From: Edgar Krentz (
Date: Mon Sep 14 1998 - 04:16:39 EDT

>You are right on target, Wes.
>1) It is a standard dictum in NT lexicology that classical usage of a word is
>virtually irrelevant unless that usage manifestly influences the word's use in
>the first century. (And so with any language. If you are trying to find out
>what a word meant in a given utterance, among other things, you analyse usage
>contemporary with the utterance; you do synchronic, or "contemporary,"
>analysis, not diachronic, "historical" or "evolutionary," analysis. Most
>users of a word aren't in the least aware of its history and don't intend to
>have that history drawn upon in order to be understood.)
This paragraph contains, IMHO, a number of errors. 1. a false definition of
classical Greek. The Greek of Strabo, Lucian, Dionysius of Halicarnassus,
Plutarch, Sextus Empiricus, Dionysius Thrax, Musonius Rufus, Epictetus,
maximus of Tyre, etc., etc. comes from the time close to the NT--and is
used by every responsible lexicographer. BAGD depends upon it.

Who are the lexicographers who do only synchronic lexicography?
>2) It is beyond doubt that the writers of the NT are often influenced by LXX
>idiom. These are people who belong to (and are for the most part writing to)
>a group for whom the LXX is THE authoritative text, and recourse to the LXX
>often thus proves more enlightening to the NT scholar than does recourse to
>extra-biblical texts, especially in the case of theologically-charged (from
>the NT perspective) words.

But the LXX traanslators themselves, or the writers on deutero-canonical
works, spoke the Greek of their world. 4 Maccabees is heavily indebted to
thke language of Stoicism and Greek etehics; the Wiosdom of Solomon
likewise. KXX translators were not isolated freom their own world.
>3) This is not to say that extra-biblical texts are irrelevant to the NT
>scholar; the NT authors are writing *koine* after all (indeed, the LXX itself
>is in *koine* and generally agrees with popular usage). But it is to say that
>the overwhelming Septuagintal influence in the NT is already demonstrable,
>thus inherently plausible in new cases, whereas the plausibility of a NT
>author using a word in an extra-biblical sense that is at variance with the
>LXX needs to be established on a case by case basis.


So ultimately, Alan and I seem to agree. One good text case of this
linguistic material would be to ask whkether PISTIS in Galatians ever means
"ewvidence" rather than "faith."

An interesting dicussion; thanks, Alan

Edgar Krentz
Acting Dean, Fall Quarter 1998
Professor of New Testament Emeritus
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
1100 E. 55th Street
Chicago, IL 60615 USA
e-mail: (Office) (Home)

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