something more than just, Ruben, boy, you are my first thing my baby-mama popped out, and there were several."

Or such a reader might just take your word for it. Who knows?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:26 pm

Sulla wrote:Wow.

With respect to the idea that there are only "ruler" and "beginning" among the choices for the translation of arche in this passage -- I think not, as I have said.


Would you mind pointing out what you've said on this? "Beginning" is the only translation that makes any sense in this statement. Again I point out its use in apposition to "firstborn". Jacob is referring to Ruben here as being the first of his children. Ruben is not the ruler of Jacob's generative power. He is not the source of it (which is an unprecedented meaning anyway). He is, however, the beginning or first instance of it.

Sulla wrote:
Rotherham wrote:Arche, when used as the beginning, is always used as the beginning of something in relation to time or in relation to a class of things, or a series. The fact that Almighty God is called the beginning AND the end, tells us he is indeed partitive of the class of Almighty God but he is the only one in that class. That phrase is simply a way of expressing God’s unique existence. He is the first and the last in the class of Almighty.


It will suffice, I think, simply to reflect on the phrase, "partitive of the class of Almighty God," to dismiss this comment.


Well, that's an interesting way to dodge an argument and contrary evidence: just say it can be dismissed.

Do you think that, in calling himself "the first and the last", God used words without any meaning or context? "First and last" is a contextual title God used of himself. That is, it was a title that was used and intended to be understood in a particular context. That context was the question of who was Almighty God and thus rightfully deserving of worship. God is the first and last of those deserving Human worship. That is, he is in a unique class of which he is the only member; the first and last (and thus only one) of that class to be counted. As a member of that class, even as the ONLY member of that class, he is partitive in that class. The same is true of his description of himself as "the beginning and the end." Rotherham pointed out that Thayer says precisely this about your attempted counter-examples but you have entirely ignored that fact.

If I make up a club called "the HeKS club" and I'm the only member of that club, I am partitive in that club. As a member, even as the only member, I'm part of that club. I'm not not part of it just because I'm the only member.

Sulla wrote:As for this:

Rotherham wrote:But you prove my point again by saying he is the FIRST thing produced by the following genitive. FIRST is again a naturally partitive word. You are claiming that the word rendered as genital strength here really means “produced by genital strength”. That’s fine, but by saying he is the FIRST or the BEGINNING, he is therefore the of the class of things “produced by genital strength”. There is no escaping the partitive nature.


It is perfectly fine to observe that Ruben is part of some class of things. The question is whether he is part of the class of "my strength," since that is where the genitive in the sentence is placed. Indeed, had the scripture said, "You are the beginning of things produced by my strength, then we would not be having this conversation. Grammatically, it won't do to read into the text these words that don't exist, especially when the structure of the text as it is written conveys an important nuanced meaning to the statement.


First of all, Ruben is not part of some class of things. He is part of the class of things necessarily implied by "generative strength", namely, Jacob's offspring. As I have pointed out multiple times now, even if you want to insist that this genitive should technically be classified as a genitive of production, it doesn't change the fact that the arche in this statement, Ruben, is partitive in the very class that is necessarily implied by the genitive. Nor does it change the fact that an argument for a genitive of production would neither work nor be helpful to you in Rev 3:14. From what I've seen, you have failed to interact with either of these points.

You see, even if we grant you a genitive of production here, you have traded an explicitly stated partitive relationship for a necessarily implied one. This makes no difference to me. I've been saying all along that in all these cases the partitive relationship is either explicitly stated or necessarily implied. If you want to argue one over the other in this particular case, it doesn't make much of a difference to me. Still, I will try one last time to get you to understand why I'm saying that a genitive of production is not a necessary classification and there is room for a partitive genitive classification.

As I've said, the proper classification of this genitive depends on the actual referent for "strength". If the referent is the ability or characteristic of strength, thus meaning "first thing produced by my ability to produce children," then this would be a genitive of production. If the referent is the products of that ability or characteristic, then this would be a partitive genitive.

Let's use a different mass noun, like "love". If I pointed at my wife and said, "This is my love," I could mean a variety of things. I could mean she is the embodiment of my love, or perhaps the personification of my love, or I could mean she is the one in whom my love rests, the person that I love. In that last case, my use of the mass noun, "love," is not a reference to my ability or characteristic of love at all, but to a specific individual. This might be better described as an idiomatic use of "love" rather than a metaphorical one (even though this type of expression isn't entirely limited to a single language).

This same possibility exists with "strength" in Gen 49:3. The difference is that, while "love" can refer to many things and have many applications, making a statement like, "the beginning of my love," potentially very confusing as to your intended meaning, "generative/genital strength" has only one application: the production of children. This highly limited scope makes an idiomatic use of "generative/genital strength" very easy. When Jacob says, "the beginning of my generative/genital strength," it refers to exactly one thing: the first of his children. Thus, an idiomatic use of "(generative) strength" to mean offspring is very simple and works well with "beginning," which is itself naturally partitive. Such a use would make this a partitive genitive, not a genitive of production.

But in the end, I'm not sure I really care, because the specific partitive relationship that is at the least necessarily implied is what you really need to deal with.


Sulla wrote:
Rotherham wrote:It doesn’t have to have parts in the case of a mass noun. But it is still partitive of whatever that mass noun represents.


Really? Even if the noun is abstract? Substantiate that.

Rotherham wrote:not true at all. The beginning of your inspiration is definitely PART of your inspiration. It is ridiculous to claim otherwise.


OK. You know what? I'm done having this conversation with you.


You seem to be missing something here, Sulla. The problem with your examples is that you are using examples that are open to more meanings, and thus more confusion, than what we have in Genesis 49:3.

Let's take your example of "inspiration". In using the expression, "the beginning of my inspiration," it may not be immediately clear what "beginning" you're referring to, but the necessary implication of your choice of words is that whatever that "beginning" is, it is part of some larger group or thing. For example, you may mean "the beginning of the time period in which you were inspired." In that case, the beginning of the time period would be part of the larger period. Or you could mean "the first thing that inspired me," in which case the "beginning" would be part of a larger group of things that inspired you. By virtue of using the word "beginning," you are suggesting that more of the same type or class of thing followed. If you want to use the word "beginning" in conjunction with a single instance of something, you would need to include the word, "end". So if you want to say that only one thing inspired you, or you were inspired for only an instant, you would say something like, "it was the beginning and end of my inspiration." This is so because the word "beginning" is naturally partitive. Its use necessarily implies some kind of partitive relationship to something.

In a recent post, I said that taking the statement, "the beginning of my generative strength," to actually say, "the beginning produced by my strength," necessarily raises the question, "the beginning of what?" even though the actual statement says "beginning OF my strength," resulting in a sort of Who's On First merry-go-round. You tried to respond by saying the same thing is true of the statement, "the unity OF God," so that one would need to ask, "the unity OF what?" This isn't so. "Unity" is not a naturally partitive word. Thus, taking the statement, "the unity of God," to actually say, "the unity produced by God," does NOT require one to ask, "the unity OF what"? The whole point is that "unity of" can be replaced by "unity produced by" WITHOUT raising any problems or question as to what the text is actually saying. The confusing question is necessarily raised in Gen 49:3 BECAUSE the word "beginning" is naturally partitive.

It's really not too difficult to see how a mass noun can be considered to have parts and thus how partitive statements can be made regarding mass nouns. Take "milk". If you have a supply of milk and you pull out the first bag for use, you can say, "This is the beginning of my milk," meaning it is the first part of your larger supply.

You could also say something like, "that was the beginning of my education," to refer to the first bit of education you received, or the start of the period during which you were educated, whether in an absolute or relative context.

If you say, "the beginning of my love," you could mean the start of the time in which you felt love, or you could mean the first bit of love you felt, or you could mean the first person you ever loved.

There are any number of ways in which using the word "beginning" with a mass or abstract noun could be intended as partitive in that noun, depending on how literally, metaphorically or idiomatically you are using that mass or count noun.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:26 am

OK, let's start with the "I am the beginning and the end," statements. I suggest it is missing one of the key meanings of this passage to simply say this is declaring the class of things to be worshipped has only one member. The claim to unique sovereignty is based on the idea that he is the source of all and also the goal or end of all. And this makes the educated reader think not only of Deutero-Isaiah but also the philosophical ideas of alpha/omega and source/goal as well as the specifically Jewish ideas of the Lord of history bringing all things to eschatological fulfilment, to borrow Bauckham's phrase.

So, I must respectfully disagree with you and Thayer, whatever he said, about the partitive nature of this claim. I don't think the best reading is that, within the class of things that ought to be worshipped, there is only one thing and it is God. I think the best reading is that, as the source of all and ultimate goal of all, worship is for God. These are different statements, I think.


First of all, Ruben is not part of some class of things. He is part of the class of things necessarily implied by "generative strength", namely, Jacob's offspring. As I have pointed out multiple times now, even if you want to insist that this genitive should technically be classified as a genitive of production, it doesn't change the fact that the arche in this statement, Ruben, is partitive in the very class that is necessarily implied by the genitive. Nor does it change the fact that an argument for a genitive of production would neither work nor be helpful to you in Rev 3:14. From what I've seen, you have failed to interact with either of these points.


OK, well let me interact. First, let me agree: nothing will change the fact that Ruben is a part of a class implied by the phrase. Further, a genitive of production is not usefully applied to Rev. 3.

On the other hand, I think it is useful to my counter-argument. If three of your examples are not partitive genitives (Gen. 49, the similar constructs in Deut. 21 and Heb. 3), then you can't make the argument that, whenever the word keeps is meaning of "beginning" with the genitive, it is partitive. I wouldn't even have to argue that the word doesn't keep its meaning of "beginning" in Rev. 3, I would simply note that there are different genitive meanings that can be associated with the word arche and point out that your case is not made on that basis.

Look, if you want to argue the idea that these arches are always a part of some implied group -- heck, even some necessarily-implied group -- that is fine with me. But that's not a grammatical argument, it's a logical argument. And the paper specifically makes a grammatical argument.

So, let me get to that point. You say:


You see, even if we grant you a genitive of production here, you have traded an explicitly stated partitive relationship for a necessarily implied one. This makes no difference to me. I've been saying all along that in all these cases the partitive relationship is either explicitly stated or necessarily implied. If you want to argue one over the other in this particular case, it doesn't make much of a difference to me. Still, I will try one last time to get you to understand why I'm saying that a genitive of production is not a necessary classification and there is room for a partitive genitive classification.


It should make a difference to you, HeKS, because the argument of the paper is based on a grammatical argument and not the logically implied meaning of the phrase. That said, I think we are close to agreement here.

As I've said, the proper classification of this genitive depends on the actual referent for "strength". If the referent is the ability or characteristic of strength, thus meaning "first thing produced by my ability to produce children," then this would be a genitive of production. If the referent is the products of that ability or characteristic, then this would be a partitive genitive.


We agree.

Let's use a different mass noun, like "love". If I pointed at my wife and said, "This is my love," I could mean a variety of things. I could mean she is the embodiment of my love, or perhaps the personification of my love, or I could mean she is the one in whom my love rests, the person that I love. In that last case, my use of the mass noun, "love," is not a reference to my ability or characteristic of love at all, but to a specific individual. This might be better described as an idiomatic use of "love" rather than a metaphorical one (even though this type of expression isn't entirely limited to a single language).

This same possibility exists with "strength" in Gen 49:3. The difference is that, while "love" can refer to many things and have many applications, making a statement like, "the beginning of my love," potentially very confusing as to your intended meaning, "generative/genital strength" has only one application: the production of children. This highly limited scope makes an idiomatic use of "generative/genital strength" very easy. When Jacob says, "the beginning of my generative/genital strength," it refers to exactly one thing: the first of his children. Thus, an idiomatic use of "(generative) strength" to mean offspring is very simple and works well with "beginning," which is itself naturally partitive. Such a use would make this a partitive genitive, not a genitive of production.

But in the end, I'm not sure I really care, because the specific partitive relationship that is at the least necessarily implied is what you really need to deal with.


I disagree. Does it not seem to you that you could point to your child, saying "This is my strength," and having just as wide a range of meaning? This is the personification of my strength, this is the locus of my strength, this is proof of my strength, this is where my strength rests, etc.? I think the idea that, speaking of one's wife and saying she is the "beginning of my love" is not nearly as confusing as you are representing here; certainly not more confusing than Jacob's reference to Ruben.

And, honestly, if you speak of your wife with the phrase, "You are the beginning of my love," do you truly believe you are making use of a partitive genitive?

And we can deal with the implied partitive relationship whenever you'd like. The point the paper makes is the grammatical and explicit relationship of the genitive.
___________________________________________________________

You raise another point that I should address. It is easy to speak of mass nouns as partitive, what is difficult is to speak of abstract nouns as partitive. You observe, accurately:


If you say, "the beginning of my love," you could mean the start of the time in which you felt love, or you could mean the first bit of love you felt, or you could mean the first person you ever loved.


Yes, but I think you'd be using a genitive of producer to express all these ideas.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Aug 28, 2009 9:07 am

Hello Sulla,

I have a few comments about your latest submission but I'll wait for Heks response first. No reason to do double duty if there is no need.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Aug 28, 2009 9:29 am

I hope to get to this today, if possible. I've been running around all over town the past two days so I haven't had any time.

Sorry for the delay, Sulla.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:35 am

Hi Sulla,

Let's start with this for now.

Sulla wrote:You raise another point that I should address. It is easy to speak of mass nouns as partitive, what is difficult is to speak of abstract nouns as partitive. You observe, accurately:

If you say, "the beginning of my love," you could mean the start of the time in which you felt love, or you could mean the first bit of love you felt, or you could mean the first person you ever loved.


Yes, but I think you'd be using a genitive of producer to express all these ideas.


I don't see how a genitive of producer really makes sense here. Wallace tells us that the key to identifying this kind of genitive is to replace of with produced by. So, taking our statement, "the beginning of my love," we shall turn it into:

"The beginning produced by my love."

It seems to me that in order to determine if we can rightly classify this statement as a genitive of production/producer, we must take our three agreed-upon possible meanings and see if a genitive of production/producer reading could lead us to their meanings.


Option 1: The start of the time in/during which I felt love

In this case we have two possibilities. Beginning could map to start of time and love simply to love, or beginning could map to start and love could map to the time in which I felt love as an idiomatic usage.

With the former, if your intent is to convey the idea that the period of time you felt love was produced by your ability to love, a genitive of production/producer could work here as a classification for the original statement, "the beginning of my love," but there is a partitive genitive inherent in the overall semantic, by which I mean that, once the statement has been interpreted into something a little more clear and less poetic, you are left with a partitive genitive.

With the latter, the original statement would be a partitive genitive, with beginning mapping to start, which would be the equivalent of first part of.


Option 2: The first bit of love I felt

With this meaning, a partitive genitive would be the proper classification of the original statement, "the beginning of my love," with love in this case not being a reference to the ability to love but to the actual product of the ability applied to one or more persons.


Option 3: The first person I ever loved

This, again, is a partitive genitive usage. In this case, the original statement, "the beginning of my love," could be using love as a reference again to the product of the ability to love that has been applied to people or it could be using it idiomatically to refer to the people who have been loved.

A genitive of production/producer would not lead to this interpretation, as it would mean 'the first person produced by my love,' which clearly paints a different picture.


In all cases, the naturally partitive implications of "beginning of" suggest a partitive genitive classification, but even if some other classification is chosen, a partitive genitive is always present in the overall semantic. You will note that all three of our possible meanings focus on some partitive relationship.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:02 pm

It seems to me that in order to determine if we can rightly classify this statement as a genitive of production/producer, we must take our three agreed-upon possible meanings and see if a genitive of production/producer reading could lead us to their meanings.


Hey HeKS,

I don't think that's what we need to do. I don't think the question is whether a particular form of a genitive phrase leads to the metaphorical meaning intended. I think doing so is precisely backward.

Look, we wouldn't waste time analyzing a phrase like, "Offspring of vipers," by thinking the word 'offspring' clearly denotes some group that is viper-like in its nastiness of which the subject is part and that, therefore, this is a partitive genitive. And we wouldn't do that even though it happens to be true.

No, what we'd do is observe the construction of the phrase itself and note that this is a genitive of relation, or a possessive genitive, and be done with it. Of course there is a group implied by the plural, vipers; of course the referents are part of that group. Of course nobody (not even Rotherham) would waste any time trying to argue that this is really a partitive genitive.

The nature of the genitive is not determined by the existence of some implied group or the meaning of the metaphor. The nature of the genitive is determined by the structure of the sentence. And what I keep trying to say is that the metaphorical or idiomatic meaning of the phrase doesn't matter at all when we are looking at grammar.

The fact that the referents were not literally reptiles does not change the fact that the grammatical structure says they are. The fact that a beloved might be part of some group does not change the fact that the grammatical structure makes use of a different sort of genitive construct.

So the first of my love/hate/lust/envy/hate/kindness is not a partitive genitive because those abstract things do not have parts. I am perfectly fine with the idea that one who says such a phrase intends a meaning like, "You are the first member of a set of things I love/hate/envy/lust," but this doesn't change the kind of grammar used.

How are we lead to this intended meaning? Simple, we know how to read.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:32 pm

Hi Sulla,

The distinction between what you are saying and what I am saying is that you are here talking about an overall metaphorical or idiomatic meaning to the statement while I'm talking about the idiomatic use of a word.

I agree that saying an entire phrase is metaphoric or idiomatic doesn't affect the classification of the genitive. However, the idiomatic use of a particular word CAN affect the classification of the genitive, because the idiomatic use of the word playing the role of the genitive substantive can actually be a direct reference to something that does or can have parts and in which the head noun is partitive.

Let's say we have a word, X.
X is not generally considered capable of having parts according to its normal usage.

We have another word, Y.
Y, on the other hand, is capable of having parts according to its normal usage.

If X is used idiomatically to mean Y, then X stands in for Y. X means Y. For the purposes of the statement, X is Y. For the purposes of the statement, X is not X.

Do you understand the difference between what I'm saying and what you're saying in your last post? Abstract nouns can be used idiomatically to refer to concrete nouns. When this happens, you can have a partitive genitive even when the genitive substantive is an abstract noun, because the abstract noun is being used idiomatically as a concrete noun.

Also, as I've already said, I think you're being too literal, because it's quite common for people to speak partitively of abstract things like confidence, love, strength, etc., and when they do, nobody is confused.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:37 pm

Hello Sulla,

I am sure Heks will have more to say, (edit: see his response right above) but I think you keep making the same mistake. You keep claiming that I am making a strictly grammatical point in relation to arhce followed by a genitive and such is not the case. Grammar does not necessitate that arche, when it is followed by a genitive, must be partitive. What I am saying is it simply IS according to all the examples found in scripture. Based on the quote that I made of Wallace, he stated that a significant SEMANTIC statement should not be made without numerous examples.

The argument I have presented for arche followed by a genitive is a significant semantic statement based upon all scriptural examples which consistently show the use of one word that is found in a particular grammatical syntax. That is not purely just a grammatical argument, it is semantical based on grammatical examples. And every time we see arche followed by a genitive, it always means FIRST, either in time or in a series. The examples you offer to counter that do not really do that because in none of those examples is the meaning of the word arche changed in reference to the following genitive. The fact that the word still only means FIRST necessitates that the following genitive be partitive even if it could also be viewed as the producer of the arche. The production factor does not negate the partitive aspect in regards to the word arche.

In Genesis 49:3 it all depends on what you insist the word rendered as "strength" denotes and connotes. If the word denotes strength but connotes an example of the strength, then the word arche in that phrase is still partitive. Proof of that is the fact that a beginning has to be the beginning OF something, it does not stand alone without a relationship to something else. You can try and say that the focus group of the beginning is implied and not stated in that sentence but since the only thing we have in that sentence that is pointed to by the arche is "strength", then it is entirely natural to look at the word as connoting an EXAMPLE of that strength in order to complete the natural partitive nature of arche.

Your examples do not accomplish what you want them to. If you take a strict denotation of the word without the use of connotation, you could have an argument, but there is no necessity to do so, and the natural way to look at that because of the use of "beginning" is to look for the group it is the beginning of, which can be found in the connotation of the word strength, connoting an EXAMPLE of that strength.

Even if one would concede a pure genitive of production, it does not change the meaning of arche in that sentence. It still leaves you with the full problem presented at Revelation 3:14, that the Son is the FIRST of creation, either in rrelation to time or in relation to a series, in this case, both.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:16 pm

HeKS,

Perhaps, but I don't think this applies to our examples. The metaphor is pretty straightforward, isn't it? The idea that strength is referring to procreative strength/ life strength is easily translated into lots of different languages, isn't it? You hardly have to be a native speaker to understand the meaning of the metaphor, so I can't see why you want to insist this is a special case. What makes you suppose this isn't simply a case where the abstract term stands for, and expands the understanding of, some concrete set?

"Hang fire" is an idiom -- it doesn't make sense when translated or as a metaphor. Strength standing in for "children" (even if that is the limit of the meaning which, as I have said, it is not) is not remotely idiomatic. It's metaphorical because the entire point of the word is to draw the comparison between the abstract attribute, strength, and the concrete example. Since this meaning is easily derived from the direct translation of the word itself, it is hard to see how it counts as an idiom.

Moreover, we still have the example from Hebrews that has the same problem -- confidence is abstract. You aren't going to argue that is idiomatic, are you?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:05 pm

Hello Sulla,

I know you are not talking to me, which to me is immature, but there is no problem with Hebrews 3. The beginning of one's confidence is when they first started to have confidence. If it did not involve confidence, why would Paul want them to hold fast to that beginning? The very fact that Paul wants them to hold fast to that beginning proves that it includes confidence. Therefore, the beginning is partitive of the mass noun, confidence, whether it is abstract or not.

As far as your examples of Genesis 49:3 and the like one in Deuteronomy, I have explained that the beginning in those sentences speaks to what is connoted by the word strength, which one of the lexical meanings is procreative power. Beginning requires a group that it belongs to as that beginning. In this case the beginning points at the word rendered regenerative power or procreative strength. The most natural way to take that is that the word beginning speaks to that which is connoted by the word "regenerative strength", and the context leaves no doubt as to what is connoted by that word, that being the firstborn son. It speaks to the connotation of that mass noun rather than just the abstract denotation.

I think that about covers what you thought were exceptions but aren't.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:07 am

I know you are not talking to me, which to me is immature,


Is this supposed to be helpful? Is this how we are going to move the discussion forward?

I honestly can't see how another assertion that abstract things have parts is useful to this discussion. Perhaps St. Paul really does mean to refer to the time when we had confidence which, as it happens, has parts instead of our confidence which, as it happens, does not. I don't think I care very much: the genitive is not partitive.

Moreover, simple repetition will not somehow make it true that we can establish grammar based on an inferred meaning rather than the actual structure of the sentence. I feel like I've made this point at least once before, so I wonder if you'd like to address it.

We simply cannot pretend to be illiterate just so that you will be right, ok? I suggest the meaning of the phrase in Gen. 49 is not simply to say Ruben is a child, but to invite the comparison between him, a non-abstract thing, and the strength of his father, an abstract thing. If this seems reasonable, then insisting that this is merely a partitive genitive is a deliberate act of illiteracy -- a declaration that we don't care to make the comparison the author would like us to make, thank you very much, because we have bigger fish to fry.

Now, not to hurt your feelings or anything, but I am less likely to feel a need to respond to you if you decide that repeating yourself again should somehow satisfy my objection. In particular, I am unlikely to take the time to de-code phrases like this one:


The very fact that Paul wants them to hold fast to that beginning proves that it includes confidence. Therefore, ...


Dada apologetics.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:30 am

hello Sulla,

Let's talk about Hebrews 3. Let's say that my confidence starts here * and continues to here #. In between that we have a line where my confidence existed. We would have something like this on a graph *------------------------# Please tell me why * could not be considered part of my confidence?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:07 am

Because you are talking about the time when you had confidence and not your confidence. These are two different things, right?

I suggest that abstract things like faith, love, hate, envy, confidence, strength, anger, kindness, etc., don't have parts. Yo can't disassemble love the way you can disassemble a bookshelf from Ikea; you can't count your faith like you count leaves on a tree; you can't take two cups of anger like you can take two cups of water; you can't have ten minutes of envy like you can time. You keep wanting to talk about the time period when we possessed these attributes as if it were the same thing as the attribute. It is not the same thing.

If he had said the "beginning of the time when we had confidence," then he would be using a partitive genitive. But he did not. Stop me if you've heard this before.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:31 am

Hello Sulla,

The thing you are missing in all these examples is you do not seem to understand or want to appreciate the difference between denotation and connotation. Do you believe that the scriptures never employ and address the connotative element of a noun?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:24 am

Rest assured, please, that I grasp the distinction between connotation and denotation.

For my part, I shall assume you grasp the insight that abstract things do not have parts. I see that you do not understand the process by which an author might invite the reader to draw a comparison between a concrete example of a thing created by one of his attributes and the attribute itself (as in: the first of my inspiration). Or, for that matter, a comparison between a concrete thing which causes an attribute to be more clearly manifested (beginning of my love).

I don't think that's a problem I can fix, but I supppose most people immediately see that the phrases obviously don't mean to suggest the concrete examples are a part of a thing that has no parts. These are phrases describing a relationship between the cause of -- or the effect of some attribute like strength or love or confidence.

But, again, it is easy to think of examples. "She is the beginning of beauty," obviously doesn't make use of a partitive genitive here, since the relationship is not of a part to a whole. Instead, the relationship is casual in nature -- she either causes beauty or else is caused by beauty. "To fear God is the beginning of wisdom," clearly intends to convey a casuative relationship rather than claim that wisdom might be broken down into component parts and numbered.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 02, 2009 12:21 pm

hello Sulla,

You didn't answer the question. Do you agree that the scriptures can grammatically address a connotation rather than a denotation? We have to solve that before we can progress to the rest of your argument.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:42 pm

Hello Sulla,

While you are thinking about the question above, I have another one for you.

In regard to Hebrews 3:14.

Notice the syntax: For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

What in that sentence does Paul want them to hold steadfast? What does the word HOLD connect to in that sentence?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:59 pm

I shall decline to follow you down that rabbit hole, Rotherham. I've given the reasons why this doesn't look like a partitive genitive, I've explained why this isn't a special case of an idiom, I've explained why the author is encouraging the reader to draw a comparison between a concrete example of a thing produced by his attribute and the attribute itself. I've even explained why your preferred reading is unjustified in reducing the scope of the meaning of the passge.

If you are disinclined to engage those issues, fine. But, seriously, we are going to have to do better than this:


If the word denotes strength but connotes an example of the strength, then the word arche in that phrase is still partitive.


Says who?

Proof of that is the fact that a beginning has to be the beginning OF something, it does not stand alone without a relationship to something else.


Come on. Consider the genitive of producer, "The works of my hands." Don't these "works" also have to stand in relation to something, OF something. Aren't they OF my hands? But we don't waste time arguing this is a partitive, do we? Why not?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:59 pm

Hello Sulla,


Your reluctance to answer is transparent.

The fact is that scriptures can address the connotative element of a noun, and the clear connotative element of the word "procreative strength" is children. The thing that you keep ignoring, because you have to, is that these examples include the word "beginning", which naturally calls for a group for it to belong to. The weakness of your position is made evident by that fact and also the fact that you can not answer the question "What is Rueben the beginning OF?" It should be amply clear to anyone without an agenda that Rueben is the beginning of the children of Jacob which is the clear connotation of the word "procreative strength". To deny that possiblilty is a move of desperation on your part to secure your untenable position. The context practically screams it out to you.

If you are disinclined to engage those issues, fine. But, seriously, we are going to have to do better than this:


If the word denotes strength but connotes an example of the strength, then the word arche in that phrase is still partitive.


Says who?

It's easy Sulla. there is nothing ahrd about realizing that the word rendered procreative strength semantically signals his CHILDREN, and that is what BEGINNING naturally points to as the group it BEGINS. You're making this hard for one reason only.

Proof of that is the fact that a beginning has to be the beginning OF something, it does not stand alone without a relationship to something else.


Come on. Consider the genitive of producer, "The works of my hands." Don't these "works" also have to stand in relation to something, OF something. Aren't they OF my hands? But we don't waste time arguing this is a partitive, do we? Why not? [/quote]


It's not a partitive at all, it is purely the genitive of production. The works are NOT a PART of your hands, they are produced BY your hands. Sulla, for goodness sakes, you are not dealing with the word BEGINNING in these examples you keep referring to. You act as though I am denying the existence of the genitive of production or something when that has nothing to do with it. What I am trying to get you to realize that BEGINNING is PARTITIVE all by itself and when it occurs with a genitive it is always partitive, either to the denotation of the noun or that which is connotated by that noun. Even in your example of "She is the beginning of beaty" I am going to ask exactly what is she the beginning OF. The word BEGINNING beckons for a group to belong to. Stop using examples of the genitive of production without the use of the word beginning and you might get somewhere. However, I do not think you can actually produce an example, and certainly not from the Bible, where the word beginning will not be a part of the genitive noun, either its denotation or its connotation.

Will you answer the hebrews 3 question? Will you? Or will you decline that rabbit hole as well?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:35 pm

You wonder why I have been hesitant to engage you?

Even in your example of "She is the beginning of beaty" I am going to ask exactly what is she the beginning OF. The word BEGINNING beckons for a group to belong to. Stop using examples of the genitive of production without the use of the word beginning and you might get somewhere. However, I do not think you can actually produce an example, and certainly not from the Bible, where the word beginning will not be a part of the genitive noun, either its denotation or its connotation.


So, your position is that this is an example of a use of a partitive genitive?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:21 pm

Sulla wrote:HeKS,

Perhaps, but I don't think this applies to our examples. The metaphor is pretty straightforward, isn't it? The idea that strength is referring to procreative strength/ life strength is easily translated into lots of different languages, isn't it? You hardly have to be a native speaker to understand the meaning of the metaphor, so I can't see why you want to insist this is a special case. What makes you suppose this isn't simply a case where the abstract term stands for, and expands the understanding of, some concrete set?

"Hang fire" is an idiom -- it doesn't make sense when translated or as a metaphor. Strength standing in for "children" (even if that is the limit of the meaning which, as I have said, it is not) is not remotely idiomatic. It's metaphorical because the entire point of the word is to draw the comparison between the abstract attribute, strength, and the concrete example. Since this meaning is easily derived from the direct translation of the word itself, it is hard to see how it counts as an idiom.


First of all, I think you're taking an inaccurately narrow view of idiomatic usage. While it is true that idioms are often not transferable to different languages, especially in the case of idiomatic phrases, this is not universally true, especially when it comes to the idiomatic usage of individual words.

Second, I'm not sure why you say the use of "strength" here is intended to make a comparison between the abstract attribute and the concrete example, thus making it metaphorical. However, even if that were the case, the metaphorical use of a word doesn't preclude its being used idiomatically at the same time in the least.

Third, you say that the meaning, children, as concrete examples of generative strength, is easily derived from the direct translation of the word itself and is thus not idiomatic. Surely you don't mean that as you say it. If you do, it seems I can stop here, since you are then allowing that the word for strength here can be literally interpreted as a direct reference to children without the need for any idiomatic usage.

You ask, "What makes you suppose this isn't simply a case where the abstract term stands for, and expands the understanding of, some concrete set?" Well, actually what I'm saying is that it DOES stand for that concrete set, even though that concrete set is not the strictly literal meaning of the word, and is thus an idiomatic usage of the word "strength".

Idiomatic usage of individual words is common in polysemy and metonymy. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated. This is a type of idiomatic usage of a word, though, to be more precise, it would be called using the word metonymically. This is how I'm suggesting "strength" is being used in this instance. I'm saying that I think "strength" is being used idiomatically/metonymically to refer to the concrete product of the strength: children. I acknowledge the possibility of a genitive of production here, but I believe that the use of "beginning", which is a naturally partitive word, suggests a metonymic use of "strength", in which case this would be a partitive genitive.

Now, again, I don't really care whether or not this is a partitive genitive. The point I have been making all along stands either way, but I think you are trying to definitively eliminate a possibility here that cannot be definitively eliminated and which is actually favored by the context, which includes the use of the partitive term "beginning" and the placement in apposition to the reference to "firstborn".

Sulla wrote:Moreover, we still have the example from Hebrews that has the same problem -- confidence is abstract. You aren't going to argue that is idiomatic, are you?


No, I don't need to argue that it is idiomatic. As I've already said, you are being too literal. Even if abstract things can't literally be broken into separate visible parts, it is entirely common for people to refer to abstract nouns using partitive expressions without confusing anyone.

For example...

"When they started laughing at me I lost SOME OF MY CONFIDENCE."

"I felt I couldn't give her ALL OF MY LOVE until I trusted her completely. I felt like I had to hold back SOME OF MY LOVE and SOME OF MY TRUST along with it until I knew her better."

"When I saw what had happened, I felt SOME OF MY STRENGTH leave me."

For an example similar to the one we're considering in Gen. 49:3, consider Job 6:22. There, the Hebrew word, koach, is used. It most directly and literally means strength / power / might, as you might have guessed since it is the same word used at Gen 49:3. In Job 6:22 it is being used as a reference to wealth.

Thus, the verse can be translated...

Is it because I have said, ‘GIVE me [something], Or from some of the power of YOU men make a present in my behalf;'

Their power, in this case, is expressed in their wealth, which can be divided into portions. In this case, "power" is a direct reference to their wealth. In Gen 49:3, Jacob's power is expressed in is his children, and I say I think "strength/power" is a direct reference to his children.

In the case of Hebrews 3:14, in the ASV we have: "for we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end:"

In the RSV we have: "For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end,"

Here, arche is partitive in the confidence. It is the first confidence, the initial confidence, the first bit of confidence we developed when we first heard the gospel and which formed the basis or foundation of the further or additional confidence that we developed over time based on additional factors. After all, we are being told to hold fast this arche. Surely it doesn't mean hold fast a piece of time from a long time ago. What we are holding fast in the confidence ... the first part of the confidence that we developed.

Consider 2 Cor. 3:4-6 - "Now through the Christ we have this sort of confidence toward God. Not that we of ourselves are adequately qualified to reckon anything as issuing from ourselves, but our being adequately qualified issues from God, who has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, not of a written code, but of spirit; for the written code condemns to death, but the spirit makes alive."

We have different sorts of confidence relating to God, based on different things. Each sort makes up a portion of our total confidence toward God.

If I were to say, "Some of my confidence is based on X, and some is based on Y," nobody would be confused by my statement and say, "Hold on, your confidence doesn't have parts like leaves."

If you can't recognize that abstract things can be and regularly are spoken of in a partitive manner, this part of the discussion can't go anywhere. You're insisting it is impossible to write or speak in a way that people write and speak every day; that it is impossible to have a partitive genitive where the genitive substantive is abstract even though it actually happens all the time without anyone being confused. It seems to me to be an untenable position.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:24 pm

Sulla wrote:Come on. Consider the genitive of producer, "The works of my hands." Don't these "works" also have to stand in relation to something, OF something. Aren't they OF my hands? But we don't waste time arguing this is a partitive, do we? Why not?


Why not? Because "works" is not a naturally partitive word. "Beginning" is. Haven't we said this before?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:54 pm

Hello Sulla,

Sulla wrote:You wonder why I have been hesitant to engage you?

Even in your example of "She is the beginning of beaty" I am going to ask exactly what is she the beginning OF. The word BEGINNING beckons for a group to belong to. Stop using examples of the genitive of production without the use of the word beginning and you might get somewhere. However, I do not think you can actually produce an example, and certainly not from the Bible, where the word beginning will not be a part of the genitive noun, either its denotation or its connotation.


So, your position is that this is an example of a use of a partitive genitive?


Once one considers what is connoted by the word beauty, yes. To say she is the beginning of beauty is purely poetic anyway and requires connotation for the quality of beauty does not actually produce anything. Beauty in this sentence actually connotes an EXAMPLE of beauty. It means she is the first thing of beauty, so yes, it is partitive.

Are you going to address anything else or is this it? How is any of this helping you anyway?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:31 pm

Why not? Because "works" is not a naturally partitive word. "Beginning" is. Haven't we said this before?


Oh, look who has discovered his low tolerance for repetitive arguments of a sudden. And forgive me, but it seems to me that works, in plural form, certainly does suggest some group with parts, does it not? As for "beginning" being somehow naturally partitive, I suggest that a dictionary would disabuse you of that notion. Unless the meaning of "origin" is dismissed from consideration for some reason.

Once one considers what is connoted by the word beauty, yes. To say she is the beginning of beauty is purely poetic anyway and requires connotation for the quality of beauty does not actually produce anything. Beauty in this sentence actually connotes an EXAMPLE of beauty. It means she is the first thing of beauty, so yes, it is partitive.


Well, you're wrong. But I can only explain why you are wrong twenty or thirty times before I give up. But you're wrong on a middle school level and there's no point in being nice about it: this is profoundly ignorant.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:17 am

Hello Sulla,

Would you mind directing your responses to us by name if you are going to combine comments from both of us into one response as you have here?

I'm sure we each know what we wrote, but if anyone happens to read along I think it will be less confusing for them.

I'll address your response to my comments.

Sulla wrote:
Why not? Because "works" is not a naturally partitive word. "Beginning" is. Haven't we said this before?


Oh, look who has discovered his low tolerance for repetitive arguments of a sudden.


Sorry. Did that seem like I was making some comment out of low tolerance? Perhaps I should have included a ;)

Sulla wrote:And forgive me, but it seems to me that works, in plural form, certainly does suggest some group with parts, does it not?


Yes, the plural, "works", suggests some group with parts ... it IS the group with parts. My point is that it does not suggest a partitive relationship IN SOMETHING ELSE. The word "beginning" generally signals a partitive relationship in something else.

Sulla wrote:As for "beginning" being somehow naturally partitive, I suggest that a dictionary would disabuse you of that notion. Unless the meaning of "origin" is dismissed from consideration for some reason.


What you are acknowledging here is that "beginning" is a naturally partitive term, with the exception of when it is used to mean "origin". In Gen 49:3, I somehow don't think you are going to try to argue that Ruben is the origin of Jacob's generative power, or the origin of Jacob's other children. A meaning of "origin" makes no sense here at all (not to mention we are still entirely lacking any example of the actual Greek word arche itself being used to denote "origin" or "source"). That being the case, "beginning" at Gen 49:3 carries a naturally partitive connotation. An "origin" meaning is an exceptional use that cannot be applied here.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:38 am

Sulla,

If you are strying to say that she is the beginning of beauty in the sense that she is the origin, which means source, then your argument does not address the problem at hand, because the words that we are dealing with never meaning origin or source. As I have stated, I have not seen this meaning represented in scripture or in secular works. It may exist somewhere outside of scripture and I have not seen it, but that is irrelevant to the point made, which is it does not occur in scripture.

Therefore, when I addressed your example, I am addressing it according to the knowledge that it can not mean origin or source, because the words in question do not mean that. THEREFORE, if we look at your example and we eliminate the unattested meaning of SOURCE or ORIGIN, then the word "beginning " has to address a connotation of the word beauty, and THAT is what I addressed and THAT is what I explained to you.

You think it ignorant because it ignores the ENGLISH meaning that beginning can have which is SOURCE or ORIGIN. The thing you forget is that the words we are talking of, arche and reyshith do NOT mean ORIGIN or SOURCE in the scriptures. EVER. There are no examples that can prove that meaning. They do not exist in scripture. So what good does it do us to talk about the ENGLISH meaning of BEGINNING as ORIGIN or SOURCE, when that is not relevant to the argument at hand?

you are making the same mistake with Heks. You can't look up beginning in an English dictionary and use that to determine what arche and reyshith mean in their respective languages. Surely you know that.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:43 am

Hi Sulla,

I notice it has been about 9 days since the last post in this thread and 10 days since your last response.

Perhaps some real world issues are causing you delay. Do you need more time before you can prepare a response? I just want to make sure you intend to continue with the discussion.

I hope all is well.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:47 am

Sulla stated the following as his point three against the presented article:

Point 3: Changing Rules

When Rotherham is making his points, he feels justified in citing evidence from the LXX version of Genesis, various historical books, other gospels, whatever. But when defending against the idea that arche means something like “ruler,” suddenly the test that matters is whether St. John uses the word in this particular way. Of course, there is not enough evidence is the writings of John to make any kind of case regarding the use of arche with a genitive phrase, so Rotherham appeals to whatever places he finds such a construct, but relying on that observation would have made a much shorter paper.

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I did not appeal to historical books and/or OTHER gospels in letting scripture interpret scripture. I have appealed to scripture consistently as the guideline for interpretation. I have not ommited any examples from the Greek NT so there is no picking and choosing of examples. They are all considered. The fact that John every where else consistently uses arche as beginning in reference to time or a series, and the fact that he consistently uses archon as ruler, with many examples to demonstrate both give the Bible student a trusted and attested avenue of interpretation. Since the Trinity doctrine is nowhere taught in the scriptures, and unless appeal is made to "special" language and meanings of words it is not even implied, there is no reason to interpret Rev. 3:14 otherwise. Preconception, presupposition and bias is what drives the Trinitarian interpretation, not scripture.
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In any case, the idea that John’s usage of the word eleven times in one way precludes a different use on the twelfth is facile. Look, I might write a thousand times about my local bank, the banking system, my trip to the bank to get some cash, the bank that sold my mortgage, the teller at the bank… But when I say I will go down to the river and fish in the shade on the bank, it is obvious that I am simply using another of the common definitions of the word. Yet it is precisely the entire of context that Rotherham has excluded from his analysis – indeed, that he has de-legitimized in his polemic.

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To state that the scriptures do not attest that meaning and usage is entirely true. For those who trust the scriptures to interpret scriptures to the extent that they can, the scriptures do not support that meaning and usage. Trinitarianism must invent special meanings, grammatical anomalies and philosophical models which are no where spoken of in the Bible in order to hold on to their doctrine. The Unitarian view never has to appeal to these oddities but is entirely supported by the natural use of words and grammar as found in the Bible. The fact that there are numerous examples to demonstrate John's use of arche and archon should be noteworthy to the Bible student who is sensitive to the scriptural indications. As I stated in the article, IF we rely on scriptural pattern and precedent to be our interpretational guide, then thereis no other way to read Rev. 3:14 except that the Son was the the first thing created. If one does not wish to rely on scriptural pattern and precedent then that is surely their choice, but since interpretation belongs to God and we should test teachings to see if they originate with God, not relying upon Biblical pattern and precedent but upon extrabiblical philosophies and grammatical and lexical anomalies is not how one arrives successfully at the truth.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:10 pm

Yes, sorry about the delay.

Well, I'm glad to see we finally have some counter-examples. Yes, HeKS, it would seem that it really is possible to speak of abstract things as if they actually had parts. Phrases like, "I lost some of my confidence" are precisely partitive uses of the genitive with respect to abstract things. So, no, we can't say that the terms in Genesis and Hebrews cannot be partitive for this reason.

I don't think I am being too narrow with respect to idioms, I think I am using a fairly common definition of the term to mean something that is not translated into another language or that is meaningless when translated. Perhaps this is not correct.

Either way, it remains true that many kinds of metaphors are immediately understood in different languages. This is why Shakespeare sometimes translates quite well into other languages. This doesn't make them less metaphorical -- there do seem to be global commonalities in some metaphors, perhaps most. I suspect things having to do with makin' babies fall into this category.


I'm saying that I think "strength" is being used idiomatically/metonymically to refer to the concrete product of the strength: children. I acknowledge the possibility of a genitive of production here, but I believe that the use of "beginning", which is a naturally partitive word, suggests a metonymic use of "strength", in which case this would be a partitive genitive.


Well, I acknowledge the possibility that this is a use of metonymy and that, if that is the case, the phrase is partitive. On the other hand, I think this example might better -- or at least as well -- be thought of as metaphor, in which case, not. If we agree that the phrase might be a genitive of producer, then we cannot be assert that it is certainly a partitive genitive. Since the paper insists that all of these examples are partitive genitives, then it seems we would agree that this claim is too strong, even without considering the case of Hebrews.

Speaking of which, I think a similar reasoning holds. Perhaps this is some sort of partitive, but it could also be speaking of Christ as the beginning / source / origin of confidence. If so, then St. Paul would be speaking of metaphorically holding Christ until the end. If this also seems possible, then we have three cases where the rule claimed in the paper may not hold. That means the paper must acknowledge that the grammatical rule is not universal.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Sep 18, 2009 12:07 am

Hi Sulla,

Glad to have you back. I hope all is well.

Before I get to addressing your latest points, I thought it would be useful to summarize where we're at so far with your latest post.

Originally, you said that while it was possible for count nouns and even mass nouns to be spoken of partitively, it was not possible to do so for abstract nouns (and I seem to recall some questioning of whether our understanding of language usage was up to a grade school level). Seeing these rather common examples of abstract things being spoken of partitively, it seems you now recognize and acknowledge that it is possible to speak partitively of abstract things and that it is thus entirely possible to have a partitive genitive where the genitive substantive is abstract.

Is this correct?

Next, while there is still some discussion to be had in order to sort out the scope of idiomatic usage, you acknowledge that Gen 49:3 could be using "strength" metonimically and could thus be a partitive genitive. However, you think it is equally possible, if not more more possible, that this is a case of metaphor and thus not a partitive genitive.

Correct?

In the case of Hebrews, you now acknowledge that 'beginning of confidence' could be a partitive genitive but might also be a metaphorical reference to holding Christ to the end and not be a partitive genitive. (You say this would make three examples, but you only seem to mention two. What is the third? Revelation?)

Am I correct?

Finally, in summary, if I have understood you properly up to this point, it seems it would be fair to say that you have adjusted your position so that instead of saying the paper's argument and claim is obviously wrong and stupid, you would now say that the paper's argument and claim is possibly wrong, or at least possibly too strong.

Would you agree with all that? If so, I can move on and address the remainder of your points in this last post.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:21 am

Oh, HeKS, don't be boorish.

When I said there was a misunderstanding at the middle school level, I was talking about Rotherham. So, you see, I wasn't saying anything about "our" (meaning the plural "your")understanding of language at all, unless there is some hypostatic union between the two of you. For the record, that abuse was heaped on Rotherham for insisting that the phrase, "She is the beginning of beauty," was definitely partitive. If you want to stand with Rotherham on this particular question, I guess I could include you in the condemnation, though I'd honestly prefer not to.

Is there really more discussion to be had about idiomatic usage and metynomy? Honest? Haven't we already agreed that there are exceptions to Rotherham's rule? Or at least viable alternatives in these cases (I refer to Gen. and the similar construct in Deut. 21). Isn't that the meaning of your statement that the genitive in Genesis could be a genitive of producer? Haven't we agreed that not less than 10% of the cases in Rotherham's paper are questionable (counting Deut.)?

Doesn't that make the central argument of the paper null?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:53 am

So Sulla,

It appears you are down to three examples where you claim that the word beginning might not be "partitive" in the genitive phrase. I disagree and here is why:

As we know, you claim that arche at Rev. 3:14 should be "origin or "first cause". Note that Trinitarian and noted Greek scholar Henry Alford agreed with that as do many other Trinitarians, but what I find interesting is what he said about Rev. 3:14 and how he connected Gen 49:3 to it. Notice what he says in his work The Greek New Testament:

"The mere word arkh'e would admit the meaning that Christ is the first created being: see Gen. xlix. 3; Deut. xxi. 17; and Prov. viii. 22. And so the Arians here take it, and some who have followed them: e.g. Castalio, chef doeuvre: omnium Dei operum excellentissimum atque primum: [meaning " the first and most excellent of all God's works" ] and so Ewald and Zullig."


Did you notice that he used Gen. 49:3 as an example where "arche" would have been partitive? In fact Sulla, I can find no reference as of yet that would view "arche" as anything but partitive in those phrases.

Also, there are a couple of other places in the Hebrew that are the same as Gen 49 and Deut 21. Interestingly, in each case they are paralleld with the phrase "firstborn, which again is a naturally "partitive" word.

• Genesis 49:3 "Reuben, you are my first-born [Heb, BeKoR, Grk prwtotokoj]; My might and the beginning of my strength [Heb, ReSHiT, Grk, arxh teknwn], Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. (NASB)

• Deuteronomy 21:17 "But he shall acknowledge the first-born [Heb, BeKoR, ton prwtotokon], the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength [Heb, ReSHiT, arxh teknwn autou/]; to him belongs the right of the first-born. (NASB)

• Psalm 78:51 And smote all the first-born [Heb BeKoR, Grk, prwtotokon ] in Egypt, The first issue of their virility [Heb, ReSHiT; Grk, aparxhn tw/n ponwn autw/n] (NASB)

• Psalm 105:36 He also struck down all the first-born [Heb, BeKoR Grk, prwtotokon] in their land, The first fruits [Heb, ReSHiT; Grk, aparxhn] of all their vigor. (NASB)

The phrase "beginning of [my | his] strength" in Hebrew (Genesis 49:3;Deut. 21:17) is the same as "the first issue of their virility" (Psalm 78:51) and "the first fruits of all their vigor." (Psalm 105:36) are all paralleled with "firstborn." This is obviously by design to occur with the phrase each time that it happens. The senses of "firstborn" (Hebrew BeKoR, Greek PRWTOTOKOS) in these verses can only be construed as paralleling the thouhgt of a start of virility or procreative power.

This is re-enforced by the translation of ReSHyT at Psalm 78:51/105:36 in the LXX as APARXHS (first-fruits) as well as the English rendering of "first-fruits" in the NASB of Psalm 105:36. This eliminates all doubt that the firstborn one, who is the beginning of the procreative power of a father is the first in a series, for the Greek APARXHS can hardly mean anything else. (compare all examples of APARXHS in the GNT - Rom. 11:16; Rom. 16:5; 1 Co. 15:20; 1 Co. 15:23; 1 Co. 16:15; Rev. 14:4)

Taking arche as non-partitive in those verse then stands completely without support and denies the way both English and ancient Greek translators have understood the phrase.

As far as your Hebrews example goes, anyone can see that is not a natural reading of the words that occur there and that's probably the reason I have not found a single translator to agree with your suggestion, which by the way, these transaltors are primarily Trinitarians. Nor have I found in any lexicon that I have consulted, which again by the way are primarily produced by Trinitarians, that arche at the Hebrews scripture in question might be rendered as origin or source.

Therefore, your supposed 10% has once again dwindled down to zero.

As far as the example "she is the beginning of beauty" being necessarily partitive, that is absolutely true if you erase the proffered meaning of source or origin, which of course has absolutely no valid claim to being a meaning of "arche". I made this point above which I see you have no response to.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:00 pm

Rotherham, I don't expect you to ever change your mind about anything. Fortunately, that's not the task I have.

What we have are two cases where HeKS agrees that a genitive of producer are possible ways to read your examples, and a third where he may -- or may not -- ultimately agree. So, how many examples did yu provide? Twenty, twenty-one? Well, it turns out that two or three of these examples seem to be at odds with whatever rule you think you've found: maybe they are partitive, maybe not.

Maybes are not rules.

And therefore, you can't really claim that you have proved anything at all. Sure, most of the time these phrases will refer to a plain partitive relationship between the nouns. But there are some exceptions, around 10-%-15% of these examples are not really partitive, or at least are not clearly partitive. So, whatever the validity would have been if you had found 100% compliance with this rule, it doesn't exist now that you only have 85% compliance.

As for Hebrews, a simple google search will trun up lots of commentary that read the verse to say that we must hold the confidence we had at the beginning of our Christian lives. However, you should consult this little google book to see that the early commentators thought about the passage very much as I have suggested: the source of our confidence is faith.

A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews By Philip Edgcumbe Hughes

google books presents this observation on page 152. In any case, the reading this author most prefers is not "the first part of our confidence," but "the confidence we had at the first part of our Christian lives." Obviously, this is not partitive, though it is easy to find this reading with a little surfing in various places here and there...

So, your argument has been reduced to observing that most of the time, whenever we find a phrase "beginning of ______ ," we have a partitive genitive, therefore:" ...

Well, therefore, what, exactly? Most literate people can observe for themselves that phrases like, She is the beginning of beauty," are cases where the word "beginning" is clearly not partitive, certainly not within the English tradition as influenced by classical readings. So there is noting necessarily partitive about the word "beginning," or it's similar meanings. And while it really is possible to speak about abstract things as if they had parts, determining whether this is actually the case is decided based on the particular meaning of each use -- a thing you have manfully refused to to do.

But, like I said, I expect you to argue with me if I said the sky was blue -- because I said it. We have only so much time in this life, though, so unless HeKS has some comment on this point, I think we could move to the third main criticism.
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