Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Offensive εὐαγγέλιον

Interesting times on the Textkit forum! It all started a few months ago when I engaged a bright young man in a discussion about the integrity of the New Testament writers, which he maintained were “pseudonymous.” It was the first time I had ever witnessed a discussion nearly get heated on that website devoted to the study of classical Greek and Latin. Our message exchanges ended when I refused to budge from assuming the veracity of the Bible as a divine source of authority. His approach was to assume the exact opposite, and so he withdrew his initial challenge to debate the orthodox position. The other participants in the forum noted this gentleman’s demeanor which quickly degenerated into a condescending smirk that I would actually believe the Bible was true.

More recently on Textkit an entire thread which had run for three years was shut down by the moderator. This one focused on John 1:1c: καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. As you can imagine, all the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Trinitarians were “duking it out” over the precise meaning of that clause. I also joined the discussion by observing how the New World Translation of John 1:1 affirms polytheism by having two different gods; in essence it gives biblical support in favor of paganism.

Why is it whenever philology spills over into the realm of theology tensions get heated? All the other discussions on Textkit are polite and friendly, but not so when issues of the Bible rise to the surface. Ideally theology should flow out of philology. Although philology is an ambiguous word by nature, what I mean by “philology” in this sense is that theology should flow from the exegesis of biblical texts in the original languages.

The only answer I can think of to the question above is that the gospel is offensive. An accurate presentation of the gospel necessiates discussion of sin, and sin reminds people of hell. The good news is that Jesus is God's remedy for the consequences of sin. Ironic that “good news” would offend people, but it is so. My former pastor from El Paso used to say with a neat chiasm: “The Bible comforts those who are afflicted, and it afflicts those who are comforted.” In a like manner, Jesus explained it this way:

“For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household” (Mt 10:35-36).

Monday, August 06, 2007

In Search for True Ablative Form

Spending the vast majority of my studies in the Koine, and being in favor of the system of eight cases, I was hopeful that perhaps I would find traces of the original ablative form the further back in time I could go searching in Greek sources. When I started working on the first line of Hesiod’s “Works and Days” last week, I think I may have found such a trace in the –θεν morpheme of Πιερίηθεν, from Pieria. I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw this—it even survives into the NT with ἄνωθεν, from above.

Now obviously a lot more research is needed to establish such a conclusion as fact. But I am finding several resources which discuss the matter--Monro's Homeric Grammar being one--so I'm not the only person who's noticed the issue.