Date: Thu Mar 06 1997 - 13:25:30 EST

Dear Mitchell,

You've moved the discusssion to linguistics, and addressed me as well as
Rolf. I do not hold an academic position in linguistics as some others do
who are on the list. So I would invite those who are more proficient to
interact. I'll state my responses in the indicative, but they are not meant
to be authoritative. Glancing over what I have written, it also is almost
too technical. Please delete if you are not interested in Linguistics or
Discourse Analysis. Also, since the example used continues to be PROTOTOKOS,
if you are are bored to tears or outraged by the topic, please delete.

Also, I am attempting to apply Rolf's catagories as he defined them. I only
hope that I have not distorted the categories.

Rolf wrote
<< >> 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). >> wrote:
>>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
>>with the church founder Epaphras, and association with the Colossian
>>(4:14) place his writings and/or his sources/oral traditions (L) on a
>>II level. The desciption of conception in Luke 1:35: PNEUMA AGION
>>EPI SE KAI DUNAMIS UYISTOU EPISKIASEI SOI is the most radical as far as
>>concerned. This would lend far more color to the concept of Jesus'
 Mitchell wrote:
>Dear Cindi and Rolf,
>What are the bounds of Plane II where it crosses into Plane III? Cindi's
>link from Col 4:14 to Luke 1:35 made me think about Plane II/III, but I
> For example, two verses after mentioning Luke (Col 4:14), Col 4:16 says
>to have the Colossian letter also read to the Laodiceans. Jesus reminded
> the Laodiceans several years later that he was "the beginning of the
>creation tou theou" (he arche tes ktiseos tou theou), arguably a clear
> reference to Prov 8:22 LXX "kurios ektisen me archn hodwn autou eis erga
> autou" and perhaps recalling Col 1:15 to their minds. This "Plane II"
>link would tend to strengthen the meaning of "prototokos" as being the
> 'first-created.' Thus, Luke 1:35 would harmonize with the "Firstborn of
> all creation" coming to be born as flesh.>>

Plane 1: "Linguistics and philology of the passage"

After the philology of the word, and its semantic domain, the passage is

Semantic domain is the basis of Louw & Nida's Lexicon which arranges and
groups words with other words that have associated meaning(s).

I maintain that the domain is that of birth: TIKTW which can be associated
with GENNAW, TEKNOGONEW, and the nouns in the same family. It is not
semantically associated with words of creation or formation like the term in
I Tim 2:13: ADAM HAR PRWTOS EPLASQH. (Adam was formed first). PLASSW means
make or mold. It is associated with POIEW, KTIZW, etc.

In Col. 1:15ff, Jesus was born (TIKTW), but he was an intrumental or acting
agent in KTIZW. This is part of the extended contrast. That is what
distinguishes him from creation. The genitive signals the distinction: that
is "the removal of one object from the vicinity of another." Among other
things, it can involve a departure from origin. That is Dana and Mantey's
definition of the ablatative

Links to "son" hUIOS (Col 1:13) and "inheritance" KLAROU (Col. 1:12) are
words associated with the referrent "firstborn" PROTOTOKOS (1:15) in the
passage. They precede and indicate what aspect of the referrent is in view.
 In my opinion, that would be the firstborn's (the Son's) inheritance and how
it is shared with those who are transferred to the kingdom (see Col.

Furthermore, the structure of the passage is part of the linguistics (or
semantic structure) on the level of sentences and sentence clusters. This
includes the logical relationships between the parts (kernels).

The sentence clusters will have a prominent element and support elements.
 The HEAD clause is prominent, and it is the point which the passage
supports. Sometimes prominence is indicated by emphatic particles.
 Sometimes it is emphatic in the design such as the apex of a chiasm.

The apex of this chiasm is 1:17 which is preeiminence. The rest of the
material provides the grounds and the purpose for the prominent element.

Plane 2: "linguistic, philological and conceptual clues in the near context."

Near context has got have varying degrees of association. The strongest ties
would have to be in the discourse itself: the Book of Colossians. The next
closest ties would be in the other works of the author, as far as determining
how he uses the word.

S. M. Baugh's reference to Rom. 8:29 is a Level II association. It is the
same lexical term used by the same author: PROTOTOKON EN POLLOIS ADELFOIS.
 Paul only uses the referrent three times: Colossians 1:15, 18 and Rom. 8:29.
 All three uses involve Christians as the later-born of God. They have a
share respectively in the first-born's inheritance and resurrection and
become conformed to the firstborn's EIKONOS (another connection between Col.
1:15 and Rom. 8:29).

The "presuppositional pool" of the reader would also be near context,
assuming that the author is an adept communicator and knows the audience,
they will use words which have meaning for the readers in such a way
consistent with that meaning (or he will redefine the word). Check out the
discussions 90-97 in Cotterell & Turner's "Linguistics & Biblical
Interpretation" (InterVarsity Press, 1989). Intended meaning is based upon
"a set of assumptions, some logical entailments, and other, more
conventionally based implications" (90) I was trying to make a claim for
Luke's material (at least in oral form) being part of both the author
Paul's, the church founder's (Ephaphras) and the Colossians set of
assumptions. Paul, Luke and Epaphras were associates. Out of the
association, Epaphras founded the Colossian church. I would imagine that his
gospel stories would closely parallel Luke's. Furthermore, the Colossians
either knew Luke or knew of him by the time they finished the letter (Col.

Of course, the "presuppositional pool" is often the wild card in
interpretation. One can build a good case, but one can't get inside either
the author's or the recipients' heads. However, that does not mitigate the
very real effect it has on the meaning of a passage in its context.

Plane III--Bible patterns, parallels and theology:

Clearly, your reference to Rev. 3:14 is on Plane III--and remote from
philological associations with Colossians 1:15. In my opinion the direct
correspondance between ARXH and PROTOTOKOS should not be assumed as a
starting point, though there may be an overlap meaning concerning origin,
authority or rule (see Louw & Nida, vol. 2, p. 35). Aside from philology,
there is a different author, different time, and different destination
(though Laodicea is closeby and mentioned in Colossians--that is a remote

If I understand him, Rolf is trying to build a case that the LOGOS-SOPHIA
teaching which identified Jesus as Wisdom in Prov. 8 formed a part of the
presuppositional pool of both Paul and the readers in such a way that those
associations would define the word PROTOTOKOS. Further, that the association
was so strong that it would impact and define the meaning of the passage more
than either the sonship language which introduced the passage, the author's
use of the word elsewhere, or the emphasis in the structure which would fall
on the apex of the chiasm: 1:17. (The fact that 1:17 is emphatic places it
as the main point in the HEAD-purpose statement signalled by hOTI in 1:19.
 That is 1:17 is the summarizing point and 1:19 draws an inference primarily
from 1:17 as well as v. 17's support material.)

I don't agree with Rolf in this application. I don't see a clear indication
that 1. That Paul bought into the LOGOS-SOPHIA doctrine (or some associated
definition of PROTOTOKOS) or 2. That the Colossians did at this point (or
later). This is a Plane III association, which may or may not have impacted
meaning. Plane III material cannot override Plane I material or Plane II

Cindy Westfall
Post-Grad Student
Denver Seminary


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