b-greek-digest V1 #516
b-greek-digest Sunday, 18 December 1994 Volume 01 : Number 516
In this issue:
son of man
Re: son of man
Re: Col. 1:15, PRWTOTOKOS
Re: son of man
God the son
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 10:16:18 -0500 (CDT)
From: Pete Cepuch <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 94 17:22:39 MST
Subject: son of man
On Thursday, 15 Dec 1994, Greg Jordan wrote:
"First of all, notice Jesus rephrases their accusation as "son of God"
(10:36)which is probably a key hint that we should render_theos_in
v. 33 as "divine" or "godlike"."
No, I think Jesus' reference to "son of God" has to do with the fact that He
calls God "my Father". The Fatherhood of God is well known from rabbinic
literature. It is not a term that Jesus originated. It was taught and still
is taught in "rabbinic Judaism" that God is "Our Father". That one should not
address God as "my Father" is stressed isn due to The example we have in
7 I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me," thou art MY SON, today I have begotten thee.
8 Ask of Me and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance,
and the ends of the earth as thy possession.NAS
The idea that Jesus is calling God "my Father" is a claim of being messiah.
My Father/My Son speaks of a special relationship between God/Messiah.
Now, if we look farther into John 10 we see Jesus refering to Himself
as the good shepard is an allusion to Ezekiel 34. For instance:
11 For thus says the Lord God," behold,I Myself will search for
My sheep and seek them out.
15 I will feed my flock and I will lead them to rest, declares
the Lord God.
22 therefore, I will deliver my flock and they will no longer
be a prey and I will judge between one sheep and another.
23 Then I will set over them one shepard, My servant David and he will
feed them;he will feed them himself and be their shepard."NAS
Here we have God HIMSELF seeking out and delivering(DaRaSHTI v.11/HOSHaTI v. 22
could be rendered as seeking/saving). This calls to mind Jesus saying: "For
the son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost"(Luke 19:10NAS).
Back to John 10 we see a divison caused about these words with many accusing
Him of being "possessed or evens/insane". In the second half of the chapter
He is plainly asked if He is messiah. And He tells them "I told you..."which
leads down to the "I and the Father are One" statement. So, how did these
people understand these words? They wanted to stone Him for "being a man
make yourself out to be GOD.v 33.
Then Jesus alludes back to Psalm 82 "I said you are gods". Now if you read
Psalm 82 it is anything but complementary to "His own congregation". v1
God takes His stand in His own congregation...etc.
The fact that Jesus quotes this Psalm is a excellent example of His
wonderfully wry sense of humor! as is also the case in His answer "...there
is only ONE who is good..."in Matt. 19:17.
Finally, I think that if we look at the words of Jesus in their historical
and cultural context we can understand better the reasons why His words often
caused divisions. He was obviously claiming messiahship but also much more.
He was forgiving sins like God, He was raising the dead like God and He was
speaking like God. That is why He was being accused of blasphemy.
From: Pete Cepuch <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 94 17:53:27 MST
I have a question for you Greek "mavens" out there. It has to do with Paul's
use of the word eusebeia which is mostly rendered in translation as
"godliness". It would appear that if we take the word in it's most literal
sense in translation that we have eu-sebomai or well/reverence, good/reverense
or maybe right/reverence. I think a better case could be made for these
renderings instead of godliness. However, I wonder if anyone out there
knows how this word was understood in the greek-speaking world at the time and
before. Perhaps the word had the idea of "godliness" attached to it then? Or
is it a case of an English word being used in translation that perhaps is
no longer an equivelent for the idea trying to be conveyed?
Thanks in advance...
From: Carl W Conrad <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 21:10:17 -0600 (GMT-0600)
Subject: Re: godliness?
On Sat, 17 Dec 1994, Pete Cepuch wrote:
> I have a question for you Greek "mavens" out there. It has to do with Paul's
> use of the word eusebeia which is mostly rendered in translation as
> "godliness". It would appear that if we take the word in it's most literal
> sense in translation that we have eu-sebomai or well/reverence, good/reverense
> or maybe right/reverence. I think a better case could be made for these
> renderings instead of godliness. However, I wonder if anyone out there
> knows how this word was understood in the greek-speaking world at the time and
> before. Perhaps the word had the idea of "godliness" attached to it then? Or
> is it a case of an English word being used in translation that perhaps is
> no longer an equivelent for the idea trying to be conveyed?
Well, I won't claim to be a "maven," but I can say a little about
EYSEBEIA in earlier Greek usage fairly readily because it's the regular
word for piety or reverence for the majesty of gods. It is the
subject-matter of Plato's dialogue, EUTHYPHRO, wherein Socrates, himself
about to face trial for ASEBEIA--failure to show due respect for the
gods--seeks enlightenment from the zealot who is about to prosecute his
own father in imitation of what Zeus did to Kronos. Another literary
source of significance is the Hippolytus of Euripides, where the young
devotee of Artemis prides himself on his EYSEBEIA, but proves to be
rather one-sided in exercising that virtue toward Artemis while scorning
The problem with a word like this may be that what it means to be
reverent or respectful of deity is understood very differently in
Olympian Greek faith and in Judaism; a better guide to Paul's intended
sense should be LXX usage. I don't know what BGD say about the word as I
am reading my mail at home and don't have the resource at hand. But this
may be a start, at any rate.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
From: "Gregory Jordan (ENG)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 22:12:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: son of man
On Fri, 16 Dec 1994, Kenneth Litwak wrote:
> I want to make two comments on Greg Jordan's statements about
> the phrase "son of man" and about his interpretation of 1st Century CE
> Judaism. Beginning withthe latter, it shold be recognized that there is,
> at least in the Hebrew Bible, a significant difference between a being
> being heavenly and a being being divine. I am not aware of any text
> that would ascribe divinity to any being other than God. THe same holds for
> Intertestamental literature. Being heavenly and beling deity are not
> coterminous. So it is not accurate to say, IMHO, that 1st century Jews
> believed in multiple divine beings, so that Jesus could be seen as one of
> many divine beings without being seen as God. The next observation
You are confused about how I used the English words "divine" and "deity"
and you are entirely missing my point about the ambiguities of _theos_
which has been the subject of an extended thread here. It was, in fact,
*my* entire point that "being heavenly and being deity are not
coterminous." Since being in heaven is one of God's characteristics, it
is one thing that can be said to make something "divine" in the sense of
"related to God, associated with God, godlike, etc." along with other
charcteristics: supernatural powers, pre-existence, glory & honor,
wisdom, speaking in God's persona, etc. Call it "goddish" or "demigod"
qualities if you will. If you would dip into the relevant sources, which
include more than the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament, you would
not come back to the NT and assume that every godlike quality ascribed to
Jesus is a de facto declaration that he is being presented as the one
and only God. I rest my case. I just don't want to be misunderstood: I
am *assuming* the essential and very real monotheism of the New Testament
writers, and I see this as operating *against* the interpretation of
Jesus's portrayal as one of ultimate deity. Not just in one verse, not
just in one word; this is not Arian prooftexting, this is passage after
passage after passage, with only a handful of verses that could be
understood as suggesting otherwise. Try rereading the NT without Nicene
blinders on - notice carefully the way language is used to describe
Jesus, the exact terms and phrasing, in every book - notice the
accumulating and overwhelming conclusion one must draw about the writers'
> I want to make is that I think Mr. Jorand would be hard-pressed to show
> me an instance of theos in the NT that required the abnormal translation
> of "divine" rather than "God/god". Suggesitng alternative translations
> is fine and proper (I do it myself), but I'd want a good reason to depart
> from what seems uniform, ubiquitous practice in the NT first.
Better people than I have suggested this, and I *won't* repeat their
arguments since we already drained that thread on John 1:1 (although, if
you'd remember, I did *not* suggest interpreting _theos_ there as "divine"
but rather "'God'"). I simply find it odd that passages like John 10:33
are seen as ways of reading into John Jesus's deity, while Jesus's answer
10:34-38 is completely ignored. I don't see any reasonableness here,
just theological knee-jerking. I rest my case and I do not really feel
like a futile exchange of preconceived proof-texts.
> Now, as to the NT writers just coming out and saying "Jesus is God",
> I would have just two comments. They might not have felt a need to just
> come out baldly and say that. It might not have been an issue for them
> to nail down that exact statement,. At the same time, I think a very
If the entire NT message is mainly about Jesus (and I think that would
be safe observation), I would think that nailing down his exact identity
would be a very important issue for them: who on earth were they
proclaiming as savior of the world? That's why I don't buy the "paradox"
and "implicit" arguments. Their entire message was about Jesus, surely
they cared about saying who he was, and making this clear if nothing else.
> good case can be made that the NT writers have done exactly that, but
> not in those exact words. Leaving aside John 1, since we know that seems
> to be under debate, I might mention the implicit assertin in Revelation
> of the Jesus as the Alpha and Omega, along with God. I might mention
"...Jesus...along with God" - Now *you're* distinguishing them! And where
are we to assume that only the one God can be called "Alpha and Omega,"
or that especially, God's Son speaking in his name, cannot use these
terms for himself? Cf. the messianic interpretation of Genesis 1:1 "In
the Beginning (LXX en arkhEi, Hebrew bereshit "by means of the messiah")
God (theos) created ..." cited by Augustine of Hippo, and perhaps even
here in Hebrews 1:10.
Notice the prologue to _Apokalupsis_: Apokalupsis IEsou Khristou hen
edOken autOi ho theos deiksai tois doulois autou ha dei genesthai en
takhei, kai esEmanen aposteilas dia tou aggelou autou tOi doulOi autou
IOannEi hos emarturEsen ton logon tou theou kai tEn marturian IEsou
Khristou hosa eiden. ... Kharis humin kai eirEnE apo ho On kai ho En kai
ho erkhomenos kai apo tOn hepta pneumatOn ha enOpion tou thronou autou
kai apo IEsou Khristou, ho martus, ho pistos, ho prOtotokos tOn nekrOn
kai ho arkhOn tOn basileOn tEs gEs.
"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his
servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his
angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw - that is,
the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. ... Grace and peace to
you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven
spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful
witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the
earth." (Revelation 1:1-5, NIV)
_Theos_ is explicitly distinguished from _IEsous Khristos_ in vv. 1-2,
and we are told that in fact the speaker of the revelation to John is an
_aggelos_ (presumably not Jesus, although this is not entirely obvious).
Then in v. 4 we see one being (God?) called "ho On" (LXX Exodus 3:14 most
likely, and remember the God/angel/messiah ambiguity there) made distinct
from "seven spirits" before God's throne (X-Men time again) and then
distinct from _IEsous Khristos_ who is described explicitly in terms that
are not at all obviously declaring him the one and only God: instead he is
witness, firstborn of all dead people, king of the earth.
> Hebrews 1-2 that basically says Jesus is greater than all celestial
And this makes him the one and only God? Surely one celestial being is
greater than all the others without being God. This a classic example of
fuzzy thinking. Hebrews is a goldmine for researching NT Christology.
Other places to begin looking are Colossians 1:15-20, 2:9-10; Ephesians
1; Philippians 2:6-11; Revelations 5; Acts 2:22-36, 10:36-43, 13:23-37,
17:24-31; John 1, 17.
In Hebrews 1 & 2 read the Greek carefully and note how _theos_,
is systematically aligned with _patEr_ and how _huios_ never is, and how
_theos_ and its aligned terms are distinguished from _huios_ and its
aligned terms. Notice how _theos_ and _IEsous_ are set in opposition in
a narrative context. The entire letter shows Jesus as a worshipper (high
priest) of God, and one who prays to God (cf. Larry Hurtado's point about
God being the only one who is "worshipped" - not to drag him into my
corner on anything else). In short, look at what Hebrews is actually saying.
> I might also mention that the prologue of one of the epistles, I
think > 2 Peter (which I accept as authentic) basicaaly says "Jesus, >
My edition reads 2 Peter 1-2 "...dikaiousunEi tou theou hEmOn kai sOtEros
IEsou Khristou, ... en epignOsei tou theou kai IEsou tou kuriou hEmOn."
"righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, ... through the
knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." [NIV]. If you are going to deny
that this passage is ambiguous ("righteousness of our God and of the
savior Jesus the Messiah" in the first part; already distinct in the
second), I will say you are mistaken; and if you say this passage should
be read out of the context of the rest of the NT (and even 2 Peter 1:17),
I will say you are making an even greater error.
that is, God". I also think that when Jesus ansswers the rich young >
ruler's question, and asks, "why do you call me good", he is not just >
being obdurate. He is trying to point the person to who Jesus really is
I really don't think this would be the best place to begin to build your
case that the NT deifies Jesus, since he here explicitly denies his
divinity, and even if you were to assume he is being made ironic, you
would have to show that from some other piece of evidence.
From: "Dan G. McCartney, Westminster Semin" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 22:38:31 EST
Subject: Re: Col. 1:15, PRWTOTOKOS
David Moore writes, in response to my note:
> Would not the O(TI of Col. 1:16 indicate that the reason He is the
>Firstborn has to do with His activity in the creation of all things (vv.
>16ff.)? ... [and much more].
There is always danger in saying anything because you cannot at the same time
say everything. V. 15a says that Jesus is the _eikwn tou theou tou aoratou_
and to this 15b is parallel. Thus v 15b presents Jesus as the one who, because
he is the image (i.e. The Man) can be a head of creation. V. 16 recognizes
that there are other grounds for Jesus being "firstborn" because just being a
human being would not itself qualify him. He is also firstborn inasmuch as he
is the mediator of creation (en autw ektisthE). Thus he is *head* of creation
by virtue of his both being a "part" of it (in a certain sense) and because he
is also outside creation as its mediator. In the same way he is "part" of the
church (v.18) and also outside it as mediator of its "creation" by his
resurrection from the dead. V.19 and 20 reinforce the dual aspects -- all the
_plErOma_ was pleased to dwell in him, and he reconciled all things *to
Himself* (i.e. as God he was the one needing to be reconciled and as Firstborn
he was the one qualified to do it. The complex inner workings of this passage
I think are some of the strongest indications that Nicea got Paul and the rest
of the NT right.
** Dan G. McCartney | I'net: DMCCARTNEY@HSLC.ORG **
** Assoc. Prof. of NT | WTS: 215 887 5511 **
** Westminster Theol Seminary | Office: 215 572 3818 **
** Box 27009, Chestnut Hill | Fax: 215 887 5404 **
** Philadelphia, PA 19090 | Home: 215 659 7854 **
From: "Gregory Jordan (ENG)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 22:48:37 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: son of man
On Sat, 17 Dec 1994, Pete Cepuch wrote:
> No, I think Jesus' reference to "son of God" has to do with the fact that He
> calls God "my Father". The Fatherhood of God is well known from rabbinic
> literature. It is not a term that Jesus originated. It was taught and still
Are you distinguishing God and Jesus, too, now? The Son calls the
Father, not God in general, "my Father", according to traditional
trinitarian thinking. But where in "rabbinic literature" or elsewhere
outside of the NT, is God called "son"? (And don't cite a passage that
distinguishes God from his son).
> Psalm 2:
> 7 I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
> He said to me," thou art MY SON, today I have begotten thee.
> 8 Ask of Me and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance,
> and the ends of the earth as thy possession.NAS
> The idea that Jesus is calling God "my Father" is a claim of being messiah.
> My Father/My Son speaks of a special relationship between God/Messiah.
Sure enough, you're distinguishing between God and his Messiah, instead
of conflating them, which is my point.
> Now, if we look farther into John 10 we see Jesus refering to Himself
> as the good shepard is an allusion to Ezekiel 34. For instance:
> 11 For thus says the Lord God," behold,I Myself will search for
> My sheep and seek them out.
> 15 I will feed my flock and I will lead them to rest, declares
> the Lord God.
> 22 therefore, I will deliver my flock and they will no longer
> be a prey and I will judge between one sheep and another.
> 23 Then I will set over them one shepard, My servant David and he will
> feed them;he will feed them himself and be their shepard."NAS
> Here we have God HIMSELF seeking out and delivering(DaRaSHTI v.11/HOSHaTI v. 22
> could be rendered as seeking/saving). This calls to mind Jesus saying: "For
> the son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost"(Luke 19:10NAS).
And yet it is the *Messiah* who is the Shepherd, as human a king as David
and the other shepherds in Ezekiel 34. In the gospels, Jesus speaks of
his father as having "given" him his followers - does this lead one to
think it is only Jesus who has sought them out?
> Back to John 10 we see a divison caused about these words with many accusing
> Him of being "possessed or evens/insane". In the second half of the chapter
> He is plainly asked if He is messiah. And He tells them "I told you..."which
> leads down to the "I and the Father are One" statement. So, how did these
> people understand these words? They wanted to stone Him for "being a man
> make yourself out to be GOD.v 33.
No, they say v. 33 _su anthrOpos On poeis seauton theon_ - they deny his
divinity, and Jesus does also: _hon ho patEr hEgiasen kai apesteilen eis
ton kosmon humeis legete hoti BlasphEmeis, hoti eipon, Huios tou theou
eimi? Ei ou poiO ta erga tou patros mou..._ That is, he only claimed to
be the son of God, and surely God does not get sanctified by someone else
or sent into the world by someone else or do the deeds asked by someone
else. There *is* humor in Jesus' comparison of his enemies to the evil
people in Psalm 82 who were "gods" - but his irony was that he deserved
to be called a god (or godlike, or however you want to render _theos_)
more than they did since he did what God wanted, unlike them.
> and cultural context we can understand better the reasons why His words often
> caused divisions. He was obviously claiming messiahship but also much more.
> He was forgiving sins like God, He was raising the dead like God and He was
> speaking like God. That is why He was being accused of blasphemy.
Peter, the OT prophets and the NT disciples also raised the dead; it was
God who raised Jesus from the dead (according to the usual NT phrasing)
once and for all. Many angels and prophets spoke like God, in God's name
and in his propria persona. The forgiveness of sins does seem like a NT
innovation on the messiah lore, as far as I know (although I wouldn't be
surprised if there were non-Christian parallels), but notice phrasing
like that in Matthew 9:6-7 _eksousian ekhei ho huios tou anthrOpou epi
tEs gEs aphienai hartias ... idontes de hoi okhloi ephobEthEsan kai
edoksasan ton theon ton donta eksousian toiautEn tois anthrOpois_ "the
Son of Man has been given authority on earth to forgive sins ... When the
crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had
given such authority to men." (NIV) God gave authority to a human
being. In both Mark & Luke parallels, the crowds give thanks to God for
what Jesus did.
I have no intention of examining any further examples, since I think it
is enough that I have established the ambiguity in the text; I'm not
committing myself to hunting down and defending this or that
interpretation of this or that passage.
From: Dennis <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 22:56:23 -0700 (MST)
Subject: God the son
Gregory Jordan asks, "Where in 'rabbinic literature' or anywhere else
outside the NT, is God called 'son'"? One rather obvious answer is Isaiah
To us a child is born, to us a son is given,
And the government will be on his shoulder,
And his name will be called Wonderful Counsellor,
MIGHTY GOD, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
What has happened in a number of recent posts on this topic, it seems to
me, is a confusion of historical scholarship and exegesis. What the word
theos meant to the Greeks or the Essenes, for example, is not of decisive
significance to understanding its meaning in the New Testament and other
Christian literature. To argue that since the people in 50 AD had a
number of divergent ideas about God, that therefore these beliefs are
reflected in the New Testament's use of the term theos, is a non
WHat we have in the NT is not a densely populated theonomy, but a body of
literature in which those who have a bunch of angels, superangels,
demiurges, and all the rest are considered unspiritual, falsely humble,
and other uncomplimentary things (Colossians 2:16-19), "bold and
arrogant" (2 Peter 2:10-12). To go to literature outside the NT, then,
find all sorts of ideas about divinity which are not found in the NT and
are in fact condemned in it, and then to understand the language of the
NT in that context, is not good exegesis.
I also think we moderns, 20 centuries after the fact, should tread very
carefully before we impose our knowledge of history on those who were
interpreting the NT 2-3 centuries after the fact. I'd imagine the bishops
of Nicea, who were part of the culture and spoke the language, had a
better grasp of these matters than we do studying both the culture and
language of the NT from such a distance. That doesn't mean we should not
probe, question, ask, and investigate. It does mean we scholarly types
could use an occasional dose of humility. The authors of the Nicene Creed
understood Greek and the nuances of the terminology far better than any
of us ever will. That, in itself, doesn't make them wrong or right, of
course. But we should deal with these matters fully aware of the great
disadvantage we have if we try to prove conclusions different from theirs
about the meaning of the Greek in the NT.
End of b-greek-digest V1 #516
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