b-greek-digest V1 #806
b-greek-digest Monday, 31 July 1995 Volume 01 : Number 806
In this issue:
Re: Moule's Idiom Book
Re: Moule's Idiom Book
Re: Astronomy and the Nativity
Re: Events of Resurrection Sunday
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 95 01:49:52 CDT
Subject: Christ-hymn in Col 1:16-20
I've received the following request for information from a friend who has had
to go off-list for the summer. Any help, insights or bibliography would be
>Anyone here either done, or downloaded, a good, in-depth study of
>Colossians 1:18-20? I'm especially interested in verse 20, cross-studies
>in other passages, etc. Also, anyone know of any studies on the idea that
>verses 15 through 20 are a fragment of an ancient hymn? I'd like to see
>what's out there. Thanks.
I have pointed him to a Festschrift mentioned by Bultmann (_Theology of the New
Testament_ Part I, pg 176):
A Christ-hymn underlies 1 Pet. 3:18-22 (as is the case of
Col 1:15-20)... on Col 11:15-20 see E. Kasemann, _Bultmann-
Festschrift_ (1949), 133-148.
This seems a tad dated -- but it's all I could find with what little resources
I have right now.
_ Doug Palmer |"I believe in Christianity as I
_| ~- Internet: email@example.com | believe that the sun has risen,
\, _} CourtNews: firstname.lastname@example.org | not only because I see it, but
\( Fidonet: 1:387/31 (1:387/0) | because by it, I see all else."
- ----------------------------- Note follows -----------------------------
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 1995 14:29:54 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Larry W. Hurtado" <email@example.com>
To: Carl W Conrad <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: NTGreek Discussion <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Problems in the Christ Hymn (Phil 2:4-11)
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
Carl Conrad's query about Phil 2:5-11 reflects discussions among NT
scholars for the last couple decades. Supporting a strong "Adam
Christology" approach, with no real pre-existence seen, see J.D.G. Dunn's
_Christology in the Making_, in which this passage is treated rather
fully and others taking this position are lined up.
Most, including yours truly, aren't persuaded, however. A few
observations must suffice for this medium
1) On "morphe": Contrary to many claims, "morphe" and "eikon" are *not*
handled the same in the biblical texts, and probably don't = the same
connotation. The Gen creation accounts emphasize Adam as God's "eikon",
and this has special connotations, because "eikon" is also used for
images of the gods. Thus, Adam as/in (Heb. = "b") God's image probably =
Adam in the role/dignity of the "image" of a god, that is, the physical
manifestation/representation of the deity and thus deserving of the same
respect or sanctity one gives to images of gods. It *certainly* (in my
view!) has nothing to do with any particular attribute or faculty of the
adam (e.g., such as reason, etc., all of which are ideas showing the
influence of Greek philosophy).
2) Given Paul's familiarity and commitment to what he saw as scripture,
it is logical to think that "morphe" may have been shaped by its use in
the Bible. In the LXX morphe does *not* carry the Aristotelian-type
notions of "essence" etc., but can represent someone's appearance or
visage. Thus, "morphe theou" in Phil 2 may mean something like "godlike
in form/appearance". If Paul had wanted to allude to Gen 2, "eikon
theou" would have done it straight off. That he avoided "eikon" in favor
of "morphe" is significant, I think.
3) AT the same time, I think it quite plausible that Phil 2 hints at a
contrast twixt Jesus and the story of Adam's disobedience, esp. in 2:6-7,
where "equality with God" is mentioned, and even in the whole direction
of the action, away from godlike status to servant/human status--which is
opposite the wrongful aspirations of Adam (and Eve) in Gen 2.
4) But, if Phil 2 refers entirely and only to Jesus' earthly life, and if
"morphe theou" only refers to the human Jesus described honorifically,
then I think we have some problems understanding what "ekenosen" (2:7)
could mean ("emptied" what? human status? some honorific role? what?).
Also, what does "en homoiomati anthropon genomenos" =?? If "morphe theou"
= being a man, then what happened in 2:7?
So, all in all I think we have to see "morphe theou" as connoting
some kind of status and form of existence *prior to* and *above*
"becoming human". We don't have Nicaea or Chalcedon here by any means
(they had other fish to fry than Paul). But we don't have simply a human
Jesus who acts like a good boy.
Can I point to my discussion of "pre-existence" in the
_Dictionary of Paul and His Letters_, eds. G. F. Hawthorne, R. P. Martin,
for a bit more discussion and bibliog??
Larry Hurtado, Religion, Univ. of Manitoba
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 1995 07:44:31 -0500
Subject: Re: Moule's Idiom Book
At 7:31 PM 7/29/95, Larry Swain wrote:
>THough I am no where near the neighborhood of Carl or Edward, I too
>learned classical (thank heaven!) and really am disappointed at the
>treatment Hellenistic Greek has received in the field. Sigh. Hopefully
>that will soon be rectified.
>Parmly Billings LIbrary
Just to clear the record a bit, so far as I am concerned, I have to report
that I learned Greek in the most contorted of all possible fashions (at
least, I can't imagine any more round-about way to do it) that I would not
recommend to my worst enemy: in my first year (ancient history: Fall of
1952) my class of Beginning Greek at Tulane had four students, one of whom
wanted to read Plato while the other three of us wanted to read NT. So the
professor started us out on the gospel of Mark, working inductively and
learning constructions as we came to them, while at the same time working
through a truly wretched Beginning NT Greek textbook by Rife. So we learned
NT Greek that year, after a fashion. The following year, however, there
were only two of that class left, and somehow the decision was made that we
would do Homeric Greek with the excellent old standard school text of the
Iliad by Benner; we read quite a bit of Homer that year, and in the course
of it learned a good deal of the history of Greek morphology and syntax.
The following year, I found myself in a new class with the dean of Tulane's
Arts & Sciences class and the dean of the Classics department too, Russell
Geer, and he decided that the two of us would read Aristotle's Nicomachean
Ethics that semester, and so we did. Second semester? Sophocles' Oedipus
Rex. Sophocles was the hardest of these adjustments I ever made, but I did
eventually make it.
So how did I ultimately really learn Greek? That sink-or-swim method had
something to do with it, but the next factor was the methodical wringer
through which Harvard puts beginning grad students in Classics: (1) do
Greek 112 and work away at the reading list with stuff from all periods,
reading 30 pages of prose or 1000 lines of verse per week; do two years of
Greek composition--one big paragraph a week (usually from 18th-century
English authors, occasionally something contemporary like Nabokov or the
NYT editorial endorsing John Kennedy for president!) to put into Greek
prose. All the time the Smyth-Messing grammar is a constant companion. Then
finally, the thing that consolidated and systematized things for me was
teaching Greek to good students, repeatedly going back to the grammar for
clarification of things that I had understood quite imperfectly.
I would not recommend this way of learning Greek to anyone; but I will say
that I gradually succeeded in learning it and also that in those earliest
years each introduction to a new author from a new period was a severe
challenge and frustration that yielded within a few weeks to a grasp of the
new author's style and a cumulative grasp of his/her (yes, Sappho was there
too) working vocabulary.
We have a standard recommendation here at Washington U. that those who want
to learn NT Greek should begin with the one-year basic introductory course
in Attic Greek, after which I do a tutorial with them in NT, intended
primarily to emphasize the changes the language has gone through since
Attic and secondarily to become familiar with the several major stylistic
types in the Greek NT. I don't know whether this is really necessary, but
in view of the fact that many of these students DO want to read patristic
Greek ALSO, and in view of the fact that much of the patristic Greek has
been heavily influenced by the second-century Attic revival, I think that
the preliminary year of classical Attic does lay a foundation for
approaching a more versatile vehicle of communication than one can acquire
by reading NT texts alone.
In the last analysis, however, there is "no royal road" to Greek. Learning
it is an effortful, time-consuming task that requires infinite patience and
consultation of lexica and grammars. I've always felt about it that a
comment in Harvard's old "primer for new grad students" was particularly a
propos for students of Greek: "You may think that most students here are
geniuses, but the truth is that, while 3% or so may be endowed with very
exceptional intelligence, by far the majority are people with above-average
but not extraordinary intelligence who work patiently, industriously, and
with intense commitment." That's surely what it takes to learn Greek. Which
is why I've never been able to understand how some seminaries can have
their little three-week crash courses in Koine for new students who've
never had Greek before. Has anyone on this list ever tried to learn it that
Although it doesn't seem to have deterred many starters, I've emphasized at
the beginning with each new class of Greek students that they must be
prepared to maintain a steady pace, NEVER get behind even once, and spend
several hours outside of class for each hour in class. And while I think we
shall all profit from that upcoming new grammar of NT Greek that the SBL
group is preparing to replace Blass-Debrunner-Funk, beginners will always,
I believe, have to commit themselves to a long-term endeavor to learn
Greek. On the other hand, I don't know of any other such long-term,
effortful commitment that pays such rewards--except for marriage.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org
From: Larry Swain <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 1995 11:37:54 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Moule's Idiom Book
OUCH! That is some way to learn Greek! Although I agree wholeheartedly
with your comment that ANY student of Greek must be patient, diligent,
and work hard and the rewards will make themselves quite evident. Of all
the languages I have learned none give as much stimulation as Greek and
none as much sheer pleasure as Latin. I once explained to someone that
Greek was my intellectual stimulation and Latin the language I sang to.
ANyway, first year Greek for me was Attic, and by year's end we were
reading a bit of Xenophon's Anabasis, a smidge of NT, and some easy bits
Second year first quarter was also (all this by the way was undergrad
stuff) Attic reading and grammar and composition, although we did do some
reading in LXX since most of the class was headed for NT Greek the next 2
quarters. I took NT and also took Homeric Greek simultaneously the next
2 quarters-now that was a trip!
Grad school was different-I spent an entire school year taking nothing
but Greek, Latin, and German language courses. Ended up with a fair
introduction to all of the Greek literature from Homer to the
Cappadocians which while I work at gaining in skill in a specific area I
never regret that broad base.
So much for my ruminations,
From: MR CHRIS S BRAMLETT <XZXS69A@prodigy.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 1995 17:31:02 EDT
Please un-subscribe me from e-mail. thank you,
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 1995 00:13:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Astronomy and the Nativity
Mike Wicker said...
>Are you saying that God was unable to do this? Texts ought to
>be taken literally unless there is some very compelling reason to
>do otherwise. Again I refer to the sea creature that swallowed
>Jonah. This story is certainly intended to be understood as an
>historical event. Is there a problem with this that I don't see?
Mike, on the other hand, there are many other Christians, myself included,
who believe that the Bible shouldn't be taken "literally" ever, in the sense
that "literal" usually means "not needing interpretation", that it "means
what it says", or that "it just happened that way".
For example, I think the story of Jonah and the whale, if taken
historically/literally, is barely intelligible, let alone meaningful. But if
it is taken symbolically, or allegorically, it becomes a powerful message on
how we respond to God's call.
Matthew's wandering star, as well as the virginal conception of Jesus, are
the same. To use them as "historical proof" that Jesus was unique and was
the Messiah proves little. These reports by
Matt and Luk can hardly be considered historical evidence, since many others
in history have been reported to have been virginally conceived and there is
no way to verify these claims either.
But to understand these verses as references to Balaam's star (Num 24) and
Ahaz's sign that God was with him (Is 7) they take on theological
significance of who Jesus would be.
Although I used to read the Bible very literally, I am to the point where I
have to have very compelling reasons to accept a passage as
The question isn't "wasn't God able to do this?", but rather the question
is "what is the author of this particular kind of writing trying to tell his
audience?". Then ask: "in light of this, what is God's message for us today
in our context?"
I find this approach to interpreting the Bible intelligible as well as
plausable for our day.
Poseyville Christian Church (DoC)
From: Jan S Haugland <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 1995 04:38:19 +0000
Subject: Re: Events of Resurrection Sunday
Your nice summary of events demonstrates that it is not feasilble to treat
these Gospel accounts as *accurate* historical records.
> 1. An angel comes & rolls back the stone from the tomb (Mt. 28:2).
> 2. Mary Magdalene comes before dawn while it is still dark (Jn. 20:1)
> and finds the stone rolled away.
> 3. Other women come at or after sunrise (Mk. 16:2; Lk. 24:1).
> 4. Mary Magdalene leaves to tell the apostles (Jn. 20:2).
> She apparently does not know about the angels.
Problem is, Mt 28:5-7 says that the Angel *spoke* to the women befor ethey
came to the tomb and told them to 1) go to the tomp and find it empty, and 2)
go and tell the other disciples. It's just not possible to reconcile this with
Jn20:1-10 where the women's speculate about the wherabouts of the body *after*
they had seen the empty tomb. They simply assumed the dead body was moved, and
didn't even consider the possibility of resurrection (quite natural).
- - Jan
"This life is a test. It is only a test. Had this been an actual life,
you would have received further instructions as to what to do and where
End of b-greek-digest V1 #806
** 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: