b-greek-digest V1 #517

b-greek-digest            Monday, 19 December 1994      Volume 01 : Number 517

In this issue:

        Re: God the son
        Isaiah 9:6 LXX


From: "Gregory Jordan (ENG)" <jordan@chuma.cas.usf.edu>
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 11:04:40 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: God the son

On Sat, 17 Dec 1994, Dennis wrote:

> 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.

This passage in Hebrew tradition is merely making the point that the 
Messiah will be named after God, like many Jews were, including Isaiah.  
Moreover, the set of titles are not trinitarian: e.g., Jesus is not "the 
Father" according to traditional thinking. "Mighty God" is also in the 
Hebrew El Gibbor, gibbor being applied to human beings as "hero" in the 

> 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 
> sequitur. 

Thinking that what contemporary people thought, and what the authors of 
the NT probably thought, is irrelevant, is what *I* would call non 
sequitur.  I am fully aware that many Christian traditions accept the 
final layer, not the original, of accumulating tradition, as 
authoritative.  My intention has been to interpret the text properly in 
the light of historical scholarship, which may or may not be relevant to 
anyone's religious beliefs, but is certainly of historical import.

> 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.

It is not at all obvious that NT ideas of the Messiah were not formed by 
extracanonical literature, especially since they cite them, and in fact 
it would be odd if they made no appeal to contemporary understandings.  
The NT also admits angels, archangls, and seems very much to have a 
demiurge in the person of Jesus.  The NT writers, in focusing on Jesus as 
Messiah, seem to have developed away from those Jewish traditions which 
led to the worship of angels and eventually the demonization of the 
demiurge (viz. Gnosticism).

> 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 

Humility and caution?  Yes.  Assuming the Nicene bishops knew NT Greek 
and thought better than we do?  No.  Present scholarship (I don't mean 
myself, an amateur) is far better able to deal objectively with the texts 
and language than 4th century bishops.  One might almost compare the 
hullaboo over the U.S. Constitution, which was written only 2 centuries 
ago, and which every man-in-the-street thinks he understands, but only 
legal scholars and historians are in the best position to reconstruct 
what the "Founding Fathers" meant by what they said.  The same goes for 
the NT - there has been an immense improvement in the study of languages 
as they change over time and circumstance (4th century Nicea's Greek was 
*not* the same as 1st century Israel's Greek), better access to relevant 
texts (the same texts the canonization processes tried to sift through in 
the early centuries), archaeology, linguistics, textual theory, history, 
theory of religions, etc.  Naturally we shouldn't dismiss any ancient 
source out of hand, but the whole point of scholarship, I would think, 
would be to be critical of previous assumptions.

Greg Jordan


From: PESELYG@lynx.apsu.edu
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 11:44:37 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Isaiah 9:6 LXX

Dennis Rardin quoted Isaiah 9:6 for the phrase "the mighty God."

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:  and the
government shall be upon his shoulder:  and his name shall be
called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting
Father, The Prince of Peace." (KJV)

My text of the Septuagint doesn't have anything that corresponds
to "the mighty God."  (This is an edition by Leander van Ess, 1823,
3rd ed. 1908.)  Isaiah 9:6 reads:

hoti paidion egennEthE hEmi^n, huios kai edothE hEmi^n, hou^ hE
archE egenEthE ei tou^ Omou autou^, kai kalei^tai to onoma autou^,
megalEs boulE^s angelos.  axO gar eirEnEn epi tous archontas,
kai hygieian autOi^.

that a child was born to us, and a son was given to us, of whom
the rule was upon his shoulder, and his name is called, messenger
of great counsel.  For he will bring peace upon the rulers,
and health to him.

Does the Hebrew text include the additional titles that are not
in the LXX but are translated in the King James Version?  Or do
some MSS of the LXX read differently?  (This 1908 edition does not
have an apparatus criticus.)  (The quotation of Isaiah 9:1-2
in Matthew 4:15-16 differs noticeably from the van Ess text of
Isaiah 9:1-2:  how much variation exists among surviving Greek
texts of Isaiah 9?)

The main point I'm trying to get at is--how secure is the phrase
"the mighty God" in Isaiah 9:6?  Is it there in the Hebrew?

George Pesely
Austin Peay State University


From: Carl W Conrad <cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu>
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 14:22:45 -0600 (CST)

Since Joe Abrahamson evidently meant the message which he
sent to me to go to the whole list, I'm taking the liberaty
of forwarding it and along with my two responses to the
whole list.

Carl Conrad

Forwarded mail
- ------------------------------------
>From Theojoe@aol.comSat Dec 17 20:51:24 1994
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 1994 00:10:44 -0500
From: Theojoe@aol.com
To: cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu
Subject: Re: The Law (& agapaw)

Carl and others,

Carl Conrad wrote
>I recall being shocked, after hearing all about how AGAPAW
must refer only to divine love for humanity, at reading the
line in the Iliad where Achilles speaks of his affection for
Briseis as every bit as deep as Agamemnon's for Chryseis
(Agamemnon had said, recall, that he much preferred Chryseis
to his lawful-wedded-wife Clytemnestra, for which statement
he may be forgiven, although Clytemnestra did not forgive
him). At any rate Achilles remarks sarcastically,
>"Is it only the sons of Atreus that love their bed-mates?"
>My own inclination is to feel that the distinction in John
21 is not really very important. But there is a goodly body
of people who feel otherwise.

Thank you for the reference.  Could you post the
book,section, and passage numbers for the complete
reference? Thanks. This is good information to contrast with
the claims of the old resources such as Trench's and
Girdlestone's _Synonyms_ which both erroneously lay claim
that agapaw is found nowhere in classical literature, but
was rather unique to the LXX and NT. (Girdlstone, ch. X,
sec. 3 "Love"; Trench, section xii "agapaw, filew)

I'd like to add another to the pile against AGAPAW being
understood as only referring to Divine love. Though some
readers may be familiar with this section of the Septuagint,
I'll lay it out plainly for the rest.

Basileiwn B' (2 Samuel LXX) 13
Amnon, David's son, was infatuated with Tamar, his
half-sister. He raped her.
It is interesting to note the word used to describe this
infatuation and rape. I include the relevant parts and
themes with the word "love" (AGAPAW) in capital letters so
that those who don't have a Septuagint can see what kind of
"love" is
meant by the word AGPAW.

from verse 1
kai onoma auth Qamar, kai HGAPHSEN authn Amnwn uios Dauid.
and her name was Thamar, and Amnon -the son of David- loved her.
kai eqlibeto Amnwn wste arrostein dia Qamar thn adelfhn auto,
and Amnon was so distressed so that he became sick on account of his sister

oti parqenos hn auth,
for she was a virgin,

kai uperogkon en ofqalmois Amnwn tou poihsai ti auth.
and a it was a big deal in Amon's eyes to do anything to her.

down to verse 4
kai eipen autw Amnwn Qhmar thn adelfhn Abessalwm tou adelfou 
mou egw AGAPW.
and Amnon said to him, "I love Thamar, my brother Absolom's sister."

down to verse 11
kai proshgagen autw tou fagein, 
and  when she brought something to eat to him,

kai epelabeto auths kai eipen auth
and grabbed her and said to her,

Deuro koimhqhti met emou, adelfh mou.
"Come, bed with me, my sister."
kai eipen autw Mh, adelfe mou, 
and she said to him, "No, my brother,

mh tepeinwshs me, dioti ou poihqhsetai outws en Israel.
do not disgrace me, for such a thing should never be done in Israel!

mh pohshs thn sfrousunhn tauthn...
Do not do this shameful thing!..."

down to 14
kai ouk hqelhsen Amnwn tou akousai ths fwnhs auths,
Yes Amnon refused to heed her voice,

kai ekrataiwsen uper authn kai etapeivwsen authn kai ekaimyqh met quths.
and since he was stronger than her he disgraced her and bedded with her.

   Now, given this text and what generalities we have
concerning the context of its translation into Greek, we may
safely (IMHO) assume that this text serves as an example of
the flexibility in the use of the word(s) AGAPAW/AGAPH. As
verses 1 and 4 demonstrate in this account, the word does
not inherently convey by virtue of its use the notions of
"the highest kind of love"(sermons I have heard) or "Divine
Love" (a la Anders Nygren).

   Again, Carl, thanks for the info and please post the full
reference. Maybe we could get TLG to do a search for us on
this word in the rest of the classical literature?

At your service,

Joseph Abrahamson

(note new address)
(old address)
>From cwconrad@artsci.wustl.eduSat Dec 17 20:58:22 1994
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 20:57:07 -0600 (GMT-0600)
From: Carl W Conrad <cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu>
To: Theojoe@aol.com
Subject: Re: The Law (& agapaw)

I have a terrible dread that I misquoted that passage and
that it should  have been "PHILEOUS'" rather than "AGAPWS'".
Nevertheless I know that I  have seen AGAPAW used that way
before. I am reading your mail at home  where I don't have
access to the tools, but tomorrow afternoon or Monday  I can
do my own TLG search for earlier uses of AGAPAW, and I think
we can  quite readily demonstrate that it has the sense of
"be satisfied with,"  "like very much." I'll run the CD-ROM
search and see what emerges, then  let you know what I find.
(My offhand recollection is that the line of  Homer I cited
is spoken by Achilles either at the end of Book 1 of the 
Iliad, when the herald come to fetch Briseis or else when
the embassy  comes to his hut in Book 9. I'll check it out
and get back to you when I  have all this info assembled.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu  OR cwc@oui.com
- ---------------------------------------------------------------
Sunday afternoon, December 18, 1994

Your passage from 2 Kings is certainly a telling one. I am
now ready to report on some findings from early Greek. In
the first place, I did check on the passage which I early
(MIS)cited from memory. As I feared, it did indeed turn out
to be an instance of PHILEW: it is from the second of the
sections where I thought it might be, namely in the Embassy
to Achilles in Iliad 9, specifically verse 340, but I cite
the entire passage from 9.338-343:


     "What did the son of Atreus bring the army here? Wasn't it
because of Helen the fair-tressed? Then is it only sons of
Atreus among mortal men that love their bed-mates? For any
man who is good and sensible loves hisown and cares for her,
as did even I love her from my heart, although she was a
captive by spear."

This is, at any rate, telling for the sense of PHILEW. As
for AGAPAW, what I find is that it is a less common synonym
of AGAPAZW, which has the fundamental sense of show
affection, greet affectionately, welcome. I did a quick
check on it in Homer and the tragedians, found that
Aeschylus and Sophocles didn't use it (in the extant works,
which, of course, are only a fragment of what they wrote),
Euripides used it only once it the extant work. I'll just
cite a couple Homeric passages:

Here's the only passage with AGAPAW (the others are all
AGAPAZW)--Odyssey 21.289

     DAINUSAI ...?

     "Wretched stranger, you have few wits indeed. Aren't
you satisfied to be dining readily with us your betters

Iliad 24.464 (Hermes to Priam as he escorts him up to the
hut of Achilles):

               NEMESSHTON DE KEN EIH

     "It would blametworthy for an immortal god to greet
mortals face to face like that."

Odyssey 16.17 (of Eumaios' greeting to Telemachos on his
return to Ithaca):


     "Just as a father thinking kind thoughts greets his own
son when he has come from a far land in the tenth year ..."

The other passages I've found are similar: they all indicate
EXPRESSING affectionate feeling in action.

All this raises the question regarding the emergence of
AGAPH in its more common NT usage. One thing I think we must
say for sure: Pauline usage of a word is not in itself
sufficient to establish the meaning in a Johannine passage.
One notices that also regarding SARKS, which is certainly a
pejorative word in Paul but is very positive in John 1.14.

(Please pardon my transliteration; I've tried to be consistent, but I'm
not sure that I've succeeded.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu  OR cwc@oui.com


From: Rick Strelan <R.Strelan@mailbox.uq.oz.au>
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 1994 10:39:14 +1000 (GMT+1000)
Subject: eusebeia

Pete Cepuch asks about contemporaneous usage of eusebeia in the 
Pastorals. Apart from the notion of reverence to the gods, the word in 
many Ephesian inscriptions at least appears to carry notions of 
"right-relations/ships", "that which holds the polis together" and that 
includes good marriages, good parenting, observing the "laws" of the 
polis etc. "religion" is Ok as long as it doesn't carry ideas of being 
the opposite to "secular".
Rick Strelan


End of b-greek-digest V1 #517


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