b-greek-digest V1 #848
b-greek-digest Monday, 4 September 1995 Volume 01 : Number 848
In this issue:
Longish Apologia Vita Sua
Re: Longish Apologia Vita Sua
TO SHMEION THS SHS PAROUSIAS
Re: TO SHMEION THS SHS PAROUSIAS
From: Larry Swain <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 1995 00:03:48 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Longish Apologia Vita Sua
On Sat, 2 Sep 1995 Jan.Haugland@uib.no wrote:
> tote - most naturally refers to direct chronological succession of events.
> "Then" in English can of course also refer to next event in order separated
> by a long time (ie, "then, after many hundred years..."), but like with "tote"
> that's not the natural understanding of "then".
Perhaps you missed the two posts by others on this. Someone (Carlton?)
and I apologize for not keeping track here, posted a rather long message
dealing with the lexicographical details regarding the use of tote in
koine, the temporal sense of "at that time" and the non classical
sequential sense. This material was largely reiterated in the posting by
Bruce Terry to which I responded suggesting both a sequential and then a
temporal use of TOTE within a few verses of one another. Your argument
is leaving out half the evidence. And where you ever conceived of the
idea that myself or anyone else on this list believes that TOTE somehow
means centuries is somewhat beyond my comprehension.
> Mt 16:27,28: Speaks for itself, IMO. Me and you have had a long private
> discussion earlier. You argued this "coming in the clouds" referred to the
> transfiguration. For some reason, this and a large number of other claims you
> made to me privately has not been repeated on this mailing list.
My intent in entering any comment on this topic on this list was not to
debate you, I responded with an opinion on Bruce's query regarding the
use of TOTE in Mt 24. It had very little to do with you, other than that
Bruce's question had to do with some of your questions he wished to
repond to. That is the most immediate reason my "claims" have not
appeared here. The second reason is that this list is dedicated to
discussing issues of the Greek text, not to large interpretations of
large sections of scripture. A rule I am here breaking, I might add.
As someone noted, this is not a theology list.
If you wish, when my paper on Matthew 16.21-17.23 is in print I will send
you the reference, if not i won't take any offence.
> > 70s or 80s and Luke almost certainly and universally in the 80s. If the
> > majority of scholarship is correct in this regard, then for the people
> > who recorded these words in the Little Apocalypse, the parousia is yet
> > future. Thus, the most natural understanding of the text changes.
> This is a premise that changes the understanding. If you have read my messages,
> you will have seen I have posted several arguments against this. Where is it
> written in stone that we have to accept "majority of scholarship" without
> asking questions?
This is rather interesting. In my penultimate post I stated that I would
date Matthew's gospel in the early 60s, very much against the majority of
scholarship. I have also stated clearly on this list that I do not think
the 2 Source Hypothesis is the best explanation of gospel origins, and
although this is still less controversial than other positions, it does
go against the majority of scholarship, as does my agreement with Bruce
and others on this list that the longer ending of Mark should not be
rejected as inauthentic. So it is most enlightening that you should ask
whether I think that the majority should not be questioned. Secondly,
you missed my point altogether. It was neither an appeal to majority
rule nor to debate your own arguments regarding date. Rather my purpose
was to illustrate that the claim you make regarding "the most natural"
understanding of the text rests entirly on how one answers certain
questions such as date, provenance, specificity of the words here (how
general are they, or how very specific should we take them as referring
to historical events rather than events "in illo tempore"-mythic time to
use Eliade's term.) and of course origin-are these Jesus' words or the
churches. How you answer these questions will determine what you see as
the msot natural and obvious meaning of the text. You answer them in one
way, others of us answer them another. THus what the natural meaning is
not necessarily what you say it is. That is my only point here.
> the apocalyptic sayings, in 5:3, Paul says "sudden destruction will come upon
> them." So this letter, practically universally agreed to have been written in
> 50AD (some say 51AD), states the same thing as the synoptics. (see also
So are you saying here that the majority of scholarship shouldn't be
questioned? Can't resist turning your own statement against you.
> Can you imagine someone writing a book -- two books in fact -- after WW2,
> claiming that their religious master had predicted the Holocaust as a rightful
> punishment for the Jews? Doesn't the mere thought make us shudder? Would it not
> be the most tasteless act imaginable? Think about it.
This is really shocking Jan. Where have you been? It is happening, and
it is happening at the university level, the very thing you describe
here, in Europe and the USA. I just finished a few months back hosting
the International Anne Frank exhibit here, and I can tell a few
surprising things that humanity has come up with. THis statement of
yours really gets me, it is ignorance such as this which allows something
like the Holocaust to happen again. I apologize, I do not wish to be
offensive, but I feel VERY strongly on this issue, and the current issue
of genocide in the Balkans and in other parts of the worlds. In so far
as it has happened once in this century, it should not be allowed to
happen again, ever, to anyone. And the fact that there is an
undercurrent of revisionist history being engaged in at the moment and
that intelligent people should be unaware of it angers me. My apologies
As regards the gospel writers, I would not attribute that attitude to
them at all, since I don't think that Matthew at least was written after
the fact, or that the little acopalypse refers to the events of 70.
> > > It requires an enormous amount of faith to squeeze 1900+ years inside a
> > "tote"
> > > like you do, and it has nothing more to do with scholarship than whatever
> > > I may have said.
> "Ad hominem" means to discredit an argument based on an irrelevant attack on a
> person. I don't make such an attack. Like many people, you don't fully
> understand what "ad hominem" is about.
And a very good use of the ad hominem you have made here. It runs a
little like this: I don't know what it is, therefore when I say that your
comments regarding my faith statements on this list(which I don't think I
have ever made), my lack of knowledge of Greek (TOTE=1900+ years, is not
used sequentially etc), that my arguments onlist have nothing to do with
scholarship, therefore I am not to be listened to. If this were an
example in my Logic class, I would give you an A.
> > First, in none of my
> > posts either on list or off have I suggested that TOTE means 1900 years:
> > Quote me.
> Offline you have stated that the parousia still belongs to the future.
> You asked me to quote you, and I take that as a permission:
> "Why? Why 70? It is so against the scriptures themselves which speak of
> the evil being removed from the earth, not the righteous, where his elect
> are gathered, not scattered."
> "I expect Jesus' words just before this to be taken seriously: see vs 27.
> An event which can't be missed."
> Now, unless you will not agree that it's been about 1900 years since the
> statements were made, I can hardly understand it differently.
Nice quotations. Now just where in those statements do you see that a
statement is made that the parousia is future or anything about 1900+
years? Frankly I don't. It is illogical to assume that to argue against
a position is therefore to argue for another, particularly one that has
not been stated by the correspondant.
> Well, point out my "several glaring factual errors" then. You have
pointed out > none so far.
a)you missed entirely the discussion regarding the sequential uses of
TOTE in koine literature, something that I am not only to have mentioned
b) you have read into people's statements meanings they did not intend in
order to bolster your argument, and I am also not the only one in this
list to mention that
c) you have misattributed arguments to people which they never stated in
order to make light of their arguments (for example that I think that
Matthew is a late document, something I not never stated, but stated the
precise contrary, and I know of at least one other on this list who has
also stated that you misconstrued what he has said.)
d) You have done the very thing you accused Carl of: ignoring the major
points focussing on the minor. You have ignored completely other
people's arguments. One of mine is the fact that if we accept your
interpretation of things that the Bar Kochba revolt better fits the
description which you wish to read in here, but that has elicited no
response at all.
Actually looking back on it, d includes 3 "glaring errors": first,
hypocrisy, accusing others of what you do yourself. They may have done
it, (including I suppose myself), but so have you, and I would hope that
you are enough of human being to admit it. Second, you ignore the
argument, the basis of the hypocrisy. Third, you ignore history in so
far as such a thing may be ascertained. Your theory just doesn't make
e)as I pointed in the last couple of my posts you have built arguments
and responded to arguments built upon faulty premises. Refer to those
posts for the details.
And that is just the beginning, but should be sufficient. None of these
were "hidden" or secrets or not mentioned in my posts to you, they have
been publicly stated, so this exercise which you asked for ("Well, point
out my 'several glaring factual errors'")is sheer redundancy.
> Seriously, I suggest we just bury this discussion. What I wanted to know by
> posting on this list was if my understanding of the Greek key words was
> correct: genea, tote, aion, etc. This has been confirmed, and I have no reason
> to continue this discussion where it does not belong.
WHile you have raised good points, you have also not been paying
attention, I would really suggest that you enter a university and
actually learn Greek.
> I do of course observe that my summary of arguments caused some irritation.
> This fact just amuses me.
Irritation has not been caused by the "summary of arguments". Irritation
has been caused by your insults, by your twisting of arguments and
statements to say something they never were intended to say (another
example is when you cited my reference to the text of Mt 24.24 which was
neither in reference to your arguments, nor was it anything more than a
reference was taken as support and concurrence with your overall
position.), irritation has been called by your overall attitude and
disregard for the purposes of this list. ALl of us on this list to some
degree or other deal with the world of ideas, and are confronted by, and
often confront others with, ideas which differ from our own, and we can
discuss them in an informative atomosphere of commonality without
rancor. You have introduced a new, and unwelcome, element which does not
appear to foster discussion, but rather acrimonious debate. So please,
do as you have suggested here. Drop it.
Parmly Billings Library
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 1995 14:10:39 +0200
Subject: Re: Longish Apologia Vita Sua
<<<longish tirade from an annoyed Larry Swain in the bit-bucket>>
Nice one Larry,
I'm feeling quite honoured that when you treat *my* messages the same way you
treat Bible texts. At least your distortion techniques are thoroughly
"I'm coming soon" = 1900+ years! Don't send that guy out for a pizza...
- - Jan
"The more we disagree, the more chance there
is that at least one of us is right."
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 1995 07:21:08 -0500
Subject: TO SHMEION THS SHS PAROUSIAS
I would like to propose a discussion on the function of SHMEIA in the
Synoptic Jesus-sayings--or, if there is a standard treatise on the subject
(or 2 or 3 or more!), I'd be grateful to have it pointed out. I would be
inclined to omit the Johannine SHMEIA, partly because it is generally
thought (isn't it) that a distinct SHMEIA-source underlies the first half
of John's gospel, but also because this is a matter of narrative rather
than dominical sayings on the subject of SHMEIA. In part this is a
follow-up to an off-list query from Larry Swain regarding the following
part of an exchange between Jan Haugland and myself:
>At 7:52 PM 8/28/95, Jan.Haugland@uib.no wrote (inter alia):
>>I think we have to note that words about celestial phenomenons ("signs in sun
>>and moon and stars" etc) in the OT, where these word-pictures originated, does
>>not stand alone. Some people have had their nose against the skies for a long
>>time with no good reason, for those words do not refer to anything that shakes
>>the physical universe. We find these words all over the OT, like in Hag
>>2:21,22 >where God is "about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to
>>overthrow the throne of kingdoms." Note the parallelism; the last part --
>>literal -- explains the first -- which is figurative. We see pretty clearly
>>that celestial phenomenon and natural disasters are used to refer to great
>>*moral* and *political* changes and upheavals (like in Ha 2:6,7; Ze 4:7; Ez
>>26:15; 38:19; Jo 3:16; see also Heb 12:26,27).
>>This is the a key to understand the celestial phenomenon referred to in Mt
and I responded as follows:
>I won't argue this point; I agree that it is standard; it isn't even unique
>to the Jewish tradition. There's a standard list of portents that
>accompanied the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., many of them
>similar to those you've cited above. I don't attribute any more
>significance to them than you do. I do attribute more significance to Mk
>13:7-8, because I think it is very likely that Mark had in mind the
>upheavals in the Roman empire following the assassination of Nero in 69.
Larry made the point to me that we should understand these signs as more
than a literary device--that they were taken very seriously by the
contemporaries of Jesus and the early church (and, I would add, by the
ancient world generally, apart from sophisticated scoffers, who must have
constituted a relatively small percentage of the population. And I think
that this is true. But that set me to thinking about the SHMEIA in this
part of Synoptic Apocalypse which all the Synoptics present as a discourse
of Jesus either delivered on the Mt of Olives (so Mk & Mt) or even in the
Temple precinct itself (so Luke) and the tradition of dominical sayings
apart from this, most particularly the refusal of Jesus to give a sign in
TI hH GENEA hAUTH ZHTEI SHMEION? AMHN LEGW hUMIN, EI DOQHSETAI THi
GENEAi TAUTHi SHMEION.
and what may be an alternative form of the same saying in the Q tradition
(or, if you prefer, in the shared tradition of Mt & Lk), as found, e.g., in
Mt 12:39-42, of which I cite only the beginning:
GENEA PONHRA KAI MOIXALIS SHMEION EPIZHTEI, KAI SHMEION OU DOQHSETAI
AUTHi EI MH TO SHMEION IWNA TOU PROFHTOU. hWSPER GAR HN IWNAS EN THi
KOILIAi TOU KHTOUS TREIS hHMERAS KAI TREIS NUKTAS. hOUTWS ESTAI hO
TOU ANQRWPOOU EN THi KARDIAi THS GHS TREIS hHMERAS KAI TREIS NUKTAS.
Now it may well be that the second part of this is a later expansion from
the original Jesus-saying, a vaticinium ex eventu based on the fact of
Jesus resurrection three days (by the traditional counting of days at both
ends) after his death on the cross. I don't really want to get into that
argument. What I'm really curious about is whether we may say anything
confidently about Jesus' own attitude toward "signs." It would seem that he
saw his own exorcisms and healings not as validation of his own status so
much as indications that the Kingdom of God was dawning (obviously I'm
drawing this from the Q tradition of Lk 11:20 = Mt 12:28.
So my questions are: (1) Is there a bibliography on this subject already
that one turn to for useful discussion of the matter? and/or (2) what do
list-members think about these dominical sayings and the question of Jesus'
own attitude toward SHMEIA (a) as valid indicators of the COMING, and (b)
as validations of his mission?
I realize that my formulation of the second question betrays some
skepticism about whether Jesus actually offered these SHMEIA as indicators
of the end-time, but I don't really want to prejudice that question. It
does seem to me than Jan is right in asserting that some of this is
literary in inspiration and derives from older Biblical traditions. My
question, then, is is it really MORE than literary in terms of Jesus'
actual predictions of signs indicating the PAROUSIA?
Now of course it may be felt that this inquiry is more historical than
textual and therefore has no place in discussions on b-greek. I'd be
grateful, however, even for discussion of the way in which SHMEION is being
used in these sayings.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
From: Bruce Terry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 03 Sep 1995 17:18:38 CST
Subject: Re: TO SHMEION THS SHS PAROUSIAS
On Sun, 3 Sep 1995, Carl W. Conrad wrote (in part):
>So my questions are: (1) Is there a bibliography on this subject already
>that one turn to for useful discussion of the matter? and/or (2) what do
>list-members think about these dominical sayings and the question of Jesus'
>own attitude toward SHMEIA (a) as valid indicators of the COMING, and (b)
>as validations of his mission?
>I realize that my formulation of the second question betrays some
>skepticism about whether Jesus actually offered these SHMEIA as indicators
>of the end-time, but I don't really want to prejudice that question. It
>does seem to me than Jan is right in asserting that some of this is
>literary in inspiration and derives from older Biblical traditions. My
>question, then, is is it really MORE than literary in terms of Jesus'
>actual predictions of signs indicating the PAROUSIA?
>Now of course it may be felt that this inquiry is more historical than
>textual and therefore has no place in discussions on b-greek. I'd be
>grateful, however, even for discussion of the way in which SHMEION is being
>used in these sayings.
I am going to restrict my comments to signs in the synoptic apocalypse. The
sign question is the second question, and as I have previously noted, it is
different in all three gospels. In Matthew 24:3 it relates to the PAROUSIA;
in Luke 21:7 to the throwing down of the stones of the temple; and in Mark
13:4, IMHO, to some sort of combination. But these questions are not those of
Jesus; they are first of all the disciples' and secondly the gospel writers'
Jesus' answer begins with a warning. He lists events which are called signs
only in Luke 21:11. These are NOT signs of the end (Mt. 24:6; Mk. 13:7; Lk.
21:9). On the other hand, neither are they non-signs.
In Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22 the term is used in the plural again to refer
to miracles (or pseudo-miracles) performed by false Christs and false
Luke uses the term (again in the plural) in 21:25 to summarize the prophetic
language of the sun being darkened, moon turning to blood, and stars falling
from heaven, which Jan has rightly noted are OT figures of speech for
Now to the good one. The only writer to explicitly give an answer to the
question about the sign (singular) is Matthew, in 24:30:
KAI TOTE FANHSETAI TO SHMEION TOU hUIOU TOU ANQRWPOU IN OURANWi
"and then will appear the sign of the son of man in heaven"
Much has been written speculating about what the sign will be: a cross
perhaps, or some other symbol in the sky? May I humbly suggest that this is a
genitive of apposition and the sign is the son of man in heaven. This is so
obvious to us as to be trivial, but to the disciples at that time it was not
trivial. The men in white in Acts 1:10-11 had not yet appeared to the
disciples to tell them that Jesus would decend in the same way as He ascended.
Paul had not yet written I Thess. 4:16.
Now if I am right in saying that the sign in this passage that the PAROUSIA is
about to happen is the appearance of the son of man in the sky, someone will
say that this is no sign at all, because by that time the event will be right
upon those still alive at that time. May I suggest that this is right in line
with Jesus' saying about His coming being like a thief in the night. There is
an element of real surprise here.
Bruce Terry E-MAIL: email@example.com
Box 8426, ACU Station Phone: 915/674-3759
Abilene, Texas 79699 Fax: 915/674-3769
End of b-greek-digest V1 #848
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