Date: Wed Mar 05 1997 - 11:17:04 EST

Forwarded message:
Date: 97-03-05 11:13:27 EST
From: CWestf5155

Dear Rolf,

I'm really enjoying this exchange, and continue to appreciate the tools you
offer for further probing.

Before interacting directly with your response, let me take this opportunity
to fine tune some ideas which were incipient in my last post. They occurred
to me in the late watches!

1. When interpreting PROTOTOKOS, the first priority is to stay in the
domain of "birth/to be born." "Created" is not a synonym, but more of a
contextual reference. On the other hand, "generation" is in the semantic
domain (isn't it a loan word from GENNAW?). However, it is theologically
loaded--and I wanted to acknowledge that fact by my reference to Nicea.

If God is considered a parent in the process of birth, it does not follow
that you can transfer over contextual references (where PROTOTOKOS refers to
a created being) from cases where both parents/animals were created beings.

2. If we allow that PROTOTOKOS PASHS KTISEWS is (or could be) a partitive
genitive, we are left with certain implications. It is the description of
Jesus as PROTOTOKOS that sets Him apart and differentiates him from the rest
of creation. Therefore, the logic of the grammar would indicate that at
least in this reference, PROTOTOKOS refers to something apart from creation.
. . . to keep the balance I will add: (a) In no way
 does his preeminence davalue the supreme position of God (1
 Cor 15:27,28), (b) It does not add the meaning `preeminent`
 to PRWTOTOKOS, because the context does not give words new
 meanings, and (c) It does not shed light on whether Jesus
 was created or is eternal.>>

Clearly, PROTOKOS would establish preeminance in relationship to creation. I
think you're really interacting with the implications of 1:17. Since the
larger context is a Father-Son relationship and how that reflects on the
reader's position in the kingdom and inheritance, the father-son position
would be closely identified. I doubt that this passage deals with the
subordination issue between the father and son. Wouldn't they be together in
(1:16). The point is that the Son shares in divinity and shares in creation
to the extent that He is able to reconcile the two.
 <1. Lexical semantics: PROTOTOKOS is the language of
 <generation, not formation/creation. PRO means first, TOKOS
 <comes from the aorist root TEK (born) from TEKEIN. In
 <contrast, in I Tim. 2:13 ADAM GAR PRWTOS EPLASQH:
 <Adam was formed first. Of course, as most or all on the
 <list know, this was the issue at the Council of Nicea in
 <325. Right or wrong, they agreed with some later
 <modifcations that the Son was generated by the Father and
 <therefore was HOMOOUSIOS, of one essence, because God makes
 <creation, but generates God.
<< The question about generation versus creation is important
 when we are discussing Col 1. Looking at the pre-Nicene
 church fathers we find a strange combination of belief.>>

Right--my reference was oblique, but I was acknowledging that the word was
theologically loaded. I wasn't attempting to "download" all of the
associations connected with the word throughout the theological development.
 Hence my reference to "whether they were right or wrong." I still rather
like the word. I didn't feel that I could use it without nodding to its
associations. But we can talk "birthing" or "begatting"--I don't really feel
that it changes the issue.
 <Examples in the OT probably would not be parallel. Would
 <you assume that the Colossians had no presuppositional
 <pool/oral tradition about either Mary conceiving by the
 <Holy Spirit, or Jesus claiming God as Father in a literal
 <sense? I would gather that they shared a common oral
 <tradition about Jesus' claims to paternity.
 <<I agree with your last sentence. However, there is
 absolutely nothing in Col 1 referring to the birth of Jesus
 by Mary. But there is something else of which the Colossians
 may have had a knowledge, which more modern commentators
 than not say Paul alludes to, and which almost all the
 mentioned church fathers applied to Jesus, namely Proverbs
 chapter 8.
 I stress that such a comparison as to importance,in my
 approach only relates to plane III. (Plane I: Linguistics
 and philology of the passage, plane II:
 linguistic/philological/ conceptual clues in the near
 context, plane III: Bible patterns/parallels and theology). >>

This reference to "plane I-II-III" is great. I love the precision which
linguistics lend to the discussion. Plane II offers some serious
competition. Luke's association with Paul's ministry team, probable contacts
with the church founder Epaphras, and association with the Colossian church
(4:14) place his writings and/or his sources/oral traditions (L) on a Plane
II level. The desciption of conception in Luke 1:35: PNEUMA AGION EPELEUSETAI
EPI SE KAI DUNAMIS UYISTOU EPISKIASEI SOI is the most radical as far as I'm
concerned. This would lend far more color to the concept of Jesus' sonship
that Ps. 8.
<< However, I think that this parallel sheds more light of Col
 1:15 than any chiastic pattern.
Whoah! You have more faith than I. If Ps. 8 was Paul's association, it is
not as likely to have been the Colossians' association, given their sitz im
leben (though I realize that this may be debatable with their gnostic mix).
 1:17 is the prominent element of the passage at hand--the rest of the chiasm
would be support material for the main assertion. As you said earlier--it is
the kernal that sheds light on the aspect of the concept which is in view.
 Let's be consistent--maybe Ps. 8 is shedding light on another aspect. You
cannot assume otherwise as a starting point can you?

Thank you for your consideration Rolf.

Cindy Westfall
Post-grad student
Denver Seminary

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