Re: "Semantic Domain" and Translating Synonyms (was: entropy)

From: Ron Rhoades (
Date: Fri Jun 05 1998 - 02:48:49 EDT

Hello Carl,

>Ron Rhoades wrote: As for MORFH AND SXHMA though basically they can be >termed synonyms, I think the differences in meaning in the example you >cited (Phil. 2:6-8) are important to note: SXHMA denoting the demeanor, >nature or manner and MORFH the outward look, appearance or representation. >The use of MORFH at Mark 16:12 IMO is not interchangeable with SXHMA. >Jesus had a *different* outward appearance (MORFH) than before, but did he >have a different (SXHMA)? In other writings the MORFH always stays the >same however the SXHMA changes at will (a dog still looks like a dog >however his manners can change).

>>Edgar Foster wrote: There's something about the usage of MORFH in Phil >>2:6-8 that has always bothered me;'s just always struck me as >>strange how confident interpreters can be about MORFH's exact sense when >>it appears to me that it's being used as something fundamental with >>reference to the MORFH QEOU (this is hardly the "outward appearance" of >>God, I think: does God has an "outward appearance" other than fire and >>cloud in tradition?) and as something that can be put on and taking off >>like a suit of clothes with reference to the MORFH ANQRWPOU.

Of course we can't be unreasonable about the *exact* sense and apply it
to different writers/writings. But I think we can reasonably assume one
writer in one paragraph would be consistent in his meaning. I take it as
something fundamental for both MORFH QEOU and MORFH ANQRWPOU. The point
of the text is that Jesus became the same fleshly form as mankind, just
as he had been a spirit form like God. (Some scriptures that relate:
Jn. 4:24, 1Cor. 15:44ff, Php. 3:21.) God is a spirit, angels are
spirits, Jesus was/is a spirit, those called in Christ will be spirit;
all the same MORFH. This is speaking of body material/appearance as it
appears objectively to others, (fire and cloud if you wish). And
additionally Philippians states that he went further in humbly accepting
the attitude/demeanor (SXEMA) of humans.

My conclusion is that *as a rule* MORFH does not refer to something that
can be taken off like a change of clothes. SXHMA is used for the
attitude and demeanor as they appear to others and thus can be changed
like clothes, according to Lightfoot and his sources. In Greek writings
the MORFE can be misapprehended or vague so the word does not indicate
true form from the false or representative. So I'm thinking that it does
not always serve to identify by itself.

Just my thoughts.

Ron Rhoades

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