From: clayton stirling bartholomew (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Feb 04 2000 - 23:41:25 EST
>From: Daniel Ria–o <email@example.com>
>To: Biblical Greek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Re: Origen on Luke 1:1
>Date: Fri, Feb 4, 2000, 3:01 PM
> Clayton Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
>>The only reason I bring this up is that this illustrates a common
>>problem in lexical semantics. The problem is this:
>>Assuming that EPICEIREW appears regularly in contexts where failure,
>>insufficiency or evil intent are also present. Does this give us any
>>justification to conclude that EPECEIREW in these contexts includes a
>>semantic component that includes failure, insufficiency or evil intent?
>>The solution to this question, if it can be obtained and clearly stated
>>would put an end to a lot of seemingly pointless argument about the
>>meaning of words.
>>What is the solution and how can it clearly be stated?
> In a pure abstract consideration, I think the question goes far
> beyond lexical semantics to become a case of the problem of induction, and
> about it I don't feel like I can state things clearer that Popper in "The
> Logic of Scientific Discovery". As a practical matter, you know the way:
> first you need to check every instance (or as much data as you can) of
> EPIXEIRE/W in the best possible editions, discuss it, and come to a
> subjective conclusion based the honest consideration of insufficient data,
> admitting that some times the weight given to some testimonies upon others
> is largely an open question. Obviously, such procedure will never put an
> end to discussions on difficult points of semantics!
> Daniel Ria–o Rufilanchas
> Madrid, Espa–a
Thank you for your insightful comments.
Yes there are issues raised here that go beyond lexical semantics. But
the one way to explore these issues is with concrete examples. David
Dungan (History of the Synoptic Problem, p395 note #4) states that out
of 18 occurrences EPECEIREW in the LXX there are only two where the word
has a positive connotation, Ezra 7:23 and 2 Macc 2:29. He cites Sir
9:4, 2 Macc 7:19, 2 Macc 9:2, 2 Macc 10:15, Esth 9:25 as examples which
demonstrate the semantic range of EPECEIREW, all in contexts where
EPECEIREW is associated with some sort of negative action.
Dungan uses this as evidence for adopting Origen's understanding of Luke
1:1. What is wrong with Dungan's logic here? Is there anything wrong
with it? If EPECEIREW shows up most of the time in contexts where some
sort of negative action is transpiring are we justified in transferring
this supposed negative coloring back into Luke 1:1?
My inclination is to say that Dungan is wrong. If he found two
occurrences of EPECEIREW where there was no negative connotation then I
would say that all bets are off for Luke 1:1 where there are a number of
reasons to reject this idea.
I suspect that there is some principle of lexical semantic theory which
applies to this question but I cannot quote it.
-- Clayton Stirling Bartholomew Three Tree Point P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062
****** For those who have lost the beginning of this thread here is my Original post quoted in full:
************** David L Dungan* resurrects Origen's reading of EPECEIRHSAN in Luke1:1. According to Dungan, Origen saw here not just a mild allusion to the insufficiency of the attempts being made to compose accounts but active evil intent on the part of those doing the composition.
This understanding of EPECEIREW is rejected by most other commentators such as F. Godet and A.B. Bruce who admit that some light notion of insufficiency my be implied in the context but if so Luke includes himself in the group who's work is considered insufficient (cf KAMOI Lk 1:3).
Several others appear to reject the idea that EPECEIREW even implies insufficiency, saying that this coloring is supplied always by the context and is never a part of the meaning of EPECEIREW (Mult. & Mill. p250f, also H.A.W. Meyer, H. Alford, A. Plummer, I.H. Marshall.
The only reason I bring this up is that this illustrates a common problem in lexical semantics. The problem is this:
Assuming that EPECEIREW appears regularly in contexts where failure, insufficiency or evil intent are also present. Does this give us any justification to conclude that EPECEIREW in these contexts includes a semantic component that includes failure, insufficiency or evil intent? The solution to this question, if it can be obtained and clearly stated would put an end to a lot of seemingly pointless argument about the meaning of words.
What is the solution and how can it clearly be stated?
*Dungan, David L. A history of the synoptic problem: the canon, the text, the composition and the interpretation of the Gospels. Doubleday, 1999, page 14)
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