From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Nov 09 1998 - 16:40:23 EST

<x-flowed>At 4:08 PM -0500 11/9/98, wrote:
>In a message dated 11/9/98 8:34:20 AM Pacific Standard Time,
> writes:
><< And here at last we get to a central but often unspoken element in this
> entire matter; IF Christ in Col 1:15 is FIGURATIVE, then why must he
> supplant someone else as firstborn? >>
>Well, if he is not really the firstborn, then, since God has other sons (Job
>1:6; 2:1; 38:7) one of them would have to have been the firstborn, unless we
>are going to posit that God simply created these sons as a group. Then we have
>to account for the fact that Jesus is indeed one of these sons, the MONOGENHS

. . . .

><<That is to say, how far do you want to
> push the biological metaphor of "begetting" and "giving birth" and "being
> born" as appropriate designations of the relationship between God "the
> Father" and Christ "the Son"? >>
>I do not want to push them to any degree beyond what the Bible says, and since
>it uses such terms in a matter-of-fact sense, in line with how we humans
>typically understand the terms, then that is what I accept. I am not given any
>reason to think that these typically temporal terms do not also denote some
>temporal distinction between the one called "firstborn" and the one he calls
>"Father."---John 6:57.

I frankly think that we have far overstepped the boundaries here into
hermeneutics; I don't speak for anyone else, but I am not accustomed to
taking this language in a "matter-of-fact sense." I think, however, that we
are now far-removed from what the grammar of the passage can tell us and we
are into the matter of how we understand the word meanings. I doubt
seriously whether an understanding of the Greek can help us with this; it's
a matter of the hermeneutical presuppositions that we bring to bear upon
the text. And I don't think that's a matter we should get any further into.

>I understand. But I think at this point, though we may have stepped over the
>borderline once or twice, we must consider a few angels from a theological
>point of view, but only in so far as they help resolve the grammatical issues,
>or at least bring into focus the consequences of excepting one grammatical
>position over the other.
>You have done a fine job in keeping the thread focused, but at the same time
>allowing just enough theological discussion so that we might actually come to
>grips with this important passage.

I think it has been almost wholly theological since its inception; I think
that the Greek has only been discussed insofar as it seems to support one
or another theological stance.

><< I think we are pushing the hermeneutical-theological button one stage too
> far; I personally think questions are being put to this passage in
> Colossians 1 which are beyond the scope of its discourse. >>
>True, but only by doing so, to some permissible degree, can we effectively
>test the result of the proposed grammatical solutions. Still, when you think
>we are spending too much time on the theological side of the coin, then I know
>all will respect your decision to end the thread.

Quite frankly, I think that point has been reached, and actually reached
some time ago, perhaps even EN ARCHi, so far as this thread is concerned.
Yes, it has been civil--but it has become increasingly repetitive, without,
so far as I can discern, new points being brought to bear but rather with
old points being reformulated in slightly different phrasing.

>If I have the time I may post a summary of the grammatical points discussed
>thus far, and leave it at that.

I really think that this too is problematic. I think that readers would do
best to read through the entire correspondence and make their own
summaries: the problem with a "final summary" is that it never turns out to
be "final"--it always evokes another response.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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