Re: Semantic range of PROSKUNEW

From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Thu Jun 25 1998 - 14:42:32 EDT

---Jonathan Robie wrote:

> >At 07:04 AM 6/25/98 -0700, Edgar Foster wrote:

> >I understand Jonathan to be saying that PROSKUNEW is only given to
a superior, a deified king, a lord, a god, and cannot serve as a sign
of respect between two friends. I disagree.< <

> >Can you give me some examples of PROSKUNEW being used as a sign of
respect between two friends during the New Testament era? I've heard
this assertion several times, but I haven't seen an example of it yet.
To me, prostating oneself and kissing someone's feet is not a gesture
of equality.< <

It has already been shown by Rolf that PROSKUNEW can hardly just be
rendered to a superior. Neither the Semitic background of PROSKUNEW,
neither the LXX can be used in support of this idea. True, in the NT
it seems that PROSKUNEW is constantly being rendered to superiors, or
pseudo-divinities. I think that Rev. 3:9 is an exception to this
"rule," however. But are there cases in the first century of friends
bowing down to friends? There are no unequivocal examples in the NT
that I know of, and there may be a reason for this. According to Rev.
22:9, John was prohibited from 'falling down' PROSKUNHSAI
Jesus Christ's coming changed the relationship between men, other men,
and angels. What was permissible in the OT may have no longer been
permitted in NT times. This would be a good matter to look into.
> >You must also remember that the primary person we are discussing
here is Jesus. What is the PROSKUNEW rendered to Jesus in the Bible? I
am arguing that the PROSKUNEW given to Jesus was not religious (i.e.,
it was not worshipful). I think that Jonathan has different thoughts
here.< <

> >Jonathan doesn't know whether this was religious worship or not
yet, or whether it might have been religious worship in some passages
but not in others. He is currently still convinced that PROSKUNEW is
only given to a superior, a deified king, a lord, a god, etc.< <

I fail to see how the many examples in the LXX support this view.
Furthermore, I cannot understand how you reconcile this stand with
Rev. 3:9. But, I will not unduly criticize you here. ;-)

> >Seriously, I just started exploring this issue when it came up on
the list, and it's barely been a day, so I'm still trying to figure it
out for myself. I don't think I've said anything one way or another
about whether Jesus is worshiped as God in passages using the term

No, you haven't asserted a view (unlike me). <G> I guess I'm too
straightforward sometimes.

Concerning methodology, let me just say that I'm a semi-believer in
Hegelian dialectic and the words of Peter Abelard: "Doubt leads to
inquiry, inquiry leads to truth." While I neither fully subscribe to
Hegelianism nor Abelardian thought, I enjoy the
thesis-antithesis-synthesis that occurs here on B-Greek. I learn from
everyone and the inquiry here does help to elucidate the truth.


Edgar Foster

Classics Major

Lenoir-Rhyne College
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