Challenged by Sulla

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

Postby HeKS » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:11 pm

I do have comment ... just not much time. I'll respond as soon as I get a chance.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:14 pm

Hello Sulla,

[quote="Sulla"][color=#800000]Rotherham, I don't expect you to ever change your mind about anything. Fortunately, that's not the task I have.

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

Maybes are not rules.

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You're simply not listening, just as you have done before. Eventually, heks got you to listen well enough to where you have downgraded your critism of the article considerably. if you continue to listen and if you would actually address the questions and problems that I present for you, the critism would likely be reduced even more to the point of insignifcance.

I presented information for you about the four times the phrase "beginning of my strength" occurs in the Hebrew. I have shown you how both the ancient and modern translators have rendered it and how each time it occurs it is paralleled with the word "firstborn" which is naturally partitive. i have shown you how even highly respected trinitarian greek scholars have viewed both the Gen. and Deut. verses as PARTITIVE. You have no answers for that except to complain and claim that heks and you have supposedly reached some kind of agreement. Well, I'm sure Heks will speak for himself, but I think you will find that Heks has been telling you that that phrase can't be removed from the partitive category because of the word "arche". You can claim genitive of production all you want, but to try and say that it is removed from the partitive category via that claim you are denying context and what translators, commentators and greek scholars have stated otherwise.

Do you really want us all to believe that there is no connection between the word "firstborn" and "beginning of strength" in those verses? I would REALLY love you to answer that. Can you? Will you? The very context demands that the word be partitive so your proffered examples on Gen. and Deut. have no weight behind them. Not contextually, not commentary-wise, not lexically, not translational, not anything, except your insistence. Agenda is the only thing that explains such stubborness.
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And therefore, you can't really claim that you have proved anything at all. Sure, most of the time these phrases will refer to a plain partitive relationship between the nouns. But there are some exceptions, around 10-%-15% of these examples are not really partitive, or at least are not clearly partitive. So, whatever the validity would have been if you had found 100% compliance with this rule, it doesn't exist now that you only have 85% compliance.

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Well, the Trinitarian lexicons, the Trinitarian commentators, the Trinitarian scholars and translators all agree that those words represent a partitive relationship. You have no evidence of any kind to support your claim that they are not. Any one can claim anything that they want, but with no evidence, not even from your own doctrinal camp, should show you and anybody else that you argument is null and void.
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As for Hebrews, a simple google search will trun up lots of commentary that read the verse to say that we must hold the confidence we had at the beginning of our Christian lives. However, you should consult this little google book to see that the early commentators thought about the passage very much as I have suggested: the source of our confidence is faith.

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

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

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Good grief, Sulla, pay attention to the Greek, not some paraphrase in English. There is no denying that the word "confidence" is IN a Genitive phrase. Every translation that pays any attention to the gentitive construct renders it in such a way that the confidence is they had at FIRST is part of the confidence they need to HOLD ON TO to the end. I tried to get you to see this before but you ignored it as you do most of what I have been telling you. WHAT did Paul say thay had to hold onto in that verse? WHAT? Once you identify THAT, you will be, or at least should be, compelled to agree that the what they had at FIRST was CONFIDENCE, and they needed to HOLD that confidence all the way to the end. It is clear then that the the confidence AT FIRST is part of the overall confidence that are to HOLD ON TO. The verse doeswnl;t even mention FAITH, and just because FAITH is the siource of our confidence, that has no bearing on how the sentence is actually constructed.
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So, your argument has been reduced to observing that most of the time, whenever we find a phrase "beginning of ______ ," we have a partitive genitive, therefore:" ...

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

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GREEK Sulla, GREEK. We are not talking about the English word "beginning", we are talking about the the GREEK word ARCHE. Just because you can come up with a phrase in ENGLISH where beginning means source, it has NO bearing on the GREEK word ARCHE, which can not be shown to ever mean source. Your example is not only totally circular its not even related to the problem at hand.
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But, like I said, I expect you to argue with me if I said the sky was blue -- because I said it. We have only so much time in this life, though, so unless HeKS has some comment on this point, I think we could move to the third main criticism.

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I already did move on to point three. Scroll up and you'll see it, although you probably saw it and ignored it a usual. You have not offered one valid scriptural example where ARCHE followed by a genitive is not partitive. Even IF you wanted to see it as INCLUDING some other kind of genitive, the partitive relationship is always there, often demanded by the context itself, such as what we find in both Gen. and Deut.

Now, your response was basically that you and Heks have agreed on something, well, I don't think Heks or anyone else is going to settle for that as being an accurate portrayal of what has transpired.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:08 pm

No problem, HeKS.

Eventually, heks got you to listen well enough to where you have downgraded your critism of the article considerably.


Well, the man made a valid point. I don't know my criticism of the article is downgraded, though. I still think the argument has been dismantled pretty well. If that's a downgrade, ok.

I have shown you how both the ancient and modern translators have rendered it and how each time it occurs it is paralleled with the word "firstborn" which is naturally partitive.


The word, "firstborn," is not naturally partitive. Whatever "naturally partitive" means.

Well, I'm sure Heks will speak for himself, but I think you will find that Heks has been telling you that that phrase can't be removed from the partitive category because of the word "arche".


I'm sure HeKS can speak for himself. So I guess we will all have to wait to see what he says. Thanks for the pre-post analysis, though.

You can claim genitive of production all you want, but to try and say that it is removed from the partitive category via that claim you are denying context and what translators, commentators and greek scholars have stated otherwise.


Terribly sorry, Rotherham, but could you please show me where translators, commentators, and Greek scholars have said these examples are partitive genitives? You have quoted a work of Henry Alford but neglected to provide the reference. Maybe guys writing in 1850 were translators, commentators, and scholars of Greek all at one time.

Seriously, is this what you have by way of support?


Do you really want us all to believe that there is no connection between the word "firstborn" and "beginning of strength" in those verses? I would REALLY love you to answer that. Can you? Will you? The very context demands that the word be partitive so your proffered examples on Gen. and Deut. have no weight behind them. Not contextually, not commentary-wise, not lexically, not translational, not anything, except your insistence. Agenda is the only thing that explains such stubborness.


A careful reader will have seen the several times I have made the connection I believe the writer is making between Ruben and his strength. I am disinclined to review what I have already said. The very context does not demand the word be partitive.

In fact, here is the NAB translation:


You, Reuben, my first-born, my strength and the first fruit of my manhood, excelling in rank and excelling in power!


Interesting to see that they have actually separated the idea of firstborn and strength with a comma instead of using a genitive at all. Maybe they thought the phrase "beginning of my stength" was a little unclear. I doubt they were responding to your paper.

Well, the Trinitarian lexicons, the Trinitarian commentators, the Trinitarian scholars and translators all agree that those words represent a partitive relationship. You have no evidence of any kind to support your claim that they are not.


Again, I'm afraid I missed all this evidence. I see the oblique reference from the 19th century by a fellow who was not, so far as I can tell, an actual scholar of the Greek language, but perhaps I have missed all the other evidence you have offered. Do be a prince and list it again.

Good grief, Sulla, pay attention to the Greek, not some paraphrase in English. There is no denying that the word "confidence" is IN a Genitive phrase. Every translation that pays any attention to the gentitive construct renders it in such a way that the confidence is they had at FIRST is part of the confidence they need to HOLD ON TO to the end.


Paraphrase? What in smoke are you talking about? I don't feel like repeating myself here; go read what I wrote.

GREEK Sulla, GREEK. We are not talking about the English word "beginning", we are talking about the the GREEK word ARCHE. Just because you can come up with a phrase in ENGLISH where beginning means source, it has NO bearing on the GREEK word ARCHE, which can not be shown to ever mean source. Your example is not only totally circular its not even related to the problem at hand.


MUST. KEEP FROM. USING. OBSCENITY.

Please review you own comments on the Hebrew word for beginning before acting this way.


I already did move on to point three. Scroll up and you'll see it, although you probably saw it and ignored it a usual. You have not offered one valid scriptural example where ARCHE followed by a genitive is not partitive. Even IF you wanted to see it as INCLUDING some other kind of genitive, the partitive relationship is always there, often demanded by the context itself, such as what we find in both Gen. and Deut.


Yes, the partitive is always there, lurking in the background, waiting for a chance to strike while we are unaware.

Now, your response was basically that you and Heks have agreed on something, well, I don't think Heks or anyone else is going to settle for that as being an accurate portrayal of what has transpired.


Have you noticed how much you answer for HeKS, even after you say he can speak for himself? I wonder if that is because you worry he will say something you don't want him to say. Or perhaps you worry he is not bright enough to carry on a conversation on his own without your guidance. Well, let me tell you that I have had many conversations with him and I have always found him plenty smart. So you take your condescending attitude right out of here, mister. Nobody is going to call HeKS dumb and expect not to get an earful from me! I disavow your opinion of HeKS: he is a very bright man and doesn't deserve to be treated this way by you.

Of course, I'm sure he can handle your insults on his own.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:52 am

Hello Sulla,



Eventually, heks got you to listen well enough to where you have downgraded your critism of the article considerably.


Well, the man made a valid point. I don't know my criticism of the article is downgraded, though. I still think the argument has been dismantled pretty well. If that's a downgrade, ok.

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You haven't dismantled anything. You've tried but your arguments have failed.
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I have shown you how both the ancient and modern translators have rendered it and how each time it occurs it is paralleled with the word "firstborn" which is naturally partitive.


The word, "firstborn," is not naturally partitive. Whatever "naturally partitive" means.

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The word means "first one born". The word "first" is naturally partitive by the very nature of what it means. Firstborn is indeed naturally partitive in its meaning.
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Well, I'm sure Heks will speak for himself, but I think you will find that Heks has been telling you that that phrase can't be removed from the partitive category because of the word "arche".


I'm sure HeKS can speak for himself. So I guess we will all have to wait to see what he says. Thanks for the pre-post analysis, though.

You can claim genitive of production all you want, but to try and say that it is removed from the partitive category via that claim you are denying context and what translators, commentators and greek scholars have stated otherwise.


Terribly sorry, Rotherham, but could you please show me where translators, commentators, and Greek scholars have said these examples are partitive genitives? You have quoted a work of Henry Alford but neglected to provide the reference. Maybe guys writing in 1850 were translators, commentators, and scholars of Greek all at one time.

Seriously, is this what you have by way of support?


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Have you done the research, Sulla? Have you looked up relavent information in the different commentaries and lexicons that are available to you and see what they have to say about that phrase and what it means? I am not going to do your homework for you and I have looked these things up and have been doing that from early on and I have found nothing that supports your view that this phrase is to be taken as a genitive of production EXCLUDING the partitive aspect. Even the examples that you offer, which some take liberties with the syntax, do not do that. Any commentator or scholar that does speak of Gen. 49:3, they see it as a parallel phrase meaning "firstborn" as is clearly borne out in the context. Why is it they see that and you don't? Could it be your prejudice against that meaning at work?
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Do you really want us all to believe that there is no connection between the word "firstborn" and "beginning of strength" in those verses? I would REALLY love you to answer that. Can you? Will you? The very context demands that the word be partitive so your proffered examples on Gen. and Deut. have no weight behind them. Not contextually, not commentary-wise, not lexically, not translational, not anything, except your insistence. Agenda is the only thing that explains such stubborness.


A careful reader will have seen the several times I have made the connection I believe the writer is making between Ruben and his strength. I am disinclined to review what I have already said. The very context does not demand the word be partitive.

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Since any commentator or scholar I have found who takes the time to comment on the phrase sees it as a parallel to the word firstborn, that should tell you something. It appears that the partitive aspect is only being removed by you, not even your own doctrinal comrades do that. Can you find any scholar or commentator who states that phrase is not a parallel to firstborn contained right in the context? Even your example immediately below shoots down your own argument.
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In fact, here is the NAB translation:


You, Reuben, my first-born, my strength and the first fruit of my manhood, excelling in rank and excelling in power!


Interesting to see that they have actually separated the idea of firstborn and strength with a comma instead of using a genitive at all. Maybe they thought the phrase "beginning of my stength" was a little unclear. I doubt they were responding to your paper.

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Are you reading correctly? The very fact that they render the word arche here as "first-fruits" denies the very thing you are claiming because again, FIRST-fruit is naturally partitive by the very meaning of the word. The "first-fruit of my manhood" is clearly partitive even if it does include production.
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Well, the Trinitarian lexicons, the Trinitarian commentators, the Trinitarian scholars and translators all agree that those words represent a partitive relationship. You have no evidence of any kind to support your claim that they are not.


Again, I'm afraid I missed all this evidence. I see the oblique reference from the 19th century by a fellow who was not, so far as I can tell, an actual scholar of the Greek language, but perhaps I have missed all the other evidence you have offered. Do be a prince and list it again.

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Let me get this straight, you are claiming that Henry Alford was not a scholar of the Greek language? Is that what you are saying or trying to indicate? You really need to check that out.

As I have mentioned, and you need to go look for yourself, any commentator that has commented on the phrase "arche of my strength" sees it as a parallel to firstborn contained within the same sentence. These commentators are written by Trinitarian scholars and the translations we have consulted are produced by Trinitarians, as well as the lexicons that are avaialble. I have not found one shred of evidence in any of them, when it comes to those who actually take the time to include a comment about the phrase in question, who do not see it as a parallel to the word firstborn nor do they ever try and say that it is just a gentiive of production and NOT partitive. Do you really think it by accident that the only places where that phrase occurs just happens to be coupled with the word firstborn?
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Good grief, Sulla, pay attention to the Greek, not some paraphrase in English. There is no denying that the word "confidence" is IN a Genitive phrase. Every translation that pays any attention to the gentitive construct renders it in such a way that the confidence is they had at FIRST is part of the confidence they need to HOLD ON TO to the end.


Paraphrase? What in smoke are you talking about? I don't feel like repeating myself here; go read what I wrote.

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The translation you quoted was a paraphrase which took liberties with the word order in the Greek. The word arche is joined to the word confidence in a gentive phrase. You claim it could mean "source". The problem with that is that there is not a single translation I can find that renders the word "arche" here as meaning source and they are all Trinitarians. You are alone once again in your own theological camp.
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GREEK Sulla, GREEK. We are not talking about the English word "beginning", we are talking about the the GREEK word ARCHE. Just because you can come up with a phrase in ENGLISH where beginning means source, it has NO bearing on the GREEK word ARCHE, which can not be shown to ever mean source. Your example is not only totally circular its not even related to the problem at hand.


MUST. KEEP FROM. USING. OBSCENITY.

Please review you own comments on the Hebrew word for beginning before acting this way.


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Reshyt does not mean source, Sulla. I have not found that meaning in any of the Hebrew lexicons. Have you? Therefore, there is nothing to review. The point stands.
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I already did move on to point three. Scroll up and you'll see it, although you probably saw it and ignored it a usual. You have not offered one valid scriptural example where ARCHE followed by a genitive is not partitive. Even IF you wanted to see it as INCLUDING some other kind of genitive, the partitive relationship is always there, often demanded by the context itself, such as what we find in both Gen. and Deut.


Yes, the partitive is always there, lurking in the background, waiting for a chance to strike while we are unaware.

Now, your response was basically that you and Heks have agreed on something, well, I don't think Heks or anyone else is going to settle for that as being an accurate portrayal of what has transpired.
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[color=#800000]Have you noticed how much you answer for HeKS, even after you say he can speak for himself? I wonder if that is because you worry he will say something you don't want him to say. Or perhaps you worry he is not bright enough to carry on a conversation on his own without your guidance.

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I am not worried about Heks by any means. I have complete confidence in his abilities. This silly little tirade that follows as if I am trying to insult him is a transparent and childish joke and anyone can see I did not insult Heks in the least. In fact, I support him as not agreeing with you that Gen and Deut might be the genitive of production to the EXCLUSION of the partitive aspect. He has never agreed to that nor would he.
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Well, let me tell you that I have had many conversations with him and I have always found him plenty smart. So you take your condescending attitude right out of here, mister. Nobody is going to call HeKS dumb and expect not to get an earful from me! I disavow your opinion of HeKS: he is a very bright man and doesn't deserve to be treated this way by you.

Of course, I'm sure he can handle your insults on his own.


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This is a just a stupid ploy on your part to create something that isn't there. Shame on you. I suppose when one sees their arguments vaporize they have to try something, don't they.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:26 am

You know, your argument was that "all" of the examples where we find arche in a genitive phrase are definitely partitive, and that, therefore, this fact must control how we read Rev. 3. I wonder why you think that finding valid exceptions to this claim doesn't invalidate the argument.

And I see that you've decided to explain the term "naturally partitive" by saying it is naturally partitive. Look, if you want to make some sort of linguistic argument, would it be too much to ask for some sort of support from a textbook, or something? I don't much want to get in to linguistics -- but a term like "naturally partitive" must surely be covered in some Linguistics 101 textbook somewhere, right? Unless you are just making it up.

I also see that you have declined to list the translators, commentators, and Greek scholars have said these examples are partitive genitives. I think it is worth pointing this out -- you don't really have a list at all, even though you claim to.

Finally, I see you are saying that the Hebrew word for "beginning" does not support the definition "source" within its lexical field. This is interesting and removes another of your arguments. "Source" absolutely is within the field of the meaning for arche, thus, by saying that the Hebrew word does not contain the same set of meanings that the Greek word does, you are admitting that the Hebrew instances of the word "beginning" do not belong in the analysis.

Thus, all your examples from the OT are not appropriately considered in this analysis. Therefore, most (I think, I have to go back and count) of your examples are removed. We, therefore, do not have a sufficient data base to make any conclusions whatever about the partitive nature of the word's usage.

Nice work!
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:44 am

And it turns out that I am not a good enough person to let this pass:

I am not worried about Heks by any means. I have complete confidence in his abilities. This silly little tirade that follows as if I am trying to insult him is a transparent and childish joke and anyone can see I did not insult Heks in the least.


I suppose your complete confidence in HeKS explains why you feel the need to keep speaking for him. I can't say whether HeKS will consider this repeated speaking in his behalf as an insult, but it would be completely understandable if he did. Most of the time this sort of, "Johnny can speak for himself, but here's what he will say..." thing is considered insulting. But maybe you two are pals, so he has learned to put up with it. But whether it bothers him or not, when someone repeatedly speaks in behalf of another person, the implication is that he thinks he has to.

In fact, I support him as not agreeing with you that Gen and Deut might be the genitive of production to the EXCLUSION of the partitive aspect. He has never agreed to that nor would he.


Well, again, I suspect HeKS can say for himself what he never would do. I really am baffled at why you keep speaking for him. And if that wasn't weird enough, now you think you can speak for all his future actions. Creepy.

Anyway, we don't need to settle the question of whather a partitive is excluded in these examples. In fact, someone who was not distracted by answering for another person might have noticed that I have already said I can see how these examples could be read to be partitive. To destroy your little idea, all we need is to observe that some sort of non-partitive genitive is a reasonable reading here. And that is what HeKS has agreed with.

I don't know if that has angered you such that you feel like you need to start speaking for him or not, but the reason you keep doing that is not directly relevant to the issue at hand. What is relevant is that your point relies on the exclusive partitive reading, and an exclusive partitive reading does not seem to be in the cards.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:51 am

Hello Sulla,

[quote="Sulla"][color=#800000]You know, your argument was that "all" of the examples where we find arche in a genitive phrase are definitely partitive, and that, therefore, this fact must control how we read Rev. 3. I wonder why you think that finding valid exceptions to this claim doesn't invalidate the argument.

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It would if you had actually found valid exceptions to the rule but you have evidently missed the fact that you have not presented one valid exception in the Greek or in the Hebrew. Your Gen. and Deut. examples are not valid exceptions as has been clearly demonstrated by the lack of any scholar or commentator chiming in with your notion that arche is not part of the following genitive, or that it is production ONLY that is spoken of here. I am sure by this time you would have presented an actual example instead of the mistaken examples you thought supported your view.
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And I see that you've decided to explain the term "naturally partitive" by saying it is naturally partitive. Look, if you want to make some sort of linguistic argument, would it be too much to ask for some sort of support from a textbook, or something? I don't much want to get in to linguistics -- but a term like "naturally partitive" must surely be covered in some Linguistics 101 textbook somewhere, right? Unless you are just making it up.

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If you remove the meaning of source, which neither arche nor reshyth possess as a meaning, then the word FIRST or the word BEGINNING naturally means that whatever it is that is the FIRST or the BEGINNING is part of a group or class. We've been through this. There are no exceptions. If you think there are, then find one. And please do not resort to another source meaning as an example because those are invalid examples and are a comparison of apples and oranges.
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I also see that you have declined to list the translators, commentators, and Greek scholars have said these examples are partitive genitives. I think it is worth pointing this out -- you don't really have a list at all, even though you claim to.

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Go look at the Hebrew lexicon on Blueletterbible.org under the Hebrew word "own". It gives both the Genesis and Deut. verses as examples where it parallels "first-fruit" or "firstborn". I have already told you what Alford says, who is highly regarded as a Greek scholar. Most do not comment on the phrase, but those who do associate it with the parallel word in the same context, that being FIRSTBORN. You can do this research for yourself Sulla. Tell you what, just find one scholar SOMEWHERE, who agrees with your position that this is JUST a genitive of production and has no relationship to the firstborn notion mentioned in the same sentence. Can you do that for me?
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Finally, I see you are saying that the Hebrew word for "beginning" does not support the definition "source" within its lexical field. This is interesting and removes another of your arguments. "Source" absolutely is within the field of the meaning for arche, thus, by saying that the Hebrew word does not contain the same set of meanings that the Greek word does, you are admitting that the Hebrew instances of the word "beginning" do not belong in the analysis.

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Source is absolutely NOT within the lexical field of arche when it comes to Biblical usage. You must have forgotten that this is a major point of this discussion. FIND an EXAMPLE where arche MUST mean source and source only and you could make a case, but you can't. The Trinitarian scholar Albert Barnes even admited in his Commentary at Rev 3:14 that arche NEVER means source and it should not be used by translators as a meaning for the word.
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Thus, all your examples from the OT are not appropriately considered in this analysis. Therefore, most (I think, I have to go back and count) of your examples are removed. We, therefore, do not have a sufficient data base to make any conclusions whatever about the partitive nature of the word's usage.

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You really don't get it, do you. Or you are simply purposely ignoring evidence, maybe both. Neither arche nor reshyth support the meaning of source anywhere in the Bible. If it did, you should be able to find at least ONE example where it could only mean source, but there are none. As far as secular literautre goes, I have never even seen ONE example where it HAD to mean source. It simpy is an invention of convenience by Trinitarians to try and avoid the consequence of what the word means. They have no support for their claim. None at all.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:13 pm

hello Sulla,

And it turns out that I am not a good enough person to let this pass:

I am not worried about Heks by any means. I have complete confidence in his abilities. This silly little tirade that follows as if I am trying to insult him is a transparent and childish joke and anyone can see I did not insult Heks in the least.


I suppose your complete confidence in HeKS explains why you feel the need to keep speaking for him. I can't say whether HeKS will consider this repeated speaking in his behalf as an insult, but it would be completely understandable if he did. Most of the time this sort of, "Johnny can speak for himself, but here's what he will say..." thing is considered insulting. But maybe you two are pals, so he has learned to put up with it. But whether it bothers him or not, when someone repeatedly speaks in behalf of another person, the implication is that he thinks he has to.

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I am speaking up for the truth just as he is. You seem to forget that I was the one who posted the article so do you really expect me to let this nonsense to go unnoticed regardless of whose TURN it is to speak, as if such an order has ever made a difference before? You're really resorting to some childish antics here intrying to make it look like I am in some way insulting Heks. I am truly appreciative when others chime in for me when I am busy. It's better than letting nonsense sit on a page.
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In fact, I support him as not agreeing with you that Gen and Deut might be the genitive of production to the EXCLUSION of the partitive aspect. He has never agreed to that nor would he.
[/quote]

[color=#800000]Well, again, I suspect HeKS can say for himself what he never would do. I really am baffled at why you keep speaking for him. And if that wasn't weird enough, now you think you can speak for all his future actions. Creepy.

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Well, I suppose we'll just see when he answers, eh?
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Anyway, we don't need to settle the question of whather a partitive is excluded in these examples. In fact, someone who was not distracted by answering for another person might have noticed that I have already said I can see how these examples could be read to be partitive. To destroy your little idea, all we need is to observe that some sort of non-partitive genitive is a reasonable reading here. And that is what HeKS has agreed with.

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Well then Sulla, if you can see that the partitive gentitive is included in these phrases, you are admitting that your objection is meaningless. Thankyou. You are finally in agreement with the rest of your comrades, and of course, in agreement then with the article. i suppose we can move on then.
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I don't know if that has angered you such that you feel like you need to start speaking for him or not, but the reason you keep doing that is not directly relevant to the issue at hand. What is relevant is that your point relies on the exclusive partitive reading, and an exclusive partitive reading does not seem to be in the cards.

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I am not sayingt that the Gen. and Deut. examples have to be exclusively partitive because one can see how production may be included. It matters not to MY argument that another kind of genitive sense could be combined with the partitive sense, but it certainly matters to YOURS whether one can DIVORCE that partitive meaning altogther. The point is you can NOT divorce the partitive genitive reading from these examples. It simply doesn't work by the very nature of the word beginning or first, words which do not contain source as part of their lexical range. The LXX translators obviously recognized this when they rendered the phrase in question as "the beginning of my "children". That is purely partitive. Don't you think the LXX translators had a little better grasp of what the phrase meant than you do? Just a little?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:43 pm

I acknowledge the possibility of a genitive of production here, but I believe that the use of "beginning", which is a naturally partitive word, suggests a metonymic use of "strength", in which case this would be a partitive genitive.


That is HeKS, agreeing that the example in Genesis might be a genitive of producer. If it might be a genitive of producer, then we can't go around saying it must always be a partitive genitive, can we?

If you remove the meaning of source, which neither arche nor reshyth possess as a meaning, then the word FIRST or the word BEGINNING naturally means that whatever it is that is the FIRST or the BEGINNING is part of a group or class. We've been through this. There are no exceptions. If you think there are, then find one. And please do not resort to another source meaning as an example because those are invalid examples and are a comparison of apples and oranges.


This is you changing the subject. Arche does, in fact, have "source, origin" as a definition -- that is, it lives in the lexical field, as they say. So, we can't remove "source" when we consider the word, arche can we?

And, again, you have declined to support the linguistic basis for claiming the term is "naturally partitive." Unless you plan to support this with some textbook or other recognized linguistic source, I think we can ignore it.

And, again, you show that you cannot provide a list of translators, commentators, and Greek scholars have said these examples are partitive genitives. I've asked for a list several times now, but you keep not providing one. Instead, you have asked me to provide a scholar who says differently.

Rotherham, please remember that you are the one who wrote a paper making the claims we are now discussing. that mean you have to support your claims, old sport. Since you refuse to do so, after repeated requests, readers are justified concluding that you are dishonestly claiming to have a secret list of translators, commentators, and Greek scholars who support your view.


Source is absolutely NOT within the lexical field of arche when it comes to Biblical usage. You must have forgotten that this is a major point of this discussion. FIND an EXAMPLE where arche MUST mean source and source only and you could make a case, but you can't. The Trinitarian scholar Albert Barnes even admited in his Commentary at Rev 3:14 that arche NEVER means source and it should not be used by translators as a meaning for the word.


Hmmm. You are mistaken about the lexical field of the word. And, no, I don't need to find some place where arche must mean "source," I need only observe the definition of the word.

And what an odd reference to Barnes. If he is expert enough to prove that arche can't mean "source," is he expert enough to prove that it means "ruler," instead? 'Cause that's what he says, isn't it?

How silly of you.

I, on the other hand, can look to Strong's:

beginning, origin the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause the extremity of a thing
of the corners of a sail the first place, principality, rule, magistracy
of angels and demons


and Vine's:

means "a beginning." The root arch primarily indicated what was of worth. Hence the verb archo meant "to be first," and archon denoted "a ruler." So also arose the idea of "a beginning," the origin, the active cause, whether a person or thing, e.g., Col. 1:18. In Heb. 2:3 the phrase "having at the first been spoken" is, lit., "having received a beginning to be spoken."


So, no Rotherham, readers cannot accept your pounding of the table at this point. Sorry.

As for whether I expect you to let my comments go unresponded to -- What I expect is that you speak for yourself, unless you view HeKS as a sock puppet.


Well, I suppose we'll just see when he answers, eh?


Oh, good for you, Rotherham!

Well then Sulla, if you can see that the partitive gentitive is included in these phrases, you are admitting that your objection is meaningless. Thankyou. You are finally in agreement with the rest of your comrades, and of course, in agreement then with the article. i suppose we can move on then.


I hope you can see why I tend to ignore you.

I am not sayingt that the Gen. and Deut. examples have to be exclusively partitive because one can see how production may be included. It matters not to MY argument that another kind of genitive sense could be combined with the partitive sense, but it certainly matters to YOURS whether one can DIVORCE that partitive meaning altogther. The point is you can NOT divorce the partitive genitive reading from these examples. It simply doesn't work by the very nature of the word beginning or first, words which do not contain source as part of their lexical range. The LXX translators obviously recognized this when they rendered the phrase in question as "the beginning of my "children". That is purely partitive. Don't you think the LXX translators had a little better grasp of what the phrase meant than you do? Just a little?


No, not combined with the partitive -- a valid alternative reading. That's the key. If you can't grasp that, maybe this conversation is really out of your depth. And, again with the tired pounding of the "naturally partitive," and silly ignorance of the lexical range of arche. And to top it all, a dishonest appeal to the LXX translators. Rotherham, I know very well how you have treated this translations in other contexts, and this last comment of yours is simply a dishonest, situational appeal -- you are pretending to hold a position in this debate you do not hold in other debates.

I am not surprised.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:22 pm

Hello Sulla,

I acknowledge the possibility of a genitive of production here, but I believe that the use of "beginning", which is a naturally partitive word, suggests a metonymic use of "strength", in which case this would be a partitive genitive.


That is HeKS, agreeing that the example in Genesis might be a genitive of producer. If it might be a genitive of producer, then we can't go around saying it must always be a partitive genitive, can we?

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If you are thinking that Heks has agreed it might be a genitive of production EXCLUSIVELY, I certainly think you are mistaken about what he has agreed to. Again, I am sure he will clarify.
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If you remove the meaning of source, which neither arche nor reshyth possess as a meaning, then the word FIRST or the word BEGINNING naturally means that whatever it is that is the FIRST or the BEGINNING is part of a group or class. We've been through this. There are no exceptions. If you think there are, then find one. And please do not resort to another source meaning as an example because those are invalid examples and are a comparison of apples and oranges.


This is you changing the subject. Arche does, in fact, have "source, origin" as a definition -- that is, it lives in the lexical field, as they say. So, we can't remove "source" when we consider the word, arche can we?

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Sulla, you're not listening again. The place where the lexicons give "arche" the meaning of "source" is at REV. 3:14!! That's the point, it's totally circular. We are saying that based on every other example in the scriptures and the ancient Greek renditions of the scriptrues, that this is not the meaning of the word. It does no good to point at the verse under question and then say, yes it does, right there. Surely you must see the circularity and the emptiness of that claim. Col. 1:18 (your Vine's example) is also circular for there is not a single translation that I have that renders arche there as "source" so that should tell you that they did not consider that as the meaning for arche at that verse. The whole context there is FIRST, not SOURCE and that is likely why we find no one renderingt it as source. It wont do to just try and invent a place where source might work, that proves nothing when the meaning of a word is under attack. What one has to do is actually provide an example where it is unmistakable that the word means "source", and that can't be done.
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And, again, you have declined to support the linguistic basis for claiming the term is "naturally partitive." Unless you plan to support this with some textbook or other recognized linguistic source, I think we can ignore it.

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If you remove "source" as a valid meaning of the word "arche", since has no support that is not entirely circular, and you render it as "beginning", then any one with a dictionary can see that the word beginning is naturally partitive. The beginning is the START of SOMETHING, it is therefore PART of the SOMETHING if it is the beginning. Do I really have to prove this to you other than you simply looking up the definition of the word "beginning" or the word "first" in a dictionary?

Tell you what, give me an example otherwise where you are NOT using beginning as SOURCE. Even in your example that "She is the beginning of beauty", if it does not mean source, she is obviously an example of beauty and is BEAUTIFUL, therefore partitive in that sense of beauty in that phrase.
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And, again, you show that you cannot provide a list of translators, commentators, and Greek scholars have said these examples are partitive genitives. I've asked for a list several times now, but you keep not providing one. Instead, you have asked me to provide a scholar who says differently.

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I have provided you with the BDB lexicon (Trinitarian based), I have provided you with the words of Henry Alford, a noted Trinitarian Greek scholar, I have provided you with the ancient LXX understanding of the phrase. As I have said, I've actually looked for something to support your view and I can't find it. It doesn't exist. not all comment on the phrase, but of those that have, see it as parallel to the word firstborn or first fruits. Even the NAB rendition you offered admits of the partitive nature for the first-fruit can mean nothing but a partitive relationship. Are the NAB translators, scholars, Sulla?
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Rotherham, please remember that you are the one who wrote a paper making the claims we are now discussing. that mean you have to support your claims, old sport. Since you refuse to do so, after repeated requests, readers are justified concluding that you are dishonestly claiming to have a secret list of translators, commentators, and Greek scholars who support your view.


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What they are justified in concluding is that you are simply ignoring evidence. Will you please find one scholar who states that the phrases in question are not partitive in nature. Just one? The fact that I have produced a well respected lexicon, a well respected Greek scholar, and the LXX translators and the respected NAB translators, primarily Trinitarian in their thinking, that support my view should show anyone that what I am claiming is supported and what you are claiming is simply not supported anywhere.
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Source is absolutely NOT within the lexical field of arche when it comes to Biblical usage. You must have forgotten that this is a major point of this discussion. FIND an EXAMPLE where arche MUST mean source and source only and you could make a case, but you can't. The Trinitarian scholar Albert Barnes even admited in his Commentary at Rev 3:14 that arche NEVER means source and it should not be used by translators as a meaning for the word.


Hmmm. You are mistaken about the lexical field of the word. And, no, I don't need to find some place where arche must mean "source," I need only observe the definition of the word.

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No, since the defintion of the word as "source" is under attack, that is exactly what you need to do. As I said, the references for it meaning are totally circular, and for all sources but Vine's, only Rev. 3:14 is given as the place where it occurs, and anyone should see that is not an argument since that is the very occurence that is being attacked.
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And what an odd reference to Barnes. If he is expert enough to prove that arche can't mean "source," is he expert enough to prove that it means "ruler," instead? 'Cause that's what he says, isn't it?

How silly of you.

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Not silly at all. Any time a Trinitarian supports Unitarian explanations, it surely can't be due to bias that he is agreeing with us. The reason a Trinitarian would agree with us on that point so strongly is he because he sees the undeniable nature of it.
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I, on the other hand, can look to Strong's:

beginning, origin the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause the extremity of a thing
of the corners of a sail the first place, principality, rule, magistracy
of angels and demons


and Vine's:

means "a beginning." The root arch primarily indicated what was of worth. Hence the verb archo meant "to be first," and archon denoted "a ruler." So also arose the idea of "a beginning," the origin, the active cause, whether a person or thing, e.g., Col. 1:18. In Heb. 2:3 the phrase "having at the first been spoken" is, lit., "having received a beginning to be spoken."


So, no Rotherham, readers cannot accept your pounding of the table at this point. Sorry.

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Yet, no one renders Col 1:18 as source do they. Chief or beginning, but never source. That should show you what all the Trinitarian scholars thought when they came to that verse so this holds no support for your contention. As i mentioned, the whole context there is about being FIRST. It's not a matter of trying to make it fit here and there, Sulla. You have to present at least one CLEAR example where arche ONLY means source and nothing but SOURCE. Otherwise, you have done nothing by way of refutation. Circularity is no way to win a position.
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As for whether I expect you to let my comments go unresponded to -- What I expect is that you speak for yourself, unless you view HeKS as a sock puppet.


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I will defend Heks' positions just as he has defended mine until such time as he would ask that I not. Like I said, when I am busy, I welcome the support. I have a feeling he does too.
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Well, I suppose we'll just see when he answers, eh?


Oh, good for you, Rotherham!

Well then Sulla, if you can see that the partitive gentitive is included in these phrases, you are admitting that your objection is meaningless. Thankyou. You are finally in agreement with the rest of your comrades, and of course, in agreement then with the article. i suppose we can move on then.


I hope you can see why I tend to ignore you.

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Well you are the one who said that the partitive aspect was included.
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I am not sayingt that the Gen. and Deut. examples have to be exclusively partitive because one can see how production may be included. It matters not to MY argument that another kind of genitive sense could be combined with the partitive sense, but it certainly matters to YOURS whether one can DIVORCE that partitive meaning altogther. The point is you can NOT divorce the partitive genitive reading from these examples. It simply doesn't work by the very nature of the word beginning or first, words which do not contain source as part of their lexical range. The LXX translators obviously recognized this when they rendered the phrase in question as "the beginning of my "children". That is purely partitive. Don't you think the LXX translators had a little better grasp of what the phrase meant than you do? Just a little?
[/quote]

[color=#800000]No, not combined with the partitive -- a valid alternative reading. That's the key. If you can't grasp that, maybe this conversation is really out of your depth. And, again with the tired pounding of the "naturally partitive," and silly ignorance of the lexical range of arche. And to top it all, a dishonest appeal to the LXX translators. Rotherham, I know very well how you have treated this translations in other contexts, and this last comment of yours is simply a dishonest, situational appeal -- you are pretending to hold a position in this debate you do not hold in other debates.

I am not surprised.

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First, you have no supprot to divorce the partitive gentive. I have given you a list of translators (LXX and NAB), and scholars (BDB, Alford) who agree that the phrase is partitive by being parallel to firstborn or first fruit. You have nothing.

Second, get a dictionary and look up the word beginning and first and tell me what they mean as I suggested above.

Third, unless there are alternative renderings to the scripture in question, I have not dogged the renderings of the LXX. Since all the manuscripts agree in those places there is no reason to question anything in regard to the LXX rendition.

Nice try, but no cigar.

And here is something you should consider which I will also likely add to the article. The source of creation is already idenitifed at Revelation 3:14 by the phrase "by God". The creation is "by God". That also linguistically removes the meaning of "source" from arche since God is the one identified as the source of the creation there mentioned.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:03 pm

I have provided you with the BDB lexicon (Trinitarian based), I have provided you with the words of Henry Alford, a noted Trinitarian Greek scholar, I have provided you with the ancient LXX understanding of the phrase. As I have said, I've actually looked for something to support your view and I can't find it. It doesn't exist. not all comment on the phrase, but of those that have, see it as parallel to the word firstborn or first fruits. Even the NAB rendition you offered admits of the partitive nature for the first-fruit can mean nothing but a partitive relationship. Are the NAB translators, scholars, Sulla?


Blah, blah. Please provide a list of commentators who assert that the phrase in question is a partitive genitive. The key term I look for is "partitive genitive." You may recognize the term from that paper you wrote, it's the one I want to see discussed. I'm afraid your Alford quote won't do anything until you provide a reference more specific than the book that has it. I have grown to suspect your references are misleading.

And, of course, I'd be looking for more than one oblique reference from 150 years ago. And I'd be looking for a specific reference.


The place where the lexicons give "arche" the meaning of "source" is at REV. 3:14!!


I do not see where Vine's or Strong's makes this claim.

I have grown weary of this ride, Rotherham. If you choose to disregard the standard reference works which describe "source / origin" as being within the field of meaning, and which describe why that meaning makes perfect sense, given the etymology of the word, then God bless you. I don't see the point in arguing further: Strong's and Vine's agree with me and not with you. You can look it up or choose not to. I don't care.


What they are justified in concluding is that you are simply ignoring evidence. Will you please find one scholar who states that the phrases in question are not partitive in nature. Just one? The fact that I have produced a well respected lexicon, a well respected Greek scholar, and the LXX translators and the respected NAB translators, primarily Trinitarian in their thinking, that support my view should show anyone that what I am claiming is supported and what you are claiming is simply not supported anywhere.


Don't need to. You need to show me where anybody says it is partitive.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:30 pm

Thankyou for presenting such a lame defense of your position, I suggest that we sum up this thread and close it. You present your summary and I'll present mine and then we can be done. Don't add new arguments other than what has been presented, just sum up your evidence and lets be done with it. We can prepare our summaries and manage a way to post at the same time.

Regards,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:
I have provided you with the BDB lexicon (Trinitarian based), I have provided you with the words of Henry Alford, a noted Trinitarian Greek scholar, I have provided you with the ancient LXX understanding of the phrase. As I have said, I've actually looked for something to support your view and I can't find it. It doesn't exist. not all comment on the phrase, but of those that have, see it as parallel to the word firstborn or first fruits. Even the NAB rendition you offered admits of the partitive nature for the first-fruit can mean nothing but a partitive relationship. Are the NAB translators, scholars, Sulla?


Blah, blah. Please provide a list of commentators who assert that the phrase in question is a partitive genitive. The key term I look for is "partitive genitive." You may recognize the term from that paper you wrote, it's the one I want to see discussed. I'm afraid your Alford quote won't do anything until you provide a reference more specific than the book that has it. I have grown to suspect your references are misleading.

And, of course, I'd be looking for more than one oblique reference from 150 years ago. And I'd be looking for a specific reference.


The place where the lexicons give "arche" the meaning of "source" is at REV. 3:14!!


I do not see where Vine's or Strong's makes this claim.

I have grown weary of this ride, Rotherham. If you choose to disregard the standard reference works which describe "source / origin" as being within the field of meaning, and which describe why that meaning makes perfect sense, given the etymology of the word, then God bless you. I don't see the point in arguing further: Strong's and Vine's agree with me and not with you. You can look it up or choose not to. I don't care.


What they are justified in concluding is that you are simply ignoring evidence. Will you please find one scholar who states that the phrases in question are not partitive in nature. Just one? The fact that I have produced a well respected lexicon, a well respected Greek scholar, and the LXX translators and the respected NAB translators, primarily Trinitarian in their thinking, that support my view should show anyone that what I am claiming is supported and what you are claiming is simply not supported anywhere.


Don't need to. You need to show me where anybody says it is partitive.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:32 pm

I still have some stuff to say.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:34 pm

Hello Heks,

That's fine. Please do. Maybe you can reach him.

YB,
Rotherham

HeKS wrote:I still have some stuff to say.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:26 pm

Unfortunately it may be a few days before I can get to this. I'm trying to get something done for someone and then I'm gonna have to go back through the last bit of this thread to pull together all the stuff I need to comment on.

Sorry for the delay guys.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:27 pm

No problem, HeKS.

Of course, we haven't discussed the third main point I raise in the challenge, so we aren't at the point where there can be a conclusion yet, Rotherham.

As for going back through the last couple exchanges between me and Rotherham: there's not much point. He is basically repeating his argument without paying any attention to the real damage that has been done to his overall point. It is, sadly, typical.

The basic thrust of which is this: since we have the universal observance of a partitive genitive in all Biblical phrases where we find the term "arche[/] of _____," then we are not at liberty to read the similar phrase in Rev. 3 in any way except a partitive genitive.

As it happens, though, we really [i]are
at liberty to read the phrase in a way that is not partitive genitive, since at least two (and maybe more) of the examples Rotherham presents have valid readings where the genitive is not partitive. So, there can't be any valid claim that we must read Rev. 3 as a partitive statement. Pretty simple, really.

Frankly, it isn't clear what the point of most of today's exchanges really was, since nobody is challenging this devastating observation. Rotherham has made an extended argument about "divorcing" the partitive genitive that doesn't really matter to his argument. Perhaps he misunderstands his argument.

The only question that matters is whether there exist valid readings of some examples Rotherham provided that are not partitive. As you have said, HeKS, such examples exist. Case closed.

I am sensitive, of course, to the idea that you consider these readings to be probably wrong for reasons that you think are compelling. That's great, but your honesty has gotten the better of Rotherham, and he has gone a litle more crazy trying to rehabilitate his argument.

What remains of his point is the observation that, most of the time, such phrases are easily seen to be partitive. But not all his examples are necessarily partitive. For that matter, the word "beginning" is not necessarily partitive, either, as the example, "She is the beginning of beauty" and similar constructs makes clear (think: "beginning of wisdom," or "Cricket is the beginning of baseball," or "abstract thinking is the beginning of mathematics.").

So, having seen that there is no biblical rule requiring a partitive reading, and observing that "beginning" is not necessarily a word that implies membership in any sort of group, we wonder what all the fuss is about. We know that the word arche has a lexical field that allows for several related meanings, we know that arche is not somehow required to be a partitive word in itself, and we know that phrases similar to the one under consideration -- while typically partitive -- are not always necessarily partitive.

Indeed, if there is any lesson at all in all this, it is probably that my earlier complaint (2a, if you will), namely: that we need to consider a range of other factors beyond merely this little word study if we are to figure out the meaning of this phrase, is seen to be right on the money. There just isn't that much to learn from the points the paper does raise, certainly nothing like the ridiculously strong claims the paper says it has proved: that there is an explicit reading we can find simply by checking out the word usage in the bible and that there is "no other way" to interpret the passage than that St. John considered Jesus to be a creature.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:48 pm

Since you are going to be a couple days, HeKS, let me move on to point 3 and we can just pick up whenever you get the chance. Point 2 seems pretty played out between Roherham and me.

Point 3:

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

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


So, to summarize: why does Rotherham feel like everything in the NT or in the LXX translation is a valid source for his little phrase search, but anything except the Gospel of St. John, his letters, or Revelation are invalid for the other side?

And second: what makes anybody think that a typical use of a word somehow precludes one's ability to use it in a way that is not typical? Just because I typically use the word "bank" to refer to the place where I deposit my paycheck, how does that prevent me from using the word to mean the side of a river? Does't context give us the meaning, regardless of the number of typical uses of the word I employ?

Now, Rotherham's first attempt at a reply was a typical non-sequitur, getting into how Trinitarians have to make up new words to get their point across, etc. Let's all encourage Rotherham to try to keep himself focused on answering this challenge and these points.

We'll repeat them agina, just to make sure. Why are Rotherham's critics limited to showing a particular usage of the word within the corpus of St. John's works, while Rotherham gets to use anything written by anybody, even in translation? And, How does Rotherham justify removing one of the meanings within the lexical field, simply because it is not the typical way St. John uses the word?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:51 am

Hello Sulla,

No problem, HeKS.

Of course, we haven't discussed the third main point I raise in the challenge, so we aren't at the point where there can be a conclusion yet, Rotherham.

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Well then, onward we go.
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As for going back through the last couple exchanges between me and Rotherham: there's not much point. He is basically repeating his argument without paying any attention to the real damage that has been done to his overall point. It is, sadly, typical.

The basic thrust of which is this: since we have the universal observance of a partitive genitive in all Biblical phrases where we find the term "arche[/] of _____," then we are not at liberty to read the similar phrase in Rev. 3 in any way except a partitive genitive.

As it happens, though, we really [i]are
at liberty to read the phrase in a way that is not partitive genitive, since at least two (and maybe more) of the examples Rotherham presents have valid readings where the genitive is not partitive. So, there can't be any valid claim that we must read Rev. 3 as a partitive statement. Pretty simple, really.

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Since the word of God says that interpretations belong to God and that we should test things taught to see if they originate with God, exactly how is the best way to do that? Is it not by allowing scripture to interpret scripture? If we have a sufficient database of a particular construction that gives us a consistent understand of a phrase or word, then IF we God to be the ultimate interpreter then when it comes to arche followed by a genitive phrase, the scriptures always present it one way, and nothing has been presented to destroy that statement. In fact, it is only possible to insert another meaning if we actually IGNORE that scriptural database and we allow our own human thinking to take over and supply the meaning we want the word to have and that is exactly what Sulla has done.
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Frankly, it isn't clear what the point of most of today's exchanges really was, since nobody is challenging this devastating observation. Rotherham has made an extended argument about "divorcing" the partitive genitive that doesn't really matter to his argument. Perhaps he misunderstands his argument.

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You clearly did not read what I said. I did not say that it did not matter to my argument if one divorces the partitive genitive from the picture. In fact, just the opposite. You either can't read what is written on a page or you are being dishonest. What I said is it makes no difference to me if one wants to overlap genitive categories, such as production and partitive. What I said is that YOU, SULLA, can not reasonably divorce the genitive partitive aspect from those verses in question from Gen. and Deut. and that this is confirmed by Greek scholars and translators, unless of course Sulla wants to deny that the NAB translators are not really scholars or that the LXX translators were not scholars or that the BDB lexicon is not a scholarly work or that Henry Alford is not a Greek scholar. Sulla's response to this was basically "blah, blah", hardly a refutation of any kind to the information presented. To date, Sulla can not find one scholar who states that the two examples in question are not partitive but production only. I have Trinitarians on my side, Sulla has no one except Sulla. Now THAT'S typical
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The only question that matters is whether there exist valid readings of some examples Rotherham provided that are not partitive. As you have said, HeKS, such examples exist. Case closed.

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Sorry, case not closed. According the scholars that I have provided there is no reasonable doubt that those verses present arche in a partitive genitive phrase. You are alone in that position.
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I am sensitive, of course, to the idea that you consider these readings to be probably wrong for reasons that you think are compelling. That's great, but your honesty has gotten the better of Rotherham, and he has gone a litle more crazy trying to rehabilitate his argument.

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I see, so crazy is providing a list of scholars who agree by the way they treat those verses that arche is partitive. I would rather think that "crazy" is the practice of ignoring all that and taking a contrary position to your own Trinitarian scholars without any examples or evidence or support on your side. For one to think that this phrase just HAPPENS to appear with the word firstborn in the same context every time and that it is not being presented as a phrase equivalent to firstborn is simply unheard of according to what these scholars have decided. There can be no reasonable doubt that the phrase is partitive.
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What remains of his point is the observation that, most of the time, such phrases are easily seen to be partitive. But not all his examples are necessarily partitive. For that matter, the word "beginning" is not necessarily partitive, either, as the example, "She is the beginning of beauty" and similar constructs makes clear (think: "beginning of wisdom," or "Cricket is the beginning of baseball," or "abstract thinking is the beginning of mathematics.").

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Your examples do not work as has been presented more than once. In the phrase the beginning of beauty, the "she" is beautiful is she not, and therefore in the class of "beauty"? The fear of Jehovah is an ACT of wisdom, the beginning ACT, and is therefore in the class of things wise. In the Cricket example you are using beginning in the sense of "source" which has no support and is extra-biblical anyway. Rather than invent extra-biblical examples why don't you deal with the actual problem and present a Biblical one? The reason is because you can't find one where the Trinitarian scholars agree with you.
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So, having seen that there is no biblical rule requiring a partitive reading, and observing that "beginning" is not necessarily a word that implies membership in any sort of group, we wonder what all the fuss is about.

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Again, your examples did not prove any such thing. The fear of Jehovah is in the class of things WISE. Your other examples are both extra-biblical and do not prove what you want them to prove.
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We know that the word arche has a lexical field that allows for several related meanings, we know that arche is not somehow required to be a partitive word in itself, and we know that phrases similar to the one under consideration -- while typically partitive -- are not always necessarily partitive.

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From a Biblical standpoint, you have not presented even one valid example where you have any scholarly support for your contention. I actually have Trinitarian scholars agreeing with ME that those examples are partitive by the way that they treat and speak of those examples.
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Indeed, if there is any lesson at all in all this, it is probably that my earlier complaint (2a, if you will), namely: that we need to consider a range of other factors beyond merely this little word study if we are to figure out the meaning of this phrase, is seen to be right on the money. There just isn't that much to learn from the points the paper does raise, certainly nothing like the ridiculously strong claims the paper says it has proved: that there is an explicit reading we can find simply by checking out the word usage in the bible and that there is "no other way" to interpret the passage than that St. John considered Jesus to be a creature.

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There is no denying, if one allows God to be the interpreter as much as possible, and if one pays attention to what the scholars have noted about those verses that only YOU think are not partitive, then as the article stated truly, IF we allow Biblical precedent and pattern to be the deciding factor in our interpretations, which is what anyone SHOULD do if there is a sufficinet database of examples, then there is only one way to read what John said at Rev. 3:14. As I mentioned, source can not be the meaning at Rev. 3:14 since the creation is already given a source by the phrase "BY God". Therefore you are left with either ruler or beginning as a meaning, and in a genitive phrase we already know that they are always partitive beyond any reasonable doubt.

So Sulla, since "source' is already removed by the phrase "by God", which is it? Ruler or Beginning? Does it matter when we consider the genitive phrase? No, it does not since, Biblically, those genitive phrases with arche are consistently partitive, and according to the Trinitarian scholars who translate Bibles, your contrary examples are not examples to begin with.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 23, 2009 8:08 am

hello Sulla,

Point 3:

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

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


So, to summarize: why does Rotherham feel like everything in the NT or in the LXX translation is a valid source for his little phrase search, but anything except the Gospel of St. John, his letters, or Revelation are invalid for the other side?

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Scholars recognize that Bible writers have individual styles and patterns of speech. That is sometimes how they determine who actually wrote a book. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that John used "archon' for ruler and "arche" for beginning. Trinitarian scholars have acknowledged this Unitarian position by stating the very same thing, that John's use of arche does not MATCH with ruler. Funny, between the admission of Barnes about the wrongness of the meaning of "source" for arche and the admission of Beckwith and others about John's use of "archon", they cancel each other out. They are only left with "beginning".
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And second: what makes anybody think that a typical use of a word somehow precludes one's ability to use it in a way that is not typical? Just because I typically use the word "bank" to refer to the place where I deposit my paycheck, how does that prevent me from using the word to mean the side of a river? Does't context give us the meaning, regardless of the number of typical uses of the word I employ?

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Well I am sure that context, if it was unmistakable, could present a different meaning of a word than the way it is used elsewhere, but there is nothing like that to consider when it comes to arche in a genitive phrase or Rev. 3:14. As mentioned, the "source" of the creation is already identified as "by God". Claiming the Son as the SOURCE of creation is a denial of 1Cor 8 where we are told that it is only the Father that answers to "OUT OF' for creation. The Son is THROUGH, so that does not make him the source but the instrument. Source is an invalid meaning not only from the Biblical phraseological examples but from the overall context of scripture.
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Now, Rotherham's first attempt at a reply was a typical non-sequitur, getting into how Trinitarians have to make up new words to get their point across, etc. Let's all encourage Rotherham to try to keep himself focused on answering this challenge and these points.

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I don't expect you to catch the relevance of that point but I am sure many will. Pathetic evasion on your part.
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We'll repeat them agina, just to make sure. Why are Rotherham's critics limited to showing a particular usage of the word within the corpus of St. John's works, while Rotherham gets to use anything written by anybody, even in translation? And, How does Rotherham justify removing one of the meanings within the lexical field, simply because it is not the typical way St. John uses the word?

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Sigh. Once again, Biblical precedent and pattern. That's what this is all about. Read the above over again and try to focus on the issue at hand.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:02 am

It's hard to know what it is that gets Rotherham so upset, since he mostly argues in circles and says things like,

"If we have a sufficient database of a particular construction that gives us a consistent understand of a phrase or word, then IF we God to be the ultimate interpreter then when it comes to arche followed by a genitive phrase, the scriptures always present it one way, and nothing has been presented to destroy that statement.


It's impossible to imagine this is some sort of argument. We know that there are valid exceptions to the rule proposed by Rotherham that "arche of ______" must always be a partitive genitive phrase.

Then we get treated to this gem:


What I said is it makes no difference to me if one wants to overlap genitive categories, such as production and partitive. What I said is that YOU, SULLA, can not reasonably divorce the genitive partitive aspect from those verses in question from Gen. and Deut. and that this is confirmed by Greek scholars and translators...


Quick question: is there any basis for the idea that one might "overlap" genitive categories? I'm not much in to linguistics, but this sounds weird to me. What, exactly, would divorcing genitive partitive aspects mean, anyway? Do you have to file papers for that?

Then we get this epic fail:


The only question that matters is whether there exist valid readings of some examples Rotherham provided that are not partitive. As you have said, HeKS, such examples exist. Case closed.

According the scholars that I have provided there is no reasonable doubt that those verses present arche in a partitive genitive phrase.


Uhh, how many times have we asked for -- and been denied -- a list of people who say these are partitive genitives? How many times do we need to ask for evidence that these cannot be read to be non-partitive genitives? How many times does Rotherham get to appeal to experts without bothering to cite the source (does anybody know where Alford makes the statement Rotherham quotes? No? Why not?) Rotherham enjoys making up imaginary friends who say there is no way to read these passages except that they are only partitive genitives.

Then, more of the same: arguing off-topic:


In the phrase the beginning of beauty, the "she" is beautiful is she not, and therefore in the class of "beauty"? The fear of Jehovah is an ACT of wisdom, the beginning ACT, and is therefore in the class of things wise. In the Cricket example you are using beginning in the sense of "source" which has no support and is extra-biblical anyway.


Wow. Beautiful things are a class, but beauty is not a class at all. And if fear of the Lord is an act of wisdom, then who can tell us what kind of genitive we have just used? Anyone? Is it a partitive genitive? No, it's not a partitive genitive, very good!

And "source" is extra-biblical -- what a hoot!

I love the idea that people are seeing JWs defend their "analysis" this way. That's why I keep responding, because the more you say, the worse it looks for you. And you can't stop, because you have this plus-sized ego that makes you think everything you say is right, even when you are talking crazy. Even people with modest educations realize that things like beauty and truth are not classes, because most people were awake when they read about Plato.

But, because you keep changing the subject and can't discipline yourself to address the actual issues, I will again summarize:

We have seen that there exist valid exceptions to the rule Roherham proposes. Moreover, there is nothing about the word arche that demands a partitive reading. Therefore, there is no rule demanding we read Rev. 3 to have a partitive genitive.

Proper arguments to counter these observations would be 1) that alternative readings are not valid in the cases we've discussed and 2) that arche is necessarily partitive. Rotherham's repetitive insistances do not count, except to him.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:30 am

With respect to point 3

I had asked two questions. First, why does Rotherham allow himself to draw from many biblical books and from the LXX translation to make his point but insist that his critics limit temselves to St. John's writings? His answer:


Scholars recognize that Bible writers have individual styles and patterns of speech. That is sometimes how they determine who actually wrote a book. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that John used "archon' for ruler and "arche" for beginning. Trinitarian scholars have acknowledged this Unitarian position by stating the very same thing, that John's use of arche does not MATCH with ruler. Funny, between the admission of Barnes about the wrongness of the meaning of "source" for arche and the admission of Beckwith and others about John's use of "archon", they cancel each other out. They are only left with "beginning".


We have to go slow with Rotherham, but also allow lots of extra room for his ego. Class, who can tell me why this is a FAIL? It doesn't address the question, that's right! This paragraph argues that considering St. John's writing is appropriate, but it completely ignores why Rotherham thinks he is allowed to consider lots of other sources when he is making his point, but also thinks his critics must be limited to St. John's works. Very good!

I don't know if Rotherham will answer the question or not, class. He has taken a couple bites at this apple and hasn't shown any inclination to answer it so far, so who knows.

The next question was why anybody should be convinced that a bunch of typical examples of the way some word is used requires us to deny the possibility that the word is used in a different way later on. Here's the response:


Well I am sure that context, if it was unmistakable, could present a different meaning of a word than the way it is used elsewhere, but there is nothing like that to consider when it comes to arche in a genitive phrase or Rev. 3:14. As mentioned, the "source" of the creation is already identified as "by God". Claiming the Son as the SOURCE of creation is a denial of 1Cor 8 where we are told that it is only the Father that answers to "OUT OF' for creation. The Son is THROUGH, so that does not make him the source but the instrument. Source is an invalid meaning not only from the Biblical phraseological examples but from the overall context of scripture.


So here, Rotherham says that there is no reason to impose this rule. Who can tell me how this affects his argument? Right, it means that his argument that St. John's prior uses of arche must dictate his usage in Rev. is not valid. Does he raise a new objection? Right, he now says the word must be evaluated on it's own merits, based on the context, etc. Well, of course I think it is a little ironic, given that his little paper explicitly rejects such methods, but progress is progress, isn't it?

So, we are still looking for an explanation for why he thinks he is allowed to make his points from wherever he wants, but his critics are limited to just St. John's works. But, on the plus side, we have got past the idea that eleven typical uses necessarily mean the twelfth must also be typical. Baby steps, class.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:04 pm

Hi Sulla,

I don't have time to be nearly as thorough as I would like, but I feel the need to interject here. It seems to me you have two significant misunderstandings: 1) the reasoning behind the way Rotherham divided his initial argumentation, and 2) What he expects by way of rebuttal.

First in regards to the use of examples throughout the Bible and then in John specifically, the logic seems quite clear to me. They are being used to establish different things.

In using examples from throughout the Bible, Rotherham intended to demonstrate the partitive relationship that accompanied the use of arche in genitive statements, regardless of whether arche meant "beginning" or "ruler".

In looking specifically at John's writings, Rotherham intended to demonstrate what John consistently used this word to mean. The point was that John always used arche to mean "beginning", not "ruler". But perhaps just as importantly is the fact that we are not left to wonder what word John would use to mean ruler, because he used archon to mean "ruler" just as consistently as he used arche to mean "beginning", which is a point I don't seem to recall you interacting with in your analysis. So this is not just a matter of saying he could have used arche to mean something different this one time, as your illustration suggests. Rather, if we are to say that he used arche to mean "ruler" just this one time, we must explain why he abandoned the word he used everywhere else to mean "ruler" and instead used a word he everywhere else used to mean "beginning" instead. To answer "because" is not a reasonable argument.

Now, as for what Rotherham expects by way of attempted rebuttal, your apparent misunderstanding has caused you to greatly misrepresent him on this point. If you want to challenge the partitive relationship the Greek word arche has when used in a genitive statement in the Bible, then you can address any of the Biblical examples. However, if you want to challenge the meaning of the word as used by John in this particular instance, arguing for "ruler" rather than "beginning", you should limit yourself to John's writings, because he gives us enough data to draw on in order to make an informed conclusion.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:35 pm

Hello Sulla,

Out of respect for Heks, per his request, I am going to curb the personal comments and attempt to focus on the information at hand. I hope you can do the same. let me say that after tallking with Heks, he has convinced me that not all of the examples HAVE TO BE partitive genitive, but unfortunately for you, that doesn' t change the overall point of the article as we will see and as I am sure he will point out in his larger response to you.

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

It's hard to know what it is that gets Rotherham so upset, since he mostly argues in circles and says things like,

"If we have a sufficient database of a particular construction that gives us a consistent understand of a phrase or word, then IF we God to be the ultimate interpreter then when it comes to arche followed by a genitive phrase, the scriptures always present it one way, and nothing has been presented to destroy that statement.


It's impossible to imagine this is some sort of argument. We know that there are valid exceptions to the rule proposed by Rotherham that "arche of ______" must always be a partitive genitive phrase.

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For the sake of moving past this seeming obstacle of the partitive genitive classification, let me say this, which I will modify my article to include, that regardless of the genitive classification one wants to assign to "arche" followed by a genitive, all the Biblical examples show arche to logically demand a group or class to which it belongs. There are no exceptions. We could also say that about "prototokos" followed by a genitive as well, although that is not yet part of our discussion here.

So even with this modification in my argument, arche is always either in a partitive genitive classification or the word itself demands a group or class to belong to. That should end the problem with the Gen and Deut examples because even if they could be regarded as a genitive of production, which I am not convinced of by a long shot, the word arche can only logically mean BEGINNING in the sense of the FIRST one of something indicated by the following genitive noun. Therefore, this objection leaves you nowhere in overturning the conclusion of the article, even if the content needs some adjustment which I am willing to do for the sake of not getting hung up on a single classification.
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Then we get treated to this gem:


What I said is it makes no difference to me if one wants to overlap genitive categories, such as production and partitive. What I said is that YOU, SULLA, can not reasonably divorce the genitive partitive aspect from those verses in question from Gen. and Deut. and that this is confirmed by Greek scholars and translators...


Quick question: is there any basis for the idea that one might "overlap" genitive categories? I'm not much in to linguistics, but this sounds weird to me. What, exactly, would divorcing genitive partitive aspects mean, anyway? Do you have to file papers for that?

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In harmony with the above, we do not need to be concerned about the exact genitive classification of the phrase although I firmly believe that the LXX translators intended it to be a partitive genitive since they chose "children" as the rendition of the Hebrew word 'own, which is the word rendered by others as 'strength". What really matters is whether the word arche in that sense implicitly calls for a group or class to belong to, and it does. You have already admitted that there is a partitive aspect that is implied in the phrase, so whether it is exactly a partitive genitive or not would be irrelevant.
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Then we get this epic fail:


The only question that matters is whether there exist valid readings of some examples Rotherham provided that are not partitive. As you have said, HeKS, such examples exist. Case closed.

According the scholars that I have provided there is no reasonable doubt that those verses present arche in a partitive genitive phrase.


Uhh, how many times have we asked for -- and been denied -- a list of people who say these are partitive genitives? How many times do we need to ask for evidence that these cannot be read to be non-partitive genitives? How many times does Rotherham get to appeal to experts without bothering to cite the source (does anybody know where Alford makes the statement Rotherham quotes? No? Why not?) Rotherham enjoys making up imaginary friends who say there is no way to read these passages except that they are only partitive genitives.

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Once again, I have listed the BDB lexicon. The link to the pertinent information is here as I mentioned before on the BlueletterBible.org site.

1. BDB reference--http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H202&t=KJV

I am sure I do not have to give the LXX reference because the LXX is available online and all one has to do is look up the verse in question in the LXX and see what it says.

2. LXX at Genesis 49:3

Also, the NAB gives a naturally partitive word for in its rendition, "firstfruits".

3. NAB at Genesis 49:3

Henry Alford in his work entitled the "Greek New Testament", which I mentioned before treats Genesis 49:3 as a partitive genitive by his description of what the phrase would mean.

4. The Greek New Testament- Henry Alford--Volume 4, page 588
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Then, more of the same: arguing off-topic:


In the phrase the beginning of beauty, the "she" is beautiful is she not, and therefore in the class of "beauty"? The fear of Jehovah is an ACT of wisdom, the beginning ACT, and is therefore in the class of things wise. In the Cricket example you are using beginning in the sense of "source" which has no support and is extra-biblical anyway.


[color=#800000]Wow. Beautiful things are a class, but beauty is not a class at all. And if fear of the Lord is an act of wisdom, then who can tell us what kind of genitive we have just used? Anyone? Is it a partitive genitive? No, it's not a partitive genitive, very good!

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So why don't you tell us all exactly what the phrase "she is the beginning of beauty" means. Let's see your working model here up close.

As far as the beginning of wisdom, the fear of Jehovah is a part of overall wisdom, is it not? Is it not the beginning of wisdom? If this is not a partitive genitive, then what is it?
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And "source" is extra-biblical -- what a hoot!

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Well then, find a Biblical example that leaves us no doubt as to its meaning of source. There are none, except circular examples which do not count. If that claim really qualifies as a hoot, you should easily be able to demonstrate the "hootiness" of the claim, without drawing circles.
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I love the idea that people are seeing JWs defend their "analysis" this way. That's why I keep responding, because the more you say, the worse it looks for you. And you can't stop, because you have this plus-sized ego that makes you think everything you say is right, even when you are talking crazy. Even people with modest educations realize that things like beauty and truth are not classes, because most people were awake when they read about Plato.

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Then tell me what "she is the beginning of beauty" means Sulla. Explain it clearly, don't be vague, and tell me what kind of genitive classification does it fall into.
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But, because you keep changing the subject and can't discipline yourself to address the actual issues, I will again summarize:

We have seen that there exist valid exceptions to the rule Roherham proposes. Moreover, there is nothing about the word arche that demands a partitive reading. Therefore, there is no rule demanding we read Rev. 3 to have a partitive genitive.

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Although I am willing to drop the argument about arche in a genitive pharse always being a partitive genitive, even though I am convinced they are, it still remains true that the word arche, whenever it occurs in a genitive phrase in the BIBLE, it has a partitive aspect to it, which means it always calls for a group or class that it is the arche of. There are no exceptions. The article's conclusion has not been altered in the least.
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Proper arguments to counter these observations would be 1) that alternative readings are not valid in the cases we've discussed and 2) that arche is necessarily partitive. Rotherham's repetitive insistances do not count, except to him.

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If we choose alternative genitive calssifications other than partitive genitive, they do not change the fact that arche always carries that partitive aspect when followed by a genitive noun. All Biblical examples demonstrate that to be true. That counters your goal to disprove the conclusion of the article.

The word arche, whenever it means beginning, in the sense of the first thing, carries a natural partitive aspect to it, just like word in English is naturally partitive when it means the "first thing of" something. Therefore, in those instances, which include Gen. and Deut., it has a partitive aspect to it. Even if we took a strict genitive of production in that phrase the word "beginning" still demands an answer to the question, "Beginning of what?" It would mean that Rueben was the FIRST thing produced by Jacob's strength. And the question then is the FIRST thing of WHAT? The word has a natural partitive aspect to it so even if I concede a genitive of production, which I do not, nothing really changes about the overall point of the article, just like nothing really changes about the overall point of the article in your point number 1. And of course, as we will no doubt see, nothing will change the overall conclusion of the article to your point number 3. I suppose I should thank you though for helping me refine the points of the article to make a solid production as it was intended to be. So, thankyou.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:08 pm

Hey HeKS,

It seems to me you have two significant misunderstandings: 1) the reasoning behind the way Rotherham divided his initial argumentation, and 2) What he expects by way of rebuttal.


But what about my needs? What about what I expect to get from this relationship? We never talk about that, because you never have time; but you'd make the time if you cared.

(That's a little joke, in case it doesn't come across)


In using examples from throughout the Bible, Rotherham intended to demonstrate the partitive relationship that accompanied the use of arche in genitive statements, regardless of whether arche meant "beginning" or "ruler".


Well, yeah. Though he only uses phrases with "beginning" in his examples.

In looking specifically at John's writings, Rotherham intended to demonstrate what John consistently used this word to mean.


Right. It isn't clear why that should be kosher.

The point was that John always used arche to mean "beginning", not "ruler". But perhaps just as importantly is the fact that we are not left to wonder what word John would use to mean ruler, because he used archon to mean "ruler" just as consistently as he used arche to mean "beginning", which is a point I don't seem to recall you interacting with in your analysis.


I get you. In fact, this happens to be a valid point. But I was looking for the justification for limiting our analysis to St. John's writings in this case and expanding our analysis to a much wider set of references in the other case.

So this is not just a matter of saying he could have used arche to mean something different this one time, as your illustration suggests. Rather, if we are to say that he used arche to mean "ruler" just this one time, we must explain why he abandoned the word he used everywhere else to mean "ruler" and instead used a word he everywhere else used to mean "beginning" instead. To answer "because" is not a reasonable argument.


Ah, I couldn't agree more. However, as you would agree, merely noting this habit/ preference is not a conclusive argument, either. That is, we can raise the question and demand some good answer for this difference, and that's all legitimate. What we can't do is simply point out the different words used and suppose that is the end of the argument. So, yes, one who wants to argue that this is an exception to John's normal usage does need to explain why he thinks the change was made; and no, simply pointing out that this would be an exception to his normal usage is not conclusive.

Now, as for what Rotherham expects by way of attempted rebuttal, your apparent misunderstanding has caused you to greatly misrepresent him on this point. If you want to challenge the partitive relationship the Greek word arche has when used in a genitive statement in the Bible, then you can address any of the Biblical examples. However, if you want to challenge the meaning of the word as used by John in this particular instance, arguing for "ruler" rather than "beginning", you should limit yourself to John's writings, because he gives us enough data to draw on in order to make an informed conclusion.


Seriously, you two have a really creepy habit of speaking for each other. Very creepy, and it needs to be said.

I think you should respond when you have more time, because this won't work. What if I want to challenge the idea of the partitive relationship of the word arche in John's writings?

See? Rotherham says, 'I can use lots of sources to establish the use of the partitive and apply this rule to John's particular use, but you can't use lots of sources to evaluate this case of John's particular use.' Obviously, there is an inconsistent method being applied.

I mean, look, if there is some rule that we can derive from looking at Genesis or Ruth or Habbakkuk and suppose we are allowed to apply it anywhere we like, on what basis can we deny the process of looking to Hebrews or Psalms or Exodus to see how the bible uses the word itself?

In one case you are saying that there is some way that the whole bible uses a phrase, but in the other case you want to say that we can't look at the whole bible to see how the whole bible uses a word.

Either we are going to limit ourselves to the way John uses terms or else we are not going to limit ourselves. We can't limit just the other side.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:03 pm

Out of respect for Heks, per his request, I am going to curb the personal comments and attempt to focus on the information at hand. I hope you can do the same. let me say that after tallking with Heks, he has convinced me that not all of the examples HAVE TO BE partitive genitive, but unfortunately for you, that doesn' t change the overall point of the article as we will see and as I am sure he will point out in his larger response to you.


Well, let's be polite for the HeKSter, I guess.

OK, so the main point of the article -- that the grammatical structure itself dictates only one possible reading of Rev. 3 -- is no longer operative. OK. You claim that there exists some other reason that will force only one possible reading on Rev. 3. Gotcha. Let's take a look.


...regardless of the genitive classification one wants to assign to "arche" followed by a genitive, all the Biblical examples show arche to logically demand a group or class to which it belongs. There are no exceptions...

So even with this modification in my argument, arche is always either in a partitive genitive classification or the word itself demands a group or class to belong to. That should end the problem with the Gen and Deut examples because even if they could be regarded as a genitive of production, which I am not convinced of by a long shot, the word arche can only logically mean BEGINNING in the sense of the FIRST one of something indicated by the following genitive noun. Therefore, this objection leaves you nowhere in overturning the conclusion of the article, even if the content needs some adjustment which I am willing to do for the sake of not getting hung up on a single classification.


Well, first, we are talking about something more significant than a "modification," aren't we? The entire paper was built on this partitive genitive argument and that's not the way the paper needs to be re-written. I appreciate that you want to minimize the scale of this change, but it is an entirely different argument you want to put in place now.

Second, I wish you'd figure out whether HeKS has convinced you of this point or not. You begin by saying that he has convinced you that not all the examples have to be partitive genitives, and then you turn around and say you are not convinced by a long shot. Which is it?

And third, I need clarification on this new point. Are you saying the word itself requires that there exists some group to which the referent belongs? Or are you saying that the word itself requires there exist some group to which the referent belongs IF there is an associated genitive phrase?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:06 pm

Hello Sulla,

Before I respond I was wondering if you would please answer the questions that I asked of you.

They were as follows:

Please explain to me how you are using the word beginning in the phrase "she is beginning of beauty". What does that phrase mean to you?

Plus, the fear of Jehovah is a part of overall wisdom, is it not? Is it not the beginning of wisdom? If this is not a partitive genitive to you, then what is it?

And this: Even if we took a strict genitive of production in that phrase the word "beginning" still demands an answer to the question, "Beginning of what?" It would mean that Rueben was the FIRST thing produced by Jacob's strength. And the question then is the FIRST thing of WHAT?

Please provide some answers for those as it is important for the development of this conversation and my subsequent response.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:31 pm

Fine. I am using the word according to Webster's online dictionary and the definitions here:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beginning

One of these definitions is

3: Origin; source. Cross check here:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/origin

Observe:

synonyms origin, source, inception, root mean the point at which something begins its course or existence. origin applies to the things or persons from which something is ultimately derived and often to the causes operating before the thing itself comes into being <an investigation into the origin of baseball>. source applies more often to the point where something springs into being <the source of the Nile> <the source of recurrent trouble>. inception stresses the beginning of something without implying causes <the business has been a success since its inception>. root suggests a first, ultimate, or fundamental source often not easily discerned <the real root of the violence>.

Note added emphasis.

cross check here:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/source

1 a : a generative force : cause b (1) : a point of origin or procurement : beginning (2) : one that initiates : author; also : prototype, model (3) : one that supplies information

Thus, I mean she is the one that initiates beauty, it did not exist prior to her creating it. She is the thing from which beauty is ultimately derived.

I mean fear of the Lord is the cause of wisdom that operates prior to wisdom's existence in a person and is, in this way, the necessary condition for wisdom to happen.

Note the etymology listed for these words:

Source: Middle English sours, from Anglo-French surse spring, source, from past participle of surdre to rise, spring forth, from Latin surgere

Origin: Middle English origine, from Latin origin-, origo, from oriri to rise — more at orient

Now, according to Vine's there is a similarity in the development of the word arche that should be clear:

The root arch primarily indicated what was of worth. Hence the verb archo meant "to be first," and archon denoted "a ruler." So also arose the idea of "a beginning," the origin, the active cause, whether a person or thing... In Heb_6:1, where the word is rendered "first principles," the original has "let us leave the word of the beginning of Christ," i.e., the doctrine of the elementary principles relating to Christ.


Actually, the more I think of it, the more I like the idea that Ruben is being called the source of his father's strength. The NAB makes this point, I think, by simply translating, "You are my strength."
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:09 am

hello Sulla,

I've combined both of your latest posts to me into one.

Fine. I am using the word according to Webster's online dictionary and the definitions here:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beginning

One of these definitions is

3: Origin; source. Cross check here:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/origin

Observe:

synonyms origin, source, inception, root mean the point at which something begins its course or existence. origin applies to the things or persons from which something is ultimately derived and often to the causes operating before the thing itself comes into being <an investigation into the origin of baseball>. source applies more often to the point where something springs into being <the source of the Nile> <the source of recurrent trouble>. inception stresses the beginning of something without implying causes <the business has been a success since its inception>. root suggests a first, ultimate, or fundamental source often not easily discerned <the real root of the violence>.

Note added emphasis.

cross check here:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/source

1 a : a generative force : cause b (1) : a point of origin or procurement : beginning (2) : one that initiates : author; also : prototype, model (3) : one that supplies information

Thus, I mean she is the one that initiates beauty, it did not exist prior to her creating it. She is the thing from which beauty is ultimately derived.

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Since you are using the word in the sense of "source", do you not see how this is irrelevant to the discussion since it is the very meaning of "source" that is under question? What we are saying is that the word arche does not mean that and there are no undisputable examples of that to be found. I don't see how it is helpful to invent a phrase in English, where the word "beginning" can mean "source" to demonstrate how the word "arche" or reyshyth" are used in ancient Greek and Hebrew. I don't see the value of this example.
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I mean fear of the Lord is the cause of wisdom that operates prior to wisdom's existence in a person and is, in this way, the necessary condition for wisdom to happen.

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But here is the problem. We have already acknowledged that reyshtyh does not offer the meaning of "source". It is not in its lexical field of meaning. Since the verses that tell us the the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom were written in Hebrew, that removes the possibility of those words meaning "source". This is also true then for the Gen. and Deut. examples and the LXX transaltors obviously knew this as they translated Gen 49:3 as a partitive genitive by rendering it as the "beginning of my children".
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Note the etymology listed for these words:

Source: Middle English sours, from Anglo-French surse spring, source, from past participle of surdre to rise, spring forth, from Latin surgere

Origin: Middle English origine, from Latin origin-, origo, from oriri to rise — more at orient

Now, according to Vine's there is a similarity in the development of the word arche that should be clear:

The root arch primarily indicated what was of worth. Hence the verb archo meant "to be first," and archon denoted "a ruler." So also arose the idea of "a beginning," the origin, the active cause, whether a person or thing... In Heb_6:1, where the word is rendered "first principles," the original has "let us leave the word of the beginning of Christ," i.e., the doctrine of the elementary principles relating to Christ.


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I realize what the lexicons say about the word meaning "source" when it comes to Rev. 3:14, but there isn't a shred of evidence for rendering it that way. And when it comes to any Hebrew scripture example, if "arche" is being used to render "reyshyth", then we already know that it can't mean "source" since we already know that "reyshyth" does not carry that meaning.
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Actually, the more I think of it, the more I like the idea that Ruben is being called the source of his father's strength. The NAB makes this point, I think, by simply translating, "You are my strength."
[/quote]

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But again, this wont work because the original word is "reyshtyh" that the Lxx transaltors rendered as "arche" and as we have acknowledged, reyshtyth does not carry "source" as a meaning. So changing this to "source" in order to escape the partitive aspect of the word "arche" in that phrase wont work based upon the lexical range of the word "reyshyth".

Also, the NAB doesn't render that phrase as "You are my strength", they render it as "the first fruit of my manhood". They clearly recognized the partitive nature of the word "reyshyth" in the Hebrew and the word "arche" in the Greek in that phrase by rendering it as first fruit. First fruit is a naturally partitive phrase.

So with all that in mind let me respond to the prior post, as follows:
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Sulla;
OK, so the main point of the article -- that the grammatical structure itself dictates only one possible reading of Rev. 3 -- is no longer operative. OK. You claim that there exists some other reason that will force only one possible reading on Rev. 3. Gotcha. Let's take a look. [/color]

...regardless of the genitive classification one wants to assign to "arche" followed by a genitive, all the Biblical examples show arche to logically demand a group or class to which it belongs. There are no exceptions...

So even with this modification in my argument, arche is always either in a partitive genitive classification or the word itself demands a group or class to belong to. That should end the problem with the Gen and Deut examples because even if they could be regarded as a genitive of production, which I am not convinced of by a long shot, the word arche can only logically mean BEGINNING in the sense of the FIRST one of something indicated by the following genitive noun. Therefore, this objection leaves you nowhere in overturning the conclusion of the article, even if the content needs some adjustment which I am willing to do for the sake of not getting hung up on a single classification.


[color=#800000]Well, first, we are talking about something more significant than a "modification," aren't we? The entire paper was built on this partitive genitive argument and that's not the way the paper needs to be re-written. I appreciate that you want to minimize the scale of this change, but it is an entirely different argument you want to put in place now.

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Not entirely, as every example of arche followed by a genitive demonstrates a partitive nature to arche, either by the fact that it is undeniably a partitive genitive or by the fact that the word itself as used in the phrase has a a partitive nature by the very meaning of the word. It wouldn't matter to me if one thinks of that as a major change or not, I certainly don't see it as major. it will simply require a littel more explanation in those places where someone could appeal to another genitive classification, which isn't often to begin with.
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Second, I wish you'd figure out whether HeKS has convinced you of this point or not. You begin by saying that he has convinced you that not all the examples have to be partitive genitives, and then you turn around and say you are not convinced by a long shot. Which is it?

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It's easy really. He has convinced me that it is possible to appeal to another genitive classication in certain places, but I am not personally convinced that any of the arche examples followed by a genitive actually are representing another classification. I see them all as most reasonably representing the partitive genitive, including the Gen. and Deut examples.
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And third, I need clarification on this new point. Are you saying the word itself requires that there exists some group to which the referent belongs? Or are you saying that the word itself requires there exist some group to which the referent belongs IF there is an associated genitive phrase

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You're going to have to clarify your question, it sounds as though you asked the same thing twice. (edit) Sorry, I missed the last part of your second question following the IF. What I am saying is that in every Biblical example of where arche is found in a genitive phrase, arche always has a partitive aspect to it, either it is directly a genitive partitive or it carries a partitive aspect to it. So, the word itself, when found in a genitive phrase, if we stick with Biblical precedent and pattern, would require a group to which it belongs

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:33 am

Since you are using the word in the sense of "source", do you not see how this is irrelevant to the discussion since it is the very meaning of "source" that is under question? What we are saying is that the word arche does not mean that and there are no undisputable examples of that to be found. I don't see how it is helpful to invent a phrase in English, where the word "beginning" can mean "source" to demonstrate how the word "arche" or reyshyth" are used in ancient Greek and Hebrew. I don't see the value of this example.


Vine's and Strong's disagree with you on this point. The meanings "source" and "origin" are clearly within the meanings of the Greek word arche, according to these standard reference works. More than that, the etymology makes it clear why this would be the case. I wonder if your point isn't tautological: everywhere that the meaning of arche is specifically, "the first in a series of things," we know that it is the first in a series of things. If so, I wonder why we are wasting time on this question.

Vine's tells us: "The root arch primarily indicated what was of worth. Hence the verb archo meant "to be first," and archon denoted "a ruler." So also arose the idea of "a beginning," the origin, the active cause, whether a person or thing..." So, it isn't clear what makes you keep insisting that this meaning is not valid. It's in the dictionary, and I don't know how to make it more valid than that. Moreover, we know from several sources that arche is also a philosophical concept concerning the first principle of the world, the original stuff from which the world came to be (I'm thinking of the Stanford Encycolpedia of Philosophy, available with an easy search -- it's like plato.org or something).

In fact, since we have moved on from the specific claim that the bible always uses this specific grammatical construct in a specific way and are now evaluating the inherent meaning of the word itself, we can agree that a wide range of sources are available to us. And it turns out that, when we look at contemporaneous Greek literature, we find lots of examples where it is used in just this way. So I don't think this is a fruitful grove for us to work: "source" is clearly one of the definitions of the word.


But here is the problem. We have already acknowledged that reyshtyh does not offer the meaning of "source". It is not in its lexical field of meaning. Since the verses that tell us the the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom were written in Hebrew, that removes the possibility of those words meaning "source". This is also true then for the Gen. and Deut. examples and the LXX transaltors obviously knew this as they translated Gen 49:3 as a partitive genitive by rendering it as the "beginning of my children".


So what? I thought you asked what I meant by it. I just told you what I meant.

I realize what the lexicons say about the word meaning "source" when it comes to Rev. 3:14, but there isn't a shred of evidence for rendering it that way. And when it comes to any Hebrew scripture example, if "arche" is being used to render "reyshyth", then we already know that it can't mean "source" since we already know that "reyshyth" does not carry that meaning.


There is evidence, but first you have to admit that "source" is a valid definition. Refusal to admit this fact will stall the conversation. And I'm going to insist that you not take it back, later, the way you did with your concession that not every genitive of this sort is necessarily partitive.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:33 am

Hello Sulla,

Since you are using the word in the sense of "source", do you not see how this is irrelevant to the discussion since it is the very meaning of "source" that is under question? What we are saying is that the word arche does not mean that and there are no undisputable examples of that to be found. I don't see how it is helpful to invent a phrase in English, where the word "beginning" can mean "source" to demonstrate how the word "arche" or reyshyth" are used in ancient Greek and Hebrew. I don't see the value of this example.


Vine's and Strong's disagree with you on this point. The meanings "source" and "origin" are clearly within the meanings of the Greek word arche, according to these standard reference works. More than that, the etymology makes it clear why this would be the case. I wonder if your point isn't tautological: everywhere that the meaning of arche is specifically, "the first in a series of things," we know that it is the first in a series of things. If so, I wonder why we are wasting time on this question.

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What we are trying to get you to realize is that we are challenging the meaning of that word as used by the Bible writers. The Trinitarian world needs to show us one undeniable place in the scriptures where the word means "source". The problem with ever using secular sources in a discussion like this is that men misuse words all the time and assign meanings to them that are not always legitimate. That doesn't happen within the scriptures as they are inspired by God. If we want to let God be the interpreter for us, if we have a sufficient database of information, then we have no call to go outside the Bible and use the words of men which may be in error to begin with or highly interpretational as to how they used the word. The force of the article was that IF we allow the scriptures to interpret thinmgs for us as much as possible, then there is no other way to look at "arche" in Revelation 3:14 except in a partitive manner.
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Vine's tells us: "The root arch primarily indicated what was of worth. Hence the verb archo meant "to be first," and archon denoted "a ruler." So also arose the idea of "a beginning," the origin, the active cause, whether a person or thing..." So, it isn't clear what makes you keep insisting that this meaning is not valid. It's in the dictionary, and I don't know how to make it more valid than that. Moreover, we know from several sources that arche is also a philosophical concept concerning the first principle of the world, the original stuff from which the world came to be (I'm thinking of the Stanford Encycolpedia of Philosophy, available with an easy search -- it's like plato.org or something).

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As I mentioned, we are all aware of what the lexicons say in assigning "source" as one of the meanings of "arche", but the point you seem to be failing to grasp is that we are challenging that. It does no good to say that the lexicons prove that as a meaning because they say it means that in Rev. 3:14 because that is the very point we are challenging. The point is they can find no place where the word clearly means source in the Bible which adds weight to the challenge of it actually ever being used that way by Bible writers.
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In fact, since we have moved on from the specific claim that the bible always uses this specific grammatical construct in a specific way and are now evaluating the inherent meaning of the word itself, we can agree that a wide range of sources are available to us. And it turns out that, when we look at contemporaneous Greek literature, we find lots of examples where it is used in just this way. So I don't think this is a fruitful grove for us to work: "source" is clearly one of the definitions of the word.


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No, we are not just comparing the inherent meaning of the word. The point is we are comparing the genitive phrases where arche occurs, not just the word alone, but arche in a genitive phrase such as we have at Rev. 3:14. Of course there is no clear example of even the word itself meaning source and it is actually ruled out contextually in Rev. 3:14. We are told that the creation was "by God" which identifies the source as God, not the faithful and true witness, the Amen, aka the Son.
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But here is the problem. We have already acknowledged that reyshtyh does not offer the meaning of "source". It is not in its lexical field of meaning. Since the verses that tell us the the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom were written in Hebrew, that removes the possibility of those words meaning "source". This is also true then for the Gen. and Deut. examples and the LXX transaltors obviously knew this as they translated Gen 49:3 as a partitive genitive by rendering it as the "beginning of my children".


So what? I thought you asked what I meant by it. I just told you what I meant.

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Which as we have seen, can't be the case where the LXX translators used "arche" to translate "reyshyth". it does not mean source.
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I realize what the lexicons say about the word meaning "source" when it comes to Rev. 3:14, but there isn't a shred of evidence for rendering it that way. And when it comes to any Hebrew scripture example, if "arche" is being used to render "reyshyth", then we already know that it can't mean "source" since we already know that "reyshyth" does not carry that meaning.


There is evidence, but first you have to admit that "source" is a valid definition. Refusal to admit this fact will stall the conversation. And I'm going to insist that you not take it back, later, the way you did with your concession that not every genitive of this sort is necessarily partitive.[/quote]

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Well, first of all, I didn't contradict any admission that some examples might not be partitive genitives. Just because I admit that something might have the potential for particular clssification doesn;t mean that I believe it is that classification.

Second, I have to be convinced by evidence that the word actually means "source" and i have not been convinced, and certainly not convinced that any Bible writer ever used it as such. You do realize of course that there is a perfectly good word in the Greek for "source", right?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:54 am

Look, the definition is in the dictionary, ok? The word is used that way all the time in lots of different sources. It is not obscure, by any means. So this idea that we have to have examples outside Rev. 3 before we are allowed to use it at Rev. 3 is not valid.

There are a boatload of reasons why it is the right choice there and in Hebrews, for example. These reasons are based on context, audience, theme, etc. How on earth is anyone supposed to prove a particular meaning of a word without looking at these things? But you keep insisting that I provide some database of other examples while you reject the method for establishing the validity of those examples.

Finally, the idea that secular sources and extra-biblical sources might "misuse" this word is not a serious argument. OK? It's just not. If you'd prefer not to engage the discussion, I get it. But the word does have that meaning of "source" and pretending that such a meaning is somehow illegitimate is not going to be viewed as a reasonable argument.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:08 pm

Hello Sulla,

[color=#800000]Look, the definition is in the dictionary, ok? The word is used that way all the time in lots of different sources. It is not obscure, by any means. So this idea that we have to have examples outside Rev. 3 before we are allowed to use it at Rev. 3 is not valid.

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But your idea of its use is misguided. In the secular sources that are referenced, it is used in the sense of something being the "first principle", which means the elementary stage of something, that which all things are made FROM, that's certainly not a use of the word that Trinitarians can appeal to. It is only used in the sense of source in regard to the "first principle", which is a naturally partitive expression. Thales, Anaximander and any of those who discuss their philosophies use arche as "first principle", which means the first thing that existed that every thing else is made FROM. That isn't an acceptable meaning for Trinitarians and still carries the idea of partitiveness anyway. All things are made FROM that "first principle", the first substance. Surely Trinitarians do not think that all creation is made from the substance of the Son. So arche in this sense is spoken of as the first substance, and can only be regarded as a source in the sense that all things are made from that substance.
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There are a boatload of reasons why it is the right choice there and in Hebrews, for example. These reasons are based on context, audience, theme, etc. How on earth is anyone supposed to prove a particular meaning of a word without looking at these things? But you keep insisting that I provide some database of other examples while you reject the method for establishing the validity of those examples.

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Context? I've already demonstrated how context denies the meaning of source, because the creation is spoken of as "BY God ". The faithful and true witness was not identified as the source contextually, but God surely was. And besides, the scriptures do not allow for the Son to be the active source since he is consistently portrayed as the agent, the instrument, not the cause.

Audience? It was Christain, how does that add to the boatload of evidence for your position?

Theme? Future events? How does that add to the boatload of evidence?
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Finally, the idea that secular sources and extra-biblical sources might "misuse" this word is not a serious argument. OK? It's just not.

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Sure it is. Must we imagine that everything written by secular sources is automatically linguistically and semantically correct? Of course not, but no matter, there is no need to appeal to that since the "first principle" meaning doesn't help the Trinitarian in the least and that is the only thing that comes close to the word ever meaning source, secular, Biblical or otherwise.
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If you'd prefer not to engage the discussion, I get it. But the word does have that meaning of "source" and pretending that such a meaning is somehow illegitimate is not going to be viewed as a reasonable argument.

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But only within the proper range of meaning as I have mentioned. Whereas "first principle" can be regarded as a source of something, it means that the something that follows the "first principle" is made up of the substance of the "first principle". That is exactly how the philosophers used it. That just wont work for the Trinitarian interpretation so the situation is even worse for you now than it was at the beginning for we have seen that even the secualr references do not allow for the meaning you need, and of course, as mentioned, context rules it out anyway.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:42 pm

Let me go ahead and suggest a path forward, since we seem to be spinning our wheels. The idea that you think you can answer the question of the intended audience with the word "Christian" and be done with it suggests the degree to which this intervention is necessary.

Point 1

There's no "secular" usage of words in the way you mean it. It's not like a word only has the real meanings that scripture uses and all other uses are somehow false. Words is words, and they means what they means.

Look, when you take philosophy, one of the things you are often asked to do is get a little familiarity with the language it is originally written in -- Greek, German, French whatever. And the reason for this is simple: the concepts being expressed are very often subtle and the language used is very nuanced. Even in translation, it is very common to see important concepts left in the original language, simply because translating the word actually makes things less clear.

Logos is a perfect example of this. It is very common to see both theological and non-theological discussions simply refuse to translate Logos at all, often leaving it in the Greek. Why? Because the meaning of the term is loaded in such a way that a simple translation cannot really help the reader figure out what is going on.

Now, that has to be done sometimes to remind the reader that we don't begin with some English word and read backward, we begin with the word and the idea as it exists within the original and work forward.

Point 2:

Now, the word arche has a lexical field that everybody knows: it includes source, origin, first of a series, ruler, corner, and some others. Many times, it is very easy and correct simply to translate the word into English as "beginning," simply because the word "beginning" has a considerable overlap with its own lexical field: first in a series, origin, source. What's not to like?

One of your problems is that you want to take arche, limit it's lexical field to "first in a series," and then translate that to the English, "beginning," but with a lexical field similarly limited to "first in a series." It don't work like that, Rotherham.

There is simply no valid way to limit the lexical field of a particular word, simply because the writer does not make use of that particular meaning elsewhere. That's not how it's done.

Point 3:

I said:

Finally, the idea that secular sources and extra-biblical sources might "misuse" this word is not a serious argument. OK? It's just not.


You replied:


Sure it is. Must we imagine that everything written by secular sources is automatically linguistically and semantically correct?


You have to stop this kind of thing because it is dishonest and stupid, OK? You should know your reply is not a valid response. If you know it is not, you have to stop it; if you do not know it is not a valid response, then you should stop engaging in this discussion. OK? Your point was that we can't use any source aside from the bible to look at the way the word is used because[/color

The problem with ever using secular sources in a discussion like this is that men misuse words all the time...


[color=#800000]Like I said, this is not a serious argument. Changing my point to make it seem like I said non-biblical sources are always automatically right is simply dishonest and I want you to stop it.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sat Sep 26, 2009 2:04 am

Hi Sulla,

I need to apologize in advance for the fact that my responses are not going to be as thorough as I would like at the moment, but I'd like to toss some comments out there nonetheless otherwise there will be too much to cover at once when I actually have some time.

That said...

Sulla wrote:
Point 1

There's no "secular" usage of words in the way you mean it. It's not like a word only has the real meanings that scripture uses and all other uses are somehow false. Words is words, and they means what they means.

Look, when you take philosophy, one of the things you are often asked to do is get a little familiarity with the language it is originally written in -- Greek, German, French whatever. And the reason for this is simple: the concepts being expressed are very often subtle and the language used is very nuanced. Even in translation, it is very common to see important concepts left in the original language, simply because translating the word actually makes things less clear.

Logos is a perfect example of this. It is very common to see both theological and non-theological discussions simply refuse to translate Logos at all, often leaving it in the Greek. Why? Because the meaning of the term is loaded in such a way that a simple translation cannot really help the reader figure out what is going on.

Now, that has to be done sometimes to remind the reader that we don't begin with some English word and read backward, we begin with the word and the idea as it exists within the original and work forward.


I don't disagree in essence with what I understand you to be saying here, but I think it's only one side of the coin. You say Logos is a perfect example of your point. I think it's also a perfect example of the flip side of the coin.

Sometimes words are adopted by philosophical frameworks that expand the lexical range of the word and/or imbue it with philosophical concepts that go beyond what the word itself actually means as a word in the original language. When this happens, a reader - especially of a different time and language but who is familiar with the philosophical baggage - can be inclined to read even a normal usage of the word in the light of the expanded philosophical framework. Sometimes the philosophy was developed later than the writing in question, sometimes it ran concurrently but had nothing to do with the intended usage within the writing in question. One must be wary of erroneously reading expanded philosophical meanings back into common words. If part of the lexical field of a word is based on philosophical usage, one needs to be especially wary.


Sulla wrote:
Point 2:

Now, the word arche has a lexical field that everybody knows: it includes source, origin, first of a series, ruler, corner, and some others. Many times, it is very easy and correct simply to translate the word into English as "beginning," simply because the word "beginning" has a considerable overlap with its own lexical field: first in a series, origin, source. What's not to like?

One of your problems is that you want to take arche, limit it's lexical field to "first in a series," and then translate that to the English, "beginning," but with a lexical field similarly limited to "first in a series." It don't work like that, Rotherham.

There is simply no valid way to limit the lexical field of a particular word, simply because the writer does not make use of that particular meaning elsewhere. That's not how it's done.


First of all, I agree with your point that words are words. The failure of some person to use a particular meaning of a particular word doesn't affect the lexical range of the word. As Rotherham and I were discussing the other day, these Bible writers were using words that existed. They didn't invent Koine Greek, nor did they invent the words that make up the NT. That having been said, the lexical field of a word is generally determined by usage and the meanings within the field, while not generally synonymous, are generally related to the same general phenomenon. This is often how a word will go through a semantic shift over time and find its lexical field expanded or contracted: somewhat related concepts begin or cease to be referred to with the same word.

Where this can tend to get confusing is precisely when one is presented with the translation phenomenon you describe. The semantic field of a word in one language can and often does overlap the semantic field of a word in a different language but does not encompass it in its entirety. This becomes problematic in translation when the meanings of a word in the original language are listed in the target language. This can present a scenario where, for example, an English word is used as a meaning of a Greek word, but only part of the semantic field of the English word is applicable to the meaning of the Greek word.

It seems to me you're having the very same problem you say we must avoid when it comes to the meaning of "source" for arche; though you're not alone. The English word, source, has a number of meanings, but as is evidenced by the usage of arche we have available to us at the time, it's meaning of "source" should not be assumed to encompass the English word, source, in its entirety.

In Rev 3:14, you would be looking for "source / origin" to identify some active cause separate from the physical creation that caused creation to come into existence. Thayer's provides 'origin / active cause' as one of the meanings of arche. The problem is that the example Thayer points to for this meaning of arche to demonstrate such a usage is Anaximander, however, as Rotherham has pointed out, Anaximander quite clearly did NOT use arche in this sense within his philosophical framework, nor did Thales before him. They used arche to mean source in the sense of a first (material) principle, the elementary stage or state of matter from which the primary elements are derived. For them, the arche was not an entirely separate causal agent but the very 'stuff' that all creation was made from.

If you stop and think about it for a second, this is not a particularly unusual application of the term arche, and is not unlike a reference to the extremities of a sail, or the source of a river. As I mentioned about semantic fields above, it is not a synonym of the other meanings in the semantic field, but it is related to the same general phenomenon of being intrinsically part of something in a way that involves primacy or extremity of some sort, but the fact of the primacy or extremity in whatever sense is indicated by context doesn't erase the partitive aspect of the phenomenon that exists across the semantic range.

If you were looking to argue that Christ was the material substance from which the rest of creation was made, you might have something to go on with the meaning of "source", but I'm thinking you probably don't want to argue that and jump on Anaximander's philosophical bandwagon. Of course, even if you did, I'm not sure it would help, since it would either still have Christ as part of the creation by God or, as necessitated by Trinitarian doctrine, you'd be forced to conclude that all creation is made of the very substance of God, which is where Anaximander ended up.

Finally, coming back to the issue of semantic range being determined by usage, a failure of some writer to use a certain meaning of a word doesn't affect that word's semantic range, but when you have the word used many times across many related books over a period of time you can get a pretty good grip on the way that word (and other words) are used within the context of the subject matter. You can also get a sense of how any particular author tends to use the word. In the case of the Bible, we have no clear example anywhere of arche being used with a meaning of "source", and even the secular source pointed to by Thayer's for the type of "source" you're looking for doesn't use arche to mean source in the way you'd like at Rev. 3:14.

It seems to me that what you want to find at Rev. 3:14 would probably be pothen, which I believe John makes use of a dozen or so times in his writings to denote the place or condition from which something comes, the origin / source of something in the sense of it's author or giver, or the cause of something in the sense of how it can be such that it is.

If you're keeping track, that means he had a word he consistently used to refer to a partitive beginning (arche), a word he consistently used to refer to ruler(s) (archon), and a word he consistently used to refer to a source in the sense you'd like at Rev 3:14 (pothen).

So if you want to argue for "source", just as with "ruler", you need to explain why he would use a word for "source" that he consistently used to mean something else everywhere else instead of the word he used everywhere else to actually mean "source" in the sense you want and that was more suitable for conveying the idea you'd like.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:35 pm

Thoughtful post, HeKS. Let me go in reverse order. You asked:

It seems to me that what you want to find at Rev. 3:14 would probably be pothen, which I believe John makes use of a dozen or so times in his writings to denote the place or condition from which something comes, the origin / source of something in the sense of it's author or giver, or the cause of something in the sense of how it can be such that it is.

...

So if you want to argue for "source", just as with "ruler", you need to explain why he would use a word for "source" that he consistently used to mean something else everywhere else instead of the word he used everywhere else to actually mean "source" in the sense you want and that was more suitable for conveying the idea you'd like.


Well, maybe because pothen is an adverb and not a noun. Does that explain it?

First of all, I agree with your point that words are words. The failure of some person to use a particular meaning of a particular word doesn't affect the lexical range of the word. As Rotherham and I were discussing the other day, these Bible writers were using words that existed. They didn't invent Koine Greek, nor did they invent the words that make up the NT. That having been said, the lexical field of a word is generally determined by usage and the meanings within the field, while not generally synonymous, are generally related to the same general phenomenon. This is often how a word will go through a semantic shift over time and find its lexical field expanded or contracted: somewhat related concepts begin or cease to be referred to with the same word.


Quite.

In Rev 3:14, you would be looking for "source / origin" to identify some active cause separate from the physical creation that caused creation to come into existence. Thayer's provides 'origin / active cause' as one of the meanings of arche. The problem is that the example Thayer points to for this meaning of arche to demonstrate such a usage is Anaximander, however, as Rotherham has pointed out, Anaximander quite clearly did NOT use arche in this sense within his philosophical framework, nor did Thales before him. They used arche to mean source in the sense of a first (material) principle, the elementary stage or state of matter from which the primary elements are derived. For them, the arche was not an entirely separate causal agent but the very 'stuff' that all creation was made from.


Didn't we just talk about lexical drift? You know, there is philosophical drift, as well. For example, Descartes's soul was hardly Aquinas's soul, much less Moses's soul. For that matter, within the same theological community, there could be robust arguments over which ways words / concepts should be modified to properly represent some particular idea (compare homoousion / homoiousion)

And, this wouldn't be the first time that Jewish or Christian thinkers modified a Greek philosophical concept to their theology. Indeed, it is good to remember that the pre-Socratic philosophers were ... pre-Socratic. Thales was working a half-dozen centuries prior to St. John, so it isn't clear why we think that view would control the way St. John was writing. Indeed, we know the word was being used in precisely the way I suggest in the works of Origen, a hundred years after John. Origen is much closer to John than Thales is.

I don't quite understand why you can observe that the lexical fields of words can shift over time, but don't seem to understand that philosophical concepts can shift, as well. Indeed, we know that Jewish and Christian writers shifted them on purpose (compare, for example, the different ways homoousious was used in the fourth century).

So the history of the philosophical idea is interesting, but not very persuasive. There really is no reason why John shold have been constrained by Thales's particular understanding.


Sometimes words are adopted by philosophical frameworks that expand the lexical range of the word and/or imbue it with philosophical concepts that go beyond what the word itself actually means as a word in the original language. When this happens, a reader - especially of a different time and language but who is familiar with the philosophical baggage - can be inclined to read even a normal usage of the word in the light of the expanded philosophical framework. Sometimes the philosophy was developed later than the writing in question, sometimes it ran concurrently but had nothing to do with the intended usage within the writing in question. One must be wary of erroneously reading expanded philosophical meanings back into common words. If part of the lexical field of a word is based on philosophical usage, one needs to be especially wary.


Well, let's be careful then and not jump to any hasty conclusions.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:14 am

Hi Sulla,

Sulla wrote:Thoughtful post, HeKS. Let me go in reverse order. You asked:

It seems to me that what you want to find at Rev. 3:14 would probably be pothen, which I believe John makes use of a dozen or so times in his writings to denote the place or condition from which something comes, the origin / source of something in the sense of it's author or giver, or the cause of something in the sense of how it can be such that it is.

...

So if you want to argue for "source", just as with "ruler", you need to explain why he would use a word for "source" that he consistently used to mean something else everywhere else instead of the word he used everywhere else to actually mean "source" in the sense you want and that was more suitable for conveying the idea you'd like.


Well, maybe because pothen is an adverb and not a noun. Does that explain it?


Well, you're correct in pointing out that pothen is an adverb rather than a noun, but that's actually part of my point, though I see I wasn't clear enough. I don't know about you, but I can't seem to find any instances in the Greek NT where something is identified as the source of something using a noun. Rather, when something is intended to be identified as the source of something else, the whole structure of the statement is different, making use of an adverb like "pothen" or a preposition like "ek". This appears to be the consistent pattern of the entire NT and of John himself, who does so around a dozen times.

If John wanted to identify Christ as the source of creation, it seems most reasonable to think he would express the idea in the same way he expressed similar thoughts about the source or origin of something everywhere else in his writings. Instead, we are expected to think that in this one spot he abandoned his otherwise consistent method of expressing such an idea and instead chose to do so using a word (arche) he everywhere else used to mean the beginning part of something, but with an intended meaning that we have no clear example of anywhere else in scripture, much less in his own writings.

Sulla wrote:
First of all, I agree with your point that words are words. The failure of some person to use a particular meaning of a particular word doesn't affect the lexical range of the word. As Rotherham and I were discussing the other day, these Bible writers were using words that existed. They didn't invent Koine Greek, nor did they invent the words that make up the NT. That having been said, the lexical field of a word is generally determined by usage and the meanings within the field, while not generally synonymous, are generally related to the same general phenomenon. This is often how a word will go through a semantic shift over time and find its lexical field expanded or contracted: somewhat related concepts begin or cease to be referred to with the same word.


Quite.

In Rev 3:14, you would be looking for "source / origin" to identify some active cause separate from the physical creation that caused creation to come into existence. Thayer's provides 'origin / active cause' as one of the meanings of arche. The problem is that the example Thayer points to for this meaning of arche to demonstrate such a usage is Anaximander, however, as Rotherham has pointed out, Anaximander quite clearly did NOT use arche in this sense within his philosophical framework, nor did Thales before him. They used arche to mean source in the sense of a first (material) principle, the elementary stage or state of matter from which the primary elements are derived. For them, the arche was not an entirely separate causal agent but the very 'stuff' that all creation was made from.


Didn't we just talk about lexical drift? You know, there is philosophical drift, as well. For example, Descartes's soul was hardly Aquinas's soul, much less Moses's soul. For that matter, within the same theological community, there could be robust arguments over which ways words / concepts should be modified to properly represent some particular idea (compare homoousion / homoiousion)

And, this wouldn't be the first time that Jewish or Christian thinkers modified a Greek philosophical concept to their theology. Indeed, it is good to remember that the pre-Socratic philosophers were ... pre-Socratic. Thales was working a half-dozen centuries prior to St. John, so it isn't clear why we think that view would control the way St. John was writing. Indeed, we know the word was being used in precisely the way I suggest in the works of Origen, a hundred years after John. Origen is much closer to John than Thales is.

I don't quite understand why you can observe that the lexical fields of words can shift over time, but don't seem to understand that philosophical concepts can shift, as well. Indeed, we know that Jewish and Christian writers shifted them on purpose (compare, for example, the different ways homoousious was used in the fourth century).

So the history of the philosophical idea is interesting, but not very persuasive. There really is no reason why John shold have been constrained by Thales's particular understanding.


I'm not denying that philosophies can and do shift over time. I'm pointing out that Thayer's lexicon, which offers "source" as a definition of arche, points specifically to Anaximander as the example of this usage, but Anaximander did not use arche to mean "source" in the sense you're looking for at Rev. 3:14. Anaximander's usage of arche to mean "source" made sense in the context he meant it, which was not unrelated to the partitive sense that existed across the rest of the lexical range of arche but was quite closely related to it.

Even if you want to think that John somehow adapted this philosophical usage of arche to mean source and plopped it into Rev. 3:14, it's not obvious why it would make sense for him to adapt this unique but still partitive philosphical usage of arche to mean "source" in an entirely non-partitive way that flies in the face of why it made sense for Thales and Anaximander et al to use arche in their philosophies in the first place; especially when the thought would not have been a difficult one for him to express through common means.

Now, you mention the writings of Origen. I haven't had a chance to look up his usage, but while you argue that he is closer in time to John than Thales and Anaximander, his writings were later in time than John's; more than 100 years later. Even if Anaximander's use predated John by 6 or 7 centuries, at least it's some kind of basis for saying some usage existed before John's writings. To argue that it's perfectly reasonable to think John made a seemingly novel use of this word because a writer more than a hundred years later used the word that way is anachronistic.

Also, the example I seem to remember of Origen speaking of arche was in relation to John 1, asking in what way he is in the beginning (arche) and also is himself the beginning (arche). I believe he references a meaning of "author" but says that the Logos is the arche in terms of his being wisdom and that creation came about according to wisdom, wisdom being present in creation. This is actually quite like Anaximander's usage. Also, within the same thought, Origen connects Christ as the arche to the wisdom of Proverbs, where Origen quotes wisdom as saying it was created as the beginning (arche) of God's ways, for his works (being the rest of creation).

In these instances where arche is used to mean "source", it seems best to understand the arche as being, in some sense, the extremity of something from which the rest proceeds. Of course, with that meaning, I'd have no issue with this interpretation of Rev. 3:14, as it would both identify Christ as the first creation and as the one through whom the rest of creation proceeded.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:09 am

Really? You think St. John might reasonably have conveyed the idea that Christ is the source of all by using an adverb? "He is the source-ly of creation"?

In any case, we know that the noun, arche is used in the "Begining" statements, and it seems reasonable to suppose that there is some relationship implied between these and the "Alpha and Omega" statements, as well. Revelation talks like this a lot, drawing on the re-writing of Genesis 1 that John does in the prologue to the gospel.

So, I don't know why we would think John "would" have used some other method to express the idea. Those other examples, from what I have seen, are of the, "from whence I came" variety. In other words, hardly the kind of usage you'd want if you were drawing together Genesis, the Gospel of John, and a vision of heavenly glory. And, really, this subtext is actually quite pronounced in John's writing.


I'm not denying that philosophies can and do shift over time. I'm pointing out that Thayer's lexicon, which offers "source" as a definition of arche, points specifically to Anaximander as the example of this usage, but Anaximander did not use arche to mean "source" in the sense you're looking for at Rev. 3:14. Anaximander's usage of arche to mean "source" made sense in the context he meant it, which was not unrelated to the partitive sense that existed across the rest of the lexical range of arche but was quite closely related to it.


So what? Vine's and Strong's don't choose to use Thales as the example. And I guess we would have to make the heroic assumption that a Christianized Jew, writing half a millennium after Thales, might have had similar, but not identical, ideas in his head.

Now, you mention the writings of Origen. I haven't had a chance to look up his usage, but while you argue that he is closer in time to John than Thales and Anaximander, his writings were later in time than John's; more than 100 years later. Even if Anaximander's use predated John by 6 or 7 centuries, at least it's some kind of basis for saying some usage existed before John's writings. To argue that it's perfectly reasonable to think John made a seemingly novel use of this word because a writer more than a hundred years later used the word that way is anachronistic.


Wait a minute -- A Christian writer using the same word within a century of John is anachronistic, but a pagan writer using the same word half a millennium before John is not? Come on.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:35 am

Hello Sulla,

Lexicographers and scholars of a language derive the meanings of words from how they are used in their original contexts. That's how they determine what the word means. The question becomes by what authority do they assign the word the meaning of source in a different way than how Anaximander and Thales used it? If there are no examples of that use within history, either before or after John, then by what authority do they claim that as a meaning? They just don't invent a meaning and then go find places where it can be used that way to support thier definitions, it's the other way around. They find the contexts where the word is used and derive the meanings of the word from those contexts. So where is their historic context for the word to mean source other than the way that Anaximander and Thales used it?

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Sulla wrote:Really? You think St. John might reasonably have conveyed the idea that Christ is the source of all by using an adverb? "He is the source-ly of creation"?

In any case, we know that the noun, arche is used in the "Begining" statements, and it seems reasonable to suppose that there is some relationship implied between these and the "Alpha and Omega" statements, as well. Revelation talks like this a lot, drawing on the re-writing of Genesis 1 that John does in the prologue to the gospel.

So, I don't know why we would think John "would" have used some other method to express the idea. Those other examples, from what I have seen, are of the, "from whence I came" variety. In other words, hardly the kind of usage you'd want if you were drawing together Genesis, the Gospel of John, and a vision of heavenly glory. And, really, this subtext is actually quite pronounced in John's writing.


I'm not denying that philosophies can and do shift over time. I'm pointing out that Thayer's lexicon, which offers "source" as a definition of arche, points specifically to Anaximander as the example of this usage, but Anaximander did not use arche to mean "source" in the sense you're looking for at Rev. 3:14. Anaximander's usage of arche to mean "source" made sense in the context he meant it, which was not unrelated to the partitive sense that existed across the rest of the lexical range of arche but was quite closely related to it.


So what? Vine's and Strong's don't choose to use Thales as the example. And I guess we would have to make the heroic assumption that a Christianized Jew, writing half a millennium after Thales, might have had similar, but not identical, ideas in his head.

Now, you mention the writings of Origen. I haven't had a chance to look up his usage, but while you argue that he is closer in time to John than Thales and Anaximander, his writings were later in time than John's; more than 100 years later. Even if Anaximander's use predated John by 6 or 7 centuries, at least it's some kind of basis for saying some usage existed before John's writings. To argue that it's perfectly reasonable to think John made a seemingly novel use of this word because a writer more than a hundred years later used the word that way is anachronistic.


Wait a minute -- A Christian writer using the same word within a century of John is anachronistic, but a pagan writer using the same word half a millennium before John is not? Come on.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:27 pm

Lexicographers and scholars of a language derive the meanings of words from how they are used in their original contexts. That's how they determine what the word means.


Original context, yes, but also in the way that words come to be used. That's the meaning of HeKS comments about shifting lexical fields, is it not?

The question becomes by what authority do they assign the word the meaning of source in a different way than how Anaximander and Thales used it?


Who is "they"? Are you asking by what authority authors and philosophers shift the lexical field of particular words? If so, I have no idea; is there supposed to be some bureaucrat in charge of this sort of thing? I guess it just sort of happens, like the way words shift in their meanings over time, but more purposeful, sometimes.

If there are no examples of that use within history, either before or after John, then by what authority do they claim that as a meaning?


Well, there exist examples after John. So whoever you are asking about seems to be off the hook.

They just don't invent a meaning and then go find places where it can be used that way to support thier definitions, it's the other way around. They find the contexts where the word is used and derive the meanings of the word from those contexts.


If you say so. I guess there must exist contexts where the word is used in the way the lexicons say it is.

So where is their historic context for the word to mean source other than the way that Anaximander and Thales used it?


Who cares? Seriously, are you really arguing that John couldn't have meant "source" because the Greek philosopher who first used it in a philosophical context half a thousand years earlier had used it in a slightly different way? Really?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:52 pm

Sulla wrote:Really? You think St. John might reasonably have conveyed the idea that Christ is the source of all by using an adverb? "He is the source-ly of creation"?


Sulla, surely you know better than this. I didn't say it would be reasonable to expect John would slap an adverb into the existing sentence in place of the noun. I said it would be reasonable to expect John would convey the thought using the structure he uses to convey this kind of thought everywhere else. Don't confuse the original Greek with the English translation. Where an English translation has a statement in which "source" is used as a noun, like "What is the source of your teachings?" the original Greek reads something closer to "whence come your teachings?" This is simply how the idea of some separate source or origin of a thing was expressed by the writers of the Greek scriptures, John included ... at least in every instance I've been able to find so far for both the NT as a whole and in John's writings specifically.

So if John was going to express the idea that we could translate into English as saying that Jesus is the source of creation, his consistent style would suggest that he would do so with something more akin to identifying him as the one from whom, or out of whom, or whence creation came to exist. Nothing would prevent an English translation from rendering the statement as saying Christ is "the source of creation," and it would actually be in line with the scriptural pattern.

Sulla wrote:In any case, we know that the noun, arche is used in the "Begining" statements, and it seems reasonable to suppose that there is some relationship implied between these and the "Alpha and Omega" statements, as well. Revelation talks like this a lot, drawing on the re-writing of Genesis 1 that John does in the prologue to the gospel.


I agree there is a connection to the Alpha and Omega statements. I'd say they're part and parcel. But I don't see them as helping your cause. Those instances of arche fit in with all the others.

Consider the following verses:

(Revelation 21:6) “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”

(Revelation 22:13) “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

(Revelation 1:8) “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

These expressions of 'Alpha and Omega,' 'First and Last,' and 'Beginning and End' are all related and all identify him as the sole member of a unique class: Almighty God. They amount to saying he is in a class of his own; that he exhausts the classification of 'Almighty God.' They say that he is the first, the alpha, the beginning in a series of one, and is thus also necessarily the last, the omega, and the end of that series. This is hardly some bizarre concept or alien method of expression. As I already pointed out, the common English expression, "(He/She/It) is in a class of (his/her/its) own" expresses precisely this concept, which is not confusing to anyone.

Sulla wrote:So, I don't know why we would think John "would" have used some other method to express the idea. Those other examples, from what I have seen, are of the, "from whence I came" variety. In other words, hardly the kind of usage you'd want if you were drawing together Genesis, the Gospel of John, and a vision of heavenly glory. And, really, this subtext is actually quite pronounced in John's writing.


I, for one (though I'm not alone), would say that this verse reflects the events of Genesis by way of Proverbs 8.

Also, in line with my comments earlier in this post, it's unclear to me why you think that in drawing on Genesis and the gospel of John it would not be suitable for John to identify Jesus as the source of creation through the standard method he used elsewhere (including the gospel of John) that would most directly be translated into English using an adverbial or prepositional phrase (though it could be translated using "source" as a noun), but that he would instead have to break his pattern in this one spot and use a noun meaning "source".

Sulla wrote:
I'm not denying that philosophies can and do shift over time. I'm pointing out that Thayer's lexicon, which offers "source" as a definition of arche, points specifically to Anaximander as the example of this usage, but Anaximander did not use arche to mean "source" in the sense you're looking for at Rev. 3:14. Anaximander's usage of arche to mean "source" made sense in the context he meant it, which was not unrelated to the partitive sense that existed across the rest of the lexical range of arche but was quite closely related to it.


So what? Vine's and Strong's don't choose to use Thales as the example. And I guess we would have to make the heroic assumption that a Christianized Jew, writing half a millennium after Thales, might have had similar, but not identical, ideas in his head.


I must be missing something here. Strong's lexicon doesn't list "source" as a meaning of arche from what I can see, much less provide an alternate example. Vine's cites a number of scriptures where arche is used, but none of them are in the sense you're arguing for at Rev. 3:14.

Sulla wrote:
Now, you mention the writings of Origen. I haven't had a chance to look up his usage, but while you argue that he is closer in time to John than Thales and Anaximander, his writings were later in time than John's; more than 100 years later. Even if Anaximander's use predated John by 6 or 7 centuries, at least it's some kind of basis for saying some usage existed before John's writings. To argue that it's perfectly reasonable to think John made a seemingly novel use of this word because a writer more than a hundred years later used the word that way is anachronistic.


Wait a minute -- A Christian writer using the same word within a century of John is anachronistic, but a pagan writer using the same word half a millennium before John is not? Come on.


Yes, in that it seems to be out of historical order. Anaximander's usage, which seems to have been restricted to philosophical circles, predated John's writings. About 300 years later, Aristotle hadn't abandoned the significance of Anaximander's usage and actually referenced him. I haven't come across any indication that Anaximander's philosophical usage had been abandoned closer to John's time, but nor have I come across any real indication that it had crossed the boundary between philosophical speculation and common usage. Origen, on the other hand, did not write until after John, and contrary to your way of phrasing it, Origen did not write "within a century of John." Origen wrote a little more than a century after John. I think it should also be remembered that Origen was working in his own speculative philosophical framework of sorts.

However, for the present, it might be more useful for you to engage my comments about Origen's actual usage of arche rather than us debating whether trying to use him as proof is anachronistic. The point may be rendered moot.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:23 pm

Sulla wrote:
So where is their historic context for the word to mean source other than the way that Anaximander and Thales used it?


Who cares? Seriously, are you really arguing that John couldn't have meant "source" because the Greek philosopher who first used it in a philosophical context half a thousand years earlier had used it in a slightly different way? Really?


I think you might be missing the point.

As Rotherham pointed out, lexicographers determine meaning based on usage, not based on thin air. That having been said, it's not impossible for someone to misunderstand usage, or to list a meaning that is exceedingly rare and uncommon.

Now, Thayer's points to Anaximander's usage. If he can point that far back to cite an example of his definition of "source", it won't do to say it's too far back to hold any weight. Thayer uses it as an example of his defintion of "source". The way in which Anaximander uses arche is actually quite clear and is quite closely related to the partitive extremity concept that can be seen across the rest of the lexical range of arche. This meaning is NOT what you're looking for Rev 3:14.

This leaves a few possibilities. 1) Thayer misunderstood Anaximander's usage and in so doing erroneously listed the type of "source" you're looking for in Rev 3:14 as a meaning of arche. 2) Thayer's listed meaning of source ought to be interpreted in line with the usage of Anaximander, which he cites, in which case the meaning you're looking for at Rev 3:14 isn't actually listed by Thayer as a meaning of arche and this is all a big waste of time. 3) The meaning you're looking for is valid and is found somewhere, but it is seemingly exceedingly rare and seemingly connected to some evolution of Thales and Anaximander's speculative philosophies.

On this final point, I say this because of all the examples I've seen referenced where arche is supposed to mean "source" in the way you want, whether before or after John's writings, the context seems to demonstrate that it is used with the intent of retaining the partitive extremity connection. There doesn't seem to be any instance where it is clearly used to mean a source that it is entirely separate from the thing it is the source of, which is what you're looking for in Rev 3:14.

All that having been said, I don't want it to get lost here that you need to do more than prove this is some possible meaning of the word. We've mentioned a number of other issues that need to be explained to demonstrate that the meaning of "source" you're looking for here is as good of a reading as "beginning" in a partitive sense.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:15 pm

OK. I think I am out of the business of debating how St. John would have expressed this idea of source. I am especially out of the business after noting the key uses of arche in the prologue of the Gospel and in 1 John and in Revelation. Yes, yes, he would have expressed the idea with an adverb instead of the pesky nouns he used to describe God. OK.

These expressions of 'Alpha and Omega,' 'First and Last,' and 'Beginning and End' are all related and all identify him as the sole member of a unique class: Almighty God. They amount to saying he is in a class of his own; that he exhausts the classification of 'Almighty God.' They say that he is the first, the alpha, the beginning in a series of one, and is thus also necessarily the last, the omega, and the end of that series. This is hardly some bizarre concept or alien method of expression. As I already pointed out, the common English expression, "(He/She/It) is in a class of (his/her/its) own" expresses precisely this concept, which is not confusing to anyone.


Uh huh. And the twenty-four elders cast their crowns before the Lamb and said, "Fo' shizzle!"

I accept that the idea that you think these expressions mean to refer to the class-by-himselfness of God; I accept this explanation makes more sense to you than what I have explained.


Also, in line with my comments earlier in this post, it's unclear to me why you think that in drawing on Genesis and the gospel of John it would not be suitable for John to identify Jesus as the source of creation through the standard method he used elsewhere (including the gospel of John) that would most directly be translated into English using an adverbial or prepositional phrase (though it could be translated using "source" as a noun), but that he would instead have to break his pattern in this one spot and use a noun meaning "source".


Honestly, this is the most tin-eared question I've ever heard. Seriously, you tell me. Argue the other side for a minute and see if an answer to this question jumps out immediately.

Now, Thayer's points to Anaximander's usage. If he can point that far back to cite an example of his definition of "source", it won't do to say it's too far back to hold any weight. Thayer uses it as an example of his defintion of "source". The way in which Anaximander uses arche is actually quite clear and is quite closely related to the partitive extremity concept that can be seen across the rest of the lexical range of arche. This meaning is NOT what you're looking for Rev 3:14.


Can someone explain to me why you guys won't stop chattering about Thayer and Anaximander?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:45 pm

Sulla wrote:OK. I think I am out of the business of debating how St. John would have expressed this idea of source. I am especially out of the business after noting the key uses of arche in the prologue of the Gospel and in 1 John and in Revelation. Yes, yes, he would have expressed the idea with an adverb instead of the pesky nouns he used to describe God. OK.


It doesn't seem you were ever in the business, on account of how you haven't interacted with any of the points that have been raised. Also, it has nothing to do with nouns being pesky or problematic. 1 Cor 8:6 tells that God is the absolute source of all, that all things are "out of" him. It does so using the preposition "ek". Is this somehow not dramatic enough because it identifies God as source using a preposition rather than a noun?

As it happens, John seems to have been quite a consistent writer. He had a consistent way of referring to a partitive beginning, a consistent way of referring to rulers, and a consistent way of identifying one thing as the distinct source of another (which seems to be the same way as all the other NT writers). You are arguing that in just this one case he broke form and intended the third thing but expressed it exactly as he always expressed the first thing, but there is no real reason offered for why he would have done this, except to suggest that making the point through the use of an adverb or preposition, while good enough for the Father, wasn't dramatic enough for the Son. Why? Apparently cause adverbs and prepositions ride the short bus and Jesus jus' gotsta have da nouns, yo!

Sulla wrote:
These expressions of 'Alpha and Omega,' 'First and Last,' and 'Beginning and End' are all related and all identify him as the sole member of a unique class: Almighty God. They amount to saying he is in a class of his own; that he exhausts the classification of 'Almighty God.' They say that he is the first, the alpha, the beginning in a series of one, and is thus also necessarily the last, the omega, and the end of that series. This is hardly some bizarre concept or alien method of expression. As I already pointed out, the common English expression, "(He/She/It) is in a class of (his/her/its) own" expresses precisely this concept, which is not confusing to anyone.


Uh huh. And the twenty-four elders cast their crowns before the Lamb and said, "Fo' shizzle!"

I accept that the idea that you think these expressions mean to refer to the class-by-himselfness of God; I accept this explanation makes more sense to you than what I have explained.


So ... no comment then.

Sulla wrote:
Also, in line with my comments earlier in this post, it's unclear to me why you think that in drawing on Genesis and the gospel of John it would not be suitable for John to identify Jesus as the source of creation through the standard method he used elsewhere (including the gospel of John) that would most directly be translated into English using an adverbial or prepositional phrase (though it could be translated using "source" as a noun), but that he would instead have to break his pattern in this one spot and use a noun meaning "source".


Honestly, this is the most tin-eared question I've ever heard. Seriously, you tell me. Argue the other side for a minute and see if an answer to this question jumps out immediately.


Well, you know, I'm running out of ways to word this in the hopes of eliciting a response. John had a consistent way of expressing himself. You claim he broke out of that pattern in this one spot, not only abandoning the way he elsewhere conveyed the thought you want him to have conveyed here, but supposedly doing it using an expression he consistently used everywhere else to mean something different. And why, according to you, might he have done this? Reason: unknown. Or maybe, Reason: 'cause.

You haven't offered some specific statement in Genesis (or anywhere else) you think this is supposed to mirror so that his usual form of expressing the thought (in fact, the apparent usual form of expressing this kind of thought throughout the entire NT) wouldn't seem appropriate or dramatic enough. I have offered a specific passage that I believe this is referencing: Proverbs 8. Specifically verse 22.

Sulla wrote:
Now, Thayer's points to Anaximander's usage. If he can point that far back to cite an example of his definition of "source", it won't do to say it's too far back to hold any weight. Thayer uses it as an example of his defintion of "source". The way in which Anaximander uses arche is actually quite clear and is quite closely related to the partitive extremity concept that can be seen across the rest of the lexical range of arche. This meaning is NOT what you're looking for Rev 3:14.


Can someone explain to me why you guys won't stop chattering about Thayer and Anaximander?


Seriously? We've been explaining precisely this in basically every one of our recent posts.

Let's try to lay this is out one last time, m'kay?

  • You said, "Hey, I think arche means "source" at Rev. 3:14. 'Source' is one of the meanings of arche guys. So says Thayer.

  • We look at Thayer. He lists "origin/source" as a meaning of arche and points to Anaximander to establish its usage in that sense ... the very thing that gets it put into a lexicon.

  • We look at Anaximander and he does not use arche to mean source in the sense that you are citing Thayer to support source at Rev 3:14.

  • DING, DING, DING. Either Thayer is erroneously citing Anaximander, or you are erroneously citing Thayer, or this sense of "source" you're hoping for is a very rare usage of arche that we can't seem to find anywhere, which is just one more thing that makes it unlikely John is using arche in the sense you want.

  • You mention Origen for the usage of arche to mean source in the sense you're hoping for, but he wrote more than 100 years after John and the instance I came across where Origen was discussing how Christ is the arche still didn't seem to match the usage you want.

  • All this means that, at this point in the conversation, the sense of "source" you're hoping for and arguing for is mythical. There are no Biblical examples. The historical writings cited by the lexicons for the meaning of "source" for arche do not mean "source" in the sense you're looking for. Even later writers like Origen don't seem to be clearly using it in the sense you want. Thus far, we have nothing to suggest that the meaning of "source" listed in Thayer's lexicon is the type of "source" you're looking for. Even if you demonstrated your desired sense of "source" as a valid meaning of arche, you would still have a number of other obstacles to overcome in establishing the reasonableness of your reading ... but you haven't even established this first, most basic element of your argument: that arche can mean "source" in the sense you need it to at Rev 3:14.

You know, it's not for nothing that none of the major English Bible translations render arche as "source" in this verse, except the paraphrased NLT that offers it in a footnote, and even the Latin Vulgate doesn't use a meaning of "source" here.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:39 am

Oh boy. Let's start with this:

Let's try to lay this is out one last time, m'kay?

You said, "Hey, I think arche means "source" at Rev. 3:14. 'Source' is one of the meanings of arche guys. So says Thayer.


No, Rotherham quoted Thayer. I quoted Vine's and Strong's. I haven't even read Thayer's definition and I don't happen to know where it is, though I'm sure I could look for it.

We look at Thayer. He lists "origin/source" as a meaning of arche and points to Anaximander to establish its usage in that sense ... the very thing that gets it put into a lexicon.

We look at Anaximander and he does not use arche to mean source in the sense that you are citing Thayer to support source at Rev 3:14.

DING, DING, DING. Either Thayer is erroneously citing Anaximander, or you are erroneously citing Thayer, or this sense of "source" you're hoping for is a very rare usage of arche that we can't seem to find anywhere, which is just one more thing that makes it unlikely John is using arche in the sense you want.


DING DING DING: OR you are erroneously citing ME when you think I have cited Thayer.

And, even if I HAD cited Thayer, your little "either - or" structure is irrelevant. I have expalined why it is irrelevant and yo don't care that it is irrelevant.


You mention Origen for the usage of arche to mean source in the sense you're hoping for, but he wrote more than 100 years after John and the instance I came across where Origen was discussing how Christ is the arche still didn't seem to match the usage you want.

All this means that, at this point in the conversation, the sense of "source" you're hoping for and arguing for is mythical. There are no Biblical examples. The historical writings cited by the lexicons for the meaning of "source" for arche do not mean "source" in the sense you're looking for. Even later writers like Origen don't seem to be clearly using it in the sense you want. Thus far, we have nothing to suggest that the meaning of "source" listed in Thayer's lexicon is the type of "source" you're looking for. Even if you demonstrated your desired sense of "source" as a valid meaning of arche, you would still have a number of other obstacles to overcome in establishing the reasonableness of your reading ... but you haven't even established this first, most basic element of your argument: that arche can mean "source" in the sense you need it to at Rev 3:14.


The sense of "source" I refer to is the one Vine's speaks of: the cause of a thing. Vine's is not a myth and there are several examples within the very book of Revelation that we are talking about where this sense is indicated.

I have several times indicated that Jewish and Christian writers commonly adapted Greek philosophical concepts to their specific needs and argued this this fact eliminates your observation that the very first guy to use the word in a particularly philosophical context, 600 years earlier, used it in a slightly different manner.

Indeed -- and this is new -- I think that, even if we were stoneheadded enough to take the philosophical basis out of consideration, we would still be left with the fact that Thales's use of arche was a philosophical adaptation of the sense of the word that already existed. That is, Thales took the sense of arche meaning "source" and created the philosophical meaning. The philosophical sense is later than the lexical sense.


You know, it's not for nothing that none of the major English Bible translations render arche as "source" in this verse, except the paraphrased NLT that offers it in a footnote, and even the Latin Vulgate doesn't use a meaning of "source" here.


The NAB is a major English translation that renders this word as "source" in Rev. 3. The New Jerusalm Bible is a major English translation that render this passage as "Principle of God's creation," an equivalent idea. The Douay-Rheims glosses the passage, "The beginning... the arche, that is, the principle, the source, and the efficient cause of the whole creation." The Vulgate says, "...fidelis et verus qui est principium creaturae Dei," and principium is defined as: " [beginning , origin; groundwork, foundation]; in plur., [elements, first principles]; "

It doesn't seem you were ever in the business, on account of how you haven't interacted with any of the points that have been raised. Also, it has nothing to do with nouns being pesky or problematic. 1 Cor 8:6 tells that God is the absolute source of all, that all things are "out of" him. It does so using the preposition "ek". Is this somehow not dramatic enough because it identifies God as source using a preposition rather than a noun?


What, did John write 1 Corinthians? How is this supposed to bear on our discussion of John's work?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:13 pm

Hello Sulla,

If you ever wonder why we repeat ouselves, it is due to things not being addressed that need addressed. With that in mind:

Oh boy. Let's start with this:

Let's try to lay this is out one last time, m'kay?

You said, "Hey, I think arche means "source" at Rev. 3:14. 'Source' is one of the meanings of arche guys. So says Thayer.


No, Rotherham quoted Thayer. I quoted Vine's and Strong's. I haven't even read Thayer's definition and I don't happen to know where it is, though I'm sure I could look for it.

We look at Thayer. He lists "origin/source" as a meaning of arche and points to Anaximander to establish its usage in that sense ... the very thing that gets it put into a lexicon.

We look at Anaximander and he does not use arche to mean source in the sense that you are citing Thayer to support source at Rev 3:14.

DING, DING, DING. Either Thayer is erroneously citing Anaximander, or you are erroneously citing Thayer, or this sense of "source" you're hoping for is a very rare usage of arche that we can't seem to find anywhere, which is just one more thing that makes it unlikely John is using arche in the sense you want.


DING DING DING: OR you are erroneously citing ME when you think I have cited Thayer.

And, even if I HAD cited Thayer, your little "either - or" structure is irrelevant. I have expalined why it is irrelevant and yo don't care that it is irrelevant.


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Well there is nothing irrelevant about the fact that there must be some merit for a given meaning to a word. It just can't be invented and then sandwiched in where it works for ones theological idea. Thayer's(Grimm's) lexicon at least attempts to give some merit when he assigns "source" to Rev. 3:14, and that merit is an appeal to the use of Anaximander, who Thayer's says is the FIRST to be said to use the term this way. If the other lexicons do not offer any authority for assigning "source" as the meaning other than wht Thayer's has given, it has already been determined that this meaning of "source" does not work for the Trinitarian. So the question remains, by what authority do they assign "source", in the sense of "active cause", to arche? What is THEIR source for this meaning? And they have to have one, because, as we know, they just can't make it up.
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You mention Origen for the usage of arche to mean source in the sense you're hoping for, but he wrote more than 100 years after John and the instance I came across where Origen was discussing how Christ is the arche still didn't seem to match the usage you want.

All this means that, at this point in the conversation, the sense of "source" you're hoping for and arguing for is mythical. There are no Biblical examples. The historical writings cited by the lexicons for the meaning of "source" for arche do not mean "source" in the sense you're looking for. Even later writers like Origen don't seem to be clearly using it in the sense you want. Thus far, we have nothing to suggest that the meaning of "source" listed in Thayer's lexicon is the type of "source" you're looking for. Even if you demonstrated your desired sense of "source" as a valid meaning of arche, you would still have a number of other obstacles to overcome in establishing the reasonableness of your reading ... but you haven't even established this first, most basic element of your argument: that arche can mean "source" in the sense you need it to at Rev 3:14.


The sense of "source" I refer to is the one Vine's speaks of: the cause of a thing. Vine's is not a myth and there are several examples within the very book of Revelation that we are talking about where this sense is indicated.

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Several? Like where? The word only occurs 4 times in Revelation and we've already shown that it doesn't mean "source" in the titles "Beginning and the End". All you are left with is Rev. 3:14, so where are the several you refer to? And once again, what does Vine's use as a source for the meaning of "source"? The example of Col 1:18 that he gives is truly inadequate based on the context of the passage. not a single translator agrees that I have seen. The whole context is stressing FIRST, not source. So where does Vine's get his authority for assiging that meaning to arche? He has to have one, otherwise, it is unsupported. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I have several times indicated that Jewish and Christian writers commonly adapted Greek philosophical concepts to their specific needs and argued this this fact eliminates your observation that the very first guy to use the word in a particularly philosophical context, 600 years earlier, used it in a slightly different manner.

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But where do we find that the word arche was ever used in the sense you want it to be used? That's the point. The closest thing to what you want is "first principle", which is not the meaning that Trinitarians can assign to the Son, for it means the "stuff" that everything else is made from. That will not work for Trinitarians.
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Indeed -- and this is new -- I think that, even if we were stoneheadded enough to take the philosophical basis out of consideration, we would still be left with the fact that Thales's use of arche was a philosophical adaptation of the sense of the word that already existed. That is, Thales took the sense of arche meaning "source" and created the philosophical meaning. The philosophical sense is later than the lexical sense.

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That is an absolute assumption for there is no evidence of such a thing. Where do you find that arche meant source, in the way you have to have it, BEFORE THALES or ANAXIMANDER? This is another invention, is it not?
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You know, it's not for nothing that none of the major English Bible translations render arche as "source" in this verse, except the paraphrased NLT that offers it in a footnote, and even the Latin Vulgate doesn't use a meaning of "source" here.


[color=#800000]The NAB is a major English translation that renders this word as "source" in Rev. 3. The New Jerusalm Bible is a major English translation that render this passage as "Principle of God's creation," an equivalent idea. The Douay-Rheims glosses the passage, "The beginning... the arche, that is, the principle, the source, and the efficient cause of the whole creation." The Vulgate says, "...fidelis et verus qui est principium creaturae Dei," and principium is defined as: " [beginning , origin; groundwork, foundation]; in plur., [elements, first principles]; "


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All irrelevant without the production of the authority behind the rendition. One must have authority to render a word in any given sense. None exists for "active cause" for arche. "First principle" does not work for Trinitarians, it must be "active cause".
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It doesn't seem you were ever in the business, on account of how you haven't interacted with any of the points that have been raised. Also, it has nothing to do with nouns being pesky or problematic. 1 Cor 8:6 tells that God is the absolute source of all, that all things are "out of" him. It does so using the preposition "ek". Is this somehow not dramatic enough because it identifies God as source using a preposition rather than a noun?


What, did John write 1 Corinthians? How is this supposed to bear on our discussion of John's work? [/quote]

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Paul would not contradict John, and vice versa. Remember, God was at the helm, not mere humanity.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:50 pm

I am trying to think of another case where you and HeKS have so doggedly fought a direct appeal to the plain ol' lexicon definition as found in Strong's or Vine's. Of a sudden, it isn't enough that somebody says, 'Well, look, the dictionary says this is a definition.' Oh no, now we need to justify the dictionary. Well, I need to justify the dictionary.

Well, I'll rush right out and get back to you guys in six years, after I get my PhD in ancient Greek and the theology of the NT. I guess we'd better begin questioning all the lexicons now, huh? Can't believe any of 'em.

_______________

You have done nothing at all like show that the other uses of arche in Revelation don't have the sense of "source." You have asserted that they do not, but you have not shown that they do not.

__________________________

I really am done discussing the distinctions in the approach of philosophers and theologians separated by 600 years.

__________________________

And this needs a direct quote:


(HeKS: You know, it's not for nothing that none of the major English Bible translations render arche as "source" in this verse, except the paraphrased NLT that offers it in a footnote, and even the Latin Vulgate doesn't use a meaning of "source" here.


Sulla: The NAB is a major English translation that renders this word as "source" in Rev. 3. The New Jerusalm Bible is a major English translation that render this passage as "Principle of God's creation," an equivalent idea. The Douay-Rheims glosses the passage, "The beginning... the arche, that is, the principle, the source, and the efficient cause of the whole creation." The Vulgate says, "...fidelis et verus qui est principium creaturae Dei," and principium is defined as: " [beginning , origin; groundwork, foundation]; in plur., [elements, first principles]; "

Rotherham: All irrelevant without the production of the authority behind the rendition. One must have authority to render a word in any given sense. None exists for "active cause" for arche. "First principle" does not work for Trinitarians, it must be "active cause".


Classic JW-think: Make an assertion, observe evidence that the assertion is flat-wrong, change the subject.

___________________________

Sulla: What, did John write 1 Corinthians? How is this supposed to bear on our discussion of John's work?

Rotherham: Paul would not contradict John, and vice versa. Remember, God was at the helm, not mere humanity.


More classic JW-think: In the middle of a discussion about one thing (how John chooses to express himself) change the subject to another thing (how Paul chooses to express himself), get called out for changing the subject, then change the subject again.

Do you just not know any better, or are you arguing in bad faith?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:51 pm

Sulla wrote:Oh boy. Let's start with this:

No, Rotherham quoted Thayer. I quoted Vine's and Strong's. I haven't even read Thayer's definition and I don't happen to know where it is, though I'm sure I could look for it.


If I've made a mistake in saying you were citing Thayer, I apologize. I know the later bit you pasted in was from Vine's, but it seemed to me that when you originally cited the meaning of source, you were doing so from the listing for the word at blueletterbible.org, which is Thayer's lexicon listing.

In fact, I'm not entirely convinced I'm wrong in this, simply because you say you quoted Strong's lexicon, but as I recently mentioned, I don't see that meaning listed in Strong's lexicon, but it is listed in Thayer's lexicon that is listed under Strong's number for that word at blueletterbible.org.

Now, as far as Vine's goes, where it lists source/origin in its description of arche, it does so in the sense of a beginner. And in what sense does it mean "beginner"? It cites Col. 1:18, talking about Christ being the head of the body that is the congregation, the one who started it and is a part of it, and the beginning, the firstborn from/of the dead, the first of those who will follow. This meaning is all about the partitive. It is the prime part of something, or the extremity of something, the thing that is of most worth, giving rise to the rest of the something. This is precisely the sense in which Anaximander used arche to mean source/origin.


Sulla wrote:DING DING DING: OR you are erroneously citing ME when you think I have cited Thayer.


Perhaps, and if so, I apologize, but please see above.

Sulla wrote:And, even if I HAD cited Thayer, your little "either - or" structure is irrelevant. I have expalined why it is irrelevant and yo don't care that it is irrelevant.


I don't recall any explanation that addressed any of the issues. You think that the switch from Anaximander's meaning of source/origin to the one you want in Rev. 3:14 is a small difference. I'm trying to tell you it's a significant difference. As I pointed out in an earlier post, while the meanings within the lexical field for a word are not synonyms of each other, they generally all relate to a particular phenomenon. The phenomenon that is held in common across the lexical range of arche - including the meaning of source/origin used by Anaximander and of beginner (though rendered beginning) offered by Vine's at Col. 1:18 - is being the prime part of something or the extremity of something. The 'beginner / source/origin / active cause' meaning of arche arose to describe something that was a prime part of something or extremity of something and which was also responsible for the rest of the something. Every instance that I've seen cited for arche as "source/origin/cause/beginner" has this meaning, from Anaximander to Origen. It makes sense that it has this meaning, because it fits with the rest of the lexical field and is a logical expansion of the description of the basic phenomenon.

You, on the other hand, are looking for the meaning source/origin where the source/origin is not part of the rest of the thing at all but is entirely separate from it. This is not a logical progression of the lexical field. It takes an expanded aspect of the meaning of arche and then drops out the very phenomenon that the entire rest of lexical field describes. When arche is used to describe something, the intent is not to separate it from something but to relate and connect it to something in some way that addresses the arche's partitive relationship to the thing as one of primacy or extremity in some sense.

Do you understand how the sense of "source/origin" you're looking for at Rev. 3:14 is not just a subtle shift in the meaning of arche?

Sulla wrote:The sense of "source" I refer to is the one Vine's speaks of: the cause of a thing. Vine's is not a myth and there are several examples within the very book of Revelation that we are talking about where this sense is indicated.


I've addressed Vine's above. You haven't shown us any clear instances in Revelation (or anywhere else) that arche is used to mean source as entirely separate from and unconnected to the thing it causes or to which it gives rise.

Sulla wrote:I have several times indicated that Jewish and Christian writers commonly adapted Greek philosophical concepts to their specific needs and argued this this fact eliminates your observation that the very first guy to use the word in a particularly philosophical context, 600 years earlier, used it in a slightly different manner.


See my comments above. It is not a slightly different manner. It is a significantly different manner, which is the point you have been failing to recognize and address.

Sulla wrote:Indeed -- and this is new -- I think that, even if we were stoneheadded enough to take the philosophical basis out of consideration, we would still be left with the fact that Thales's use of arche was a philosophical adaptation of the sense of the word that already existed. That is, Thales took the sense of arche meaning "source" and created the philosophical meaning. The philosophical sense is later than the lexical sense.


Huh? Thales posited a first (material) principle that was the source of all else and was still in all else. According to Thayer, Anaximander, Thales' pupil, was said to be the first one to use arche to mean source/origin, and he did so in the same partitive sense as Thales' first principle. Whether Thales personally used the term to describe his "first principle", I'm not sure. It's used by others (like Aristotle) to describe his "first principle" but it's hard to tell if they are doing this retroactively or using his own words.

Do you now mean to argue that, not only was it neither Anaximander nor Thales to first use arche to mean source, but a meaning of source such as you're hoping for at Rev. 3:14, which was unrelated to the rest of the lexical range of arche, was already in common use and Thales or Anaximander adapted it for philosophical use in a way that came back into harmony with the rest of its lexical field?

Sulla wrote:
You know, it's not for nothing that none of the major English Bible translations render arche as "source" in this verse, except the paraphrased NLT that offers it in a footnote, and even the Latin Vulgate doesn't use a meaning of "source" here.


The NAB is a major English translation that renders this word as "source" in Rev. 3. The New Jerusalm Bible is a major English translation that render this passage as "Principle of God's creation," an equivalent idea. The Douay-Rheims glosses the passage, "The beginning... the arche, that is, the principle, the source, and the efficient cause of the whole creation." The Vulgate says, "...fidelis et verus qui est principium creaturae Dei," and principium is defined as: " [beginning , origin; groundwork, foundation]; in plur., [elements, first principles]; "


First of all, there was error in my statement above. When I wrote it originally I highlighted something to cut and paste it to a different place and I seem to have just deleted it rather than moved it. That should have read:

"it's not for nothing that none of the major English Bible translations at blueletterbible.org (12 of them) render arche as "source" in this verse, except the paraphrased NLT that offers it in a footnote, and even the Latin Vulgate doesn't use a meaning of "source" here."

That having been said, "Principle of God's creation" is not the equivalent of "Source of God's creation" in the sense you're looking for.

As for the Douay-Rheims gloss, "efficient cause" is the agent that does something. In other words, God would be the "formal cause" of creation and Christ would be the "efficient cause". Being the efficient cause of creation doesn't mean he is not part of creation himself. We would likewise identify him as the efficient cause. However, the Douay-Rheims, while English, is translated from the Latin Vulgate, not the Greek mss. And its purpose was to hold up Catholic tradition against the threat of Protestantism. Evidently they still recognize that the best translation here, even from the Latin, is "beginning". If they subsequently want to separate Christ from creation, which can be assumed more from their known doctrinal position than the content of their gloss, it's hardly going to knock me off my chair.

Now, moving to the Latin Vulgate, you're kind enough to paste the definition of principium: [beginning , origin; groundwork, foundation]; in plur., [elements, first principles]

Begining, Origin: You get that an origin can be the beginning point of something, right? The origin of something can be the first point of something, the point at which it starts. An origin can be part of the thing of which it is the origin. This fits within the lexical range of arche.

Groundwork, foundation: The groundwork of something is another way of saying it is the foundation of something. Is the foundation of a building part of the building? Yes. You might say it's an extremity of the building. This also fits within the lexical range of arche.

plur., Elements, first principles: Is an element of something part of the something? Yes. Is a first principle part of something? Yes. It refers to an elementary or early stage. These also fit within the lexical range of arche.

Are you starting to get a sense of how arche can mean origin or source while still remaining true to the phenomenon upon which the rest of it's lexical field is based.

Sulla wrote:
It doesn't seem you were ever in the business, on account of how you haven't interacted with any of the points that have been raised. Also, it has nothing to do with nouns being pesky or problematic. 1 Cor 8:6 tells that God is the absolute source of all, that all things are "out of" him. It does so using the preposition "ek". Is this somehow not dramatic enough because it identifies God as source using a preposition rather than a noun?


What, did John write 1 Corinthians? How is this supposed to bear on our discussion of John's work?


Of course John didn't write 1 Corinthians. But you seemed to be suggesting I was somehow trying to avoid having Jesus identified as source using a noun (for some bizarre reason), as I wanted to reserve the "pesky nouns" for God. I was directing you to 1 Cor. 8:6 to show you how it is Jesus' Father who is identified as the source of all creation (some might even call it the "creation BY GOD"), and he is so identified by the use of a preposition rather than a noun, so it is unclear why you think such a thing (use of a preposition or adverb) would be inappropriate to express the thought about Jesus in Rev. 3:14.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:18 pm

Sulla wrote:I am trying to think of another case where you and HeKS have so doggedly fought a direct appeal to the plain ol' lexicon definition as found in Strong's or Vine's. Of a sudden, it isn't enough that somebody says, 'Well, look, the dictionary says this is a definition.' Oh no, now we need to justify the dictionary. Well, I need to justify the dictionary.


So far, it is not so much the dictionary definition we are arguing against. It is the sense it which you are trying to use the definition ... a sense which, so far, seems to find no support in the lexicons you cite, the Bible, or historical writings. The lexicons and all the examples cited by them seem to support the development of using arche to identify a partitive source. You want arche to mean a non-partitive source, which runs contrary to the entire rest of the lexical range of arche.


Sulla wrote:You have done nothing at all like show that the other uses of arche in Revelation don't have the sense of "source." You have asserted that they do not, but you have not shown that they do not.


And you have merely asserted that they do. You have not shown that they do. And you've suggested there's a bunch of clear cases where they do when there's actually like 2 or 3 in a repeated title/description, and not much basis beyond your own assertion to think they mean the type of source you're looking for.

Sulla wrote:And this needs a direct quote:

(HeKS: You know, it's not for nothing that none of the major English Bible translations render arche as "source" in this verse, except the paraphrased NLT that offers it in a footnote, and even the Latin Vulgate doesn't use a meaning of "source" here.


Sulla: The NAB is a major English translation that renders this word as "source" in Rev. 3. The New Jerusalm Bible is a major English translation that render this passage as "Principle of God's creation," an equivalent idea. The Douay-Rheims glosses the passage, "The beginning... the arche, that is, the principle, the source, and the efficient cause of the whole creation." The Vulgate says, "...fidelis et verus qui est principium creaturae Dei," and principium is defined as: " [beginning , origin; groundwork, foundation]; in plur., [elements, first principles]; "

Rotherham: All irrelevant without the production of the authority behind the rendition. One must have authority to render a word in any given sense. None exists for "active cause" for arche. "First principle" does not work for Trinitarians, it must be "active cause".


Classic JW-think: Make an assertion, observe evidence that the assertion is flat-wrong, change the subject.


I suggest you check my last post. My comment was missing a few words that got deleted, but it was far from flat wrong. And citing a gloss in a translation from Latin isn't the most convincing method of supporting your argument for a novel meaning of the Greek arche that would lie outside the rest of its lexical range.

Sulla wrote:Sulla: What, did John write 1 Corinthians? How is this supposed to bear on our discussion of John's work?

Rotherham: Paul would not contradict John, and vice versa. Remember, God was at the helm, not mere humanity.


More classic JW-think: In the middle of a discussion about one thing (how John chooses to express himself) change the subject to another thing (how Paul chooses to express himself), get called out for changing the subject, then change the subject again.

Do you just not know any better, or are you arguing in bad faith?


Actually, I didn't change the subject. You were making comments on some general issue existing with expressing the thought of being the source of creation that you're looking for in Revelation using an adverb or preposition and suggested I was trying to avoid having John use a noun for some reason. I pointed out why all of that was nonsense.

So maybe this is classic Catholic-think: Raise a few red herrings and then when it is pointed out that they are all nonsense respond with a straw man by saying I changed the subject and quoted the wrong person.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:49 am

Long posts; I hope to get to all your points.

So far, it is not so much the dictionary definition we are arguing against. It is the sense it which you are trying to use the definition ... a sense which, so far, seems to find no support in the lexicons you cite, the Bible, or historical writings. The lexicons and all the examples cited by them seem to support the development of using arche to identify a partitive source. You want arche to mean a non-partitive source, which runs contrary to the entire rest of the lexical range of arche.


I disagree. The very direct statements in Thayer, Strong, and Vine are that the lexcial field of arche includes the English words origin and source. Your contention is that those statements are flat-out wrong -- that there is a specific meaning that is not mapped to those Enlish words at all.

Sulla wrote:
You have done nothing at all like show that the other uses of arche in Revelation don't have the sense of "source." You have asserted that they do not, but you have not shown that they do not.

And you have merely asserted that they do. You have not shown that they do. And you've suggested there's a bunch of clear cases where they do when there's actually like 2 or 3 in a repeated title/description, and not much basis beyond your own assertion to think they mean the type of source you're looking for.


I am not the one who wrote a paper on the subject and argued that the meaning of the phrase in Rev. 3 was obvious if only we would all do a little bit of simple analysis. Please recall that I don't have the ability to publish my views here -- I may only respond to the papers you publish. If it turns out you have merely asserted something, then that is a valid objection whether or not I support my position or not. I do not publish position papers here.

I suggest you check my last post. My comment was missing a few words that got deleted, but it was far from flat wrong. And citing a gloss in a translation from Latin isn't the most convincing method of supporting your argument for a novel meaning of the Greek arche that would lie outside the rest of its lexical range.


So, we agree that there are major translations that use the sense I am using in this passage.

Actually, I didn't change the subject. You were making comments on some general issue existing with expressing the thought of being the source of creation that you're looking for in Revelation using an adverb or preposition and suggested I was trying to avoid having John use a noun for some reason. I pointed out why all of that was nonsense.


I was expressing comments on the writing of the book of Revelation which Paul did not write. Bringing up a different author really is off-topic.

I don't recall any explanation that addressed any of the issues. You think that the switch from Anaximander's meaning of source/origin to the one you want in Rev. 3:14 is a small difference. I'm trying to tell you it's a significant difference. As I pointed out in an earlier post, while the meanings within the lexical field for a word are not synonyms of each other, they generally all relate to a particular phenomenon. The phenomenon that is held in common across the lexical range of arche - including the meaning of source/origin used by Anaximander and of beginner (though rendered beginning) offered by Vine's at Col. 1:18 - is being the prime part of something or the extremity of something. The 'beginner / source/origin / active cause' meaning of arche arose to describe something that was a prime part of something or extremity of something and which was also responsible for the rest of the something. Every instance that I've seen cited for arche as "source/origin/cause/beginner" has this meaning, from Anaximander to Origen. It makes sense that it has this meaning, because it fits with the rest of the lexical field and is a logical expansion of the description of the basic phenomenon.


I'm suggesting:

-- that the particular usage of a philosopher working from an entirely different context, 500 years before John, and -- by the way -- writing in a different dialect is not determinitive in this case

-- that the Jewish and Christian writers were in the habit of taking whatever philosophical concepts were available to them and altering them to suit their own purposes

-- that the standard lexicons are correct to include the English words "source" and "origin" in their definitions


You, on the other hand, are looking for the meaning source/origin where the source/origin is not part of the rest of the thing at all but is entirely separate from it. This is not a logical progression of the lexical field. It takes an expanded aspect of the meaning of arche and then drops out the very phenomenon that the entire rest of lexical field describes. When arche is used to describe something, the intent is not to separate it from something but to relate and connect it to something in some way that addresses the arche's partitive relationship to the thing as one of primacy or extremity in some sense.


Whether or not it is logical to you, it seems to be logical to the guys who wrote the standard dictionaries. Origin and source mean "cause", more or less, and that is how I take it here.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:07 pm

Hi Sulla,

Sulla wrote:Long posts; I hope to get to all your points.

So far, it is not so much the dictionary definition we are arguing against. It is the sense it which you are trying to use the definition ... a sense which, so far, seems to find no support in the lexicons you cite, the Bible, or historical writings. The lexicons and all the examples cited by them seem to support the development of using arche to identify a partitive source. You want arche to mean a non-partitive source, which runs contrary to the entire rest of the lexical range of arche.


I disagree. The very direct statements in Thayer, Strong, and Vine are that the lexcial field of arche includes the English words origin and source. Your contention is that those statements are flat-out wrong -- that there is a specific meaning that is not mapped to those Enlish words at all.


This is inaccurate. Our contention is that you are taking the lexical listings beyond their intent. I have no issue with saying that "source/origin" are within the lexical field of arche. But as I explained in more depth in a previous post, just because the lexical field of a Greek word happens to overlap the lexical field of an English word does not mean that the Greek word encompasses the entirety of the lexical field of the English word.

Using this same word, arche, we can see an example of this in comparing it to the Hebrew word re'shiyth, which arche is used to translate in the LXX. Re'shiyth covers part of the lexical field of arche, but its lexical field does not include the meaning of "source" in any sense. You are having this same problem going from Greek to English. Arche can mean "source/origin", but it means that in harmony with the rest of it's lexical field. It refers to a partitive source or origin, not a non-partitive source or origin.

When you say in English that a thing is the source or origin of something, it is possible that you mean it partitively and it is possible that you mean it non-partitively. The lexical field of "source" in English covers both partitive and non-partitive senses. When you identify a thing as the arche of something in the sense of it being its source, you don't have that option. You must necessarily mean it partitively. Arche only covers the partitive aspect of the lexical field of the English word "source". This is plain to see if you take a look at the examples that are cited by the lexicons for the meaning of source/origin and only makes sense when you consider the rest of the lexical field of arche and how lexical fields are formed.

Sulla wrote:
Sulla wrote:
You have done nothing at all like show that the other uses of arche in Revelation don't have the sense of "source." You have asserted that they do not, but you have not shown that they do not.


And you have merely asserted that they do. You have not shown that they do. And you've suggested there's a bunch of clear cases where they do when there's actually like 2 or 3 in a repeated title/description, and not much basis beyond your own assertion to think they mean the type of source you're looking for.


I am not the one who wrote a paper on the subject and argued that the meaning of the phrase in Rev. 3 was obvious if only we would all do a little bit of simple analysis. Please recall that I don't have the ability to publish my views here -- I may only respond to the papers you publish. If it turns out you have merely asserted something, then that is a valid objection whether or not I support my position or not. I do not publish position papers here.


Well the first post in this thread is the publishing of your 'paper'. Yes, it is in response to the original article, but it is your chance to state your position and your challenge, which has been published here in full.

That having been said, our claim on the matter is in line with the evidence we have discussed and continue to discuss. Your only basis for saying it is an assertion is your own assertion that arche can even mean "source" in the sense you want it to, which you haven't established in the least. If it can't, our point is necessarily made.

Sulla wrote:
I suggest you check my last post. My comment was missing a few words that got deleted, but it was far from flat wrong. And citing a gloss in a translation from Latin isn't the most convincing method of supporting your argument for a novel meaning of the Greek arche that would lie outside the rest of its lexical range.


So, we agree that there are major translations that use the sense I am using in this passage.


Um, no. We agree that you found one major Catholic translation into English from the original language that uses the word "source". Whether or not they mean "source" in the sense you do is another matter. Whether or not it is even possible to correctly to do so is yet another matter. The point was that the vast majority of major English translations from the original Greek seem to recognize that using the word "beginning" is the best way to render John's use of arche here. If they choose to erroneously go on to interpret this "beginning" as a reference to a non-partitive source, that's their own business, because at least they've recognized the most consistent way of translating a use of arche by John.

Still, this point seems to be becoming a distraction.

Sulla wrote:
Actually, I didn't change the subject. You were making comments on some general issue existing with expressing the thought of being the source of creation that you're looking for in Revelation using an adverb or preposition and suggested I was trying to avoid having John use a noun for some reason. I pointed out why all of that was nonsense.


I was expressing comments on the writing of the book of Revelation which Paul did not write. Bringing up a different author really is off-topic.


It seemed to me you were expressing comments on the silliness of thinking Jesus might be identified as the source of creation through the use of an adverb or preposition. At this point, I have no idea what your objection to that idea is.

Sulla wrote:
I don't recall any explanation that addressed any of the issues. You think that the switch from Anaximander's meaning of source/origin to the one you want in Rev. 3:14 is a small difference. I'm trying to tell you it's a significant difference. As I pointed out in an earlier post, while the meanings within the lexical field for a word are not synonyms of each other, they generally all relate to a particular phenomenon. The phenomenon that is held in common across the lexical range of arche - including the meaning of source/origin used by Anaximander and of beginner (though rendered beginning) offered by Vine's at Col. 1:18 - is being the prime part of something or the extremity of something. The 'beginner / source/origin / active cause' meaning of arche arose to describe something that was a prime part of something or extremity of something and which was also responsible for the rest of the something. Every instance that I've seen cited for arche as "source/origin/cause/beginner" has this meaning, from Anaximander to Origen. It makes sense that it has this meaning, because it fits with the rest of the lexical field and is a logical expansion of the description of the basic phenomenon.


I'm suggesting:

-- that the particular usage of a philosopher working from an entirely different context, 500 years before John, and -- by the way -- writing in a different dialect is not determinitive in this case


Perhaps you missed that I said all examples I've come across of arche meaning "source", from Anaximander, to Aristotle, to Origen all fit with the partitive sense of "source". You keep trying to make this about one guy 500 years before John. I'm telling you it is the consistent usage.

Sulla wrote:-- that the Jewish and Christian writers were in the habit of taking whatever philosophical concepts were available to them and altering them to suit their own purposes


Ok, so John then essentially invented this use of arche disconnected from the rest of its lexical range to mean a non-partitive source? And he did so by adapting the meaning of arche as a partitive source from philosophy? What we have in Rev. 3:14 is the first - and apparently only - instance where arche means a non-partitive source? Cause there's certainly no bible writer before him who made such an adaptation, or apparently any secular writer either. And somehow his readers were just expected to get it? And all this is because of why? Because John was definitely a Trinitarian who must have been writing in a way consistent with the doctrine rather than in conflict with it?

Sulla wrote:-- that the standard lexicons are correct to include the English words "source" and "origin" in their definitions


See my comments at the start of this post.

Sulla wrote:
You, on the other hand, are looking for the meaning source/origin where the source/origin is not part of the rest of the thing at all but is entirely separate from it. This is not a logical progression of the lexical field. It takes an expanded aspect of the meaning of arche and then drops out the very phenomenon that the entire rest of lexical field describes. When arche is used to describe something, the intent is not to separate it from something but to relate and connect it to something in some way that addresses the arche's partitive relationship to the thing as one of primacy or extremity in some sense.


Whether or not it is logical to you, it seems to be logical to the guys who wrote the standard dictionaries. Origin and source mean "cause", more or less, and that is how I take it here.


And our point is that you are taking it in a way that "the guys who wrote the standard dictionaries" did not mean or, at the least, is not supported by any of the examples they offer to demonstrate the meaning.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:48 pm

Hi Sulla,

I was starting to get the impression that you just weren't going to accept what I was saying on this issue of the sense in which arche could mean "source/origin" so I decided to ask someone who could speak authoritatively on the Greek to weigh in on the matter.

What follows are the comments I sent on the matter to Dr. Jason Beduhn and his subsequent response.

I told him we were having this discussion of the translation and meaning of arche at Rev. 3:14. I described our positions as follows:
HeKS wrote:He, being a Trinitarian, is coming at this from the opposite view that I am. I believe that the best translation of arche in this verse is "beginning", to be interpreted in a partitive sense, identifying Christ as the first part of creation. He believes the best translation and interpretation of arche here is "source", identifying Christ as entirely separate from creation and its ultimate source, comparable I guess to a "formal cause". Alternatively, he likes "ruler".


I went on to explain my view of the relevant issues:
HeKS wrote:As briefly as possible, here's my thinking on the matter...

John uses the word arche 20 or so times besides Rev. 3:14. In every case he seems to use it partitively, as the beginning point or part of something, whether in regard to time or sequence. On the other hand, every time he means to speak of a ruler - 8 times in all - he uses archon rather than arche. A sudden change in his pattern, such as choosing to express the idea of "ruler" by using a word he consistently uses to mean "beginning" rather than the word he consistently uses to mean "ruler" seems unlikely and ad hoc and requires some explanation. And these observations regarding John seem capable of being generally extrapolated to the NT as a whole, and even the LXX.

The issue of arche as meaning "source" is more complex. First of all, it seems to me that the meanings making up the lexical field of any particular word, while not synonymous, tend to relate to a particular phenomenon. In the case of arche, the phenomenon that seems to run across the lexical field is the idea of being the outermost point of something, a partitive relationship to something that expresses primacy and/or extremity in some sense.

Thayer's lexicon lists "that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause" as a meaning of arche, however, he cites the philosopher Anaximander as an example of this definition and as being said to be the first to use this meaning of arche. Anaximander's arche was a first material principle from which he believed the four elements were derived and which continued to exist, in part, in those elements and subsequently in all things. Ultimately he posited this material must be both infinite and intelligent, ultimately god. Still, the idea is that this god was essentially the 'stuff' that all creation was made of. This arche was the source of all other matter, but was also the earliest part of it, the first principle or elementary stage of it. This use of arche fits with the phenomenon I describe that seems to exist across the lexical field of arche. That is to say, the meaning of "source" for arche that developed over time seems to have been a partitive source, a beginning point or elementary part of something that gave rise to the rest. This would seem to be a logical progression of the lexical field.

Vine's lists beginning in the sense of "the origin, the active cause, whether of a person or thing" but the example it offers of this sense is Col. 1:18, talking about Christ being the head of the body that is the congregation, the one who started it and is a part of it, and the beginning, the firstborn from/of the dead, the first of those who will follow. This meaning seems quite clearly partitive. It is the prime part of something, or the extremity of something, the thing that is of most worth, giving rise to the rest of the something. This is pretty much the sense in which Anaximander used arche to mean source/origin.

In all the examples I've personally examined where arche is used to mean something like source, it can be argued quite easily that the idea is not to separate it from the thing of which it is the source, but to connect it to that thing as part that has primacy, extremity or worth.

The person I'm having the discussion with, however, believes that calling Christ the arche of the creation by God at Rev. 3:14 identifies him as the separate, non-partitive source of creation. Such a meaning for arche would seem to grab hold of the development in meaning that evidently came about through Thales' and Anaximander's philosophies and toss away the root phenomenon that seems to be shared by the rest of the lexical field, which is to say it does not seem like the type of logical progression or regression that I believe tends to happen in lexical shift.


Finally, I asked:
HeKS wrote:So, all that having been said, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the lexical meaning of source / origin / active cause for arche and likeliness of John using arche to describe Christ as the non-partitive, 'formal cause' of creation, both in terms of the consideration of his usage in the rest of his writings and in terms of the general possibility of arche being used in such a sense 1) at all, 2) specifically at the time of his writing, and 3) in common use rather than philosophical use.


The following is Dr. Beduhn's response:
Dr. Jason Beduhn wrote:Your reasoning is flawless on this issue. Arche's range of meaning covers beginning, origin, source, primacy IN CONTINUITY AND ONGOING CONNECTION WITH that which is derived or dependent or subordinate to it. Arche is not used of "ruler" plain and simple; you are correct that archon is the preferred term for that. Rather arche is used for a principle of primacy or of a natural or supernatural presiding root or source of some segment of material reality. It means "source" in the sense of a fountainhead, not unrelated cause. You are also solid in your reasoning that for John to use the term consistently elsewhere, but switch to a different sense in Rev. 3:14 makes no communicative sense, since his readers would assume the usual meaning. You are right to point out tensions between the definition of arche given in some of the lexicons, and their own examples, all of which contain the idea of what we might call an organic connection between the particular arche and that which comes from it or follows it in order of existence or depends upon it as its root or master. Even in the technical philosophical use of the term, the concept is one of continuity and outflow from the "source" to its dependent forms in the world. Similarly, its use in reference to political primacy derives, as you say, from the concept or image of the "top" or "head" of an organic community of which the "head" is a part. Even when used presumably of supernatural "powers," this usage is connected to a concept of worldly order in which in "elemental forces" are the fountainhead out of which the particular element of nature flow and on which they depend. However much Christian writers might have differed on these conceptions of world order, they would have evoked such concepts by using terminology commonly used in connection with them, and so would have had to choose different phrasing to suggest something different, such as a "ruler" or "cause" disconnected and apart from that which is ruled or caused -- something Christian writers were quite capable of doing when they wanted to. So when they use arche we must assume that they are comfortable with the typical connotations of the particular aspect of its meaning that fits the context, as I think you have correctly discerned it here. The opposing argument depends on special pleading and is led by theological assumptions of what the verse must say to be consistent with a certain concept of Jesus, rather than by the trend of the evidence.

best wishes,
Jason BeDuhn
Professor of Religious Studies
Northern Arizona University


Dare I hope that this is enough to get you to accept that I'm accurately conveying to you the sense in which arche can mean "source/origin" and the limits of mapping it to the English word "source"? In line with the rest of it's lexical range, arche can mean source or origin in a partitive sense, but not in a non-partitive sense.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:37 am

During my exchange with Beduhn I asked his take on Gen 49:3 and how the genitive should be classified.

Here was what I asked:

HeKS wrote:if you have the time, I'd be interested in your thoughts on the use of arche in the genitive statement in Gen 49:3 in the LXX. Jacob refers to Ruben as the "arche of his (generative) strength," placing this comment in apposition to his identification of Ruben as his "firstborn".

I'm wondering how you'd say this genitive ought to be classified:

1) As a genitive of production, taking Jacob's reference to his strength as an actual reference to the abstract quality of his generative power and identifying Ruben as the first product of it.

2) As a partitive genitive, taking Jacob's reference to his strength as an idiomatic/metonymic reference to his offspring and identifying Ruben as the first member of the group.

3) As a partitive genitive, taking Jacob's reference to his strength as an actual reference to the abstract quality of his generative power but poetically describing Ruben as being the first part of that power.

... I lean towards a partitive genitive here, specifically towards option 2 due to the statement's appositional connection to the "firstborn" description.


His response made me smack my head and feel like a bit of an idiot. In fact, we might all want to smack our heads and feel a bit like idiots. Did any of us bother to go back and actually check the Greek of the LXX at that verse?

Here's his response:

Dr. Beduhn wrote:The Greek of Gen 49:3 LXX actually does not read the "arche of his strength" (as you know, the standard Bible translations are not working from the Greek but from the Hebrew). The Greek reads: "Ruben, my firstborn -- you are my strength, and arche of my children." (ROUBHN PRWTOTOKOS MOU, SU ISXUS MOU KAI ARXH TEKNWN MOU). Arche here is a predicate nominative, and fits right in with the other two characterizations of Ruben in series: He is FIRSTBORN; he is an embodiment of his father's VIGOR (a cultural idea that firstborn children were the product of more vigorous seed than children begotten later); and he is the OPENING or BEGINNING or 'HEAD' of the children to follow. Clearly not "source" or "cause." The three characterizations overlap in connotation, while each brings out a slightly different emphasis.


We spent all that time talking about the proper interpretation and classification of the genitive in Gen 49:3 and we were going off of the English translation from the Hebrew ("beginning of my strength") rather than the Greek of the LXX ("beginning/arche of my children").

I'm not entirely sure how this happened, or how it was that none of us double-checked the LXX, but I took a look and it's plain as day: the genitive in Gen 49:3 of the LXX - the actual Greek text that uses arche - is unquestionably a partitive genitive. The Greek does not identify Reuben as the arche of an abstract quality or characteristic. It identifies him as the arche of the group of Jacob's children. This does seem to show that the LXX translators took the reference to strength in the Hebrew metonymically, but I guess that's neither here nor there in terms of what the actual Greek says and what it shows about the consistent use of arche. Arche worked for the LXX translators in this verse specifically because they were using it to refer the arche as part of the thing of which it was the arche.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:42 am

Hello Heks,

Well, I actually did mention that it had to be partitiver based on the LXX rendition but it probably got lost in the shuffle. Beduhn's comments are most appreciated.

YB,
Rotherham

HeKS wrote:During my exchange with Beduhn I asked his take on Gen 49:3 and how the genitive should be classified.

Here was what I asked:

HeKS wrote:if you have the time, I'd be interested in your thoughts on the use of arche in the genitive statement in Gen 49:3 in the LXX. Jacob refers to Ruben as the "arche of his (generative) strength," placing this comment in apposition to his identification of Ruben as his "firstborn".

I'm wondering how you'd say this genitive ought to be classified:

1) As a genitive of production, taking Jacob's reference to his strength as an actual reference to the abstract quality of his generative power and identifying Ruben as the first product of it.

2) As a partitive genitive, taking Jacob's reference to his strength as an idiomatic/metonymic reference to his offspring and identifying Ruben as the first member of the group.

3) As a partitive genitive, taking Jacob's reference to his strength as an actual reference to the abstract quality of his generative power but poetically describing Ruben as being the first part of that power.

... I lean towards a partitive genitive here, specifically towards option 2 due to the statement's appositional connection to the "firstborn" description.


His response made me smack my head and feel like a bit of an idiot. In fact, we might all want to smack our heads and feel a bit like idiots. Did any of us bother to go back and actually check the Greek of the LXX at that verse?

Here's his response:

Dr. Beduhn wrote:The Greek of Gen 49:3 LXX actually does not read the "arche of his strength" (as you know, the standard Bible translations are not working from the Greek but from the Hebrew). The Greek reads: "Ruben, my firstborn -- you are my strength, and arche of my children." (ROUBHN PRWTOTOKOS MOU, SU ISXUS MOU KAI ARXH TEKNWN MOU). Arche here is a predicate nominative, and fits right in with the other two characterizations of Ruben in series: He is FIRSTBORN; he is an embodiment of his father's VIGOR (a cultural idea that firstborn children were the product of more vigorous seed than children begotten later); and he is the OPENING or BEGINNING or 'HEAD' of the children to follow. Clearly not "source" or "cause." The three characterizations overlap in connotation, while each brings out a slightly different emphasis.


We spent all that time talking about the proper interpretation and classification of the genitive in Gen 49:3 and we were going off of the English translation from the Hebrew ("beginning of my strength") rather than the Greek of the LXX ("beginning/arche of my children").

I'm not entirely sure how this happened, or how it was that none of us double-checked the LXX, but I took a look and it's plain as day: the genitive in Gen 49:3 of the LXX - the actual Greek text that uses arche - is unquestionably a partitive genitive. The Greek does not identify Reuben as the arche of an abstract quality or characteristic. It identifies him as the arche of the group of Jacob's children. This does seem to show that the LXX translators took the reference to strength in the Hebrew metonymically, but I guess that's neither here nor there in terms of what the actual Greek says and what it shows about the consistent use of arche. Arche worked for the LXX translators in this verse specifically because they were using it to refer the arche as part of the thing of which it was the arche.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:15 am

Rotherham wrote:Hello Heks,

Well, I actually did mention that it had to be partitiver based on the LXX rendition but it probably got lost in the shuffle. Beduhn's comments are most appreciated.

YB,
Rotherham


Hi Rotherham,

I went back to check what happened. I guess when Sulla was listing off his examples where he thought arche was not used partitively, he ended up just quoting the English translation from the Hebrew, which obviously doesn't use arche at all. I thought he had been quoting from the English translation of the LXX and didn't verify it.

I think I must have totally missed your reference to the LXX, cause I would not have spent all those hours talking about how to classify the genitive in an English translation of Hebrew when we were supposed to be talking about arche and the proper classification of the Greek genitive is plain as day.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:53 am

No problem. Things like that can be easily missed with so much going on.'
'
YB,
Rotherham

HeKS wrote:
Rotherham wrote:Hello Heks,

Well, I actually did mention that it had to be partitiver based on the LXX rendition but it probably got lost in the shuffle. Beduhn's comments are most appreciated.

YB,
Rotherham


Hi Rotherham,

I went back to check what happened. I guess when Sulla was listing off his examples where he thought arche was not used partitively, he ended up just quoting the English translation from the Hebrew, which obviously doesn't use arche at all. I thought he had been quoting from the English translation of the LXX and didn't verify it.

I think I must have totally missed your reference to the LXX, cause I would not have spent all those hours talking about how to classify the genitive in an English translation of Hebrew when we were supposed to be talking about arche and the proper classification of the Greek genitive is plain as day.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:43 pm

Well, the way the Genesis quote got mixed up was because the original paper says this:

Gen. 49:3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:


Rueben was the beginning, the first one of Jacob's generative strength.

__________________________________________________

Well, HeKS, sounds like Jason is a fan. Let me comment on things I care about in his response. Actually, I'll start with your statement

The person I'm having the discussion with, however, believes that calling Christ the arche of the creation by God at Rev. 3:14 identifies him as the separate, non-partitive source of creation. Such a meaning for arche would seem to grab hold of the development in meaning that evidently came about through Thales' and Anaximander's philosophies and toss away the root phenomenon that seems to be shared by the rest of the lexical field, which is to say it does not seem like the type of logical progression or regression that I believe tends to happen in lexical shift.


Hmm, I think I have a quibble here. I'll save it for the end.

Arche's range of meaning covers beginning, origin, source, primacy IN CONTINUITY AND ONGOING CONNECTION WITH that which is derived or dependent or subordinate to it.


No beef with that.

Rather arche is used for a principle of primacy or of a natural or supernatural presiding root or source of some segment of material reality. It means "source" in the sense of a fountainhead, not unrelated cause.


Gotcha, well, gotchem.

You are also solid in your reasoning that for John to use the term consistently elsewhere, but switch to a different sense in Rev. 3:14 makes no communicative sense, since his readers would assume the usual meaning.


I believe he is mistaken here and that it makes perfect communicative sense.

The opposing argument depends on special pleading and is led by theological assumptions of what the verse must say to be consistent with a certain concept of Jesus, rather than by the trend of the evidence.


Oh, really?

____________________________________


All these senses of the word are fine by me. John couples the term arche and telos a couple times, at least one of those times in direct reference to the Father. If the Father can be the fountainhead, so can the Son, I guess. More idrectly, this comment of yours is not something I disagree with:


In all the examples I've personally examined where arche is used to mean something like source, it can be argued quite easily that the idea is not to separate it from the thing of which it is the source, but to connect it to that thing as part that has primacy, extremity or worth.


I don't think I have tried to suggest that Jesus, whose human nature remains with him still, is somehow not "connected" to creation, whatever that means. So much of the NT is concerned with making the point of how much God is not separate from creation that I'm not sure what to make of this.

Let me suggest that you ask the good doctor directly whether, in his opinion, this statement in Revelation must mean that Jesus is the first created thing and why he reasons thusly. That should make for interesting reading.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:41 am

Hello Sulla,

As we have seen, there are no examples left for you to try and demonstrate that arche means "source" in a non-partitive way. Not only is there no evidence of it in both secular and religious writings, it is denied by the context of the verse in question, it is also denied by other Bible writers as to who the non-partitive source actually is and the meaning is denied by Trinitarian scholars and as we have seen, a secular scholar, Jason Beduhn.

I found it highly inordinate that a believer in the inspired word of God would think it off topic to mention that another inspired writer besides John, clarified who the true source of creation is. Paul explicitly states that there is only ONE God OUT OF whom all things are, and that was the Father. As mentioned before, Albert Barnes, a Trinitarian scholar denies the meaning of source and also Isbon Beckwith has this to say after giving his reasons as to why “first created” is not right. He goes on to say.

“The words mean rather “the one from whom creation took its beginning,” i.e. through whom it came into being; NOT THE CREATOR AS THE PRIMARY SOURCE, for that is God in our book (4:11, 10:5), as elsewhere in the Scriptures, but the CREATIVE AGENT of God, as in Jno. 1:3, Col. 1:16, Heb. 1:2.”


The Apocalypse of John", 1922, p.488

Therefore, as is explicit by this Trinitarians words, the Father is the primary source, not the Son. To make the Son the primary source would devolve to modalism, another unsatisfactory position for you to take.

So we are back to the starting point of the claim made by tis article, that if we rely on BIBLICAL pattern and precedent, there is only one way to see the "arche" of creation at Rev. 3:14, and that is in a partitive sense of "beggining". Ruler doesn't work for John's style as you have seem to admitted earlier. Primary source also does not work, and first principle doesn't work for ANYONE who believes in ex nihilo, for creation is certainly not made from the substance of the Son. We are left with ONE meaning, beginning in relation to time and/or a series, as was initally stated.

Since all of the titles applied to the Son in the introduction to the churches in the book of Revelation are paralleld elsewhere in the scriptures, there is but only two choices to find a parallel to "beginning of the creation by God". Many Trinitarians admit that the only parallels are either Proverbs 8:22 and/or Col. 1:15, neither of which deal with the incarnation or "new" creation, and both of those verses have been handled extensively either in the current article under discussion or in the article entitled:

PROVERBS 8:22-GOD'S WISDOM, AN ACQUIRED ATTRIBUTE OR GOD'S CREATED SON? THE FIRSTBORN OF ALL CREATION

We are once again left with the Biblical evidence unmistakably funneling down to the conclusion that the Son of God is a created being.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:57 am

Uh, not so fast, Hopalong. We have this one guy who says arche necessarily imples a "continuity and ongoing connection," that's still a ways away from anything like solid evidence (since I have reasonable doubts about Beduhn's judgment on this sort of thing -- his is a minority -- dare I say exotic -- opinion on some other issues in this area), and it is miles from any sort of claim that Rev. 3 says Jesus is a creation. Let's see if he wants to go there before you run your mouth.

In particular, I don't think anybody deserves to read you tell a lie about how Trinitarian scholars have "denied" a non-partitive reading of the verse.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:43 am

Hello Sulla,

Sulla wrote:Uh, not so fast, Hopalong. We have this one guy who says arche necessarily imples a "continuity and ongoing connection," that's still a ways away from anything like solid evidence (since I have reasonable doubts about Beduhn's judgment on this sort of thing -- his is a minority -- dare I say exotic -- opinion on some other issues in this area), and it is miles from any sort of claim that Rev. 3 says Jesus is a creation. Let's see if he wants to go there before you run your mouth.

In particular, I don't think anybody deserves to read you tell a lie about how Trinitarian scholars have "denied" a non-partitive reading of the verse.


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Well let's put it this way then. They deny that it means primary source, which means they deny THAT non-partitive meaning. But this leaves you in the same boat that I mentioned. I see that you once again only commented on what you thought was SAFE to do so, and ignored the rest.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:42 am

No, we haven't seen denials that the word means primary source from anybody but HeKS' source. We have your assertion that Thayer agrees, based on the philosophical thinking of 600 years before John.

Look, the idea that "source / origin" was not properly in the lexical field was always one of your more gratuitous statements. Now that everybody agrees that it is in the lexical field, and everybody agrees that the point you paper makes is flat-out wrong (we can't say that it is required to be a partitive genitive) the question is whether the nuance of that meaning forces a reading of "first created thing."

Actually, that's not even the question. I don't think anybody is going to argue that this meaning remotely tells us that Jesus is the first created thing. What you seem to be hanging your hat on now is the idea that there is some "ongoing connection" with creation and the associated idea that there remains some "partitive sense" in the word -- neither of which is a position that I suspect is not really a problem for me.

You have the annoying habit of forgetting how severly wounded this conversation has been to the paper you wrote. We know now:

-- that the paper mis-represented the Genesis quote
-- the paper's claims are sharply reduced with respect to the degree of certainty
-- the original claim of finding a "biblical pattern" was overblown
-- the entire partitve genitive argument is non-operational
-- "origin / source" are clearly within the lexical field of the word in question

These are things we agree on. I would also add the observation that we are now engaged in precisey the kind of discussion that I insisted was necessary -- a question about the context, audience, etc., that would help us understand the meaning of the author. You may remember how you claimed that we didn't need to do any of that. Well, here we are. And we are doing all that because the claims in the paper are not compelling -- we really can't just go look at the grammatical patterns and be done with the whole question.

As for what I choose to comment on -- Rotherham, your habit of flooding the zone is pretty well established. As is your habit of claiming that, since A implies B, you have proven C.

Finally, the idea that I have represented the word to mean "primary source" as if that somehow implies a separation from the pattern we see over and again --from the Father, thorough the Son -- is not right, either.


Oh, and one more thing. Don't offer up any more quotes without a proper citation. you know very well I don't trust you to to present these thing accurately. And anyway, if Beckwith is such a great source, how is it that he disagrees with you?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:37 am

Hello Sulla,


No, we haven't seen denials that the word means primary source from anybody but HeKS' source. We have your assertion that Thayer agrees, based on the philosophical thinking of 600 years before John.

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Well then you surely have blinders on.

1. Beckwith, whom I did give the reference to despite your insistence that I didn't, readily denies that the word means "primary source". Beckwith was a Trinitarian.

2. Barnes is a Trinitarian, and in his commentary on Revelation 3;14, he goes into a good amopunt of detail in denying that the word means source. Barnes was also a Trinitarian.

3. Thayer's (which is actually the wrok of Grimm, a Lutheran Trintarian), who is the only one to give us an idea of where the meaning "source" derives from, references places where it means "first principle", and despite what you say not causing a problem for you, it surely does. You would in no way be able to say that the Son is the first principle, which is the elemenatary stage, of creation.

4. The Apostle Paul says that it is the Father ALONE who is the primary source of "all things", for he is the ONLY God, OUT OF whom all things are. Go read the verse for yourself. (1 Cor. 8:6)To say that the Son is the primary source devolves to modalism, plain and simple, and Beckwith, a Trinitarian agrees.

5. Revelation 3:14 itself denies that the Son is the primary source, since it says that the creation is "of God".

6. And of course, Jason Beduhn

7. There is no Biblical example present where arche means "source" period.

8. It can not be denied that if one relies upon Biblical precedeet and pattern, there is but one way to see Revelation 3:14. That has not been disproved by any means.

Maybe you should respond to these by number instead of your sweeping objections which really ignore the pertinent points.
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Look, the idea that "source / origin" was not properly in the lexical field was always one of your more gratuitous statements. Now that everybody agrees that it is in the lexical field, and everybody agrees that the point you paper makes is flat-out wrong (we can't say that it is required to be a partitive genitive) the question is whether the nuance of that meaning forces a reading of "first created thing."

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I think every one knows that was in the context of a non-partitive source, not in the context of a "FIRST principle", which is partitive. "First principle" still carries the idea of the first thing in a series, the first thing which all other things are made of, the first "material". Source, in the sense you are arguing it, remains outside the lexical field of "arche". And regardless, that meaning is nowhere represented in the scriptures. Source, in the Greek, best answers to the word "rhiza", "archegos" or "aitios", all of which were available to John if he wanted to claim that the Son was the primary source of creation, which again, would lead to modalism anyway. I am sure you do not think John was a modalist.
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Actually, that's not even the question. I don't think anybody is going to argue that this meaning remotely tells us that Jesus is the first created thing. What you seem to be hanging your hat on now is the idea that there is some "ongoing connection" with creation and the associated idea that there remains some "partitive sense" in the word -- neither of which is a position that I suspect is not really a problem for me.

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It clearly is. Do you in some way believe that we are all made from the substance of the Son? The new BADG lexicon says that in relation to Rev. 3:14, the meaning that the Son is a created being is the "probable" meaning. In fact, many, except the Trinitarian world, are going to argue that this tells us that the Son is a created being, likely including Dr. Beduhn.
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You have the annoying habit of forgetting how severly wounded this conversation has been to the paper you wrote. We know now:

-- that the paper mis-represented the Genesis quote

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In the end, the actual quote destroyed your position. It was clearly intended to be a partitive gentitive as I mentioned.
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-- the paper's claims are sharply reduced with respect to the degree of certainty

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No they aren't. Although a slightly different statement, the word arche is to be understood as partitive in every syntax where it is followed by a genitive noun.
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-- the original claim of finding a "biblical pattern" was overblown

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Whether it definitely involves the "partitive genitive" alone is hardly a consequence, the Biblical pattern remains the same.
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-- the entire partitve genitive argument is non-operational

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Whether partitive genitive or not, the end result is the same for the word arhce in a genitive phrase. No exceptions.
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-- "origin / source" are clearly within the lexical field of the word in question

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Not in the sense you want it to be. Only as a "FIRST" principle, which is a naturally partitive definition by the use of the word FIRST.
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These are things we agree on.

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Uh, no we don't. See above.
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I would also add the observation that we are now engaged in precisey the kind of discussion that I insisted was necessary -- a question about the context, audience, etc., that would help us understand the meaning of the author. You may remember how you claimed that we didn't need to do any of that. Well, here we are. And we are doing all that because the claims in the paper are not compelling -- we really can't just go look at the grammatical patterns and be done with the whole question.

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Yes. you're wonderful. The problem is that audience and context is destroying your position even further as mentoned above.
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As for what I choose to comment on -- Rotherham, your habit of flooding the zone is pretty well established. As is your habit of claiming that, since A implies B, you have proven C.

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That is good example of a non-rebuttal and avoiding the consequence of the information presented .
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Finally, the idea that I have represented the word to mean "primary source" as if that somehow implies a separation from the pattern we see over and again --from the Father, thorough the Son -- is not right, either.

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Sure it is, the Father alone is the primary source, as Paul clearly teaches us. If you include the Son as the PRIMARY source, and not the AGENCY, as Trinitarinas agree he is the AGENT of creation, you become a modalist. They seem to recognize this problem. I find it odd that you do not.
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Oh, and one more thing. Don't offer up any more quotes without a proper citation. you know very well I don't trust you to to present these thing accurately. And anyway, if Beckwith is such a great source, how is it that he disagrees with you?
[/quote]

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He's a Trinatarian, he must find some way to save the doctrine despite his honesty. If he is a Trinitarian, how come he disagress with you?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Oct 02, 2009 1:16 pm

Sulla wrote:Well, the way the Genesis quote got mixed up was because the original paper says this:

Gen. 49:3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:


Rueben was the beginning, the first one of Jacob's generative strength.


Ah, so Rotherham was the original author of the confusion. Rotherham, you naughty boy. What's up with that? Pointing to the LXX but accidentally using the English translation from Hebrew? :P

It seems we all could have been a bit more on the ball with verifying that one.

Sulla wrote:__________________________________________________

Well, HeKS, sounds like Jason is a fan. Let me comment on things I care about in his response. Actually, I'll start with your statement

The person I'm having the discussion with, however, believes that calling Christ the arche of the creation by God at Rev. 3:14 identifies him as the separate, non-partitive source of creation. Such a meaning for arche would seem to grab hold of the development in meaning that evidently came about through Thales' and Anaximander's philosophies and toss away the root phenomenon that seems to be shared by the rest of the lexical field, which is to say it does not seem like the type of logical progression or regression that I believe tends to happen in lexical shift.


Hmm, I think I have a quibble here. I'll save it for the end.

Arche's range of meaning covers beginning, origin, source, primacy IN CONTINUITY AND ONGOING CONNECTION WITH that which is derived or dependent or subordinate to it.


No beef with that.


Actually, you do. You have a big beef with that. It means that when arche is used to identify something as a source, it is identifying it as the extreme, first or furthest point of something which gives rise to the rest of the thing. It means that the arche is partitive in the thing which it proceeds to originate. It refers to an intrinsic, organic source, not an extrinsic, inorganic source, which is how you mean Christ to be the source of creation. When arche means source/origin, the arche is continuous with that of which it is the source/origin.

Sulla wrote:
Rather arche is used for a principle of primacy or of a natural or supernatural presiding root or source of some segment of material reality. It means "source" in the sense of a fountainhead, not unrelated cause.


Gotcha, well, gotchem.


Really? You got that? You got that arche does not refer to an unrelated cause? An unrelated cause is exactly what you're arguing Christ is identified as at Rev 3:14. God, Christ's Father, would be the unrelated cause of creation. If God made creation through Christ but Christ was not a part of creation, Christ would also be an unrelated cause.

Sulla wrote:
You are also solid in your reasoning that for John to use the term consistently elsewhere, but switch to a different sense in Rev. 3:14 makes no communicative sense, since his readers would assume the usual meaning.


I believe he is mistaken here and that it makes perfect communicative sense.


Really? It would make perfect communicative sense for an author to consistently use a word a certain way and then suddenly switch to an unattested meaning of the word without indicating to his readers that he was changing his usage? It seems we have a different idea of what makes communicative sense.

Sulla wrote:
The opposing argument depends on special pleading and is led by theological assumptions of what the verse must say to be consistent with a certain concept of Jesus, rather than by the trend of the evidence.


Oh, really?


Well ... yeah ... of course. Sulla, so far your position has zero support. It asks for a meaning of arche (unrelated, extrinsic source) that is not part of its lexical field and which finds no support in the examples cited by lexicons or any historical usage anyone can find, Biblical or otherwise. It also flies in the face of John's consistent pattern of usage everywhere else in his writings.

Your best foothold for any part of your position was the possibility of a genitive of production using arche at Gen 49:3, but as we've seen, even that was based on the blunder of us working from the English translation of Hebrew that none of us double checked (I'm still kicking myself for that one). So your best foothold against the Biblical pattern of arche being used in partitive genitives has turned out to obviously be a partitive genitive in the Greek. As for any of the other instances you have tried to argue, even if you tried to apply a dubious translation of source it would be in the sense of a partitive foundation or source and not what you're looking for at Rev. 3:14.

The only supposed contextual support for a meaning of extrinsic source at Rev 3:14 is the theological assumption about the correctness of the Trinity doctrine, which isn't contextual support at all. It simply demands that Rev 3:14 must NOT mean something, and it just so happens that what it must NOT mean is the natural meaning of what John writes there in light of his consistent usage in the rest of his works. An unbiased reader coming to this statement would be led by the trend of the evidence to a particular natural meaning. It is Trinitarian doctrine that disallows that meaning up-front. Arguments for unattested meanings and really for anything BUT the natural reading are theologically motivated.

Are you seriously going to say that what you're offering here is simply an unbiased examination of the text with a willingness to follow the trend of evidence rather than a defense against a deathblow to the Trinity doctrine? It seems to me your argument is not about what the evidence points to but about why, ultimately, the trend of the evidence doesn't matter, or how we might be able to find some tiny obscure exception to the trend of evidence (which has so far gone unfound).

Sulla wrote:____________________________________


All these senses of the word are fine by me. John couples the term arche and telos a couple times, at least one of those times in direct reference to the Father. If the Father can be the fountainhead, so can the Son, I guess.


Surely you see how this is an entirely backwards argument. You're using your own unsupported assertions about the meaning of arche in the title "beginning and end" in an attempt to identify the Father as a fountainhead of creation so that you can validate your other unsupported assertions about the meaning of arche in Rev 3:14.

Sulla wrote:More idrectly, this comment of yours is not something I disagree with:

In all the examples I've personally examined where arche is used to mean something like source, it can be argued quite easily that the idea is not to separate it from the thing of which it is the source, but to connect it to that thing as part that has primacy, extremity or worth.


I don't think I have tried to suggest that Jesus, whose human nature remains with him still, is somehow not "connected" to creation, whatever that means. So much of the NT is concerned with making the point of how much God is not separate from creation that I'm not sure what to make of this.


This is a textbook case of Trinitarianism wanting to have have its cake and eat it too. You are trying to suggest that Jesus is "connected to" or intrinsic to creation in his human nature, but is the extrinsic source of it in his God nature, and so arche as "source" works. This is utter nonsense. You are putting on the air of a position that agrees with the evidence while actually maintaining one that outright denies it. If arche means source at Rev 3:14 then the significance of that term applies to the source/arche in its capacity as the source/arche. In other words, the source/arche of creation would be intrinsic to creation in its capacity as the source/arche of it. Unless you mean to argue that Jesus had his human body before the start of 'the creation by God,' this is the height of obfuscation and equivocation. And even that ridiculous proposition wouldn't have this verse setting Christ apart from 'the creation by God.'

Sulla wrote:Let me suggest that you ask the good doctor directly whether, in his opinion, this statement in Revelation must mean that Jesus is the first created thing and why he reasons thusly. That should make for interesting reading.


Done. He's been pretty good about the speed of his responses, but I'm sure the timeliness of the response will depend on his schedule. However, it seems he implied he did think this was the case when he said of my argument in its favor:

Dr. Beduhn wrote:So when they use arche we must assume that they are comfortable with the typical connotations of the particular aspect of its meaning that fits the context, as I think you have correctly discerned it here.


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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 02, 2009 1:44 pm

Oh, and quick question: didn't Beduhn think the NAB was really good, too? I think I recall that he figured it was nearly as unbiased as the NWT. The NAB translates this verse as "source." I don't know that anybody expects him to comment on that, but there is clear that a translation he thinks highly of has made precisely the translation choice I advocate.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 02, 2009 1:48 pm

Oh, and one more thing. Don't offer up any more quotes without a proper citation. you know very well I don't trust you to to present these thing accurately. And anyway, if Beckwith is such a great source, how is it that he disagrees with you?

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He's a Trinatarian, he must find some way to save the doctrine despite his honesty. If he is a Trinitarian, how come he disagress with you?


Soooo, his intellectual dishonesty explains his failure to agree with you.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:38 pm

hello Sulla,

MY, how you like to twist. I never said he was intellectually dishonest. He no doubt sincerely believed in the Trinity and had to find SOME way to maintain the doctrine, but his honesty about the SOURCE meaning is right on. As I have said before, why would a Trinitarian agree and confirm a Unitarian explanation unless they honestly saw the strength of the point? They wouldn't. It surely isn't bias at work when they do.

Once again I see you take the SAFE route, comment on one single little point that you felt was SAFE, and ignored the rest that undermines your entire effort.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:50 pm

Sulla wrote:Oh, and quick question: didn't Beduhn think the NAB was really good, too? I think I recall that he figured it was nearly as unbiased as the NWT. The NAB translates this verse as "source." I don't know that anybody expects him to comment on that, but there is clear that a translation he thinks highly of has made precisely the translation choice I advocate.


What is up with these arguments?

First of all, yes, the NAB came in second behind the NWT, demonstrating less bias overall than the remaining translations that were under review. He believed a contributing factor in the reduced examples of bias in the test cases might be the fact that Catholicism doesn't find itself under the "protestant burden" of trying to find all its preexisting beliefs laid out in scripture, which gives them more freedom to allow the Bible to speak for itself than is the case with most Protestant translations.

Still, while Catholicism might not need to find its doctrines all laid out in scripture, it doesn't generally like when its doctrines - especially its most central doctrines - are outright contradicted by scripture. Thus it is no surprise that in most places where the NAB does show bias it is pro-Trinitarian.

For example:

  • At Matt 28:16, 17 they break their pattern elsewhere to render proskuneo as "worship" simply because it is directed at Jesus.

  • At Phil 2:6 they give an unnecessarily ambiguous rendering of harpagmos as "grasped," which can mean to grasp at something one does not have or to grasp onto something one already has. The Greek word has the clear meaning of seizure or robbery. The NAB does better than the other versions that choose a translation clearly indicating the retaining of something already owned, but Beduhn says:

    Dr. Beduhn wrote:the English word "grasp," ... can mean what the Greek word harpagmos means. But the Greek harpagmos does not have the same ambiguity that English "grasp" has, and so "grasp" is not the best possible word to use in a translation of this verse.


    We might just as well say that the English word "source" can mean what the Greek word arche means. But the Greek arche does not have the same ambiguity that English "source" has.

    Note: I can provide citations if needed. I forgot to jot them down when when recording the quotes themselves.

  • At 2 Thess 1:12 they break form by translating it in a way that identifies Christ as God, even though the structural form is the same as at Titus 2:13 where they recognized God and Christ to be spoken of separately.

  • At 2 Pet 1:1 they translate in a way that identifies Christ as God, even though they recognize a distinction between the two in the very next verse which has an identical grammatical structure.

  • At John 8:58 Beduhn demonstrates at length why the popular "I AM" translation is based on theological bias. NAB succumbs here.

  • John 1:1 is old hat. It is discussed at length by Beduhn and there's too much to say on it, but NAB is with the crowd in the shadow of the KJV, translating "the word was God." He says:

    Dr. Beduhn wrote:The NASB, NIV, NRSV, and NAB follow the translation concocted by the KJV translators. This translation awaits a proper defense, since no obvious one emerges from Greek grammar, the literary context of John, or the cultural environment in which John is writing.


  • The NAB has a habit of inaccurately making "holy spirit" definite (i.e. The Holy Spirit) with no support from the Greek.

  • Etc.

Taking all this into consideration, it would hardly be a surprise or out of character to find the NAB showing a pro-Trinitarian bias in Rev 3:14, which was not a test case in Beduhn's book. That the NAB happens to be better or less pronounced in its bias in a number of cases than the remaining versions under review doesn't mean there is no undercurrent of pro-Trinitarian bias to be found, and I don't see how Beduhn would have anything to explain about his comments on the general accuracy of the translation as compared to the others that ranked lower. To recognize a Trinitarian bias in Rev. 3:14 would not be at odds with his findings in the rest of his book.

Still, it must be reiterated yet again that just because a translation uses the word you want at Rev. 3:14 doesn't mean that it uses it in the same sense. It's possible from a purely lexical standpoint to translate using "source" there (though the usage finds no support in John's writings or anywhere else in the Bible) as it still at least allows for the necessarily partitive sense of arche. It might be said to be comparable to the NAB's 'unnecessarily ambiguous' translation of harpagmos at Phil 2:6. The difference is that the ambiguous translation in Phil definitely captures Paul's meaning while also allowing for something he did not mean, but with a translation of "source" at Rev 3:14 the possibility exists that even though it is capturing a possible meaning of arche (at the same time as allowing an impossible meaning for arche), it's likely not capturing John's intended meaning at all.

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Reason: Corrected some statements to be more strictly accurate and less open to confusion.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:07 pm

I thought I'd offer my 2 cents on this post...

Sulla wrote:No, we haven't seen denials that the word means primary source from anybody but HeKS' source. We have your assertion that Thayer agrees, based on the philosophical thinking of 600 years before John.


I'm not sure why you keep trying to limit the scope of the evidence that has been presented. At least, I'm not sure why you think it's going to work. You keep trying to spin this as though just one guy used arche with the sense of a partitive source 600 years before John, with the apparent desire to imply that a non-partitive source was a more common meaning. All of this is simply your own invention. From the time of Thales and Anaximander up to the time of John and beyond to the writings of Origen, all instances where arche was used to mean source were partitive. This makes perfect sense, because the innovation of using arche to mean a partitive source was simply a logical progression of its lexical field. The same could not be said for a meaning of non-partitive source, which would run contrary to the central phenomenon that is described by the entire lexical range of arche.

Sulla wrote:Look, the idea that "source / origin" was not properly in the lexical field was always one of your more gratuitous statements. Now that everybody agrees that it is in the lexical field, and everybody agrees that the point you paper makes is flat-out wrong (we can't say that it is required to be a partitive genitive) the question is whether the nuance of that meaning forces a reading of "first created thing."


The paper may not have been strictly accurate in its wording on this point, but the fact remains that the English meaning of "source / origin" is not fully within the lexical range of arche. Specifically, the non-partitive meaning of "source / origin" that is appealed to by Trinitarians at this verse is not properly in the lexical field of arche. The paper needs to clarify this point, but your position is advanced not at all by this clarity.

Sulla wrote:Actually, that's not even the question. I don't think anybody is going to argue that this meaning remotely tells us that Jesus is the first created thing.


Huh? Would you care to elucidate on the other interpretive options available when one is faced with the fact that if arche is used to mean "beginning" it means first part of a series or period of time, and if it is used to mean source then it refers to the outermost point or extremity of something that gives rise to the rest of the something and is itself part of that something? Nobody is going to argue that this verse means what it most directly, naturally, clearly, and obviously says? I'm sure it would be rare to find a Trinitarian who would argue it, but that hardly counts for much, does it? Why would a Trinitarian argue in direct contradiction to their own doctrine?

Sulla wrote:What you seem to be hanging your hat on now is the idea that there is some "ongoing connection" with creation and the associated idea that there remains some "partitive sense" in the word -- neither of which is a position that I suspect is not really a problem for me.


I've already addressed this in my other post and explained what this actually means and why it really is a problem for you.

Sulla wrote:You have the annoying habit of forgetting how severly wounded this conversation has been to the paper you wrote. We know now:

-- that the paper mis-represented the Genesis quote


Misrepresented the Genesis quote? That's an interesting way of characterizing it and a bizarre choice of points to use in demonstrating how you think the paper has been "severely wounded."

Rotherham accidentally used a quote from an English translation of the Hebrew that was LESS supportive of his point than the Greek that he based his argument on and that he intended to quote, which actually proved his point beyond dispute and obliterated the only tenuous foothold you had for your position.

So, Rotherham "misrepresented" the quote in a way that was disadvantageous to him, but discovering this error actually bolstered the central argument of the paper rather than severely wounding it.

Sulla wrote:-- the paper's claims are sharply reduced with respect to the degree of certainty


Um, actually, they aren't. Perhaps you haven't been following the discussion, but the certainty of the paper's claim briefly appeared to be reduced based only on the grounds of Rotherham's quoting of the wrong translation discussed directly above and the arguments that flowed out of and were based on that error.

Sulla wrote:-- the original claim of finding a "biblical pattern" was overblown


Again, not really. There is still no other place in the Bible where arche can be shown to mean source, even in a partitive sense, and we still don't have any example of arche being used non-partitively in any Biblical statement (or secular statement for that matter).

Your primary arguments against this pattern were based on thinking you'd found a possible genitive of production using arche as the head noun at Gen 49:3 and arguing that abstract things could not be spoken of partitively. Both points have been proven conclusively to be incorrect.

Sulla wrote:[color=#800000]-- the entire partitve genitive argument is non-operational


Incorrect. The apparent problem with the partitive genitive argument stemmed from the possibility of Gen 49:3 using arche in a genitive of production rather than a partitive genitive. This was based on acknowledging that the statement, "the beginning of my strength," had to be considered as possibly being a genitive of production while thinking this is what the Greek actually said. But this is NOT what the Greek said. The Greek was a clear partitive genitive and we are left without any serious example where arche might be used as the head noun in a genitive statement other than a partitive genitive.

In short, the partitive genitive argument, like the Death Star in Return of the Jedi, is, apparently to your surprise, "fully operational."

Sulla wrote:-- "origin / source" are clearly within the lexical field of the word in question


But not in the non-partitive sense you need. Congratulations on that stunning victory ... or is it a crushing defeat. It's kinda hard to tell.

Sulla wrote:These are things we agree on. I would also add the observation that we are now engaged in precisey the kind of discussion that I insisted was necessary -- a question about the context, audience, etc., that would help us understand the meaning of the author.


And it has apparently left you with no reasonable recourse for your position. The meaning of "source / origin" has always been where Trinitarians have run to escape the ramifications of Rev 3:14, appealing to the lexicons without making a really thorough examination of what they say and the examples they give to demonstrate their intent. Such an examination has shone a bright light in this dark corner of escape, establishing that an attempt to take arche to mean "source" here doesn't remove the explicit connection of Christ to the order of creation but merely adds an additional aspect about his role in the creative process.

Sulla wrote:You may remember how you claimed that we didn't need to do any of that. Well, here we are. And we are doing all that because the claims in the paper are not compelling -- we really can't just go look at the grammatical patterns and be done with the whole question.


And you may recall how we simply said that we didn't think all the additional factors would lead to a different conclusion about the meaning of this verse. That has proven true. A consideration of these additional factors has established the central point of the paper more fully. Whatever meaning within the lexical range of arche that you would like to apply at Rev 3:14 - EVEN "SOURCE" - it cannot be escaped that arche carries a partitive sense at all times and that this verse places Christ in the order of creation.

Sulla wrote:As for what I choose to comment on -- Rotherham, your habit of flooding the zone is pretty well established. As is your habit of claiming that, since A implies B, you have proven C.

Finally, the idea that I have represented the word to mean "primary source" as if that somehow implies a separation from the pattern we see over and again --from the Father, thorough the Son -- is not right, either.


And yet you have represented it as meaning an extrinsic or non-partitive source, which is not within the lexical field of arche.


Sulla wrote:Oh, and one more thing. Don't offer up any more quotes without a proper citation. you know very well I don't trust you to to present these thing accurately. And anyway, if Beckwith is such a great source, how is it that he disagrees with you?


As Rotherham has pointed out, he DID provide a proper citation.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:44 am

Have you heard from Beduhn yet?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:15 am

Not yet.

Would you care to comment on this in the meantime?

HeKS wrote:Would you care to elucidate on the other interpretive options available when one is faced with the fact that if arche is used to mean "beginning" it means first part of a series or period of time, and if it is used to mean source then it refers to the outermost point or extremity of something that gives rise to the rest of the something and is itself part of that something? Nobody is going to argue that this verse means what it most directly, naturally, clearly, and obviously says? I'm sure it would be rare to find a Trinitarian who would argue it, but that hardly counts for much, does it? Why would a Trinitarian argue in direct contradiction to their own doctrine?


We're waiting for Beduhn to more directly answer your question, but I don't see why that should stop us from discussing what alternate interpretive options you think are available in light of what we know about arche.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:37 pm

Hmm, I wonder what's taking so long.

____________________________________________________


Based on what we know about arche. Based on what we know. That’s the problem, isn’t it?

You started with Thayer’s comment about Thales’ use of the term – Thales thinking that the essence of all things is water – and assumed that this particular immanent sense would survive 600 years to the use St. John would have made, according to my thinking. Then you mocked my position for being clearly wrong because everybody knows John would not claim that Jesus was the stuff out of which everything was made. You then consulted Beduhn, who told you there was always some continuation with the source or fountainhead implied by with that sense of the word and that he can’t think of any exceptions.

And from this, you guys decide to do a little Lambeau Leap, combined with a throat-slash, and a group celebration in the end zone.

And now you want to know how we should proceed, given what we know about arche. We don’t know what you think we know.

One thing we know is that we can multiply the number of lexicons that give us definitions that do not require a partitive reading in English: source, first cause, principle, origin, etc. The requirement of a partitive reading is exclusively the result of your claim that a partitive reading is 1) how the word was used originally by Thales and 2) this partitive sense remains throughout the intervening centuries and is how the sense of that word is used everywhere in Greek. Both observations are baseless.

First, the reason people think Thales was the first to use arche in a philosophical way was because Aristotle said so. We don't have Thales' work, we have Aristotle's comments about Thales' work. And Aristotle was working his own way through his meanings of arche and noted that Thales seemed to have been the first to go over this ground, but with a different terminology.

But what does Aristotle, the guy who really used the term, have to say about it? Well, he conveniently tells us what he figures the different meanings are in Metaphysics V, 1:

"'BEGINNING' means (1) that part of a thing from which one would start first, e.g a line or a road has a beginning in either of the contrary directions. (2) That from which each thing would best be originated, e.g. even in learning we must sometimes begin not from the first point and the beginning of the subject, but from the point from which we should learn most easily. (4) That from which, as an immanent part, a thing first comes to be, e,g, as the keel of a ship and the foundation of a house, while in animals some suppose the heart, others the brain, others some other part, to be of this nature. (4) That from which, not as an immanent part, a thing first comes to be, and from which the movement or the change naturally first begins, as a child comes from its father and its mother, and a fight from abusive language. (5) That at whose will that which is moved is moved and that which changes changes, e.g. the magistracies in cities, and oligarchies and monarchies and tyrannies, are called arhchai, and so are the arts, and of these especially the architectonic arts. (6) That from which a thing can first be known,-this also is called the beginning of the thing, e.g. the hypotheses are the beginnings of demonstrations. (Causes are spoken of in an equal number of senses; for all causes are beginnings.) It is common, then, to all beginnings to be the first point from which a thing either is or comes to be or is known; but of these some are immanent in the thing and others are outside. Hence the nature of a thing is a beginning, and so is the element of a thing, and thought and will, and essence, and the final cause-for the good and the beautiful are the beginning both of the knowledge and of the movement of many things.


Do you see that? Why, it sure is true that there is an immanent sense of the word, as in the foundation of a house or, if you like, a fountainhead. But see how there is this non-immanent sense? “That from which, not as an immanent part, a thing first comes to be.” Like parents being the arche of their children. So, in English, a cause or first principle, maybe. Not partitive.

Parents are not partitive with their children, though one could see how there is some sort of continuity with their children, I suppose.

So do yourself a favor and drop the Thales-talk, ok? There is clear – and closer -- precedent for a philosophical usage precisely of the non-immanent type that I have claimed.

Second, we have Beduhn declaring that he can’t think of any examples where the word is used without the immanent meaning when the sense of “source” is appropriate. I think that’s odd, since I sure can find cases. Here’s a contemporaneous case:

Now God, who is without beginning, is the perfect beginning of the universe, and the producer of the beginning. As, then, He is being, He is the first principle of the department of action, as He is good, of morals; as He is mind, on the other hand, He is the first principle of reasoning and of judgment. Whence also He alone is Teacher, who is the only Son of the Most High Father, the Instructor of men. – St. Clement of Alexandria, “The Stromata,” IV, 25


See here that arche is used in several ways, including a non-immanent sense of “source.”

Thus, there is clear precedent for usage in contemporaneous Christian writings for a non-immanent sense of the word. Moreover, Aristotle makes the possible philosophical meanings quite apparent.

So let us drop, forevermore, this idea that there is necessarily some partitive meaning associated with this word, arche. I have established:

1. the word clearly has a non-paritive meaning within the philosophical context
2. the word is used in this non-partitive way in contemporaneous Christian writing

Sometimes a partitive meaning is attached but, just as in English, a partitive meaning is not required.

And, no, the touchdown doesn't count. Holding back at the line of scrimmage: first and twenty.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Oct 07, 2009 5:46 pm

Sulla wrote:Hmm, I wonder what's taking so long.


Who knows? I was surprised how quickly he got back to me the first time. Also, your question is one of several I have sent him on a few different issues, so I imagine he'll respond when he can.

Sulla wrote:____________________________________________________

Based on what we know about arche. Based on what we know. That’s the problem, isn’t it?

You started with Thayer’s comment about Thales’ use of the term – Thales thinking that the essence of all things is water – and assumed that this particular immanent sense would survive 600 years to the use St. John would have made, according to my thinking. Then you mocked my position for being clearly wrong because everybody knows John would not claim that Jesus was the stuff out of which everything was made. You then consulted Beduhn, who told you there was always some continuation with the source or fountainhead implied by with that sense of the word and that he can’t think of any exceptions.

And from this, you guys decide to do a little Lambeau Leap, combined with a throat-slash, and a group celebration in the end zone.

And now you want to know how we should proceed, given what we know about arche. We don’t know what you think we know.

One thing we know is that we can multiply the number of lexicons that give us definitions that do not require a partitive reading in English: source, first cause, principle, origin, etc. The requirement of a partitive reading is exclusively the result of your claim that a partitive reading is 1) how the word was used originally by Thales and 2) this partitive sense remains throughout the intervening centuries and is how the sense of that word is used everywhere in Greek. Both observations are baseless.

First, the reason people think Thales was the first to use arche in a philosophical way was because Aristotle said so. We don't have Thales' work, we have Aristotle's comments about Thales' work. And Aristotle was working his own way through his meanings of arche and noted that Thales seemed to have been the first to go over this ground, but with a different terminology.


You don't seem to have a very good memory of how this discussion has progressed. Certainly your summary of what we said is inaccurate.

First of all, we said Anaximander was the first to use the term that way, and that this is who Thayer points to, not Thales. I also pointed out that Aristotle used it and that he discussed Thales' philosophy but it seemed Aristotle was retroactively applying arche to Thales' philosophy, but that Aristotle's actual usage in his own philosophy appeared to be the same as Anaximander's. I also said that Origen apparently used it in the same way. It was after all this that I contacted Beduhn and he agreed on the meaning of arche in practice.

So, thanks for now giving your own summary of all that, but it would be nice if you didn't claim we gave some entirely different and inaccurate history or mix around the order of events. Your historical summary is a little late to the game.

Sulla wrote:But what does Aristotle, the guy who really used the term, have to say about it? Well, he conveniently tells us what he figures the different meanings are in Metaphysics V, 1:

"'BEGINNING' means (1) that part of a thing from which one would start first, e.g a line or a road has a beginning in either of the contrary directions. (2) That from which each thing would best be originated, e.g. even in learning we must sometimes begin not from the first point and the beginning of the subject, but from the point from which we should learn most easily. (4) That from which, as an immanent part, a thing first comes to be, e,g, as the keel of a ship and the foundation of a house, while in animals some suppose the heart, others the brain, others some other part, to be of this nature. (4) That from which, not as an immanent part, a thing first comes to be, and from which the movement or the change naturally first begins, as a child comes from its father and its mother, and a fight from abusive language. (5) That at whose will that which is moved is moved and that which changes changes, e.g. the magistracies in cities, and oligarchies and monarchies and tyrannies, are called arhchai, and so are the arts, and of these especially the architectonic arts. (6) That from which a thing can first be known,-this also is called the beginning of the thing, e.g. the hypotheses are the beginnings of demonstrations. (Causes are spoken of in an equal number of senses; for all causes are beginnings.) It is common, then, to all beginnings to be the first point from which a thing either is or comes to be or is known; but of these some are immanent in the thing and others are outside. Hence the nature of a thing is a beginning, and so is the element of a thing, and thought and will, and essence, and the final cause-for the good and the beautiful are the beginning both of the knowledge and of the movement of many things.


Do you see that? Why, it sure is true that there is an immanent sense of the word, as in the foundation of a house or, if you like, a fountainhead. But see how there is this non-immanent sense? “That from which, not as an immanent part, a thing first comes to be.” Like parents being the arche of their children. So, in English, a cause or first principle, maybe. Not partitive.

Parents are not partitive with their children, though one could see how there is some sort of continuity with their children, I suppose.


Great. So you have finally bothered to find something like evidence. This is an interesting lexical entry. Do you know where to find the actual usage that Aristotle is citing to support this meaning? Also, do you happen to have it in Greek or know where it can be accessed in Greek online? I'm not in the mood to spend another 10 hours talking about an English translation that might be leading us down a pointless path.

Sulla wrote:So do yourself a favor and drop the Thales-talk, ok? There is clear – and closer -- precedent for a philosophical usage precisely of the non-immanent type that I have claimed.


I'm sure you mean drop the Thales and Anaximander and Aristotle (his actual philosophical discussion of the arche) and all the Bible writers (including John everywhere else) and Origen (and a few others) -talk.

Sulla wrote:Second, we have Beduhn declaring that he can’t think of any examples where the word is used without the immanent meaning when the sense of “source” is appropriate. I think that’s odd, since I sure can find cases. Here’s a contemporaneous case:

Now God, who is without beginning, is the perfect beginning of the universe, and the producer of the beginning. As, then, He is being, He is the first principle of the department of action, as He is good, of morals; as He is mind, on the other hand, He is the first principle of reasoning and of judgment. Whence also He alone is Teacher, who is the only Son of the Most High Father, the Instructor of men. – St. Clement of Alexandria, “The Stromata,” IV, 25


See here that arche is used in several ways, including a non-immanent sense of “source.”


As with the case above, I'll wait to see the Greek. Any idea where I can find it online?

Sulla wrote:Thus, there is clear precedent for usage in contemporaneous Christian writings for a non-immanent sense of the word. Moreover, Aristotle makes the possible philosophical meanings quite apparent.

So let us drop, forevermore, this idea that there is necessarily some partitive meaning associated with this word, arche. I have established:

1. the word clearly has a non-paritive meaning within the philosophical context
2. the word is used in this non-partitive way in contemporaneous Christian writing

Sometimes a partitive meaning is attached but, just as in English, a partitive meaning is not required.

And, no, the touchdown doesn't count. Holding back at the line of scrimmage: first and twenty.


Once we have the Greek to examine there will be something to discuss.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:00 am

First of all, we said Anaximander was the first to use the term that way, and that this is who Thayer points to, not Thales. I also pointed out that Aristotle used it and that he discussed Thales' philosophy but it seemed Aristotle was retroactively applying arche to Thales' philosophy, but that Aristotle's actual usage in his own philosophy appeared to be the same as Anaximander's.


Well that's a bit of a puzzle, then, because Anaximander broke from the idea of the arche being immanent. Thales was the one who said everything is water, while Anaxamander found the source of all in the infinite; he did not suppose that this infinite was immanent. But, no matter, since we have seen that there is clearly a non-immanent -- that is, non-partitive -- sense of the word. If we agree that Aristotle is a valid source.

Great. So you have finally bothered to find something like evidence. This is an interesting lexical entry. Do you know where to find the actual usage that Aristotle is citing to support this meaning? Also, do you happen to have it in Greek or know where it can be accessed in Greek online? I'm not in the mood to spend another 10 hours talking about an English translation that might be leading us down a pointless path.


Ok, Mister Snark.

To my knowledge, which is admittedly thin, Aristotle did not cite his references in this case. I don't know where you can access it in Greek on-line.


I'm sure you mean drop the Thales and Anaximander and Aristotle (his actual philosophical discussion of the arche) and all the Bible writers (including John everywhere else) and Origen (and a few others) -talk.


Actually, I just mean the Thales-talk. Anaximander, Aristotle, St. John, and Origen don't use arche this way. I don't know that we need tot get into it, unless we need to kill some time while you dig up a manuscript of Metaphysics in the original Greek.

As with the case above, I'll wait to see the Greek. Any idea where I can find [St. Clement of Alexandria's, The Stromata ] online?


No.

While you assemble your team of Greek scholars -- who will, I'm sure, do much more than check to make sure the alpha, rho, chi, ... are all in the right place -- (and maybe you should drop G. Stafford a line about this, I read somewhere that he couldn't find any examples of non-immanence, either), I'll just make the point that this clearly shows

-- a non-immanent, non-partitive, sense of the word
-- the actual use in a non-immanent, non-partitive manner by a contemporaneous Christian writer

I don't see why waiting for you to find the original Greek manuscripts should stop us from discussing what interpretive options we have for this verse, in light of what we know about arche. That is, now that we've seen Aristotle himself directly address the non-partitive meaning (which matches very well, actually, the non-partitive sense in English) and have seen a contemporaneous Christian writer make actual use of the word in just this way, and now that we all agree that the fact this sense is less common in St. John's writing isn't a strong argument against its use in this case, what reasons do we have for restricting our interpretation of this verse in the way you'd like?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:00 am

Hello Sulla,

I'll have more to say on your understanding of Anaximander's use of arche and also Aristotles, as I am sure Heks will too, but I have to ask; What does any of that have to do with the way the word is used via inspiration from God? As mentioned in the article, "interpretation belongs to God". How can we be letting God interpret things for us if we are not following the clear lead he has given us in his inspired words? John, and God by the way, had words to choose from if he wanted to name the Son as the author or source of creation (aitios, archegos, rhiza), but he used a different word that isn't used as author or source anywhere else by him or any other Bible writer. Paul explicitly denies the Son to be the "OUT OF" when it comes to creation so making the Son the "out of" in Rev. 3:14 takes you to modalism (Trinitarians agree) and I know you do not and can not want that. Paul and John MUST agree if we have any belief that the inspired words of God are consistent.

As I mentioned in the article, I have never seen an example in secular or religious (extra-biblical) writings where arche was used as source (non-partitive sense), but the point of the article was not hangjng upon that outside occurence to begin with, it was hanging upon Biblical usage for we must allow God to be the interpreter if there is enough of a database for a choice to be demonstrated, and there certainly is in this case, and it is demonstrated in an unmistakable fashion, so, we could quibble about Anaximander and Arsitotle, which I am sure there will be quibbling, but in the end, what bearing does it have on the article and the "Biblical usage" point as it was presented?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:04 am

But I've raised an excellent point. What would the reasoning for my preferred reading look like? So, here is a sketch of the argument. It is exceedingly simple

Here is part of Ps. 102:


Long ago you laid out the earth's foundations
the heavens are the works of your hands.
They pass away but you remain;
they all wear out like a garment,
like outworn clothes you change them;
but you never alter, and your years never end


I think we all aggree that this Psalm, addressed to YHWH, clearly describes him as the creator of all. If so, then Hebrews 1, quoting Ps. 102 and applying it to the Son:

Long ago, Lord, you laid the earth's foundations,
the heavens are the works of your hands.
They pass away, but you remain,
they all wear out like a garment.
Like a cloakyou will roll them up, like a garment,
and they will be changed.
But you never alter and your years are unending,


should suffice to establish the Son as the creator of all.

If it was the original Christian teaching the the Son was the creator of all, then it is entirely appropriate to speak of him as the creator of all. This idea can reasonably be expressed by claiming that Jesus is the arche of creation, as in Rev. 3.

Therefore, such a reading is consistent with the testimony of the NT and cannot be rejected out of hand. In particular, we see now that it cannot be rejected based merely on the arguments presented in the paper published on this web site. It simply is not true that the word itself, arche requires some sort of immanent sense or partitive meaning (let alone the now-abandoned idea that genitives associated with arche are necessarily partitive genitives). Moreover, it is simply untrue that we cannot find contemporaneous examples of non-partitive uses of the term.

There are arguments against my view, but no valid argument exists against my view that is based merely on the sense of the word.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:27 am

I'll have more to say on your understanding of Anaximander's use of arche and also Aristotles, as I am sure Heks will too, but I have to ask; What does any of that have to do with the way the word is used via inspiration from God? As mentioned in the article, "interpretation belongs to God". How can we be letting God interpret things for us if we are not following the clear lead he has given us in his inspired words? John, and God by the way, had words to choose from if he wanted to name the Son as the author or source of creation (aitios, archegos, rhiza), but he used a different word that isn't used as author or source anywhere else by him or any other Bible writer. Paul explicitly denies the Son to be the "OUT OF" when it comes to creation so making the Son the "out of" in Rev. 3:14 takes you to modalism and I know you do not and can not want that. Paul and John MUST agree if we have any belief that the inspired words of God are consistent.


Well, Rotherham, if Aristotle is correct and the word arche really does have a non-immanent sense, and if contemporaneous writers used the word in a non-immanent sense, then we can't go around insisting that it is imposible to use the word in a non-immanent sense.

As for how it would be letting "God interpret things for us" if St. John up and decides to use arche in this spot instead of some other word: I have no idea, that's your axiom and not mine. I'd remind you that he calls the Son the logos, which is unique to him, as well. Maybe thinking along those lines would help.

Is there a modalist reading in my preferred way of looking at Rev. 3? Could be, Modalists are clever little heretics. But the passage, like so many other passages in the NT, is careful to associate the Son with the Father -- emphasizing the creatorship of the Son through, with, in response to, etc., the Father. Thus, St. John says "source / Principle / origin of God's creation."

The amazing thing about the Nt is the constant application of the identity of the OT God with Jesus and the simultaneous distinction between the two, while keeping the commitment to second temple monotheism.


As I mentioned in the article, I have never seen an example in secular or religious (extra-biblical) writings where arche was used as source (non-partitive sense), but the point of the article was not hangjng upon that outside occurence to begin with, it was hanging upon Biblical usage for we must allow God to be the interpreter if there is enough of a database for a choice to be demonstrated, and there certainly is in this case, and it is demonstrated in an unmistakable fashion, so, we could quibble about Anaximander and Arsitotle, which I am sure there will be quibbling, but in the end, what bearing does it have on the article and the "Biblical usage" point as it was presented?


I thought we talked about this already. The LXX is a translation of the Bible. It is not controversial to note that there are many little editorializations and changes in the LXX that may not necessarily be the "best" way to translate certain passages of the original Hebrew. For example, the prophecy that a virgin would bear a child -- and the application of this prophecy to Mary -- was widely attacked by the Jews at the time for being an improper translation.

More directly, you JWs are very critical of the LXX translation in many contexts, rejecting its consistent use of "Lord" in place of YHWH. But this seems to be a case of wanting to have it both ways.

What matters to us is the Greek word arche and the way it is used. One point I have been trying to make without success so far, is that we have to look at a variety of contexts. We begin with the book of Revelation itself, then we consider St. John's other writings, then the NT, then contemporaneous writings from Jewish and Christian sources, then other stuff.

You guys want to include other stuff when you think it supports your point, but want to exclude it when it goes against you. So, when you think Greek philosophical use of arche from 600 years prior to John helps you out, we spend a couple weeks talking about it. Now that it looks like it doesn't help, we get a post asking how any of that matters. Come on.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:30 am

Hello Sulla,

But I've raised an excellent point. What would the reasoning for my preferred reading look like? So, here is a sketch of the argument. It is exceedingly simple

Here is part of Ps. 102:


Long ago you laid out the earth's foundations
the heavens are the works of your hands.
They pass away but you remain;
they all wear out like a garment,
like outworn clothes you change them;
but you never alter, and your years never end


I think we all aggree that this Psalm, addressed to YHWH, clearly describes him as the creator of all. If so, then Hebrews 1, quoting Ps. 102 and applying it to the Son:

Long ago, Lord, you laid the earth's foundations,
the heavens are the works of your hands.
They pass away, but you remain,
they all wear out like a garment.
Like a cloakyou will roll them up, like a garment,
and they will be changed.
But you never alter and your years are unending,


should suffice to establish the Son as the creator of all.

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If you wish to discuss this scripture then that is fine, but simply put, the references to the Son and the applications of these scriptures upon the Son are presented as REFLECTIVE, not as absolute, so the Son is not presented as the Creator, but as verse 3 in the same chapter points out, the things were made by God THROUGH the Son. Naturally then, words said of God could be said of the Son in that reflecticve sense which is established early on in that same chapter. Actually, it can be easily demonstrated that the words of the psalm can NOT apply absolutely to the Son, even for Trinitarians, but I'll leave it up to you if you want to get into that.

And once again, Paul can not contradict the writer of Hebrews (likely himself) or the Apostle John, for he explicitly deies that the a;; things came "out of" the Son. You don't want to seem to address that but trather start ping ponging. Rather than ping ponging, we need to harmonize what it ALL says, and Paul doesn't allow for the Son to be the "out of" when it comes to creation.

As mentioned before and I'll mention again, God and John and every other Bible wroter had words to use in the Greek language that would adequately described the Son as the ultimate creator, the ulitmate source or author of creation but they did not use them, they used something else which is never used that way by the other isnpired writers. That is significant and you seem to ignore it.
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If it was the original Christian teaching the the Son was the creator of all, then it is entirely appropriate to speak of him as the creator of all. This idea can reasonably be expressed by claiming that Jesus is the arche of creation, as in Rev. 3.

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Not when there are words that were already available that could have been used to clearly express the idea. Not in using a word that is never used that way anywhere else in the Bible. That is not allowing God to be the interpreter when we have plenty and unmistakable evidence in this case to do so. And again, the scriptures do not teach the Son to be the Creator. Your application of Hebrews 1:10 is flawed within the context of the same chapter and in the greater context of Paul's words himself in Corinthians where he specifically excludes the Son from being the "out of" for creation.
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Therefore, such a reading is consistent with the testimony of the NT and cannot be rejected out of hand. In particular, we see now that it cannot be rejected based merely on the arguments presented in the paper published on this web site.

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I can always update the article, but nothing has changed as to the conclusion it reaches. if we allow God to be the interpeter wherever we have the available evidence to do so, then there is no other way to understand the use of arche in rev. 3:14, there simply isn't. The Son is never presented in the scriptures as the Creator, but only the instrument thereof, Hebrews 1:10 included.
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It simply is not true that the word itself, arche requires some sort of immanent sense or partitive meaning (let alone the now-abandoned idea that genitives associated with arche are necessarily partitive genitives). Moreover, it is simply untrue that we cannot find contemporaneous examples of non-partitive uses of the term.

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What exactly do you mean by "contemporaneous"? Within the time period of the writing of the scriptures? Or what? Surely there is nothing within that time frame, and as of yet, there is nothing even with Anaximander and Aristotle. The thing you seem to miss is that Anaximander felt that the "infinite" was the "FIRST PRINCIPLE". On other words, we were all made from the "infinite". Tjis is not something you can find agreement with in your application of the word for Anaximander did not use it in a non-partitive sense. But regardless, of all that, Biblical usgae, which is what we focused upon, or at least should be, does not allow for the word to used that way. It does not allow it contextually or linguistically.
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There are arguments against my view, but no valid argument exists against my view that is based merely on the sense of the word.
[/quote]


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Well sure there are when it comes to Biblical use of the word, and as of yet, you have still not demonstrated where the word is used non-partitively, including Anaximander.

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rotherham
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:51 am

Hello Sulla,

Aristotles use of the word with this definition does not help you in the least. Did you not notice the examples that he gave for this meaning? It is very clear that there is "partitive" source being addressed, for children are certainly "part" of the their parents, and the "abusive speech" is ceratinly the first principle of the argumant. You can not separate them as if they are not partitive. I've already addressed Anaximander's use of the word which also does not help you.
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I'll have more to say on your understanding of Anaximander's use of arche and also Aristotles, as I am sure Heks will too, but I have to ask; What does any of that have to do with the way the word is used via inspiration from God? As mentioned in the article, "interpretation belongs to God". How can we be letting God interpret things for us if we are not following the clear lead he has given us in his inspired words? John, and God by the way, had words to choose from if he wanted to name the Son as the author or source of creation (aitios, archegos, rhiza), but he used a different word that isn't used as author or source anywhere else by him or any other Bible writer. Paul explicitly denies the Son to be the "OUT OF" when it comes to creation so making the Son the "out of" in Rev. 3:14 takes you to modalism and I know you do not and can not want that. Paul and John MUST agree if we have any belief that the inspired words of God are consistent.


Well, Rotherham, if Aristotle is correct and the word arche really does have a non-immanent sense, and if contemporaneous writers used the word in a non-immanent sense, then we can't go around insisting that it is imposible to use the word in a non-immanent sense.

As for how it would be letting "God interpret things for us" if St. John up and decides to use arche in this spot instead of some other word: I have no idea, that's your axiom and not mine. I'd remind you that he calls the Son the logos, which is unique to him, as well. Maybe thinking along those lines would help.

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But he uses "logos" consistently, that's the point. Thankyou for admitting you have no idea why John would switch usage. I don't either, which of course, demonstrates the point of the article. There is no reason.
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Is there a modalist reading in my preferred way of looking at Rev. 3? Could be, Modalists are clever little heretics. But the passage, like so many other passages in the NT, is careful to associate the Son with the Father -- emphasizing the creatorship of the Son through, with, in response to, etc., the Father. Thus, St. John says "source / Principle / origin of God's creation."

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The Son is never called the Creator. He is always represented as the instrument. You can not contradict Paul who said that only the Father is the "out of". I am certain John did not contradict him either.
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The amazing thing about the Nt is the constant application of the identity of the OT God with Jesus and the simultaneous distinction between the two, while keeping the commitment to second temple monotheism.


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Constant? Supposition in need of proof. Any comparison is contained within the context of reflection and image, not the actual.
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As I mentioned in the article, I have never seen an example in secular or religious (extra-biblical) writings where arche was used as source (non-partitive sense), but the point of the article was not hangjng upon that outside occurence to begin with, it was hanging upon Biblical usage for we must allow God to be the interpreter if there is enough of a database for a choice to be demonstrated, and there certainly is in this case, and it is demonstrated in an unmistakable fashion, so, we could quibble about Anaximander and Arsitotle, which I am sure there will be quibbling, but in the end, what bearing does it have on the article and the "Biblical usage" point as it was presented?


I thought we talked about this already. The LXX is a translation of the Bible. It is not controversial to note that there are many little editorializations and changes in the LXX that may not necessarily be the "best" way to translate certain passages of the original Hebrew. For example, the prophecy that a virgin would bear a child -- and the application of this prophecy to Mary -- was widely attacked by the Jews at the time for being an improper translation.

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It demonstrates how the Jews of the third and second centuries BCE used the word arche in a genitive phrase when rendering the word reyshith, which was the Hebrew for "beginning". Besides, we have all of examples in the NT Greek which unmistakably establish the point. the LXX is constantly referred to by scholars in support of the meaning of words in the Greek NT.
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More directly, you JWs are very critical of the LXX translation in many contexts, rejecting its consistent use of "Lord" in place of YHWH. But this seems to be a case of wanting to have it both ways.

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UH, the earliest LXX examples used YHWH instead of Lord. We've been over that. We only take exception to the LXX when there are manuscript inconsistencies, as it should be. There are no manuscript inconsistenceies in the areas that pertain to this discussion.
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What matters to us is the Greek word arche and the way it is used. One point I have been trying to make without success so far, is that we have to look at a variety of contexts. We begin with the book of Revelation itself, then we consider St. John's other writings, then the NT, then contemporaneous writings from Jewish and Christian sources, then other stuff.

You guys want to include other stuff when you think it supports your point, but want to exclude it when it goes against you.

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Once again, if there is a sufficient database of information available in the scriptures to determine the meanings and usage of a word or a phrase, (which in this case is unmistakable) then if we should want to let God be the interpreter, so we should obviously rely on those examples for guidance. Choosing a non-supported meaning (from a Biblical standpoint) in favor of a meaning that can't even be demonstrated in any clear way even outside the Bible, is NOT letting God be the interpreter, it's letting you, or some other man, be the interpreter.
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So, when you think Greek philosophical use of arche from 600 years prior to John helps you out, we spend a couple weeks talking about it. Now that it looks like it doesn't help, we get a post asking how any of that matters. Come on.
[/quote]

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But in the end, that is exactly true. It has no bearing on what the article presented, but it is certainly noteworthy that even outside the Bible, the meaning can not be supported.

And the bottom line is. Paul denies that the Son is the source. With that absolute, we should interpret any non-absolute in its light, which leads us back to the same conclusion that the article makes. The Son is a created being.

Regards,
Rotherham
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:55 am

Well, Rotherham, I'm quite certain that you disagree with my little summary. I don't know that we need to get in to th details, but like I said, that was a quick sketch of my position: the Son is allowed to be called Creator, and calling him by that title in a reflexive way may be consistent with John's use in Rev. 3.

I will say that your focus on harmonization of everything in scripture can lead you only to madness: God is bigger than the Bible.


As mentioned before and I'll mention again, God and John and every other Bible wroter had words to use in the Greek language that would adequately described the Son as the ultimate creator, the ulitmate source or author of creation but they did not use them, they used something else which is never used that way by the other isnpired writers. That is significant and you seem to ignore it.


You promise to repeat yourself? Seems like a risk.

On the contrary, Roth, the idea that good Trinitarians would be careful not to claim the Son (sent by, begotten of, obedient to - the Father) as the ultimate creator makes perfect sense. If you are reasonably well-read in orthodox theology. And, with St. John, adopting special language with respect to the Son seems to be one of those things he likes to do -- or did I miss St. Paul's use of logos?


Sulla: If it was the original Christian teaching the the Son was the creator of all, then it is entirely appropriate to speak of him as the creator of all. This idea can reasonably be expressed by claiming that Jesus is the arche of creation, as in Rev. 3.

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Not when there are words that were already available that could have been used to clearly express the idea. Not in using a word that is never used that way anywhere else in the Bible. That is not allowing God to be the interpreter when we have plenty and unmistakable evidence in this case to do so. And again, the scriptures do not teach the Son to be the Creator. Your application of Hebrews 1:10 is flawed within the context of the same chapter and in the greater context of Paul's words himself in Corinthians where he specifically excludes the Son from being the "out of" for creation.
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Huh? It can't adequately be expressed this way because there exist other options available to be used? Please show me where logos is used elsewhere in the Bible, then we can talk about this.

Sulla: Therefore, such a reading is consistent with the testimony of the NT and cannot be rejected out of hand. In particular, we see now that it cannot be rejected based merely on the arguments presented in the paper published on this web site.

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I can always update the article, but nothing has changed as to the conclusion it reaches. if we allow God to be the interpeter wherever we have the available evidence to do so, then there is no other way to understand the use of arche in rev. 3:14, there simply isn't. The Son is never presented in the scriptures as the Creator, but only the instrument thereof, Hebrews 1:10 included.
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I don't know why you do this. The argument in the paper does not work, but you claim victory because some argument that is not in the paper you wrote might still work. I really can't respond to papers that haven't been written yet, can I?

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What exactly do you mean by "contemporaneous"? Within the time period of the writing of the scriptures? Or what? Surely there is nothing within that time frame, and as of yet, there is nothing even with Anaximander and Aristotle. The thing you seem to miss is that Anaximander felt that the "infinite" was the "FIRST PRINCIPLE". On other words, we were all made from the "infinite". Tjis is not something you can find agreement with in your application of the word for Anaximander did not use it in a non-partitive sense. But regardless, of all that, Biblical usgae, which is what we focused upon, or at least should be, does not allow for the word to used that way. It does not allow it contextually or linguistically.
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Will you please decide whether you want to talk about Greek philosophical use or not. In a single paragraph you have argued both that it matters and that it doesn't matter. I'm confused.

Sulla: There are arguments against my view, but no valid argument exists against my view that is based merely on the sense of the word.

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Well sure there are when it comes to Biblical use of the word, and as of yet, you have still not demonstrated where the word is used non-partitively, including Anaximander.


This is what I mean: 'Well, if you limit yourself to just the Bible, which I don't do, instead of looking at philosophers, you'd see my point; except that you haven't proven Anaximander's viewpoint, which doesn't matter anyway.'

Two points:

-- Aristotle says there is a non-partitive sense of the word
-- Contemporaneous Christian writers use the word in a non-partitive sense
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:22 am

Hello Sulla,

Well, Rotherham, I'm quite certain that you disagree with my little summary. I don't know that we need to get in to th details, but like I said, that was a quick sketch of my position: the Son is allowed to be called Creator, and calling him by that title in a reflexive way may be consistent with John's use in Rev. 3.

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The Son is not called the "Creator" in Hebrews. You need to look at that again. In fact, no where is he called the Creator. And I'm not just being argumentative, it's true. And once again, in Rev. 3:14, God is already called the Creator in that verse, not the Son. Remember, it says "the creation BY GOD".
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I will say that your focus on harmonization of everything in scripture can lead you only to madness: God is bigger than the Bible.


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And this is really the entire problem for you. You evidently do not believe that the scriptures can nor should be made to harmonize. With this admission, it's likely time to close and wrap up the discussion. Nothing can be done for someone in this area who does not believe that the scriptures must harmonize.
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As mentioned before and I'll mention again, God and John and every other Bible wroter had words to use in the Greek language that would adequately described the Son as the ultimate creator, the ulitmate source or author of creation but they did not use them, they used something else which is never used that way by the other isnpired writers. That is significant and you seem to ignore it.


You promise to repeat yourself? Seems like a risk.

On the contrary, Roth, the idea that good Trinitarians would be careful not to claim the Son (sent by, begotten of, obedient to - the Father) as the ultimate creator makes perfect sense. If you are reasonably well-read in orthodox theology. And, with St. John, adopting special language with respect to the Son seems to be one of those things he likes to do -- or did I miss St. Paul's use of logos?


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I repeat myself where you have ignored the points. That's why I have to do a lot of it. Its a risk I am willing to take.
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Sulla: If it was the original Christian teaching the the Son was the creator of all, then it is entirely appropriate to speak of him as the creator of all. This idea can reasonably be expressed by claiming that Jesus is the arche of creation, as in Rev. 3.

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Not when there are words that were already available that could have been used to clearly express the idea. Not in using a word that is never used that way anywhere else in the Bible. That is not allowing God to be the interpreter when we have plenty and unmistakable evidence in this case to do so. And again, the scriptures do not teach the Son to be the Creator. Your application of Hebrews 1:10 is flawed within the context of the same chapter and in the greater context of Paul's words himself in Corinthians where he specifically excludes the Son from being the "out of" for creation.
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Huh? It can't adequately be expressed this way because there exist other options available to be used? Please show me where logos is used elsewhere in the Bible, then we can talk about this.

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Your logos example is not helping you here. Nearly all the Bible writers used the word logos numerous times, and John's usage of it, even as a title for the Son, (which uses seven times by the way) does not stand outside the meaning of the word as it is used elsewhere. I admit that if it contexts demands a different usage than we should surely entertain that anomaly, but the context of Rev. 3:14, where God is identified as the Creator, seals the fact that it canpt be calling him the Creator.
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Sulla: Therefore, such a reading is consistent with the testimony of the NT and cannot be rejected out of hand. In particular, we see now that it cannot be rejected based merely on the arguments presented in the paper published on this web site.

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I can always update the article, but nothing has changed as to the conclusion it reaches. if we allow God to be the interpeter wherever we have the available evidence to do so, then there is no other way to understand the use of arche in rev. 3:14, there simply isn't. The Son is never presented in the scriptures as the Creator, but only the instrument thereof, Hebrews 1:10 included.
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I don't know why you do this. The argument in the paper does not work, but you claim victory because some argument that is not in the paper you wrote might still work. I really can't respond to papers that haven't been written yet, can I?

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The constituents of the article are still true except for a small tweak in regard to everything being a partitive gentitive. the article, if you recall, highlightedthe fact that God is the interpreter and we should let him interpret things when we have the opprtunity presented to us in his words, which in this case we do. The article, as it stands, is only slightly affected by the change that needs to be made. The end result is the same and once edited, will be the same. You are pretending that this was not mentioned in the article when it was.
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What exactly do you mean by "contemporaneous"? Within the time period of the writing of the scriptures? Or what? Surely there is nothing within that time frame, and as of yet, there is nothing even with Anaximander and Aristotle. The thing you seem to miss is that Anaximander felt that the "infinite" was the "FIRST PRINCIPLE". On other words, we were all made from the "infinite". Tjis is not something you can find agreement with in your application of the word for Anaximander did not use it in a non-partitive sense. But regardless, of all that, Biblical usgae, which is what we focused upon, or at least should be, does not allow for the word to used that way. It does not allow it contextually or linguistically.
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Will you please decide whether you want to talk about Greek philosophical use or not. In a single paragraph you have argued both that it matters and that it doesn't matter. I'm confused.


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The fact is we can argue both, but we only need to argue Biblical usage.
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Sulla: There are arguments against my view, but no valid argument exists against my view that is based merely on the sense of the word.

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Well sure there are when it comes to Biblical use of the word, and as of yet, you have still not demonstrated where the word is used non-partitively, including Anaximander.


This is what I mean: 'Well, if you limit yourself to just the Bible, which I don't do, instead of looking at philosophers, you'd see my point; except that you haven't proven Anaximander's viewpoint, which doesn't matter anyway.'

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Sulla, the article was BASED upon Biblical use, so I really don't care what you do a far as appealing outside the Bible, which leads nowhere for you anyway. Are you the one who is now arguing outside the scope of the article? you can do this, but I can't, or shouldn't?
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Two points:

-- Aristotle says there is a non-partitive sense of the word

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No he doesn't, I've already demonstrated that. Its anything but non-partitive.
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-- Contemporaneous Christian writers use the word in a non-partitive sense
[/quote]

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They did not. Where? Clement does not count for you have also misrepresented his words. If he was using "beginning" as "ultimate source", why did he then say that God "produced" the beginning? Nor does Origen help you as Heks has pointed out. You are still without an example, contemporaneous or otherwise.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:45 am

My goodness.

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The Son is not called the "Creator" in Hebrews. You need to look at that again. In fact, no where is he called the Creator. And I'm not just being argumentative, it's true. And once again, in Rev. 3:14, God is already called the Creator in that verse, not the Son. Remember, it says "the creation BY GOD".
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What I said was that, if Ps.102 is telling us that YHWH is the creator, then Hebrews 1 is telling us that the Son is the creator. Try to keep up.

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And this is really the entire problem for you. You evidently do not believe that the scriptures can nor should be made to harmonize. With this admission, it's likely time to close and wrap up the discussion. Nothing can be done for someone in this area who does not believe that the scriptures must harmonize.
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Honestly, I don't think that's my entire problem. Consider this, though: there is a good reason why there are so many different theologies within the christian tradition (and note that I am not referring to scriptural interpretations).

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Your logos example is not helping you here. Nearly all the Bible writers used the word logos numerous times, and John's usage of it, even as a title for the Son, (which uses seven times by the way) does not stand outside the meaning of the word as it is used elsewhere. I admit that if it contexts demands a different usage than we should surely entertain that anomaly, but the context of Rev. 3:14, where God is identified as the Creator, seals the fact that it canpt be calling him the Creator.
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Really? They use logos in reference to the Son? I was unaware. They use it by itself, without explicitly speaking of Jesus, in accord with a re-interpretation of the philosophical use? I had no idea.

Sulla: I don't know why you do this. The argument in the paper does not work, but you claim victory because some argument that is not in the paper you wrote might still work. I really can't respond to papers that haven't been written yet, can I?

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The constituents of the article are still true except for a small tweak in regard to everything being a partitive gentitive. the article, if you recall, highlightedthe fact that God is the interpreter and we should let him interpret things when we have the opprtunity presented to us in his words, which in this case we do. The article, as it stands, is only slightly affected by the change that needs to be made. The end result is the same and once edited, will be the same. You are pretending that this was not mentioned in the article when it was.
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Tweak like that will get you fired, most places.

"Slightly affected."


Sulla, the article was BASED upon Biblical use, so I really don't care what you do a far as appealing outside the Bible, which leads nowhere for you anyway. Are you the one who is now arguing outside the scope of the article? you can do this, but I can't, or shouldn't?


Well, St. Clement's work is based on the Bible, too. So quit complaining.

Two points:

-- Aristotle says there is a non-partitive sense of the word
-- Contemporaneous Christian writers use the word in a non-partitive sense
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:19 am

Sulla wrote:But I've raised an excellent point. What would the reasoning for my preferred reading look like? So, here is a sketch of the argument. It is exceedingly simple

Here is part of Ps. 102:


Long ago you laid out the earth's foundations
the heavens are the works of your hands.
They pass away but you remain;
they all wear out like a garment,
like outworn clothes you change them;
but you never alter, and your years never end


I think we all aggree that this Psalm, addressed to YHWH, clearly describes him as the creator of all. If so, then Hebrews 1, quoting Ps. 102 and applying it to the Son:

Long ago, Lord, you laid the earth's foundations,
the heavens are the works of your hands.
They pass away, but you remain,
they all wear out like a garment.
Like a cloakyou will roll them up, like a garment,
and they will be changed.
But you never alter and your years are unending,


should suffice to establish the Son as the creator of all.

If it was the original Christian teaching the the Son was the creator of all, then it is entirely appropriate to speak of him as the creator of all. This idea can reasonably be expressed by claiming that Jesus is the arche of creation, as in Rev. 3.


This clearly needs to be taken in harmony with 1 Corinthians 8:6 -

there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.


The original Christian teaching was that Christ was the one through whom Jehovah/God accomplished this creation. Not that he was the author or source of it.

In Hebrews 1:5 it says of Christ:

For example, to which one of the angels did he ever say: “You are my son; I, today, I have become your father”? And again: “I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son”?


This is a quote of 2 Samuel 7:14, which, referring to Solomon, says:

I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son.


Certainly this doesn't mean the writer of Hebrews or early Christians in general were confused about the difference of identity between Christ and Solomon or that he was trying to establish Christ was the Solomon of the OT.

Now, accepting for the moment a non-immanent sense of arche as "source", this seems to create another issue for Rev 3:14, which has been mentioned by Rotherham and by Beckwith, whom he quoted.

Even if in a non-immanent sense, arche is supposed to refer to the contextually outermost point, even setting aside the idea of the point being part of the subsequent thing.

Identifying Christ as the partitive arche in the statement, "the arche of the creation by God," works, because Christ would be the outermost point of creation. God, as separate from creation, doesn't affect the measure.

On the other hand, if Christ, in his role in the creative process, is to be viewed as separate from creation like God is, that changes things. We've now put Christ into a wider contextual category that includes God/The Father. In this new context, it's not Christ who is the outermost point but The Father. The creation starts at God and passes through Christ who carries it out. In this context, it is not Christ who would be the arche of creation. God would be the arche of creation.

In fact, from your quote of Clement of Alexandria, who was particularly known for uniting Greek philosophy with Christianity, it seems God is the one whom he identifies as the arche of the universe/creation, not the Son.

It also so happens that Clement was accused by Photius of making the Son a creature (The Bibliotheca - Cod. 109). Rufinus accuses him of the same (Jerome, Apol. adv. Rufin., Book II, 17).

However, I remain genuinely skeptical of the usefulness of the quote of Clement of Alexandria for a few reasons. 1) Nobody here has examined the Greek and I can't find it anywhere online, 2) Clement speaks of God not only being the perfect beginning, but the producer of the beginning, and 3) Clement believed that matter itself was eternal, which bears some relation to Anaximander's view, which I believe you have oversimplified to the point of losing the primary thought.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:19 am

Hello Sulla,

My goodness.

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The Son is not called the "Creator" in Hebrews. You need to look at that again. In fact, no where is he called the Creator. And I'm not just being argumentative, it's true. And once again, in Rev. 3:14, God is already called the Creator in that verse, not the Son. Remember, it says "the creation BY GOD".
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What I said was that, if Ps.102 is telling us that YHWH is the creator, then Hebrews 1 is telling us that the Son is the creator. Try to keep up.

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No, not the same thing as the context reveals a reflective sense to the application of the verse. if you want to promote an argument like that you actually have to produce a verse that explicitly states the Son is the Creator. There are none. Any connection he is given to creation is instrumental, not active cause.
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And this is really the entire problem for you. You evidently do not believe that the scriptures can nor should be made to harmonize. With this admission, it's likely time to close and wrap up the discussion. Nothing can be done for someone in this area who does not believe that the scriptures must harmonize.
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Honestly, I don't think that's my entire problem. Consider this, though: there is a good reason why there are so many different theologies within the christian tradition (and note that I am not referring to scriptural interpretations).

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That's not the same problem. Just because people can erroneously interpret the Bible, does not mean that it lacks harmony, it means they lack harmony with the scriptures. And yes, this is at the root of your problem. The Bible must harmonize. You disagree. Not much to talk about then in an area that promotes Biblical harmony.
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Your logos example is not helping you here. Nearly all the Bible writers used the word logos numerous times, and John's usage of it, even as a title for the Son, (which uses seven times by the way) does not stand outside the meaning of the word as it is used elsewhere. I admit that if it contexts demands a different usage than we should surely entertain that anomaly, but the context of Rev. 3:14, where God is identified as the Creator, seals the fact that it canpt be calling him the Creator.
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Really? They use logos in reference to the Son? I was unaware. They use it by itself, without explicitly speaking of Jesus, in accord with a re-interpretation of the philosophical use? I had no idea.

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Your objections are making no sense. John uses it as a title for Jesus SEVEN times and none of those times take the word outside of its range of meanings. Your claim is that John, ONE time, uses a word as a title for Jesus, which he never uses again elsewhere as a title for Jesus, and takes it outside its range of lexical meaning within that title. They two examples don't even compare.

And yes, the other Bible writers use the word too in many places which none introduce a foreign meaning or application to the word, philosophical or otherwise.
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Sulla: I don't know why you do this. The argument in the paper does not work, but you claim victory because some argument that is not in the paper you wrote might still work. I really can't respond to papers that haven't been written yet, can I?

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The constituents of the article are still true except for a small tweak in regard to everything being a partitive gentitive. the article, if you recall, highlightedthe fact that God is the interpreter and we should let him interpret things when we have the opprtunity presented to us in his words, which in this case we do. The article, as it stands, is only slightly affected by the change that needs to be made. The end result is the same and once edited, will be the same. You are pretending that this was not mentioned in the article when it was.
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Tweak like that will get you fired, most places.

"Slightly affected."


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Indeed. Slightly affected.
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Sulla, the article was BASED upon Biblical use, so I really don't care what you do a far as appealing outside the Bible, which leads nowhere for you anyway. Are you the one who is now arguing outside the scope of the article? you can do this, but I can't, or shouldn't?


Well, St. Clement's work is based on the Bible, too. So quit complaining.

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And his examples do not help you as I pionted out.
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Two points:

-- Aristotle says there is a non-partitive sense of the word

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Already answered. He does not.
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-- Contemporaneous Christian writers use the word in a non-partitive sense


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No they don't. Already answered.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:04 pm

Rotherham wrote:Hello Sulla,

Aristotles use of the word with this definition does not help you in the least. Did you not notice the examples that he gave for this meaning? It is very clear that there is "partitive" source being addressed, for children are certainly "part" of the their parents, and the "abusive speech" is ceratinly the first principle of the argumant. You can not separate them as if they are not partitive. I've already addressed Anaximander's use of the word which also does not help you.


This is a point I was thinking of too, in reflecting on what is essentially a lexical entry by Aristotle.

Aristotle refers to a father being the arche (we must assume as we don't have the Greek) of his son as being a non-immanent usage of arche. In a sense it is. A father, as a substantial being, is not a part of the substantial being of his son. He is, however, the human fountainhead of his human son and his DNA makes up a part of his son, the first part of his son as it so happens, in that the sperm carries the father's portion of the DNA to the egg of the mother. The father is, in this way, the first material principle of his son. The son is made up of the material of its father and mother.

Additionally, abusive language can be viewed as the first principle of a fight. The abusive language is like the raw material out of which the rest of the fight springs forth, the elementary stage of the fight. In fact, I question how appropriate it is to even classify this as an example of a non-immanent source. I can see the sense in which that can work for a father being the source of a son, but abusive speech can quite easily be thought of as the initial stage of a fight rather than something entirely separate.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:49 pm

Even if in a non-immanent sense, arche is supposed to refer to the contextually outermost point, even setting aside the idea of the point being part of the subsequent thing.

Identifying Christ as the partitive arche in the statement, "the arche of the creation by God," works, because Christ would be the outermost point of creation. God, as separate from creation, doesn't affect the measure.


Yes, well that is the reason some interpret this passage to refer to the new creation -- the Church, or glorified, divinized humanity. Lots of commentators have this view.

On the other hand, if Christ, in his role in the creative process, is to be viewed as separate from creation like God is, that changes things. We've now put Christ into a wider contextual category that includes God/The Father. In this new context, it's not Christ who is the outermost point but The Father. The creation starts at God and passes through Christ who carries it out. In this context, it is not Christ who would be the arche of creation. God would be the arche of creation.


It's a puzzle.

In fact, from your quote of Clement of Alexandria, who was particularly known for uniting Greek philosophy with Christianity, it seems God is the one whom he identifies as the arche of the universe/creation, not the Son.


Yes, in this non-partitive, non-immanent sense of the word.

It also so happens that Clement was accused by Photius of making the Son a creature (The Bibliotheca - Cod. 109). Rufinus accuses him of the same (Jerome, Apol. adv. Rufin., Book II, 17).


I know, the Egyptians were nuts. Consider a town that actually had riots during the Arian controversy. A theological riot, can you imagine?

However, I remain genuinely skeptical of the usefulness of the quote of Clement of Alexandria for a few reasons. 1) Nobody here has examined the Greek and I can't find it anywhere online, 2) Clement speaks of God not only being the perfect beginning, but the producer of the beginning, and 3) Clement believed that matter itself was eternal, which bears some relation to Anaximander's view, which I believe you have oversimplified to the point of losing the primary thought.


You may need to gain access to a top-notch theological library, such as the one availabe in Atlanta at my alma mater.

Yes, now would be a good time to get into St. Clement's particular thinking in connection with Anaximanderian cosmology and in light of the Platonic (and neo-Platonic) counter response to the anti-Hellenistic, revanchist second-temple Judaic cosmology. Or we could just note that the guy used the term in a non-immanent way, like Aristotle said was possible. Your call.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:58 pm

Sulla: What I said was that, if Ps.102 is telling us that YHWH is the creator, then Hebrews 1 is telling us that the Son is the creator. Try to keep up.

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No, not the same thing as the context reveals a reflective sense to the application of the verse. if you want to promote an argument like that you actually have to produce a verse that explicitly states the Son is the Creator. There are none. Any connection he is given to creation is instrumental, not active cause.
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Look who wants to make a contextual argument, of a sudden.

That's not the same problem. Just because people can erroneously interpret the Bible, does not mean that it lacks harmony, it means they lack harmony with the scriptures. And yes, this is at the root of your problem. The Bible must harmonize. You disagree. Not much to talk about then in an area that promotes Biblical harmony.


Better men than you have tried, Rotherham. that's why anyone who claims to have the whole thing figured out is lying -- to himself or to you.

Your objections are making no sense. John uses it as a title for Jesus SEVEN times and none of those times take the word outside of its range of meanings. Your claim is that John, ONE time, uses a word as a title for Jesus, which he never uses again elsewhere as a title for Jesus, and takes it outside its range of lexical meaning within that title. They two examples don't even compare.

And yes, the other Bible writers use the word too in many places which none introduce a foreign meaning or application to the word, philosophical or otherwise.


It's like talking to a child.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:08 pm

Aristotle refers to a father being the arche (we must assume as we don't have the Greek) of his son as being a non-immanent usage of arche. In a sense it is. A father, as a substantial being, is not a part of the substantial being of his son. He is, however, the human fountainhead of his human son and his DNA makes up a part of his son, the first part of his son as it so happens, in that the sperm carries the father's portion of the DNA to the egg of the mother. The father is, in this way, the first material principle of his son. The son is made up of the material of its father and mother.

Additionally, abusive language can be viewed as the first principle of a fight. The abusive language is like the raw material out of which the rest of the fight springs forth, the elementary stage of the fight. In fact, I question how appropriate it is to even classify this as an example of a non-immanent source. I can see the sense in which that can work for a father being the source of a son, but abusive speech can quite easily be thought of as the initial stage of a fight rather than something entirely separate.


Let me know if we really have reached the stage in the discussion where you decide that, when you think about it, everything is kinda partitive of everything else, sorta.

Honestly, HeKS, I don't know what else you want. Aristotle himself says that the word has a non-immanent sense. If Aristotle says there is a sense that is non-partitive, and 623 lexicons use an English word that has a non-partitive sense of meaning, what else, exactly, would you need to see before you admit that there is a non-partitive meaning?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:13 pm

hello Sulla,

Thankyou again, for not answering anything. Your inability to address the "Biblical" points is the deciding factor for me and likely many others.

In my estimation, its really time to bring this to a close. You have no answers to the "Biblical" points made except to say the scriptures do not harmonize. For me, that is admission enough that the article is accurate in what it concludes. We still have no solid example of a non-partitive meaning and you simply ignore any argument against the examples that you have presented, so what's to discuss? I am quite satisfied as to who has presented the best evidence and am quite willing to let the readers decide.

I vote for closure to the discussion. It was really over some time ago.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:43 pm

You always know what other people think. You're like a prophet.

Well, fortunately, your estimation isn't determinitive here, is it? You will recall that I made three main points against your paper; this is really point two we have been discussing. It is also the second time you have tried to cut off the debate. Please feel free to stop trying to derail the conversation at any time. As for me, I shall attempt to work through the three points I raised back in the beginning.


You have no answers to the "Biblical" points made except to say the scriptures do not harmonize. For me, that is admission enough that the article is accurate in what it concludes. We still have no solid example of a non-partitive meaning and you simply ignore any argument against the examples that you have presented, so what's to discuss? I am quite satisfied as to who has presented the best evidence and am quite willing to let the readers decide.


I don't think I said the scriptures do not harmonize. If you're not careful, HeKS is going to have to snarkily remind you of what I said.

I'll ask you a version of the question I asked HeKS: is this the part where you just declare everything is part of everything else? 'Cause that's where you seem to be heading with this idea that parents are partitive with their children.

Two points:

-- Aristotle says there is a non-partitive sense of the word (that's what non-immanent means)
-- Contemporaneous Christian writers use the word in a non-partitive sense
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:23 pm

hello Sulla,

Point three has already been addressed and is still hanging in your court.

I've already addressed the your two points below.

Aristotle used the word in a "first principle" sense. His definition proves it. Curse words are the first principle to an argument. We need to know the word that is rendered as "immanent" because Aristotle's definition denies your application and your definition of that word, there is no doubt about that.

Clement does not use the word the way you think either. You did not answer the question I asked. If he uses it as non-partitive source, then how can he say that God produced the non-partitive source? It is a contradiction of terms. His following sentences demonstrate that he is using it as "first principle" anyway.

Plus, these examples do not relate to the article as it is written. The article deals with Biblical use and the Biblical database which you pass off as not harmonious. Now you say you believe it is harmonious. You should make up your mind. If the scriptures are harmonious, then you must abide by what Paul said when he explicitly described the Father only as the one whom all things are "out of". John would not contradict Paul, plain and simple. Plus, you have never addressed the fact that Rev. 3:14 already indentifies the Creator as God, who is presented separately in that passage from the Son.

Unless you can address what the scriptures say and the scriptural examples, the "supposed" examples of yours are meaningless because any one who has read the article realizes that its point is based upon the scriptural database and you are not addressing it. You did try, but you failed. You are trying to find some remote, extrabiblical and clearly rare, or non-existent meaning of a word and sandwich it in where you need to in order to retain your teaching, but that is not allowing God to be the interpreter. Do you believe the scripture that says that "interpretations belong to God?" Do you?

The fact is, and this is why the discussion is really over, you are not addressing those salient points and that is readily apparent to anyone following along. If you can not address those salient points, then really, what is there to discuss?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:31 pm

Sulla wrote:
Aristotle refers to a father being the arche (we must assume as we don't have the Greek) of his son as being a non-immanent usage of arche. In a sense it is. A father, as a substantial being, is not a part of the substantial being of his son. He is, however, the human fountainhead of his human son and his DNA makes up a part of his son, the first part of his son as it so happens, in that the sperm carries the father's portion of the DNA to the egg of the mother. The father is, in this way, the first material principle of his son. The son is made up of the material of its father and mother.

Additionally, abusive language can be viewed as the first principle of a fight. The abusive language is like the raw material out of which the rest of the fight springs forth, the elementary stage of the fight. In fact, I question how appropriate it is to even classify this as an example of a non-immanent source. I can see the sense in which that can work for a father being the source of a son, but abusive speech can quite easily be thought of as the initial stage of a fight rather than something entirely separate.


Let me know if we really have reached the stage in the discussion where you decide that, when you think about it, everything is kinda partitive of everything else, sorta.

Honestly, HeKS, I don't know what else you want. Aristotle himself says that the word has a non-immanent sense. If Aristotle says there is a sense that is non-partitive, and 623 lexicons use an English word that has a non-partitive sense of meaning, what else, exactly, would you need to see before you admit that there is a non-partitive meaning?


Well, that's clearly not what I said, now is it?

I didn't say anything about how everything is partitive in everything else. I pointed out the way in which it makes sense for Aristotle to identify this as a non-immanent use, while pointing out at the same time that this is hardly like the non-partitive relationship between God and creation.

The point I'm trying to make to you is this: In metaphysics, the idea of immanence refers, literally, to indwelling. In other words, in metaphysics, when one thing is immanent in another, it is literally indwelling in that thing, it is literally a continuous part of a larger physical unit. This is why, as examples of an arche that is immanent, Aristotle uses the keel of a ship, the foundation of a house, and the heart, brain, or some other part in animals. All these things are literally indwelling in the single, larger physical unit of which they are considered the arche, being the indwelling portion of a thing that comes first and upon which the rest is based.

Now, a father clearly is not literally indwelling in his son, and so can be cited as a non-immanent example of an arche (again, we assume, cause we don't have the Greek). It might be said that he is figuratively indwelling in his son, or that some part of him is literally indwelling in his son, but as a person he is not. A father is, however, a human fountainhead of his human son. They are not literally continuous as to their persons, but they are continuous as to their type of nature, not that they remain attached but in that one is derived from the other. As persons, they are contiguous within a larger unit: their human family and humanity in general. The father, existing in the human nature, is the one out of whom the son comes, who is also existing in human nature. The son is a separate being, but is made of the same stuff as his arche and is literally made out of part of the material of his arche. This idea is actually quite like the apeiron posited by Anaximander as the arche, a first material principle from which the four elements were derived and in which a part of the apeiron remained partitive.

As a side point, can we recall here that the reason we began discussing Anaximander was not because we were looking for some non-Biblical examples to support our argument, but because Thayer's lexicon pointed to him as the first to use arche with a meaning of "source." If one is going to point to the lexicons to support a reading of source for arche in the Bible, it just seems to make sense to at least check up on the citations those lexicons are using to support the meaning. I checked all the cited sources I could find, both Biblical and non-Biblical. I believe Rotherham did the same. That is also why I'm interested in examining the actual examples of practical usage that Aristotle must be assumed to be citing in support of his non-immanent usage.

Still the idea of one human as the arche of one of more other humans is hardly removed from the idea of one creation being the arche of one or more other creations, as in both cases the arche and what is derived from it can be placed in the shared class. The problem that this potentially creates is that this kind of usage speaks to the subsequent thing as being out of the arche. This brings us back to the previously mentioned problem, that creation is not out of Christ, either in the sense of it being made out his stuff or him being the ultimate source, rather it is through him as the instrument.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:44 pm

Rotherham wrote:Clement does not use the word the way you think either. You did not answer the question I asked. If he uses it as non-partitive source, then how can he say that God produced the non-partitive source? It is a contradiction of terms. His following sentences demonstrate that he is using it as "first principle" anyway.


This is why it would be interesting to see the original Greek. Clement believed that matter was eternal and also that God is good and the good of God is to be found in all creation.

Anaximander came to the conclusion that all matter is ultimately derived from some eternal infinite substance (the apeiron), which he reasoned was God. I'm not entirely sure whether or not Clement of Alexandria believed in creation ex nihilo or whether he believed it was essentially made of God himself. It would also be interesting to see if he meant God is the arche of the universe/creation in the sense that God is good and his good permeates the physical creation, which would be very similar to Origen's use, when he refers to Wisdom as the arche in the sense that creation and the creative process is based on wisdom, wisdom being found in it.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:22 pm

As a side point, can we recall here that the reason we began discussing Anaximander was not because we were looking for some non-Biblical examples to support our argument, but because Thayer's lexicon pointed to him as the first to use arche with a meaning of "source." If one is going to point to the lexicons to support a reading of source for arche in the Bible, it just seems to make sense to at least check up on the citations those lexicons are using to support the meaning. I checked all the cited sources I could find, both Biblical and non-Biblical. I believe Rotherham did the same. That is also why I'm interested in examining the actual examples of practical usage that Aristotle must be assumed to be citing in support of his non-immanent usage.


Who knows what was going on in Thayer's mind? First of all, Thayer was Unitarian. Second, why should we get obsessed with this one reference? We have many, yet somehow Thayer became some kind of big deal. Don't get it.

A father is, however, a human fountainhead of his human son. They are not literally continuous as to their persons, but they are continuous as to their type of nature, not that they remain attached but in that one is derived from the other. As persons, they are contiguous within a larger unit: their human family and humanity in general.


No doubt. We would not press too hard, though, since we know that Clement refers to God as the arche and we also know that Josephus says the same of God -- he is the arche of all things.

So, perhaps, the old Greek philosophical meaning(s) were adjusted to work within the Jewish and Christian matrix of ideas? A good Pharisee like Josephus wouldn't have said we all had a little bit o'God in us, would he?


Still the idea of one human as the arche of one of more other humans is hardly removed from the idea of one creation being the arche of one or more other creations, as in both cases the arche and what is derived from it can be placed in the shared class. The problem that this potentially creates is that this kind of usage speaks to the subsequent thing as being out of the arche. This brings us back to the previously mentioned problem, that creation is not out of Christ, either in the sense of it being made out his stuff or him being the ultimate source, rather it is through him as the instrument.


Perhaps, but this is a different sort of argument than the one presented in the paper.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:55 pm

Sulla wrote:Who knows what was going on in Thayer's mind? First of all, Thayer was Unitarian. Second, why should we get obsessed with this one reference? We have many, yet somehow Thayer became some kind of big deal. Don't get it.

A father is, however, a human fountainhead of his human son. They are not literally continuous as to their persons, but they are continuous as to their type of nature, not that they remain attached but in that one is derived from the other. As persons, they are contiguous within a larger unit: their human family and humanity in general.


No doubt. We would not press too hard, though, since we know that Clement refers to God as the arche


I've addressed two ways in which he might have meant this. I've also pointed out why I'm skeptical of how useful this quote of Clement is to you. It's quite bizarre that he says God produced the beginning/arche if he meant it in the sense you want. Without the Greek we can only guess.

Sulla wrote:and we also know that Josephus says the same of God -- he is the arche of all things.


The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol 1, page 81, under the heading of arche says:

1. In time it denotes the point of a new beginning in a temporal sequence. The relativity of the time sequence is implied, as in the religious statement that God is the beginning and end.


This source seems to have a pretty strong Trinitarian leaning, yet they say that referring to God as the beginning and end is about his relation to a temporal sequence, not that it should be taken as the semantic equivalent of the source and goal.

If you could give me a direct link to where I can read the context of Josephus' statement, that would be appreciated, but in calling God the arche and telos of all things, it is not necessary that he mean the source and goal of all things. He could also be making a statement about God's overarching relation to creation's temporal existence.

Sulla wrote:
Still the idea of one human as the arche of one of more other humans is hardly removed from the idea of one creation being the arche of one or more other creations, as in both cases the arche and what is derived from it can be placed in the shared class. The problem that this potentially creates is that this kind of usage speaks to the subsequent thing as being out of the arche. This brings us back to the previously mentioned problem, that creation is not out of Christ, either in the sense of it being made out his stuff or him being the ultimate source, rather it is through him as the instrument.


Perhaps, but this is a different sort of argument than the one presented in the paper.


It is, nonetheless, quite relevant in determining how and if calling Christ the arche of the creation by God is an acceptable way of calling him its source according to either of our doctrinal views.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:07 am

Seriously, there is simply too much evidence going the other way. Look, we have plenty of very good translations who have decided to render the passage with some flavor of "source" and it just isn't true that these are all examples of bias or stupidity.

These are valid translation choices. Do you honestly think that you and Rotherham ever really had any chance of proving that the scores of sophisticated translators of the NAB and NJB are so hopelessly biased or incompetent that they translate "Principle of" or "source of" when there is absolutely no reasonable way any competent translator could come to make that choice? Is it really your position that this place is where the Trinitarian secret society made its stand? That it's not just the scores of translators of the NJB, but also the guys at the NAB who are in on it? And that the choice of "ruler" elsewhere is also similarly so obviously dumb that the only hope for the Trinitarians is that nobody actually consult Rotherham's little paper?

And Vine was in on it, too, when he cunningly failed to note that there is a really important distinction to make between the proper meaning of the word and those definitions he foists on the unsuspecting world?

And now we get more Google books references. Look, that reference also says this:


3. In Col. 1:18 Christ himself is arche as the image of God and the firstborn of all creation "before" all else. As arche he is the norm for creation by and for which all things were made (cf. 1:16b). He is also arche as the firstborn from the dead. Rev. 3:14 probably calls him arche in much the same sense (cf. 21:6; 22;13). Eschatology with its relativizing of history brought some kinship in philosophical usage: Christ on the throne is pre- and posttemporal (see AO)


Look, I know you don't agree with these statements, ok? I get that. But this reference doesn't support you here -- it simply won't say that Rev. can only be read the way Rotherham and you want to read it.

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.

The main alternatives are

-- first (in a sequence) of the new creation / church
-- ruler of creation
-- source of, origin of, principle of

And that's where we are. The best thing to do is to

-- Scarp Rotherham's entire argument -- it is not supported by anybody
-- Create some sort of scriptural argument that all the other interpretations are mistaken

I think you won't do this because you like the subtext of Rotherham's paper -- that this is really an easy question if people weren't so stupid or biased. But it isn't easy, HeKS. It is hard, and it only begins with an analysis of the lexical field and meanings of the word. And the first problem you have is that lots of really smart people think "source" is indicated here.

The second problem you have is that they might be right.

Look, Rotherham's paper is a drastic and misguided over-simplification of this queestion. This site is supposed to be sophisticated enough to avoid this kind of thing. So, make an argument that doesn't make such brazen and unsupportable claims. Because they are really unsupportable, no matter what Greg Stafford said.

There isn't a partitive rule. There isn't any way to limit the meaning to a partitive meaning. It's just not going to work. Aristotle says there is a non-immanent sense of the word, and that really ought to stifle the argument.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:38 pm

NOTE: I'm going to go ahead and post this because I wrote most of it earlier this morning and only just now saw that you had quoted the same passage. You seem to think I missed it or avoided it. I didn't. I actually thought I included it in my post yesterday and just noticed this morning that I hadn't. You seem to think the point supports your position. I don't think it does at all.

HeKS wrote:The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol 1, page 81, under the heading of arche says:

1. In time it denotes the point of a new beginning in a temporal sequence. The relativity of the time sequence is implied, as in the religious statement that God is the beginning and end.



I'm not sure why I forgot to mention this, but this reference work doesn't cite "source" as a meaning of arche within the context of the NT.

It does say this...

3. In Col. 1:18 Christ himself is arche as the image of God and the firstborn of all creation "before" all else. As arche he is the norm for creation by and for which all things were made (cf. 1:16b). He is also arche as the firstborn from the dead. Rev 3:14 probably calls him arche in much the same sense


Please note that by saying "he is the norm for creation by and for which all things were made" does not make him the source of creation, but the one who fashioned it and for whom it exists.

Norm means, "A standard, model, or pattern regarded as typical".

In Col 1:18, Christ as the arche is the firstborn from the dead; the first raised to eternal life. This so "that he might become the one who is first in all things."

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:13 pm

I'm sorry to be so dense, HeKS, but is it your position that this reference supports the idea that Rev. 3. is obviously telling us that Jesus is the first created being?

Is it your position that this reference is excluding the idea that Rev. 3 could be saying that Jesus, as the one by whom and for whom all things are, is the source of all things?

How about you tell me what sort of evidence might hypothetically get you to admit that the NJB or the NAB has a reasonable translation of this verse? 'Cause I honestly don't know what you think counts as evidence any more.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:16 am

Sulla wrote:Seriously, there is simply too much evidence going the other way. Look, we have plenty of very good translations who have decided to render the passage with some flavor of "source" and it just isn't true that these are all examples of bias or stupidity.

These are valid translation choices. Do you honestly think that you and Rotherham ever really had any chance of proving that the scores of sophisticated translators of the NAB and NJB are so hopelessly biased or incompetent that they translate "Principle of" or "source of" when there is absolutely no reasonable way any competent translator could come to make that choice? Is it really your position that this place is where the Trinitarian secret society made its stand? That it's not just the scores of translators of the NJB, but also the guys at the NAB who are in on it? And that the choice of "ruler" elsewhere is also similarly so obviously dumb that the only hope for the Trinitarians is that nobody actually consult Rotherham's little paper?


Do I think a translation of "source" or "ruler" is biased? Certainly.

Even if we were to set aside all the other stuff we've been discussing, translating arche as source at Rev. 3:14 seeks to eliminate a particular interpretive option right out of the gate, and it just so happens that the option it seeks to eliminate is the unmarked (or default) sense of the word arche, which is "beginning" in relation to time or first in a sequence, which also happens to be the way that John seems to use it everywhere else, and which also just happens to be the meaning that contradicts the Trinity doctrine. Even if we were to allow "source" as a reasonable interpretation here, you have already pointed out that you believe the English word "beginning" allows for that meaning. It also allows for this to be an identification of Christ as the very first creation. A translation of "source" intends to eliminate that latter possibility with a rendering that is unique to this one place. Not only are there not any clear examples of John using arche to mean "source", there are no clear examples where arche means "source" in the whole of the NT.

So, as a matter of pure translation, "beginning" is a far better rendering and one with far more precedent. This translation of "source" that seeks to eliminate the Trinitarian-unfriendly interpretive option is, within the context of the NT, the very definition of unprecedented. It is a made-to-order translation.

Sulla wrote:And Vine was in on it, too, when he cunningly failed to note that there is a really important distinction to make between the proper meaning of the word and those definitions he foists on the unsuspecting world?


Um, you may recall that I pointed out how Lexicons tend to cite examples of usage to show their meaning. Vine's does this and I spoke about the examples. If one interprets Vine's intended meaning in harmony with the cited examples, I have no issue with Vine's. Vine's doesn't even cite Rev 3:14 as an example of the meaning you want for arche. Well, actually, they don't cite anything as having the meaning you want for arche, but they don't even bother to mention Rev 3:14 as an example of the meaning you'd like to think fits your desired meaning.

Why is it that you keep presenting these types of strawmen? I don't have an issue with Vine's or any of the other lexicons I've checked.

Sulla wrote:And now we get more Google books references. Look, that reference also says this:

3. In Col. 1:18 Christ himself is arche as the image of God and the firstborn of all creation "before" all else. As arche he is the norm for creation by and for which all things were made (cf. 1:16b). He is also arche as the firstborn from the dead. Rev. 3:14 probably calls him arche in much the same sense (cf. 21:6; 22;13). Eschatology with its relativizing of history brought some kinship in philosophical usage: Christ on the throne is pre- and posttemporal (see AO)


Look, I know you don't agree with these statements, ok? I get that. But this reference doesn't support you here -- it simply won't say that Rev. can only be read the way Rotherham and you want to read it.


See my previous post where I quoted this myself. This doesn't support your reading of "source". It supports a meaning of arche in harmony with what we have been saying.

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.

Now, In terms of references, what supports our position is that fact that none of these references cite any scriptural examples where arche means source in the sense you want. Your additional quote from The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament is no exception even though you seem to think it disagrees with me.

Your evidence for arche having a meaning of source in the sense you want to apply to Christ seems to consist of the following:

1) Basically a lexical entry by Aristotle where he speaks of arche as also carrying a meaning a non-immanent source.

He gives examples of possible uses but cites no actual usage in practice. Neither of the examples he gives match the type of entirely unconnected meaning of source you're looking for. Even the distinction of non-immanent versus immanent needs to be taken within its metaphysical context of referring to an "indwelling". Aristotle makes this point clear by the examples he gives. We would not say that the Son is immanent in creation either. That would have an entirely different sense than saying that he is in the order of created beings. He is contiguous with the rest of creation and being the first he also happens to be the efficient cause of the rest, but he is not continuous in (i.e. immanent in) the rest of creation nor is he the formal cause of it.

Also, nobody has had an opportunity to examine the original Greek.

2) A quote from Clement of Alexandria, supposedly calling God the arche of the universe.

I say supposedly because, again, nobody has had an opportunity to look at anything other than an English translation to even verify that, for example, he doesn't call God the archegos (or something of that nature) of the universe who produced the arche. The idea that Clement calls him the arche that produced the arche is somewhat odd.

However, even if we assume that's what he said, Clement also says precisely in what way he is the arche. Notice the three ways:

Clement of Alexandria wrote:As, then, He is being, He is the first principle of the department of action,

as He is good, of morals;

as He is mind, on the other hand, He is the first principle of reasoning and of judgment.


In each case he says God is the perfect arche because he is the first principle in the department of action, of morals, and of reasoning and judgment.

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.

Anaximander's arche, the Apeiron, was believed to be the first principle of all matter and thus immanent in all matter.

3) Josephus calling God the arche and telos (beginning and end) of all things.

You seem to think this needs to be taken as the unrelated source and the goal of all things, which is how you try to interpret John's similar titles. But as I've already pointed out, this is unnecessary, and the Theological Dictionary of the NT tells us that the religious title of 'beginning and end' is rather a reference to God's relative relationship to a time period.

Similarly, Thayer's says of the title 'beginning and end':

η αρχη και (to) teλoς: of God, who by his perpetuity survives all things, i.e. eternal


Both this interpretation and the interpretation that God is referencing his description as the first and last in Isaiah in terms of his Godship are better and more precedented interpretations of this use of arche than "unrelated source".


You say: "there is simply too much evidence going the other way."

I disagree entirely. You are trying to make Aristotle do too much heavy lifting and his own examples disagree with what you want him to be saying. The Clement of Alexandria quote is not only useless to you, it's actually yet another example of the consistent implication of arche we've been pointing out to you all this time. And the Josephus quote is capable of a better reading than you want; a reading that happens to be in harmony with all the other uses of arche and which is promoted by Thayer's and the Theological Dictionary of the NT where it occurs in Revelation (though I'd still like a direct link to the specific Josephus text so I can examine the context more closely).


Sulla wrote:The main alternatives are

-- first (in a sequence) of the new creation / church


And what is the basis for limiting it to the new creation? Rev. 3:14 hearkens back to Col 1:15 and Prov 8:22, neither of which deal exclusively with the new creation.

Sulla wrote:-- ruler of creation


So we'll just totally ignore John's consistent use of archon to mean ruler? We won't bother to ask why he uses the word he uses everywhere else to mean "beginning" to convey the idea of "ruler" here when he has a word he uses in every other place to mean ruler? And shall we ignore that even when arche was used to identify a political ruler of some sort, it was with the idea of being the head of a community of which the arche was a part?

Sulla wrote:-- source of, origin of, principle of


Except you've yet to show this used in the disconnected sense you mean it. Aristotle's non-immanent source is not the kind of entirely different, disconnected sense you are looking for.

But you know what? Before we proceed further, why don't we try to take a step back for a second. The question I have here (and I think you should have it to) is whether or not it even makes sense for you to try to describe Christ as the source of creation, especially in the context of this verse.

You have said you don't mean to suggest he is the source in a way that conflicts with the idea that creation is out of the Father and through the Son.

When arche is used to mean source, it identifies the thing out of which or from which the rest proceeds, either continuously (immanently) or contiguously (non-immanently). It is the most extreme point within the context.

However, in the statement "the arche of the creation by God" you recognize that the creation is by or out of God (The Father). Therefore, you implicitly recognize that the Son is not the most extreme point in the context. The Son is necessarily an intermediate step in the creative process in this context. Identifying him as the source in a context where God is directly identified as the ultimate source makes no sense. It also doesn't fit with the most basic idea of what arche means, being that extreme point (even setting aside any partitive aspect).

You see, you place the Father and the Son in one contextual group responsible for creation and creation in a different contextual group. In placing the Father and Son in the same contextual group of being responsible for creation but separate from it, you try to make the Son the source or arche but this doesn't make any sense. The Son is not the originating point in this context. The Father is the originating point and the Son is an intermediate point. It is the Father who would be the arche in this context, though it has not been established that arche could be used to describe the Father's relationship to creation (Josephus use of 'beginning and end' notwithstanding).

On the other hand, by putting Christ in the same contextual group as creation, God doesn't mess up the curve anymore. In this context, Christ is the extreme earliest point and so could reasonably be referred to as the origin point / source / arche of that group, if source is even any part of the intended meaning.

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.

In reality, the very fact that John refers to "the creation by God" strongly suggests that he does not intend arche to be taken as source at all, but as "beginning," in the same sense he intends it everywhere else. And if he wanted to use a title that hearkened back to Prov 8:22, this would be the way to do it. If John really wanted to put across the idea that Christ was the source of creation, he had a few other ways to do it that wouldn't cause any confusion as to his meaning. If he wanted to make the connection to Prov 8:22 and him being the "beginning" (first part) of creation, this is the way to do it.

Sulla wrote:And that's where we are. The best thing to do is to

-- Scarp Rotherham's entire argument -- it is not supported by anybody
-- Create some sort of scriptural argument that all the other interpretations are mistaken

I think you won't do this because you like the subtext of Rotherham's paper -- that this is really an easy question if people weren't so stupid or biased. But it isn't easy, HeKS. It is hard, and it only begins with an analysis of the lexical field and meanings of the word. And the first problem you have is that lots of really smart people think "source" is indicated here.


First, I certainly don't think you're stupid (and I hope you don't think that I think that), but I do think you're biased. Unfortunately, bias is not limited only to the stupid. That being the case, telling me that lots of really smart people think "source" is indicated here is somewhat akin to telling me that a lot of really smart people under water see something red and think it's black, or that a lot of really smart people who are color blind look at something orange and think it's pink. It's not a matter of whether or not they are smart. It's a matter of whether or not something is interfering with their ability to see clearly ... something like an unshakable commitment to Trinitarianism.

I mean, you said you didn't think ANYBODY (of note, I assume) would argue that this verse must mean Christ is the first created being. While I'm sure that's generally true of Trinitarians, I think you need to ask yourself why you immediately think nobody would reasonably think that the most natural and unaffected reading of this verse, which harmonizes with John's use of language everywhere else, is the correct one. It doesn't have any of the issues that would accompany something like ruler or source, but it's discounted by Trinitarians. Do you seriously believe this is not the result of any theological commitment?

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.

One of the problems I have with the Trinitarian approach is that it claims to want to take in the historical considerations, but it ignores the most basic one: audience. Trinitarians must necessarily approach the Bible as though it was written exclusively for philosopher kings, for those special intellectuals who can look past the distraction of the natural meaning of language in the scriptures to the infinitely more complicated and less likely meaning underneath that is nowhere stated clearly but still somehow intended to be the central article of faith for Christians. It approaches the Bible as though God was incapable of finding the words he wanted to clearly express his thoughts and requirements on the most important aspects of belief and had to wait on the brilliant theological minds of the coming centuries to find them on his behalf, which they accomplished largely by redefining words and then reading their new meanings back into the scriptures.

Another issue I have relates to their appeal to context, specifically because the most overpowering "context" tends to be the Trinity doctrine. When Jesus speaks in some way that can't possibly be reconciled with his being God they say we must look at the context and understand he is speaking in his human nature. This appeal is made whether he's on earth or in heaven, but the context showing he must be speaking in his human nature is generally the fact that he's saying something that can't be reconciled with him being God. When we look at Rev 3:14, it's claimed that it tells us he is the non-partitive source of creation (which would speak to his God nature), but then it might tell us instead that he's the non-partitive ruler of creation (in his God nature), but it could also tell us that he is the partitive ruler of creation (in his human nature), or it could be telling us that he's the first in the series of the new creation (in his human nature).

There is nothing in the text itself that is switching around so as to suggest first, when speaking of Christ as the source of creation, Christ's God nature and the whole of creation is being discussed but in the next instant, if we are to interpret him as first in the series of creation, only his Human nature and only the new creation are being discussed. Essentially, a Trinitarian will accept anything here, except that is speaks of Christ the person as the first in the series of all creation. By the meanings they would accept they show that nothing necessarily limits the context to Christ's human nature or to only the new creation. The "context" that determines which combination of Christ's nature and parts of creation can be picked from the buffet table is the Trinity doctrine, and it has decided that the most straightforward application to the person of Christ, the Son, as the first in the series of all creation is not to be served.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:04 pm

Honestly, I'm content to let this stand. I'll summarize and move to point 3.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:41 pm

Sulla wrote:I'm sorry to be so dense, HeKS, but is it your position that this reference supports the idea that Rev. 3. is obviously telling us that Jesus is the first created being?


No. I'm telling you that it doesn't support your reading of source for arche at Rev 3:14 here.

Sulla wrote:Is it your position that this reference is excluding the idea that Rev. 3 could be saying that Jesus, as the one by whom and for whom all things are, is the source of all things?


Such a reading would seem to totally ignore what the quote actually says. The quote doesn't stress the idea of an actual source here at all, and they relate the sense of Christ as arche in Rev 3:14 most closely to the sense in which is he is the arche, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead in Col 1:18. Probably they intend to limit this to the new creation, but the point is that they properly understand the intended implication of arche itself here. Also, while they seem to apply the "beginning and end" titles to Christ, they don't do so in the sense of him being the source or goal, but in the sense that Thayer's explains this religious title, namely, surviving all else in perpetuity (i.e. being eternal).

Also, it seems I need to remind you that they do not mention the idea of Jesus as "the norm for creation by and for which all things were made" in the context of Rev 3 but in relation to Col. 1:16.

Sulla wrote:How about you tell me what sort of evidence might hypothetically get you to admit that the NJB or the NAB has a reasonable translation of this verse? 'Cause I honestly don't know what you think counts as evidence any more.


Well, you know, that's an interesting question. And it's actually somewhat of a complicated question for a few reasons.

First of all, it really seems to me that there is a certain essential illogical quality to the proposition you're making here. You start by putting Christ into the same category as God (The Father) in relation to creation, making both distinct from creation and in the same essential class as being responsible for it. Then you want to have Christ identified as the source of creation in the same sentence that says creation is by God, which we know here to be the semantic equivalent of saying God is the source of it (as opposed to expressing instrumentality). So Christ is the source of creation that has the Father as its source. It should be pretty obvious where this leads. You have John identifying both the Son and the Father as the source of creation within the very same context. The logical result is Modalism. As Rotherham pointed out, Beckwith noticed this problem.

So, it seems to me that you don't really want arche to mean source here, since it actually causes as many doctrinal problems as it solves. Something like "conduit", or something that allows for a distinction between Christ and creation without calling him the source or origin of creation, is more what you're looking for here.

Now, if we set all that aside and we talk about what kind of usage of arche would help in establishing the possibility of the sense you want, I'd say you're looking for a case where arche is used without qualification or explanation to identify something of one class or sort as the source of something of an entirely different class or sort, where no shared classification exists between the two and they are neither continuously nor contiguously part of some larger relative group in the context that one is identified as the arche of the other.

You are not looking for some case where something is identified as the arche of another in the sense of being a first principle of some sort, as that necessitates the very connectedness you are looking to avoid. You are also not looking for cases where one thing is the arche of something in a different class in the sense that something originally present in the one is subsequently found in the other. Here, Clement of Alexandria is a perfect example of what you're not looking for.

You might think this is all asking too much, but it's not. It's simply asking you to find an example that is truly analogous to the way in which you want arche to identify Christ as the source of creation. One human as the arche of another human in the limited context of their generative relationship (though even this usage is not to be found in the NT) is not analogous to a non-creation being the arche of creation in an unqualified sense. In the former, both are in the class of humanity and the son is literally out of the arche and is originally made up of part of the arche's material, the arche being the first principle of the son in a very real way and the make-up of the arche forming a large portion of the make-up of the son. In the latter case of a non-creation being the arche of creation, that direct material and substantial connectedness and first-principle aspect is not present, and as I've pointed out before, in the case of Rev. 3:14, the "out of" aspect can't be applied to Christ, by your own admission and by the basic logic of the statement, unless we mean to contradict the explicit description elsewhere of creation being out of God and through Christ or wish to promote Modalism. So if you really wanted to find something analogous, you'd have to look for a case where arche meets the stated criteria while actually being used with more of an intermediate flavor. But leaving out that aspect while finding the rest would at least bolster the possibility of arche being used to describe God's relation to creation, though it would lean more toward the Father's relationship than to the Son's even in a Trinitarian framework.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:10 am

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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