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 Sulla » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:57 am

I think you are mistaken to cast your view as some sort of embattled minority position. Seriously. It may be true of the public-domain commentaries that everybody can access, but it isn't remotely true for any research done since about 1930.

You act like you've never heard of the Jesus seminar. Or Bousett. Or Crossan. Or Dunn. Or the Harvard Divinity School.

Seriously, man. The idea that Jesus never claimed to be God and was only later thought of that way is au courant in the NT academic field.


The vast majority of academics who get serious consideration are Trinitarian, being scrutinized by Trinitarians. It is a LOT easier to pick up some random article or book on this matter and get the Trinitarian perspectives and arguments - even where those are strongly opposed over which Trinitarian-friendly answer is the correct one - than it is to get the Unitarian ones. And what we are dealing with here is not some take-it-or-leave-it side-issue that Trinitarians can quibble over without it really mattering at the end of the day. If this interpretation and rendering we are putting forward is correct, it is a very serious blow to the Trinity doctrine taken from a Biblical refuge for Trinitarians. Trinitarians are not prepared to accept that one or more of the books they view as putting forward the highest Christology identifies Christ as a creation. It is so obviously problematic that I don't need to bother explaining it. Because of this, they try to avail themselves of every possible escape.


HeKS, you are simply mistaken. Plenty of academics would be happy, published academics if they took this idea seriously. Do you think Pagels is too slow to have picked this idea up? Crossan never had it occur to him? The entire department of divinity at Harvard would be smacking N.T. Wright silly if it was this simple. Your side has lots more friends than you want to admit.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby hgp » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:24 am

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

Hello everybody,

I want just point out, that I'm looking into the book "Das Christentum" ("Christianity") by Hans Küng, a catholic scholar. What I'm reading is (page 127): "...im ganzen Neuen Testament gibt es den Glauben an Gott den Vater, an Jesus, den Sohn und an Gottes heiligen Geist, gibt es aber keine Lehre von einem Gott in drei Personen (Seinsweisen), keine Lehre von einem 'drei-einigen' Gott, einer 'Dreifaltigkeit'."

My translation:
In the whole New Testament there is expressed belief in God the Father, Jesus the Son and God's holy Spirit, but there is no teaching about one God in three persons (modes of existence), no teaching about a 'tri-une' God, a 'trinity'.

On the next page he includes Paul and John explicitly into this assessment.

Not sure, if this qualifies as "nuts", but I'm sure, that Küng qualifies as scholar being (emerited) professor and theologian.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:52 am

Thanks, hgp. See if he says anything about Rev. 3:14.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:07 pm

In fact, HeKS, here is an interesting read from NT Wright, who is a current, prolific, and respected scholar on all things NT:

http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_JIG.htm

A sample:

From the earliest days of my theological education I was faced with the comment that, of course, no sane human being could think of himself as in any way “divine.” I did not know at the time what a long intellectual history of this position had or the ways in which it was part of the Enlightenment project to split the worlds of divine and human so that nothing could pass from the one to the other. As a result, the christological answer was in the last analysis contained within the premises. The stock answer from within the conservative Christianity which had nurtured me through my teens came from C.S. Lewis: Jesus was either mad, or bad, or he was “who he claimed to be.” Yes, we said, for anyone else to say such things would be either certifiably insane or at least wicked; but, since it was true in Jesus’ case, it was neither. There is a sense in which I still believe this, but it is a heavily revised sense and must be struggled for, not lightly won. There are no short-circuited arguments in the kingdom of God.

The basic assumption of the impossibility of Jesus thinking himself to be in any way “divine” was regularly backed up by a second point, which remains very influential, still being taken for granted by probably the majority of scholars, including some who thing of themselves as “conservative.” No first century Jew, it is claimed, could think of himself in the way that Jesus, according to traditional readings of the NT, thought of himself. One response to this offered by implication only, since no one would dare say such a thing out loud in the post-holocaust world was that Jesus opposed first century Judaism, broke out of its constraining shackles, and was at liberty to think and say what he liked, and the same went for his followers.

The study of Jesus and the early Church, particularly of the rise of early christology, has remained under the shadow of these two denials. Most commentaries and monographs, articles and seminar papers, assume them, or at most make an almost mantra-like nod in their direction in order to seek elsewhere the origin of the strange belief in Jesus as simultaneously and fully divine and human. In particular, with the popularity of the hermeneutic of suspicion a third assumption has grown up alongside the other two, and I now regularly meet it all over the place: a high christology is really a political power play, as you can see by looking at what happened under Constantine. Church and state settled down into their unworthy ménage, undermining the radical thrust of Jesus’ original message, and as part of the package they divinized Jesus the way Emperors used to divinize themselves. The NT itself, and traditional readings thereof, thus stand condemned of compromising the pure original message. It is not only those on the extreme wing, such as Burton Mack, who believe and write this sort of thing.



So, let's re-evaluate this idea you have that scholarship is biased against your view because they are all Trinitarians. It just ain't true.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:28 pm

Sulla, I think you misunderstand my point and the intended limit and context of my comment. I'll try to get to this later today cause I'm trying to catch up on some work at the moment.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:21 pm

Hey Sulla,

Ok, hopefully I can clarify my point a little.

Now, we're discussing this approach of considering the use of arche first in John's writings, then in the NT as a whole, in order to establish his intended meaning at Rev. 3:14 and concluding that, based on this analysis, the only precedented meaning of his statement, whether based on his own writings or those of the entire NT, is the identification of Christ as the very first of God's creations.

You are arguing, it seems, that no scholars take this approach or arrive at our conclusion about Rev. 3:14, taking care to exclude from possible consideration any who, by their credentials, are qualified to speak authoritatively from an academic perspective but who are JWs. (By the way, I agree with Rotherham that this is a logically fallacious attempt to limit what can rightly be considered academic support, even by your standards. I would be disinclined to ask you to exclude Trinitarian sources or even Catholic sources specifically from your appeals to scholarly support)

Now, moving on, I would ask who we would expect to draw attention to an argument that contradicts the Trinity doctrine while still championing the preexistent and supernatural origin of Christ as well as the inspiration and internal harmony of the scriptures.

We would not expect such an argument from people who deny the supernatural in scripture, deny the explicit teachings of scripture like the resurrection of Christ, and/or view the books of the Bible simply as a disparate conglomeration of social and historical artifacts that convey the evolving and often contradictory personal beliefs of individual members of a new socioreligious movement known as "Christianity". These scholars in the Liberal Christianity branch of Theological academia have their own bias. They might be perfectly inclined to challenge what is currently held to be Christian Orthodoxy, but it is generally not in favor of arguing for an alternate supernaturally-inclined solution, or to examine the usage of certain language across works penned by different people over the course of many years with the premise that they all have one ultimate source and thus all form a related context. They tend to view the books of the Bible as the authors' personal response to their surroundings and contemporary social pressures rather than a God-breathed revelation of truth. They generally have no issue with the idea that John would contradict Paul, or that John writes about a natural evolution of belief in the church that Paul and his audience hadn't yet conceived of. The thrust of the efforts by academics of this sort doesn't tend to focus on the type of thing we're putting forward here. In a way it really runs entirely contrary to their interpretational paradigm. If I was going to look for academic support for our argument or position, it would not even occur to me to look to this sort of scholar, because I would have no reason to expect to find them devoting any efforts to it.

Now, on the flip side, most Trinitarians are inclined to respect the inspiration and internal consistency of the Bible, though it seems Catholics might be less so at times and occupy some sort of a middle ground on some issues between the above mentioned group and, say, Evangelicals. However, that being said, Trinitarians are obviously not inclined to draw attention to a scriptural argument that actually contradicts a vitally important aspect of the Trinity doctrine and subsequently agree with it. That would hardly make any sense. They are inclined, however, to cite scriptural arguments used against the Trinity doctrine and provide convoluted explanation for why it doesn't mean what it naturally seems to.

To use a different example, we can take the passage in Phil. 2:5ff. It is a passage that is used as the very foundation of the dual-nature doctrine, which is subsequently used as an escape hatch for all the comments found in scripture that would be used to show Jesus can't possibly be Almighty God, a great many of which happen to be found in John's writings. And yet, the fact remains that the notion of a dual nature is directly opposite to the natural reading of the passage. But this doesn't stop all manner of novelty and creativity from being employed to not only escape the problem the passage presents for the Trinity doctrine but to turn it into a proof that, it has been claimed by some, explicitly teaches that Christ has eternally subsisted in the very essence of Almighty God. This is done by means of certain unwarranted translational flubs, wholly inaccurate paraphrastic translations, laughable leaps of logic based on the accepted premise of the Trinity doctrine, etc.

Now here is an example of where we might say, ideally, "that this [scholastic/academic] context exposes bad reasoning better than any other environment." We would hope to find someone pointing out how horribly biased and foreign to the natural meaning of the text such a presentation truly is. And we sort of do, for example in the form of Evangelical scholar, Robert L. Reymond, in his book Jesus, Divine Messiah (pp. 259, 260):

The first difficulty is this: If we understand the beginning point of the 'flow' of the passage, as the classical view does, as the preexistent state of the Son of God ('in the form of God being') and take the phrase 'Himself He emptied, taking the form of a 'servant' as the metaphorical allusion to the 'downward' event of the incarnation, it is only with the greatest difficuly, because of the intervening clause, that we can avoid the conclusion that the 'emptying' involved His surrendering the 'form' ('very nature' - NIV) of God...One has only to peruse the evangelical literature on these verses to discover the 'hermeneutical gymnastics' that are resorted to to affirm, on the one hand, that the Son did not regard equality with God ('the form of God') a thing to be held onto, and that He accordingly 'emptied Himself' (or, 'made Himself nothing') by becoming a man, and yet, on the other hand, that He still retained all that He essentially is and was from the beginning.


Great catch. I couldn't agree more. But here's the problem. Reymond's solution is to take the start of the passage to refer to Christ as a man, or God-Man, rather than in his preexistent state in heaven, precisely because the classical understanding that views it as a reference to his preexistence, when considered naturally and honestly, militates against the understanding required to maintain the viability of the Trinity doctrine. His assumption of the correctness of the Trinity doctrine, rather than the natural reading of Paul's words, determines for him what Paul intends to refer to at the start of the passage. This is really the flip side of the very same coin that he is criticizing. It's not for nothing that Trinitarians have traditionally resorted to their 'hermeneutical gymnastics' in this passage rather than simply opting for Reymond's solution. It's quite difficult to maintain his interpretation in light of the logical flow of the passage itself and other related comments by Paul. Reymond's bias leads him to his own hermeneutical gymnastics. No less than those he criticizes, he opts for a strained reading that does no violence to the Trinity doctrine rather than simply accepting the natural reading of Paul's words at face value. (full disclosure, I do not have nor have I read this entire book, but this is quoted and Reymond's position is stated in another book I have.)

But this discussion is not about Phil 2 and I have no interest into diverting it into a discussion on that passage. My point is simply to provide an example I had at hand (literally) of why a scholarly community made up mainly of Trinitarians (when limiting our consideration to those who believe in the inspiration and internal harmony of the scriptures but exluding any JWs) is hardly an ideal community for exposing faulty argumentation and interpretation related to a defense of the Trinity or one to which we can reasonably expect to look for an objective consideration of scriptural arguments and methods of analysis that would cripple the Trinity doctrine. So this is not a group of people that I would expect to make a complete and systematic statistical analysis of the use of arche in John's writings and in the rest of the NT in order to determine the natural and precedented meaning of John's use in Rev 3:14. There is only one direction in which a thorough analysis of this sort points. And virtually any member of this group that recognizes and admits the natural implication of John's words in identifying Christ as the first creation limits John's intended meaning to the new creation for the same reason Reymond limits Paul's intended meaning at the start of the passage in Phil 2 to the context of Christ as Man or God-Man ... because the alternative is disastrous to a vital aspect of the Trinity doctrine.

And yet, Burney uses precisely this type of statistical analysis to establish the meaning of the Hebrew 'qanah' at Prov 8:22 as being opposite to the meaning of "already possessed" that is generally argued for by Trinitarians. The same approach is used by various other scholars, including Trinitarians, in determining the proper translation and intended meaning of other words in the NT, like morphe and harpagmos or how to best translate certain passages that could, from a purely grammatical standpoint, legitimately be rendered as either calling Christ "God" or as speaking of both Christ and God.

The approach itself is both common and sound. That it doesn't seem to be much addressed in this instance by the scholarly Trinitarian community is something that should really give you pause if it's going to give anyone pause. Personally, that we haven't happened to find this particular kind of analysis for this particular verse from a community of persons we don't have much reason to expect to see it from (for reasons I've already mentioned) is not particularly earth shattering; especially when you've decided JW academics don't count, when JWs are one of the primary nontrinitarian groups around. Nontrinitarians that believe in the preexistence of Christ are a decided minority in any context. This is true also of the scholarly community. So the use of an argument from silence from the academic community (as far as the three of us know off the top of our heads and within your arbitrary limits) is not a particularly powerful or convincing one.

As it happens, though, a somewhat incomplete analysis of this sort is conducted on this very verse by Trinitarian Albert Barnes in his commentary. As a Trinitarian, we might guess from the outset what he will NOT conclude, and we'd be right, so all that remains is to find out what he does conclude:

The beginning of the creation of God - This expression is a very important one in regard to the rank and dignity of the Saviour, and, like all similar expressions respecting him, its meaning has been much controverted. Compare the notes on Colossians 1:15. The phrase used here is susceptible, properly, of only one of the following significations, namely, either:

(a)That he was the beginning of the creation in the sense that he caused the universe to begin to exist - that is, that he was the author of all things; or.

(b)That he was the first created being; or.

(c)That he holds the primacy over all, and is at the head of the universe.

It is not necessary to examine any other proposed interpretations, for the only other senses supposed to be conveyed by the words, that he is the beginning of the creation in the sense I that he rose from the dead as the first-fruits of them that sleep, or that he is the head of the spiritual creation of God, axe so foreign to the natural meaning of the words as to need no special refutation. As to the three significations suggested above, it may be observed, that the first one - that he is the author of the creation, and in that sense the beginning - though expressing a scriptural doctrine John 1:3; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16, is not in accordance with the proper meaning of the word used here - ̓̀ archē . The word properly refers to the "commencement" of a thing, not its "authorship," and denotes properly primacy in time, and primacy in rank, but not primacy in the sense of causing anything to exist. The two ideas which run through the word as it is used in the New Testament are those just suggested. ... The word is not, therefore, found in the sense of authorship, as denoting that one is the beginning of anything in the sense that he caused it to have an existence.


Barnes concludes that the intended meaning is that Christ is the head/ruler of creation. He denies the first-created meaning based on the fact that he believes the Bible elsewhere teaches Christ was uncreated and that arche is used some few times in the scriptures to refer to rulership and thus provides a possible alternative to the meaning of first-created. However, he fails to explain or even interact with the fact that none of those instances where it is used of rulership are to be found in John's writings, that it is never used to mean rulership when found in the singular but is always either plural or with "all/every" and along with other words related to rulership, or that in these instances it is best translated as "principalities" because it is used to denote those within communities holding the first place of rank and inherently carried that partitive significance throughout NT usage.

Still, it's certainly worthy to note that he bases his argument on a statistical analysis of NT usage and considers that powerful enough to eliminate from consideration the meaning of "source" and he also recognizes that attempts to limit the context to the new or spiritual creation "axe so foreign to the natural meaning of the words as to need no special refutation."

It's unclear how much support you expect us to find from academic sources. If Barnes agreed with our method of analysis (and in fact the analysis itself) any more he'd have to stop being a Trinitarian. If he had been more thorough in his consideration of the details of his statistical analysis and weighted John's works as having primary relevance he would have scarcely been left with any other choice. But in any case, it should be clear that the method of our analysis is hardly viewed as 'nutty' within the scholarly community. It is commonly used and respected enough to establish or elimate a range of meaning for a disputed word in any given instance of scripture, at least when the database is sufficient.

EDIT:

There were two things I forgot to mention about Barnes' presentation. Notice that he says the following in the section I quoted:

The phrase used here is susceptible, properly, of only one of the following significations, namely, either:

(a)That he was the beginning of the creation in the sense that he caused the universe to begin to exist - that is, that he was the author of all things; or.

(b)That he was the first created being; or.

(c)That he holds the primacy over all, and is at the head of the universe.

....

The word properly refers to the "commencement" of a thing, not its "authorship," and denotes properly primacy in time, and primacy in rank


I quite agree with Barnes on this point that the phrase here "is susceptible, properly, of only one" signification. Personally, I find it to be somewhat fanciful and wishful thinking to view it as the author's intent to mean some whole array of different things in different contexts, in part because it is unreasonable to expect his audience would have drawn such a convoluted meaning. Still, I think the point should be made that, within Jewish thought, Barnes' option "b" necessarily implied his option "c". So, while we say there is properly one intended meaning, which is that Christ was the first creation, there is no problem with saying that Christ's rulership over all creation was an intended implication of this statement, just as the same was true of his being called the prototokos (firstborn) of all creation in Col 1:15. His identification as the first of the group necessarily implied his primacy in relation to it.

That moves us to the next point. Barnes points out that arche "denotes properly primacy in time, and primacy in rank." This is so because there was a natural link between the two, as I've mentioned above. When arche was used to denote primacy in time, it was in relation to contextual contemporaries, over which a primacy in rank was also implied. When it was used on occasion (in plural or with "all/every" and along with other words of rulership and authority) to refer to primacy of rank, it was still intended to be understood in relation to contextual contemporaries, explicit or implied. Thus, even with a meaning of rulership, a connection to contemporaries is implied. But again, trying to read this into Rev 3:14 as the primary meaning rather than an implication arising out of the primary meaning would be unprecedented and not in harmony with the usage everywhere else.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:12 am

Lot here; let me just post on one little point first and get to the rest later today.

You are arguing, it seems, that no scholars take this approach or arrive at our conclusion about Rev. 3:14, taking care to exclude from possible consideration any who, by their credentials, are qualified to speak authoritatively from an academic perspective but who are JWs. (By the way, I agree with Rotherham that this is a logically fallacious attempt to limit what can rightly be considered academic support, even by your standards. I would be disinclined to ask you to exclude Trinitarian sources or even Catholic sources specifically from your appeals to scholarly support)


Do such people exist? Which JWs have the academic credentials in history or NT studies or Greek? Where have they published their peer-reviewed findings? By all means, let's go ahead and include these guys in the mix, as well.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:53 am

Hey Sulla,

Just a note. I added a bit of an edit/addition to the end of that last post that I forgot to mention when I was writing it last night.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:06 pm

I'm not sure what to make of this comment:

Now, moving on, I would ask who we would expect to draw attention to an argument that contradicts the Trinity doctrine while still championing the preexistent and supernatural origin of Christ as well as the inspiration and internal harmony of the scriptures.


That's a little weird. These are separate questions, are they not? And a proper scholarly approach doesn't "champion" any particular religious viewpoint (which is not to say it never happens). For example, Dunn -- who identifies himself as a Christian -- makes a closely-reasoned argument about what Paul, specifically, claims in his writing. And Dunn argues that none of it, not Phil. 2, not Col. 1, should be read to say that Paul though Jesus was God. I don't happen to know whether he thinks the eventual orthodox viewpoint is correct in some way, and that is a good thing, I think.

Good scholarship isn't about one's beliefs: if Paul ought to be read in some particular way, for some set of reasons, that is nothing except a fact.

Now, it is a problem for your side if the people you find argue that most of scripture is bunk, and this bunk includes all those statements that the orthodox say shows the primitive Church thought Jesus was God. The folks at the Jesus Seminar might fall into this category. On the other hand, Dunn (to whom I keep referring because I am more familiar with some of his work) doesn't go around saying the Resurrection never happened and that's why Paul couldn't have thought Jesus was God. He makes an argument that is either valid or not, but it is solid scholarship.

So, for example, one of the main themes of the literature I read is this fight about when the Church started to consider that Jesus was God. When and how this belief takes root matters quite a lot.

Actually, as it happens, you might want to look at Marcus Borg to find somebody to support your argument. I say that based on NT Wright's comments here

http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_JIG.pdf

and especially this comment:


In particular, with the popularity of the hermeneutic of suspicion a third assumption has grown up alongside the other two [that Wright mentions immediately prior] , and I now regularly meet it all over the place: a high christology is really a political power play, as you can see by looking at what happened under Constantine. Church and state settled down into their unworthy ménage, undermining the radical thrust of Jesus’ original message, and as part of the package they divinized Jesus the way Emperors used to divinize themselves. The NT itself, and traditional readings thereof, thus stand condemned of compromising the pure original message. It is not only those on the extreme wing, such as Burton Mack, who believe and write this sort of thing.

...

My third example is my good friend and colleague Marcus Borg, with whom I have discussed these issues dozens of times over the past decade. We have now collaborated on a book which sets out the main points of our dialogue.[5] Borg insists that he believes that Jesus is indeed the son of God, the savior of the world; but he insists equally that Jesus did not and could not have thought of himself in this way.[6] Borg, like a good many Jesus scholars, including major figures like Ed Sanders, simply did not think it possible that Jesus of Nazareth could have thought of himself as called to die for the sake of Israel or the world, still less that he shared an identity with Israel’s God.


So there you have it. The question is whether Borg or others like him (and Wright suggests there are others like him) takes Revelation 3 to be actively teaching Jesus is not God.

You have made additional arguments -- which I do not intend to ignore, but which I will get to later today, if possible.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:21 pm

Hey Sulla,

I'm fine if you want to get to the rest of what I said after I respond to your first question here, as it might further clarify my point and save you some time in what you address (or it may not, who knows).

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:38 pm

Sulla wrote:I'm not sure what to make of this comment:

Now, moving on, I would ask who we would expect to draw attention to an argument that contradicts the Trinity doctrine while still championing the preexistent and supernatural origin of Christ as well as the inspiration and internal harmony of the scriptures.


That's a little weird. These are separate questions, are they not? And a proper scholarly approach doesn't "champion" any particular religious viewpoint (which is not to say it never happens). For example, Dunn -- who identifies himself as a Christian -- makes a closely-reasoned argument about what Paul, specifically, claims in his writing. And Dunn argues that none of it, not Phil. 2, not Col. 1, should be read to say that Paul though Jesus was God. I don't happen to know whether he thinks the eventual orthodox viewpoint is correct in some way, and that is a good thing, I think.

Good scholarship isn't about one's beliefs: if Paul ought to be read in some particular way, for some set of reasons, that is nothing except a fact.


I'll just deal with this part for now.

I agree with what you're saying here: "And a proper scholarly approach doesn't "champion" any particular religious viewpoint (which is not to say it never happens)."

In fact, it happens quite often. But my point was not to ask where we would expect to look to find a scholarly approach that intends to champion a particular position from the outset. I was asking where we might expect to find one that ultimately results in a conclusion that can be said to champion the stated position. One, which we would assume, must be undertaken from a certain perspective to some degree.

For example, taking our particular discussion, you probably wouldn't expect someone who doesn't believe in the inspiration of the Bible or its supernatural aspects to consider the usage of a word across the 23 books John didn't write to have any bearing at all on the 5 he did write, so you would not expect them to conduct a systematic statistical analysis of usage across the entire NT. They also probably wouldn't be inclined to make too strong of a delineation between Biblical usage and extra-Biblical, philosophical/metaphysical usage. They also wouldn't be inclined to argue against a meaning from one writer partially on the grounds that some other earlier writer said differently. They also wouldn't be too inclined to spend their efforts on establishing alternate supernatural readings in contradiction to current Orthodoxy, especially based on any of the above factors. So if you are looking to find some existing case where someone in the academic community has used an argument that pulls in any or all of these factors, these simply aren't the people you're going to look to with any real expectation of finding agreement.

Whether we like it or not, a lot of academic efforts are a product of perspective. When a subject matter is approached from a particular perspective, no matter the perspective, you don't generally expect to find it arriving at conclusions that are diametrically opposed to that perspective. In the above mentioned category of scholar, there is a definite bias there. There is a bias in favor of a particular historical view or perspective and it informs the rest of the work. That's not to say they can't be objective at all in their dealing with the facts of the present case before them, but if we're being honest, in most cases even objectivity is subjective. We can look at some presentation and find it is "objective" but that doesn't necessarily mean it is objective in an absolute sense, entirely free of any underlying perspective that is informing it.

So, again, we ask who we might reasonably look to with an expectation of finding them using this sort of argument we're putting forward and coming to the same conclusion. I don't think you reasonably expect we should find Trinitarian scholars who believe in the inspiration of the Bible doing this analysis and coming to the same conclusion, do you? I have come across dozens of Trinitarian scholars who disagree with each other on nearly every evidence some other Trinitarian uses to support the Trinity, but each one invariably has their own pieces of evidence they think establishes its Biblical veracity. I have yet to come across a Trinitarian scholar who believes in the inspiration of the Bible and yet argues for a reading of scripture that cripples the Trinity doctrine. Those Trinitarian scholars who argue for a late 1st Century development demonstrated primarily in the writings of John, whether by progressive revelation or organic evolution of correct belief, are highly unlikely to make an analysis and argument that shows John didn't teach it either. The fact is, these are people with something to lose, both personally and professionally, on top of the fact that they hold sincere belief that their position is correct. This makes them far more inclined to engage in "hermeneutical gymnastics" of one sort or another than to boldly take the words at face value. So again, these are not people we'd generally look to with an expectation of finding the argument we are putting forward as well as agreement with our conclusion. As I've pointed out, Barnes, though he doesn't come to the same conclusion, performs a similar type of analysis and in doing so excludes the meaning of "source" from consideration as well as the idea that the context can be limited to the new creation, but I've already explained how I think his analysis is lacking.

We might think that any non-Trinitarian scholars who believe in the inspiration of the Bible would be inclined to make our argument, but there's a whole segment of non-Trinitarian Christians who believe in the inspiration of the Bible but don't believe in Christ's preexistence, so again, our argument and conclusion would be diametrically opposed to their basic perspective and they argue, somewhat poorly, for the meaning of "ruler" because "first creation" is unacceptable to them.

Idealism aside, there is simply a very small segment of the academic community whom we might even hope to find using this type of argument on this particular verse and subsequently agreeing with us. It is not particularly difficult, however, to find academics who make use of the same method of argumentation in other instances in order to establish the same type of thing. The real question before us is this: When a thorough analysis of this sort is conducted in this case, what does it point to?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:56 am

Well, I can only tell you what kind of arguments we actually find. And what we actually find are plenty of people who are interested in determining how, why, and when the orthodox viewpoint came to be.

There are many different approaches. On the one hand we have Wright, Hurtado, Bauckham, and others who say that worship of Christ started pretty much on day one after the Resurrection, and there is a set of arguments to that end.

We have Boussett and company, who argue that the identification of Jesus with God is something that happened when Jewish Christians fell inder the Greek influence -- Paul's letters are the works of just such an influence.

We have guys like Dunn who say that Paul, as a devout Jew, was simply unable to think of a man as the Creator. Reading Paul from this perspective and with the background of the Jewish view of important figures leads us to place the orthodox position to the writers of the Gospel of John and Hebrews.

We have scholars like Pagels, who insists that the whole thing was the doing of Irenaeus of Lyon, whose suppression of the gnostic gospels was based on a desire to establish the organized church against the more pure expresions of primitive Christianity.

We have guys like Borg who figures that the whole thing is a power play and doesn't have anything to do with what the early Church really thought. From this perspective, there is nothing like a consensus on Jesus being God and passages in Hebrews and John and Revelation are the idiosyncratic viewpoints of particular, local groups. Revelation was highly controversial anyway, which just shows how local it was.

So there are plenty of different viewpoints -- I haven't even begun a summary of them all. And, of course, there is no bias against finding the orthodox view (or, as people like Pagels are fond of saying, the view that eventually became orthodox) to be a late development.

Actually, that is instructive. See, nobody is willing to say that the belief that Jesus is God doesn't exist anywhere in what became the NT canon. What they will say is that there were several proto-orthodox viewpoints in the early days -- Hebrews and John and Revelation represent one of them, but the Gospel of Thomas and others repressent another, while Paul's letters represent still another. So, in this framework, you suppress the gnostics, adopt Paul, and extend the whole idea with Hebrews and John, adding Revelation at the very end if you must.

But nobody will say that the idea has no basis in the canon. More particularly, nobody will say that Rev. 3 must be read the way you say it must be read. Look, the word arche is not some secret, ok? And finding that Revelation must be read in just the way you say would clearly push the orthodox view into a smaller set of NT writings.

So, I have to leave it to you to guess why we can't seem to find anyone who will say that.


For example, taking our particular discussion, you probably wouldn't expect someone who doesn't believe in the inspiration of the Bible or its supernatural aspects to consider the usage of a word across the 23 books John didn't write to have any bearing at all on the 5 he did write, so you would not expect them to conduct a systematic statistical analysis of usage across the entire NT.


Are you kidding? You don't have to believe in inspiration to know that an author has particular influences and that these are valid areas of interest. One thing JWs don't pay much attention to is the relentless application of stridently monotheistic texts in the OT to Jesus.

But this gets to the main point. The main problem with this analysis -- and the real reason nobody has bothered with it -- is that it is entirely wrong-headed. It is a key to understanding a literary work for people who don't know how to read.

And by "how to read" I don't mean simply illiterate. I mean that there is a way to read scripture, both as scripture and as a particular literature that is entirely ignored in favor of this sort of statistical analysis. More, everybody knows that this sort of statistical analysis has far less explanatory power than a close reading of the book itself.

Look, how much weight should we give to the observation that the word is used by Paul to mean a plain beginning, when we have specific uses within Revelation that lead us in an entirely different direction?

When God calls himself the Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End, is it at all possible to read the arche in this sentence as some sort of partitive word? When Burney points out the midrashic relationship between Rev. 3, Col. 1, Prov. 8, and the "Beginning" of Genesis 1:1, doesn't that make you stop? Are you really insisting that the typical use of that word self-evidently trumps this reading? Are you really trying to tell us that John is explicitly teaching Jesus is limited to being some creature? That's John's point, here? Jesus calls himself "the one who lives," the "first and the last," the one who will give life to whomever he pleases, but John's point is that he is a creature who is not to be worshipped?

My complaint is that you are trading the richness that comes from a deep and reflective reading of this book for a statistical analysis, and that you are trying to make that statistical analysis control the deep reading of the book. And I suggest to you that the reason you can't find anyone who agrees with this reading is because even people who don't believe in inspiration find your method to be irreligious.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:27 am

As a final point (and I should have included this as an edit yesterday, but I forgot). I would make reference to yourexample with Phil. 2:

To use a different example, we can take the passage in Phil. 2:5ff. It is a passage that is used as the very foundation of the dual-nature doctrine, which is subsequently used as an escape hatch for all the comments found in scripture that would be used to show Jesus can't possibly be Almighty God, a great many of which happen to be found in John's writings. And yet, the fact remains that the notion of a dual nature is directly opposite to the natural reading of the passage. But this doesn't stop all manner of novelty and creativity from being employed to not only escape the problem the passage presents for the Trinity doctrine but to turn it into a proof that, it has been claimed by some, explicitly teaches that Christ has eternally subsisted in the very essence of Almighty God. This is done by means of certain unwarranted translational flubs, wholly inaccurate paraphrastic translations, laughable leaps of logic based on the accepted premise of the Trinity doctrine, etc.


And it also remains true that we can find academics who will take the position that Phil. 2 does not support the idea that Jesus is God. Dunn (again) has an entire book devoted to the idea that nothing in Paul's letters should be read that way.
_________________________________

Moving on to the rest of your post...

You took issue with my criticism of the statistical approach the paper uses:


And yet, Burney uses precisely this type of statistical analysis to establish the meaning of the Hebrew 'qanah' at Prov 8:22 as being opposite to the meaning of "already possessed" that is generally argued for by Trinitarians. The same approach is used by various other scholars, including Trinitarians, in determining the proper translation and intended meaning of other words in the NT, like morphe and harpagmos or how to best translate certain passages that could, from a purely grammatical standpoint, legitimately be rendered as either calling Christ "God" or as speaking of both Christ and God.


Well, yes, he does say that we find that meaning when we examine "the useages of the verb in Hebrew and through comparison of cognate languages." I would note several key differences between his approach and Rotherham's.

1. Burney does not limit himself to just Biblical sources, cognate languages are clearly part of his reasoning. Moreover, it is not clear that any relevant ancient Hebrew sources exist that are not part of the bible -- he is, in a certain sense, stuck with just those references. Rotherham refuses to consider contemporaneous Greek sources that are outside the NT or LXX, let alone cognate languages.

2. Burney categorizes every one of the 88 cases. Rotherham ignores the several cases in Revelation where the meaning is surely not partitive -- God calling himself the Beginning and End is not a partitive statement. For that matter, the cases of arche meaning "ruler" are not included in the analysis -- an honest appraisal would show the full spectrum of uses.

3. Burney does not suppose that a lack of usage precludes its possible usage in some particular case. He notes just such an absence of a particular usage on page 167:


The absence of a parallel for such [an adverbial] usage cannot, however, be greatly pressed; since the averbial usage is well illustrated with other substantives, and is thus theoretically possible.


Which is to say that he does not consider the lack of a particular use of a word or term in scripture to be conclusive evidence one way or the other, so long as oher usages are possible.

4. Burney explicitly allows additional meanings to be attached to the word, according to the specific context. He does not limit the possible meanings by his use of statistical analysis. Note page 176:


It is true that, if we look up reshith in a Hebrew Lexicon, while we shall find the meanings Beginning and [/i]First-fruits[/i], we shall nto find the meanings Head and Sum-total [which additional meanings Burney ascribes to the midrash], but since the substantive reshith is derived from rosh, which means Head and which is also used with considerable frequency in the sense Sum-total, these two additonal meanings would easily be referable to it.


So, no, we don't really find Rotherham's "kind" of analysis to be standard. There are quite substantial differences between what he does and what others do.

_______________

Two final points (and I think that has the main points of your post covered).


quite agree with Barnes on this point that the phrase here "is susceptible, properly, of only one" signification. Personally, I find it to be somewhat fanciful and wishful thinking to view it as the author's intent to mean some whole array of different things in different contexts, in part because it is unreasonable to expect his audience would have drawn such a convoluted meaning. Still, I think the point should be made that, within Jewish thought, Barnes' option "b" [That he was the first created being] necessarily implied his option "c" [That he holds the primacy over all, and is at the head of the universe]. So, while we say there is properly one intended meaning, which is that Christ was the first creation, there is no problem with saying that Christ's rulership over all creation was an intended implication of this statement, just as the same was true of his being called the prototokos (firstborn) of all creation in Col 1:15. His identification as the first of the group necessarily implied his primacy in relation to it.


Absolutely not. There is no sense in which the first created thing might be considered to rule all. This concept is explicity rejected throughout the OT, and especially in places like Deutero-Isaiah, where the sole rulership of YHWH over the entire created order is repeatedly claimed.

That moves us to the next point. Barnes points out that arche "denotes properly primacy in time, and primacy in rank." This is so because there was a natural link between the two, as I've mentioned above. When arche was used to denote primacy in time, it was in relation to contextual contemporaries, over which a primacy in rank was also implied. When it was used on occasion (in plural or with "all/every" and along with other words of rulership and authority) to refer to primacy of rank, it was still intended to be understood in relation to contextual contemporaries, explicit or implied. Thus, even with a meaning of rulership, a connection to contemporaries is implied. But again, trying to read this into Rev 3:14 as the primary meaning rather than an implication arising out of the primary meaning would be unprecedented and not in harmony with the usage everywhere else.


Absolutely not. God calls himself arche in Revelation, yet he has no "contextual contemporaries."
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:47 am

I'll get to this stuff as soon as I have a chance. A bit busy with work.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:07 pm

I also have some comments to offer on Sulla's latest when I get the time to do so.

Rotherham

HeKS wrote:I'll get to this stuff as soon as I have a chance. A bit busy with work.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:33 am

I apologize for the delay. I have a hefty amount of information here and I'm trying to determine what is worth discussing and how I'm going to transfer it from book to screen. I'd like to avoid typing it all out, so I might try to scan and OCR it but even that can be an annoying process that requires a lot of manual correction.

That combined with my work (on which I'm a bit behind) is causing some delay, but I'll have something here as soon as I can manage it.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:43 pm

You guys must be, like, totally stumped, or whatever.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:44 pm

Sulla wrote:You guys must be, like, totally stumped, or whatever.


Frankly, I wish I was. It would save me a lot of time at night. I'm 11 pages into a response to your first point about what scholarly opinions we find about Jesus as God in the NT. When I'm done with that I still have to address the other stuff you mentioned. I'm trying to decide how deeply I'll get into Burney's article among other things. I can't say exactly when I'll be finished, especially since I only have time to work on it in the late evenings and because, where possible, I'm trying to read entire books before quoting from them, so I appreciate your patience.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:39 am

Eleven pages so far in a partial response? I hope that's, like, double spaced.

I suppose it's a little rude to ask before you post, but did you find a scholarly commentary, published in a peer-reviewed journal or by an academic press, and written in the last fifty years, that insists Rev. 3 must be read the way you read it?

The problem, of course, is that Revelation was not universally accepted as part of the set of writings to be read within the liturgy in the first century. Its inclusion in the canon was somewhat controversial, as you know. So a writer dealing only with the works of Paul, say, or one who places Revelation in a class of very late writings, or one who says Revelation wasn't written by the Apostle at all, might speak of the "Primitive Church," intending to exclude this book.

Also, I'd like to have something recent, since lots of crazy stuff was written in the 18th or 19th centuries, and there really has been some interesting work done since 1850. And if it is something taken seriously by anybody else, that would be great, too. I notice elsewhere on this site that Rotherham quotes Martin Werner (yet again) as if his work hadn't been debunked and completely ignored for the last 60 years.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:31 am

Hi Sulla,

Unfortunately it's not double spaced, and this part is looking to be quite a bit longer by the time I'm finished.

As for your other question, I've taken a different approach. What I'm addressing is your claims of consensus on the idea that everybody thinks Jesus is taught to be God somewhere in the NT. I'm addressing specifically comments like, "nobody is willing to say that the belief that Jesus is God doesn't exist anywhere in what became the NT canon," and "finding that Revelation must be read in just the way you say would clearly push the orthodox view into a smaller set of NT writings."

I'm concentrating primarily on one history of early Christianity published this year (because I figured if it was old you might take issue with that), while also drawing in comments from other writers and historians over a wider range of time. I'm presenting at length what the author of this history has to say about the subject matter at hand as it relates to the Christology of Hebrews and John as well as that of the Christians of the next few centuries and how this affects your argument and what later came to be orthodoxy.

After all that I'll move on to to your other more specific points.

I didn't bother looking for some scholar to make the specific argument we're making (though I have some comments on that issue), because even if I found one making that exact argument (who wasn't a JW), I don't see anything preventing you from simply saying, "yeah, well all these other people see it differently."

As for the history I chose to focus on, I didn't choose it because it is unique to what I was looking for. I chose it because it's recent, seems well recommended by authors of other books I've heard some good stuff about and would like to read, and because in most ways it is in harmony with most of the other early church histories I've read (in whole or in part), while offering some additional points that I haven't seen drawn out elsewhere and that I think will be useful to discussion.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:51 pm

Well, ok. If you are in a research groove, I don't want to mess with that.

On the other hand, It would be a shame to focus on my claim instead of your own. I'd hate it if you spent many hours discovering that, in fact, there exist academics who will say that nowhere in the NT do we find the explicit teaching that Jesus is God Almighty when that's not exactly what we need to find.

I mean, the question is whether anybody else really reads Rev. 3 to be actively teaching Jesus is not God. It is one thing to say that it fails to teach he really is Almighty, it is a whole 'nother thing to say it positively teaches he is not.

In all seriousness, I wonder if this much larger set of questions ought to be on a different thread. If you have eleven pages so far, maybe it ought to be on the main page which could then be challenged on a separate thread. Just a suggestion.

Whatever you decicde, I can outline my response now. My claim has never been that the primitive Church taught the doctrine of the Trinity. My claim is that the earliest Church thought, wrote, acted, and died as if Jesus was God. Moreover, these actions are properly understood only within the framework of second temple Judiasm; thus the distinctions on the one hand between the Jewish understanding of exalted agents of God and the wider polytheistic interpretations are crucial to this understanding.

So, if your effort is basically an attempt to see if you can fit a quarter between the doctrine (if we may use that word) of the first century and the doctrine of the fourth century, I don't know how strong an argument that will be.

Finally, if you are consulting some particular source, would you mind sharing what it is? Maybe it is available for my Kindle.

S.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:39 pm

Hi Sulla,

I'm not focusing on the idea that the Trinity itself was not taught in the NT, since I'm pretty sure we agree that it wasn't. I'm focusing on those aspects of the NT that were later drawn into the debate and how that interpretation was foreign to the understanding of the NT writers, first century Christians, and even 2nd and 3rd century Christians, particularly in respect to Christ as a created being.

As for your argument that we read "Rev. 3 to be actively teaching Jesus is not God," I reject it. As I've already said, this entirely reframes our reading of the passage into the context of what you seem to assume the Christology of John or his audience happened to be. It doesn't logically follow that for John to record a statement that directly contradicts the neo-orthodoxy of the fourth century, he must have been intending to combat some aspect of belief. But I will address this more fully.

Your suggestion of this post forming a new discussion isn't a bad one, and is one I'd been thinking of, but if we go that route I would probably post it as an article you could then challenge. But if I'm going to go that route then there's a lot more reading I want to do and a lot more info I would include. So why don't we play it by ear for now. I'll finish up what I'm working on for this book and look at some other stuff I've been wanting to check out and if I choose to include that stuff as well then we can just move on to your other points and I can continue to work on this as a separate article for later discussion.

When I'm ready I can provide you with scans of the pertinent sections if you like. There is a whole slew of info that has nothing to do with the discussion and I may draw in some other books as well, for which I can also provide scans.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:19 am

Hello Sulla,

My excuse is I've been real busy and otherwise real lazy. I think there is a qualification that you are missing when it comes to the way you describe my argument that needs to be made to stand out so that it comes properly into the light, but when I'm not feeling so lazy, hopefully soon, I'll post it.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:45 am

Hello Sulla,

I wanted to go back to the comments about the difference between my article's approach to the statistical argument as opposed to Burney's approach, and try once again to get this discussion to focus on what the article has actually stated. It seems a good deal of the effort lately has been in a different direction.

The article poses the problem of how else one could allow God to be the interpreter if they did not just rely on his words alone whenever possible. If one has a sufficient database of information within the Bible to make a decision as to how something should be read and understood, if we want God's thoughts on the matter, why would we not interpret the thing in question in harmony with what his words reveal in connection with it? As I have asked, "Is there some other way to get God's interpretation" in things of that nature? That has never been addressed except to say it was a good question, and if you want to address what the article presents, you should address that since it is one of the major premises that it is built upon.

You see, that's the only difference between the approach I made and the approach Burney made (and others have made in like endeavors) in his treatment of "arche". Burney did not just stick to the scriptures, he went to all different sources, Biblical and extra-biblical, secular, philosophical and religious. But the difference in my article is on purpose because I am asking, "Is there any other way to allow God to be our interpreter" except by sticking to HIS words and the patterns and the precedents that it establishes? If there is no other way avaialble to do that then the method I have used, then how can there be a serious challenge to the method?

You complain that there have been no peer-reviewed publications that agree with this conclusion, but I think we need to keep in mind that articles of that nature have never approached it from the standpoint of allowing God alone to be our interpreter. They are all occupied with considering ALL the sources, and are therefore mixed with the thoughts and the patterns of purely human speech, but the point of this article is that IF we JUST rely on scripture and the patterns presented, there's no other choices available except the one presented. Consider it a novel approach to the issue of proper interpretation. Just because it is novel in its approach, that would have no bearing on its validity.

Since the pattern presented can't be denied FROM THE STANDPOINT of SCRIPTURE, then the conclusion is valid and solid. Your task is to show that there is such strong enough evidence in the scriptures to the contrary, that the established and consistent pattern is over-ridden by the explicit information in the other direction. Since we know that explicit information proving Jesus to be God Almighty is glaringly absent, as is partially witnessed by so many scholars that such a teaching never existed in the first century or in the minds of the NT writers, then IF we want the Bible to be our SOLE guide in these matters, the conclusion of the article is valid and solid. It is unmistakable.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:38 am

Glad to see you out of your torpor.

The article poses the problem of how else one could allow God to be the interpreter if they did not just rely on his words alone whenever possible.


Well, the paper does seem to make the assumption that your particular approach was the best way. We did discuss whether your position was that approaches other than yours were improperly putting man's ways above God's. We decided that it was not your position. I can't tell if this post is an attempt to go back on that position or not.

But, since we all agreed that methods of analysis that were different from yours are not wrong, I never pursued the issue.


You see, that's the only difference between the approach I made and the approach Burney made (and others have made in like endeavors) in his treatment of "arche". Burney did not just stick to the scriptures, he went to all different sources, Biblical and extra-biblical, secular, philosophical and religious. But the difference in my article is on purpose because I am asking, "Is there any other way to allow God to be our interpreter" except by sticking to HIS words and the patterns and the precedents that it establishes? If there is no other way avaialble to do that then the method I have used, then how can there be a serious challenge to the method?


I missed the part where you asked anything at all, I confess. Perhaps I need to review the paper, but I recall that you simply asserted your method was the way to go about it was right. If now you are claiming your method can't have any serious alternatives, I suggest you go back to your statements on, like, page two.

You complain that there have been no peer-reviewed publications that agree with this conclusion, but I think we need to keep in mind that articles of that nature have never approached it from the standpoint of allowing God alone to be our interpreter. They are all occupied with considering ALL the sources, and are therefore mixed with the thoughts and the patterns of purely human speech, but the point of this article is that IF we JUST rely on scripture and the patterns presented, there's no other choices available except the one presented. Consider it a novel approach to the issue of proper interpretation. Just because it is novel in its approach, that would have no bearing on its validity.


Well, two problems. First, the reason the standard analysis will include a wide array of sources for this sort of thing is because, as HeKS has pointed out, the writers of the bible didn't invent language. Second, your paper ignores the cases of the use of the word within Revelation that weaken your case (God calling himself Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, first and last, for example).

Your approach is much more than merely novel -- it is idiosyncratic. You act like reducing the set of examples and sources you want to consider is some sort of innovation. Write a paper looking at arche as a title within Revelation, and comparing the titles to other OT writings and other sources that may have been in influence, then we can talk.


Since the pattern presented can't be denied FROM THE STANDPOINT of SCRIPTURE, then the conclusion is valid and solid. Your task is to show that there is such strong enough evidence in the scriptures to the contrary, that the established and consistent pattern is over-ridden by the explicit information in the other direction. Since we know that explicit information proving Jesus to be God Almighty is glaringly absent, as is partially witnessed by so many scholars that such a teaching never existed in the first century or in the minds of the NT writers, then IF we want the Bible to be our SOLE guide in these matters, the conclusion of the article is valid and solid. It is unmistakable.


Hmm. Well, I thought the burden of proof was on the person who wrote a piece of analysis. So now, if I can't prove your method is wrong by only using the method you like, the conclusion must be valid?

You also seem to have missed the point of your paper. The point of your paper is to show Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus is merely a creation. You are trying to change the subject.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:11 pm

Hello Sulla,



The article poses the problem of how else one could allow God to be the interpreter if they did not just rely on his words alone whenever possible.


Well, the paper does seem to make the assumption that your particular approach was the best way. We did discuss whether your position was that approaches other than yours were improperly putting man's ways above God's. We decided that it was not your position. I can't tell if this post is an attempt to go back on that position or not.

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The article directly states that if one allows the uses outside of scripture to over-ride the established use in the Bible, then it is certainly putting human views above those of God. It can also be said that unless there is undeniable evidence otherwise, if one makes a choice for a definition of a word that is outside a clear pattern and precedent in the scriptures, then it is certainly putting THEIR view above the those of God. By means of rhetorical question, I am presenting the method presented in the article as the proper method and the reason that it is the proper method is because there does not exist to man another way to ensure getting the thoughts of God. However, I at least offer some one to present a better way, which I am certain there is none forthcoming, but if someone thought they had a way, then let's by all means hear it.

So let me state it as succinctly as I can: "Those who make chooses of definition for words and phrases outside of the established Biblical patterns and precedents, are not allowing God to be their interpreter but are relying upon their own subjectivity or the opinions of humans alone to make their choices. We should always rely on Biblical pattern and precedent whenever and wherever we can."
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But, since we all agreed that methods of analysis that were different from yours are not wrong, I never pursued the issue.


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Then you have missed the intent of the often repeated question, "Is there any other way?"
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You see, that's the only difference between the approach I made and the approach Burney made (and others have made in like endeavors) in his treatment of "arche". Burney did not just stick to the scriptures, he went to all different sources, Biblical and extra-biblical, secular, philosophical and religious. But the difference in my article is on purpose because I am asking, "Is there any other way to allow God to be our interpreter" except by sticking to HIS words and the patterns and the precedents that it establishes? If there is no other way avaialble to do that then the method I have used, then how can there be a serious challenge to the method?


I missed the part where you asked anything at all, I confess. Perhaps I need to review the paper, but I recall that you simply asserted your method was the way to go about it was right. If now you are claiming your method can't have any serious alternatives, I suggest you go back to your statements on, like, page two.

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The question has been repeated many times, so yes, you have surely missed it and you need to go back and read what was said. If there is no other method possible to ensure God to be our interpreter, then the method presented stands incontestable. Methods which ignore Biblical precedent and pattern in favor of other choices can not be allowing God to be their interpreter. Again I ask rhetorically, how could they?
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You complain that there have been no peer-reviewed publications that agree with this conclusion, but I think we need to keep in mind that articles of that nature have never approached it from the standpoint of allowing God alone to be our interpreter. They are all occupied with considering ALL the sources, and are therefore mixed with the thoughts and the patterns of purely human speech, but the point of this article is that IF we JUST rely on scripture and the patterns presented, there's no other choices available except the one presented. Consider it a novel approach to the issue of proper interpretation. Just because it is novel in its approach, that would have no bearing on its validity.


Well, two problems. First, the reason the standard analysis will include a wide array of sources for this sort of thing is because, as HeKS has pointed out, the writers of the bible didn't invent language. Second, your paper ignores the cases of the use of the word within Revelation that weaken your case (God calling himself Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, first and last, for example).

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The fact that Bible writers didn't invent language has no bearing on the problem at hand if there are plenty examples within scripture to establish a pattern and a precedent.

The second point isn't a good one for you. Both Vine's and Thayer's (Grimm's actually- a Trinitarian) demonstrates within their definitions of the phrase "First and Last, Beginning and End" that those things mentioned are dealing with things in a series. God is the FIRST and the LAST Almighty God. This is nailed down as the proper interpretation when we see what was meant when this similar title was used in the Hebrew scriptures of God.

It states:

(Isaiah 44:6) “This is what Jehovah has said, the King of Israel and the Repurchaser of him, Jehovah of armies, ‘I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.

Isaiah use of the phrase establishes undeniably that this title is in reference to him being Almighty God, where there are NO OTHERS in the class but him.

So there is no ignoring of any cases whatsoever where the phrase is used of God.
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Your approach is much more than merely novel -- it is idiosyncratic. You act like reducing the set of examples and sources you want to consider is some sort of innovation. Write a paper looking at arche as a title within Revelation, and comparing the titles to other OT writings and other sources that may have been in influence, then we can talk.


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Once again, relying solely on the word of God and the patterns and the precedent within it as our ONLY guide, including the "Beginning and End" for God (remember Isaiah 44:6) and including any relevant OT passages, the pattern is undeniable. So if we actually rely on JUST Biblical examples, we have no other choice than what I have offered in the article. We've been through the OT examples, and the Revelation examples are all in harmony with the definitions already used by John elsewhere, as Trinitarians themselves acknowledge within their lexicons.
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Since the pattern presented can't be denied FROM THE STANDPOINT of SCRIPTURE, then the conclusion is valid and solid. Your task is to show that there is such strong enough evidence in the scriptures to the contrary, that the established and consistent pattern is over-ridden by the explicit information in the other direction. Since we know that explicit information proving Jesus to be God Almighty is glaringly absent, as is partially witnessed by so many scholars that such a teaching never existed in the first century or in the minds of the NT writers, then IF we want the Bible to be our SOLE guide in these matters, the conclusion of the article is valid and solid. It is unmistakable.


Hmm. Well, I thought the burden of proof was on the person who wrote a piece of analysis. So now, if I can't prove your method is wrong by only using the method you like, the conclusion must be valid?

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The conclusion is valid as the rhetorical questions establish the fact that there is no other alternative for proper interpretation available to man. We MUST rely on the Bible to interpret the Bible, not on the opinions and choices of purely human thinking.
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You also seem to have missed the point of your paper. The point of your paper is to show Rev. 3 explicitly teaches Jesus is merely a creation. You are trying to change the subject.
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There's no change to any subject at all. From the start it has been, IF we rely on Biblical pattern and precedent, Revelation 3:14 explicitly establishes the Son of God as a creation. What you are wanting to do is NOT rely solely on the Bible, and that is the only real difference we are dealing with because the Biblical pattern is unquestionable, but the human pattern is full of question. I am stating that if you make a choice for interpretation that goes against the Biblical pattern and precedent you can not possibly be allowing God to be your interpreter.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:14 pm

Hey Rotherham and Sulla,

One point I'll make here, so I don't have to address it in my other much longer post, is about Burney.

First off, just a quick reminder. Burney does not consider the Greek arche at length. For the meaning of arche he relies on the meaning he gives to the Hebrew reshith. But it should also be noted that reshith is not the word that he considers exhaustively as to its meaning. That word is the Hebrew qanah, which he shows to always mean acquiring in some sense, not possessing apart from acquiring.

As for the reason that he says he has considered the facts in such detail...

The reason why it has seemed desirable to marshal the facts in such fullness is that, in the controversy which has raged round '?JfJ {can't reproduce the Hebrew} in Prov. viii 22, they have not been rightly apprehended by theologians, either in the past or in modern times.


He says that the result of his statistical analysis relating to qanah is...

We are justified, therefore, in concluding that {qanah} cannot rightly be rendered 'possessed me', but must have the meaning 'gat me' in some sense still to be determined.
- emphasis mine


Later, speaking of Jerome, Burney says...

he argues against the meaning ' create' for '"0J3 on the ground that this
meaning is expressed by the verb N"53, while njij properly means 'possess'.
....

This is a meaning for the verb njf)—possession, not merely ignoring the conception of preliminary acquisition inherent in the verb, but 'actually to be understood as excluding it—which, if our argument as to the usage of the verb has been sound, can by no means be substantiated; yet St Jerome's verdict has satisfied subsequent theological thought, and is generally accepted by theologians at the present day.
- italics are Hebrew words I can't reproduce through copy and paste.


I wanted to point this out to you Sulla, because you said in a previous post that even after his statistical analysis, Burney didn't suggest the word couldn't be used with another meaning. The problem was that you were using a comment he made about reshith, when his statistical analysis was performed on qanah. The fact of the matter is that Burney does say that, if his argument or statistical analysis is correct, it does preclude the possibility that the word was used without a meaning that relates to acquiring something that was not always possessed.

As for the fact that he considered not only all cases found in the Hebrew scriptures but also those in the cognate languages, I think it's fair to ask whether anyone would have really suggested his analysis was incomplete if he hadn't extended it to words in different languages that shared some form of linguistic lineage with the word under consideration. An argument for the meaning of "possessed", opposite to the actual meaning of "acquire/get" as found in all instances in Hebrew, based on a sense of possession to be found in a cognate language but not in any case in Hebrew would seem able of being dismissed out of hand as being without any basis.

In reading his article yet again, I find myself wondering whether he didn't extend his consideration to cognate languages so that he could draw from them later in his paper in establish meanings for reshith that lay outside of its lexical range, which he could then apply to arche by extension in line with the theory that his whole paper is intended to prove. Burney says...

It is true that, if we look up rishith in a Hebrew Lexicon, while we shall find the meanings
Beginning and First-fruits, we shall not find the meanings Head and Sum-total; but since the substantive rishith is derived from rosh, which means Head, and which is also used with considerable frequency in the sense Sum-total, these two additional meanings would easily be
referable to it. The Aramaic rish stands for both Hebrew rosh and rishith, and is susceptible of all the meanings postulated.


Somehow, I think that if I was trying to offer an argument like this it just wouldn't fly. First of all, he says that reshith is derived from rosh. I can't quite tell whether he is trying to suggest that rosh is its root. If so, that would appear to be incorrect, as both rosh and reshith are themselves derived from a common root. However, even if the feminine noun reshith is derived from the masculine noun rosh, that doesn't mean the semantic field of the one can be thrown onto the other at will (though it should be noted that rosh is just as much of a partitive word as reshith). As best I can tell, Burney doesn't offer any examples at all where reshith is used with the additional meanings he wants, which would make sense, because if he could then we'd probably find those meanings in a lexicon.

Likewise, supporting the additional meanings he pulls over from rosh by referencing the Aramaic rish, seems like an argument I could never get away with. I can just imagine trying to argue for a meaning to an English word that doesn't lie within its lexical field by appealing to a German cognate, or even another English word it might have been derived from at some point but which has a different lexical field than the word in question. I just don't think it would fly. But these types of arguments are, understandably, generally used when people are reading beyond the straightforward meaning of the text. The major problem comes when they do so to the exclusion of the straightforward meaning. Burney doesn't seem to have done that, as he doesn't seem to attempt to eliminate the partitive connection to creation in Christ's pre-existent state as 'Wisdom'.

I have more comments to make on the portion of his article that relates to how we might best read Prov 8:22, but I don't have the time right now.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:26 pm

Hi Sulla,

It's starting to look like I might go the route of preparing a different article. I'm realizing that what I'm working on is much broader is scope than just Rev 3:14 or even John and Hebrews. Also, I now have 5 books going instead of one and that number may increase. I suspect it will be a while before I'm done with this, so I might just move on to responding to the other parts of your posts and I'll identify which parts of the post I'm setting on the back burner because of this article.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:36 pm

Rotherham, we have a problem.

So let me state it as succinctly as I can: "Those who make chooses of definition for words and phrases outside of the established Biblical patterns and precedents, are not allowing God to be their interpreter but are relying upon their own subjectivity or the opinions of humans alone to make their choices. We should always rely on Biblical pattern and precedent whenever and wherever we can."


Well, when we discussed this a couple months ago, here was HeKS's observation

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


So, we have a pretty big change from back in the day when the argument was all about how much weight we should give to usages common in scripture.

But, given that you are now saying the ordinary method of looking at this sort of question is entirely illegitimate, you shouldn't have any beef with me pointing out that all these illegitimate analyses disagree with you.

So, as that is your position, I can only say, "Great." Glad we cleared that up.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:58 pm

HeKS,

First off, just a quick reminder. Burney does not consider the Greek arche at length. For the meaning of arche he relies on the meaning he gives to the Hebrew reshith. But it should also be noted that reshith is not the word that he considers exhaustively as to its meaning. That word is the Hebrew qanah, which he shows to always mean acquiring in some sense, not possessing apart from acquiring.


Correct, his comments on reshith are much shorter.

I wanted to point this out to you Sulla, because you said in a previous post that even after his statistical analysis, Burney didn't suggest the word couldn't be used with another meaning. The problem was that you were using a comment he made about reshith, when his statistical analysis was performed on qanah. The fact of the matter is that Burney does say that, if his argument or statistical analysis is correct, it does preclude the possibility that the word was used without a meaning that relates to acquiring something that was not always possessed.


Yes, but he expands the range of possible meanings with respect to reshith. He notes that his additional meanings (Sum-Total and others) are not actually in the lexicons and are, therefore not extant anywhere in scripture. His argument is that we really can expand the meaning of the word reshith to include these other meanings because the root of the word has a similar meaning to his intended expansion.

As for quanah, that word gets the full monty -- analysis of cognate languages, etc. He does not limit himself to a naive argument that the lack of some use within scripture precludes its possible range of meanings. In fact, he makes a much stronger argument to show that the meaning must be limited as he suggests.


As for the fact that he considered not only all cases found in the Hebrew scriptures but also those in the cognate languages, I think it's fair to ask whether anyone would have really suggested his analysis was incomplete if he hadn't extended it to words in different languages that shared some form of linguistic lineage with the word under consideration. An argument for the meaning of "possessed", opposite to the actual meaning of "acquire/get" as found in all instances in Hebrew, based on a sense of possession to be found in a cognate language but not in any case in Hebrew would seem able of being dismissed out of hand as being without any basis.


Well, yeah, they would have suggested it was incomplete. Especially after he gives a meaning to reshith that isn't even in the dictionary. If you are going to expand the meaning of one word and restrict the meaning of another word, you had better extend your analysis to cognate languages.

Likewise, supporting the additional meanings he pulls over from rosh by referencing the Aramaic rish, seems like an argument I could never get away with. I can just imagine trying to argue for a meaning to an English word that doesn't lie within its lexical field by appealing to a German cognate, or even another English word it might have been derived from at some point but which has a different lexical field than the word in question. I just don't think it would fly. But these types of arguments are, understandably, generally used when people are reading beyond the straightforward meaning of the text. The major problem comes when they do so to the exclusion of the straightforward meaning. Burney doesn't seem to have done that, as he doesn't seem to attempt to eliminate the partitive connection to creation in Christ's pre-existent state as 'Wisdom'.


Well, Burney is making the claim that Paul is performing a midrash on Genesis 1 within Col. 1. The whole point of a midrash is precisely to read beyond the straightforward meaning of the text. Here is a little comment on midrash I found someplace -- there are lots of similar statements floating out there

Midrash minimizes the authority of the wording of the text as communication, normal language. It places the focus on the reader and the personal struggle of the reader to reach an acceptable moral application of the text. While it is always governed by the wording of the text, it allows for the reader to project his or her inner struggle into the text. This allows for some very powerful and moving interpretations which, to the ordinary user of language, seem to have very little connection with the text. The great weakness of this method is that it always threatens to replace the text with an outpouring of personal reflection. At its best it requires the presence of mystical insight not given to all readers.


So, yeah, it represents a departure from the straightforward reading of the text. That's what it is supposed to do.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:23 pm

Hey Sulla,

Sulla wrote:HeKS,

First off, just a quick reminder. Burney does not consider the Greek arche at length. For the meaning of arche he relies on the meaning he gives to the Hebrew reshith. But it should also be noted that reshith is not the word that he considers exhaustively as to its meaning. That word is the Hebrew qanah, which he shows to always mean acquiring in some sense, not possessing apart from acquiring.


Correct, his comments on reshith are much shorter.

I wanted to point this out to you Sulla, because you said in a previous post that even after his statistical analysis, Burney didn't suggest the word couldn't be used with another meaning. The problem was that you were using a comment he made about reshith, when his statistical analysis was performed on qanah. The fact of the matter is that Burney does say that, if his argument or statistical analysis is correct, it does preclude the possibility that the word was used without a meaning that relates to acquiring something that was not always possessed.


Yes, but he expands the range of possible meanings with respect to reshith. He notes that his additional meanings (Sum-Total and others) are not actually in the lexicons and are, therefore not extant anywhere in scripture. His argument is that we really can expand the meaning of the word reshith to include these other meanings because the root of the word has a similar meaning to his intended expansion.

As for quanah, that word gets the full monty -- analysis of cognate languages, etc. He does not limit himself to a naive argument that the lack of some use within scripture precludes its possible range of meanings. In fact, he makes a much stronger argument to show that the meaning must be limited as he suggests.


As for the fact that he considered not only all cases found in the Hebrew scriptures but also those in the cognate languages, I think it's fair to ask whether anyone would have really suggested his analysis was incomplete if he hadn't extended it to words in different languages that shared some form of linguistic lineage with the word under consideration. An argument for the meaning of "possessed", opposite to the actual meaning of "acquire/get" as found in all instances in Hebrew, based on a sense of possession to be found in a cognate language but not in any case in Hebrew would seem able of being dismissed out of hand as being without any basis.


Well, yeah, they would have suggested it was incomplete. Especially after he gives a meaning to reshith that isn't even in the dictionary. If you are going to expand the meaning of one word and restrict the meaning of another word, you had better extend your analysis to cognate languages.


In all this, it seems you are simply remaking my point. You do it quite well directly above. What I'm saying - and I'll say it again - is that if his entire paper had simply been about the meaning of qanah in Proverbs 8:22 and he had limited his analysis only to all cases in Hebrew, it would have been an unreasonable counter-argument to say that some cognate in a different language justified translating qanah as "possessed me" in Proverbs. Those are generally the types of arguments that cause you to raise your eyebrows and shake your head in wonderment.

But as you pointed out above, and as I pointed out in my last post, he appeals to an Aramaic cognate to support the meanings he adds to reshith. This isn't any more reasonable or probable of an argument than what I just said above would be an unreasonable counter-argument to an analysis of qanah that was limited to Hebrew, the language in which the word actually exists. So my point is that it seems the only reason Burney extends his analysis to cognate languages is because he needs to use one to support his argument; not because it is an obviously necessary part of this kind of analysis. By extending the analysis to the cognate languages, he gives an air of legitimacy to his use of one later on. But it seems to me that an air of legitimacy is all it is. Appealing to Aramaic for his meanings of reshith that aren't actually part of reshith's lexical field seems like a huge reach. The only thing that makes it almost seem normal is his expansion of his analysis of qanah to the cognate languages.

But in another part of his paper (167-168) Burney says the following...

Jerome ... cites the Hebrew of our passage in transliteration with the preposition 3 before rVWl, Adonai canani bresith dercho....

A.V., R.V. text, having rendered fep^ HT^lO 'in the beginning of His way', gives to the corresponding expression the meaning 'before His works', intending doubtless to obviate the inference that Wisdom is described as one of the created works of God....

D"lp is regularly a substantive denoting that which is in front or foremost, whether in place or time. Its interpretation in a prepositional sense, ' before', is unparalleled in Hebrew, and this rendering may be definitely excluded, unless we are prepared to revocalize the word as the Aramaic DIP, an expedient which can hardly be contemplated seriously.


It's not immediately clear why this "expedient" is so significantly different from Burney's use of an Aramaic cognate later in his paper, so that this "can hardly be contemplated seriously," while his own use later is perfectly reasonable.

So when I said:

I think it's fair to ask whether anyone would have really suggested his analysis was incomplete if he hadn't extended it to words in different languages that shared some form of linguistic lineage with the word under consideration.

What I mean is that it would be fair to ask that question if he had not appealed to a cognate for meaning outside of reshith's lexical field. Had he not done that, then I don't think anybody would have looked at a thorough analysis limited to Hebrew and said, "Hey, this doesn't prove anything because you didn't include the cognate languages." This is the only instance I can recall coming across where someone extended an analysis like this to the cognates or appealed to one for additional, non-lexical meanings. It hardly seems to be the norm.

Further, it should be noted that Burney was trying to prove that it is literally impossible for the word to have a different meaning in any context; and again this also seems like it was done to legitimize his later use of a cognate and/or the use of a different Hebrew word from which he said qanah was derived, even though that other word, rosh, has a different lexical range. That is not what Rotherham's paper is trying to establish. In order to prove that there is no precedence for reading John's use of arche to mean "source", it is not necessary to establish that arche can never mean "source" in any context. What is necessary is to show that John makes use of the word often and in a consistent manner and never uses it to mean either source or ruler. Extending the analysis to the entirety of the NT adds further weight to this, where arche is never used to mean "source" and where, in the few times it is used as a reference to authorities, it is never in the form found at Rev 3:14. Extending the analysis to the LXX, particularly to passages like Prov 8:22 from which Rev 3:14 was apparently drawn, simply adds more weight to the conclusion.

Sulla wrote:
Likewise, supporting the additional meanings he pulls over from rosh by referencing the Aramaic rish, seems like an argument I could never get away with. I can just imagine trying to argue for a meaning to an English word that doesn't lie within its lexical field by appealing to a German cognate, or even another English word it might have been derived from at some point but which has a different lexical field than the word in question. I just don't think it would fly. But these types of arguments are, understandably, generally used when people are reading beyond the straightforward meaning of the text. The major problem comes when they do so to the exclusion of the straightforward meaning. Burney doesn't seem to have done that, as he doesn't seem to attempt to eliminate the partitive connection to creation in Christ's pre-existent state as 'Wisdom'.


Well, Burney is making the claim that Paul is performing a midrash on Genesis 1 within Col. 1. The whole point of a midrash is precisely to read beyond the straightforward meaning of the text. Here is a little comment on midrash I found someplace -- there are lots of similar statements floating out there

Midrash minimizes the authority of the wording of the text as communication, normal language. It places the focus on the reader and the personal struggle of the reader to reach an acceptable moral application of the text. While it is always governed by the wording of the text, it allows for the reader to project his or her inner struggle into the text. This allows for some very powerful and moving interpretations which, to the ordinary user of language, seem to have very little connection with the text. The great weakness of this method is that it always threatens to replace the text with an outpouring of personal reflection. At its best it requires the presence of mystical insight not given to all readers.


So, yeah, it represents a departure from the straightforward reading of the text. That's what it is supposed to do.


Yeah. That's why I said that :)

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:13 pm

Hello Sulla,

I'm not sure what problem you think you are seeing.

What Heks said in his summary of the paper is not in contradiction to the point I have iterated above. What he states does not in anyway contradict the point about allowing God to be our interpreter. I am not changing anything that I said from the beginning which asked about how else one could ensure God's interpretation of things, and that question still remains unanswered. What Heks said in his summary did not change a thing in that regard.

You say all the other means of interpretation disagree with the method I am promoting but they do not address the question as you do not either. Just because they use a different method than the one I am promoting does not mean that they have addressed the question, and they haven't, and neither have you.

So again I will ask, if one chooses a definition for a word or phrase that is outside of Biblical pattern or precedent for that word or phrase, how can they possibly be saying that they are allowing God to be thier interpreter? I submit that they can not be allowing him to be such by that kind of manuever. The question that remains despite all the other methods employed, is, "How can that practice be ensuring God as our interpreter?" That needs answered and it hasn't been. The employment of other methods do not answer the question they simply ignore it.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:27 pm

Hey HeKS,

It seems to me you are making an assumption that cognates are not an appropriate element of linguistic analysis. I don't know this to be true -- it is not obvious why we would think they are not appropriate when we are trying to figure out whether some rarefied distinction should be attached to a particular word. With something like quanah, it seems to me that the distinction being made is sufficiently subtle to warrant that sort of analysis.

Not being a linguist, I can't say for sure. On the other hand, we certainly know that dictionaries do not show the etymology of various wordds just to fill space. I think it certainly does matter whether a particular word for "courage" is based on "heart" or based on "metal" (courage vs. mettle).


But as you pointed out above, and as I pointed out in my last post, he appeals to an Aramaic cognate to support the meanings he adds to reshith. This isn't any more reasonable or probable of an argument than what I just said above would be an unreasonable counter-argument to an analysis of qanah that was limited to Hebrew, the language in which the word actually exists.


Well, I think that's controversial.

I think it's fair to ask whether anyone would have really suggested his analysis was incomplete if he hadn't extended it to words in different languages that shared some form of linguistic lineage with the word under consideration.

What I mean is that it would be fair to ask that question if he had not appealed to a cognate for meaning outside of reshith's lexical field. Had he not done that, then I don't think anybody would have looked at a thorough analysis limited to Hebrew and said, "Hey, this doesn't prove anything because you didn't include the cognate languages." This is the only instance I can recall coming across where someone extended an analysis like this to the cognates or appealed to one for additional, non-lexical meanings. It hardly seems to be the norm.


Well, please remember that Burney was your source. And back when he was your source, he was useful fo saying that he performed the same kind of analysis Rotherham has done. Now that it turns out he did not perform the same kind of analyis Rotherham has done, we ask whether his analysis was actually motivated by some other agenda.

As for whether it is normal to do the analysis this way: I don't really know, not being deeply read in NT linguistic analysis. Perhaps you could direct me to some other similar studies that, in retrospect, you perhaps should have cited instead of Burney.


In order to prove that there is no precedence for reading John's use of arche to mean "source", it is not necessary to establish that arche can never mean "source" in any context. What is necessary is to show that John makes use of the word often and in a consistent manner and never uses it to mean either source or ruler. Extending the analysis to the entirety of the NT adds further weight to this, where arche is never used to mean "source" and where, in the few times it is used as a reference to authorities, it is never in the form found at Rev 3:14. Extending the analysis to the LXX, particularly to passages like Prov 8:22 from which Rev 3:14 was apparently drawn, simply adds more weight to the conclusion.


Ah, but the paper merely asserts that the cases of arche in Revelation are instances where it means the "beginning of something." Go back and check it for yourself. Extending the analysis to the entire NT doesn't mean much if you just plan to say that the titles God applies to himself in the sequence, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, First and Last are partitive. I mean, there is not the slightest support offered for those claims. Only an assertion.

Seems like a funny way to make the main point.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:31 pm

OK, Rotherham. If you don't think it's a contradiction, then I can't make you say it is.

I think you aren't presenting a consistent viewpoint about this. So, I don't see how I can respond to your point. I don't know what your point will be from one minute to the next.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:02 am

HeKS,

Let me substantiate the last point I made. Here is the entire discussion about the actual uses of arche in Revelation:


Here is how John consistently uses the word “arche”:

...

(Revelation 21:6) 6 And he said to me: “They have come to pass! I am the Al´pha and the O•me´ga, the beginning (arche)and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of life free.

Note:(God is the first and last member of the class of Almighty-in a class of his own)

(Revelation 22:13) 13 I am the Al´pha and the O•me´ga, the first and the last, the beginning (arche) and the end.

Note:(God is the first and last member of the class of Almighty-in a class of his own)


Do you honestly think this demonstrates John never uses the word in the sense of source, first principle, etc.? The entire "argument" is an aside, for goodness' sake.

I would say that the meta-problem for this paper is that it fails to even attempt to explain the only thing that really matters: what the title might mean. That is, it immediately begins plowing through all this grammar and so on, entirely missing the idea that any real analysis has to begin with the set of titles that Jesus shares with God in that book.

There is a sense in which this paper really ought to be read as satire. Can it be true that the key to the meaning of Rev. 3 is a thorough grasp of the partitive uses of "beginning" throughout the OT? Does the source for the parallel title of Christ, First and Last, really not need to be mentioned at all in this long analysis? Doesn't the idea that God is part of the "class of Almighty" things make you chuckle?

Anyway, that's the problem: the paper doesn't actually get around to treating the uses of the term seriously within Revelation. A paper like this needs to start and focus there, not treat those cases with a parenthetical and strange comment.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:11 am

Hello Sulla,

Please go back and read the article. There is no inconsistency. I would think that if it were so obvious you could clearly point out how I have been inconsistent. The article made the point that we should let God be our interpreter, did it not? And it asked the question how one could claim to be using God as the interpreter if they choose definitions that are outside of the Biblical pattern and precedent, did it not? How is that inconsistent with what I am saying now? I'm saying the same thing. And the question still remains unanswered.

Regards,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:OK, Rotherham. If you don't think it's a contradiction, then I can't make you say it is.

I think you aren't presenting a consistent viewpoint about this. So, I don't see how I can respond to your point. I don't know what your point will be from one minute to the next.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:23 am

Hello Sulla,

I mentioned this above about the uses of arche in Revelation.

This point isn't a good one for you. Both Vine's and Thayer's (Grimm's actually- a Trinitarian) demonstrates within their definitions of the phrase "First and Last, Beginning and End" that those things mentioned are dealing with things in a series. God is the FIRST and the LAST Almighty God. This is nailed down as the proper interpretation when we see what was meant when this similar title was used in the Hebrew scriptures of God.

It states:

(Isaiah 44:6) “This is what Jehovah has said, the King of Israel and the Repurchaser of him, Jehovah of armies, ‘I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.

Isaiah use of the phrase establishes undeniably that this title is in reference to him being Almighty God, where there are NO OTHERS in the class but him.

So there is no ignoring of any cases whatsoever where the phrase is used of God. Nor is it based upon conjecture since Isaiah clarifies for us exactly what the phrase was referring to. So once again, even in this area, if we let scripture clarify scripture, we know what the phrase "beginning and end, first and last" means as they are used in Revelation.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:22 am

Rotherham,

I don't care how else we could let God interpret scripture, since I don't think

a) God is supposed to interpret scripture
b) Letting God interpret scripture is not how we perform this sort of analysis

So there is not much point in getting into that discussion, is there? Indeed, if your entire point is that you are "innovating" with respect to the way this analysis is done, then we will simply agree that nobody else in the world looks at the matter the way you do and that your approach is idiosyncratic. That's not controversial, based on what you've said.

And not only are you innovating, you are claiming that alternative analytical methods are in error. I get it, really. It's just that HeKS has been trying to make the point that what the paper is really saying is that we shouldn't ignore the way the word is used elsewhere in scripture.

As for your analysis about the meaning of phrases like "First and Last": it is clear you will not be deterred from your idiosyncratic idea that there is some partitive implication associated with this sort of phrase.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:44 am

Hello Sulla,

Rotherham,

I don't care how else we could let God interpret scripture, since I don't think

a) God is supposed to interpret scripture

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What? Do you not agree that "interpretations belong to God"? Are we all not wanting God's interpretation of his own words rather than some human version or idea? How else can we do that except by relying on God's own words and the things he has written?
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b) Letting God interpret scripture is not how we perform this sort of analysis

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It certainly is if you want to get God's interpretation of what he Himself wrote. The scriptures tell us that "ALL scripture is beneficial for TEACHING and SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT, COMPLETELY EQUIPPING the man of God." It recommends itself as that which is needed for proper teaching and understanding. How can you deny this?

It also tells us that "prophecy", which by the way includes ALL of God's words, not just foretelling the future, but PROPHECY, does not come about via PRIVATE INTERPRETATION, but comes through God himself. Are you trying to say then that it s OK to ignore the patterns and precedent within scripture and land on your own preferred definitions outside of what the scriptures reveal? How is that not undoing the very thing that God warns against with PRIVATE interpretations?
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So there is not much point in getting into that discussion, is there? Indeed, if your entire point is that you are "innovating" with respect to the way this analysis is done, then we will simply agree that nobody else in the world looks at the matter the way you do and that your approach is idiosyncratic. That's not controversial, based on what you've said.

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Are you trying to say no one believes that God should be the interpreter of the Bible as you do? Are you trying to say that they would agree that we can ignore Biblical pattern and precedent and choose definitions outside of that based upon our own conceptions? Surely you can't be saying that. Have you read Wallace's Grammar, Beyond the Basics? I have. He constantly defers to Biblical pattern and precedent, even when secular and extra-biblical writings have contrary examples. Why is that? Other Greek scholars do the same when it comes to Biblical interpretation. Why is that? Why are they deferring to the words of God and the patterns presented if they would disagree with my analysis method?
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And not only are you innovating, you are claiming that alternative analytical methods are in error. I get it, really. It's just that HeKS has been trying to make the point that what the paper is really saying is that we shouldn't ignore the way the word is used elsewhere in scripture.

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How do you even see what Heks is saying as different? He also states as I have that we should NOT make choices of definition outside the Biblical pattern and precedent. Why do you think he says that? Why do you think the grammars constantly defer to what the scriptures represent as pattern when they make their interpretative choices? It's for the very same reason that I am stating. Because doing so ensures GOD'S thoughts on the matter rather than HUMAN ideas.
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As for your analysis about the meaning of phrases like "First and Last": it is clear you will not be deterred from your idiosyncratic idea that there is some partitive implication associated with this sort of phrase. [/color][/quote]

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What's clear is that you're not paying attention to both Trinitarian lexicons and the words of the prophet Isaiah. They agree with me. If you want to take a stand in opposition to them then go ahead but you surely can't expect it to hold any weight, can you?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:25 am

What? Do you not agree that "interpretations belong to God"? Are we all not wanting God's interpretation of his own words rather than some human version or idea? How else can we do that except by relying on God's own words and the things he has written?


You refer to Gen. 40? About the dreams? You know, you can't just grab any set of words strung together and apply them however you like.

b) Letting God interpret scripture is not how we perform this sort of analysis

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It certainly is if you want to get God's interpretation of what he Himself wrote. The scriptures tell us that "ALL scripture is beneficial for TEACHING and SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT, COMPLETELY EQUIPPING the man of God." It recommends itself as that which is needed for proper teaching and understanding. How can you deny this?


God has his interpretation? And I thought people wrote the Bible. And I agree scripture is beneficial, how does that pertain to the question?

Are you trying to say then that it s OK to ignore the patterns and precedent within scripture and land on your own preferred definitions outside of what the scriptures reveal? How is that not undoing the very thing that God warns against with PRIVATE interpretations?


Have HeKS send you Burney's paper to see how this sort of thing is done. You really don't know what you are talking about.

Are you trying to say no one believes that God should be the interpreter of the Bible as you do?


I thought the Bible was God's letter to us. And the Son reveals the Father. Now God is supposed to explain his explanation? "God interprets the Bible": does this have any meaning?

Are you trying to say that they would agree that we can ignore Biblical pattern and precedent and choose definitions outside of that based upon our own conceptions?


Uhh, I'm suggesting

1) We use a disctionary to establish a baseline for possible uses of words
2) We actually pay attention to the way the word is used within the particular book we are examining


Have you read Wallace's Grammar, Beyond the Basics? I have.


I don't believe you.

Other Greek scholars do the same when it comes to Biblical interpretation.


Show me one. Paste a link or send me a pdf.

What's clear is that you're not paying attention to both Trinitarian lexicons and the words of the prophet Isaiah. They agree with me. If you want to take a stand in opposition to them then go ahead but you surely can't expect it to hold any weight, can you?


Really? You got all this partitive sense from lexicons? Amazing.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:13 pm

Hello Sulla,

What? Do you not agree that "interpretations belong to God"? Are we all not wanting God's interpretation of his own words rather than some human version or idea? How else can we do that except by relying on God's own words and the things he has written?


You refer to Gen. 40? About the dreams? You know, you can't just grab any set of words strung together and apply them however you like.

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The principle applies does it not? Is it only dreams that God interprets? You have not addressed the question. Are we all not wanting God's interpretation of his own words rather than some human version or idea? How else can we do that except by relying on God's own words and the things he has written?
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b) Letting God interpret scripture is not how we perform this sort of analysis

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It certainly is if you want to get God's interpretation of what he Himself wrote. The scriptures tell us that "ALL scripture is beneficial for TEACHING and SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT, COMPLETELY EQUIPPING the man of God." It recommends itself as that which is needed for proper teaching and understanding. How can you deny this?


God has his interpretation? And I thought people wrote the Bible. And I agree scripture is beneficial, how does that pertain to the question?

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GOD wrote the Bible Sulla. Don't you believe that? If scripture recommends itself as that which is beneficial for teaching, and COMPLETELY equips us to do so, then it directly pertains to the manner in which we should interpret scripture. Am I actually having to defend that we should default to the patterns of the word of God over the words and or patterns of men? Do you really think that Bible scholars of the world would in any way disagree with this?
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Are you trying to say then that it s OK to ignore the patterns and precedent within scripture and land on your own preferred definitions outside of what the scriptures reveal? How is that not undoing the very thing that God warns against with PRIVATE interpretations?


Have HeKS send you Burney's paper to see how this sort of thing is done. You really don't know what you are talking about.

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I have Burney's paper and have read it. As I pointed out, the only difference in the analysis is that I have stuck JUST to the Bible because there is a very adequate database of information for the words and phrases in question. Are you actually telling me we should choose a definition not attested to within the patterns of the Bible? Do you really expect any Bible believer to accept that?
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Are you trying to say no one believes that God should be the interpreter of the Bible as you do?


I thought the Bible was God's letter to us. And the Son reveals the Father. Now God is supposed to explain his explanation? "God interprets the Bible": does this have any meaning?

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Of course God explains himself within his own words by paying attention to what it says throughout. Do we not WANT God's interpretration of things? Just answer that Sulla. I would think that you wouldf say yes. Well, if so, how else can we ensure our BEST understanding unless we pay attention to the patterns established in His own words?
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Are you trying to say that they would agree that we can ignore Biblical pattern and precedent and choose definitions outside of that based upon our own conceptions?


Uhh, I'm suggesting

1) We use a disctionary to establish a baseline for possible uses of words
2) We actually pay attention to the way the word is used within the particular book we are examining


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Number one is fine as long as we defer to the word of God and the definitons represented there. I am amazed I actually have to defend that statement. This is a no brainer for Bible believers and exegetes is it not?

And number TWO is EXACTLY what we are doing. You keep banking on the "Beginning and End" statement in Revelation and the meaning of that is entirely clear if you pay attention to the prophet Isaiah and lexicons. The very fact that the words "beginning, first and alpha" are all contrasted with their opposites of "end, last and omega" should also clear up any doubt as to how the phrase is being used. Like I said, Grimm, Vine's and the prophet Isaiah all concur that it is in reference God being in a class by himself. So number TWO is entirely on our side of the issue just when we look at the examples of the writings of John.
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Have you read Wallace's Grammar, Beyond the Basics? I have.


I don't believe you.

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Well, you're wrong. I have had the book for years.
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Other Greek scholars do the same when it comes to Biblical interpretation.


Show me one. Paste a link or send me a pdf.

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I don't know of any grammars that are online nor do I know of any pdfs available. I have Wallace's book and I can give you the page numbers where he uses this kind of analysis. You can go find it yourself or buy it.

Take a look at his discussion about Titus 2:13 in his book. Wallace is well aware that examples outside of the Bible present exceptions to the Granville-Sharp rule as was proven by the scholar Calvin Winstanley. Yet, he rejects the extra-Biblical evidence and claims that the Granville-Sharp rule EXPLICITLY teaches the diety of Jesus. (pages 270-277--Beyond the Basics Greek Grammar) How can he say that the Grnaville-Sharp rule EXPLICITLY teaches the deity of the Son when he knows there are extra-biblical examples that deny the solidity of the construction? BECAUSE HE IS DEFERRING TO THE WORD OF GOD ALONE!
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What's clear is that you're not paying attention to both Trinitarian lexicons and the words of the prophet Isaiah. They agree with me. If you want to take a stand in opposition to them then go ahead but you surely can't expect it to hold any weight, can you?


Really? You got all this partitive sense from lexicons? Amazing.[/quote]

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Go look it up Sulla. Grimm and Vine's concur with what I am saying and so does the prophet Isaiah. All I really need is him. He directly tells us what the phrase means.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:25 pm

The principle applies does it not? Is it only dreams that God interprets? You have not addressed the question. Are we all not wanting God's interpretation of his own words rather than some human version or idea? How else can we do that except by relying on God's own words and the things he has written?


Well, when Jesus said he would send the Spirit as an aid, surely the Third Person helps direct the Church. However, this is a much different process than the one you describe.

God doesn't have an interpretation. We interpret. God is.


GOD wrote the Bible Sulla. Don't you believe that? If scripture recommends itself as that which is beneficial for teaching, and COMPLETELY equips us to do so, then it directly pertains to the manner in which we should interpret scripture. Am I actually having to defend that we should default to the patterns of the word of God over the words and or patterns of men? Do you really think that Bible scholars of the world would in any way disagree with this?


God wrote the Bible? I thought we agreed John wrote Revelation. Don't you believe John wrote Revelation, Matthew wrote Matthew, etc.? And this idea that there is tension between "patterns of the word of God" and "patterns of men" is bizarre.

I have Burney's paper and have read it. As I pointed out, the only difference in the analysis is that I have stuck JUST to the Bible because there is a very adequate database of information for the words and phrases in question. Are you actually telling me we should choose a definition not attested to within the patterns of the Bible? Do you really expect any Bible believer to accept that?


You owe me $20.

"The only difference," is a remarkable phrase in this context.


Do we not WANT God's interpretration of things? Just answer that Sulla. I would think that you wouldf say yes. Well, if so, how else can we ensure our BEST understanding unless we pay attention to the patterns established in His own words?


I don't think the phrase, "God's interpretation," has any meaning. It is a scam designed to obscure the real issues of how we should go about reading these books by pretending to have an exclusive warrant.

It does not. Your method was never practiced by the Church or by the Jews. It is your own invention.


Number one is fine as long as we defer to the word of God and the definitons represented there. I am amazed I actually have to defend that statement. This is a no brainer for Bible believers and exegetes is it not?


The Bible is not a dictionary. It does not define words.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:43 pm

Hello Sulla,

The principle applies does it not? Is it only dreams that God interprets? You have not addressed the question. Are we all not wanting God's interpretation of his own words rather than some human version or idea? How else can we do that except by relying on God's own words and the things he has written?


Well, when Jesus said he would send the Spirit as an aid, surely the Third Person helps direct the Church. However, this is a much different process than the one you describe.

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Sure it helps direct the church. That's why the church would never be found to be against an unmistakable teaching as revealed BY the holy spirit, which by the way, scripture IS holy spirit in a readable form, so naturally the holy spirit directs the church via it own inspirational writings.

I think it a given that when God had something recorded, that he had a definite point in mind. THAT's what I mean by God's interpretation. Just how many things do you think he had in mind at once when he had his words recorded? I will state that there was only one and THAT is the one we want, and the only way to ensure our best understanding of that is by relying on what he reveals throughout the REST of his words. This is nothing new in the world of interpretation and exegesis, Sulla.
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God doesn't have an interpretation. We interpret. God is.


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God has a meaning behind everything he recorded for us and it is THAT meaning that we want, not the meaning of man but the meaning of God. Our best chance at understanding his meaning is by paying attention to what ELSE he has recorded and the patterns and the precedents that are established within those writings.
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GOD wrote the Bible Sulla. Don't you believe that? If scripture recommends itself as that which is beneficial for teaching, and COMPLETELY equips us to do so, then it directly pertains to the manner in which we should interpret scripture. Am I actually having to defend that we should default to the patterns of the word of God over the words and or patterns of men? Do you really think that Bible scholars of the world would in any way disagree with this?


God wrote the Bible? I thought we agreed John wrote Revelation. Don't you believe John wrote Revelation, Matthew wrote Matthew, etc.? And this idea that there is tension between "patterns of the word of God" and "patterns of men" is bizarre.

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You must be joking. If not, then your confusion all along is now manifest to all. GOD told John what to write down. GOD inspired the thoughts and the ideas that John wrote down. These are NOT John's thoughts, these are God's thoughts written by the hand of John and the other Bible writers, just like a secretary who dictates the notes of her boss, so the writers dictated the thoughts and teachings of God, not their own. Therefore, they are God's words, God's thoughts and they do not contradict from one writer to the next.
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I have Burney's paper and have read it. As I pointed out, the only difference in the analysis is that I have stuck JUST to the Bible because there is a very adequate database of information for the words and phrases in question. Are you actually telling me we should choose a definition not attested to within the patterns of the Bible? Do you really expect any Bible believer to accept that?


You owe me $20.

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Put it on my bill and then go back and answer what I asked. i think you know that any Bible believing exegete would agree that we should defer to the examples in the Bible, not outside the Bible.
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Do we not WANT God's interpretration of things? Just answer that Sulla. I would think that you wouldf say yes. Well, if so, how else can we ensure our BEST understanding unless we pay attention to the patterns established in His own words?


[color=#800000]I don't think the phrase, "God's interpretation," has any meaning. It is a scam designed to obscure the real issues of how we should go about reading these books by pretending to have an exclusive warrant.

It does not. Your method was never practiced by the Church or by the Jews. It is your own invention.


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It's a scam to say that our best chance of deriving God's meaning behind his words is by deferring to the very words of God? How in the blue blazes can that be a scam and an invention? This is truly unbelievable.
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Number one is fine as long as we defer to the word of God and the definitons represented there. I am amazed I actually have to defend that statement. This is a no brainer for Bible believers and exegetes is it not?


The Bible is not a dictionary. It does not define words.[/quote]

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Wow, I notice you didn't even finish commenting on the rest of the post. I'll take that as a concession to the points presented. The Bible USES words and phrases a certain way and THAT is how we derive meaning from the manner in which they are used and presented. I really shouldn't have to defend or explain such a well known principle as that.

As it stands, number one and number two both support our position, so based upon your own criteria, the Son of God is a creation according to Revelation 3:14

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:52 pm

I think it a given that when God had something recorded, that he had a definite point in mind. THAT's what I mean by God's interpretation. Just how many things do you think he had in mind at once when he had his words recorded? I will state that there was only one and THAT is the one we want, and the only way to ensure our best understanding of that is by relying on what he reveals throughout the REST of his words. This is nothing new in the world of interpretation and exegesis, Sulla.


Ah, so you mean we want to figure out the meaning of these writings, assuming that we can speak of them as forming a coherent whole.

I don't get this whole, "had his words recorded," thing. You surely don't think God dictated every owrd that is in scripture, do you? In any case, we have many ways of grasping the meaning of these books, written as they were by many different people over a very long period of time and operating from different cultural viewpoints.

What is idiosyncratic about your approach is the conceit that your method is the only valid method available to us.


God has a meaning behind everything he recorded for us and it is THAT meaning that we want, not the meaning of man but the meaning of God. Our best chance at understanding his meaning is by paying attention to what ELSE he has recorded and the patterns and the precedents that are established within those writings.


Ah, and your method, with your personal biases and your personal knowledge set is the only sure way to keep us free from man's meanings in opposition to God's. What did you say your name was, again?

You must be joking. If not, then your confusion all along is now manifest to all. GOD told John what to write down. GOD inspired the thoughts and the ideas that John wrote down. These are NOT John's thoughts, these are God's thoughts written by the hand of John and the other Bible writers, just like a secretary who dictates the notes of her boss, so the writers dictated the thoughts and teachings of God, not their own. Therefore, they are God's words, God's thoughts and they do not contradict from one writer to the next.


Heh. Try reading Job or Ecclesiastes some time and try saying that. I am constantly amazed at the shallowness of JW familiarity with the Bible.

It's a scam to say that our best chance of deriving God's meaning behind his words is by deferring to the very words of God? How in the blue blazes can that be a scam and an invention? This is truly unbelievable.


It is typical of you to think your idiosyncratic reading of a certain passage has uncovered the very mind of God. Horrifying, of course.

Wow, I notice you didn't even finish commenting on the rest of the post. I'll take that as a concession to the points presented. The Bible USES words and phrases a certain way and THAT is how we derive meaning from the manner in which they are used and presented. I really shouldn't have to defend or explain such a well known principle as that.


Bible ain't a dictionary.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:09 pm

Hello Sulla,

I think it a given that when God had something recorded, that he had a definite point in mind. THAT's what I mean by God's interpretation. Just how many things do you think he had in mind at once when he had his words recorded? I will state that there was only one and THAT is the one we want, and the only way to ensure our best understanding of that is by relying on what he reveals throughout the REST of his words. This is nothing new in the world of interpretation and exegesis, Sulla.


Ah, so you mean we want to figure out the meaning of these writings, assuming that we can speak of them as forming a coherent whole.

I don't get this whole, "had his words recorded," thing. You surely don't think God dictated every owrd that is in scripture, do you? In any case, we have many ways of grasping the meaning of these books, written as they were by many different people over a very long period of time and operating from different cultural viewpoints.

What is idiosyncratic about your approach is the conceit that your method is the only valid method available to us.


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The scriptures tell us that prophecy AT NO TIME came from man but came form God. Scripture IS prophecy, all of it. What else can that scripture mean? Regardless of the individual styles of the writers, the thoughts are God's without fail, not man's thoughts. Below you make the statement that there are obviously things spoken by the devil and others which are not the thoughts of God (Job, etc). Gee, really? You truly must think we're just stupid or something. Even the words of men and the Devil are "ACCURATELY" recorded, that's the point, Sulla.
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God has a meaning behind everything he recorded for us and it is THAT meaning that we want, not the meaning of man but the meaning of God. Our best chance at understanding his meaning is by paying attention to what ELSE he has recorded and the patterns and the precedents that are established within those writings.


Ah, and your method, with your personal biases and your personal knowledge set is the only sure way to keep us free from man's meanings in opposition to God's. What did you say your name was, again?

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It has nothing to do with me or you or anybody. It is simply a given, or at least it should be, that the best way to get God's thougts on a matter is to first and foremost consider what has a bearing on the thought in question from among his own recorded thoughts and teachings. It does us no good to overrule what God has offered as to how a word or phrase is to be understood if we ignore the patterns he presents in his word and opt for some kind of meaning outside of scripture. That point really does not need to be argued, does it?
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You must be joking. If not, then your confusion all along is now manifest to all. GOD told John what to write down. GOD inspired the thoughts and the ideas that John wrote down. These are NOT John's thoughts, these are God's thoughts written by the hand of John and the other Bible writers, just like a secretary who dictates the notes of her boss, so the writers dictated the thoughts and teachings of God, not their own. Therefore, they are God's words, God's thoughts and they do not contradict from one writer to the next.


Heh. Try reading Job or Ecclesiastes some time and try saying that. I am constantly amazed at the shallowness of JW familiarity with the Bible.

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Oh please, Sulla. See above.
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It's a scam to say that our best chance of deriving God's meaning behind his words is by deferring to the very words of God? How in the blue blazes can that be a scam and an invention? This is truly unbelievable.


It is typical of you to think your idiosyncratic reading of a certain passage has uncovered the very mind of God. Horrifying, of course.

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Then for goodness sakes present an alternative. I am asking you just how can we best ensure that we are getting God's thoughts from his recorded words unless we foremost consult what he himself has had recorded? And please tell me why relying on the patterns as presented in his own words is not the most reliable method for interpretation. Can we not trust the patterns that occur there? Should we default to those patterns or the writings of mere humans?
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Wow, I notice you didn't even finish commenting on the rest of the post. I'll take that as a concession to the points presented. The Bible USES words and phrases a certain way and THAT is how we derive meaning from the manner in which they are used and presented. I really shouldn't have to defend or explain such a well known principle as that.


Bible ain't a dictionary.[/quote]

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Never said it was. Try addressing what I DID say.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:35 pm

Sulla wrote:Hey HeKS,

It seems to me you are making an assumption that cognates are not an appropriate element of linguistic analysis. I don't know this to be true -- it is not obvious why we would think they are not appropriate when we are trying to figure out whether some rarefied distinction should be attached to a particular word. With something like quanah, it seems to me that the distinction being made is sufficiently subtle to warrant that sort of analysis.


I guess I have the opposite view ... that the distinction isn't really subtle at all; that they are very nearly opposites. You have a word that in every single place it is used in scripture (80+ if memory serves), and any case we might find in Hebrew, period, holds a meaning of having to 'acquire something not previously possessed.' To try to assign to that word a meaning of 'previously possessed' simply has no basis at all. This would be pretty much the definition of special pleading, insisting this one occasion is an exception with no objective reason or evidence.

The problem is compounded by not being able to explain why someone who has other words available to them to make such a point, words that they've used elsewhere, would abandon those words and choose to make a wholly unprecedented use of a word that in every other case (their own writings included) means something totally different.

Of the various times I recall seeing this kind of statistical analysis, I don't know that I recall seeing an analysis of cognate languages. Which isn't to say that I'm saying it's inappropriate, per se ... only that it doesn't seem obviously necessary or of great value when one has a large database to work from in original language. However, it could very well have to do with the point one is trying to make. If you are trying to argue that a word literally can't mean something - that it is impossible - then I could see how this type of analysis might make sense, but I'm not aware of any rule saying cognates can't take on additional or fewer meanings (the idea is that there is semantic overlap between cognates, not necessarily semantic equivalency), so it probably still wouldn't necessarily be conclusive. However, when you are simply trying to analyze usage by a particular author or in a particular context to determine probability of usage, a consideration of cognates isn't really necessary, provided you have a sizable database, because whether it is conceivably possible that a word has some particular meaning in some context, that doesn't mean there is any basis for thinking a particular author is using it in that sense if all the evidence points against it. Without a sizable database, you must necessarily turn to what is and is not linguistically possible if you hope to eliminate some usage by the author from consideration, in which case I can see an analysis of cognates augmenting a case, but not making the case. In fact, now that I think about it, I do recall reading at some point in a book on the subject that a consideration of cognates can be of some limited value in cases where there are not many instances of a word being used in the language under immediate consideration, because of the semantic overlap. But where a large database is available, consideration of usage within the language is far more relevant.

Sulla wrote:Not being a linguist, I can't say for sure. On the other hand, we certainly know that dictionaries do not show the etymology of various wordds just to fill space. I think it certainly does matter whether a particular word for "courage" is based on "heart" or based on "metal" (courage vs. mettle).


And yet, a reason for the derivation of one word from another is that the derived word refers to a subset of the lexical field of the word from which it was derived rather than the entire lexical field, assuming a true semantic connection remains between the words. The derived word carries a more specific range of meaning. When an author chooses to use a word with a more specific meaning rather than a word with a broader meaning, one generally assumes the author made the choice for a reason. Attempting to circumvent the author's choice to pull in meanings of the word it was derived from but that the word in question is never used to convey elsewhere is generally referred to as a "root fallacy", where the root of a word and its cognates are assumed to carry a meaning that's reflected in all subordinate/derived uses of the word.


Sulla wrote:
But as you pointed out above, and as I pointed out in my last post, he appeals to an Aramaic cognate to support the meanings he adds to reshith. This isn't any more reasonable or probable of an argument than what I just said above would be an unreasonable counter-argument to an analysis of qanah that was limited to Hebrew, the language in which the word actually exists.


Well, I think that's controversial.


I can accept that you think that it's controversial. I don't think it is from what I've read in the past.

Sulla wrote:
I think it's fair to ask whether anyone would have really suggested his analysis was incomplete if he hadn't extended it to words in different languages that shared some form of linguistic lineage with the word under consideration.

What I mean is that it would be fair to ask that question if he had not appealed to a cognate for meaning outside of reshith's lexical field. Had he not done that, then I don't think anybody would have looked at a thorough analysis limited to Hebrew and said, "Hey, this doesn't prove anything because you didn't include the cognate languages." This is the only instance I can recall coming across where someone extended an analysis like this to the cognates or appealed to one for additional, non-lexical meanings. It hardly seems to be the norm.


Well, please remember that Burney was your source. And back when he was your source, he was useful fo saying that he performed the same kind of analysis Rotherham has done. Now that it turns out he did not perform the same kind of analyis Rotherham has done, we ask whether his analysis was actually motivated by some other agenda.


You're mistaken. Burney does perform the same type of statistical analysis as is found in Rotherham's paper. He simply also performs an etymological analysis that draws in the cognate languages. It is this second form of analysis that I suggest may have been motivated by an agenda. On the other hand, it might have been more commonly thought to be useful at the time he was writing, since, again as I recall, the "root fallacy" was somewhat common in linguistic scholarship up to the first half of the 20th century, based on the view of linguistics in fashion at the time.

Sulla wrote:As for whether it is normal to do the analysis this way: I don't really know, not being deeply read in NT linguistic analysis. Perhaps you could direct me to some other similar studies that, in retrospect, you perhaps should have cited instead of Burney.


See my comments above. I don't have any problem with Burney as far as I used him, which was to draw attention to his statistical analysis, as separate from his etymological analysis. I also cited Barnes' statistical analysis of this very word in this very verse in his commentary, used for the very same purpose and also resulting in an elimination of "source" from reasonable consideration. True, I don't agree with his final conclusion, but I've pointed out why I think the problem lies in a glaringly incomplete analysis and that it is hard not to read him as admitting that he makes his final choice for "ruler" in attempt to avoid the implication of "first-created".

Sulla wrote:
In order to prove that there is no precedence for reading John's use of arche to mean "source", it is not necessary to establish that arche can never mean "source" in any context. What is necessary is to show that John makes use of the word often and in a consistent manner and never uses it to mean either source or ruler. Extending the analysis to the entirety of the NT adds further weight to this, where arche is never used to mean "source" and where, in the few times it is used as a reference to authorities, it is never in the form found at Rev 3:14. Extending the analysis to the LXX, particularly to passages like Prov 8:22 from which Rev 3:14 was apparently drawn, simply adds more weight to the conclusion.


Ah, but the paper merely asserts that the cases of arche in Revelation are instances where it means the "beginning of something." Go back and check it for yourself. Extending the analysis to the entire NT doesn't mean much if you just plan to say that the titles God applies to himself in the sequence, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, First and Last are partitive. I mean, there is not the slightest support offered for those claims. Only an assertion.

Seems like a funny way to make the main point.


I'm not sure where you're getting this idea. The interpretation of these titles that we are offering is extremely common and there is, in fact, support for it. Rotherham has mentioned Thayer’s and Vine’s. To these we could add the following…

From Dr. John H. Roller’s commentary on Revelation

Rev 1:8 – “I AM THE ALPHA (the first letter of the Greek alphabet) AND THE OMEGA (the last letter of the Greek alphabet),” SAYS THE LORD (Yahweh) GOD, “WHO IS AND WHO WAS AND WHO IS TO COME, THE ALMIGHTY (El Shaddai).” (This statement, which might be paraphrased as, “I am the beginning and the end,” is an idiom which amounts to a claim to be “everything.” God is really saying, “I am the only Being that actually exists, always has existed and always will exist. Everything else that exists is only temporary – merely something that I created and that I can just as easily destroy.”)


From the Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

Alpha and the Omega ...
These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and are here used figuratively to stand for the entirety of anything. Such a comparison seems to have existed for ages. The Hebrews said of Abraham that, "he kept the law from Aleph to Tav (first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet). "From A to Izzard" was a colonial proverb in America with the same meaning. ("Izzard" was an early American name for the letter Z).


This point from the Coffman Commentary, about the Hebrew version of this saying being applied to Abraham shows up often. In fact, it seems examples of commentaries that draw out this significance could be multiplied quite easily. In other cases, such as the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament that I referenced earlier, they think it is a statement about the relative time of God’s existence in relation to all his creations, that he is eternal and exists in perpetuity and both predates and exceeds the existence of creation. This would be a case of being first and last in relation to time. The two examples I pasted are cases of first in a series, a series of one, exhausting a category of Almighty God, and this is the sense that seems to appear most commonly in the commentaries I’ve looked at. That makes sense considering the relation to Isaiah 44 that Rotherham has pointed out. These two interpretations of the title fit with the Biblical precedent for the usage of arche. Your interpretation of “source and goal” is the one that stands out as unprecedented. Where I've come across commentaries that mention the idea of "source and goal" being represented here, it is as an implication of one of the other two primary senses I've just mentioned. It is not we who are merely asserting a meaning for the title. We are using an interpretation that enjoys Biblical precedent both in terms of the usage of arche and in the meaning assigned to the related title in Isaiah, as well as such precedent as the saying applied to Abraham, which was merely one use of a common idiom that crosses many languages.

It seems appropriate to draw in a response of yours from a previous post...

Sulla wrote:
HeKS wrote:That moves us to the next point. Barnes points out that arche "denotes properly primacy in time, and primacy in rank." This is so because there was a natural link between the two, as I've mentioned above. When arche was used to denote primacy in time, it was in relation to contextual contemporaries, over which a primacy in rank was also implied. When it was used on occasion (in plural or with "all/every" and along with other words of rulership and authority) to refer to primacy of rank, it was still intended to be understood in relation to contextual contemporaries, explicit or implied. Thus, even with a meaning of rulership, a connection to contemporaries is implied. But again, trying to read this into Rev 3:14 as the primary meaning rather than an implication arising out of the primary meaning would be unprecedented and not in harmony with the usage everywhere else.


Absolutely not. God calls himself arche in Revelation, yet he has no "contextual contemporaries."


What you are failing to grasp is that God does not just call himself arche. He calls himself the arche and the telos, which addresses this issue of "contextual contemporaries" by specifying that he doesn't have any; he is in a category all his own, a category consisting of one member. If you stopped trying to take our references to a series or category or partitive in such a hyper literal fashion that requires there to literally be other members (which has been a consistent problem throughout this discussion), you would see that the point we are making about this title is not controversial and could hardly be more common in languages extending from Hebrew right through Greek to English. It's similar to the English saying, "the be-all and end-all", which is a reference to the quintessential element of something; one need consider nothing beyond it. Other related sayings: the A-Z; the one and only. I don't see any need to continue.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:41 pm

Sulla wrote:I would say that the meta-problem for this paper is that it fails to even attempt to explain the only thing that really matters: what the title might mean.


This is an issue I'll be considering in my article, but I view it as fitting in with the language used and its consistent meaning in John, not standing opposed to it without any precedent. The first step in understanding the meaning of the title (i.e. its relevance and purpose within the context) is to understand what the title actually is.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:46 pm

Sulla wrote:And not only are you innovating, you are claiming that alternative analytical methods are in error. I get it, really. It's just that HeKS has been trying to make the point that what the paper is really saying is that we shouldn't ignore the way the word is used elsewhere in scripture.


I believe what I actually said was that we shouldn't ignore the way the word is used elsewhere in scripture in favor of some less common, extra-biblical meaning taken from a different context and that has no precedence in scripture or the writings of the author under consideration specifically.

This has a very different sense than the way you presented my comment, which makes it seem I was simply saying we ought not to discard scriptural usage altogether. My point was that the usage of the particular author and then scripture as a whole ought to carry the utmost weight.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:17 pm

believe what I actually said was that we shouldn't ignore the way the word is used elsewhere in scripture in favor of some less common, extra-biblical meaning taken from a different context and that has no precedence in scripture or the writings of the author under consideration specifically.

This has a very different sense than the way you presented my comment, which makes it seem I was simply saying we ought not to discard scriptural usage altogether. My point was that the usage of the particular author and then scripture as a whole ought to carry the utmost weight.


Well, would have been good if Rotherham's paper spent a little time on the actual usage of arche within Revelation, wouldn't it? Let's re-run the analysis just on the occurrences in Revelation, to start -- what do you say?

How does John use the word in Revelation? In what context, within what action? Who speaks the words and how do others react?

Yes, HeKS, by all means, let us examine the way the particular author uses the term in the particular book. Let's see if those uses force a partitive sense on the word or not.

I'll start. Give me a couple hours.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:38 pm

Sulla, titles are made up of words that have meanings. John uses arche several times in each of his writings and always with the sense of first in a series or first in relation to time. You don't discern the meaning of a title an author uses by ignoring the meaning the author consistently gives to the words in the title.

I've addressed the title of Alpha/Omega, First/Last, Beginning/End in my longer post above. Why don't you interact with that and we can go from there?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:48 pm

Haven't forgotten. Working on a reply - hope to have something soon.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:34 am

Sulla wrote:Haven't forgotten. Working on a reply - hope to have something soon.

S.


No worries. I just started another book.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:44 am

Long-awaited and preposterously long.

Hyper-literal

If you stopped trying to take our references to a series or category or partitive in such a hyper literal fashion that requires there to literally be other members (which has been a consistent problem throughout this discussion), you would see that the point we are making about this title is not controversial and could hardly be more common in languages extending from Hebrew right through Greek to English. It's similar to the English saying, "the be-all and end-all", which is a reference to the quintessential element of something; one need consider nothing beyond it. Other related sayings: the A-Z; the one and only. I don't see any need to continue.


Well, if you go back and look at the examples in the original paper, what you will find is a sequence examples for which the paper makes the hyper-literal claim that each has a literal group of which the arche is literally the part of. If I am being hyper-literal, I think I am merely responding to the paper itself.

Here is the entire discussion of the word arche within the book under consideration:

(Revelation 21:6) 6 And he said to me: “They have come to pass! I am the Al´pha and the O•me´ga, the beginning (arche) and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of life free.

Note: (God is the first and last member of the class of Almighty-in a class of his own)

(Revelation 22:13) 13 I am the Al´pha and the O•me´ga, the first and the last, the beginning (arche) and the end.

Note: (God is the first and last member of the class of Almighty-in a class of his own)


So, if I am acting as if your point is the hyper-literal application of the partitive, it is because of this sort of statement in the paper. These statements are hyper-literal claims that arche denotes a part of a hyper-literal group having only one member.
This is a paper that insists from beginning to end that arches are literally partitive.



Source and goal, or partitive meaning

Now, I take your point to be that the partitive nature of this word is not so literal. Here is what you have said in this regard,

This point from the Coffman Commentary, about the Hebrew version of this saying being applied to Abraham shows up often. In fact, it seems examples of commentaries that draw out this significance could be multiplied quite easily. In other cases, such as the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament that I referenced earlier, they think it is a statement about the relative time of God’s existence in relation to all his creations, that he is eternal and exists in perpetuity and both predates and exceeds the existence of creation. This would be a case of being first and last in relation to time. The two examples I pasted are cases of first in a series, a series of one, exhausting a category of Almighty God, and this is the sense that seems to appear most commonly in the commentaries I’ve looked at.


Fine. But how is this supposed to convey the partitive sense you want? If God precedes all creation as arche, is this a claim he is part of creation? Clearly not, yet you seem to want to make this idea of first in time correlate to some partitive meaning.

Actually, Coffman should raise the same sort of question for your reading. If you look at his comments on the use of the term in Rev. 22, you find similar, but expanded, remarks. In general, what we find in these commentaries is the reinforcement of the idea of completeness, not parts, which, not to be too literal here, seems to be more like the opposite of what you are thinking. Nowhere do we find anybody speaking of some “class of Almighty beings,” of which God is the first in rank.

That makes sense considering the relation to Isaiah 44 that Rotherham has pointed out. These two interpretations of the title fit with the Biblical precedent for the usage of arche. Your interpretation of “source and goal” is the one that stands out as unprecedented. Where I've come across commentaries that mention the idea of "source and goal" being represented here, it is as an implication of one of the other two primary senses I've just mentioned. It is not we who are merely asserting a meaning for the title. We are using an interpretation that enjoys Biblical precedent both in terms of the usage of arche and in the meaning assigned to the related title in Isaiah, as well as such precedent as the saying applied to Abraham, which was merely one use of a common idiom that crosses many languages.



Well, let’s talk about that.

Bauckham, in his The Theology of the Book of Revelation, makes precisely my point in chapter two. If we go back and review the sections of Deutero-Isaiah where the First and Last titles appear (44, 48, 41), we see the recurring theme of God’s power over all history as history’s Lord as well as an emphasis on his creative acts. God’s distinction from all other claimants of divinity is based on his identity of Creator and Lord of History. Quoting from Bauckham,

Hence the unique importance of the designation: ‘the Alpha and Omega’. God precedes all things, as their Creator, and he will bring all things to eschatological fulfilment. He is the origin and goal of all history. He has the first word, in creation, and the last word, in new creation. Therefore, within John’s literary structure, he speaks twice, declaring himself Alpha and Omega first, before the outset of John’s vision (1:8) and last, in declaring the eschatological accomplishment of his purpose for his whole creation: ‘it is done!’ (21:6)

The form, ‘the beginning and the end’, has been used in the Greek philosophical tradition to indicate the eternity of the supreme God, and was taken over by Jewish writers, such as Josephus, who calls God, ‘the beginning and the end of all things’ (Ant. 8.280; cf. Philo, Plant. 93).


Philo said this in the citation by Bauckham

What, therefore, we originally undertook we have now nearly fulfilled, namely, to demonstrate that the fact spoken of must be taken to mean the principle which declares God to be the most glorious of all things. The portion of the subject which follows next is the demonstration that perfection is found in no created thing, but that it does appear in them at times owing to the grace of the great Cause of all things.


The point being that Philo uses arche in a non-partitive manner: Cause. As for Josephus

Or is it the exceeding multitude of your army which gives you such good hopes? Yet certainly there is no strength at all in an army of many ten thousands, when the war is unjust; for we ought to place our surest hopes of success against our enemies in righteousness alone, and in piety towards God; which hope we justly have, since we have kept the laws from the beginning, and have worshipped our own God, who was not made by hands out of corruptible matter; nor was he formed by a wicked king, in order to deceive the multitude; but who is his own workmanship, and the beginning and end of all things. I therefore give you counsel even now to repent, and to take better advice, and to leave off the prosecution of the war; to call to mind the laws of your country, and to reflect what it hath been that hath advanced you to so happy a state as you are now in."


Josephus here means the phrase as I have said and not in reference to a sequence of Almighty Beings. There is no partitive implied at all, instead, this is clearly a case where the source/goal concept is utilized.

Here are links for those references:

http://old.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/pt ... =8.280#fn1

And Philo’s comment
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book12.html


Moreover, your own source, Coffman, cites a source for my position. In his comments about chapter 3 of Revelation, he observes that

Plummer pointed out that the words here bear two possible interpretations:
The two meanings are: (1) that which would make Christ the first created thing of all things God created, and (2) that which would understand Christ as the Source of all the things God created.

Plummer and many other able scholars declare the second meaning to be the one intended here. "The words mean, the one from whom creation took its beginning." The agreement with Col. 1:16 is probably intended, for the church in Laodicea received Colossians.


Plummer is the widely-cited author of a book on Revelation in 1919. And, in Coffman’s comments on the appearance of the title for Christ in 22:13

He is the Alpha and the Omega in the final judgment. The eternal judgment shall begin with the body of Christ (the church), as indicated by 1 Pet. 4:17; and the final word of it shall be pronounced by the Son of God because the father hath committed judgment to the Son (John 5:27). Christ will be the Alpha and the Omega in the eternal judgment.



So, my interpretation is consistent with old and respected analysis (Coffman), new and respected analysis (Bauckham), and very ancient and respected analysis (Philo and Josephus).

Now, you mentioned the way the titles are used in Isaiah. Let me respond by getting into a discussion of the titles used in Revelation, which is really where this sort of analysis should have begun (as I claimed months ago).




Titles with arche in Revelation


Bauckham is the major source for this argumentation. The Theology of the Book of Revelation, especially chapters two and three.

We consider the three cases where arche is used in Revelation. They are 3:14, 21:6, and 22:13. I suggest that their uses in chapters 21 and 22 will help us think about what the meaning is in chapter 3.

We first note that there are a couple terms that seem joined in Revelation. Thus we have

1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty."
1:17 When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives.
21:6 He said to me, "They are accomplished. I (am) the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.
22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."


The first thing to say is that we readily observe the chiastic structure of these statements. Note:

Verse || Speaker || Title || Location
A || 1:8 || God || Alpha and Omega || Prologue
B || 1:17 || Christ || First and Last || Beginning of vision
A’ || 21:6 || God || Alpha and Omega,Beginning and End || End of vision
B’ || 22:13 || Christ || Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End || Epilogue

What can we say about these self-declarations? Well, first, their usage and surface meaning suggests they are attempting to get across the same or similar ideas. Your source, HeKS, Coffman, is right to point out the sense of comprehensive completeness, the “all in all” of faith, etc. (http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/bcc/v ... hapter=022).

We also know that the “First and Last” claims come from Isaiah 44, within the most stridently monotheistic claims within the OT. Thus we connect the claims of YHWH that there are no gods except him with the title / claim that he is first and last. Within the Jewish understanding, God’s existence before all things is also related to both his identity as the one who created all things and who will bring creation to eschatological completeness. I made this argument in the last section, and you could review Isaiah 44 to see the eschatological theme of that chapter, indeed of the entire section of Isaiah.

So, in the two other cases where arche is used in Revelation, we see its meaning associated with the completeness, eternity, and creation/eschatological fulfillment of all things. It does not have a partitive sense. God, as beginning and end (21:6), which is the creator/ source of creation as well as the end/ goal of all creation is not here claiming himself be a creation. Specifically, we must reject Rotherham’s contentions that, “ In each and every case [arche is used by John] we can see that John uses the word arche as meaning the beginning of something, either in relation to time or to a series or class of things.” Instead, the meaning is clearly associated with the creative and eschatological identity of the one God. Its application in the book of Revelation, with the books themes, is clear.

So, the self-identification of Christ, first and last (1:18) and Alpha and Omega, beginning and end (22:13) are clearly parallel with God’s self-identification of Alpha and Omega (1:8), and beginning and end (21:6). Moreover, Christ’s title of first and last is taken directly from Isaiah 44, where that is the self-identification of YHWH is relation to the creative, redemptive, and eschatological activities exclusive to him. The entire point is not that god and Christ are here claimed to be partitive with contextual contemporaries (hyper-literally imagined or not), it is specifically that they are the completeness, fullness, sum-total in relation to all creation, having preceeded and caused it as well as redeeming and bringing it to eschatological completeness.

And that is the meaning of those titles. We can also make the point at length by looking at the uses of the “is, was, and is to come” titles. But that’s another million words.

So, in the other uses of the word arche within Revelation, we have a set of titles shared by Christ and God, used to relate God to the creation he both precedes and redeems, and echoes the similar use of title by God in the OT to indicate the same idea. That is the context that matters.

And it brings us to Revelation 3. Again, quoting Bauckham, chapter 3,

The derivation of the title, ‘the first and the ;ast’, from Deutero-Isaiah, and the way it is used in 22:13, make this interpretation of 1:17-18 [that Christ participates in divine lordship of all things] the preferable on [over against the idea that he is the first new creation]. That a reference to Christ’s participation in God’s creation of all things is not out of place in the context of his address to the churches is clear from 3:14, whre the beginning of the message to the church at Laodicea calls him: ‘the origin (arche) of God’s creation’. This does not mean that he was the first created being or that in his resurrection he was the beginning of God’s new creation. It must have the same sense as the first part of the title, ‘the beginning (arche) and the end’, as used of both God (21:6) and Christ (22:13). Christ preceded all things as their source. In this belief in Chirst’s role in creation, Revelation is at one with the Pauline literature (1 Cor. 8:6, Col. 1:15-17), Hebrews (1:2) and the Fourth Gospel (1:1-3). The belief came about through an identification of Christ with the Word of the Wisdom of God through which God created the world, and this identification can be clearly seen in the way Christ’s role in creation is expressed in the references outside Revelation just given. In Revelation it has been brought together with another, probably even earlier, Christological development of the early church: the identification of God’s eschatological coming with the expected parousia of Jesus Christ. These two developments have the effect, then, of including Christ as divine agent both in God’s creation of all things and in God’s eschatological fulfilment of all things. Thus Christ is ‘the Alpha nad Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’. As a way of stating unambiguously that Jesus Christ belongs to the fullness of the eternal being of God, this surpasses anything in the New Testament.


And that is the context that matters. We might further reflect on Burney’s observation that Revelation 3 represents a midrash on Genesis 1:1 to see the depth of the point John is attempting to express. Against all this, it is fine to point out that the word ordinarily has some sort of partitive meaning. We might even observe that the additional meanings of these phrases we see attested to are implications of the primary meaning of the word. And that’s fine, too.

But reading scripture requires humility and real work. And it is precisely these virtues that are mocked by Rotherham’s paper. That’s my problem with Rotherham. That’s my problem with his paper.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:13 am

Hi Sulla,

I'll begin responding as soon as I have some time, but I feel the need to ask, Do you remember the long post I wrote to you about this part of Isaiah and the connection to John on both the Scriptural Truths forum and Touchstone? Much of what you say here was covered in that post, particularly relating to points about Christ as the first and last, how that should be taken in relation to Isaiah 44, and whether it is Christ or God that is called "Alpha and Omega" in Rev 22.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:22 am

I recall that you wrote something. Is is archived somewhere?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:24 am

Sulla wrote:I recall that you wrote something. Is is archived somewhere?


I'm not sure. And even if it is, it was extremely long and covered far more than what this discussion is intended to cover. If I can find it, I'll try incorporate parts of it into a response.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:26 am

Hello Sulla,

I'll supply my thoughts to your comments here, and you can ignore them as usual.
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Long-awaited and preposterously long.

Hyper-literal

If you stopped trying to take our references to a series or category or partitive in such a hyper literal fashion that requires there to literally be other members (which has been a consistent problem throughout this discussion), you would see that the point we are making about this title is not controversial and could hardly be more common in languages extending from Hebrew right through Greek to English. It's similar to the English saying, "the be-all and end-all", which is a reference to the quintessential element of something; one need consider nothing beyond it. Other related sayings: the A-Z; the one and only. I don't see any need to continue.


Well, if you go back and look at the examples in the original paper, what you will find is a sequence examples for which the paper makes the hyper-literal claim that each has a literal group of which the arche is literally the part of. If I am being hyper-literal, I think I am merely responding to the paper itself.

Here is the entire discussion of the word arche within the book under consideration:

(Revelation 21:6) 6 And he said to me: “They have come to pass! I am the Al´pha and the O•me´ga, the beginning (arche) and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of life free.

Note: (God is the first and last member of the class of Almighty-in a class of his own)

(Revelation 22:13) 13 I am the Al´pha and the O•me´ga, the first and the last, the beginning (arche) and the end.

Note: (God is the first and last member of the class of Almighty-in a class of his own)


So, if I am acting as if your point is the hyper-literal application of the partitive, it is because of this sort of statement in the paper. These statements are hyper-literal claims that arche denotes a part of a hyper-literal group having only one member.
This is a paper that insists from beginning to end that arches are literally partitive.

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From the standpoint that I am approaching this, that we should rely fully upon the word of God to interpret the word of God whenever we can, then it is entirely in keeping with Biblical pattern and precedent that arche is always partitive. The examples in Revelation are no different as Vine's, Thayer's(Grimm), and the prophet Isaiah clearly point out. Also, when considering just the writings of John, we do not see anywhere else where he uses arche in a a non-partitive sense. Can it not be asked then, what is the leading of the holy spirit when it comes to the meaning of this word? The holy spirit, which is what God's word IS, leads us where as to the meaning of this word? When I say that we should rely upon Biblical pattern and precedent, it is the same thing as saying we should rely upon the direction of the holy spirit, because that is what the Bible is, holy spirit in a readable form.
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Source and goal, or partitive meaning

Now, I take your point to be that the partitive nature of this word is not so literal. Here is what you have said in this regard,

This point from the Coffman Commentary, about the Hebrew version of this saying being applied to Abraham shows up often. In fact, it seems examples of commentaries that draw out this significance could be multiplied quite easily. In other cases, such as the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament that I referenced earlier, they think it is a statement about the relative time of God’s existence in relation to all his creations, that he is eternal and exists in perpetuity and both predates and exceeds the existence of creation. This would be a case of being first and last in relation to time. The two examples I pasted are cases of first in a series, a series of one, exhausting a category of Almighty God, and this is the sense that seems to appear most commonly in the commentaries I’ve looked at.


Fine. But how is this supposed to convey the partitive sense you want? If God precedes all creation as arche, is this a claim he is part of creation? Clearly not, yet you seem to want to make this idea of first in time correlate to some partitive meaning.

Actually, Coffman should raise the same sort of question for your reading. If you look at his comments on the use of the term in Rev. 22, you find similar, but expanded, remarks. In general, what we find in these commentaries is the reinforcement of the idea of completeness, not parts, which, not to be too literal here, seems to be more like the opposite of what you are thinking. Nowhere do we find anybody speaking of some “class of Almighty beings,” of which God is the first in rank.

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Yes we do. As pointed out, it is readily undestood that when Isaiah spoke of God as the first and the last, he was speaking of the fact that there is no other God but him. he says very plainly. So again, where does the holy spirit, God's word, lead us as to the understanding of this phrase? Not what MEN say, but what does the holy spirit reveal? Are we not to rely on the leading of God's spirit for the purpose of interpretation? Where else can we directly access the direction of the holy spirit except by consulting the Bible?
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That makes sense considering the relation to Isaiah 44 that Rotherham has pointed out. These two interpretations of the title fit with the Biblical precedent for the usage of arche. Your interpretation of “source and goal” is the one that stands out as unprecedented. Where I've come across commentaries that mention the idea of "source and goal" being represented here, it is as an implication of one of the other two primary senses I've just mentioned. It is not we who are merely asserting a meaning for the title. We are using an interpretation that enjoys Biblical precedent both in terms of the usage of arche and in the meaning assigned to the related title in Isaiah, as well as such precedent as the saying applied to Abraham, which was merely one use of a common idiom that crosses many languages.



Well, let’s talk about that.

Bauckham, in his The Theology of the Book of Revelation, makes precisely my point in chapter two. If we go back and review the sections of Deutero-Isaiah where the First and Last titles appear (44, 48, 41), we see the recurring theme of God’s power over all history as history’s Lord as well as an emphasis on his creative acts. God’s distinction from all other claimants of divinity is based on his identity of Creator and Lord of History. Quoting from Bauckham,

Hence the unique importance of the designation: ‘the Alpha and Omega’. God precedes all things, as their Creator, and he will bring all things to eschatological fulfilment. He is the origin and goal of all history. He has the first word, in creation, and the last word, in new creation. Therefore, within John’s literary structure, he speaks twice, declaring himself Alpha and Omega first, before the outset of John’s vision (1:8) and last, in declaring the eschatological accomplishment of his purpose for his whole creation: ‘it is done!’ (21:6)

The form, ‘the beginning and the end’, has been used in the Greek philosophical tradition to indicate the eternity of the supreme God, and was taken over by Jewish writers, such as Josephus, who calls God, ‘the beginning and the end of all things’ (Ant. 8.280; cf. Philo, Plant. 93).


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Bauckham, like anyone, should really just let the holy spirit, God's word, guide him to the proper undestanding of this passage. Isaiah spells out plainly what was meant when he said in conjunction with the phrase "first and last" that there is no God besides Jehovah. John's style of writing also determines the same thing for the use of arhce. It is always partitive. John was guided by holy spirit to write what he wrote. Why would we draw away from what the holy spirit has revealed as to how this word should be understood? Why we would turn to the words of any man when the holy spirit has adequately provided what we need to understand it?
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Philo said this in the citation by Bauckham

What, therefore, we originally undertook we have now nearly fulfilled, namely, to demonstrate that the fact spoken of must be taken to mean the principle which declares God to be the most glorious of all things. The portion of the subject which follows next is the demonstration that perfection is found in no created thing, but that it does appear in them at times owing to the grace of the great Cause of all things.


The point being that Philo uses arche in a non-partitive manner: Cause. As for Josephus

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Why would we appeal to Philo? Was Philo directed by holy spirit in what he wrote? The holy spirit has clearly revealed for us the meaning as is borne out consistently within the word of God, which is a product of holy spirit itself. Looking elsewhere for another meaning is tantamount to rejecting what the holy spirit has given us in favor of what men say.
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Or is it the exceeding multitude of your army which gives you such good hopes? Yet certainly there is no strength at all in an army of many ten thousands, when the war is unjust; for we ought to place our surest hopes of success against our enemies in righteousness alone, and in piety towards God; which hope we justly have, since we have kept the laws from the beginning, and have worshipped our own God, who was not made by hands out of corruptible matter; nor was he formed by a wicked king, in order to deceive the multitude; but who is his own workmanship, and the beginning and end of all things. I therefore give you counsel even now to repent, and to take better advice, and to leave off the prosecution of the war; to call to mind the laws of your country, and to reflect what it hath been that hath advanced you to so happy a state as you are now in."


Josephus here means the phrase as I have said and not in reference to a sequence of Almighty Beings. There is no partitive implied at all, instead, this is clearly a case where the source/goal concept is utilized.

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Although Josephus was probably referring to the still popular view of Anaxamander which was that God was part and parcel of all creation and would end up where it began as part of God, it makes no difference. Was Josephus inspired of God? Was he under the direction of holy spirit? Do we read Josephus to discern to the leading of the holy spirit when we already have ample evidence from the holy spirit as to how God inspired his authors to use the word arche?
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Here are links for those references:

http://old.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/pt ... =8.280#fn1

And Philo’s comment
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book12.html


Moreover, your own source, Coffman, cites a source for my position. In his comments about chapter 3 of Revelation, he observes that

Plummer pointed out that the words here bear two possible interpretations:
The two meanings are: (1) that which would make Christ the first created thing of all things God created, and (2) that which would understand Christ as the Source of all the things God created.

Plummer and many other able scholars declare the second meaning to be the one intended here. "The words mean, the one from whom creation took its beginning." The agreement with Col. 1:16 is probably intended, for the church in Laodicea received Colossians.


Plummer is the widely-cited author of a book on Revelation in 1919. And, in Coffman’s comments on the appearance of the title for Christ in 22:13

He is the Alpha and the Omega in the final judgment. The eternal judgment shall begin with the body of Christ (the church), as indicated by 1 Pet. 4:17; and the final word of it shall be pronounced by the Son of God because the father hath committed judgment to the Son (John 5:27). Christ will be the Alpha and the Omega in the eternal judgment.



So, my interpretation is consistent with old and respected analysis (Coffman), new and respected analysis (Bauckham), and very ancient and respected analysis (Philo and Josephus).

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It matters not who among men you are in harmony with if you are out of harmony with what the holy spirit has revealed.
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Now, you mentioned the way the titles are used in Isaiah. Let me respond by getting into a discussion of the titles used in Revelation, which is really where this sort of analysis should have begun (as I claimed months ago).




Titles with arche in Revelation


Bauckham is the major source for this argumentation. The Theology of the Book of Revelation, especially chapters two and three.

We consider the three cases where arche is used in Revelation. They are 3:14, 21:6, and 22:13. I suggest that their uses in chapters 21 and 22 will help us think about what the meaning is in chapter 3.

We first note that there are a couple terms that seem joined in Revelation. Thus we have

1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty."
1:17 When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives.
21:6 He said to me, "They are accomplished. I (am) the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.
22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."


The first thing to say is that we readily observe the chiastic structure of these statements. Note:

Verse || Speaker || Title || Location
A || 1:8 || God || Alpha and Omega || Prologue
B || 1:17 || Christ || First and Last || Beginning of vision
A’ || 21:6 || God || Alpha and Omega,Beginning and End || End of vision
B’ || 22:13 || Christ || Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End || Epilogue

What can we say about these self-declarations? Well, first, their usage and surface meaning suggests they are attempting to get across the same or similar ideas. Your source, HeKS, Coffman, is right to point out the sense of comprehensive completeness, the “all in all” of faith, etc. (http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/bcc/v ... hapter=022).

We also know that the “First and Last” claims come from Isaiah 44, within the most stridently monotheistic claims within the OT. Thus we connect the claims of YHWH that there are no gods except him with the title / claim that he is first and last. Within the Jewish understanding, God’s existence before all things is also related to both his identity as the one who created all things and who will bring creation to eschatological completeness. I made this argument in the last section, and you could review Isaiah 44 to see the eschatological theme of that chapter, indeed of the entire section of Isaiah.

So, in the two other cases where arche is used in Revelation, we see its meaning associated with the completeness, eternity, and creation/eschatological fulfillment of all things. It does not have a partitive sense. God, as beginning and end (21:6), which is the creator/ source of creation as well as the end/ goal of all creation is not here claiming himself be a creation. Specifically, we must reject Rotherham’s contentions that, “ In each and every case [arche is used by John] we can see that John uses the word arche as meaning the beginning of something, either in relation to time or to a series or class of things.” Instead, the meaning is clearly associated with the creative and eschatological identity of the one God. Its application in the book of Revelation, with the books themes, is clear.

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Let's rely on the holy spirit and what it says. Isaiah was inspired by holy spirit when he celarly identifies for us the meaning of the phrase. he siad immediately that this refers to the fact that there is no other God but Jehovah. The use of arche by John everywhere else, which is product of holy spirit, leads the same place as does the rest of the entire Bible and its usage of arhce. Always partitive in some fashion. When we have such a clear direction by the holy spirit, to take a different course is to ignore the leading of God's spirit.
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So, the self-identification of Christ, first and last (1:18) and Alpha and Omega, beginning and end (22:13) are clearly parallel with God’s self-identification of Alpha and Omega (1:8), and beginning and end (21:6). Moreover, Christ’s title of first and last is taken directly from Isaiah 44, where that is the self-identification of YHWH is relation to the creative, redemptive, and eschatological activities exclusive to him. The entire point is not that god and Christ are here claimed to be partitive with contextual contemporaries (hyper-literally imagined or not), it is specifically that they are the completeness, fullness, sum-total in relation to all creation, having preceeded and caused it as well as redeeming and bringing it to eschatological completeness.

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But Isaiah tells us that it is because there is no other God but Jehovah. John's style tells us the same thing. Vine's, Thayer's(Grimm's) and other lexicons agree that it is partitive within the titles of Revelation. Where is the spirit pointing to?
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And that is the meaning of those titles. We can also make the point at length by looking at the uses of the “is, was, and is to come” titles. But that’s another million words.

So, in the other uses of the word arche within Revelation, we have a set of titles shared by Christ and God, used to relate God to the creation he both precedes and redeems, and echoes the similar use of title by God in the OT to indicate the same idea. That is the context that matters.

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Actually, there is no evidence that the titles are shared by God and Christ, but that's irrelevant since the holy spirit has been clear that arche is to be understood partitively.
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And it brings us to Revelation 3. Again, quoting Bauckham, chapter 3,

The derivation of the title, ‘the first and the ;ast’, from Deutero-Isaiah, and the way it is used in 22:13, make this interpretation of 1:17-18 [that Christ participates in divine lordship of all things] the preferable on [over against the idea that he is the first new creation]. That a reference to Christ’s participation in God’s creation of all things is not out of place in the context of his address to the churches is clear from 3:14, whre the beginning of the message to the church at Laodicea calls him: ‘the origin (arche) of God’s creation’. This does not mean that he was the first created being or that in his resurrection he was the beginning of God’s new creation. It must have the same sense as the first part of the title, ‘the beginning (arche) and the end’, as used of both God (21:6) and Christ (22:13). Christ preceded all things as their source. In this belief in Chirst’s role in creation, Revelation is at one with the Pauline literature (1 Cor. 8:6, Col. 1:15-17), Hebrews (1:2) and the Fourth Gospel (1:1-3). The belief came about through an identification of Christ with the Word of the Wisdom of God through which God created the world, and this identification can be clearly seen in the way Christ’s role in creation is expressed in the references outside Revelation just given. In Revelation it has been brought together with another, probably even earlier, Christological development of the early church: the identification of God’s eschatological coming with the expected parousia of Jesus Christ. These two developments have the effect, then, of including Christ as divine agent both in God’s creation of all things and in God’s eschatological fulfilment of all things. Thus Christ is ‘the Alpha nad Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’. As a way of stating unambiguously that Jesus Christ belongs to the fullness of the eternal being of God, this surpasses anything in the New Testament.


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But Bauckham does not follow the direction of the holy spirit in his words. The holy spirit points to arche as partitive in every case. Should we ignore the leading of the holy spirit?
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And that is the context that matters. We might further reflect on Burney’s observation that Revelation 3 represents a midrash on Genesis 1:1 to see the depth of the point John is attempting to express. Against all this, it is fine to point out that the word ordinarily has some sort of partitive meaning. We might even observe that the additional meanings of these phrases we see attested to are implications of the primary meaning of the word. And that’s fine, too.

But reading scripture requires humility and real work. And it is precisely these virtues that are mocked by Rotherham’s paper. That’s my problem with Rotherham. That’s my problem with his paper.[/quote]


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I think the real problem is that you can't simply resign to the facts as they are spelled out by God's holy spirit, via his word. If in every case the word arche is partitive via the direction of the holy spirit, whether used by John or not, why would we abandon that direction for another meaning? It can not be denied that the direction of the holy spirit in this case is that arche is partitive, always. We do not need to deliberate the words of this scholar or commentator (and interestingly, even noted Trinitarians agree that the title is used partitively) as to what they think it means if the holy spirit is clear, and it is. That's really the bottom line that this discussion rests upon, the direction of the holy spirit. I am not sure why any one would want to find fault with that. Well, I have an idea, but its probably not conducive to peace to state it.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:15 am

I'll supply my thoughts to your comments here, and you can ignore them as usual.


That's pretty funny.

Actually, there is no evidence that the titles are shared by God and Christ, but that's irrelevant since the holy spirit has been clear that arche is to be understood partitively.


Ah. There it is. We don't have to read closely, because God has established what this Greek word always means. Can we get off this now? Everybody grasps your position. I'm a little tired of reading the same thing from you over and again. If you'd rather not engage my substantive points because your think your analysis is valid, fine.

But Bauckham does not follow the direction of the holy spirit in his words. The holy spirit points to arche as partitive in every case. Should we ignore the leading of the holy spirit?


And you wonder why I have to ignore you? Do you have any idea how you sound?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:20 am

Well Sulla,
'
Seriously, if you can't supply a reason as to why we should not follow the direction of the holy spirit, then my position is won.

Your response was not a response at all, merely a complaint that my position is consistent.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:10 pm

Oh boy. What a great victory.

Where, exactly, do you get off? You write a response to my post that steadfastly refuses to engage any of the points I made. You do so because you insist, as you have insisted for the last couple months, that you don't need to engage any of the literature or any other method of analysis because you have your own way of looking at things. So everybody else can jump in a lake.

I get it. You get it. The American people get it. You are allowed to ignore everything ever written on the subject because God has told you that he means to limit the way arche is used.

In my long post, I simply pointed out where I think the flaws in the analysis are. You have decided not to engage those points because you figure the list you have is both correct and determinitive.

The rest of the universe thinks differently. If you don't care to engage with the rest of the universe, that's fine with me. But your little paper wasn't about showing your analytical method was correct, was it? I am simply pointing out how grown-ups do this sort of thing.

Now, if you like, you may certainly take your marbles and go home. But don't ignore the points I made in my post and pretend you have proven anything. That's a little irritating.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:48 pm

Sulla,

I didn't ignore anything that you said, I merely put them in perspective. They take second place to the direction of the holy spirit, which is what we have in the Bible. I think the whole world would also agree that we should follow the direction of holy spirit above the directionof men. The Bible clearly points in one direction. Those you quote and yourself try and point in another direction which is not the way the holy spirit is pointing. I think we can all agree that we should follow the direction of the holy spirit, should we not? If you think the holy spirit is saying something erlse, then show me where it says it and how it qualifies as the holy spirit. The fact is, all we have by way of undisputable holy spirit between us is the Bible. All the words and musings of men fall to the wayside as secondary.

That's why I say that the holy spirit has clearly spoken via the scriptures, that is IF you pay attention to its lead, which in this case, you and those you have quoted do not do so. I have even shown you where Trinitarians agree that the titles in Revelation are partitive, and yet you ignore those.That means that the position from the standpoint of what we both agree is the best thing we have to indicate the leadings of the spirit, which is the inspired word of God, has been won. What is there to discuss? If you and your Trinitarian comrades can't follow the guidance of the holy spirit and its direction, what can be done for you?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:18 pm

This thread is not about whether one could possibly be listening to the Spirit if one pursues a different method of analysis than the one you like. I know you think you are right and that it is not possible for you to conceive of any different way to look at the matter.

However, and as my long post points out, there are solid reasons why every every scholar who has ever looked at the question disagrees with your position (I assume, after so many months, this includes Jason Beduhn). You are within your rights to ignore all that work as you see fit, but your paper is attempting to convince other people.

Now, your method of analysis is highly controversial -- so much so that not a single qualified person on the planet will endorse its conclusions. I happen not to care to engage a debate with you on the topic of why your methods are wrong; you keep trying to start such a debate and I keep declining the invitation.

What seems clear by now is that your conclusions are entirely dependent on your particular analysis done in your preferred way. The analysis is, that is to say, precisely the kind of analysis that convinces people who already are convinced.

And that's fine. Really. But you're not making the kind of argument that anybody considers valid, and your constant refusal to engage the kind of argument that is considered valid (mine, which is based on the peer reviewed work of respected scholars) is important.

This site is not supposed to be a mindless propaganda site. It has a clear point of view, but that isn't the same thing. But by refusing to engage the serious points raised, you are de-legitimizing your position. That's your choice.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:39 pm

Sulla,

You seem to forget that you are here to actually challenge the article and the article makes the claim that we should listen first to what the Bible has to say. Is that really so hard to grasp? Do you really think that any scholar would disagree with that conclusion? Even the ones you quote?

Now why does the article make that claim? Well, as I have been trying to point out, it is because it is HOLY SPIRIT in written form. How can anyone deny that we should first listen to the holy spirit before we listen to men? I really could care less how you claim that a proper interpretation should be made when we have supplied to us ample evidence to determine the proper interpretation from the holy spirit itself. Why in the world anyone, you or any of those scholars you find companionship with, would choose to go another route merely bespeaks the fact that they can not allow themselves to follow the guidance of the spirit in this matter.

Your entire objection to this approach is simply to say that's not how the others do it, but I'll make a challange for you. Find a single one who would deny that we should first follow the direction of the word of God, the direction of the spirit, over the words of scholars and commentators. Could you do that for me? I am not presenting anything new as a thought for interpretation because it has for centuries been presented that we should follow the guidance of the holy spirit when it comes to interpretation. And every one involved agrees that the Bible IS holy spirit, or should, in fact, they will mostly agree that is ALL that we have by way of indisputable, tangible holy spirit. To say that we should approach this from the standpoint of peer reviewed writings of scholars is actually contrary to the standpoint taken by the scriptures, by the holy spirit, and you and they know it. Never once does the the holy spirit recommend such a course, but it does, often, recommend itself and the holy spirit as that which will guide us into all truth. Well, that's what the Bible is, HOLY SPIRIT, and it will guide us into all truth.

The Bible clearly and undeniably points in one direction for the word arche and you know it does. Your only hope is to appeal to scholars who say something contrary and massage the words of the English language well enough that it sounds good to you, but that is not what the scriptures recommend, and it is not really what these scholars believe themselves. They would invariably state that we should first rely on the word of God, on the holy spirit, and accept what it tells us over and above all the words of men. That's all I am saying we should do, but when we do, it squarely lands on an overwhelming preponderance of evidence that tells us Jesus is not God and that he is a creation of God. So that is the real reason you just can't accept what the holy spirit is telling you, and neither can they, and in so doing, they resist the spirit of God by resisting what his spirit has shown them in the Bible. it's really a simple equation. You're simply trying to complicate it to muddy the waters of what is otherwise, clearly taught.

So again, based only on the Bible, on the direction of the holy spirit, this discussion ended some time ago and the position taken by the article is vindicated.

If you have some other source of holy spirit to prove otherwise, then please do so. That's really what you need to have an argument that means anything.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:34 pm

Well, this is just you being dishonest. You know very well that the thing people disagree with is the idea that your method of analysis is the way the Spirit speaks. It is by now routine to see you write things that make it sound as if you are speaking for the Spirit.

By now we all understand that you will never allow the idea that your particular reading of some verse and the intention of the Holy Spirit are not one and the same thing. And that's fine. I am simply pointing out that, for those who are not already convinced you are the only valid interpreter of scripture, other ways of reading the sacred books are preferred.

And these other methods are, as a very wise man once said on this thread somewhere, things like context, genre, audience, religious and social context, etc. These are the kinds of things you figure are sins, 'cause we have your litle word list. And we all get that, too.

But, like I said, your paper is really designed for people who are already convinced you are right. If you don't want to engage the conversation, don't. If you want to claim victory, please do. I'm merely suggesting that therre is a reason why people who don't already think you are an inspired prophet have looked at the evidence and come to the exact opposite conclusion than you do. And if you think that reason is because they are not listening to Rotherham (sorry, I mean Holy Spirit) like they ought, that's fine with me.

Meanwhile, there are substantitive issues that you don't care to address. I suppose you prefer to exchange a few posts going over how you're the one who knows how to read and everybody else is biased or whatever. That's ok.

If, at any point, you feel like responding to the observation that the identity of God was, to the Jews of the period, wrapped up with his creative and eschatological acts, consider this an invitation to do so. If at some point in the future, you desire to comment on the observation that contemporaries of John used similar phrases to refer to this creative and eschatological role of God, knock yourself out. If the chiastic structure of the titles in the book of Revelation interests you, just say so.

That's where this conversation is.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Dec 01, 2009 4:24 pm

Oh please Sulla,

Huge strawman and alot of grandstanding here. No one here is claiming inspiration or anything of the kind. Now, I am wondering if you found anyone that will deny that we should allow the scriptures and the patterns and the precedent found within to speak before we allow the words of men to speak. Have you found any? Are there any? I think you know there isn't which simply underscores the method that I am promoting. Frankly, it has been the method for centuries that no one will really deny, at least, not those who believe the Bible to be the written word of God. So why don't you just go ahead and say what you mean. You are willing to put the words of men above what the holy spirit has indicated within the Bible. Even if you don't say it, it is apparent to anyone reading, if there is even anyone left besides us, that this is exactly what you are doing.

I know of no one who disagrees per say with the method I have presented. Exegetes all over the place use the same kind of method where they examine the way a word or phrase is used in the Bible in order to shed light on the interpretation of the same word or phrase elsewhere. You act like that's some kind of foreign idea where it's not. It's been around from the beginning of apologetics and exegesis. They may not word it the same way that I am wording it, but it is exactly what is meant when they say we should let the holy spirit be our guide or that we should allow the Bible to speak above the words of men.

So I'll ask you again. Do we have another guide besides the Bible that is indisputably a product of holy spirit? Do we? I think everyone knows we don't. If we all agree then that the Bible is indeed an indisputable product of holy spirit, why do we need to rely on the words of men for a meaning to a word when the Bible gives ample evidence and a large database of examples to establish its usage? We simply don't. And then, even if we do read the words of men, if we found they take an entirely different view on the word in question that is presented by the holy spirit, how can we claim to be following the guide of the holy spirit if we do that? Please answer that? How can we say that?

Context, genre, audience, religious and social contxt, has snot been shown to shed any light from the holy spirit, only from the woprds of men, and the examples you use are entirely debatable to begion with. Debating those is an endless circle and that may be waht you're counting on in order to avoid the inevitable. nothing but opinion will rule in the end when it comes to debating all those examples that you provide. However, the word of God, the holy spirit writing s are clear as to how the word is used. Of that there is no doubt and no denying of it.

That means the article's position is indisputably valid, that is IF we listen to the direction of the holy spirit over the contrary directions of men bent on supporting something that isn't there.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Dec 01, 2009 4:49 pm

I scanned your post for any hint that you have decided to engage my points. Finding none, I assume you are merely repeating yourself.

This is why you get ignored: you don't know how to have a discussion.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:20 pm

Better yet, why don't you actually engage the salient points of the article you are supposed to be challenging. You've been allowed to change this into an entirley different discussion. Your initial challenges have fallen and now it is a desperate seacrh on your part to find anything, anything at all, that will stall the inevitable conclusion.

Rotherham



Sulla wrote:I scanned your post for any hint that you have decided to engage my points. Finding none, I assume you are merely repeating yourself.

This is why you get ignored: you don't know how to have a discussion.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:25 pm

Let's try this approach. One step at a time.

Do you believe, that between you and I, that the Bible is the only indisputable direction from the holy spirit that we have?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:23 pm

Long-awaited and preposterously long.

Hyper-literal

If you stopped trying to take our references to a series or category or partitive in such a hyper literal fashion that requires there to literally be other members (which has been a consistent problem throughout this discussion), you would see that the point we are making about this title is not controversial and could hardly be more common in languages extending from Hebrew right through Greek to English. It's similar to the English saying, "the be-all and end-all", which is a reference to the quintessential element of something; one need consider nothing beyond it. Other related sayings: the A-Z; the one and only. I don't see any need to continue.


Well, if you go back and look at the examples in the original paper, what you will find is a sequence examples for which the paper makes the hyper-literal claim that each has a literal group of which the arche is literally the part of. If I am being hyper-literal, I think I am merely responding to the paper itself.

Here is the entire discussion of the word arche within the book under consideration:

(Revelation 21:6) 6 And he said to me: “They have come to pass! I am the Al´pha and the O•me´ga, the beginning (arche) and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of life free.

Note: (God is the first and last member of the class of Almighty-in a class of his own)

(Revelation 22:13) 13 I am the Al´pha and the O•me´ga, the first and the last, the beginning (arche) and the end.

Note: (God is the first and last member of the class of Almighty-in a class of his own)


So, if I am acting as if your point is the hyper-literal application of the partitive, it is because of this sort of statement in the paper. These statements are hyper-literal claims that arche denotes a part of a hyper-literal group having only one member.
This is a paper that insists from beginning to end that arches are literally partitive.



Source and goal, or partitive meaning

Now, I take your point to be that the partitive nature of this word is not so literal. Here is what you have said in this regard,

This point from the Coffman Commentary, about the Hebrew version of this saying being applied to Abraham shows up often. In fact, it seems examples of commentaries that draw out this significance could be multiplied quite easily. In other cases, such as the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament that I referenced earlier, they think it is a statement about the relative time of God’s existence in relation to all his creations, that he is eternal and exists in perpetuity and both predates and exceeds the existence of creation. This would be a case of being first and last in relation to time. The two examples I pasted are cases of first in a series, a series of one, exhausting a category of Almighty God, and this is the sense that seems to appear most commonly in the commentaries I’ve looked at.


Fine. But how is this supposed to convey the partitive sense you want? If God precedes all creation as arche, is this a claim he is part of creation? Clearly not, yet you seem to want to make this idea of first in time correlate to some partitive meaning.

Actually, Coffman should raise the same sort of question for your reading. If you look at his comments on the use of the term in Rev. 22, you find similar, but expanded, remarks. In general, what we find in these commentaries is the reinforcement of the idea of completeness, not parts, which, not to be too literal here, seems to be more like the opposite of what you are thinking. Nowhere do we find anybody speaking of some “class of Almighty beings,” of which God is the first in rank.

That makes sense considering the relation to Isaiah 44 that Rotherham has pointed out. These two interpretations of the title fit with the Biblical precedent for the usage of arche. Your interpretation of “source and goal” is the one that stands out as unprecedented. Where I've come across commentaries that mention the idea of "source and goal" being represented here, it is as an implication of one of the other two primary senses I've just mentioned. It is not we who are merely asserting a meaning for the title. We are using an interpretation that enjoys Biblical precedent both in terms of the usage of arche and in the meaning assigned to the related title in Isaiah, as well as such precedent as the saying applied to Abraham, which was merely one use of a common idiom that crosses many languages.



Well, let’s talk about that.

Bauckham, in his The Theology of the Book of Revelation, makes precisely my point in chapter two. If we go back and review the sections of Deutero-Isaiah where the First and Last titles appear (44, 48, 41), we see the recurring theme of God’s power over all history as history’s Lord as well as an emphasis on his creative acts. God’s distinction from all other claimants of divinity is based on his identity of Creator and Lord of History. Quoting from Bauckham,

Hence the unique importance of the designation: ‘the Alpha and Omega’. God precedes all things, as their Creator, and he will bring all things to eschatological fulfilment. He is the origin and goal of all history. He has the first word, in creation, and the last word, in new creation. Therefore, within John’s literary structure, he speaks twice, declaring himself Alpha and Omega first, before the outset of John’s vision (1:8) and last, in declaring the eschatological accomplishment of his purpose for his whole creation: ‘it is done!’ (21:6)

The form, ‘the beginning and the end’, has been used in the Greek philosophical tradition to indicate the eternity of the supreme God, and was taken over by Jewish writers, such as Josephus, who calls God, ‘the beginning and the end of all things’ (Ant. 8.280; cf. Philo, Plant. 93).


Philo said this in the citation by Bauckham

What, therefore, we originally undertook we have now nearly fulfilled, namely, to demonstrate that the fact spoken of must be taken to mean the principle which declares God to be the most glorious of all things. The portion of the subject which follows next is the demonstration that perfection is found in no created thing, but that it does appear in them at times owing to the grace of the great Cause of all things.


The point being that Philo uses arche in a non-partitive manner: Cause. As for Josephus

Or is it the exceeding multitude of your army which gives you such good hopes? Yet certainly there is no strength at all in an army of many ten thousands, when the war is unjust; for we ought to place our surest hopes of success against our enemies in righteousness alone, and in piety towards God; which hope we justly have, since we have kept the laws from the beginning, and have worshipped our own God, who was not made by hands out of corruptible matter; nor was he formed by a wicked king, in order to deceive the multitude; but who is his own workmanship, and the beginning and end of all things. I therefore give you counsel even now to repent, and to take better advice, and to leave off the prosecution of the war; to call to mind the laws of your country, and to reflect what it hath been that hath advanced you to so happy a state as you are now in."


Josephus here means the phrase as I have said and not in reference to a sequence of Almighty Beings. There is no partitive implied at all, instead, this is clearly a case where the source/goal concept is utilized.

Here are links for those references:

http://old.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/pt ... =8.280#fn1

And Philo’s comment
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book12.html


Moreover, your own source, Coffman, cites a source for my position. In his comments about chapter 3 of Revelation, he observes that

Plummer pointed out that the words here bear two possible interpretations:
The two meanings are: (1) that which would make Christ the first created thing of all things God created, and (2) that which would understand Christ as the Source of all the things God created.

Plummer and many other able scholars declare the second meaning to be the one intended here. "The words mean, the one from whom creation took its beginning." The agreement with Col. 1:16 is probably intended, for the church in Laodicea received Colossians.


Plummer is the widely-cited author of a book on Revelation in 1919. And, in Coffman’s comments on the appearance of the title for Christ in 22:13

He is the Alpha and the Omega in the final judgment. The eternal judgment shall begin with the body of Christ (the church), as indicated by 1 Pet. 4:17; and the final word of it shall be pronounced by the Son of God because the father hath committed judgment to the Son (John 5:27). Christ will be the Alpha and the Omega in the eternal judgment.



So, my interpretation is consistent with old and respected analysis (Coffman), new and respected analysis (Bauckham), and very ancient and respected analysis (Philo and Josephus).

Now, you mentioned the way the titles are used in Isaiah. Let me respond by getting into a discussion of the titles used in Revelation, which is really where this sort of analysis should have begun (as I claimed months ago).




Titles with arche in Revelation


Bauckham is the major source for this argumentation. The Theology of the Book of Revelation, especially chapters two and three.

We consider the three cases where arche is used in Revelation. They are 3:14, 21:6, and 22:13. I suggest that their uses in chapters 21 and 22 will help us think about what the meaning is in chapter 3.

We first note that there are a couple terms that seem joined in Revelation. Thus we have

1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty."
1:17 When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives.
21:6 He said to me, "They are accomplished. I (am) the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.
22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."


The first thing to say is that we readily observe the chiastic structure of these statements. Note:

Verse || Speaker || Title || Location
A || 1:8 || God || Alpha and Omega || Prologue
B || 1:17 || Christ || First and Last || Beginning of vision
A’ || 21:6 || God || Alpha and Omega,Beginning and End || End of vision
B’ || 22:13 || Christ || Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End || Epilogue

What can we say about these self-declarations? Well, first, their usage and surface meaning suggests they are attempting to get across the same or similar ideas. Your source, HeKS, Coffman, is right to point out the sense of comprehensive completeness, the “all in all” of faith, etc. (http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/bcc/v ... hapter=022).

We also know that the “First and Last” claims come from Isaiah 44, within the most stridently monotheistic claims within the OT. Thus we connect the claims of YHWH that there are no gods except him with the title / claim that he is first and last. Within the Jewish understanding, God’s existence before all things is also related to both his identity as the one who created all things and who will bring creation to eschatological completeness. I made this argument in the last section, and you could review Isaiah 44 to see the eschatological theme of that chapter, indeed of the entire section of Isaiah.

So, in the two other cases where arche is used in Revelation, we see its meaning associated with the completeness, eternity, and creation/eschatological fulfillment of all things. It does not have a partitive sense. God, as beginning and end (21:6), which is the creator/ source of creation as well as the end/ goal of all creation is not here claiming himself be a creation. Specifically, we must reject Rotherham’s contentions that, “ In each and every case [arche is used by John] we can see that John uses the word arche as meaning the beginning of something, either in relation to time or to a series or class of things.” Instead, the meaning is clearly associated with the creative and eschatological identity of the one God. Its application in the book of Revelation, with the books themes, is clear.

So, the self-identification of Christ, first and last (1:18) and Alpha and Omega, beginning and end (22:13) are clearly parallel with God’s self-identification of Alpha and Omega (1:8), and beginning and end (21:6). Moreover, Christ’s title of first and last is taken directly from Isaiah 44, where that is the self-identification of YHWH is relation to the creative, redemptive, and eschatological activities exclusive to him. The entire point is not that god and Christ are here claimed to be partitive with contextual contemporaries (hyper-literally imagined or not), it is specifically that they are the completeness, fullness, sum-total in relation to all creation, having preceeded and caused it as well as redeeming and bringing it to eschatological completeness.

And that is the meaning of those titles. We can also make the point at length by looking at the uses of the “is, was, and is to come” titles. But that’s another million words.

So, in the other uses of the word arche within Revelation, we have a set of titles shared by Christ and God, used to relate God to the creation he both precedes and redeems, and echoes the similar use of title by God in the OT to indicate the same idea. That is the context that matters.

And it brings us to Revelation 3. Again, quoting Bauckham, chapter 3,

The derivation of the title, ‘the first and the ;ast’, from Deutero-Isaiah, and the way it is used in 22:13, make this interpretation of 1:17-18 [that Christ participates in divine lordship of all things] the preferable on [over against the idea that he is the first new creation]. That a reference to Christ’s participation in God’s creation of all things is not out of place in the context of his address to the churches is clear from 3:14, whre the beginning of the message to the church at Laodicea calls him: ‘the origin (arche) of God’s creation’. This does not mean that he was the first created being or that in his resurrection he was the beginning of God’s new creation. It must have the same sense as the first part of the title, ‘the beginning (arche) and the end’, as used of both God (21:6) and Christ (22:13). Christ preceded all things as their source. In this belief in Chirst’s role in creation, Revelation is at one with the Pauline literature (1 Cor. 8:6, Col. 1:15-17), Hebrews (1:2) and the Fourth Gospel (1:1-3). The belief came about through an identification of Christ with the Word of the Wisdom of God through which God created the world, and this identification can be clearly seen in the way Christ’s role in creation is expressed in the references outside Revelation just given. In Revelation it has been brought together with another, probably even earlier, Christological development of the early church: the identification of God’s eschatological coming with the expected parousia of Jesus Christ. These two developments have the effect, then, of including Christ as divine agent both in God’s creation of all things and in God’s eschatological fulfilment of all things. Thus Christ is ‘the Alpha nad Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’. As a way of stating unambiguously that Jesus Christ belongs to the fullness of the eternal being of God, this surpasses anything in the New Testament.


And that is the context that matters. We might further reflect on Burney’s observation that Revelation 3 represents a midrash on Genesis 1:1 to see the depth of the point John is attempting to express. Against all this, it is fine to point out that the word ordinarily has some sort of partitive meaning. We might even observe that the additional meanings of these phrases we see attested to are implications of the primary meaning of the word. And that’s fine, too.

But reading scripture requires humility and real work. And it is precisely these virtues that are mocked by Rotherham’s paper. That’s my problem with Rotherham. That’s my problem with his paper.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:33 pm

Hi Sulla,

Are there any significant changes between this posting and where it was posted above?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:17 am

Nothing significant
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:59 pm

Hey Sulla,

I've started on a response, but with limited time I can't guarantee exactly when it will be done. I'll get it finished as soon as I can.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:39 am

Of course. No problem.

Have we heard anything from Jason Beduhn? It has been months since you asked him whether Rev. 3 necessarily means Jesus is a created being.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:28 am

For what it's worth, this is what Jason Beduhn said at the very beginning when Heks presented his position to him.

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.


In other words, Jason Beduhn clearly agreed with our summation of the evidence. Why does he need to answer this again?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:03 am

Back on October 2 (page 7) we had this exchange:

Sulla:

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.


HeKS:

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:


I think two months is a reasonable period of time to expect some sort of response, especially in light of thet speed with which the earlier question was answered. Indeed, since we all agree that God calls himself the arche elsewhere in Revelation, some clarification seems to be in order.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:50 am

But again, why does he need to answer a question already answered? Did he not say that the argument presented by Heks was flawless? Did he not say that for John to switch usage away from the way he always used it elsewhere would not be communicative? How is that not an agreement with our position. What has changed?

The fact that God uses the word of himself elsewhere in Revelation has been answered by Trinitarians and Isaiah as I have pointed out but you do not want to address that so, I will ask it this way, and maybe this will be questions you will answer.

1. Do you agree that the phrases "beginning and end", "alpha and omega", and "first and last" are all saying the same thing?

2. Do you agree that the meaning intended for "beginning" is paralleled by the meanings intended for "first" and "alpha"?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:07 am

Again, because it isn't clear what his position on this question actually is. You think you know what it is, but I do not think I know what it is. Let's ask and find out.

And that's just what HeKS did two months ago. So I'm looking for an answer.

Moreover, we must question whether Beduhn is really dialed in to this question, since he seems to accept HeKS's discussion of "John's" use of the term in question without cautioning that there is considerable doubt over whether the authors of the gospel of St. John and Revelation are the same.

So, we asked for clarification two months ago.

Now, I spent some paragraphs discussing the meaning of the titles in Revelation in my long post. If you would like to address those comments, I'm all ears. You can begin by reviewing the material under the subheading "Titles with arche in Revelation."
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:40 am

Hi Sulla,

Actually, Beduhn did get back to me a few weeks ago and we had another brief exchange. He had been extremely busy over the previous month and hadn't had a chance to keep up with my emails. Also, I've just been so busy that I didn't get around to mentioning it here because we were dealing with some other stuff.

First of all, Beduhn does state that he doesn't think the author of Revelation is the author of John's gospel. But, of course, if they are the same author then you can see how his earlier comment about "communicative sense" fits.

That having been said, he feels the argument can be made even apart from any appeal to a consistent usage by John. He agrees with my criticism of Barnes' ultimate conclusion / interpretation of "ruler" at Rev 3:14. In fact, he states that those who claim that meaning here, including Barnes, do not have a very good grasp of Greek vocabulary, because "arche" does not mean "ruler" in a personal sense. As he stated in the earlier exchange from a few months ago, "archon" is the preferred term for that and is what John uses at Rev 1:5. He agrees with my stance that arche in Rev. 3:14 would not be taken as "ruler" by the first century readers of Revelation.

He further says we must never forget that the NT authors were writing to ordinary people -- literate perhaps, but not theologians. They were not counting on their readers having the sort of very specialized vocabulary that develops within a religious system over a period of time. They were conveying sense within the terms available to them in the ordinary speech of their time, and could not count on readers picking up on a very unusual meaning when so many more obvious ones would occur to them first.

Finally, however one wants to translate arche at Rev 3:14, including such options as "source, principle, top, pinnacle", Beduhn says it is "in every case inclusive within the genitive 'of creation,' not separate."

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:50 am

Hello Sulla,

Well, I don't know how anyone could look at what Beduhn DID say (and it appeas from heks latest submission he has confirmed his view) and think that there would still be a question. He said that for John to switch usage would be noncommunicative and the BIBLE itself tells us that the author was John. Your question to Beduhn wasn't about the authorship of Revelation but about the meaning of Revelation 3:14. He has made it clear where he stands on that and why and is clealry in agreement with our conclusion.


BDAG of ocourse tells us that the "first created" is the probable meaning of Rev. 3:14. Vine's, Thayer's and the prophet Isaiah explain for us the meaning of the phrase. I didn't see anything in what you offered outside of the scriptures as having any bearing at all as to why we should overturn the direction that is already given us from the Bible and from Trinitarian lexicons. That's why I see no need or any real relevance to the things you have mentioned. Simply showing how others used the phrase, which is highly debatable anyway, doesn't help us because John was certainly not a pupil of Philo or Josephus who was a Pharisee. Philo and Josephus are likely referring to the still popular view of Anaxamander, whose view of arche was partitive, believing that all of creation came from God in a partitive sense and would end up in God. It was a circle or cycle to him for all things. So there's nothing there that has any strength at all for overturning John's usage of the word every where else. As Beduhn said, to do so would be non-communicative to his readers and if we trust the Bible, then there is no question who wrote it.

Once again, in regard to the places used in Revelation for God in the titles of "beginning and end", I would like you to go back and answer the questions I asked. Is there some reason you do not want to do that?

This is exacly what you wanted to do, to examine the other uses in the same book, which I am all for, so please answer the questions.

1. Do you agree that the phrases "beginning and end", "alpha and omega", and "first and last" are all saying the same thing?

2. Do you agree that the meaning intended for "beginning" is paralleled by the meanings intended for "first" and "alpha"?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:21 pm

Hey HeKS,

OK, so Beduhn would agree that the best comparison for usage of the word is within Revelation, since the writer of the gospel and the letters might not even be the same person.

And it looks like everybody agrees that "ruler" is not particularly likely, either.


Finally, however one wants to translate arche at Rev 3:14, including such options as "source, principle, top, pinnacle", Beduhn says it is "in every case inclusive within the genitive 'of creation,' not separate."


I'm just a simple man, HeKS. Does this mean Beduhn thinks Revelation 3 must say Jesus is merely a creature or not? Did he give you something a simple fellow like me could understand as a yes or no? I honestly don't know what that means and, given the fact you said you asked him directly, I was hoping for something a little more accessible.

I feel like you are not playing this straight. I'm probably wrong, but surely Beduhn directly answered whether Rev. 3 says Jesus is a creation?

________________________________

Rotherham,

I'm not surprised that you can't imagine how anybody could have a question about Beduhn's position. But I do. And a little clarification would greatly help you guys out, given all the hay I made about how no non-JW has ever, ever agreed with your reading. Golly, if Beduhn agreed, and said so in words I could understand, I'd sure have to eat a lot of crow.

But, no, we don't have Beduhn saying he agrees with your reading. When he says so, then we will have it. Not sure why this is such a challenge.

Anyhow.

Rotherham, my position is pretty well laid out in my post. If you care to read it and respond, that would be great. The answers to your questions are right there, and your repeated asking of questions that are directly addressed in my post is distressing to me.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:28 pm

Hello Sulla,

"Inclusive in the genitive of creation" is direct agreement with our view, as he places the Son as PART of creation. Ruler is out of course, as is non-partitive source according to Beduhn and the rest of scripture. We are only left with one meaning, beginning.

Also, I do not see where you specifically anwered the questions that I asked. Could you please just cut and paste your direct answers to those questions? Not what you think the phrases mean but direct answers to the two questions I asked. Where exactly is that?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:32 pm

I'm not going to discuss Beduhn's viewpoint with you. When he makes a clear statement, then we will have it.

Consult my post in the paragraphs immediately after I explain the chiastic structure of the uses of the titles in Revelation.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:45 pm

Sulla, please, let's be reasonable.

I'm not going to discuss Beduhn's viewpoint with you. When he makes a clear statement, then we will have it.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
C'mon, you're a smart guy and you know exactly what he meant when he said that it was "inclusive in the genitive of creation". You've debated the genitive enough to know exactly what that means. Please don't play dumb here.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Consult my post in the paragraphs immediately after I explain the chiastic structure of the uses of the titles in Revelation.


$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
OK, I read it. Am I right in concluding that the answer to both questions is 'yes'?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:51 pm

Beduhn is a smart guy and should be entirely capable of answering a simple question with a simple answer. If he hasn't already. So, I expect an answer to the question HeKS said he asked two months ago. Not complicated.

Now that you've refreshed you memory on my position, please feel free to address it.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:04 pm

Beduhn is a smart guy and should be entirely capable of answering a simple question with a simple answer. If he hasn't already. So, I expect an answer to the question HeKS said he asked two months ago. Not complicated.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
R-i-ii--ght. This really just has to do with your aversion to crow meat.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


Now that you've refreshed you memory on my position, please feel free to address it.
[/quote]


$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
OK, so next question. Would we not then need to find a meaning that lexically overlaps with all three words? Beginning, First and Alpha?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:09 pm

R-i-ii--ght. This really just has to do with your aversion to crow meat.


I don't know that there is any particular need to be a jerk, Rotherham.

OK, so next question. Would we not then need to find a meaning that lexically overlaps with all three words? Beginning, First and Alpha?


What's your point?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:12 pm

Hello Sulla,

R-i-ii--ght. This really just has to do with your aversion to crow meat.


I don't know that there is any particular need to be a jerk, Rotherham.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
I was just playing off your earlier reference to eating crow, that's all.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

OK, so next question. Would we not then need to find a meaning that lexically overlaps with all three words? Beginning, First and Alpha?


What's your point?[/quote]

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Answer the question and then I'll make my point. You're kind of slippery unless I get specific answers.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:29 pm

This ain't 20 questions. If you have a point, make it. Otherwise, drop it.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby HeKS » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:30 pm

Sulla wrote:Beduhn is a smart guy and should be entirely capable of answering a simple question with a simple answer. If he hasn't already. So, I expect an answer to the question HeKS said he asked two months ago. Not complicated.


You're right. Beduhn is a smart guy. He's not an apologist and he's not out to advocate a particular Christology, or even a particular view of Biblical harmony or inerrancy. What he is doing is addressing the meaning of Christ being called the 'arche of creation' at Revelation 3:14 from a linguistic and historical perspective. His conclusion is that however one wants to translate and interpret arche here, it must be recognized that it is, indeed, to be understood as partitive in creation. If it means simply "beginning" then it is the first part or instance of creation. If it is to be understood as "source", then it is the part of creation that gave rise to the rest of what is intended by "creation". It is not "ruler".

What you don't seem to get is that from his perspective, as far as he is contributing to this discussion, this is not a theological or doctrinal question intended to establish one Christology or another. This is a question of linguistics and semantics. As such, his position is not whether or not Rev 3:14 proves the pre-existent Christ to be a creature but how the arche or Rev 3:14 relates to "the creation" of Rev 3:14. The answer is: partitively. If you can't understand or accept this, there's nothing much I can do to help you. I'm not going to try to insist that he publicly adopt a particular Christological position to make this discussion more convenient for me. Nor am I going to ask him to adopt a different perspective than he is inclined to, and which happens to be the very perspective that I feel gives his analysis such value.

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:49 pm

Uhhh. I asked 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.


And you said you would ask him. You said, "Done." I'm just looking for his answer. I don't think you need to "help" me except by relaying his direct answer to this direct question. You said you asked him the question back in October.

Now I get a riff about how his role is not to answer theological questions. Look, if his perspective is linguistics, that's fine with me. I just want his opinion on whether this statement must mean Jesus is the first created being or not. And I'm not thinking I need a lecture from you about this.

And I really am beginning to think you aren't playing this straight. So let me ask you directly: did Jason Beduhn answer this question or not?
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:51 pm

Hello Sulla,

OK, so let me just state it and then you can agree or disagree.

Since "beginning", "first" and "alpha" are used here to represent the same meaning, then we can find the intended meaning by seeing where those three words lexically overlap.

So there, I stated my point. Agree?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:01 pm

No. We must consider the elements I point out in my post. When we do that, we find, as I wrote, that the titles are closely related to the Jewish understanding of the identity of God as he relates to the creation -- source and goal of all things, creator and eschatological redeemer of all things.

Indeed, you are better off considering this:

Fire In the Earth

It is done.
Once again the Fire has penetrated the earth
Not with the sudden crash of thunderbolt,
riving the mountain tops;
does the Master break down doors to enter his own home?
Without earthquake, or thunderclap:
the flame has lit us the whole world from within.
All things individually and collectively
are penetrated and flooded by it,
from the inmost core of the tiniest atom
to the mighty sweep of the most universal lawas of being:
so naturally has it flooded every element, every energy
every connecting link in th eunity of our cosmos,
that one might suppose the cosmos to have burst
spontaneously into flame.

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:16 pm

But Sulla,

You already agreed that the answer to this question, which was yes, was your position.

2. Do you agree that the meaning intended for "beginning" is paralleled by the meanings intended for "first" and "alpha"? Answer: Yes

That was yes. How could you answer yes to that and no to the third question? Are you now saying that 'beginning' is NOT paralleled with the meanings of 'first' and 'alpha'?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:25 pm

I think I said that determing where these words lexically overlap will not give us the intended meaning as titles in Revelation.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:27 pm

So are you saying that the meaning given to the word "protos", rendered FIRST, is actually completely outside its lexical range?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:28 pm

no
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:35 pm

So again, the meaning intended for PROTOS is the same meaning intended for ARCHE, and the meaning intended for PROTOS would NOT be outside of its lexical range. Am I right so far?

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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:02 pm

no
Je crois en un seul Seigneur, Jesus Christ, le Fils unique de Dieu, ne du Pere devant tout les siecles
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Sulla
 
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Rotherham » Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:12 pm

You're making no sense with your answers.

You agreed that the meaning intended for PROTOS would not be outside of its lexical range.

You agreed that the meaning intended for PROTOS is the same meaning intended for ARCHE.

Therefore, you can not answer no to my last question without contradiction.

Regards,
Rotherham

Sulla wrote:no
In the end of the matter, knowledge is based upon acknowledgement.
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Re: Challenged by Sulla

Postby Sulla » Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:16 pm

You are boring me. Look, I explained how to go about reading the titles in Revelation.
Je crois en un seul Seigneur, Jesus Christ, le Fils unique de Dieu, ne du Pere devant tout les siecles
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