I concur with the factual content of what you've written, but there are two issues: the first being that the relationship between "X is [a] son of Y" and "X, the son of Y" is merely transformational and the distinction is not relevant to the discussion; the second is that I was not trying to make any general statement about the significance of "son", but rather that syntax does not override other linguistic indicators.David Lim wrote:I agree that we cannot use syntax alone to distinguish meaning, but it is one factor in determining the range of meanings and also one factor in encouraging the audience to choose a particular meaning over others. In the text you had quoted it does not have the syntax of "X, son of Y," which requires two noun clauses in opposition. Instead, it has "X is [a] son of Y", where "son of Y" is simply predicated of X whereas "son of Y" is a defining attribute in "X, son of Y,". But I would still say that the original meaning of "son" as being "literal son of a literal father" is valid, because it is just taken from a different perspective, in which "physical flesh" is not in the picture. Furthermore, it is true that "X, son of Y," tends to predispose the audience to expecting that it refers to a literal descendant (especially Jewish audience), so it is left to the author to correct that presupposition if it was not the intended meaning.
James is not the only person called "the brother of the Lord", as 1 Cor 9:5 shows. There was a group, along with the apostles and Cephas, all important believers (who were allowed to be accompanied by a woman, suggesting their established value to the faith). So, the "title"--if that's what we should call it--is not "the fellow believer", for, as I've already pointed out, αδελφος unqualified would merely be a rank-and-file believer. The "title" would be the full phrase τον αδελφον του κυριου.David Lim wrote:In the particular case of Gal 1:19, as Stephen has said, "τον αδελφον του κυριου" does not refer to any "brother of the lord" but a specific one because of the article. I doubt "the fellow believer" can be a title because I do not think it is attested as such, so although it may not be a strange idea, it may not have been used in that way, just like the title "first lady" is not a strange idea but was only used after a certain point in human history.
Also I don't think "αδελφος" can directly mean "fellow believer", because it does not fit the usage well, for example:
[Rom 8]  οτι ους προεγνω και προωρισεν συμμορφους της εικονος του υιου αυτου εις το ειναι αυτον πρωτοτοκον εν πολλοις αδελφοις (clearly "πρωτοτοκον εν πολλοις αδελφοις" refers to "του υιου αυτου" as being one out of "many brothers")
[1 Tim 5]  πρεσβυτερω μη επιπληξης αλλα παρακαλει ως πατερα νεωτερους ως αδελφους  πρεσβυτερας ως μητερας νεωτερας ως αδελφας εν παση αγνεια (it is clearly an injunction to treat older persons as one's own parents and younger persons as one's own siblings)
I'm pleased that you cite Rom 8:29 which is a strong indicator of my position regarding αδελφος, but please note that my presentation did not aim to provide my own translation of the noun as "fellow believer". I argued more that with the word αδελφος "he wasn't talking of a biological connection at all." Rom 8:29, which allows no scope for any biological significance, supports this observation. 1 Tim 5:1, part of a post-Pauline pastoral, certainly uses a family metaphor, but it is generally not thought to have been written by Paul, nor does it help us get to a biological connection.
(One may in passing look at the theology here: just as Paul indicates that faith in Jesus supersedes acts of the law, so do members of the church supersede biological families.)
Your post then goes on to quote interesting non-Pauline passages from Heb 2 and 1 Jn 3:10-12, concluding...
Unless I misunderstand your logic, you have argued for a position that I would take, namely that the usage of αδελφος examined has lost its biological significance so essential for the common reading of Gal 1:19. You substitute biological connections with the notion that fellow believers somehow become real family. As I said, "he wasn't talking of a biological connection at all." This would be a significant semantic shift, if it represented Paul's usage.David Lim wrote:...that "αδελφος" retained its original meaning in the new testament in the sense that "fellow believers" were truly considered to be "brothers", even "true brothers", having God as their father and Jesus as their brother. In other words they did not change the meaning of "αδελφος" but rather they changed their understanding of their family ties.
I would disagree with your first statement here: a person who uses a word almost always with a particular way sets up a default position, which requires that one find some reason not to read the word in its default sense. If I generally used the word "gay" to mean something other than its original meaning (still evinced in for example the Harry Belafonte song lyric "Down the way where the nights are gay") and people understand how I used the term, you'd have to show that I didn't mean what I normally meant. This is fairly basic. You will retain that original meaning and recognize it when other people use it, just as Paul's readers would retain the original meaning of αδελφος outside the conditioning of Paul's general usage.David Lim wrote:Also I think we should consider that 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. If the audience can easily identify the special meaning that he attaches to the word, and the special meaning is not very far from the original, then it is also likely that the original meaning is still the default, but the audience learns that the word has now acquired a new possible meaning. For example, if a Christian does not have any siblings, his use of the vocative "brother" or "sister" is confined to the ones whom he considers "fellow believers", but it does not mean that he is not perfectly aware of the normal usage.
sean peter ingham