Differentiating fictive and biological kinship

Grammar questions which are not related to any specific text.
Sean Ingham
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Re: Differentiating fictive and biological kinship

Post by Sean Ingham » August 6th, 2011, 2:56 pm

Jonathan_Burke wrote:
Sean Ingham wrote:So you are proffering two layers of linguistic mystification here. One, that αδελφος does mean"brother of the flesh" and that you can somehow know that Gal 1:19 refers to Jesus and not to God in the non-titular use of κυριος. What you offer in your defence is that Jesus did have a brother named James and that is somehow relevant, despite the fact that post-Pauline literature shows no interest in this rejected brother converting to Christianity and becoming so important in the Jerusalem church until Acts and then Acts knows nothing about the James of Gal 1:19 being related to Jesus. (These are called "loud silences".) The language issue of how you decide the meanings of the terms remains unaddressed.
What Jason has showed you is a language issue. He has shown you that the phrase in question (not merely the word), was naturally understood by users of the Greek language who were proximate to Paul, with the referent of biological kinship. So far Stephen, David,and Jason have given you the following points.

* Appeals to Paul's use of αδελφος for fictive kinship are irrelevant, since we do not have a sufficiently large corpus of Paul's writings to make reliable determinations on the meaning he ascribed to single words
This is an assertion meant to deal with 70 odd confirmable uses of αδελφος for a non-biological meaning of brother and none to the contrary.
Jonathan_Burke wrote:* In this case a single word is not in question, but the syntax of the phrase in which it is used; so lexical-syntactical analysis is required, not merely a prescriptive claim that Paul only ever used αδελφος for fictive kinship
All you need so is show a few confirmable Pauline uses of αδελφος for blood relations.
Jonathan_Burke wrote:* The function of the article before the ἀδελφὸν τοῦ κυρίου is to identify which James Paul was talking about; this is a typical use of the article when a phrase such as this is referring to biological kinship, it is not an honorific
Actually this is another assertion. You can claim that it is to identify James, but that needs to be established. Honorifics don't necessarily identify as much as honour.
Jonathan_Burke wrote:* Just because a person uses a word almost always with a particular literal or figurative or metaphorical meaning does not imply that his use of the word has that same meaning by default; letters to fellow believers cannot count as a sufficiently balanced corpus of an author's usage of a word, and 'word meanings are determined by context, not word counts'
The clause before your semicolon is yet another assertion, as is the following clause. And the relevance of the last clause needs to be demonstrated here. As I have already pointed out an argument based on the contextualisation from others' use of a specific structure, here "X brother of Y", needs to show that those others use αδελφος sufficiently consistently in a similar manner to Paul to make the contextualisation relevant.
Jonathan_Burke wrote:* There is no evidence that Paul uses σαρκος every time he wants to identify biological kinship; there is evidence that he uses σαρκος in at least two places to contrast biological kinship with fictive kinship
The relevance of the first part is not transparent. And I'd say at least four cases where σαρκος accompanies biology.
Jonathan_Burke wrote:* 1 Corinthians 9:5 has merely the plural form of that which is found in Galatians 1:19, so it does not count as evidence for understanding Galatians 1:19
There is no reason to deny evidence. How do you know what οι αδελφοι του κυριου means in order for you to say that "it does not count as evidence for understanding Galatians 1:19"? Shouldn't "(X) the brother of Y" mean the same thing in the plural? And doesn't the plural in 1 Cor 9:5 clearly lack the head work from the phrase? The only reason to deny it seems to be because it nullifies the only real attempt at getting to a biological relationship, namely the assertion that "X the brother of Y" must entail biological brotherness.
Jonathan_Burke wrote:* We also have to look at the other writings in the same period because Paul is communicating through his letters with other people who will understand the word in ways evidenced by their own writings; the more peculiar the language Paul uses is to himself, the more misunderstood he would be
OK, all one has to do is produce relevant contemporary texts which over-abundantly use αδελφος as Paul does for a non-biological relation and we'll go from there.
Jonathan_Burke wrote:Thus far we have only one proposed reading which has evidence; biological kinship.
I have noted a number of assertions in your presentation. This seems to be another.
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Jason Hare
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Re: Differentiating fictive and biological kinship

Post by Jason Hare » August 6th, 2011, 6:59 pm

Well, Sean, you're free to understand it any way that you want. People interpret the Bible differently all the time, and that's your prerogative. You asked our opinion, and we all agree that your reading is not preferable to the traditional reading. If you just wanted our opinion, you've got it. I imagine that you'd brush aside any and every argument that might be constructed to show the weakness of your position, which is really a waste of time (in my opinion). I won't go back-and-forth on it. So, feel free to reject what everyone else thinks and go your own way.

Regards,
Jason
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Jason A. Hare
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Jonathan_Burke
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Re: Differentiating fictive and biological kinship

Post by Jonathan_Burke » August 7th, 2011, 3:47 am

Sean Ingham wrote:This is an assertion meant to deal with 70 odd confirmable uses of αδελφος for a non-biological meaning of brother and none to the contrary.
It's not an assertion, it's a matter of standard lexical practice. When you can prove that we have a sufficiently large corpus of Paul's writings on which to make the claims you're making, please provide your evidence. Hundreds of stylistic survey's of the Pauline and deutero-Pauline letters have been conducted, and all of them come up against the limitation of the corpus, which is well recognized in any professional examination. You haven't taken this into account, nor have you provided any evidence substantiating your claim, so it remains unsubstantiated. In contrast, lexical professionals are well aware of the kind of corpus size necessary to make the kind of judgements you want to make, and they are qualified to speak on the subject.
All you need so is show a few confirmable Pauline uses of αδελφος for blood relations.
No we don't. Proper analysis requires that Paul's use of αδελφος be examined in any given context from both a lexical and a syntactical point of view. In this case it appears in a syntactical context which we know from many other texts would naturally be read as a reference to biological kinship. Your focus on the word to the exclusion of this context is an interpretive error.
Actually this is another assertion. You can claim that it is to identify James, but that needs to be established. Honorifics don't necessarily identify as much as honour.
It's not an assertion, because we have plenty of corroborating evidence; many other passages indicating the same form of phrase with the same usage. You can't treat Paul as if he wrote some kind of 'Holy Spirit' language unrelated to the Greek everyone else was using. Your emphasis on what you think Paul meant independent of the evidence of how he would have been understood, is a serious flaw in your reasoning.
The clause before your semicolon is yet another assertion, as is the following clause.
Neither of them are assertions; they are statements made on the basis of standard lexical methodology. You need to prove that if a person uses a word with a specific meaning in 13 cases out of 14, then in the 14th case they must necessarily be using the same meaning. I have already identified this as the prescriptive fallacy, and you have not provided any evidence for your claim that your method of guessing meaning is actually valid.
As I have already pointed out an argument based on the contextualisation from others' use of a specific structure, here "X brother of Y", needs to show that those others use αδελφος sufficiently consistently in a similar manner to Paul to make the contextualisation relevant.
Why? You haven't explained this. What you are suggesting is not standard lexical procedure, and it's not standard lexical procedure because it is not based on an understanding of how languages work. When a particular phrase is found with a specific meaning in a range of texts, then we can be certain that a reader of the phrase would naturally have understood the phrase with that meaning. To assert that they would have read it as having a meaning which is not attested in any texts at all, is an extraordinary claim without any evidence at all. You need actual evidence for your claim.
The relevance of the first part is not transparent.
You are claiming that Paul uses σαρκος every time he wants to identify biological kinship. However, you have not provided evidence for this claim. That's the relevance.
And I'd say at least four cases where σαρκος accompanies biology.
Regardless of how many there are, you haven't provided any evidence that Paul uses σαρκος every time he wants to identify biological kinship.
Jonathan_Burke wrote:* 1 Corinthians 9:5 has merely the plural form of that which is found in Galatians 1:19, so it does not count as evidence for understanding Galatians 1:19
There is no reason to deny evidence. How do you know what οι αδελφοι του κυριου means in order for you to say that "it does not count as evidence for understanding Galatians 1:19"?
You misunderstood David's statement. He's saying that since 1 Corinthians 9:5 uses the same form of phrase as is under contention, you can't use it to support your claim for the phrase in Galatians 1:19. When the meaning of a word or phrase is under contention, we can't say 'Well of course it means A in passage X, because it means A in passage Y'. That's circular reasoning, assuming your conclusion.
Shouldn't "(X) the brother of Y" mean the same thing in the plural?
Indeed. That's the point; it will mean the same thing, but since what it means is under dispute we can't use it as an example of what it means. That's circular. You're saying 'This phrase means X, because in this passage it means X, and in this passage it also means X'.
The only reason to deny it seems to be because it nullifies the only real attempt at getting to a biological relationship, namely the assertion that "X the brother of Y" must entail biological brotherness.
Not at all. The form in 1 Corinthians 9:5 is also found in other passages as a reference to biological kinship.
OK, all one has to do is produce relevant contemporary texts which over-abundantly use αδελφος as Paul does for a non-biological relation and we'll go from there.
Why? You haven't explained this. What you are suggesting is not standard lexical procedure, and it's not standard lexical procedure because it is not based on an understanding of how languages work.

What we have is:

* An abundance of evidence that the phrase Paul uses in Galatians 1:19 would have been understood by readers as a reference to biological kinship
* No evidence that it would have been understood by readers as a reference to fictive kinship

The only objections you have raised to this are personal opinions which are not based on standard lexicographical methodology. Could I ask if you have studied Greek formally, and if so where and for how long? Which standard grammars and lexical guides support the claims you are making? It's significant that none of the contributors here who are actually sufficiently qualified to address this subject have agreed with you.
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Jonathan_Burke
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Re: Differentiating fictive and biological kinship

Post by Jonathan_Burke » August 7th, 2011, 5:04 am

Remember Sean, the readers of Galatians didn't have all of Paul's writings to read. They had the letter sent to them. This being the case, how are they likely to understand his reference to 'James the brother of the Lord'?

* With a meaning unattested in any proximate Greek text
* With a meaning attested in many proximate Greek texts

Which do you think is more likely? We have to apply Occam's Razor here. Apart from the flaws in lexical methodology, your argument piles one unsubstantiated assertion on another; we have to accept (without evidence), that κυριος isn't a reference to Jesus, αδελφος isn't a reference to biological kinship, and that Paul uses σαρκος every time he wants to identify biological kinship. The more unsubstantiated assertions an argument requires, the more complex and less likely to be true.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Differentiating fictive and biological kinship

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 7th, 2011, 8:08 am

This topic has been exhaustively discussed and it appears to be going in circles now. I am locking this thread. If you want to continue, please do so via PM.

Stephen Carlson
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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