b-greek-digest V1 #540
b-greek-digest Wednesday, 11 January 1995 Volume 01 : Number 540
In this issue:
Re: Immanuel Prophecy
Translating John 1:2
query re: Writings of St. Paul
Re: Translating John 1:2
re: translating John 1.2
Re: en kuriw
Isa 7:14--The word ot
From: George Ramsey <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 09:49:03 -0400 (EST)
Subject: Re: Immanuel Prophecy
I commend you for your extensive and detailed research into this
for the posting of this extended material in response to me. It seems that
we both approach the canonical text with reverence for the Christian
revelation, but with different presuppositions about the manner in which
God communicates through the prophets and the Biblical texts.
Let me respond just a bit to some of your observations.
In your post, you cited some of my comments, which are indicated below by
>>; I have marked your responses by <<, and my response now is indicated
>>3. Your reference to the syntax of 7:14 as constituting an instance of the
futurum instans would lead naturally to the conclusion that the event was
imminent when Isaiah announced it.
<<In my original posting I suggested that the verbless cause should be
translated with an "is." This suggests that the event was not imminent but
was in progress. In other words--if this prophecy were referring only to
Christ--Isaiah saw it (somehow).
##Do I understand you to be saying that the pregnancy culminating in the
birth of Jesus was already underway ("in progress") in the time of Isaiah?
I must say that I have never encountered this understanding of the text
before. Is this simply a contention that God's plan was underway
already in Isaiah's day--or is there a nuance here that I am missing (a
pre-existent Mary, or some such??) If Mary was with child for over 700
years, it surely beats the 80-year pregnancy of Lao Tzu's mother "by a
country mile," as we say in SC!
>>4. The closest parallel, syntactically, to Isaiah 7:14 occurs in Genesis
16:11, where the angel of the Lord announces to Sarah, "Behold (hinneh) you
[are] with child (hrh) and you shall bear (wyldt) a son..." No problem with
construing the pregnancy as *already underway* and the birth as *yet to
<<Actually, there are two other passages that have the verbless clause hnh
hrh: Gen. 16:11 and Jdg. 13:3. In both instances, however, a
waw-consecutive perfect, not a participle, is found within the context which
puts the clause into the future, not the present. I defer to Gesenius, p. 36.
##In Genesis 16:4 we learn that Hagar has conceived, so I do not see any
way we can construe 16:11 except as "you *have conceived* and will bear a
son..." The syntax in Judges 13:3 is different (no hinneh there). (But
there is a very similar construction in Judges 13:5, where both
conception and birth are to be future.)
<< While there is a flurry of biblical activity surrounding His birth,
it is interesting that the next snapshot of Jesus in the New Testament is as
a twelve year old boy in the Temple (Lk. 2:41-49). In this episode, it is
obvious that He had matured into an intelligent and wise young man who was
conscious of His uniqueness. Perhaps too much may be made of the point, but
Isaiah focused on the twelve year old Immanuel, as He reached moral
maturity, as the contemporary sign to Ahaz.
. . . . . . . . .
In some mysterious manner, Jesus developed in His understanding (Lk. 2:52)
and, since He was fully human, experienced the range of human emotions.
Hebrews 5:8 says of Christ: "Although being a Son, He learned, by means of
what He suffered, obedience." David C. Wells in "The Person of Christ"
states: "He had to grow through obedience to the point where he could stand
fully possessed of a sinless but mature nature before God."
##These are most interesting comments from conservative scholars. I do
not have any trouble agreeing with this interpretation of Jesus' growth
and development. In fact, I would even be open to entertaining the
notion that at least some of the NT writers (specifically, the author of
Hebrews) did not intend to say that Jesus was *always* sinless, but, as
indicated in texts such as 5:8, which you cite, and 2:10, that Jesus was
*made perfect/sinless* through suffering. Are you comfortable with this?
>>6.. When consulting the LXX for an indication of how the text was read in
the late Jewish (pre-NT) world, we do indeed note the use of parthenos [but,
as Moshe Shulman noted in a posting about a week ago, that noun is used at
places in the LXX OT--he mentioned Genesis 34:3--where it is clear that it
does not mean "virgin"]. But note also that the same Jewish translator read
the phrase wqr't smw immnw-'l as "*thou* [i.e., Ahaz] shalt call his name
Immanuel"; it would seem that our LXX translator (whatever implications he
attached to parthenos) took the child to be one that would be born in Ahaz's
<<I've only been a part of the Net for a few days, so I didn't see the
posting you referred to. I'll look into it though.
<<As far as the other issue is concerned, confusion arises within the LXX
concerning which form of the verb kaleo should be used to translate the
Hebrew qr' (to call). The different variations are: kaleseis (second person
singular, LXX-A, B, C); kalesei (third person singular, LXX-S); kalesete
(second person plural, LXX-L, Q) and kalesousin (third person plural,
one-fourth to one-half of all known minuscules).
<<Qr', without vowel pointing, appears to be either a qal second person
singular, masculine or feminine. It is, however, according to Gesenius and
supported by BDB, a rare archaic form of the qal, third person, feminine of
qr (reference Gesenius, 206. This is supported by Ugaritic as well, the
usual ending for an Ugaric qtl verb was t). LXX-A, B, C reflect the second
person appearance of the verb. Kalesete probably arose to conform itself
with humin in the first clause of this verse. The minuscules are late texts
which date from the ninth to fifteenth centuries A.D. While they may have
preserved an older reading, it appears that they have been deliberately
altered to kalesousin in order to agree with Matthew. Although the textual
support is scanty, LXX-S is alone in correctly reproducing the person and
number of qr' and is, therefore, the preferred reading.
##I have no desire to argue that the original intent of Isaiah 7:14 was
that "thou" (Ahaz) was intended to be the subject of the naming. I accept
that wqr't can be 3fs (although the consonantal text could be interpreted
either way). My point was simply that if one summons the judgement of the LXX
translator (as you did) to show that it was "a conscious choice" of a Jewish
rabbi before Christianity (your words) to translate almah as
virgin (parthenos), isn't it fair also to recognize that the same translator
understood that *Ahaz* would name the child, thus indicating that the almah
was a woman--probably a wife of Ahaz?--of the king's day?
[IN A SEPARATE POSTING, YOU COMMENTED THAT] <<Several suggestions are
posited for the contemporary fulfillment of Immanuel
by those who hold to a dual fulfillment view: Hezekiah, the remnant, the
second of Isaiah's three sons, or some boy to be born. The leading
candidate, however, is Mahershalalhashbaz, Isaiah's son in 8:1-4. Gleason
Archer expresses this viewpoint in the Wycliffe Biblical Commentary: " This
[`almah referring to a chaste and unmarried woman] well fits the prospective
mother alluded to in this situation. Judging from 8:1-4, the typical mother
was the prophetess who became Isaiah's wife within a short time after this
prophecy was spoken. Therefore she was a virgin at the time this prophecy
<<This view supposes that Isaiah's first wife, the mother of
died and that he was engaged to the virgin prophetess at the time of the
prophecy. Not only is this sheer speculation with no biblical evidence, it
also contradicts several points: (1) `Almah referred to a woman who was
both unmarried and virgin. According to Isaiah 7:14, the unmarried virgin
who conceived the child also gave birth to the child in the same state. The
actions of 8:3 makes it obvious that Isaiah's wife was neither unmarried nor
virgin at the birth of Mahershalalhashbaz. . . . (2) It is probable that
Isaiah's wife was an `almah before their marriage.
Contrary to Archer's view, the most natural supposition is to
assume that the prophetess was the wife of Isaiah and the mother of both
Shear-jashub and Mahershalhashbaz. As such, she would no longer be
designated as an `almah. The syntactical structure of 7:14 shows the woman
was called an `almah before and after the birth. . . . A young, unmarried
virgin would both conceive and, while still an unmarried virgin, give
birth to a son whom she would name `Immanuel.'
##Even if one should concede that almah means "unmarried virgin" I do not
see how the syntax requires that the unmarried, virginal state which existed
prior to conception [and I tend to agree with the postings which suggest that
virgins frequently conceive--after which point they are no longer
virgins] prevailed until the time of birth. Recall, for instance, the
passage in 1 Samuel 2:5, in which Hannah exults, "The barren has borne
seven...": the state that existed up until the time of the activity
signified by the verb does not persist after that activity.
##P.S. Since your article has been posted also to the b-hebrew group, I am
going to go ahead and post my response there also. Let's see if others
out there have additional thoughts...
From: Kenneth Litwak <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 95 12:30:40 PST
Subject: Translating John 1:2
I'd like to bring up again the infamous issue of translation vs.
paraphrase. I was reading John 1 in _Das Gute Nachricht_ and came upon
this rendering of John 1:2:
Von Anfang an war er bei Gott
"From the beginning he was with God" I think.
In Greek this is
(outos En en archE pros ton theon
"This one was with God in/at the beginning"
I have a problem with the German paraphrase (not even beginning to think
of myself as good at German perhaps I'm making some fundamental
translation error here, so you'll have to correct it if so). En archE
is intended, I think, as a clear echo of Gn. 1:1. In this case it is
saying the Logos was present with God at the beginning. It seems
to me that von Anfang is saying something slightly different, i.e.,
the Logos was with from (after) the time of the beginning. Ins
Anfang I would accept but von Anfang seems to not really be saying
the same thing. I expect a good paraphrase to try to stick to the
sense of the original and I don't think it is here in a very crucial
passage for John's Christology. Any comments?
Can anyone tell me what function "an" serves in Von Anfang an ...
From: Bruce Terry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 15:44:35 CST
Subject: Discourse Bibliography
My recent post on discourse analysis/textlinguistics has prompted
several to write asking for bibliography. This is a relatively new
area, so the definitive work has not yet been written. To conserve
space, this list will be short, but see the bibliography in my
dessertation for many more references.
GENERAL DISCOURSE THEORY
Beaugrande, Robert-Alain de, and Wolfgang Ulrich Dressler. 1981.
_Introduction to text linguistics_. London and New York:
Brown, Gillian, and George Yule. 1983. _Discourse analysis_.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dijk, Teun A. van. 1977. _Text and context_. London and New York:
Grimes, Joseph E. 1975. _The thread of discourse_. Janua Linguarum,
no. 207. The Hague: Mouton.
Longacre, Robert E. 1983. _The grammar of discourse_. New York and
London: Plenum Press.
The journal to consult is _Text_
GREEK DISCOURSE THEORY
Black, David Alan, ed. 1992. _Linguistics and New Testament
interpretation: essays on discourse analysis_. Nashville:
Levinsohn, Stephen H. 1987. _Textual connections in Acts_. Society
of Biblical Literature Monograph Series. Atlanta: Scholars
________. 1992. _Discourse features of New Testament Greek_.
Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
Terry, Ralph Bruce. 1993. An analysis of certain features of
discourse in the New Testament book of I Corinthians. Ph.D.
diss., The University of Texas at Arlington.
The above is, IMHO, the best introduction to discourse for biblical
scholars because I wrote it as a cross-disciplinary work,
explaining (probably not well enough) theory as I went along.
The journal to consult is _Journal of Translation and
HEBREW DISCOURSE THEORY
Longacre, Robert E. 1989. _Joseph: A story of divine providence_.
Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.
Bruce Terry E-MAIL: email@example.com
Box 8426, ACU Station Phone: 915/674-3759
Abilene, Texas 79699 Fax: 915/674-3769
From: Wayne Meeks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 16:57:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: query re: Writings of St. Paul
Twenty-odd years ago I edited a textbook called _The Writings of St.
Paul_ in the Norton Critical Editions series. John Fitzgerald and I are
now revising it for a new edition. I have a favor to ask.
If there are people on this list who have used TWSP as a textbook in
courses, would you be willing to respond to a brief questionnaire aimed
at making the book more useful for such use? If so, please send your
name, id and email address to the internet address below. DO NOT reply
to the list (i.e., do not hit the "R" button or its equivalent on your
system, which would send a message to the whole list, to everybody's
Wayne A. Meeks, Dept of Religious Studies, Yale University
s-mail: PO Box 208287, New Haven, CT 06520-8287, USA
From: Vincent Broman <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 95 14:34:08 PST
Subject: Re: Translating John 1:2
If there is an important distinction in the German it would be this:
(G. N.) Von Anfang an in the beginning and continuing thereafter
(Luther) Am Anfang in the beginning but not necessarily thereafter
Vincent Broman firstname.lastname@example.org +1 619 553 1641
From: Rick Strelan <R.Strelan@mailbox.uq.oz.au>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 09:26:29 +1000 (GMT+1000)
Subject: en kuriw
Is anyone aware of articles etc dealing with the phrase en kuriw? I'd
appreciate any information on the subject or nay personal opinions as to
its usage(s) especially in Paul. Thanks in anticipation.
From: stcdc <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 18:46:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: re: translating John 1.2
I believe Von anfang an = from the beginning in..
My 1900 edition of Luther's Das Neue Testament reads Dasselbige war im
anfang bei Gott - The same one was in the beginning with God.
Upper Marlboro, MD
From: Kenneth Litwak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 95 16:21:03 PST
Subject: Re: en kuriw
> Is anyone aware of articles etc dealing with the phrase en kuriw? I'd
> appreciate any information on the subject or nay personal opinions as to
> its usage(s) especially in Paul. Thanks in anticipation.
> Rick Strelan.
En kuriw would be in the same category as en Christw and related
phrases. There is a huge amount of literature on this I'm certain.
You might start by looking up Christos or Kurios in Kittel's or
the New Int'l Dict of NT Theology, ed. by Colin Brown. In addition,
any technical commentary on most of Paul's letters, particularly one on
Ephesians, like the NIC volume on Ephesians and Colossians, by F.F.
Bruce, should discuss the topic and point you to further literature.
Other avenues to explore would be works on Paul (Ridderbos, Bruce,) and
works on NT theology (Ladd, Guthrie). I'm not trying to point you to
what I think are the definitive works (though I think Ladd did NT
theology best of all the works I've seen -- see Goppelt for a shorter
treatment), these works should at least point you toward good
bibliography. There are multiple views, which range from that of
a mystical union being expressed, to a notion of corporate identity with
Jesus, as well as other ideas. I'd ignore material that posits the
background for this in Hellenistic mystery religions. I've never
considered that a viable source (they were a secret after all) and
I'm not convinced that they provided any source of language or ideas for
Paul. I can find all his vocabulary coming from elsewhere without
resort to this dubious source.
From: Bill Kelley <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 21:07:41 -0800
Subject: prison epistles
I am teaching a class on prision epistles at Salem Bible college. Since
this is alittle out of my field (old Testament), I'd appreciate any help you
folks could offer.
I am primarily interested in the different interpretations given to the
epistles. I'd like to present the various viewpoints to the class and let
them debate their merits. Please feel free to offer your own opinions on
the strengths and weakness of the interpretations. Since this is a lower
level undergrad course, I don't wnat to get too deeply involved in
discussing the greek grammar
Also, I would be interested in any Chiasmus formats you have found
particulary interesting on these epistles.
Thank you for your help!
From: William Brooks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 21:34:04 -0800
Subject: Isa 7:14--The word ot
On Jan 6 George Ramsey asked several excellent questions regarding my
interpretation of the Immanuel prophecy. I see that he posted some follow-up
comments/questions that I'll have to get to : ) Anyway, one of his questions
I had not considered and it made me run for my Logos Bible software and
search for the answer. Here is his question with my reply:
>>How often do you find in the Old Testament a "sign" ('ot) which is not
immediately accessible or imminent.
Here's what I discovered. 'ot appears 77 times in the OT. It always referred
to something tangible, which would be tangible or desired to be tangible (as
in Deut. 13:1-2 where the false prophet was to perform a sign). I suppose
when you think about it a "sign" should be something tangible so the
discovery probably is not all that profound.
I looked up each reference and charted ot as to its position relative to the
speaker. If the sign referred to to the speaker was immediate or imminent it
was put into that column; if ot referred to something in the past of the
speaker it was put into that column; if the sign was future or undefined in
its time frame, you guessed, it was put into that column.
Some caveats. This chart was drawn up rather hastily--it is in progress and
can no doubt be refined. What's the dividing line between "imminent" and
"future"? Who knows--I arbitrarily decided that anything over a year or so
was not imminent but future.
==> beside a v. in the past column means that the speaker referred to a past
event that had present manifestations
==> beside a v. in the present column means that the speaker referred to a
present sign that would have future manifestations.
? means that my best guess is that the verse would go in that particular column.
I realize, too, that these groupings are highly subjective and could be
legitimatly challenged--but it's a place to start.
PAST PRESENT OR FUTURE OR
Exod 4:28 Gen 1:14==> Deut 13:1,2
Num 14:11, 22 4:15; 9:12? 1Sam 2:34; 10:7
Deut 4:34; 6:22; 7:19 9:13?, 17? Isa 7:14 :)
11:3; 26:8; 29:3 17:11 19:20;
34:11 Exo 3:12; 4:8, 9 55:13; 66:19
Josh 24:17==> 4:17, 30; 7:3 Jer 44:2
Neh 9:10 8:23; 10:1,2 Ezk 14:8
Psa 78:43; 105:27; 135:9 12:13; 13:9,16
Jer 32:20==> 31:13,17
32:21 Num 2:2; 16:38; 17:10
Ezk 20:12 Deut 6:8; 11:18; 28:46
Josh 2:12; 4:6
1Sam 10:9; 14:10
2 Ki 19:29==>
Psa 65:8?; 74:4,9
Isa 7:11; 8:18==>
Whereas Mr Ramsey, et al, would put Isa 7:14 in the "present" column with a
==> (perhaps), myself, et al, would put it in the future column.
As I said, there's a lot of room for improvement on this chart. Mr Ramsey
excellent question has earned a spot in a footnote or an addenda.
End of b-greek-digest V1 #540
** FOR YOUR REFERENCE **
To unsubscribe from this list write
with "unsubscribe b-greek-digest" as your message content. For other
automated services write to the above address with the message content
For further information, you can write the owner of the list at
You can send mail to the entire list via the address: