Challenged by Sulla

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

Postby Rotherham » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:32 am

Hello Sulla,

You continue to mis-state what the article concluded. You keep saying that the article concludes that there is no other possible way to read this verse, but this is only a version of what the article claims. The article claims that IF we allow scripture to interpret scripture, which means we follow the admonition to the best of our ability that "interpretation belongs to God", then we are really left with no other choice. That's a significant difference than just saying that there is no other way to read it. it is a CONDITIONAL claim. Your problem is you are trying to disprove that claim by erasing the CONDITION, which is not addressing the salient point that we should allow God to be our interpreter whenever we have the opportunity to do so. The claim is that with "arche" followed by a genitive phrase, we DO have that opportunity to allow God to be the interpreter because we can see via a consistent and sizable database how he has inspired his writers to use that phrase and that word.

Your task is really to show that relying on that database of evidence is not a valid means of interpretation, or that the database does not establish what it is claimed to establish. Now, other than a small tweak to the part about it always being a "partitive genitive", the article's salient points have not been addressed nor altered in any way. Proving that some philosopher used the word in a different way, which really has not been done anyway, does not address the point that God should be our interpreter. We are arguing from scripture, you are not. You are arguing form secular and philosophical sources, and we are not. You are arguing for an anomalous usage, we are not.

Saying you are right because the trinitarian world (by far the majority) is in agreement with you, is not an argument, but is a logical fallacy.

Regards,
Rotherham
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:34 pm

Rotherham (previous): As most any Bible student knows, there are teachings which are explicitly stated within the Bible where there is no ambiguity as to what is taught. For example:

“There will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Acts 24:15


No one can deny the explicit nature of that statement. They may debate over the implications and purpose of that resurrection, but they cannot deny the explicit element within that statement that unambiguously declares that there will be a resurrection for both the righteous and for the unrighteous.


There are numerous explicit statements and teachings within the Bible that most will agree upon. Such as: Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God is Almighty. God is the Creator. Jesus Christ died and was resurrected. Jesus Christ provided the ransom for the salvation of mankind.

...

Against this plain scriptural teaching, Trinitarians and others have offered scriptures which they believe must overturn the natural and precedented manner in which these considered verses must be understood.


The paper says what it says.

Your task is really to show that relying on that database of evidence is not a valid means of interpretation, or that the database does not establish what it is claimed to establish.


Not so. My task is to show that the paper is defective in its argument. Fortunately, the paper is defective in its argument, so my job is easier than it would otherwise be.

Now, other than a small tweak to the part about it always being a "partitive genitive", the article's salient points have not been addressed nor altered in any way. Proving that some philosopher used the word in a different way, which really has not been done anyway, does not address the point that God should be our interpreter. We are arguing from scripture, you are not. You are arguing form secular and philosophical sources, and we are not. You are arguing for an anomalous usage, we are not.


The paper's point was that Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus to be the first creature in time and that a look at the grammar of the NT and LXX proves this point.

Therefore, showing that the lexical field of the word does not, in fact, demand a partitive sense and showing that the word within a genitive phrase does not, after all, demand the genitive be partitive, means that the argument in the paper fails.

By "some philosopher," I suspect you are referring to Aristotle. That philosopher tells us that there is a non-partitive sense of the word. It was your side, as I recall, that appealed to some professor in attempting to establish that arche always had a partitive sense.

Saying you are right because the trinitarian world (by far the majority) is in agreement with you, is not an argument, but is a logical fallacy.


Literate people can see this is not what I said. What I said was that I disagree with you because I have read the material.

Look, I know that you have nursed this little paper for the last decade and probably lots of JWs have told you how good it was. So I understand that you might not appreciate having it treated so poorly here. I get that, really. And if you need to tell yourself that the radical re-write that you will need to perform before HeKS can post this paper on his site with a straight face is really a little tweak here or there, well, I get that too.

But the fact is that there is hardly any point to the paper any more. Nobody needs to wade through 20 or 30 examples where arche with a genitive are partitive, 'cause nobody thinks those examples prove anything at all. They demonstrate what everybody already knows: most of the time, the arche of ____ really is part of the _____. But they sure don't prove your reading of Rev. 3 is explicitly taught.

And proving Rev. 3 explicitly teaches your meaning is what the paper claims to prove.

If you want to get into what St. John means in Revelation, then you have to get into regular analysis: context, genre, audience, historical factors, etc. And, if you recall, this is precisely what I suggested a couple months ago when I wrote my critique. Perhaps this is what is happening right now with the editing of the paper on the parent site.

No need to thank me.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:18 am

Hello Sulla,

You said:

The paper says what it says.

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Your cherry picking is more than obvious. Let's look again:


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.


And:

Therefore, it is a good thing to remember the very first statement under Sufficient Data Base that states, "Any significant statements as to the semantics of a given construction must be based on a large number of examples". If that sufficient database of a large number of examples can be found within the pages of Bible, then we can make significant statements based upon the large number of divinely inspired examples. 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.


And:

If one is left with none or very few Biblical examples to shed light on the meaning of words and the understanding of grammatical constructions, one could look at both secular and religious writings for help in the determination of what those words might mean, but when one has a sufficient and consistent database already in the Bible, such searching outside the Bible to try and overturn the natural and precedented meaning is playing the words and ideas of men over the words of God and how he had them consistently used in his inspired writings. To do so would be a certain method for setting oneself up for error.



I am amazed how you have never really addressed that aspect which as any one can see, is a major premise for the argument presented. It sets a CONDITION which you have consistently NOT dealt with, except to say that the word of God is not consistent.

Your task is really to show that relying on that database of evidence is not a valid means of interpretation, or that the database does not establish what it is claimed to establish.


Not so. My task is to show that the paper is defective in its argument. Fortunately, the paper is defective in its argument, so my job is easier than it would otherwise be.

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Sure, if you cherry pick your arguments and ignore the main points. Fact is, the conclusion reached by the article, despite the editing that will come, is unmistakable and has not been affected.
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Now, other than a small tweak to the part about it always being a "partitive genitive", the article's salient points have not been addressed nor altered in any way. Proving that some philosopher used the word in a different way, which really has not been done anyway, does not address the point that God should be our interpreter. We are arguing from scripture, you are not. You are arguing form secular and philosophical sources, and we are not. You are arguing for an anomalous usage, we are not.


The paper's point was that Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus to be the first creature in time and that a look at the grammar of the NT and LXX proves this point.

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It would have been more accurate to say that the "semantical construction" leaves us with no doubt as to how it should be understood, which would have been more in keeping with what Wallace said, but, that is a minor point of correction since it in no way affects the outcome of the article.
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Therefore, showing that the lexical field of the word does not, in fact, demand a partitive sense and showing that the word within a genitive phrase does not, after all, demand the genitive be partitive, means that the argument in the paper fails.

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No Biblical examples can be found which support the notion that the word is used in a non-partitive sense. The philosophical and extra-biblical examples offered are simply too ambiguous and interpretative to establish your point. It becoomes a matter of preference rather than a matter of fact. However, as has been mentioned ad nauseum, IF we rely on the Biblical record, we have no choice but to see it as partitive. Although the "means" of the argument may need to be adjusted, nothing changes in the end. Christ is unmistakably a PART of creation.
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By "some philosopher," I suspect you are referring to Aristotle. That philosopher tells us that there is a non-partitive sense of the word. It was your side, as I recall, that appealed to some professor in attempting to establish that arche always had a partitive sense.

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Your view of Arostotle's usage has not been proven by any means. It is YOUR preference to read it that way. Those extra-biblical examples were presented because it was hoped that you would see that even the supposed "precedent" for rendering the word as "source" did not give you what you need, but due to the ambiguity of the extra-biblical usage, nothing has been determined and likely wont be.

But, when you look at what the article based its argument upon, it specifically rejected the words of men as a guideline to overturn a strong Biblical pattern, in this case, an unmistakable one. But that is exactly what you want to do, which is ignoring one the main premises of the article.
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Saying you are right because the trinitarian world (by far the majority) is in agreement with you, is not an argument, but is a logical fallacy.


Literate people can see this is not what I said. What I said was that I disagree with you because I have read the material.

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But not everyone who has read the material agrees. Surely you know that, so it is readily apparent you were appealing to the Trinitarian view of the material, which is circular and an appeal to the majority, both of which are logical fallacies.
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Look, I know that you have nursed this little paper for the last decade and probably lots of JWs have told you how good it was. So I understand that you might not appreciate having it treated so poorly here. I get that, really. And if you need to tell yourself that the radical re-write that you will need to perform before HeKS can post this paper on his site with a straight face is really a little tweak here or there, well, I get that too.

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I welcome the challenges. That's how it's all set up here. Did you forget why you're even here? Did you think that I was under the delusion that the opposition would actually agree with it and not try and overturn it? Why do you think I have put it out there so many times for the purpose of debate? It's because the conclusion always ends up the same, DESPITE the objections, IF we let scripture INTERPRET scripture, Jesus is a creation.
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But the fact is that there is hardly any point to the paper any more. Nobody needs to wade through 20 or 30 examples where arche with a genitive are partitive, 'cause nobody thinks those examples prove anything at all. They demonstrate what everybody already knows: most of the time, the arche of ____ really is part of the _____. But they sure don't prove your reading of Rev. 3 is explicitly taught.

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If every semantic construction IN THE BIBLE (and there are plenty) of arche in a genitive phrase makes the arche "partitive", then there is MUCH "point" to the paper, and that is EXACTLY the case as we have shown. YOU have nothing to the contrary to offer. It's not MOST of the time that this is demonstrated in the BIBLE, it's ALL of the time. That's the guideline for interpretation that we arrive at when we get to Rev. 3:14. To interpret otherwise is to overturn the word of God for the preferences of men.
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And proving Rev. 3 explicitly teaches your meaning is what the paper claims to prove.

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It does, IF you let scripture interpret scripture. It is THAT condition that you continue to ignore and that is why your arguments fail in the end.
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If you want to get into what St. John means in Revelation, then you have to get into regular analysis: context, genre, audience, historical factors, etc. And, if you recall, this is precisely what I suggested a couple months ago when I wrote my critique. Perhaps this is what is happening right now with the editing of the paper on the parent site.

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And I asked you to demonstrated how ANY of that overturns the precedented scriptural pattern. You offered nothing. As it is the CONTEXT shows GOD to be the author of creation, not the Son, another point which you have consistently ignored. It says "the creation BY God". How long will you ignore the CONTEXT?

Genre? It's a prophetic book. WHY would that cause us to ignore the precedented Biblical pattern?

Audience? What, Christian? That's going to change something?

Historical factors? Exactly how would that change the precedented pattern of scripture?

You have no answers, you've just read that somewhere and thought it sounded good, but in the end, there is no substance to those factors which in any way affects how the word or phrase should be understood.
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No need to thank me.

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OK.

Regards,
Rotherham
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:39 am

Uhhh. So the paper doesn't say Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus is the first created being in time?

Fact is, the conclusion reached by the article, despite the editing that will come, is unmistakable and has not been affected.


Soooo, you plan to make a new argument claiming that Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus is the first created being in time. And when I say that your claim is that Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus is the first created being in time, I am mis-representing your position.

Do you have, like, a videotape of HeKS doing something bad?


But not everyone who has read the material agrees. Surely you know that, so it is readily apparent you were appealing to the Trinitarian view of the material, which is circular and an appeal to the majority, both of which are logical fallacies.


I'm sorry, Rotherham. Did you present some evidence that anybody on the planet thinks Rev. 3 must be read to teach Jesus is the first created being in time? Did I miss that? If so, please point it out to me and I will retract my statement.

And child, please. I really did say that I disagree with your position because I have read the material. That this happens to be the reason everybody else in the galaxy also disagrees with your position is not, in fact, either a circular argument or an appeal to authority. Didn't they cover logical fallacies in high school? Can you tell the difference between these things?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:26 am

Hello Sulla,


Uhhh. So the paper doesn't say Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus is the first created being in time?

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Sure it does, but that explicitness is BASED upon a CONDITION of letting scripture interpret scripture. You are still dancing away from that CONDITION.
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Fact is, the conclusion reached by the article, despite the editing that will come, is unmistakable and has not been affected.


Soooo, you plan to make a new argument claiming that Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus is the first created being in time. And when I say that your claim is that Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus is the first created being in time, I am mis-representing your position.

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No, but you are purposely ignoring the CONDITION upon which that statement was made. You are trying to make it sound like a cut and dry statement when it is not. It is based upon a CONDITION which you refuse to address.
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Do you have, like, a videotape of HeKS doing something bad?


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That's just a weird question.
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But not everyone who has read the material agrees. Surely you know that, so it is readily apparent you were appealing to the Trinitarian view of the material, which is circular and an appeal to the majority, both of which are logical fallacies.


I'm sorry, Rotherham. Did you present some evidence that anybody on the planet thinks Rev. 3 must be read to teach Jesus is the first created being in time? Did I miss that? If so, please point it out to me and I will retract my statement.

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Have you heard of Jehovah's Witnesses? Unitarians? Your objection wasn't that anyway. Your objection was "because I've read the NT and Revelation", and that is clearly a referral to the Trinitarian mindset, a circular and fallacious argument.
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And child, please. I really did say that I disagree with your position because I have read the material. That this happens to be the reason everybody else in the galaxy also disagrees with your position is not, in fact, either a circular argument or an appeal to authority. Didn't they cover logical fallacies in high school? Can you tell the difference between these things?


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The fact is, everyone who has read the Unitarian presentation of Revelation can read for themselves that there are scholars and many others who believe that Revelation 3:14 unmistakably teaches that the Son is a created being. So your "everybody else in the galaxy" comment is pure exaggeration and wrong, which once again returns you to a logical fallacy.

I see you continue to take the SAFE route and not comment on the salient issues. You know that this has to be apparent to anyone following along, don't you?

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Rotherham
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:51 am

Look, man, HeKS has generally been backing away from your claim that the teaching in Rev. 3 is explicit and, therefore, cannot be read in any different way. This is the meaning of the term, explicit. That really is your claim, so I can't figure what your problem is.

No, but you are purposely ignoring the CONDITION upon which that statement was made. You are trying to make it sound like a cut and dry statement when it is not. It is based upon a CONDITION which you refuse to address.


Please. So, it's the obvious, unambiguous, explicit, plain teaching of scripture if certain controversial conditions happen to be true?

Well, then, it isn't an unambiguous teaching, then, is it?


Do you have, like, a videotape of HeKS doing something bad?

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That's just a weird question.
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Well, there has to be some explanation for why he allows you to post this stuff. Blackmail seemed like a good candidate -- or at least a reasoanble explanation.

But I see you haven't denied the possibility...


I'm sorry, Rotherham. Did you present some evidence that anybody on the planet thinks Rev. 3 must be read to teach Jesus is the first created being in time? Did I miss that? If so, please point it out to me and I will retract my statement.

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Have you heard of Jehovah's Witnesses? Unitarians? Your objection wasn't that anyway. Your objection was "because I've read the NT and Revelation", and that is clearly a referral to the Trinitarian mindset, a circular and fallacious argument.
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JWs don't count. Can you find me a Unitarian who says Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus must be the first created being in time?

The fact is, everyone who has read the Unitarian presentation of Revelation can read for themselves that there are scholars and many others who believe that Revelation 3:14 unmistakably teaches that the Son is a created being.


Name one. And JWs don't count.

I see you continue to take the SAFE route and not comment on the salient issues. You know that this has to be apparent to anyone following along, don't you?


I think anybody reading this is sad to see you humiliate yourself in this way. I know I am.

The salient issue is that HeKS was distancing himself from the claim in the paper that the only possible way to read this verse is your preferred way. You seem to be angry with me because you say the paper doesn't really make that claim. But you are also angry with me because you say the paper does make that claim.

Hey, remember that "Cheers" episode when Sam had a job to offer commentray on the local news about sports topics? His commentary was about how bad artificial turf was for baseball and how it should be played on natural grass. Then the sports anchor said something like, 'Doesn't it improve the game because the surface is so uniform?' and Sam says, 'Well, yeah,' and the guy says, 'So, you don't really have an opinion, then,' and Sam says, 'That's not true -- I have two opinions'?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:16 am

Hello Sulla,

Look, man, HeKS has generally been backing away from your claim that the teaching in Rev. 3 is explicit and, therefore, cannot be read in any different way. This is the meaning of the term, explicit. That really is your claim, so I can't figure what your problem is.

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Heks is in full agreement that if we let scripture interpret scripture, there is no other way to read it. That's not even controversial because there is no example to demonstrate otherwise. If there was, then it would be controverisal and not unmistakable. but since there are no Biblical examples otherwise, there is no controversy. You WISH there was but there isn't, and that's why your arguments fail.
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No, but you are purposely ignoring the CONDITION upon which that statement was made. You are trying to make it sound like a cut and dry statement when it is not. It is based upon a CONDITION which you refuse to address.


Please. So, it's the obvious, unambiguous, explicit, plain teaching of scripture if certain controversial conditions happen to be true?

Well, then, it isn't an unambiguous teaching, then, is it?


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Remove this "if certain controversial conditions happen to be true?" and you've portrayed the accurate picture for there is no controversy that the Biblical precedenmt allows for no other choice. That makes it explicit based upon that scriptural condition. You continue to miss that.
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Do you have, like, a videotape of HeKS doing something bad?

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That's just a weird question.
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Well, there has to be some explanation for why he allows you to post this stuff. Blackmail seemed like a good candidate -- or at least a reasoanble explanation.

But I see you haven't denied the possibility...


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It appears you may need another reminder about the proper etiquette to be maintained in a discussion on this board. These kind of tactics are immature and meaningless. You have never addressed the salient points that need addressed, that's why these things continue to be repeated.
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I'm sorry, Rotherham. Did you present some evidence that anybody on the planet thinks Rev. 3 must be read to teach Jesus is the first created being in time? Did I miss that? If so, please point it out to me and I will retract my statement.

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Have you heard of Jehovah's Witnesses? Unitarians? Your objection wasn't that anyway. Your objection was "because I've read the NT and Revelation", and that is clearly a referral to the Trinitarian mindset, a circular and fallacious argument.
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JWs don't count. Can you find me a Unitarian who says Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus must be the first created being in time?

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JWs don't count? Why not? Should I just say that Trinitarians don't count either? The logical fallacies continue to mount. And again, you're changing what you said. What you said was a clear reference to the Trinitarian mindset and I am sure you know that.
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The fact is, everyone who has read the Unitarian presentation of Revelation can read for themselves that there are scholars and many others who believe that Revelation 3:14 unmistakably teaches that the Son is a created being.


Name one. And JWs don't count.

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I am sorry, but JWs do count. That in itself is a huge logical fallacy to say they don't. You are now using logical fallacies to support your logical fallacies.
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I see you continue to take the SAFE route and not comment on the salient issues. You know that this has to be apparent to anyone following along, don't you?


I think anybody reading this is sad to see you humiliate yourself in this way. I know I am.

The salient issue is that HeKS was distancing himself from the claim in the paper that the only possible way to read this verse is your preferred way. You seem to be angry with me because you say the paper doesn't really make that claim. But you are also angry with me because you say the paper does make that claim.

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Is this the only way you have to defend yourself? The salient issues are those issues which are presented in the article. If you remember it is those issues that you are supposed to be addressing. And Heks is not distancing himself from the conclusion of the article, that IF we let scripture interpret scripture, we have but one choice to see the Son as part of creation.
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Hey, remember that "Cheers" episode when Sam had a job to offer commentray on the local news about sports topics? His commentary was about how bad artificial turf was for baseball and how it should be played on natural grass. Then the sports anchor said something like, 'Doesn't it improve the game because the surface is so uniform?' and Sam says, 'Well, yeah,' and the guy says, 'So, you don't really have an opinion, then,' and Sam says, 'That's not true -- I have two opinions'?
[/quote]

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Nice story. Totally irrelevant, but nice. I have just one opinion. That Rev. 3:14, based on Biblical precedent, unmistakably teaches that the Son is part of creation. Rather than dance away from the BIBLICAL PRECEDENT point, you need to address it.

Otherwise your arguments are red herrings.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:30 am

Remove this "if certain controversial conditions happen to be true?" and you've portrayed the accurate picture for there is no controversy that the Biblical precedenmt allows for no other choice. That makes it explicit based upon that scriptural condition. You continue to miss that.


So, the paper really does say that there is no other possible way to read Rev. 3 than the way you read it. Where have I heard that before...

Well, the paper we are supposed to be discussing claims that there is no other possible way to read this verse. That is the meaning of Rotherham's repeated claim that this passage "explicitly" teaches that Jesus is a creation.


That's right! I said it a page ago! And you agree the paper says that, but you decide to spend a page arguing about it anyway.


It appears you may need another reminder about the proper etiquette to be maintained in a discussion on this board. These kind of tactics are immature and meaningless. You have never addressed the salient points that need addressed, that's why these things continue to be repeated.


Ok, does this mean you aren't blackmailing HeKS in any way?

Also, I have asked you to produce a single scholar (non-JW) who agrees with your view about this verse. You have not produced one. This is odd, because your claim was that such scholars actually exist.

I think you are lying and that such scholars do not exist.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:52 am

hello Sulla,

Remove this "if certain controversial conditions happen to be true?" and you've portrayed the accurate picture for there is no controversy that the Biblical precedenmt allows for no other choice. That makes it explicit based upon that scriptural condition. You continue to miss that.


So, the paper really does say that there is no other possible way to read Rev. 3 than the way you read it. Where have I heard that before...

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Based upon BIBLICAL PRECEDENT, yes. You keep forgetting that part. This is really a strawman in itself because you keep ignoring the argument as stated. You keep addressing YOUR version of the argument which is not accurate. Another logical fallacy.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Well, the paper we are supposed to be discussing claims that there is no other possible way to read this verse. That is the meaning of Rotherham's repeated claim that this passage "explicitly" teaches that Jesus is a creation.


That's right! I said it a page ago! And you agree the paper says that, but you decide to spend a page arguing about it anyway.


$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
I objected immediately to your summation of my claim, did you forget that? State it right, and then we can go from there, but then again, if you state it right, there is nowhere for you to go.
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It appears you may need another reminder about the proper etiquette to be maintained in a discussion on this board. These kind of tactics are immature and meaningless. You have never addressed the salient points that need addressed, that's why these things continue to be repeated.


Ok, does this mean you aren't blackmailing HeKS in any way?

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
I wont even dignify such lame tactics with an answer. You should be ashamed of this kind of argumentation.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Also, I have asked you to produce a single scholar (non-JW) who agrees with your view about this verse. You have not produced one. This is odd, because your claim was that such scholars actually exist.

I think you are lying and that such scholars do not exist.
[/quote]

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First of all, you did not say "scholars", I did, and there are scholars among JWs. Also, prove to me why JWs don't count. And if they do, I have plenty. Fact is, they do. And the fact is, JWS ARE Unitarians, did you forget that? But this is all red herring anyway because you can't argue the point of the article which is BASED UPON BIBLICAL PRECEDENT. You have more diversions than a General Dollar store.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:14 am

You just like to argue. Turns out, you don't really disagree with what I said: your paper really does say there is no other possible way to read Rev. 3.

So, what was all that about? Some people just won't take 'yes' for an answer. Two problems, though.

1. Still no explicit denial that HeKS is being blackmailed in any way by you in order to allow you to post here. At this point, I think reasonable people must conclude that you are, in fact, holding some threat against HeKS. I plan to e-mail HeKS and let him know I stand with him and against people like you. I'm outraged.

2. Still not a single non-JW scholar who will stand with you on this issue. So your claim that plenty exist is a lie -- it's not true and you knew it wasn't true when you made it.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:35 am

Red herrings and inaccurate ones at that.

Sulla wrote:You just like to argue. Turns out, you don't really disagree with what I said: your paper really does say there is no other possible way to read Rev. 3.

So, what was all that about? Some people just won't take 'yes' for an answer. Two problems, though.

1. Still no explicit denial that HeKS is being blackmailed in any way by you in order to allow you to post here. At this point, I think reasonable people must conclude that you are, in fact, holding some threat against HeKS. I plan to e-mail HeKS and let him know I stand with him and against people like you. I'm outraged.

2. Still not a single non-JW scholar who will stand with you on this issue. So your claim that plenty exist is a lie -- it's not true and you knew it wasn't true when you made it.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:44 am

OK. Just gonna wait for that list of scholars you got who agree with you. Hope it's not too long of a list.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:12 pm

And I'll wait for you to argue something relevant to the article. That is why you are here, right?

Sulla wrote:OK. Just gonna wait for that list of scholars you got who agree with you. Hope it's not too long of a list.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:25 pm

Typical day from you, isn't it? Begin with complaining about something I said, wind up dropping all your complaints.

-- your paper really does make the claim I said it makes
-- you really can't find anybody who takes your point of view

If you were, like, a Lutheran writing a parody of the way JWs argue, I'd tell you to stop because it was over the top.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:51 pm

hello Sulla,

Do you really think that it is necessary for me to present a list of Unitarians, JW or otherwise, who agree that Rev. 3:14 teaches that the Son is PART of creation? Isn't that pretty much a no brainer? Stafford, Foster, Furuli, Patrick Navas, Beduhn and in fact any Unitarian who believes in the pre-existent Son of God?

Now seriously, address the argument as stated and not your version of it. We all know now what I actually said and you have consistently avoided it and misrepresented it.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:57 pm

Stafford? I think he is a JW, isn't he? Beduhn hasn't weighed in on this question. Rolf hasn't been df-ed, has he?

Whatever, I need to re-post my thing to HeKS, 'cause you came in with this nonsense today.

________________________________

Ok, well, a partial summary, then. A re-direct, maybe.


First of all, in my mind there is a difference between there being a self-evident, natural meaning and there literally being only one possible meaning. I claim the former about Rev. 3:14. I don't ever recall claiming the latter. My issue is with the Trinitarian practice of avoiding the natural meaning of Christological passages that militate against their doctrine in favor of some rare, not-quite-logical, unprecedented meaning ... and then translating in a way that attempts to rule out the natural meaning.



Well, the paper we are supposed to be discussing claims that there is no other possible way to read this verse. That is the meaning of Rotherham's repeated claim that this passage "explicitly" teaches that Jesus is a creation. You have distanced yourself from this claim of the paper in other places on this thread, but you haven't promised to make the paper drop the claim.

Second, I'm not sure what you mean by your references (here and elsewhere in the thread) about the "natural" meaning. Common, typical, ordinary -- is this what you mean?


As we have already pointed out, a "first principle" is the elementary or foundational stage of something. In this context, it makes perfect sense for Clement to refer to him as the perfect arche of the universe, specifically because his point is that those things that are found in the created universe, namely action, morals, reasoning and judgment, were at first present to perfect degree in God and it is, in fact, the good of God, the morality of God, the reasoning and judgment of God that are to be found within creation. In these ways, Clement is declaring God to be immanent in creation in his philosophical theology. This is obviously not what you're looking for and not helpful to your cause at all.

For some reason, every time you find something that speaks of an arche as a first principle, you think you've found something to support your cause. Just the opposite is true. In identifying a thing as the arche of something on account of it being the first principle of that thing it is creating the very connectedness you are trying to divorce from the meaning when applied to Christ.





14 'Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea and say, "Here is the message of the Amen, the trustworthy, the true witness, the Principle of God's creation:
-- New Jerusalem Version



And, actually, it does help my case, since there is no necessary interpretation requiring that arche in this sense to be a creation. And, by the way, Clement is not saying God is immanent in creation in this way. On the contrary, this is precisely an application of the non-immanent sense Aristotle referred to.

And, anyway, why do you keep saying that I need some sort of unconnected sense of the word? When did I become a Platonist? The connectedness of God with creation is the central insight of orthodox, Trinitarian, thinking. The Incarnation and Passion mean precisely that God is part of the created order in the most profound way possible. Missing this aspect of theology is the kind of thing I was hoping would not happen here.


If we were to assume that the relationship of God to creation could be described by calling him the arche of creation without qualification or explanation, then if John wanted to use arche to identify Christ as the unrelated, separate source of creation using arche, he should have left God out of the statement and simply referred to Christ as "the arche of creation" rather than "the arche of the creation by God." By including, "by God," John is already identifying the source of creation and is precluding the possibility that Christ is the extreme, originating point of the creative process unless taken partitively, being the first part from which the rest proceeds contiguously.




And here is another example of missing what it means for Christ to share the identity of God, while being a different person. There is no possible way to leave the Father out of the creative process while maintaining monotheism. It doesn't work like that.


It's not like you're acknowledging that the reading of Christ being the first created being is the most natural or precedented way of reading the language but that there are additional factors that make you think it's something else. No. You basically say, "No way. It's obviously not that." And for some reason, these other readings that are significantly more problematic are highly preferable to you. That is not a natural result of the language.



What? Look, most of the time, when we say 'the beginning of _____,' we are speaking of a partitive relationship. I think that your claim about this verse is obviously wrong for the same reason everybody else in the world thinks it is obviously wrong: I've read the NT and Revelation.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:02 pm

Hello Sulla,

Stafford is no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Furuli is a scholar whether you agree or not. To disqualify him or any JW scholar is a logical fallacy and I wont accept the disqualification. Beduhn already told Heks that he believes he assessed John's words correctly.

Now why not try and focus on what the article actually said.

Can you? Will you? Are you even able to?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:11 pm

Shhhhh!
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:16 pm

Now there's the typical ending to Sulla's day of activity.

Sulla wrote:Shhhhh!
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:26 pm

I thought I told you to hush.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:11 pm

I would like to interject for a moment here and clarify something from a previous post:

--------------------------------------------
HeKS wrote:
Sulla wrote:So, I guess that is my point, finally. You want to find references that support your position and you can't. And the position is that the only possible way to read Rev. 3 is that Jesus is the first created thing in time. There is considerable variation in the viewpoints of how best to render that verse, but nobody will say that the main alternatives are incorrect in favor of your reading.


Well, now, wait a minute. I'd say you're wrong on a few counts here.

First of all, in my mind there is a difference between there being a self-evident, natural meaning and there literally being only one possible meaning. I claim the former about Rev. 3:14. I don't ever recall claiming the latter. My issue is with the Trinitarian practice of avoiding the natural meaning of Christological passages that militate against their doctrine in favor of some rare, not-quite-logical, unprecedented meaning ... and then translating in a way that attempts to rule out the natural meaning.

--------------------------------------------

There seems to be some confusion over what I meant by this and also what it means to say that Rev 3:14 explicitly teaches Christ is the first in the series of creation by calling him the "arche of creation."

First of all, in regard to my bolded statement quoted above, my point was that a person might try to supply all manner of alternate meanings based on different definitions of a word (with or without precedent) and supported by the "authority" of all manner of theological commitments and appealing to all manner of varied sources and the meanings they subsequently propose out of this process might not be impossible in the strictest sense. That, however, does not make those alternate meanings reasonable.

Using Rev 3:14, if we examine John's usage of arche in his writings and find it to be used in a consistent manner with no clear examples to the contrary in any of his writings, that gives us a very strong indicator as to how he intends to be understood in this particular instance. If we expand our examination to the NT as a whole and find it all fits with John's usage, that is an extremely strong indicator as to how we should interpret John's use in Rev 3:14. If we expand further to the LXX to see how those translators were inclined to use arche in a scriptural context and to see the general fashion that it was used in the Greek translations of the OT used by the NT writers, that is even further indication of how John should be understood.

In carrying out this examination, the trend of the evidence all points to a specific meaning for arche at Rev 3:14. That is, it points to the default, normal, or "unmarked" meaning of arche at that location: beginning, in relation to time or as the first in a series. Accepting this, Rev 3:14 really does explicitly tell us that Jesus is the first member of the created order. This is the meaning that is naturally indicated by John's usage and by NT usage in general.

In order to escape this, one must appeal to a different meaning of arche, arguing that John intended to use arche to mean either "ruler" or "source".

The idea that he wanted to say "ruler" here is communicatively nonsensical. As already discussed, John consistently used archon when he wanted to say "ruler". He used it two chapters earlier in Rev 1:5 when he wanted to identify Christ as the ruler/prince of the kings of the earth. A sudden switch to arche at 3:14 to mean "ruler" is without reason. If John wanted to be understood as calling Christ the ruler of the creation by God, he could have called him the archon of the creation of God in accordance with his pattern everywhere else. That he would switch to a word he used everywhere else to mean "beginning" makes no sense. In the entirety of the NT, when an author wishes to identify an individual as a ruler, arche is not the choice of how to do it.

Now, when it comes to "source", in order to establish this as even being a possible translation or interpretation, we must move beyond John's writings, beyond the NT as a whole, and it seems beyond the LXX as well. We must move into philosophical usage to find arche used to mean source. But even then we must be careful, because even in a philosophical context it is generally used to mean a source which is in some way partitive in the thing that arises from it. The only real evidence offered for a non-partitive meaning of source is a lexical entry by Aristotle allowing for a meaning of a source that is non-immanent in a metaphysical sense, meaning not "indwelling", but even his examples don't remove the arche in these instances from the same classification as the thing of which it is a source, but merely seem to identify the arche as a contiguous (non-immanent) part of a larger classification or grouping rather than a continuous (immanent) part of a larger unit.

In other words, in order to establish the possibility of this translation or interpretation, one must reject the entire premise of the article in the first place.

The article argues that a consideration of the scriptural usage of arche available to us, which is rather plentiful, all points in one direction and eliminates "source" from consideration as a reasonable possibility in the context of the NT, being that it is entirely without precedent. The conclusion is that, based on this approach to Biblical interpretation, Rev 3:14 has one reasonable possibility, and that one reasonable possibility can rightly be considered as an explicit claim that Christ is the first part of creation.

To argue that the conclusion of the paper is wrong because it seems possible to find some extra-Biblical examples where arche is used to mean source partitively and some possible though rare extra-Biblical examples where it is used to mean source non-partitively is to argue a non-sequitur.

The counter-argument necessarily dismisses the whole premise of the article a priori and basically says, "if we dismiss the premise of the article and ignore the significance of its conditional statements we find the article is wrong in its conclusion." In so doing you are not actually arguing against the article. You are not even really arguing against the paper's conclusion, because the conclusion of the paper is not simply that arche has only one possible meaning throughout all literary usage across all time. The conclusion of the paper is that arche has one reasonable possibility at Rev 3:14 if we allow scripture to interpret scripture by paying attention to the consistent and sizable database available to us in the scriptures.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:17 pm

I would appreciate an end to these childish antics, Sulla.

You and Rotherham can be as frustrated with each other as you like, but this "shhh" business and the silliness of suggesting he's blackmailing me in order to let him post is not acceptable behavior.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:31 pm

I wasn't suggesting I was asking. And I'll take this as a denial, then.

It is a head-scratcher, though. Guy has spent all day agreeing with me and then you show up and give me a hard time. Has to be some logical explanation...

Oh well. I'll look over your post, HeKS, and see what it says. Bon journee
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:36 pm

Actually, I just read over your post. I had said:

And [your]position is that the only possible way to read Rev. 3 is that Jesus is the first created thing in time.


You took exception to this statement. Now you seem to be confirming it. Can you help a brother out here and just tell me in, like, one sentence, whether this is your position or not? That'd be super.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:59 pm

Sulla wrote:Actually, I just read over your post. I had said:

And [your]position is that the only possible way to read Rev. 3 is that Jesus is the first created thing in time.


You took exception to this statement. Now you seem to be confirming it. Can you help a brother out here and just tell me in, like, one sentence, whether this is your position or not? That'd be super.


Hi Sulla,

I tried to be clear in my last post. In fact, I think I was clear. But let me try one more time.

I am not making an unqualified claim that it is literally impossible under any circumstances to translate or interpret the words, "hē archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou," in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation. That has never been my stated position personally, but neither has it been the stated position of the paper in question.

Were that my claim or the claim of the paper it would make sense for you to argue that there seem to be some cases in some literature at some point in time that suggest this combination of words could hold a different meaning.

This is not our claim, but since this is your "counter-argument" it seems only prudent for me to take your comment, "[your] position is that the only possible way to read Rev. 3 is that Jesus is the first created thing in time," in the context of your argument. In other words, I must object to your statement, first of all, because in the context of your argument it suggests our claim is that it is generally impossible for the words found at Rev. 3:14 to be interpreted in a different way than we suggest.

Setting that aside, I must further object to the specific implication of "only possible", in that it suggests (or at least allows for the meaning that) our claim is that it is literally impossible to translate or interpret the verse in a way other than we suggest. It is not literally impossible.

Our position is that, if one translates and interprets this verse in harmony with Biblical precedent based on the sizable scriptural database available to us, there is only one reasonable and precedented possibility for how how it ought to be translated and interpreted. It is technically possible to insert any old word that fell within the lexical range of arche at some point over its entire history of existence, but that doesn't make any of those other options reasonable or precedented possibilities.

Using arche to identify an individual as a ruler is unprecedented in all of John's writings and in the entirety of the NT. Using arche to identify an individual as the source of something is unprecedented in all of John's writings and in the entirety of the NT. John could have expressed either of those ideas clearly and without confusion in the same way he did elsewhere and in the same way that the other NT writers expressed those ideas elsewhere. He didn't. He chose a word that, by default, identifies something as a beginning in relation to time or as first in a series, which is the sense in which he used it everywhere else without any clear exceptions. Further the context and co-text does not necessitate a different meaning of the word; the statement is not rendered in the least bit nonsensical or illogical when read with the sense applied to arche everywhere else.

This being the case, opting for a different translation and meaning here is not a function of the language itself. The language and all relevant linguistic precedent in the scriptures point in one clear and natural direction. This is why the BDAG said of Rev 3:14, "the meaning, beginning = 'first created' is linguistically probable." This was an upgrade from the BAGD that had previously only said it was "linguistically possible." The more honest and unbiased someone allows themselves to be, the more they recognize the clear and precedented implication of the language here. Of course, it would be truly rare for a Trinitarian to allow themselves to accept that this is not only linguistically probable but, from a scriptural standpoint, the only linguistically precedented way to read the verse. Doing so would force them to either change their belief in the Trinity, to acknowledge that the real basis for translating and interpreting this verse in another linguistically improbable way is theological motivation, or to decide that they simply don't believe what John said about Jesus.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:26 am

I am not making an unqualified claim that it is literally impossible under any circumstances to translate or interpret the words, "hē archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou," in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation. That has never been my stated position personally, but neither has it been the stated position of the paper in question.


You are mistaken. The paper claims that your reading is the explicit teaching of the passage. Have we reached the point where I have to quote Webster's? I guess so.

1 a : fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity : leaving no question as to meaning or intent


And, from the paper:

As most any Bible student knows, there are teachings which are explicitly stated within the Bible where there is no ambiguity as to what is taught.

...

Other teachings are not explicit in nature and present ambiguity to one degree or another, such as: prophecies, parables, symbolic language. It is not the purpose of this article to explore the ambiguous elements found within the Bible.

...

One might think at the outset that all religions who claim to be Christian already agree on the explicit statements so there is no real way to use explicit statements to affect a differentiation.


However, such is not the case.


So spare me another JW parsing of what you really mean. In particular, this comment of yours:

Our position is that, if one translates and interprets this verse in harmony with Biblical precedent based on the sizable scriptural database available to us, there is only one reasonable and precedented possibility for how how it ought to be translated and interpreted. It is technically possible to insert any old word that fell within the lexical range of arche at some point over its entire history of existence, but that doesn't make any of those other options reasonable or precedented possibilities.


is a lie. OK? And I've had about enough. If you want to climb down from the stupid claim the paper makes that your reading is the explicit, unambiguous meaning of the passage, the change the way that paper is written. Or else, own what is written.

But don't do this JW spin: 'What we said is not what we meant because we want to talk out both sides of our mouth.' Because that's exactly what this is. You want to have a little paper that says you can identify the Body of Christ because the Body always teaches the explicit scriptural truth and then turn around a write two long posts explaining how you can take exception to my observation that you claim that there is only one way to interpret Rev. 3. It's a load of dishonest nonsense.

You have to figure out exactly how dishonest you want to be. Let me know what you've got it sorted.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Oct 16, 2009 1:49 pm

Sulla, if one of us ought to have had enough by now, it should be me. In fact, with these last few posts it really is starting to seem like you're arguing in bad faith. I say that specifically because I know for a fact that it is not beyond the range of your intellect to grasp what I'm saying and yet you obtusely ignore what I'm saying at every possible turn and then turn around and reframe it in a way that is misrepresentative.

You suggest I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth, saying first that it is explicit then that it is not. This is wholly misrepresentative of a point that has been made numerous times in the last few posts by both myself and Rotherham and which you continue to ignore.

Notice this comment from me a few posts back:

HeKS wrote:In carrying out this examination [of biblical precedent], the trend of the evidence all points to a specific meaning for arche at Rev 3:14. That is, it points to the default, normal, or "unmarked" meaning of arche at that location: beginning, in relation to time or as the first in a series. Accepting this, Rev 3:14 really does explicitly tell us that Jesus is the first member of the created order. This is the meaning that is naturally indicated by John's usage and by NT usage in general.


Look, the entire approach of your counter-argument is a non-sequitur, as has already been pointed out. The article quite clearly takes the form of an IF...THEN statement. If we boil the whole argument of the article down to a single statement it would be:

IF we use Biblical usage and precedent as our guide for translation and interpretation, THEN Rev 3:14 can only be taken in one way and that way is an explicit identification of Christ as the first creation.

Your counter-argument is that because arche was used in different ways outside of the Bible, Rev 3:14 is ambiguous and probably doesn't identify Christ as the first creation. This is not actually a counter-argument at all. It simply ignores the premise of the article (the IF) in favor of a different premise of your own making. Then you act as though it should somehow be taken as meaningful that, from this entirely different premise, you arrive at a different conclusion.

Now, coming back to this charge of yours that we are (or I am) talking out of both sides of our (or my) mouth, this is how it is...

If you are trying to assail the conclusion of the paper using an argument that is a non-sequitur, then when you say we claim the meaning of Rev 3:14 is explicit and only open to one reasonable interpretation, it is only logical for me to assume that you mean to reflect our position in the context of your argument rather than our own.

In other words, this statement coming from you, taken in the larger context of your argument, suggests that we deny that the words "hē archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou" can be translated in more than one way if we are NOT limiting ourselves to Biblical precedent. If we are NOT limiting ourselves to Biblical precedent then yes, it is possible for those words to be translated and interpreted in more than one way and thus, in this case, they would not be explicit.

But the whole point of the article is what happens when we DO limit ourselves to Biblical precedent. The claim of the article is that when we DO limit ourselves to Biblical precedent then the evidence shows there is only one reasonable possibility for how to translate and interpret the verse and that the result IS explicit.

This is really not that complicated of a concept. In the context of OUR argument and premise, there IS only one reasonable possibility and it IS explicit. In the context of YOUR argument and premise, there is NOT only one reasonable possibility and it is NOT explicit. You can't entirely change the context in which the conclusion is presented in the paper and then expect us to stand behind your reframed result.

Our position is that if we limit ourselves to Biblical precedent, the meaning of Rev 3:14 is obvious and explicit. If we instead open the floor to all possible uses of arche in all all extra-biblical contexts across time then that's obviously a different matter.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:49 pm

Well I see we've reached the point where the preposterous spin can only be corrected with more preposterous spin. More cowbell!

The initial preposterous spin is this conceit that the Body of Christ might be identified simply by virtue of the fact that they teach the things scripture explicitly teaches. It's nonsense in clown makeup, of course, but it's born of the entirely understandable desire to put the more easily debunked core teachings of the JWs into the ghetto reserved for speculative intellectual exercises.

The second-level spin, which we are encountering now, is the attempt to remove the clown makeup and pretend the argument never existed.

So we begin with the claim that Q is explicitly taught in scripture. Therefore, any who say not Q are wrong and, therefore, not the Body of Christ.

Except, when we look into the question, not Q seems to have some arguments going for it. those arguments might not themselves be obviously correct, but they are strong enough that everyone who has ever commented on the matter seems to think not Q is correct. I mean, while we wait for the curiously lackadasical Jason Beduhn to weigh in on the topic, we can note the unanimous viewpoint of all non-JWs on this question and wonder if it could really be true that everybody is sufficiently biased about this to miss this explicit meaning.

More, we wonder if the bias works in a weird sort of reverse fashion, making even Unitarians like Thayer biased against his own view. How weird is that?

That's where the second-level spin comes in. 'Well, see, the statement isn't really that Q is explicit, it's more that IF P, THEN Q. Q is not the explicit teaching of scripture, it is merely the implication of P, you see.'

This is nonsense in a feather boa. But have it your way. The question we must then ask is: so what? The paper claims -- and the larger agenda attempts to show -- that one may identify the Body of Christ by observing that they teach the explicit statements of scripture.

So now, in two longish posts, you have insisted that your reading of Rev. 3 is not an explicit statement of scripture after all, but is merely an implication of an entirely different and controversial assumption; namely: that the bible must be read according to your idiosyncratic approach to reading it.

So, HeKS, since you now are telling me that your reading is not the explicit meaning of this scripture, please explain what possible point there could be to publishing this paper. That is, given the paper tells us we can identify the Body of Christ by observing who teaches the explicit, unambiguous scriptural truth and then argues that your interpretation of Rev. 3 is not an explicit scriptural truth, doesn't it seem pointless to you?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:08 pm

Hello Sulla,

It seems thatyour task is to show that scripture should not be used to interpret scripture. As it stands, IF we let scripture do that, THEN Q is explicit, which is what the article presents from the get go. Its not a later "spin" as you would put it, it was the premise from the beginning. You just missed it and can't seem to admit that.

Since we are explicitly told that "all scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT, and COMPLETELY EQUIPPING" the Christian for such, how can you deny that we should let scripture interpret scripture?

Since we are told that "interpretations" belong to God, how can appealing to non-scripture as our guide be allowing God to interpret things for us, especially if there is a sufficient database to do so, which in this case, there surely is?

You can bellyache all you want about the method of allowing scripture to interpret scripture all you want, but the fact is, there is no other possible method available if one wants God to interpret for them.

If there's another method, spell it out. It would seem if you can't do that, your objections are moot and as pointed out, non sequitor.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:06 pm

It seems thatyour task is to show that scripture should not be used to interpret scripture.


Not at all. It will suffice simply to show that whatever you mean by the phrase is not itself explicitly taught in scripture.

The question for the board is why has HeKS bothered to publish your paper if, as he insists, it doesn't support what it claims to support. If all you claim to have established is the relationship between your preferred method of exegesis and the conclusions that method leads to, you clearly haven't actually established the conclusion as explicit.

And establishing the conclusion as the specific teaching of scripture is how one can identify the right chuch, according to the paper.

So, what's the point?


Since we are explicitly told that "all scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT, and COMPLETELY EQUIPPING" the Christian for such, how can you deny that we should let scripture interpret scripture?


I wish you'd figure out whether you disaggree with me or not. This seems to say you are claiming your reading of Rev. 3 is explicit. But HeKS just got through insisting it was not explicit.

Please sort this out.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:48 pm

Hello Sulla,

The explicitness of the teaching is based upon a premise. It's very simple really.

That premise is that we should use scripture to interpret scripture. Do you or do you not have a problem with that interpretative basis? Do you or do you not believe that we should allow scripture to interpret scripture? Do you or do you not believe that there are explicit statements within the Bible? Or are they all ambiguous to you? I would appreciate answers to all those questions because I can't see what you're complaining about as even a valid complaint. You know, produce the goods or go open up shop somewhere else.

Heks has completely agreed with the resulting conclusion BASED upon that premise. That is why the paper is published because it does entirely support what it claims to support. Which "Heks" are you reading, anyway?

Regards,
Rotherham



Sulla wrote:
It seems thatyour task is to show that scripture should not be used to interpret scripture.


Not at all. It will suffice simply to show that whatever you mean by the phrase is not itself explicitly taught in scripture.

The question for the board is why has HeKS bothered to publish your paper if, as he insists, it doesn't support what it claims to support. If all you claim to have established is the relationship between your preferred method of exegesis and the conclusions that method leads to, you clearly haven't actually established the conclusion as explicit.

And establishing the conclusion as the specific teaching of scripture is how one can identify the right chuch, according to the paper.

So, what's the point?


Since we are explicitly told that "all scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT, and COMPLETELY EQUIPPING" the Christian for such, how can you deny that we should let scripture interpret scripture?


I wish you'd figure out whether you disaggree with me or not. This seems to say you are claiming your reading of Rev. 3 is explicit. But HeKS just got through insisting it was not explicit.

Please sort this out.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:04 pm

You guys are so full of it.

Don't care about your premise. I care about the claim made by the paper, which says the right church can be identified by the fact that they teach what scripture explicitly teaches.

You don't want to say the scripture explicitly says what you think is says, but you don't want to admit that it is not explicit, either. Thus, the last couple pages of this debate.

It's pretty simple, really. Either you claim that Rev. 3 explicitly reads the way you think it does, or else you do not make that claim.

Do you claim your reading of Rev. 3 is the explicit meaning of the text?

This is a yes or no question. HeKS says no, you do not claim your reading is explicit. HeKS says the paper's claim is that the conclusion is implied (in the logical sense) by the exegetical approach and that this implication is the point of the paper.

If so, then the paper is incompetently written, because the first few pages go on and on establishing a criterion the rest of the paper does nothing to support.

So, is it explicit or is it not explicit? Yes or no?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:08 pm

Sulla,

What is so hard about this for you?

Plain and simple, IF we accept the foundational premise, it is explicit.

To one who believes that scripture should interpret scripture, the conclusion is explicit. It was never intended to be explicit to the infidel or to be understood universally. Surely you know that.

Regards,
Rotherham


Sulla wrote:You guys are so full of it.

You don't want to say the scripture explicitly says what you think is says, bet you don't want to admit that it is not explicit, either. Thus, the last couple pages of this debate.

It's pretty simple, really. Either you claim that Rev. 3 explicitly reads the way you think it does, or else you do not make that claim.

Do you claim your reading of Rev. 3 is the explicit meaning of the text?

This is a yes or no question. HeKS says no, you do not claim your reading is explicit. HeKS says the paper's claim is that the conclusion is implied (in the logical sense) by the exegetical approach and that this implication is the point of the paper.

If so, then the paper is incompetently written, because the first few pages go on and on establishing a criterion the rest of the paper does nothing to support.

So, is it explicit or is it not explicit. Yes or no.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:16 pm

OK, so it is not the explicit meaning of the text.

Question: How is this supposed to help anybody identify the right church, as the paper asserts? Isn't this incompetent to claim that the way to identify the right church is to observe that they teach whatever is explicitly said in scripture and then subsequently to fail to prove your reading is the explicit meaning of the text?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:32 pm

Sulla, this is seriously getting ridiculous. Stop changing what I say into what you want me to say.

This is extremely simple. The paper says that the body of Christ would not teach in contradiction to the explicit teachings of scripture and that, if we use Biblical precedent as our guide for translation and interpretation, the meaning of Rev 3:14 is explicit. That's it. And I agree. Scriptural precedent only seems to allow for one possible meaning to that verse.

Valid avenues of attack include:

- arguing that the body of Christ CAN teach in contradiction to the explicit teachings of scripture
- arguing that scriptural precedent should not be our guide for scriptural translation or interpretation
- arguing that scriptural precedent does not point to only one possible meaning for that verse

Invalid avenues of attack include (but are not limited to):

- arguing that there are (or might be) some different uses of a word, in a different context, outside scripture.

Why is this an invalid avenue of attack? Because even if you prove your point, it does nothing to undermine any of the points in the paper. Your argument could be true and the paper would be unaffected.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:45 pm

Sulla,

Please don't miss Heks' words above, but I wanted to answer your question.

For those who believe that scripture should be allowed to interpret scripture, then the conclusion of the paper will help in identifying the true church.

Once again, it's all based on the beginning premise.

Now please go back and answer the questions I asked.

Regards,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:OK, so it is not the explicit meaning of the text.

Question: How is this supposed to help anybody identify the right church, as the paper asserts? Isn't this incompetent to claim that the way to identify the right church is to observe that they teach whatever is explicitly said in scripture and then subsequently to fail to prove your reading is the explicit meaning of the text?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:46 pm

Sulla wrote:OK, so it is not the explicit meaning of the text.

Question: How is this supposed to help anybody identify the right church, as the paper asserts? Isn't this incompetent to claim that the way to identify the right church is to observe that they teach whatever is explicitly said in scripture and then subsequently to fail to prove your reading is the explicit meaning of the text?



From memory, the paper suggests a way that one might begin to eliminate certain groups from consideration as the body of Christ rather than the definite method that points to exactly who IS the body of Christ.

If one believes the Bible is infallible, that it has explicit teachings and that the body of Christ would not teach in contradiction to those explicit teachings of scripture, and if the Bible explicitly contradicts a major aspect of the Trinity doctrine, that drastically reduces the number of groups up for consideration as the body of Christ.

The paper says that if we accept that Biblical precedent ought to be our guide for interpretation and translation, then the Bible DOES explicitly contradict a major aspect of the Trinity doctrine, and that DOES drastically reduce the number of groups up for consideration as the body of Christ.

The paper has value in establishing what it INTENDS to establish, not in what it DOES NOT INTEND to establish.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:47 pm

Think you left valid avenue out, HeKS.

-- pointing out that the paper doesn't even claim the meaning is explicit, but only claims the meaning is implied by a second set of assumptions

See, the claim has never been that the right church teaches the things that it is able to talk itself into. The claim is that it teaches the things that are explicitly stated in scripture.

Thus, I do not need to argue that scriptural precedent should not be the guide for interpretation. You must prove that it is the always valid. You

By way of example. Suppose I was to claim that, IF we assign each Greek letter a sequential prime number and then translate the passage into Hindi according to some method. THEN it must be true that Jesus is Vishnu, everybody could immediately see that I will have proven nothing at all about the explcit meaning of the passage.

Further, if I claimed that the right church will always teach the explicit meaning of scripture, anybody could see that the entire line of argument is pointless, since I haven't proven my reading of the passage is explicit.

That's what has happened here. IF we assume your exegetical process is correct, THEN we get to your conclusion (so you claim). That's not remotely the same thing as proving the explicit meaning, as you should be able to see.

It is getting ridiculous, but only because you have sold out to defend this paper at whatever the cost.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:54 pm

Well Sulla,

As I asked you to produce, where is the alternative interpretative process that allows God to be our interpreter?

I have shown FROM scripture that scripture itself COMPLETELY equips us for SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT. How else can we do that unless we allow scriptural precedent and pattern to be our guide? Do you have a working model?

Regards,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:Think you left valid avenue out, HeKS.

-- pointing out that the paper doesn't even claim the meaning is explicit, but only claims the meaning is implied by a second set of assumptions

See, the claim has never been that the right church teaches the things that it is able to talk itself into. The claim is that it teaches the things that are explicitly stated in scripture.

Thus, I do not need to argue that scriptural precedent should not be the guide for interpretation. You must prove that it is the always valid. You

By way of example. Suppose I was to claim that, IF we assign each Greek letter a sequential prime number and then translate the passage into Hindi according to some method. THEN it must be true that Jesus is Vishnu, everybody could immediately see that I will have proven nothing at all about the explcit meaning of the passage.

Further, if I claimed that the right church will always teach the explicit meaning of scripture, anybody could see that the entire line of argument is pointless, since I haven't proven my reading of the passage is explicit.

That's what has happened here. IF we assume your exegetical process is correct, THEN we get to your conclusion (so you claim). That's not remotely the same thing as proving the explicit meaning, as you should be able to see.

It is getting ridiculous, but only because you have sold out to defend this paper at whatever the cost.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:55 pm

And I see, Rotherham, that we are making some progress. As you say:

For those who believe that scripture should be allowed to interpret scripture, then the conclusion of the paper will help in identifying the true church.


Now, can't you see how this is a contingent claim? Can't you see this is a controversial claim? Where have we all agreed that this is the proper method of exegesis? Isn't scriptural exegesis performed all the time by using other methods?

So, even granting your claim for the sake of argument, don't you see that this is exactly what it means to have an equivocal scripture? Look, if you believe in the Catholic method of exegesis, my position is the necessary conclusion.

But that doesn't mean it is the explicit meaning of the text. And the explicit meaning of the text is the test you have established for all this. And that's the hurdle you must over come. But all you've claimed is that people who reason in the particular way you do will come to the same conclusion you have come to.

That won't cut it.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:58 pm

As I asked you to produce, where is the alternative interpretative process that allows God to be our interpreter?

I have shown FROM scripture that scripture itself COMPLETELY equips us for SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT. How else can we do that unless we allow scriptural precedent and pattern to be our guide? Do you have a working model?


Obviously, such models exist; otherwise your particular method of exegesis would be universal and your conclusions would also be universal. I do not need to evaluate alternative models. It is your burden to show that the reading is explicit. All you claim to show is that it follows from your preferred method of exegesis.

That is, it's only explicit if you already accept your analysis. How's that help?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:08 pm

Hello Sulla,


Obviously, such models exist; otherwise your particular method of exegesis would be universal and your conclusions would also be universal.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
I know and that's why I am asking not just you but anyone who reads, how else can we let God be our interpreter unless we let scripture interpret scripture, unless we pay heed to scriptural precedent and pattern? You can claim other methods, but can you demonstrate that they meet the criteria of "God" as the interpreter?
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


I do not need to evaluate alternative models. It is your burden to show that the reading is explicit. All you claim to show is that it follows from your preferred method of exegesis.

That is, it's only explicit if you already accept your analysis. How's that help?
[/quote]

$$$$$$
It helps because the analysis is presented as a challenge to other types of analysis. It's clearly stated that all scripture is inspired and beneficial and completely equips us for SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT, for TEACHING!!

That proves the point that scripture should be the interpreter of scripture. Your job is to disprove that. We've done our part to show that it is the correct premise.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:25 pm

I know and that's why I am asking not just you but anyone who reads, how else can we let God be our interpreter unless we let scripture interpret scripture, unless we pay heed to scriptural precedent and pattern? You can claim other methods, but can you demonstrate that they meet the criteria of "God" as the interpreter?


Good question, the answer to which is controversial. But it is also controversial that your approach is the correct one.

Consider the US Constitution. Parts of it are quite explicit -- we have a bicameral legislature and three branches of government. Other parts are not explicit -- the precise protections we have under the First Amendment, for example.

Now, two different methods of analyzing the question will yield different answers to some questions; indeed, different methods may necessarily lead to their own conclusions. But nobody would make the mistake of claiming that these different conclusions are, somehow, explicit within the Constitution.

Thus, it is literally impossible to imaging that the US Constitution established five branches of government, since it is explicit in establishing three. Whether it protects certain types of speech, on the other hand, is controversial; the answer depends on the method of analysis.

The mistake you and HeKS are making is just this basic. You begin by claiming that the right church will never teach things in conflict with the plain teaching of scripture -- the right church will never claim there are five branches of government, in my example. But you then write the rest of the paper saying that, if you use your method of analysis, you come to a particular conclusion about a passage of scripture -- a First Amendment interpretation, in my example.

It's not enough to insist your method of analysis is correct because that's not the important part of your claim. You claim that the right church teaches the explicit statements of scripture and NOT that the right church uses some particular method of analysis.

Think about it.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:28 pm

What you are missing Sulla is that scripture itself states the proper manner of analysis for TEACHING, which is scripture? 2 Tim. 3:16

How is that any different than saying scriptural precedent should be our guide to interpreting scripture?

Regards,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:
I know and that's why I am asking not just you but anyone who reads, how else can we let God be our interpreter unless we let scripture interpret scripture, unless we pay heed to scriptural precedent and pattern? You can claim other methods, but can you demonstrate that they meet the criteria of "God" as the interpreter?


Good question, the answer to which is controversial. But it is also controversial that your approach is the correct one.

Consider the US Constitution. Parts of it are quite explicit -- we have a bicameral legislature and three branches of government. Other parts are not explicit -- the precise protections we have under the First Amendment, for example.

Now, two different methods of analyzing the question will yield different answers to some questions; indeed, different methods may necessarily lead to their own conclusions. But nobody would make the mistake of claiming that these different conclusions are, somehow, explicit within the Constitution.

Thus, it is literally impossible to imaging that the US Constitution established five branches of government, since it is explicit in establishing three. Whether it protects certain types of speech, on the other hand, is controversial; the answer depends on the method of analysis.

The mistake you and HeKS are making is just this basic. You begin by claiming that the right church will never teach things in conflict with the plain teaching of scripture -- the right church will never claim there are five branches of government, in my example. But you then write the rest of the paper saying that, if you use your method of analysis, you come to a particular conclusion about a passage of scripture -- a First Amendment interpretation, in my example.

It's not enough to insist your method of analysis is correct because that's not the important part of your claim. You claim that the right church teaches the explicit statements of scripture and NOT that the right church uses some particular method of analysis.

Think about it.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:42 pm

I'm sorry, but is your position that scripture explicitly says that your method of analysis is the correct one?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:37 pm

With that scripture and the statement that interpretations belong to God, and a little applied logic, yes, it is unmistakable that scripture should interpret scripture whenever possible.

If another alternative is not available, which there isn't, why would that not be an unmistakable conclusion?

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Rotherham


Sulla wrote:I'm sorry, but is your position that scripture explicitly says that your method of analysis is the correct one?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:47 pm

Well, then, if you are saying your analytical method is the explicitly-given method by the Bible, and that method yields the explicit reading of Rev. 3, then you are saying that explicit meaning of Rev. 3 is as you say.

Therefore, the only possible way to read Rev. 3 -- literally, the only way possible, like the way the Constitution says there are three branches of government -- is with your understanding.

Right? The explicit meaning of scripture is that your method of analysis is correct, and the necessary meaning of your analysis is that the scripture must be read as you say. Therefore, you are making the unqualified claim that it is literally impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation.

Do I read you correctly on this matter?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:26 am

Not quite but close.

I am using the word "explicit" in the sense of "unmistakable" as I have mentioned before.

You said:
The explicit meaning of scripture is that your method of analysis is correct,

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
The scriptures unmistakably declare that scripture itself is that which completely equips one for TEACHING and SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT. If there is another way to read that, then tell me what it is. If there is no other way to read that, then yes, it is unmistakable that the scriptures present that as the only proper means of interpretation, using the Bible to do so.

The scriptures also tell us that "interpretations belong to God". Is there another way to understand that? If so, then tell me. If not, then if we apply logic to that statement, it once again leads us to the unmistakable conclusion that scriptural precedent should be our interpreter, because that is the only tangible thing we HAVE that is from God that lends itself to interpretation in connection with TEACHING.

You obvious don't like that working model, but it's time to present an alternative. WHAT IS YOUR WORKING MODEL THAT MAINTAINS GOD AS THE INTERPRETER? Otherwise, without an alternative, there is no challenge to those statements.
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and the necessary meaning of your analysis is that the scripture must be read as you say.

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Yes, see above.
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Therefore, you are making the unqualified claim that it is literally impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Yes, IF (which by the way, is a QUALIFICATION) THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO RETAIN GOD AS OUR INTERPRETER.

It's working model time for you!

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:05 am

OK. Let's recall Webster's:

1 a : fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity : leaving no question as to meaning or intent <explicit instructions>


So, I think we are on the same page here with regard to the definition. And I understand we agree that your position is that your analytical method -- scripture interpreting scripture -- is the explicitly endorsed teaching of scripture.

Now, I read you to be saying that it seems unlikely that any method of analysis different from what you have done in the paper could possibly qualify as scripture interpreting scripture. Is this accurate?

What confuses me is your answer to my question about whether you are making an unqualified claim that it is "literally impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation."

You responded by saying, "Yes, if ..." I don't know how to read that. The "yes" part seems to be saying you are making an unqualified claim, but the rest of the answer goes about qualifying it.

To say, 'It is literally impossible, if,' is precisely what it means to make a qualified claim.

So, let me try to be more precise. I say, in an unqualified way, that it is literally impossible to read the US Constitution as saying there are five branches of government. You and I both say, in an unqualified way, that it is literally impossible to read the Gospels as saying Jesus was not born of Mary.

With that framing: Do you say, in an unqualified way, that it is literally impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation? (if your answer is yes, then you aren't allowed to qualify it)
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:23 am

hello Sulla,
______________________

Now, I read you to be saying that it seems unlikely that any method of analysis different from what you have done in the paper could possibly qualify as scripture interpreting scripture. Is this accurate?

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Since I don't know how there could be any other way to interpret scripture and retain God as our interpreter, it is more than just "seems unlikely". It seems impossible.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

What confuses me is your answer to my question about whether you are making an unqualified claim that it is "literally impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation."

You responded by saying, "Yes, if ..." I don't know how to read that. The "yes" part seems to be saying you are making an unqualified claim, but the rest of the answer goes about qualifying it.

To say, 'It is literally impossible, if,' is precisely what it means to make a qualified claim.

So, let me try to be more precise. I say, in an unqualified way, that it is literally impossible to read the US Constitution as saying there are five branches of government. You and I both say, in an unqualified way, that it is literally impossible to read the Gospels as saying Jesus was not born of Mary.

With that framing: Do you say, in an unqualified way, that it is literally impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation? (if your answer is yes, then you aren't allowed to qualify it)[/color][/quote]

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Have you ever heard of a "qualified yes"? I have. Don't you see that your "framing" is a qualification within itself?

As I mentioned, this article was not intended for the infidel or those, such as yourself, who say there is another way to interpret scripture, BUT, the article CHALLENGES the view that there is another way to interpret scripture. If there is no other way to interpret scripture then the conclusions are unmistakable. If there IS another way, then you must PRESENT YOUR WORKING MODEL. Otherwise, the conclusons are unmistakable.

Here's the definiton for "unmistakable"

: not capable of being mistaken or misunderstood : clear

I see that as a suitable overlap with explicit, don't you? A thesarus lists explicit and unmistakable as related words.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:34 am

OK, well the question is whether you are making an unqualified claim or not. It isn't clear why this needs to be so hard.

So, given your list of additional factors, can I read you to say that you are not making an unqualified claim that it is impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation in time?

Lots of negatives in that. But let's wade through them anyway.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:58 pm

Hello Sulla,

I have explained this every way I know how. Why is this particular wording so important to you? And why aren't you answering the questions I have asked of you?

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Sulla wrote:OK, well the question is whether you are making an unqualified claim or not. It isn't clear why this needs to be so hard.

So, given your list of additional factors, can I read you to say that you are not making an unqualified claim that it is impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first creation in time?

Lots of negatives in that. But let's wade through them anyway.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:48 pm

Rotherham, when I ask if you are making an unconditional claim and you reply, "Yes, if ..." then you are answering both ways. I would hope you could see that.

It's pretty remarkable that you simply refuse to answer with a yes or a no. Are there conditions to your claim or are the not conditions to your claim. Pretty easy.

Look how easy it is to make unconditional claims. Is it your unconditional claim that

-- God created all things
-- Christ died to save mankind
-- Christ is risen
-- Christ will come again

These things are easy to answer with a yes or a no. But this question seem to be a real tough one. Weird, since it is about what your own position happens to be; and you'd think you could answer something like that.

So, I'll keep asking for a yes or no answer and see if we ever get to the point where you can directly answer what your viewpoint is.

Rotherham, do you say, in an unqualified way, that it is literally impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first created being in time? Yes or no?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:17 pm

Well, as I have stated over and over and I will continue to tell you. It is a qualified yes. Do you know what that means? it is a "yes WITHIN defined limits".

Even the list you give are unconditional only IF you believe the Bible is the infallible word of God. So you tell me, is that a condition or not?

My condition for the Son being created carries the same condition.

Will you ever answer my questions, or will you simply continue to ask yours? Unless I get some answers in return, it appears this merry-go-round is endless and subsequently useless.

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Rotherham

Sulla wrote:Rotherham, when I ask if you are making an unconditional claim and you reply, "Yes, if ..." then you are answering both ways. I would hope you could see that.

It's pretty remarkable that you simply refuse to answer with a yes or a no. Are there conditions to your claim or are the not conditions to your claim. Pretty easy.

Look how easy it is to make unconditional claims. Is it your unconditional claim that

-- God created all things
-- Christ died to save mankind
-- Christ is risen
-- Christ will come again

These things are easy to answer with a yes or a no. But this question seem to be a real tough one. Weird, since it is about what your own position happens to be; and you'd think you could answer something like that.

So, I'll keep asking for a yes or no answer and see if we ever get to the point where you can directly answer what your viewpoint is.

Rotherham, do you say, in an unqualified way, that it is literally impossible to translate or interpret the words in Rev. 3 in any way other than as saying the arche is the first created being in time? Yes or no?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:27 pm

How bizarre is that?

Really? That Christ is risen is not a claim you make without conditions? That God created all things is not a claim you make without conditions?

So, you'd say God created all things if one believes the Bible? Are you listening to yourself?

Why don't you find yourself able simply to answer yes or no to my question?

Yes, with conditions, is an incoherent answer.

I will keep asking this question until I get a coherent answer. Readers will be amazed to see that a JW apologist is unable even to answer such a simple question about his own position. They will wonder why you find it so difficult.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:44 pm

This a two way discussion. Answer some questions and we might get somewhere.

I'm a afraid that "yes", with conditons, is only incoherent to you.


Sulla wrote:How bizarre is that?

Really? That Christ is risen is not a claim you make without conditions? That God created all things is not a claim you make without conditions?

So, you'd say God created all things if one believes the Bible? Are you listening to yourself?

Why don't you find yourself able simply to answer yes or no to my question?

Yes, with conditions, is an incoherent answer.

I will keep asking this question until I get a coherent answer. Readers will be amazed to see that a JW apologist is unable even to answer such a simple question about his own position. They will wonder why you find it so difficult.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:47 pm

Rotherham wrote:Well, as I have stated over and over and I will continue to tell you. It is a qualified yes. Do you know what that means? it is a "yes WITHIN defined limits".

Even the list you give are unconditional only IF you believe the Bible is the infallible word of God. So you tell me, is that a condition or not?


I actually don't think this is analogous to what Sulla means.

For example, even if one didn't believe the Bible was infallible, they could not argue that it doesn't SAY Christ is risen. Whether or not it's true is, technically, another issue.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:07 pm

Well, if you know what he's after, I'll let you answer.

HeKS wrote:
Rotherham wrote:Well, as I have stated over and over and I will continue to tell you. It is a qualified yes. Do you know what that means? it is a "yes WITHIN defined limits".

Even the list you give are unconditional only IF you believe the Bible is the infallible word of God. So you tell me, is that a condition or not?


I actually don't think this is analogous to what Sulla means.

For example, even if one didn't believe the Bible was infallible, they could not argue that it doesn't SAY Christ is risen. Whether or not it's true is, technically, another issue.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Oct 23, 2009 6:08 pm

Well, I think you've actually touched on where the disconnect lies between what we're saying and what he's saying.

He seems to be saying that there is exactly one sense or one set of circumstances in which you can claim someone made an explicit statement.

You disagree with that and so do I.

So, for example, say you were speaking to someone and trying to hold them to some comment or agreement they made and you said to them, "You explicitly told me ... x."

It seems Sulla's position is that, in saying the person explicitly told you x, you must mean the person made a statement containing a series of words that each have only one possible meaning, and their organization in the actual statement can, in an absolute sense, literally have only one meaning.

While this would certainly be an unassailable example of an explicit statement, I think it takes a hyper-literal approach that is problematic in the same way it was problematic to argue that you cannot use something abstract as the genitive substantive in a partitive genitive because abstract things don't literally have parts into which they can be separated. In other words, it ignores the way in which people use, absorb, interpret, and understand language.

So, I think the position that you and I share, Rotherham, is that you could say to a person "You explicitly told me ... x," and what you mean is that in the context of your discussion with that person, and based on the language that person was using throughout that discussion, there was simply no other reasonable way to interpret their statement. If you went through that discussion 10 times, you would interpret the statement exactly that way every time, even if technically the words could mean something else when transposed into a different context or setting. This is so because all those things upon which sensible, intentional communication from one person to another is built would, in that context, be pointing towards one particular meaning.

These are the types of statements that if you were to call someone on them and they would try to say that they meant something else you would insist that they were being disingenuous and equivocating, either when they said it initially or when trying to apply a different meaning to it now. You would insist this, because there was no reason for you to understand it in any other way than you did, and there could be no reasonable expectation on their part for you to understand it any differently.

Our position is that Rev 3:14 explicitly identifies Christ as the first creation in this second sense. We do not mean that if you were to take the group of words forming the sentence, put them on a piece of paper and hand them to some random translator, that there would be literally and absolutely only one possible way to translate or interpret them (though I'd wager that if "by God" was changed to something like, "by Paul," at least 99% would translate and interpret it just as we say it should be).

What we mean is that when those words appear in the context of John's writings and the NT as a whole, there is only one reasonable way to translate and interpret them. To assign a different translation or meaning is to argue that John (and/or God) intended to convey his message in a way that was communicatively nonsensical, in that it has John utterly ignoring the way in which people naturally understand the language being directed at them from some particular source. It amounts to verbal or literary trickery. If you say a word over and over and over again with a particular meaning, then you train people to understand you a certain way. Every time you use that word, they are going to default to understanding you that way, unless it is used in a context where you obviously CAN'T mean it that way.

In Sulla's challenge, as I recall, he tried to argue that he could write a book and use the word "bank" a thousand times to refer to his local banking establishment, but that wouldn't prevent him from one time saying that he was going to go fish in the shade on the bank. But this is clearly an example of what I said right above would be required to have the audience understand he intended to use the word in a different way. In fact, I think he even said it was obvious that he was using the word with a different definition in mind. And that's precisely the point. The statement itself makes it obvious that he intends to use the word with a different meaning. The semantic change is clearly and unmistakably signaled in the statement itself. This is precisely what good authors do so that their audience can understand them. It's a matter of simple communicative logic.

But consider the mistake that an extremely poor author might make in failing to apply this simple communicative logic. Let's say the author wrote a book in which he used the word "bank" a thousand times. 999 of those times, he used it to mean his local banking establishment, but in its 987th occurrence in the book he said that he went for a walk and decided to sit down and "read a newspaper in the shade of the bank," after which he decided to get some lunch. 100% of readers would assume he meant that he sat down and read a newspaper in the shade of his local banking establishment and that he had used "bank" with the same meaning all 1,000 times, assuming there was a nice bench out front of the bank, or maybe a nice little cafe that happened to be positioned in the shade of the bank during the late morning hours. Readers would assume this because it is the only reasonable way to interpret the statement within the context of the book. Every other time it is used it means his banking establishment, and in this instance there is nothing that shows the author obviously means something else, like the river bank. And heaven help this author if the fact that the newspaper was read on the river bank rather than in front of his banking establishment is in any way important to the story, because nobody is going to have any clue. Trying to convey this event as happening on the river bank in this way, using "bank" in this kind of sentence after its consistent use to refer to a local banking establishment, would be communicatively nonsensical. This type of incompetent writing would make for a very short career.

Likewise, it would be communicatively nonsensical for John to attempt to convey the idea that Jesus is the source of the creation by God rather than the first part of it by using a word that he uses everywhere else to mean a partitive beginning; unless he used it in a sentence where it obviously could not hold its usual meaning. But just the opposite is the case. He used it in a sentence that actually strengthens the likeliness of it holding its usual meaning. As such, nobody could reasonably be expected to take such a different meaning from his words. That Trinitarians do take a different meaning is not a counter-argument, because they do not take a different meaning as a natural function of the language. They just don't. The meaning that they take is specifically intended as a preferred alternative to the obvious reading. It might be technically possible if you just grab those words and randomly put them on a blank page, but it is not a reasonable reading of John's words at all, unless we take John himself to be a most incompetent author who does not communicate with his audience in a reasonable manner, in which case it's not the reading that's made reasonable but the author who is made unreasonable. There is a certain gnostic quality to this kind of reading.

If John wanted to convey the message they would like, it is only reasonable to expect that he would have either used the word in such a way that it was obvious that he intended a different meaning than 1) his usual meaning and 2) the default or unmarked meaning. Preferably (from a communicative perspective), he would have used a word that more directly carried his intended meaning in common usage and was unlikely to be misunderstood in the context of his writings. He did neither. As a result, there is precisely one reasonable interpretation of his words.

On a related but different point, Sulla made an interesting comment about Thayer's applying a meaning of source to arche in this verse, asking if it was Unitarian bias that motivated this reading. I would actually say this is entirely possible. As has been discussed at length, Thayer's cites as examples of its meaning of "source" cases where arche is used to indicate a partitive source. As a Unitarian, this is kind of perfect. It identifies Christ as the first creation that carried out the rest of creation; the first instance, which is the efficient (rather than formal) cause of all the other instances. As a Unitarian, I'd be very happy with this meaning too, because I think it accurately conveys the truth about Christ. However, I would not accept it as being a truly reasonable reading of John's words, no matter how much I like it. It's certainly less problematic than the meaning Trinitarians prefer, because it adds another layer ON TOP of the meaning he associates with the word everywhere else rather than DIVORCING the word from its meaning everywhere else, but it isn't really a reasonable reading. There is no basis in the context of John's use of language (or the language of the NT) to think that's what he intended to say there. There is really only one reasonable meaning there if we're going to read John the way we would read any other author according to the basic communicative logic that is employed in both speech and writing.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:37 am

Hello Heks,

Thankyou again for the full explanation. One small note. Although Thayer was likely a Unitarian, the work known as Thayer's lexicon is actually the work of Grimm, a Lutheran and Trinitarian scholar. Thayer's words are only the ones contained within brackets.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:15 am

Rotherham wrote:Hello Heks,

Thankyou again for the full explanation. One small note. Although Thayer was likely a Unitarian, the work known as Thayer's lexicon is actually the work of Grimm, a Lutheran and Trinitarian scholar. Thayer's words are only the ones contained within brackets.

YB,
Rotherham


Ah, well that's worth knowing. I was aware that the lexicon was someone else's work, and I remember you mentioning Grimm's name, but I thought he might have been a Unitarian as well. In either case, I stand by my point, but it seems the issue is rendered moot in the case of Thayer's.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:00 pm

Well, I see that the context of John’s writing is finally considered to be worth considering. So let’s do that.

But first, a clarification about this whole explicit thing. HeKS is critical of my position that, for something to be explicit, there can literally be only one way to read or interpret a statement. Perhaps it would be useful to see how Rotherham built the argument in his paper:


As most any Bible student knows, there are teachings which are explicitly stated within the Bible where there is no ambiguity as to what is taught. For example:

“There will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Acts 24:15

No one can deny the explicit nature of that statement. They may debate over the implications and purpose of that resurrection, but they cannot deny the explicit element within that statement that unambiguously declares that there will be a resurrection for both the righteous and for the unrighteous.

There are numerous explicit statements and teachings within the Bible that most will agree upon. Such as: Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God is Almighty. God is the Creator. Jesus Christ died and was resurrected. Jesus Christ provided the ransom for the salvation of mankind.


The thing that matters for us here is that what might be called the “literally-only-possible reading” is precisely the set-up Rotherham has used in his paper. I am not the one who invented the distinction between explicit teachings and ambiguous ones. I am not the one who gave these specific examples of explicit teachings; examples that, not to put too fine a point on it, can literally be read in only one way. I am not the one who ultimately makes the argument – in light of these examples of explicit statements -- that the reading of Rev. 3 is explicit in its meaning. I am not the one who says you can disqualify counterfeit churches by virtue of their mis-reading of explicit statements.

But now we get to the idea that,


What we mean is that when those words appear in the context of John's writings and the NT as a whole, there is only one reasonable way to translate and interpret them. To assign a different translation or meaning is to argue that John (and/or God) intended to convey his message in a way that was communicatively nonsensical, in that it has John utterly ignoring the way in which people naturally understand the language being directed at them from some particular source. It amounts to verbal or literary trickery. If you say a word over and over and over again with a particular meaning, then you train people to understand you a certain way. Every time you use that word, they are going to default to understanding you that way, unless it is used in a context where you obviously CAN'T mean it that way.


and

Likewise, it would be communicatively nonsensical for John to attempt to convey the idea that Jesus is the source of the creation by God rather than the first part of it by using a word that he uses everywhere else to mean a partitive beginning; unless he used it in a sentence where it obviously could not hold its usual meaning. But just the opposite is the case. He used it in a sentence that actually strengthens the likeliness of it holding its usual meaning. As such, nobody could reasonably be expected to take such a different meaning from his words. That Trinitarians do take a different meaning is not a counter-argument, because they do not take a different meaning as a natural function of the language. They just don't. The meaning that they take is specifically intended as a preferred alternative to the obvious reading. It might be technically possible if you just grab those words and randomly put them on a blank page, but it is not a reasonable reading of John's words at all, unless we take John himself to be a most incompetent author who does not communicate with his audience in a reasonable manner, in which case it's not the reading that's made reasonable but the author who is made unreasonable. There is a certain gnostic quality to this kind of reading.


Gnostic. Cute.

But, again, let’s question a couple assumptions before we get all carried away with HeKS’ massive evidence about the normal context and the million times the word is used in the same way by the same guy and the possible reasonable readings etc. & etc.

First, the word, arche is used precisely twelve times in the NT, five of those times by St. John. How does that author use the word? In what context? Let’s see. The cases are:

-- John 1:1
-- John 1:2
-- Rev. 3:14
-- Rev. 21:6
-- Rev. 22:13

Let’s table Rrev. 3 for a minute. What else do we have in the remaining four cases? Well, in each case we are speaking of God’s activity, always in the context of a generally radical re-writing of an OT reference. The prologue of John is a reconsideration of the very first words of the Bible, where the logos is placed “in the beginning,” arche.

And what about the places in Rev. where the word is used? Well, it is coupled with additional titles, “Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, First and Last.” These connected titles also point us to other uses of the partial title in Rev. 1 and Rev. 2: First and Last.

“First and Last, of course, points to the title for God in Isaiah 41 and 44. Isaiah? Does John make other references to Isaiah?

Well, only about a thousand. And when he does so, it is often in the context of assigning the identity of God to be shared by Christ, as in Isaiah 6 – John 12, connections as well as dozens of other places.

So this is what competent readers pick up on: the use within the same book and other books by the same author of various terms, references, titles. Each time John uses the word, he wraps it in several layers of meaning – back to Genesis, Isaiah, associated with God’s titles as well as eschatological meaning and identity.

So, the other four times John uses the word, he uses it in this way. Your position requires us to reject all this context and focus, instead, on the habits of the LXX translators when dealing with some story in Samuel, for example. This is simple foolishness.

And to turn around after this and claim that your position is the only reasonable one …
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:02 pm

Hello Sulla,

Before I spend time responding to this, can you tell me where exactly you're getting your statistics?

By my count, arche is used in the NT 58 times, not 12. Of those, John uses it 23 times, not 5. John is responsible for about 40% of all instances where the word is used.

As for the reference to using a word a thousand times, you will notice I was simply referencing your own example from your challenge.

Finally, in addition to the snippets you quoted from the article, consider this found in the immediate context:

One might think at the outset that all religions who claim to be Christian already agree on the explicit statements so there is no real way to use explicit statements to affect a differentiation.


This sets up the fact that there can be disagreement over what, in fact, is explicit. As for the examples he offered of explicit statements, they are explicit, but do you fail to notice that while their precise meaning is assumed from our greater knowledge of scripture and context, the absolute meaning and implication is not absolutely explicit in some cases and could be open to interpretation?

John explicitly tells us that Jesus is the arche of the creation by God. John's 22 other uses of that word and our greater knowledge that God himself is the source of creation make his precise meaning obvious, because the normal way to understand someone is to not to arbitrarily assign a different meaning to a word they commonly use when they take no pains to suggest a different meaning than usual.

As for the John / Isaiah connection, you've raised this before. I've provided you with a lengthy response to that issue on two different boards (ST & TF) and I never got a single reply except for you to comment that that it was longer than either of us had expected it to be (ST). No matter; we'll see if there's any reason to address any of it after you clarify where you're getting your numbers and after your Revelation examples have been addressed.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:03 pm

http://strongsnumbers.com/greek/746.htm

This sets up the fact that there can be disagreement over what, in fact, is explicit. As for the examples he offered of explicit statements, they are explicit, but do you fail to notice that while their precise meaning is assumed from our greater knowledge of scripture and context, the absolute meaning and implication is not absolutely explicit in some cases and could be open to interpretation?


Disagreement over unambiguous, unquestionable, fully-revealed with no vagueness, statements? You could blow up an android with that kind of comment, HeKS.

And, I do notice that the precise meaning of those examples is open to interpretation. You keep acting like this explicit/ambiguous duality is my invention and not Rotherham's. I happen to think the categorization is pointless except for self-serving hackalysis -- Calvin, for example, was wrong about a great many things, but he was smarter than I am. I don't know how the au courant JW claims to be the only ones who know how to read are particularly useful, except as an attempt to deflect attention from some of the more imaginative interpretations you guys make. But that's your cross and not mine. It would hardly be the first time JWs create a new meaning for a word.


John explicitly tells us that Jesus is the arche of the creation by God. John's 22 other uses of that word and our greater knowledge that God himself is the source of creation make his precise meaning obvious, because the normal way to understand someone is to not to arbitrarily assign a different meaning to a word they commonly use when they take no pains to suggest a different meaning than usual.


Uh huh. Well with the exception of Dr. Debuhn -- who is taking just the longest time to respond to this question -- everybody on the planet who is not a JW already has weighed in on the question and found my analysis -- or some analysis of their own -- to satisfy themselves that you are wrong.

Biblical scholars, you may note, are a bunch that includes folks who will say that the entire idea that Jesus was resurrected was just a later story invented to make the early Christians feel better about things. And this is the bunch that won't publish anything that supports your conclusion about Rev. 3.

Think about that. Your reading is so explicit that even the guys who reject all the explicit teachings, think it's too nutty an idea.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:13 pm

As I suspected, you were misreading your source. Arche can have various case-number suffixes attached to the root based on its role in the sentence (Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genetive, sometimes Vocative) and whether it is singular or plural, as can all Greek nouns. That's how Greek identifies the role of a noun in the sentence, where in English we use word order.

So, again, arche is used 58 times in the NT and 23 of those times are by John.

I'll get to the rest when I get a chance.

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Reason: Realized I said "Indicative" where I meant "Nominative"
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:41 pm

Well, it seems to me we would want to consider only those cases that are the same -- an author might well have different habits for usage of a word depending on whether it is the subject, direct object, or whatever.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:43 pm

Sulla wrote:Well, it seems to me we would want to consider only those cases that are the same -- an author might well have different habits for usage of a word depending on whether it is the subject, direct object, or whatever.


John would disagree with you.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:25 pm

Sulla wrote:Well, it seems to me we would want to consider only those cases that are the same -- an author might well have different habits for usage of a word depending on whether it is the subject, direct object, or whatever.


Out of curiosity, did you bother to look into this notion in John's writings before suggesting we ought to limit ourselves only to the "arche" form? I can't imagine you did, considering you list examples which you think are "the same" because they use the "arche" form but are actually not "the same" because some of the examples are in the Nominative case while others are in the Dative case, so I can't quite figure out what paradigm you're using for determining what examples are "the same".

But further to this is the fact that John also uses arche in the Genitive and Accusative cases and, as in all other instances in all the cases, he uses it to mean beginning. In every single instance that John uses arche, regardless of case, he uses it to mean beginning in relation to time or first in a series and it is translated as "beginning" in every instance, except in Rev 3:14, which is not unique among John's uses. Linguistically, the meaning is clear and has precedent in every single other use of the word by John ... all 22 other times. What makes this "confusing" and "difficult" is theology, specifically Trinitarian theology, not linguistics. Linguistically, this is simple, both in English and in Greek. With 23 uses of this word by John and 58 uses of it in the NT as a whole, there is ZERO precedence for any other meaning besides a partitive beginning at Rev 3:14.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:34 am

Oh, sorry, HeKS. I keep forgeting you're the one who bought the Rosetta Stone --Koine Greek software, so probably I should just shut up and defer to your deep understanding of this sort of translation question. You have, after all, out-thunk all those poseurs who think they know you are wrong about this reading.

Forgot my place there for a minute. Won't happen again.

By the way, has Jason Debuhn responded to your question about this verse yet? I see it's been several weeks and he normally gets back quickly.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby hgp » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:01 am

Sulla wrote:Well, it seems to me we would want to consider only those cases that are the same -- an author might well have different habits for usage of a word depending on whether it is the subject, direct object, or whatever.

Hello Sulla,

speaking two languages that have case endings for nouns (German and Polish) and understanding Biblical Greek quite well, I must say, that this idea seems quite strange. Someone who speaks a language with noun cases tends to think of all case forms together as ONE word, that just happens to look a little bit differently in different places. For this reason all forms of a noun (in German, Polish and Greek alike) are listed under one heading in dictionaries, because they are thought of as one single word. The case endings are only needed to "explain" their grammatical position within the sentence, not the meaning of the word itself.

Did you ever see any sensible source arguing for this kind of differentiation? If yes, would you share your knowledge?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:07 am

Sulla wrote:Oh, sorry, HeKS. I keep forgeting you're the one who bought the Rosetta Stone --Koine Greek software, so probably I should just shut up and defer to your deep understanding of this sort of translation question. You have, after all, out-thunk all those poseurs who think they know you are wrong about this reading.

Forgot my place there for a minute. Won't happen again.

By the way, has Jason Debuhn responded to your question about this verse yet? I see it's been several weeks and he normally gets back quickly.


Hello Sulla,

I actually didn't get the Rosetta Stone software. I believe you recommended that when I mentioned I was considering learning Latin. I went the book route for Latin in the end, though I haven't had much time to look at it. I also went the book route for Koine Greek when I started looking into it a few years ago, choosing something that was focused on the NT. Nonetheless, it's not like I'm suggesting I'm an expert at Greek, but within certain basic limits, I can read and translate it well enough. I continue to study it as I have time and try to make the effort to actually look into my linguistic arguments.

However, that's really besides the point. The point is that you seem to be making very bizarre arguments from a linguistic standpoint, period. And, you don't even seem to be taking a few minutes to look into them to consider whether or not they make any sense. What I just pointed out to you in the previous post was something you could have checked out yourself in about 3 minutes at the site you linked to without even having to know any Greek, since it actually shows the case in each instance where the word appears. The argument itself, linguistically, is nonsensical. It seems pulled out of thin air simply because you mistakenly thought it would help your argument that Rev 3:14 is linked to John 1:1, 2 because the suffix is the same in both. In reality, John 1:1, 2 have arche in the Dative case while Rev 3:14 has it in the Nominative case. So if there was any value in your argument, you would have actually just argued against yourself. Fortunately there isn't any value in the argument.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Oct 27, 2009 10:47 pm

Sulla wrote:http://strongsnumbers.com/greek/746.htm

This sets up the fact that there can be disagreement over what, in fact, is explicit. As for the examples he offered of explicit statements, they are explicit, but do you fail to notice that while their precise meaning is assumed from our greater knowledge of scripture and context, the absolute meaning and implication is not absolutely explicit in some cases and could be open to interpretation?


Disagreement over unambiguous, unquestionable, fully-revealed with no vagueness, statements? You could blow up an android with that kind of comment, HeKS.


Huh? I meant that the paper acknowledges there can be disagreement over whether or not some statement is explicit. That's what's happening here in this discussion.

Sulla wrote:And, I do notice that the precise meaning of those examples is open to interpretation. You keep acting like this explicit/ambiguous duality is my invention and not Rotherham's. I happen to think the categorization is pointless except for self-serving hackalysis -- Calvin, for example, was wrong about a great many things, but he was smarter than I am. I don't know how the au courant JW claims to be the only ones who know how to read are particularly useful, except as an attempt to deflect attention from some of the more imaginative interpretations you guys make. But that's your cross and not mine.


What I meant was that there can be further implication to an explicit statement, but it doesn't mean it isn't explicit. You can explicitly say that Christ paid the ransom for our sins, and that is explicit, you can't argue with it, but it doesn't happen to tell you if the ransom was his own life or something else. The scriptures make the statement more clearly, but I was referring to the example Rotherham used in his paper. You don't take that statement and say it isn't explicit or that it's ambiguous in what it DOES say.

The Bible also says that Christ was raised up, that he was resurrected. The word used, egeirō, has a variety of connected but different uses, ranging from waking someone from sleep or death to creating a conflict to constructing a building. But that doesn't mean that the verse doesn't explicitly tell us that Christ was raised up, i.e. resurrected, from the dead. There is only one meaning that really makes sense there, and we say it is explicit, and we say you can't deny it and still be a Christian.

Likewise, with Rev 3:14, we say there is only one reasonable meaning to arche in that verse, which is also the only meaning that has any precedent in all of the NT, and so we say it, too, is explicit and unambiguous in what it DOES say. But I've already made my point about explicit statements in a previous post so I'll move on.


Sulla wrote:It would hardly be the first time JWs create a new meaning for a word.


This coming from a Trinitarian? Seriously? Whatever. I'm moving on.

Sulla wrote:
John explicitly tells us that Jesus is the arche of the creation by God. John's 22 other uses of that word and our greater knowledge that God himself is the source of creation make his precise meaning obvious, because the normal way to understand someone is to not to arbitrarily assign a different meaning to a word they commonly use when they take no pains to suggest a different meaning than usual.


Uh huh. Well with the exception of Dr. Debuhn -- who is taking just the longest time to respond to this question -- everybody on the planet who is not a JW already has weighed in on the question and found my analysis -- or some analysis of their own -- to satisfy themselves that you are wrong.


Well, that's not true, now, is it?

I've already pointed out that BDAG updated their comment on this verse to say that the meaning of first-created is the linguistically probable meaning here, upgraded from the previous version that said it was merely linguistically possible. They upgraded it because that's precisely the meaning that the language points to and the only one that has precedence.

C.F. Burney says:
Another New Testament allusion to Prov. viii 22 in reference to Christ is found in Rev. iii 14 H ARXH THS KTISEWS TOU QEOU, [the beginning of the creation of/by God] a title of the risen Christ which Dr Swete and Dr Charles have not a shadow of authority for limiting in meaning to 'the Source of God's Creation'. There is every reason to suppose that ARXH is here used with all the fullness and meaning which St Paul extracts from reshith-Beginning, Sum-total, Head, First-fruits. -- C.F.BURNEY, JTS XXVII


F.F. Bruce also connects this verse to Prov 8:22, which is a historically common connection. A number of early Christian writers also made this connection, and though you wouldn't know it from reading most translations of their writings by Trinitarians (who make up the majority of the translators), the early Christian writers, in quoting Prov 8:22, actually described Wisdom there as a creation, which is plain as day in the original language, as it also appears in the LXX, but has been replaced in many English translations with something closer to the KJV rendering of the verse.

Dave Barron (a member here) covered these and related points in his recent book if you want to give it a look at his site.

Beckwith, a Trinitarian, recognized that your explanation is nonsensical as it results in Modalism. I can't imagine he's the only one, as it's a pretty obvious point.

The only other option is that John is here directly contradicting Paul, saying that creation is out of Christ and The Father is the one who actually constructed it.

Sulla wrote:Biblical scholars, you may note, are a bunch that includes folks who will say that the entire idea that Jesus was resurrected was just a later story invented to make the early Christians feel better about things. And this is the bunch that won't publish anything that supports your conclusion about Rev. 3.

Think about that. Your reading is so explicit that even the guys who reject all the explicit teachings, think it's too nutty an idea.


Seriously? Even idiots disagree with me? That's your argument?

Well, you know, it's a tad difficult to provide a rebuttal to what you say an entire category of writers and/or critics DON'T say, but if pressed I guess I would point out that these people don't generally reexamine orthodox translations and interpretations in search of a more reasonable and precedented supernatural explanation. They tend to think Jesus is just a good human with good teachings. The idea that Jesus had a prehuman existence and was, in fact, the very first creation that preceded all other things hardly falls within their interpretational paradigm. Why on earth would we expect them to advance this as the proper reading or the truth about Christ? It would be no more acceptable to them than the idea that he really was the source of the creation by God (whatever that means)? Why would they bother to argue for our reading over yours? Would you be inclined to argue in favor of one thing you consider a heresy over another you consider a heresy? Would you be inclined to argue in favor of one thing you think is stupid over another thing you think is stupid? I wouldn't. Why should we expect them to?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:18 am

Thank you, HGP. And I repent in dustheap and ashes for making a poor argument about a topic I admit to having no understanding of.

In my defense, I can only say that I was driven to insanity by the prolonged defense of an argument that

-- does not seem to be standard within the academic community that concerns itself with this sort of thing

-- reaches the opposite conclusion from every single academic who has ever commented on the matter (and who is not already pre-committed to the JW position)

-- is produced by someone who, so far as we know, is entirely unqualified to perform this analysis

It's shocking to see me make a poor argument, I'm sure, and that accounts for the response we see. What can I say? We have all grown accustomed to seeing really incoherent arguments from folks like Rotherham and we have all grown to expect better from me. I've established this expectation, so it's a bit of a shock when I don't live up. I get it.

_____________________________

HeKS,


I've already pointed out that BDAG updated their comment on this verse to say that the meaning of first-created is the linguistically probable meaning here, upgraded from the previous version that said it was merely linguistically possible. They upgraded it because that's precisely the meaning that the language points to and the only one that has precedence.


I don't think this says what you think it says. Is it your position that BDAG means to say this verse must mean Jesus is not God? That he is merely a creation?

That is, I don't think this supports your position.


Another New Testament allusion to Prov. viii 22 in reference to Christ is found in Rev. iii 14 H ARXH THS KTISEWS TOU QEOU, [the beginning of the creation of/by God] a title of the risen Christ which Dr Swete and Dr Charles have not a shadow of authority for limiting in meaning to 'the Source of God's Creation'. There is every reason to suppose that ARXH is here used with all the fullness and meaning which St Paul extracts from reshith-Beginning, Sum-total, Head, First-fruits. -- C.F.BURNEY, JTS XXVII


Great. I hope you can see this is not your position.

F.F. Bruce also connects this verse to Prov 8:22, which is a historically common connection. A number of early Christian writers also made this connection, and though you wouldn't know it from reading most translations of their writings by Trinitarians (who make up the majority of the translators), the early Christian writers, in quoting Prov 8:22, actually described Wisdom there as a creation, which is plain as day in the original language, as it also appears in the LXX, but has been replaced in many English translations with something closer to the KJV rendering of the verse.


The connection between this verse and Prov. 8 is in the footnote of many bible translations. It is hardly a secret and it doesn't change the reading of the verse. The NJB makes the footnote, for example. There is, by the way, a plenty of eary Christian commentary against your reading of Proverbs 8, in terms of whether wisdom is supposed to be some sort of creation.

Dave Barron (a member here) covered these and related points in his recent book if you want to give it a look at his site.


Sorry, I know he is something of a muse here and that he has read Hurtado and Bauckham (we seem to have the same wish list at Amazon), but I didn't know he was actually an academic. With what university is he associated?

Beckwith, a Trinitarian, recognized that your explanation is nonsensical as it results in Modalism. I can't imagine he's the only one, as it's a pretty obvious point.


Does he agree with you, then? Please reacall that I claimed you couldn't find people who agree with your position. I didn't say you couldn't find people who disagree with mine.

The only other option is that John is here directly contradicting Paul, saying that creation is out of Christ and The Father is the one who actually constructed it.


This seems to be an example of what I was saying earlier. I make a stupid point and get a lecture about not bothering to do my research...

Seriously? Even idiots disagree with me? That's your argument?


Yeah, it is. In a field where almost nothing is too nutty to be taken seriously by at least some people, nobody agrees with your position. It's like being kicked out of a alien abduction convention because nobody would believe your story.

Well, you know, it's a tad difficult to provide a rebuttal to what you say an entire category of writers and/or critics DON'T say, but if pressed I guess I would point out that these people don't generally reexamine orthodox translations and interpretations in search of a more reasonable and precedented supernatural explanation.


Not really difficult, I think. You are looking for the wrong thing. Look, I think it is easy to find people who will argue that the early view of Christ was that he is a created agent of God. In fact, let me expand on this point some to show you what I mean.

Here is what part of your problem is: Plenty of writers will argue that the earliest Christian position was that Jesus was special -- an agent of God, maybe -- and therefore placed wayyyy up there. in fact, they will argue from some of the second temple writings that plenty of other divine agents were considered to be important in lots of important ways. Hurtado has done a lot of work about this sort of thing -- ask Dave about this, since he has the book.

So, a typical argument will be something along the lines that, when you look at the earliest writings by St. Paul and the synoptic gospels, you will see a low Christology. And (here's the point) it is only when you get to the later works designed specifically for non-Jewish audiences, like the Gospel of John or Revelation, that you get the really clear declarations of divinity for Christ.

If I'm not mistaken (and I am relying on my memory, so I could be), this is precisely Dunn's argument. Jesus being God is a late development, says he. But by "late," he means that it only becomes really clear in later books of the Bible.

So what I am saying is that even people who think it is a late development will agree that Revelation and John are very clear about Christ being God. Guys who will say that there is no trace of the idea in the synoptics or in Paul's early letters look at John and Revelation and say, "Well, that's where the idea comes from."

So that's why the bias idea won't hunt. People can read Paul's early letters all day long and think, 'Ah, well, when you look at the way the second temple Jews spoke about Elijah or Abraham or Moses or Archangels, none of this stuff seems that different.'

Nobody talks that way about Revelation. Or, if you think they do, show me.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:32 pm

I seem to have come down with a stomach flu (but not the dreaded H1N1), so I might be MIA for a day or two.

I see y'all when I'm back.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:51 am

Hello Sulla,

It appears your argument is basically reduced to saying that John and Paul contradict each other. Paul viewed Christ as a creation, John didn't? Right?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:18 pm

Wow.

No, that is not my argument.

Part of my argument is that even those who will argue that the idea that Jesus is God stands merely as a late innovation support their argument by dividing the NT into low- and high Christology sections. The synoptics and Paul's undisputed letters being examples of low Christology and Hebrews, John, and Revelation being examples of this later innovation.

When people talk about the divinity of Christ being a late innovation, they are talking about "late" meaning Revelation and John. Nobody reads Revelation to be saying Jesus is merely a creation -- even people who are biased toward the idea that it was not the view of the earliest Christian community.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:03 pm

hello Sulla,

Please prove to me that when they say that Jesus being God is a late innovation that they are talking about Revelation and John.

What is more, there is nothing in John or Revelation that teaches Jesus is God Almighty. None of the verses employed by Trinitarians are unmistakable in their wording that Jesus is God and those arguments have been settled long ago. Find one that is unmistakable in what it tells us about the Son's Almighty nature. Can you do that?

However, for Rev. 3:14, with Biblical precedent and pattern, even if we just use John's writings alone as the guide, there is no mistake as to how it should be understood.

This is not an argument that even addresses the elements of the article. It matters not that the Trinitarian world believes that John and Revelation teach the Almighty nature of the Son. They can't find anything to prove it and they really have nothing to overturn the unmistakable nature of Rev. 3:14.

It is meaningless to argue that we are wrong because the Trinitarian world says we are. Did you think we did not know that? What does that have to do with addressing what the article says?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:08 pm

And while we're at it:

So, I think the position that you and I share, Rotherham, is that you could say to a person "You explicitly told me ... x," and what you mean is that in the context of your discussion with that person, and based on the language that person was using throughout that discussion, there was simply no other reasonable way to interpret their statement. If you went through that discussion 10 times, you would interpret the statement exactly that way every time, even if technically the words could mean something else when transposed into a different context or setting. This is so because all those things upon which sensible, intentional communication from one person to another is built would, in that context, be pointing towards one particular meaning.

These are the types of statements that if you were to call someone on them and they would try to say that they meant something else you would insist that they were being disingenuous and equivocating, either when they said it initially or when trying to apply a different meaning to it now. You would insist this, because there was no reason for you to understand it in any other way than you did, and there could be no reasonable expectation on their part for you to understand it any differently.

Our position is that Rev 3:14 explicitly identifies Christ as the first creation in this second sense. We do not mean that if you were to take the group of words forming the sentence, put them on a piece of paper and hand them to some random translator, that there would be literally and absolutely only one possible way to translate or interpret them (though I'd wager that if "by God" was changed to something like, "by Paul," at least 99% would translate and interpret it just as we say it should be).


Good to see we can still kick the snot out of a scarecrow once in a while.

OK, so you really are saying there is literally one way to translate and interpret the verse. And no, I'm not going to dignify the "random translator" caveat.

Glad that only took a couple pages to get straight.

And, what you really are claiming is that all other interpretations (which, in this case are those offered by every other person) are the products of incompetence, ignorance, or bias. And the fact that nobody in the universe who is not already a JW will agree with the JW reading here is simply a product of this IIB (incompetence, ignorance, bias).

Correct?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:29 pm

Hello Sulla,

Given the stated criteria, there is no other way to understand Rev. 3:14. That is what I am and have been saying and stand by.

And yes, the Trinitarian world does not accept this because of either incompetence, bias or ignorance of the facts as they stand OR they do not agree with the interpetational process. One can see that the article challenged the interpretational process as well. The scriptures themselves recommend themselves as the interpretational guideline. If there is no other working model for interpretation then the article's conclusion stands unmistakable.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:42 pm

Please prove to me that when they say that Jesus being God is a late innovation that they are talking about Revelation and John.


No.

This is not an argument that even addresses the elements of the article. It matters not that the Trinitarian world believes that John and Revelation teach the Almighty nature of the Son. They can't find anything to prove it and they really have nothing to overturn the unmistakable nature of Rev. 3:14.

It is meaningless to argue that we are wrong because the Trinitarian world says we are. Did you think we did not know that? What does that have to do with addressing what the article says?


You talk like somebody who hasn't engaged any of the literature on this question. The Trinitarian world? Try becoming familiar with Bousset or Dunn before talking like this.

And I do not argue that you are mistaken because the Trinitarian world says you are. I think you understand that fact and choose to pretend otherwise.


Given the stated criteria, there is no other way to understand Rev. 3:14. That is what I am and have been saying and stand by.


The temptation, at this point is to quote myself making this observation and you freaking out about it. "Stated criteria," indeed! What stated criteria are they? That everybody knows how to read that the elementary school level? Please.

If there is no other working model for interpretation then the article's conclusion stands unmistakable.


Can't help yourself, can you?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:51 pm

Well, the paper we are supposed to be discussing claims that there is no other possible way to read this verse. That is the meaning of Rotherham's repeated claim that this passage "explicitly" teaches that Jesus is a creation.


That's me, a couple weeks ago. HeKS was trying to sell some insincere claim that his beef was with my side ignoring the ordinary and typical meaning of this sort of passage in favor of something uncommon. Wasn't true then, ain't true now.

What his claim was, and what yours is, is simply that there is no other possible way to interpret this passage -- so long as we consider those basic things you are supposed to consider when interpreting passages like this. Which is, of course, not a condition at all, is it. We are talking about literate adults here, are we not? Honestly.

In other words, so long as we are minimally competent. Why you took WEEKS to iron that out will remain a mystery, I guess. Perhaps we had to take time to clarify that you were excluding the possibility that someone might borrow a pencil and physically write out the wrong words -- 'cause that would be LITERALLY possible.

Sheesh.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 30, 2009 7:04 am

hello Sulla,

If you can't prove that these individuals you mention are referring to John and Revelation as the "later" when Jesus became God to them, then your observation about that remains subjective and irrelevant to the discussion at hand. maybe you should actually read the book "When Jesus Became God".

With the stated criteria, which is to allow scripture to interpret scripture whenever possible, then there is no other way to read Rev. 3:14. Plain and simple. Since you can not disprove the interpretational method, which is recommended by scripture itself, then basically, you're done.

You like to disagree and blow alot of smoke and raise irrelevant and red herring issues in the process, but you're simply false advertising because you can't deliver your product and it should be glaringly apparent to anyone reading along.

That's why this discussion was really over a long time ago. What we are experiencing now is nothing more than you grabbing at straws which have led you nowhere.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 30, 2009 8:53 am

Oh, give me a break. I told you what a typical explanation happens to be, with a pair of well-known authors thrown in. You don't like it, find counter examples. But save us the lecture.

Plain and simple. Since you can not disprove the interpretational method, which is recommended by scripture itself, then basically, you're done.


You're cute when your incoherent.

You like to disagree and blow alot of smoke and raise irrelevant and red herring issues in the process, but you're simply false advertising because you can't deliver your product and it should be glaringly apparent to anyone reading along.


Red herrings like the observation that your claim to have discovered the explicit, unambiguous, obvious meaning of the passage is held by nobody else in the universe who is not a JW? That this claim requires the reader make the assumption that the considered opinion of everyone else who has ever looked at the passage is incompetent, ignorant, or biased. That this claim requires the reader to prefer your analysis -- you, who have not the slightest qualification to analyze Greek -- over the analysis of thousands of people who actually have qualifications?

Red herrings?

Is it a red herring to observe that your analysis pointedly ignores all the methods considered valid -- consideration of genre, audience, overall meaning, references back to other writings, repeated use of particular titles, general theme, etc.? These are red herrings to you? The profoundly high Christology that is part of Revelation and John makes no appearance in your paper -- is pointing this out also a red herring? That you perform your little analysis the same way JWs perform their theology -- by jumping about searching for prooftexts rather than actually reading, say, the Book of Revelation; this also is a red herring?

That you find some way to write an entire paper without one time engaging the academic literature discussing the book of Revelation, the other works of John, or the overall theme; this is a red herring?

That you can't be bothered to engage the literature of people who think high Christology was a development of later NT writings -- red herring, I suppose?

Wow. I've been exposed. Well played, Rotherham.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:01 am

Hello Sulla,

Red herrings like the observation that your claim to have discovered the explicit, unambiguous, obvious meaning of the passage is held by nobody else in the universe who is not a JW?

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Clearly a logical fallacy. You can't discard evidence because you don't like who presented it. This claim does nothing to address the evidence.
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That this claim requires the reader make the assumption that the considered opinion of everyone else who has ever looked at the passage is incompetent, ignorant, or biased. That this claim requires the reader to prefer your analysis -- you, who have not the slightest qualification to analyze Greek -- over the analysis of thousands of people who actually have qualifications?

Red herrings?

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There are surely those among Jehovah's Witnesses who are qualified to analyze Greek and agree that is exactly what Rev. 3:14 is teaching, and it is another logical fallacy to conclude that unless one has a degree they are incapable of making an accurate analysis of Greek. Numerous books and aids are published to help the novice to analyze many important things in regard to the original languages of the Bible. Once again this merely sidesteps the issues raised and appeals to a majority belief, a logical fallacy on top of a logical fallacy.
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Is it a red herring to observe that your analysis pointedly ignores all the methods considered valid -- consideration of genre, audience, overall meaning, references back to other writings, repeated use of particular titles, general theme, etc.? These are red herrings to you?

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You have been asked numerous times to demonstrate how any of those things should affect that reading and you have failed to do so or even attempt to do so, so yes, if your boastings have no weight, they are just sweeping generalizations, more false advertising, that have no bearing on the discussion and THEREFORE, another red herring.
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The profoundly high Christology that is part of Revelation and John makes no appearance in your paper -- is pointing this out also a red herring?

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Yes, because claims are one thing, demonstrating that claim is another. There is no HIGH Christology in the sense of Christ being God in ANY of the Bible. The fact that you or any other Trinitarian can not present even one unmistakable piece of evidence for such, evidence from scripture, should tell you that such a claim is simply advertising, propaganda, without any truth to it. The Trinity, for you, is virtually a totally toothless old man dieing a slow death when it comes to scripture. Either prove your HIGH Christoology claims using Revelation and John or accept the fact that empty claims are just red herrings.
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That you perform your little analysis the same way JWs perform their theology -- by jumping about searching for prooftexts rather than actually reading, say, the Book of Revelation; this also is a red herring?

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Another huge logical fallacy and a misrepresentation of facts.
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That you find some way to write an entire paper without one time engaging the academic literature discussing the book of Revelation, the other works of John, or the overall theme; this is a red herring?

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And none of that has any bearing on what is stated in the article. I've pleaded with you to demonstrate how and I get nothing but more foot stomping, red faced, bombastic claims and NO PRODUCT! Either start producing the goods or I'm calling the Better Business Bureau on you!
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That you can't be bothered to engage the literature of people who think high Christology was a development of later NT writings -- red herring, I suppose?

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I'm entirely ready to see the evidencd of this supposed declaration in John and revelation that jesus is God, so stop making claims you can't produce, or else produce it. Otherwise, yes, its another red herring and totally ineffectual.

Believe me, if you or any one else can present just ONE undeniable proof of the Trinity from the standpoint of scripture, THEN we have reason to re-examine Rev. 3:14. If you can't, which we all know you can't, or you would, then as I've said before, you're basically done. Toast, as it were.
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Wow. I've been exposed. Well played, Rotherham.


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Given the inherent lack of evidence and the false advertising within the Trinitarian camp, it had to happen. Just a matter of time.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:36 am

Clearly a logical fallacy. You can't discard evidence because you don't like who presented it. This claim does nothing to address the evidence.


And how are we to evaluate your repeated dismissals of the viewpoints of everyone else as the products of incompetence, ignorance, or bias -- based only on the fact that they disagree with your position? Is that exempted from logical fallacy?

What am I saying? It's your viewpoint -- those are always exempt.


There are surely those among Jehovah's Witnesses who are qualified to analyze Greek and agree that is exactly what Rev. 3:14 is teaching, and it is another logical fallacy to conclude that unless one has a degree they are incapable of making an accurate analysis of Greek. Numerous books and aids are published to help the novice to analyze many important things in regard to the original languages of the Bible. Once again this merely sidesteps the issues raised and appeals to a majority belief, a logical fallacy on top of a logical fallacy.


Are there qualified JWs in this matter? Really? Interesting. That's not really the issue, is it?

Are you qualified, Rotherham? Have you studied the appropriate languages, taken the appropriate exams, been certified by the appropriate institutions? I suspect not. Yet we are supposed to think of brave little Rotherham, armed with only a concordance and the Spirit, has proven all the experts wrong on this basic question.

It's not a fallacy to observe that you are not qualified to make this sort of argument on your own, is it? If someone claimed to prove that bricks possess the aerodynamic properties that allow them sustained flight, and had a handful of equations he made that he says prove the matter, is it a fallacy to note that the entire aeronautical engineering community disagrees with him? Is it a fallacy to point out that he doesn't know calculus? If I'm not really qualified to evaluate his equations, am I therefore required to believe him?

You're not qualified to make the argument. Those of us who do not claim to be Greek scholars can only evaluate the argument based on the things we can read from those who are qualified. And they all say you are nuts.


You have been asked numerous times to demonstrate how any of those things should affect that reading and you have failed to do so or even attempt to do so, so yes, if your boastings have no weight, they are just sweeping generalizations, more false advertising, that have no bearing on the discussion and THEREFORE, another red herring.


Again, it is not required that I perform this analysis. I merely point out that you have not bothered to perform the basic type of analysis that is considered standard for this sort of question.

Back to our brick: If I point out that you never bothered to subject bricks to wind tunnel testing, is it really a defense for you to demand that I go do the wind tunnel testing? "Why, Sulla, I've repeatedly asked you to show me why wind tunnel testing would matter and you haven't done it; so shut up."

I can't help it that your paper is laughable. You keep telling me to stop laughing, but I can't . You and HeKS are the only guys who would take this tripe seriously.


Yes, because claims are one thing, demonstrating that claim is another. There is no HIGH Christology in the sense of Christ being God in ANY of the Bible. The fact that you or any other Trinitarian can not present even one unmistakable piece of evidence for such, evidence from scripture, should tell you that such a claim is simply advertising, propaganda, without any truth to it. The Trinity, for you, is virtually a totally toothless old man dieing a slow death when it comes to scripture. Either prove your HIGH Christoology claims using Revelation and John or accept the fact that empty claims are just red herrings.


Again, the differences between the Christology of the different books in the NT is a very common analytical tool. Everybody who has bothered to do any reading on this topic knows that John is considered to be making a set of much different claims -- or at least approaching the questions from a much different perspective -- than other books. That you are unaware of this is simply more evidence that you really aren't qualified to even begin a paper like this one.

And again, pointing out that you are ignorant of these basic issues is not a red herring. Your incompetence is entirely on-point.


Believe me, if you or any one else can present just ONE undeniable proof of the Trinity from the standpoint of scripture, THEN we have reason to re-examine Rev. 3:14. If you can't, which we all know you can't, or you would, then as I've said before, you're basically done. Toast, as it were.


I am embarrased for you. One would hope that pointing out the deficiencies in your paper would be enough to get you to re-examine your position on Rev. 3.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:45 am

Sulla wrote:Thank you, HGP. And I repent in dustheap and ashes for making a poor argument about a topic I admit to having no understanding of.

In my defense, I can only say that I was driven to insanity by the prolonged defense of an argument that

-- does not seem to be standard within the academic community that concerns itself with this sort of thing

-- reaches the opposite conclusion from every single academic who has ever commented on the matter (and who is not already pre-committed to the JW position)

-- is produced by someone who, so far as we know, is entirely unqualified to perform this analysis

It's shocking to see me make a poor argument, I'm sure, and that accounts for the response we see. What can I say? We have all grown accustomed to seeing really incoherent arguments from folks like Rotherham and we have all grown to expect better from me. I've established this expectation, so it's a bit of a shock when I don't live up. I get it.


By all means, feel free to flatter yourself. You clearly have a higher opinion of the caliber of your arguments in this thread than I do.

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Sulla wrote:HeKS,

I've already pointed out that BDAG updated their comment on this verse to say that the meaning of first-created is the linguistically probable meaning here, upgraded from the previous version that said it was merely linguistically possible. They upgraded it because that's precisely the meaning that the language points to and the only one that has precedence.


I don't think this says what you think it says. Is it your position that BDAG means to say this verse must mean Jesus is not God? That he is merely a creation?

That is, I don't think this supports your position.


It is my position that BDAG correctly comments on the linguistic issues relevant to this verse. They point out what is, in fact, obvious to an unbiased reader without prior theological commitments. What you call "nutty" they call "linguistically probable".

Sulla wrote:
Another New Testament allusion to Prov. viii 22 in reference to Christ is found in Rev. iii 14 H ARXH THS KTISEWS TOU QEOU, [the beginning of the creation of/by God] a title of the risen Christ which Dr Swete and Dr Charles have not a shadow of authority for limiting in meaning to 'the Source of God's Creation'. There is every reason to suppose that ARXH is here used with all the fullness and meaning which St Paul extracts from reshith-Beginning, Sum-total, Head, First-fruits. -- C.F.BURNEY, JTS XXVII


Great. I hope you can see this is not your position.


I think you must have misunderstood what you read.

Where Burney says, "Another New Testament allusion to Prov. viii 22," he means in addition to Col. 1:15, written by Paul. Burney is saying that, just like Paul, John is drawing on the meaning of the Hebrew word reshith at Prov 8:22. As you might recall from an earlier part of this discussion, "source" is not at all within the semantic range of reshith. Thus, John is identifying Christ as the first creation. In Jewish thought, this necessarily implies that he is also the head of creation, as whoever came first was automatically viewed as being of higher rank than those who followed, which is why I think you're grossly mistaken to keep trying to frame this as though we claim John is saying he is merely a creation, as though John is somehow trying to denigrate him and rob him of his rightful due. This couldn't be further from the truth. John is implicitly placing him over all creation without removing him from the created order.

Sulla wrote:
F.F. Bruce also connects this verse to Prov 8:22, which is a historically common connection. A number of early Christian writers also made this connection, and though you wouldn't know it from reading most translations of their writings by Trinitarians (who make up the majority of the translators), the early Christian writers, in quoting Prov 8:22, actually described Wisdom there as a creation, which is plain as day in the original language, as it also appears in the LXX, but has been replaced in many English translations with something closer to the KJV rendering of the verse.


The connection between this verse and Prov. 8 is in the footnote of many bible translations. It is hardly a secret and it doesn't change the reading of the verse. The NJB makes the footnote, for example. There is, by the way, a plenty of eary Christian commentary against your reading of Proverbs 8, in terms of whether wisdom is supposed to be some sort of creation.


Of course it's not a secret, but it does affect the reading of the verse if you're not already bound and determined to not see anything that disagrees with Trinitarian doctrine.

The early understanding of Prov 8:22 was that it DID identify wisdom as a creation. The first creation, in fact. This understanding was made explicit in the LXX. Here's the verse as it was translated there:

"The Lord created me as the beginning of his ways for the sake of his works"
"The Lord made me the beginning of his ways for his works"
"The Lord created me, a beginning of His ways for His works"

That second translation is actually a softening of the statement, since the word used in that verse has a meaning of "creating" specifically. There are several words that can be used to mean "make" but this isn't one of them. (This verse fits perfectly with the idea of 1 Cor 8:6, Col 1:15 and Rev 3:14. God's very first creation was his Son, whom he proceeded to use in fashioning the rest of his works. Thus, the Son also has the distinction of being the only direct creation of God.)

This is what appeared at Proverbs 8:22 in the Bible translations used by the NT writers, and most people seem to recognize that John is referencing this scripture in Rev 3:14.

"The Lord created me as the beginning of his ways"
"The beginning of the creation by God"

John's use of arche is drawing on the Hebrew reshith.

Here is what reshith means

1) first, beginning, best, chief
a) beginning
b) first
c) chief
d) choice part

Undoubtedly you would try to seize upon the meaning of "chief". Well, by all means, have at it. By "chief" it means "chief example," not simply something like "ruler," as can be seen by every instance where it is used.

Simply the meaning of "ruler" is not within the lexical range of this word. "Source" is definitely not within the range either.

So yeah, if you're not bound by Trinitarianism, recognizing this reference makes a big difference in the reading of Rev 3:14 for those who would argue for a meaning of "source", or even "ruler" where that ruler was not a member of the group. The LXX use of arche in Prov 8:22 was translated from Hebrew reshith and the LXX explicitly identified this arche as being created as the first of God's works. This is what John was referencing.

To this we can add the fact that the closest parallel in the NT, found at Mark 13:19, is used to mean the beginning of God's creation (not source or ruler):

"For [in] those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created (ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἣς ἔκτισεν ὁ θεὸς) unto this time, neither shall be." - KJV

All of this just further supports what should be obvious from an unbiased reading of John's words in the light of the rest of his writings.

Sulla wrote:
Dave Barron (a member here) covered these and related points in his recent book if you want to give it a look at his site.


Sorry, I know he is something of a muse here and that he has read Hurtado and Bauckham (we seem to have the same wish list at Amazon), but I didn't know he was actually an academic. With what university is he associated?


Huh? I was just telling you that Dave mentions these academic sources and covers some of this stuff in his book if you're interested in taking a look at it.

Sulla wrote:
Beckwith, a Trinitarian, recognized that your explanation is nonsensical as it results in Modalism. I can't imagine he's the only one, as it's a pretty obvious point.


Does he agree with you, then? Please reacall that I claimed you couldn't find people who agree with your position. I didn't say you couldn't find people who disagree with mine.


Burney's comments seem to mirror our position quite well. BDAG support our position linguistically. Beckwith agrees with the part of our position that says your favored reading is unreasonable and necessitates an understanding you would view as heretical, but as a Trinitarian he can hardly be expected to agree with our position in its entirety.

Sulla wrote:
The only other option is that John is here directly contradicting Paul, saying that creation is out of Christ and The Father is the one who actually constructed it.


This seems to be an example of what I was saying earlier. I make a stupid point and get a lecture about not bothering to do my research...


Not sure what you're referring to here. Would you like to offer some additional possible meaning for the entire statement using your reading of "source"?

Sulla wrote:
Seriously? Even idiots disagree with me? That's your argument?


Yeah, it is. In a field where almost nothing is too nutty to be taken seriously by at least some people, nobody agrees with your position. It's like being kicked out of a alien abduction convention because nobody would believe your story.


What possible reason would this category of scholar/critic have to champion my position over yours when it would be equally distasteful to them? You're asking why a group of people who try to explain the Bible through mostly natural means don't argue for one supernatural meaning of Rev 3:14 over another. As far as I'm concerned, that's a non-issue. You're trying to argue from an absence of argumentation. And, in fact, from an absence of argumentation that one has every reason to expect to be absent.

Sulla wrote:
Well, you know, it's a tad difficult to provide a rebuttal to what you say an entire category of writers and/or critics DON'T say, but if pressed I guess I would point out that these people don't generally reexamine orthodox translations and interpretations in search of a more reasonable and precedented supernatural explanation.


Not really difficult, I think. You are looking for the wrong thing. Look, I think it is easy to find people who will argue that the early view of Christ was that he is a created agent of God. In fact, let me expand on this point some to show you what I mean.

Here is what part of your problem is: Plenty of writers will argue that the earliest Christian position was that Jesus was special -- an agent of God, maybe -- and therefore placed wayyyy up there. in fact, they will argue from some of the second temple writings that plenty of other divine agents were considered to be important in lots of important ways. Hurtado has done a lot of work about this sort of thing -- ask Dave about this, since he has the book.

So, a typical argument will be something along the lines that, when you look at the earliest writings by St. Paul and the synoptic gospels, you will see a low Christology. And (here's the point) it is only when you get to the later works designed specifically for non-Jewish audiences, like the Gospel of John or Revelation, that you get the really clear declarations of divinity for Christ.

If I'm not mistaken (and I am relying on my memory, so I could be), this is precisely Dunn's argument. Jesus being God is a late development, says he. But by "late," he means that it only becomes really clear in later books of the Bible.

So what I am saying is that even people who think it is a late development will agree that Revelation and John are very clear about Christ being God. Guys who will say that there is no trace of the idea in the synoptics or in Paul's early letters look at John and Revelation and say, "Well, that's where the idea comes from."

So that's why the bias idea won't hunt. People can read Paul's early letters all day long and think, 'Ah, well, when you look at the way the second temple Jews spoke about Elijah or Abraham or Moses or Archangels, none of this stuff seems that different.'

Nobody talks that way about Revelation. Or, if you think they do, show me.


It seems to me you are essentially arguing that Rev 3:14 can't mean what we say because John believes and teaches the Trinity and everybody knows it. In other words, you seem to be admitting that you are arguing so adamantly for your reading based on a theological presumption rather than upon the logical and precedented meaning of John's statement in light of his consistent use of language and the internal logic of the statement itself.

A difference between writings like John's and those like Paul's and other writers is that John, for example, has statements that can be interpreted in line with Trinitarianism if you are already inclined to do so. However, he also has many more statements that militate against that conclusion in the strongest possible terms and which can only be escaped by a willy-nilly application of the dual-nature doctrine, which again requires that you already accept the Trinity doctrine. John's writings are what you might call "eisegetically-friendly" to Trinitarians. If you already believe in the Trinity, you can read John to agree with you in some places on the one hand and can dismiss or explain away the many more places he disagrees with you on the other hand. Trinitarian dogma provides you with the technology. An unbiased reader who knows nothing of the Trinity doctrine would not walk away from John with the belief that the Son is Almighty God and that he and his Father are two persons in one being.

Two people who I'd say would disagree with your view of Revelation (and John in general), off the top of my head, are Lamson and Milton, but as I don't believe I have searchable copies of either of their works, finding where they comment on it in works not focused on that book might be troublesome. But I know for a fact that Milton argues against the Trinity, in many cases, based upon the writings of John. Why? Because while it does quite rightly and justifiably present a high Christology, it's also a goldmine for showing the limit of that height. The issue of the high Christology of John and his drawing on passages in Isaiah (and the identification of the Alpha and Omega in Revelation in the one instance where a mistaken identity is excusable to a casual reader) is something I have dealt with at length in that extremely long post I made to you on both ST and TF that I mentioned a few posts ago.

It seems to me at this point that this discussion is going nowhere. In 12 pages, I don't recall you making a single serious defense against the many problems with your reading of this verse. You've had a series of incorrect and dead-end arguments that seemed promising to you until they came to naught (genitive of production at Gen 49:3; abstract things can't be the genitive substantive in a partitive genitive). You have further contended that there are some rare instances of arche being used in an extra-Biblical, philosophical context to mean something of one classification being the unrelated source of something of a different classification, but we haven't actually been able to find a single clear instance of this and your whole idea that the usage even exists is based on Aristotle's lexical entry in which he claims arche can be used of a source which is "non-immanent" in a metaphysical sense, which refers to an actual indwelling (his examples of an immanent source cite things like the heart or brain of an animal), and his own examples of non-immanent sources disagree with the sense you would like to take from him.

Meanwhile, the only reading of the verse that has any precedence in John's writings or even the NT as a whole, which is said by BDAG to be linguistically probable, you call "nutty". You acknowledge the reference to Prov 8:22 but say it doesn't present any problem for your reading, which is nonsensical in light of the earliest understanding of this verse and its rendering in the LXX that would have been used by John. You opt instead for a meaning of "source", which is entirely unprecedented in all of scripture in just short of 60 uses in the NT of arche (40% of which are by John) and which even honest members of your theological camp like Beckwith recognize to be unreasonable and to result in Modalism.

All NT usage of arche, all usage by John specifically, and all manner of linguistic, communicative and interpretive logic point one way. You point the other and say it's not the result of bias. I'm comfortable with leaving it at that and letting readers decide, because I have no real expectation that you're going to engage these problems in an objective manner. You came into this discussion with a particular perspective based, I would have to assume, on thinking that you had certain strong arguments in your favor that went beyond simple bias. Some few of those were valid, such as drawing attention to the need to clarify the reason why the LXX was being taken into consideration. But over this discussion, from what I've seen, you've had to abandon what must have temporarily seemed to be the most promising of those arguments (already mentioned) as invalid. I've also addressed how your illustration in part 3 of your challenge of being able to use "bank" a thousand times one way and then switch to another meaning actually supported our point rather than yours, based on what it shows is required by basic communicative logic. The primary argument you've continued to hold onto is the possibility of John making use of some exceedingly rare metaphysical sense of arche that is entirely foreign to scripture and that we can't find an indisputable example of anywhere and that seems to be based on a misreading of Aristotle's lexical entry. But in all this, your grasp on your position hasn't changed at all. Again, if you want to claim it isn't a result of bias, I'm not going to continue insisting otherwise. There's just no point.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:06 pm

Sulla wrote:
Clearly a logical fallacy. You can't discard evidence because you don't like who presented it. This claim does nothing to address the evidence.


And how are we to evaluate your repeated dismissals of the viewpoints of everyone else as the products of incompetence, ignorance, or bias -- based only on the fact that they disagree with your position? Is that exempted from logical fallacy?

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I am not discarding ANY evidence. I welcome it if there is any. You however discard evidence on the basis of who presented it. That is clearly a logical fallacy.
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What am I saying? It's your viewpoint -- those are always exempt.


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The "viewpoint" is presented with solid biblical statistics. You can't discard statistics with "that's your viewpoiont" and expect that to be a rebuttal of the evidence. That is the logical fallacy of oversimplification stacked on top of the ad hominem logical fallacy of WHO presented it.
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There are surely those among Jehovah's Witnesses who are qualified to analyze Greek and agree that is exactly what Rev. 3:14 is teaching, and it is another logical fallacy to conclude that unless one has a degree they are incapable of making an accurate analysis of Greek. Numerous books and aids are published to help the novice to analyze many important things in regard to the original languages of the Bible. Once again this merely sidesteps the issues raised and appeals to a majority belief, a logical fallacy on top of a logical fallacy.


Are there qualified JWs in this matter? Really? Interesting. That's not really the issue, is it?

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It most certainly is in regard to your false and logically fallacious claim.
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Are you qualified, Rotherham? Have you studied the appropriate languages, taken the appropriate exams, been certified by the appropriate institutions? I suspect not. Yet we are supposed to think of brave little Rotherham, armed with only a concordance and the Spirit, has proven all the experts wrong on this basic question.

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Once again, a logical fallacy in action. A textbook example. You as much as say I can't be right because I haven't taken the tests. I can't be right because I am only a student of the Greek instead of someone with a degree. This is a classic example of a logical fallacy.
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It's not a fallacy to observe that you are not qualified to make this sort of argument on your own, is it? If someone claimed to prove that bricks possess the aerodynamic properties that allow them sustained flight, and had a handful of equations he made that he says prove the matter, is it a fallacy to note that the entire aeronautical engineering community disagrees with him? Is it a fallacy to point out that he doesn't know calculus? If I'm not really qualified to evaluate his equations, am I therefore required to believe him?

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Your example is completely unrelated to what is happening here. EVERYONE can check the facts about the semantic statements that are being made and see that they are all valid. The statistics can not be refuted. The only thing that can be refuted is HOW we read the statistics and WHAT importance we put upon them. You've presented NOTHING to demonstrate that the interpretational method is flawed and it is an interpretational method recommended by the very book in question. It doesn't take a degree to see the statistics and the argument as presented and it surely does not take a degree to see that the opposition has no teeth. Your example is completely unrelated.
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You're not qualified to make the argument. Those of us who do not claim to be Greek scholars can only evaluate the argument based on the things we can read from those who are qualified. And they all say you are nuts.


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You can look at the evidence just like any one else. You pretend this takes a degree when it clearly does not and the so called experts have no evidence to overturn the argment or you or someone else from their camp would have presented it long ago. This is argument is another classic case of a logical fallacy by appealing to the majority.
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You have been asked numerous times to demonstrate how any of those things should affect that reading and you have failed to do so or even attempt to do so, so yes, if your boastings have no weight, they are just sweeping generalizations, more false advertising, that have no bearing on the discussion and THEREFORE, another red herring.


Again, it is not required that I perform this analysis. I merely point out that you have not bothered to perform the basic type of analysis that is considered standard for this sort of question.

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I have followed the same course that Daniel Wallace followed in his analysis of the NWT rendition of John 1:1 and questionable rendering elsewhere in the scriptures by others. He uses the same basic analytical tools throughout his grammar.
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Back to our brick: If I point out that you never bothered to subject bricks to wind tunnel testing, is it really a defense for you to demand that I go do the wind tunnel testing? "Why, Sulla, I've repeatedly asked you to show me why wind tunnel testing would matter and you haven't done it; so shut up."

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This argument and my presentation and what it claims do not even compare. I HAVE bothered to test my analysis and the evidence is there for ANYONE who isn't too lazy to do so to go and look at it. In fact when you did look at it, you failed to overturn it. If I say I've proven my point by the empirical evidence, then YES, it is extremely valid to say that you must show where the empirical evidence is flawed.
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I can't help it that your paper is laughable. You keep telling me to stop laughing, but I can't . You and HeKS are the only guys who would take this tripe seriously.



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And this is a valid argument against it? Lord, do you ever argue a point with out falling into logical fallacy left and right?
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Yes, because claims are one thing, demonstrating that claim is another. There is no HIGH Christology in the sense of Christ being God in ANY of the Bible. The fact that you or any other Trinitarian can not present even one unmistakable piece of evidence for such, evidence from scripture, should tell you that such a claim is simply advertising, propaganda, without any truth to it. The Trinity, for you, is virtually a totally toothless old man dieing a slow death when it comes to scripture. Either prove your HIGH Christoology claims using Revelation and John or accept the fact that empty claims are just red herrings.


Again, the differences between the Christology of the different books in the NT is a very common analytical tool. Everybody who has bothered to do any reading on this topic knows that John is considered to be making a set of much different claims -- or at least approaching the questions from a much different perspective -- than other books. That you are unaware of this is simply more evidence that you really aren't qualified to even begin a paper like this one.

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More false advertising without a product to demonstrate. When will you stop making claims and actually produce the evidence behind the claims?

I will remeber these words here, as I think they may come back to haunt you.
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And again, pointing out that you are ignorant of these basic issues is not a red herring. Your incompetence is entirely on-point.


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Evidence please. That's what we need here. Not your insistence of incompetence.
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Believe me, if you or any one else can present just ONE undeniable proof of the Trinity from the standpoint of scripture, THEN we have reason to re-examine Rev. 3:14. If you can't, which we all know you can't, or you would, then as I've said before, you're basically done. Toast, as it were.


I am embarrased for you. One would hope that pointing out the deficiencies in your paper would be enough to get you to re-examine your position on Rev. 3.

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Actually, thus far, all the arguments you have presented have turned out to bolster the conclusions of the article. The rest of your presentation is a host of logical fallacies. You're like Balaam who just couldn't produce the curse he wanted to, but rather produced a blessing.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:58 am

Lot here to comment on. I'll limit myself to this topic for now:

I had claimed that no scholar anywhere supported the reading of this verse you claim is explicit. HeKS responded with a list of those he claimed actually did support his view. That they do not, in reality, is interesting and will be the subject of another post. However, I want to focus on one particularly interesting error.

I said:
Uh huh. Well with the exception of Dr. Debuhn -- who is taking just the longest time to respond to this question -- everybody on the planet who is not a JW already has weighed in on the question and found my analysis -- or some analysis of their own -- to satisfy themselves that you are wrong.


To which HeKS responded:

Well, that's not true, now, is it?
...
C.F. Burney says:
Another New Testament allusion to Prov. viii 22 in reference to Christ is found in Rev. iii 14 H ARXH THS KTISEWS TOU QEOU, [the beginning of the creation of/by God] a title of the risen Christ which Dr Swete and Dr Charles have not a shadow of authority for limiting in meaning to 'the Source of God's Creation'. There is every reason to suppose that ARXH is here used with all the fullness and meaning which St Paul extracts from reshith-Beginning, Sum-total, Head, First-fruits. -- C.F.BURNEY, JTS XXVII


I pointed out this is not actually HeKS's position and he has responded:

think you must have misunderstood what you read.

Where Burney says, "Another New Testament allusion to Prov. viii 22," he means in addition to Col. 1:15, written by Paul. Burney is saying that, just like Paul, John is drawing on the meaning of the Hebrew word reshith at Prov 8:22. As you might recall from an earlier part of this discussion, "source" is not at all within the semantic range of reshith. Thus, John is identifying Christ as the first creation. In Jewish thought, this necessarily implies that he is also the head of creation, as whoever came first was automatically viewed as being of higher rank than those who followed, which is why I think you're grossly mistaken to keep trying to frame this as though we claim John is saying he is merely a creation, as though John is somehow trying to denigrate him and rob him of his rightful due. This couldn't be further from the truth. John is implicitly placing him over all creation without removing him from the created order.


It is possible that I have misunderstood what I read, of course. On the other hand, HeKS seems not to have read the article he quotes in the first place. Or, to be more precise, he simply cribs the quote from this site here:

http://primitivechristian.com/Bible-Files/arche.htm

Why do I think he hasn't read the article? Why do I think he just cut-and-pasted this little semi-quote? Two simple reasons -- and I'll explain.

But first, I also have to ask whether the "original" article "written" by Rotherham is, in fact, his. The site I link to seems to have produced large amounts of the text that shows up, verbatim, in the paper this site says Rotherham wrote.

It seems to me that the most likely expalantion is that Rotherham is guilty of dishonesty by plagarizing the work of another person and passing it off as if it were his own. If it were otherwise, HeKS would be cribbing a quote from a guy who plagarized Rotherham, which seems less likely to me.

Anyway, some clarification is necessary, it seems to me. Did Rotherham actually write the paper he claims he wrote?

_______________________________

Back to HeKS.

HeKS quotes Burney's 1926 article in the Journal of Theological Studies to respond to my claim that nobody agreed with his position. Then, when I disputed Burney's viewpoint, HeKS said I simply didn't understand what Burney wrote.

What HEKS seems to have missed is the possibility that I know what part of the quote he left out. As we all know, it is standard practice for JWs to clip quotes to make it seem like they say the opposite of what the author intended. It is a particularly low form of dishonesty to which the JWs are entirely unable to extricate themselves.

I have not known HeKS to be dishonest in this way. On the other hand, clipping quotes from disreputable sources without checking their accuracy is sloppily dishonest in its own way. But perhaps there is some explanation that will clear things up for us.

Oh, the sentence that was coveniently left out?


This at any rate fits in with the statement of [Revelation] xx2 6, [I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end], where to telos embodies the interpretation of bereshith 'into Him' as the goal.


That is to say that, while arche shouldn't be limited to "source," the idea of source/goal of all creation is exactly part of the meaning Burney thinks the passage holds.

Yeah, see, if you obther to read the article, you come across this comment in the very first paragraph of the paper:


The main object of this paper is to point ot the fact -- hitherto, I believe, unnoticed -- that in Col. i 16-18 St. Paul is giving an elaborate exposition of the first words in Genesis, [Hebrew quote] Bereshith, and interpreting reshith as referring to Christ


See, guys, the paper is one long argument for the reason Burney thinks Col. 1 and Rev. 3 are a midrash on Gen. 1 -- "In the beginning, God created the heavens..." has, as its interpretational key, the idea that, "In Christ, God has created..."

To make this point, Burney quotes Rabbi Hoshaiah, a 3rd century commentator, who says


In the same way, the Holy One, blessed be He, was looking at the Law when He created the world. Now the Law says, 'By reshith God created'; and there is no reshith except the Law; compare the passage, 'The Lord gat be as reshith of His way'.


Thus, argues Burney, St. Paul is taking a similar interpretation and, instead of calling the Law reshith, identifying that with Christ.

Then, in a very interesting paragraph, Burney offers a running paraphrase of Paul's words in Col., relating this words with the midrash that produced them.


'Christ is the First-begotten of all creation, for it is written (Prov. viii 22 ff), "The Lord begat me as reshith of His way, the antecedent of His works, from of old. From eternity was I worught ... when ther were no deeps was I brought forth". This passage has obvious connexion with Gen i 1, where it is written "Bereshith God created the heavens and the earth". Now the force of the preposition be attached to reshith may be interpreted as "IN". ("IN reshith God created"); hence IN HIM were created all things in the heavens and upon the earth, seen and unseen, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers. But again, the preposition may bear the sense "BY" ("BY the agency of reshith"); hence all things were created THROUGH HIM. Yet again it may be interpreted "INTO" ("INTO reshith); from which it follows that creation tends INTO HIM as its goal. Passing on to the substantive reshith, we note that it ordinarily bears the sense "BEGINNING" ; hence Christ is BEFORE all things. It may also have the meaning "SUM-TOTAL"; so that all things are SUMMED UP IN HIM. Yet another meaningis "HEAD", i.e. He is the HEAD of the body, namely, the Church. Lastly, it means "FIRST-DRUITS"; He is FIRST-FRUITS, first-begoten of the dead. Hence it follows that in all senses He is the Fulfiller of the meaning of reshith.'
-- all emphasis in original


Wow. So, no, Burney's point is certainly not that Rev. 3 should be read to suppose Christ is not God, merely a creature. In fact, much of this paper comments on Prov. 8, specifically, interpreting the passage to tell us that Christ is antecedent to creation. This, too, you would know if you had bothered to read what you cite instead of pretending evidence supports your view when you really don't have any idea about it at all.

So when you said I didn’t understand what I had read, it would be closer to the truth to say that you completely misunderstood your own source. Actually, it would be closer to the truth to say that you hadn’t even read your own source, but wanted to pretend you had.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:36 am

Hello Sulla,

Were you able to find the entire article? I did not get a chance to read the whole thing because I couldn't find it. I saw pieces here and there, but I didn't try to pretend I had seen the whole thing, which is why I simply said that Burney's position seemed to mirror ours in relation to the his view that John, like Paul, was extracting the full meaning of Hebrew reshith, to which we would agree.

If you have a link to the entire article, I'd be more than happy to read it through and adjust my statements accordingly. I have never had any interest in trying to extract false support from a view that doesn't support my position and that hasn't changed.

After that has been settled, we can move on to the rest of what I've said.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:27 am

It cost me $28 bucks to download from Oxford Journals. I'll send you the file.

However, if BDAG does make use of Burney's paper to explain their shift in linguistic meaning to the much-noted "probable," this would help explain what they meant by it.

Do we have a comment on whether Rotherham wrote this paper? Or was this thing first cranked out by our mystery Bolivian (who owns the site I linked to) prior to Rotherham copying it? Or is the Bolivian publishing something Rotherham wrote first?

I'm asking if this is even Rotherham's paper we are discussing, 'cause large sections of it are found word-for-word on this other site. And it seems to be the source you used to copy Burney's quote (or else there is a common source both you and the owner of that site used).

Rotherham, did yo write this paper?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:49 am

Hello Sulla,

Although the article has evolved somewhat in response to making it more accurate, yes, I did initially write the article. The information contained though is not new, but was information that I gathered from both Stafford and Furuli's books and from other internet Witness posters. I know that a former Witness known as Heinz took portions of the article and posted it on his site and I have noticed that a number of sites here and there appear to quote portions of the original article. I would guess this is the case with this Bolivian that you mention. Before today, I did not know that site or that Bolivian existed.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:55 am

Thank you for the clarification.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:33 am

In my case, I stumbled across that site while I was looking for the full article and ended up re-cutting & pasting from there because the Greek font I copied out of a PDF file originally didn't come through properly.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:20 pm

OK, so we can take a minute to level set.

We agree that the position of the JWs here is that their reading of Rev. 3 is explicit and that the objections of academically qualified persons are simply ignorant, incompetent, or biased. There is no legitimate reason to read this verse in any way except the JW way.

And what it means is that every academically qualified person who has ever commented on this verse is incompetent, ignorant, or biased, since they all disagree with the JW reading of this verse.

This includes the great many interpreters who view the teaching that Jesus is God as a late and unfortunate development brought on by those outside the original Christian movement. Bousset, for example, considers that the shift to this view was brought about by the gradual Hellenization of the Christian movement -- and there are many who hold similar views. Dunn, for another example, has written several books on the theology of St. Paul in which he asserts that the Pauline corpus has nothing that leads us to believe that Paul considered Jesus to be divine. Yet, even so, we cannot find anybody who is willing to say that Revelation 3 teaches that Christ is merely a creation.

Now the reason this position seems to be unanimous is pretty clear -- the immediate context of Revelation is generally considered to be an offering of John's churches and they are considered to be the ones who started this whole "Jesus is God" thing anyway. Revelation and John are widely considered to be high Christology works, even by those who find the synoptics and Paul to be low Christology works.

The sharing of titles (despite the claims by JW that the titles are not shared), the references back to Deutero-Isaiah's monotheistic declarations that John reports Jesus applies to himself, and the fact that Jesus is directly worshiped all weigh against viewing Jesus as a creature in this book. And this is the case even among those who would read Colossians and conclude that Paul did not teach a divine Jesus.

And against this, we have Rotherham's little paper. Now, Rotherham has taken exception to pointing this out:


Once again, a logical fallacy in action. A textbook example. You as much as say I can't be right because I haven't taken the tests. I can't be right because I am only a student of the Greek instead of someone with a degree. This is a classic example of a logical fallacy.


But by taking exception, he shows he has missed the point. The point is not that Rotherham is wrong because he has no qualification to speak on the question. The point is that Rotherham's position has no weight because he is not qualified. As I have tried to explain, a guy claiming to have proof that bricks can sustain flight is not necessarily wrong simply because he doesn't have qualifications. But his viewpoint can't be relied on against the weight of everybody who actually is qualified.

We have a galaxy of linguists, interpreters, scholars, whatever -- and all of them say Rotherham is mistaken in his viewpoint. Against this, we have Rotherham: an uncredentialed, casual student of Greek, who claims to have found evidence so compelling that the unanimous disagreement by the rest of the world can only be explained by ignorance, incompetence, of bias.

Now friends, I ask you ...
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:25 pm

Hi Sulla,

I'm going to try to clarify this one last time, very simply.

Our position is that there is only one precedented translation and meaning of arche in Rev 3:14 when one considers John's usage in every case in his writings and when one considers the usage of all NT writers, numbering approximately 60 instances. That one and only precedented translation and meaning leaves us with an explicit statement identifying Christ as the first creation. We would not say it identifies him as merely a creation. That is the way that you choose to frame it, but to us, that is hardly the tone in which John identifies him as this first creation.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:44 pm

I don't know what you are objecting to in my post, HeKS. Rotherham has agreed that the only reason anyone could disagree with your reading is I.I.B. (ignorance, incompetence, bias). If the only reason one might disagree with some point of view is an IIB reason, then those who disagree are not doing so legitimately.

Is your quibble with this summary of your position?

Second, there are only two kinds of thing in this universe: creatures and non-creatures. On the one side are creatures like you and me and angels and even principal agents of God, as well as archangels and Enoch and Elijah.

On the other side is the uncreated one -- The Uncreated One.

Creatures, no matter how elevated, are all merely creatures.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:47 pm

Sulla wrote:I don't know what you are objecting to in my post, HeKS. Rotherham has agreed that the only reason anyone could disagree with your reading is I.I.B. (ignorance, incompetence, bias). If the only reason one might disagree with some point of view is an IIB reason, then those who disagree are not doing so legitimately.

Is your quibble with this summary of your position?


Well, first, I'd prefer to be more specific in the way in which this I.I.B. issue is applied to those who disagree. While there are certainly those who do disagree out of ignorance and incompetence, these two are not intended to be applied to those academic sources who would disagree with us, at least not generally. To these ones, most of whom are Trinitarian to begin with, others of whom seek to deconstruct the Bible into nothing more than a series of natural phenomena, we would, for the most part, apply the description of bias in favor of a preexisting position that they are seeking to support.

In researching some scholarly articles on Col 1:15 for an article I'm planning I've come across what appears to be some fairly obvious bias even by noted scholars, who argue that their Trinitarian-friendly interpretations are the only reasonable interpretations in light of the context, but the remainder of their argument shows major inconsistencies with their take on the meaning of Christ as the firstborn of creation, such that if one follows the logic of the remainder of their argument, the only logical conclusion is that verse 15 is identifying Christ as part of creation, though they claim it can't possibly mean that (wow, long sentence). Scholars are not beyond the pitfalls of bias.

In most cases like we're dealing with here in Rev. 3:14, these sources approach the issue right from the start from the perspective of trying to prove that the meaning is not what the average reader would expect, that it's intended to be different than other instances. The reason why it must be different is often elaborate, and you usually have to share the author's perspective on a number of related issues in order for the presentation to be convincing.

What you do not usually see mentioned by these sources when it comes to, for example, Rev 3:14, is that this word arche is used 58 times in the NT and 23 times by John himself with a consistent meaning and that nowhere in the scriptures does it carry the meaning they are arguing for. It's not even so much that they are disagreeing with our analysis as they are bypassing it altogether. You might think that's because it isn't a good, often used or dependable analytical tool, but it's actually a tool that is cited in a number of other cases for establishing the almost-certainly proper translation or meaning of some statement and the intended meaning of an author. It's just not commonly cited in this case, especially by Trinitarians, because the result of that analysis, if given any real weight, is catastrophic.

However, to this list of reasons for disagreement, I would add another, so that the list would become I.I.B.TS

TS = Theological Speculation

I find some of these sources are speculating on what meaning authors like Paul and John intended, and they are doing so in line with their existing theology. While there is a certain relation to bias here, it's not the same. This category of source is not really claiming to be looking at the matter from an entirely objective standpoint in the first place. A doctrine like the Trinity is assumed, as is the belief in some form of it by the early intended audience, and from that assumption speculation is made on some meaning intended by the author that nobody could be reasonably expected to draw from the text if they didn't already share the assumption. I don't begrudge these people the ability to reason thusly, so long as it is understood they are beginning from a position that is assumed correct rather than proving the reading is objectively correct.

Sulla wrote:Second, there are only two kinds of thing in this universe: creatures and non-creatures. On the one side are creatures like you and me and angels and even principal agents of God, as well as archangels and Enoch and Elijah.

On the other side is the uncreated one -- The Uncreated One.

Creatures, no matter how elevated, are all merely creatures.


While it may be true that they are all merely creatures in relation to The Uncreated One, that doesn't mean an author must be intending to stress being part of the created order in comparison to that One uncreated being. An author can be stressing the elevation of a creature in comparison to all other creatures, comparatively raising him up rather than lowering him down. The way you are framing it might make sense if we were saying that John is trying to establish that Jesus is created and lower than God to an audience who is confused on the matter. If, on the other hand, John is addressing an audience who already considered Christ to be a part of the created order that had been elevated to heaven but who may or may not trace Christ's existence back farther than his human life on earth (John's gospel was completed after Revelation), then John's comment takes on a very different character than the way you are framing it. John's words elevate Christ above the entire rest of all creation, both earthly and heavenly, but without making him seem to be uncreated, which is a quality held by only one being, one person, Christ's Father.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:52 pm

Well, first, I'd prefer to be more specific in the way in which this I.I.B. issue is applied to those who disagree. While there are certainly those who do disagree out of ignorance and incompetence, these two are not intended to be applied to those academic sources who would disagree with us, at least not generally. To these ones, most of whom are Trinitarian to begin with, others of whom seek to deconstruct the Bible into nothing more than a series of natural phenomena, we would, for the most part, apply the description of bias in favor of a preexisting position that they are seeking to support.


OK. So incompetence, ignorance, or bias.

In researching some scholarly articles on Col 1:15 for an article I'm planning I've come across what appears to be some fairly obvious bias even by noted scholars, who argue that their Trinitarian-friendly interpretations are the only reasonable interpretations in light of the context, but the remainder of their argument shows major inconsistencies with their take on the meaning of Christ as the firstborn of creation, such that if one follows the logic of the remainder of their argument, the only logical conclusion is that verse 15 is identifying Christ as part of creation, though they claim it can't possibly mean that (wow, long sentence). Scholars are not beyond the pitfalls of bias.


Of course not. Neither are non-scholars. Nobody has made the claim that scholars can't be biased. But they operate in a context that exposes bad reasoning better than any other environment. You do not often find every scholar agreeing about anything. When you do, that is remarkable.

What you do not usually see mentioned by these sources when it comes to, for example, Rev 3:14, is that this word arche is used 58 times in the NT and 23 times by John himself with a consistent meaning and that nowhere in the scriptures does it carry the meaning they are arguing for. It's not even so much that they are disagreeing with our analysis as they are bypassing it altogether. You might think that's because it isn't a good, often used or dependable analytical tool, but it's actually a tool that is cited in a number of other cases for establishing the almost-certainly proper translation or meaning of some statement and the intended meaning of an author. It's just not commonly cited in this case, especially by Trinitarians, because the result of that analysis, if given any real weight, is catastrophic.


Again, you seem stuck on this idea that the academic community is monolithic with respect to this issue. Let me remind you that for may years, the dominant school of thought was Bousetts', who argued that the divinity of Christ was a late, Greek-inspired, development. Even now, you can find academics who advance some version of this idea.

That you do not see anybody advance your line of argument should give you a second's pause. It doesn't give you a second's pause because you figure everybody is biased against your view. They are not all biased -- plenty of academics are nearly as skeptical of orthodox Christianity as JWs are. It's just that they know they can't be taken seriously if they advance an argument like Rotherham's. And there is a good reason for that.

As for theological speculation: do you suppose that such an approach is legitimate at all?


While it may be true that they are all merely creatures in relation to The Uncreated One, that doesn't mean an author must be intending to stress being part of the created order in comparison to that One uncreated being. An author can be stressing the elevation of a creature in comparison to all other creatures, comparatively raising him up rather than lowering him down. The way you are framing it might make sense if we were saying that John is trying to establish that Jesus is created and lower than God to an audience who is confused on the matter. If, on the other hand, John is addressing an audience who already considered Christ to be a part of the created order that had been elevated to heaven but who may or may not trace Christ's existence back farther than his human life on earth (John's gospel was completed after Revelation), then John's comment takes on a very different character than the way you are framing it. John's words elevate Christ above the entire rest of all creation, both earthly and heavenly, but without making him seem to be uncreated, which is a quality held by only one being, one person, Christ's Father.


Well, Revelation was several decades after St. Paul called him the Firstborn of all creation, as said that all things exist in him and that we owe him our existence. It was years after he changed the OT reference to YHWH to Christ and said that every knee would bend to him; it was years after Hebrews told the Church that he had established the earth. So let's frame it that way.

Regards,
S.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:45 pm

This remains tantmount to false advertising and logical fallacies. My view can't be taken seriously because of good reasons and the good reasons are that all the scholars that Sulla thinks are worth anything do not see it that way.

If the readers do not see the inherent flaws in that kind of an argument, well, let's put it this way, I am SURE the readers see the apparent flaws in such an argument.

And the real strange thing is that if this is so obviously an invalid argument that I make, then why can't a counter argument be made to debunk it point by point? Appealing to the majority is a logical fallacy and proves nothing about what the argument actually says.

First of all, the statistics can't be refuted. The only thing that can be debated is the interpretational method, and we are still waiting for some evidence agianst it that will actually float. So far, nothing.

The only thing for Sulla to do is obviously appeal to a red herring so that he does not have to address the actual argument, which is what he is doing, but I am sure that is as obvious to everyone reading as it is to me.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:01 am

Sulla wrote:
Well, first, I'd prefer to be more specific in the way in which this I.I.B. issue is applied to those who disagree. While there are certainly those who do disagree out of ignorance and incompetence, these two are not intended to be applied to those academic sources who would disagree with us, at least not generally. To these ones, most of whom are Trinitarian to begin with, others of whom seek to deconstruct the Bible into nothing more than a series of natural phenomena, we would, for the most part, apply the description of bias in favor of a preexisting position that they are seeking to support.


OK. So incompetence, ignorance, or bias.


With bias being the predominate one ... especially for the purposes of this discussion.

Sulla wrote:
In researching some scholarly articles on Col 1:15 for an article I'm planning I've come across what appears to be some fairly obvious bias even by noted scholars, who argue that their Trinitarian-friendly interpretations are the only reasonable interpretations in light of the context, but the remainder of their argument shows major inconsistencies with their take on the meaning of Christ as the firstborn of creation, such that if one follows the logic of the remainder of their argument, the only logical conclusion is that verse 15 is identifying Christ as part of creation, though they claim it can't possibly mean that (wow, long sentence). Scholars are not beyond the pitfalls of bias.


Of course not. Neither are non-scholars. Nobody has made the claim that scholars can't be biased. But they operate in a context that exposes bad reasoning better than any other environment. You do not often find every scholar agreeing about anything. When you do, that is remarkable.


Ideally, that would be true, that this context exposes bad reasoning better than any other environment, but I would say that effect is quite limited by the bias of a general group. While the merits or lack thereof of one argument or another might be challenged on certain grounds, you're dealing, predominately, with a group that are already in agreement upon shared premise: the correctness of the Trinity doctrine. When one accepts it, it's not hard to see how the arguments of these ones might have appeal. When one does not accept it, these same arguments seem obviously flawed.

Sulla wrote:
What you do not usually see mentioned by these sources when it comes to, for example, Rev 3:14, is that this word arche is used 58 times in the NT and 23 times by John himself with a consistent meaning and that nowhere in the scriptures does it carry the meaning they are arguing for. It's not even so much that they are disagreeing with our analysis as they are bypassing it altogether. You might think that's because it isn't a good, often used or dependable analytical tool, but it's actually a tool that is cited in a number of other cases for establishing the almost-certainly proper translation or meaning of some statement and the intended meaning of an author. It's just not commonly cited in this case, especially by Trinitarians, because the result of that analysis, if given any real weight, is catastrophic.


Again, you seem stuck on this idea that the academic community is monolithic with respect to this issue. Let me remind you that for may years, the dominant school of thought was Bousetts', who argued that the divinity of Christ was a late, Greek-inspired, development. Even now, you can find academics who advance some version of this idea.

That you do not see anybody advance your line of argument should give you a second's pause. It doesn't give you a second's pause because you figure everybody is biased against your view. They are not all biased -- plenty of academics are nearly as skeptical of orthodox Christianity as JWs are. It's just that they know they can't be taken seriously if they advance an argument like Rotherham's. And there is a good reason for that.


The vast majority of academics who get serious consideration are Trinitarian, being scrutinized by Trinitarians. It is a LOT easier to pick up some random article or book on this matter and get the Trinitarian perspectives and arguments - even where those are strongly opposed over which Trinitarian-friendly answer is the correct one - than it is to get the Unitarian ones. And what we are dealing with here is not some take-it-or-leave-it side-issue that Trinitarians can quibble over without it really mattering at the end of the day. If this interpretation and rendering we are putting forward is correct, it is a very serious blow to the Trinity doctrine taken from a Biblical refuge for Trinitarians. Trinitarians are not prepared to accept that one or more of the books they view as putting forward the highest Christology identifies Christ as a creation. It is so obviously problematic that I don't need to bother explaining it. Because of this, they try to avail themselves of every possible escape.

You say that nobody uses our line of reasoning but this isn't strictly true. Those Trinitarians who recognize it has merit as an analytical device here just as it does in many other places admit that the necessary meaning in Rev 3:14 is that Christ is the first creation ... they just arbitrarily limit it to the NEW creation in order to avoid the doctrinal problem this presents. As for the general line of reasoning and analysis of looking at how an author regularly uses a word and then using that analysis to determine his meaning in some controversial verse, that itself is a common method of analysis. But like I said, it's mostly avoided in this instance, except by those who are prepared to limit its scope to the new creation.

Sulla wrote:As for theological speculation: do you suppose that such an approach is legitimate at all?


It depends on the context. It's not at all unusual for people who already agree on a premise to speculate on other things that could or could not be true if the premise is accepted. In a lot of ways, this is reflected in the scholarly theological community. When a Trinitarian dismisses as obviously incorrect some argument or interpretation held by "the Arians," rarely do they need to worry that their doctrinal comrades are going to be too eager or quick to point out the merits of that Arian argument over their inadequate Trinitarian rebuttal.

Sulla wrote:
While it may be true that they are all merely creatures in relation to The Uncreated One, that doesn't mean an author must be intending to stress being part of the created order in comparison to that One uncreated being. An author can be stressing the elevation of a creature in comparison to all other creatures, comparatively raising him up rather than lowering him down. The way you are framing it might make sense if we were saying that John is trying to establish that Jesus is created and lower than God to an audience who is confused on the matter. If, on the other hand, John is addressing an audience who already considered Christ to be a part of the created order that had been elevated to heaven but who may or may not trace Christ's existence back farther than his human life on earth (John's gospel was completed after Revelation), then John's comment takes on a very different character than the way you are framing it. John's words elevate Christ above the entire rest of all creation, both earthly and heavenly, but without making him seem to be uncreated, which is a quality held by only one being, one person, Christ's Father.


Well, Revelation was several decades after St. Paul called him the Firstborn of all creation, as said that all things exist in him and that we owe him our existence. It was years after he changed the OT reference to YHWH to Christ and said that every knee would bend to him; it was years after Hebrews told the Church that he had established the earth. So let's frame it that way.


How is that your response on this focused entirely on my one little parenthetical comment about the order of John's writings? I didn't say my point hinged on the audience not knowing of Christ's preexistence or on what statements had previously been made on the subject. I just said that those individuals making up the particular audience of this message may or may not have been aware of it or believed it. I pointed out the order of John's writings simply to acknowledge that when he wrote this, he had not already written the now infamous prologue to his gospel or even the bit about Jesus existing before Abraham. The main point, though, was that if John was writing to an audience that already thought of Christ as a creation, whether they believed in his preexistence or not, this statement/title in 3:14 ought only to be characterized as an exaltation of the highest order rather than an attempt to clarify that Christ is merely a creature.

Take care,
HeKS
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