Sunday, May 21, 2017

The "Parable" In The Sermon On The Plain (Part 3)

Part 1 of this series is available here. Part 2 is here. The following is taken from Thomas' book on Luke 6:40 with only slight adaptation. You can find it on Amazon here.

TWH: Luke’s use of παραβολή is the same as the Matthean and Markan usage following Luke’s parallel material with the day mentioned in Matthew 12–13 and Mark 3–4.48 There are only three Lukan uses prior to the day of Jesus’s rejection as found in each of the Synoptics (4:23, 5:36, and 6:39). In Luke 4:23, Jesus says, “You will definitely say this parable to me: Physician, heal yourself!” (πάντως ἐρεῖτέ μοι τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην· Ἰατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν). The problem with translating παραβολή as “parable” (which is really only a transliteration) in this case is it does not bear the characteristics of what is generally understood as parabolic discourse as seen in Matthew 13 or Luke 14–15. In addition to this, nowhere in the Gospel accounts is there found a parable the likes of Matthew 13 directed toward Jesus. He is the instructor about the kingdom. For a discussion on classical and rabbinic parallels to this saying, see Nolland, “Classical and Rabbinic Parallels,” 193–209. Instead of a parable, it is a proverb. The material following the use of παραβολή in Luke 5:36–39 also lacks similarity with parabolic discourse found after Matthew 13//Mark 4–5//Luke 8, specifically that there is no story development. Also worth noting is how Matthew and Mark do not identify the material found in Luke 5:36–39 as παραβολή (Matt 9:16–17; Mark 2:21–22). While it may not be a verbatim recitation of a socially-accepted proverb, Jesus’s response to the Pharisees and their scribes in Luke 5:36–39 uses two everyday customs sagaciously. In this case he does so most likely to avoid prematurely announcing his coming death and resurrection while not avoiding the question. In Luke 9:21, Jesus clearly reserves this announcement for his closest disciples and commanded them with a warning that they should not share this information with anyone.

The third use is found in Luke 6:39a, εἶπεν δὲ καὶ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς. There is no lack of discussion about how the use of παραβολή relates to the remainder of the Sermon on the Plain. Sharon H. Ringe believes that “Luke draws together a ‘parable’ and sayings found in various places in Matthew” (Ringe, Luke, 96). Likewise, Justo L. González calls them “sayings” and says they are “more like a series of proverbs or wisdom utterances” (González, Luke, 95). Tom Wright translates the word in Luke 6:39 as “riddle” (Wright, Luke for Everyone, 75). John Nolland simply refers to the content as “various parabolic pieces” (Nolland, Luke 1–9:20, 305) like Keith F. Nickle who calls them “four parabolic analogies,” or warnings (Nickle, Preaching the Gospel of Luke, 69). H. D. A. Major, T. W. Manson, and C. J. Wright refer to what follows as a “series of parables” (Major et al., Mission and Message, 349; see also Kingsbury, Conflict in Luke, 113; Talbert, Reading Luke, 78; Bock, Luke: Volume 1 (1:1—9:50), 609; Hobbs, An Exposition of Luke, 121). The major support for those who believe this is a series of parables, despite Luke’s use of the singular (παραβολήν), is the usage in Luke 15:1 and what follows. For example, Charles H. Talbert writes:
"Just as in 15:3, where the evangelist says Jesus told a parable (singular) and followed the statement with three parables in the remainder of the chapter, so the singular is followed here by four stories." (Talbert, Reading Luke, 78)
For a discussion of Luke 15 as three parables, see Chance, “Luke 15,” 249–57. Arguments that the setting in Luke 15:1–3 is not original to the material in Luke 15:4–7 are hardly convincing. Such arguments assume that Jesus used illustrations one time only throughout his teaching ministry, which is really unfounded. Is it not possible that Luke, while conducting his own research, met someone who or found some record that told about how Jesus used Luke 15:4–7 as a segway into the parable of the man with two sons? However, there is nothing within the text that indicates in any way that the first two stories should be read apart from the parable of the man and his two sons.

Luke’s use of παραβολή in 6:39a best refers to the material found in 6:46–49, the section that bears the ὅμοιός ἐστιν construction often found in Jesus’s parables. With the distinct, straight-forward content in Luke 6:39b–45 and the fact that Matthew does not refer to the similar content as παραβολή, there is no strong support to view Luke’s use as a collective singular. That he intends for his readers to think about vv. 46–49 in light of vv. 39b–45 is clear by his narrative insertion in v. 39a. Luke could have placed the introduction (εἶπεν δὲ καὶ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς) immediately before 6:46, yet this would not have isolated and marked vv. 39–49 as the conclusion to the Sermon on the Plain. The end of the SOP, therefore, consists of four proverbial units: (1) 6:39b, (2) 6:40, (3) 6:41–42, and (4) 6:43–45. These seven verses constitute the first subdivision (6:39–45) of the SOP’s ending. Talbert identifies an ABA' pattern with these verses, the central section being vv. 41–42. Verses 39–40 and 43–45, according to Talbert, “function as the motivations for the central concern for the personal transformation before undertaking to assist others” (Talbert, Reading Luke, 78–79). Verses 46–49 contain the climax of the Sermon on the Plain. The parable found in 6:48–49 is a twofold comparison of what someone is like that comes to Jesus (ὁ ἐρχόμενος πρός με), hears his words (ἀκούων μου τῶν λόγων), and acts on them (ποιῶν αὐτούς) and someone that does not. The parable is illustrative, designed to reinforce the importance of coming, hearing, and acting. It does not have a concealing-revealing aspect to it like parables following the day Jesus was rejected.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jesus And The Influence Of Greek Thought On His Teaching

Question: Was Jesus influenced by Greek thought of the first century? Is it possible that he used it in his teaching?

AP: Probably no more than any man mentioned in the Scriptures during his own day. All of Palestine was more Hellenized than it seemed. Please consult, if possible, my work Biblia y helenismo. La influencia del pensamiento griego en la formación del cristianismo (tr. "Bible and Hellenism: The Influence of Greek Thought in the Formation of Christianity"). I believe there is an electronic version available. It's published by El Almendro (Córdoba 2006). The thought of Jesus is made up of Hellenistic Phariseeism and its doctrines: Its concept of God and the world beyond the grave are influenced by Greek thought. But Jesus taught them as if they were exclusively Jewish.


TWH: The influence of Greek thought is probably most clearly seen in the writings of Paul and John. For Paul, think about 1 Corinthians, though there we should remember that he is engaged with the Greek-speaking world in somewhat of a different way than one would encounter in first-century Israel. For John, just think about the Gospel written by him and, among the many examples, references to light/darkness (though there is basis for these in the Hebrew Scriptures as well) and other dichotomies. If these disciples were influenced by Greek thought, it seems more than likely that Jesus was as well. But we need to remember that Jesus looked at the world with Jewish eyes through Greek lenses, not Greek eyes through Jewish lenses.

To answer your second question, I believe that John presents an accurate record of the teachings of Jesus. In other words, Jesus taught what John says Jesus taught. If that is the case, it certainly played a role in his teaching. But as Antonio points out, Jesus wasn't leveraging them in his teaching consciously. He saw the world as he saw it––and he saw the world as it actually was. In other words, nothing incorrect about the world from Greek thought carried into the way Jesus understood the world.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The "Parable" In The Sermon On The Plain (Part 2)

Part 1 of this series is available here. The following is taken from Thomas' book on Luke 6:40 with only slight adaptation. You can find it on Amazon here.

TWH: The word παραβολή occurs eighteen times in the Gospel of Luke compared to the seventeen occurrences in the Gospel of Matthew and thirteen in the Gospel of Mark. Outside of the Gospels, the word only occurs twice in the NT, both being found in Hebrews (9:9; 11:19). There are no occurrences in Acts, nor do the apostles say or write anything resembling parabolic discourse as found in the Gospels. Given the many parallels between the Gospel of Luke and Acts, especially the life of Christ and the life of Paul, if the apostles did speak in parables, Luke almost certainly would have included such accounts to solidify the parallelism between the two works. The use of παραβολή in Matthew and Mark is somewhat different than in Luke. In Matthew, all uses are subsequent to the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel (Matt 12:22ff.). It is on the same day (ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ) as his rejection that Jesus begins to speak in parables to those around him, including the Twelve. Mark, likewise, connects the use of parables to the rejection day (Mark 4:35). It is on this day that Jesus withdraws, the first of four times recorded in the Gospel of Mark (4:35; 6:30–31; 7:24; and 8:13). As Mark mentions, from this point forward Jesus exclusively spoke publicly in parables (4:33–34). His use, however, in 3:23 (pl. παραβολαῖς) follows with Jesus giving (1) a rhetorical question, (2) three quick conditional statements, and (3) an answer to his own question. Given the use of the plural and what follows, it is the only Markan occurrence that differs from Matthean usage. The remaining parables given on that day (Mark 4) are parallel to those found in Matthew 13.

In all the occurrences in Matthew and Mark (with the exception of Mark 3:23) Jesus’s teachings incorporate stories with characters, action (often plot), objects, etc. They are more narrative than deductive. Ruth Ann Foster and William D. Shiell refer to these as “pure parables . . . as opposed to illustrative stories or similitudes” (Foster and Shiell, “The Parable of the Sower and the Seed in Luke 8:1–10,” 259). For example, in Matthew 13 Jesus gives eight parables:
1. The Parable of the Sower (13:3–9) 
2. The Parable of the Tares (13:24–30) 
3. The Parable of the Mustard Seed (13:31–32) 
4. The Parable of the Leaven (13:33–35) 
5. The Parable of the Treasure Hidden in the Field (13:44) 
6. The Parable of the Merchant Seeking Fine Pearls (13:45–46) 
7. The Parable of the Dragnet (13:47–50) 
8. The Parable of the Head of a Household (13:52)
That last parable in the list above does not liken the kingdom to someone or something else. Instead, it is a parable that likens every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom to a head of household, a use of παραβολή similar to Luke 6:46–49.

Jesus’s parables are often introduced formulaically. Maximilian Zerwick writes:
"Parables are often introduced by the formula ὁμοιωθήσεται, ὡμοιώθη, ὅμοιός ἐστιν with a following dative which however does not correspond, or corresponds only inexactly, to the term of the comparison. Thus ‘the kingdom of God’ is not in reality ‘like unto a merchant’, but is likened to the pearl of great price (Mt 13,45); nor is it ‘like unto ten virgins’, but to the wedding (Mt 25,1), nor is it like the sower, but like the harvest (Mt 13:24)." (Zerwick, Biblical Greek, 22)
All but the first parable in Matthew 13 begins with one of these three formulaic introductions. They are not mandatory markers of parables. See also Matt 15:11, 15ff. From Jesus’s answer to Peter’s question, it is clear that the parable is not what is found in 15:14 dealing with “blind guides” (content similar to Luke 6:39). Jesus explains v. 11 only. In fact, the only such introductions found in the Gospel of Luke are in chapter 13, in the form of two questions and answers (13:18 19, 20–21).

The parables also served a distinct purpose. Once the nation rejects Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus issues a scathing condemnation found in each of the Synoptic Gospels (Matt 13:11–15; Mark 4:11–12; Luke 8:10) involving the use of Isa 6:9–10. From these verses it is evident that the parables were a divine-pedagogical choice that allowed Jesus to simultaneously reveal and conceal information pertaining to the kingdom. Those who understand the meaning of Jesus’s teaching can only do so because it has been granted by God (Matt 13:11, ὅτι ὑμῖν δέδοται γνῶναι) for them to understand the secrets of the kingdom. Those who do not understand cannot because a divine hardening has taken place (Matt 13:14ff.). See Mark’s use of ἵνα in 4:12. Frank Stagg writes, “From these words, we can infer that parables are intentionally obscuring, used by the speaker to withhold understanding from ‘those outside,’ lest they repent and be forgiven. Mark’s hina cannot be dismissed as other than intending purpose” (“Luke’s Theological Use of Parables,” 217–18). It is important to note that this “intending purpose” does not occur prior to the day detailed in Matthew 12–13.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Antonio Piñero's "Final Lesson" In The Department Of Greek Philology

TWH: Anyone who is interested and within a quick trip to Madrid, Spain is invited to the Complutense University to attend Antonio's retirement lecture in the Greek Philology department. He's been invited to speak Wednesday, May 10, 2017. His friends and colleagues will also present him with the Festschrift in his honor. I had the privilege of writing a chapter on Gal. 4:12. And believe me when I say this: There are some tremendous chapters in this Festschrift on a plethora of topics related to New Testament studies and the origins of Christianity.
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Location: Aula Histórica de la Facultad de Filología/Filosofía on the campus of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Time: 12:00 – 2:00 pm (including time for questions and answers)
Topic: "The New Testament Today: From a Philologist's Point of View"
Cost: Free admission
And, of course, we know this won't be the "final lesson." Antonio contributes more to the field of New Testament studies in his retirement years thus far than most academics contribute in the whole of their academic and professional careers. Antonio, our deepest thanks for you. I wish I could be there as well to share my wishes personally for your continued success in all of your endeavors (and there are many!).

Monday, May 8, 2017

The "Parable" In The Sermon On The Plain (Part 1)

The following is taken from Thomas' book on Luke 6:40 with only slight adaptation. You can find it on Amazon here.

TWH: Luke 6:39 begins with the following words: "And he also spoke a parable to them." Now I'm going to take a different position on the "parable" in the ending to the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20–49). In this first installment to the present series, we want to just highlight the semantic range of the word παραβολή. From here, we will turn our attention to the whole of the New Testament and work our way down to the ending of the Sermon on the Plain. There's an issue here. The use of the word in Luke 6:39 is singular, not plural. There is something known as a collective use of the singular in Greek. Languages do crazy things like that sometimes, right? I mean, after all, English has the singular use of the plural (i.e., pants, shorts, etc.), right? But what about Luke 6:39? We need to know if this is a collective use of the singular, and if it's not, we need to know what the parable is and why the referent precedes it with material in between.

Since Luke 6:39 begins the final section of the SOP and since so much confusion about the logical cohesion within the unit surrounds the understanding of παραβολή, it is necessary to determine Luke’s intent when he uses it in his narrative commentary. Black writes, “The key to lexical analysis is to remember that a word can have several meanings, only one of which is likely to be its semantic contribution to any particular sentence in which it occurs.”29 The first step in identifying Luke’s intended meaning in Luke 6:39 is to identify the semantic range of the word in the Greek language. The next step is to identify how Luke uses the word throughout the Gospel.

Alfred E. Tuggy, Maurice A. Robinson and Mark A. House, and G. Abbott-Smith each list four meanings for παραβολή. Tuggy lists “parable,” “comparison,” “symbol,” and “figure” (Tuggy, Léxico griego-español, 719). A simple comparison is clearly intended by Socrates in Plato’s Philebus 33b where he refers to his comparison of two different lives (ἐν τῇ παραβολῇ τῶν βίων), one that embraces pleasure and the other wisdom. Maurice A. Robinson and Mark A. House provide “similitude,” “allegory,” “parable,” or “emblematic allusion” (Analytical Lexicon of New Testament Greek, 262). G. Abbott-Smith’s first three are “juxtaposition,” “comparison,” and those understandings most closely resembling the use in the Synoptic Gospels, i.e., “parable,” (“illustration,” “analogy,” “figure”) (A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 338). He mentions a final meaning, parallel to the Heb. לָשָׁמ, a “proverb.” David L. Turner views all of these glosses as equivalents to the Heb. לָשָׁמ. He writes:
"Both words are used to describe a proverb, an enigma, a riddle, a taunt, a simile, or an allegorical story. In all of these nuances, the common denominator is the use of a concrete analogy to illumine or obscure an abstract thought." (Turner, Matthew, 338)
Cole recognizes the restricted use of παραβολή in Classical Greek and believes that the NT usage reflects the Hebrew expansion of it to capture the idea of לָשָׁמ. He says it “had a far wider range of meaning than the Greek,” and παραβολή “extended its sphere of meaning to cover the wider range of the Hebrew word that it was translating. In classical Greek, its meaning had been much more restricted” (Mark, 146–47 n.1). Most scholars reserve the glosses “symbol,” “type,” and “figure” exclusively for Paul’s use in Hebrews. Timothy and Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Miller define παραβολή as a “rhetorical figure of speech, setting one thing beside another to form a comparison or illustration” (Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 294). Bullinger mentions only the idea of comparison adding “whose proper meaning is not that which is expressed by the words, but which must become clear by the intended application” (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance, 569). Stein mentions six different rhetorical uses coupled with a biblical example: proverb (Luke 4:23), metaphor (Mark 7:14–17), similitude (Mark 4:30–32), story parable (Luke 14:16–24), example parable (Luke 12:16–21), and allegory (Mark 12:1–11) (Mark, 182).

Two final definitions shed some light on the meaning of παραβολή. Henry. G. Liddell and Robert Scott define parable as “a fictitious narrative by which some religious or moral lesson is conveyed” (An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, 594). In addition, John J. Kilgallen writes:
"Ordinarily, a parable is a fictitious story with at least one element that represents the real world (some scholars would say that the ideal parable has only one point to make). However, in the ancient world of Jesus, the word parable can mean other than a story; it can refer to any type of comparison by which one uses the fictitious world to make clearer sense of the real world. For instance, such a simple literary device as metaphor falls under the name of parable; it is no story, but a phrase or word which illuminates the real by virtue of the fictitious." (Twenty Parables of Jesus, 11)
The word παραβολή can mean any of the aforementioned glosses. At its most basic level, it is a comparison between two fictitious persons, objects, or ideas. Kilgallen mentions one subdivision of παραβολή not yet discussed, namely the exemplum, in which a fictitious example is provided for hearers to follow (e.g., the Good Samaritan) (Twenty Parables of Jesus, 14). Nevertheless, distinguishing between the use of παραβολή as proverbs and parables (in the sense of how Christian circles have come to understand them) is only possible by analyzing the Synoptics and the words as they appear in their context. For example, Meynet writes the following: “Contrary to what one might think in the first place, it is not easy to determine what may be called a ‘parable’ in the gospel of Luke. The safest thing to do therefore is to start out from text that Luke himself qualifies to be such” (Treatise on Biblical Rhetoric, 299). This uncovers a huge shift in the teaching ministry of Jesus, particularly in Matthew 13 and the point in Jesus’s life that it narrates.

We'll pick up here in the next post.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Semantics And The Greek New Testament (Part 3)

Part 1 is available here, and Part 2 here.

AP and TWH: Once you've done everything we discussed in Part 2, you still have to analyze the each lexeme in the contexts in which it is found. For the purposes of this post, we thought it might be helpful to highlight the analysis of Israel Muñoz Gallarte. He's recently published an analysis of πίστις in the Festschrift for David Alan Black (available here). The title of his chapter is "The Meaning of πίστις in the Framework of the Diccionario griego-español del Nuevo Testamento." He focuses only on the following letters of Paul: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. When you consider how thorough this methodology is, you understand why he limited his study to just these letters––and even that was a lot to bite off in such little space, though he did so exceptionally well. He makes sure to remind his readers that for the DGENT, they will definitely be considering every use of πίστις in the NT (245 total).

Muñoz begins by surveying the what's been said of this lexeme in the following dictionaries: Louw-Nida, Thayer, and BDAG. The reason for this? ––So that readers can see the difference between the DGENT and other dictionaries and what the DGENT contributes to the field of New Testament semantics. He also references one dictionary that doesn't really receive as much attention as it should because it's written in Spanish, but one worth drawing our readers' attention to. That resource is the Diccionario Griego-Español (or DGE) edited by F. Rodríguez Adrados et al. (Madrid 1980–2009). If you haven't seen it, you should definitely check it out. And you can even get a sample of it online (see here).

According to Muñoz, here's what the DGENT offers:
"What sets the DGENT apart from other lexicons is it follows a strict semantic methodology. In the case of πίστις, we would deal with the lexeme by concentrating heavily on the aspectual qualities of the term in the contexts where it occurs. After reading the passages in which πίστις occurs, we uncover its basic meaning using the methodology of the DGENT––a frame of mind related to a term with a complex formula. In this sense, we understand that the lexeme would denote a not-permanent State (State) that is manifested (Relation) in the conduct (Act) related (Relation) to an object (Object). The first sememe of πίστις could be defined like “State of intellectual and active adhesion to someone or something.” Right after that, the dictionary would propose the following translations: “faith” and “conviction.” Then, to highlight the contexts in which πίστις appears, the DGENT would distinguish between the following categories." 
For that first sememe, he identifies the following categories:
1. "related to adhesion to God, Jesus, and their message" 
2. "related to a conviction in something else" 
3. "in the figurative sense"
For the second sememe, you basically find the use of πίστις as an attribute related to God.

Muñoz points to a third sememe in Pauline passages  that also contain ὑπακοή and δίκαιος (and their compound forms). Of this sememe, he says that it "changes the inner aspect of πίστις to mark when the state of adhesion is a response to a previous action." Think about the use in Rom. 1:5: "through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith (εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως) among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name." Can you see the difference between this use and say an example of the first sememe? Here is Rom. 4:20: "He grew strong in his faith (τῇ πίστει) as he gave glory to God."

The fourth and final sememe deals with πίστις in relation to a set of beliefs. This one is found in places Gal. 1:23, where Paul talks about people who refer to him "proclaiming the faith" (εὐαγγελίζεται τὴν πίστιν).

Does the DGENT make a notable contribution to the field of New Testament lexicography? There's no question that it does. Here are the principles that Muñoz points out as guiding the team working on the dictionary:
1. "The systematic distinction in the redaction of lexemes between meaning and translation."
2. "The construction of the definition of a given lexeme depending entirely on the text."
3. "The explanation of what contextual factor or factors contribute to the change in meaning of a given lexeme."
4. "The verification of all contexts where the given lexeme appears in the whole corpus." 
By the way, you can see a sample of the fifth volume of the DGENT by clicking here.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Semantics And The Greek New Testament (Part 2)

Part 1 is available here.

AP and TWH: In this post, and in recognition of the forthcoming publication of the works of Mateos and Peláez in English, we want to set forth the methodology developed and outlined by Juan Mateos in his Método de análisis semántico aplicado al griego del Nuevo Testamento (Cordoba 1989). This is probably going to be the first time many of you have seen this described in English. That's all the more reason that we are excited about its publication and Peláez's Metodología del Diccionario griego-español del Nuevo Testamento by De Gruyter (from what we understand before the end of the year for sure).

For semantic analysis, Mateos began with determining five semantic types. These are: (1) Entity, (2) Attribute, (3) Fact, (4) Relation, and (5) Determination. He classifies lexemes associated with these types and establishes different types of semantic formulas, simple or complex, according to whether the lexemes include one or more types, distinguishing in the formulas the denoted elements from the connoted ones.

By doing this, the semantic formula is established as the point of departure for the development of the semic nucleus. According to Mateos, this intermediate step between the lexeme and its semic development allows one to know the precise realm where there semes must be found, avoiding dispersion and the danger that the analysis will remain incomplete. At the same time, when adjusting the formulas to certain paradigms applicable to various lexemes, the formation of semantic fields is facilitated.

To deduce the first nuclear semes of the formula, the author has continued the line begun with the semantic types, proposing semantic correspondences also for the grammatical categories (genre, number, mode, time, aspect, and voice). During the analysis, the semantic categories are applied to the lexematic, morphmatic, or contextual or syntagmatic level.

Comparison with related lexemes permits the determination of the specific or differential semes of each lexeme and establishes with sufficient accuracy its semic nucleus. The elements are thus obtained which compose the lexeme at the semiological level or the level of language, and using these as support, one can proceed to its definition.

Here are the steps for semantic analysis set forth by Juan Mateos:
1. Determine the semantic type to which each lexeme belongs: Entity, Attribute, Fact, Relation, or Determination. 
2. Establish the semantic formula (denotation and connotation). 
3. Develop the formula specifying the semes of each denoted or connoted semantic type. 
4. Offer an abstract definition of the lexeme. 
5. Verify the definition. Addition, substitution, or omission of semes of the lexeme in abstract = sememe or sense. 
We'll pick up here next.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Semantics And The Greek New Testament (Part 1)

The following is taken from The Study of the New Testament: A Comprehensive Introduction by Antonio Piñero and Jesús Peláez, published by Deo in 2003. David E. Orton and Paul Ellingworth provided the translation for that volume, here modified for the blog.

AP and TWH: A. J. Greimas' Sémantique structurale had a huge impact on semantic studies of the Bible in general but especially the New Testament. This book has served as an ideological and methodological basis for numerous studies of biblical semantics. Greimas prepared the way for devising a method of semantic analysis. There were other works worth pointing out. Of those that treat the study of the New Testament, we have to mention at the very least J. P. Louw's Semantics of New Testament Greek (Philadelphia 1982) and Moisés Silva's Biblical Words and Their Meanings: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics (Grand Rapids 1983). And anyone interested in some specific semantic studies should really check out the section on "Semantics" in the New Testament Philology Bulletin in Filología Neotestamentaria (1985–).

Greimas was steeped in the heritage of Saussure. He basically went from lexeme to what is called semes. These semes integrate a semic nucleus. The distinction between nuclear and contextual semes is a key step for Greimas in establishing a lexeme's fundamental meaning and its different senses or sememes. Unfortunately, limited examples of lexical analysis are provided and there is no set methodology outlined that would help others establish that semic nucleus of a lexeme. Now I know this sounds like a lot to wrap your head around. There's a lot of new vocabulary here, which is one of the major criticisms of modern linguistics in biblical studies. I understand. Let's try and break some of that down. A seme, according to this "school" of linguistics, is the smallest unit of meaning of a language. Lexemes (words) are made up of phonemes (letters). Sometimes a phoneme or group of phonemes form what is known as a morpheme. This can be the root, could be a suffix indicated person-number, could be a single letter indicating tense, etc. But a seme, as similar to morpheme as it sounds, is different. They can overlap, but don't have to. A seme is a meaning of a morpheme or group of morphemes (again, according to this group of linguistic thought). Needless to say, there's a debate going on about what the smallest unit of meaning is––seme or morpheme.

A world-renowned scholar named Juan Mateos took Greimas' theory and developed an actual method of semantic analysis for New Testament Greek. His methodology served as the basis for an ongoing and monstrous lexical project known as the Diccionario griego-español del Nuevo Testamento, or DGENT for short. That project is now headed by Jesús Peláez who oversees the Grupo de Análisis Semántico de Córdoba (Spain). As Mateos points out in his introduction to his book Método de análisis semántico aplicado al griego del Nuevo Testamento (Cordoba 1989), there are a number of gaps in Greimas' work that need to be filled in. One of those gaps is the absence of annotated examples of a methodology one could employ in an analysis aimed at describing the nuclear semes contained in a lexeme. Greimas left this undeveloped in his work. Of course, his aim was to find techniques of mechanical translation. So, we ought to point out that outlining a methodology was not really overlooked; it was just out of the scope of his investigation. So, Mateos saw the need and picked up where Greimas had paved a path.

Here is one quick and very important tangent: Mateo's book on semantic analysis, along with Peláez's Metodología del Diccionario griego-español del Nuevo Testamento, has been translated into English and is currently being published by De Gruyter. One volume, two books. The title in English is New Testament Lexicography: Method and Methodology of the Greek-Spanish New Testament Dictionary. It should be out before the end of summer (we think). Mateos' book is difficult for someone outside of the field of linguistics to understand, which is the chief criticism of linguistics across different disciplines. You witnessed it first hand two paragraphs up. The translation into English is supposed to smooth out the text and make it functional for a wider audience. And where the original lacked more robust explanations in places, we hear that the translators will amplify the discussion. It is interesting that Mateos’ work has gone somewhat unrecognized in the scholarly field, with the exception of those familiar with the DGENT. Having it in English is no doubt going to widen its influence and the greater scholarly world will be able to think critically about the approach and perhaps extend the methodology even further into study of the New Testament.

We'll pick up here in the next post.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ETC Interview With Thomas W. Hudgins On The Complutensian Polyglot

AP: Thomas was interviewed on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog this week. The interview is available here. I've typed up the questions that Thomas was asked:
1. I understand you have two doctorates, the first one in education (EdD) and the second in New Testament (PhD). Most people who teach New Testament in U.S. seminaries only have the second, so what led you to do both?
2. Can you tell us more about what you worked on at the Complutense University?
3. As you said, the biggest question about the NT portion has always been, ‘What Greek manuscripts did they use?’ Can you get us any closer to answering that question?
4. In hindsight, it seems obvious to work on the Complutensian Polyglot at the university where it was produced, but how did you come to that topic and that university?
5. If New Testament students know anything about the Complutensian Polyglot, it’s that it was the first printed Greek New Testament but not the first one published. That title is due, of course, to Erasmus’s Novum Instrumentum omne (1516). What else do you wish New Testament students knew about the polyglot?
6. How many copies of the Complutensian Polyglot were printed and how many have you seen? Can you tell us about the volume that you found?
7. Recently, you’ve been presenting some provocative ideas about teaching Greek. What have we all being doing wrong in how we teach the language?
8. You did your PhD in Spain which is a bit unusual for an American-trained seminarian. Did you enjoy the experience and would you recommend it?
9. Can you tell us a bit more about Spanish New Testament scholarship today?
10. If you were to name your son after a famous textual critic, who would it be?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Murder Of The Innocents: Silence Until The Second Century AD

AP: The following is a portion taken from my book The Hidden Life of Jesus. If you're interested in reading more about this book or getting a copy for yourself, you can find it by clicking here.

We already know that this episode is only found in the Gospel of Matthew, and it appears nowhere else in the New Testament or other early Christian literature, as far as I know. As we will see in Part II of this book, we have to wait until the middle of the second century AD to see it again, when the story is picked up by the so-called apocryphal Gospel Protoevangelium of James (see chap. 22). There is nothing original there; it repeats more or less what Matthew tells us. We also find reference to it in some later texts such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew in the sixth century AD. Even there, though, it is only a brief mention (see chap. 17).

Tradition varies on the death toll of the massacre. The most serious estimate is about twenty children, figuring that Bethlehem was around a thousand inhabitants at the time. Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho (78:7) written in the second century, does not offer any number. The Byzantine liturgy of the Orthodox Church speaks of a 14,000 deaths. Some liturgy of the ancient Syrian Church mentioned 64,000 deaths. Others have suggested 144,000, a number equal to the righteous “who have not been defiled with women” (Rev 14:1–5).

All these figures are simply pious speculation, although outlandish. Demos argued that ancient Christian literature says very little about the magi and this massacre. We have already mentioned the passage of Justin Martyr (c. AD 150). It is not until a Greek author named Synesius (AD 370–411), who converted late in his life, that we see someone pen a hymn dedicated to the episode of the magi and the symbolic meaning of their gifts—although lacking special attention to the murder of the innocents.

A Christian author named Macrobius tells an interesting story in his work Saturnalia (c. AD 400). When Augustus heard about the massacre, according to Macrobius, the emperor said, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son” (melius est Herodis porcum esse quam filium; Saturnalia 2:4:11). He probably never said that. But Augustus, who knew Greek, was using some wordplay with ὗς (“pig”) and υἱός (“son”), whose pronunciation was very close. Macrobius also tells us in the same context that Augustus connected the massacre with Antipater’s death at the hands of his father. But that the emperor knew about and connected it with Antipater’s death is highly unlikely, as we shall see. All of these allusions are not independent sources; each depends on the account we read in Matthew.