Re: ACTS 10:40

Date: Thu Feb 27 1997 - 02:09:46 EST


I appreciate your thoughtful and detailed reply. I also appreciate the
speedy reply.

<< Well, one of the things that is developing more and more in
 Koine is the expansion of a use of EN with an instrumental (dative) that
 existed but was relatively rare in classical Attic. At any rate, EN +
 dative is being used more and more in Koine to express the notion of "by
 means of." And that's invo;lved in Col 1:16, the traditional version of
 which is: "because in him were all things created."

I had remembered that was the case, but wasn't sure how much the range of
meaning had shifted.

<The question--the very
 one you're raising--is whether EN AUTWi can be an agent construction
 meaning "by him." I really don't think so. I've just now taken a close
 look at Dan Wallace's grammar and he gives it a serious discussion and
 seems to me to come down pretty clearly on the negative side of the
 question. EN AUTWi ought NOT to be understood as an equivalent either of
 hUPO + genitive of a personal agent NOR as equivalent of the older Greek
 dative of personal agent with a passive verb, a construction that isn't
 really found at all in the NT.
 Your letter really helped me to sharpen my focus. I think that I was
thinking of agency in the broadest sense, which would include the
instrumental. I see that Wallace allows for the broader meaning, but in this
discussion, the more specific, the better.

< At any rate, what I think is going on in Col 1:16 is a variant of John 1:3:
 the LOGOS, or the EIKWN, is not to be understood as the AGENT carrying out
 the creation, but as the "instrument" by which creation was effected. There
 are immense problems here, but the chiefest of them are those consequent
 upon transforming a powerful metaphor into a theological doctrine. I think
 that what is being said in John 1:1 and in Col 1:16 is that Christ is not
 the creator but the instrumentality of creation, the medium whereby God
 creates. If that's not gobbledy-good to you, then we're both fortunate. If
 it is gobbledy-gook, then I'm sorry, but my inclination is to declare
 ignorance where ignorance is all that I can profess. So that's where I
 shall leave it.
That sounds very solid. I see that Wallace says the "by" would be a possible
translation for "Impersonal Means," but I think that I agree with you that in
this case, though permissable, it isn't the best selection. I also agree
that referring to Jesus as "creator" is problematic. I missed Furuli's
point, I guess.

We are still left with an interesting configuration of prepositions. I am
not sure that we have fully accounted for the nuances of EN AUTWi, DI' AUTOU,
and EIS AUTON. Do you suppose that DI'. . . and EIS. . . are intended to
amplify EN . . .?
>P.S. I'm glad you raised this question OFF-list--there are sharks out there
 when you get into theological issues; I'd rather steer clear of such.
Yes. Well, given the nature of some of the discussions, it may have operated
like a set up, or a "bait and switch," or something. Speaking for myself,
even though I tend to hold conservative/traditional views (as far as
Scripture), I really appreciate your honesty. I didn't find your previous
statements on inspiration offensive. I wanted to know what you thought.
 Good grief, I'm a big girl and can handle it. Or as my daughter would say,
 "I'm buff!" Talk about a shift in range of meaning!

Cindy Westfall

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