Re: A question from a novice!

From: Steven Lo Vullo (
Date: Mon Mar 20 2000 - 20:42:40 EST

<x-charset iso-8859-1>Jim,

Just a few points.

1. In case you haven't noticed, we haven't really been discussing the LXX
for about, oh, thirty or forty posts. Instead we have been looking at many
NT passages that bear on the issue. I would hope you would not accuse us of
engaging in the "etymological fallacy" by ascertaining the usage of AGAPAW
in the NT.

2. You made the claim in an earlier post that the LXX was translated some
"400 odd years" before the NT was produced. Assuming that at least some NT
works were completed ca. 50 A.D., this would bring us to about 350 B.C.,
making Alexander the Great about six years old, and long before Greek had
become the lingua franca of the Mediterranean world. In light of this, why
would the Jews have considered it important in the middle of the 5th century
B.C., before Greek was a Mediterranean-wide language, to have a Greek
translation of the OT? "Odd years" indeed!

3. You claim that because the LXX was translated "400 odd years" before the
advent of the NT it is "totally irrelevant" to the study of the NT because
by using it one would be engaging in the "etymological fallacy." Leaving
aside the fact that most scholars date the LXX to between 250 and 150 B.C.,
the problem with this contention is that, unlike Classical Greek, the LXX
enjoyed continuous usage by Greek-speaking Jews up to and including the
time of the NT. This means it informed their vocabulary in matters of
religion. Your example of the word "gay" does not obtain here, for that word
is not a traditional part of religious vocabulary. A better example would be
words like "salvation," "justification," "propitiation," "sanctification,"
"glorification," "church," etc., which have enjoyed continuous usage in the
English language over the course of many hundreds of years, for the very
reason that they are traditional religious words that allow us to express
our faith in recognizable form. Certainly we must be careful in our
utilization of any Greek material in NT study, but you have not even begun
to offer proof that use of the LXX in NT study is "totally" mistaken.

4. Your universal contention that "words have usage, not meaning" is
self-defeating. If "meaning is supplied by context," as you say, yet no
words have meaning, by the very nature of things no written (or spoken)
language can be comprehended by anyone. Why? Because context consists of
words; yet in your estimation words have no meaning. Therefore, meaningless
words exist in a sea of other equally meaningless words, which by their very
nature as meaningless can provide no clues as to the meaning of any other
word in their context! It seems, by your own standards, that at least one
word would have to be understood on its own before it could offer any clue
as to the meanings of other words around it. And this one word destroys your
universal statement. While the logical outcome of your method may be
conducive to good Postmodern Deconstruction, it is relatively useless for
anyone who wants to discover objective meaning in a text.

5. Almost immediately after stating that words have no meaning apart from
context you, with equal unsupported dogmatism, contend that AGAPAW means
exactly the same thing always, regardless of context! When a context is
pointed out that refutes this contention (2 Timothy 4:10), you shrug it off
with the gratuitous remark that it is "false," without giving any coherent
reason why it is false! You also ignore all the other references given in

6. 2 Timothy 4:10 states that "Demas, having loved (AGAPHSAS) this present
age, has deserted me." Since the object of this participle is TON NUN AIWNA
("this present age"), we must, using your one-and-only definition of AGAPAW,
conclude that this was on Demas' part a sacrificial act of love toward the
world which requires nothing in return. Remember, the text says nothing
about "false" love. And your rigid definition doesn't include the word
"false." So by the advanced art of lexical alchemy, unknown to benighted
Luddites of only fifty years ago, we have turned a completely selfish and
traitorous act into a saintly display of selfless concern! Maybe I should
conclude that this insight sheds new, previously unperceived light on this
verse. Maybe what was formerly considered by less-well-instructed Christians
to be an evil act can now be seen in its true light. Yes, I see it now! Paul
was not complaining about Demas, he was praising him! The verse should
really be translated, "Demas, because of his self-sacrificial and totally
unselfish concern for the world, departed from me."

7. How, by any stretch of the imagination, can someone who sacrificially
loves the world, with no desire to receive anything in return, be called
"depraved"? You, mister, owe Demas an apology!


Steve LoVullo

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim West <>
To: Biblical Greek <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Monday, March 20, 2000 5:33 AM
Subject: Re: A question from a novice!

> At 05:23 AM 3/20/00 +0000, you wrote:
> the professor once told
> >to the class (I forgot the occasion) that AGAPAW was frequently used
> > for love between men and women but Christians made it a holy word.
> >It is so interesting that that legacy still continues.
> >
> >Moon
> several respondents have replied to this thread with statements like
> describes love between men and women" and the like- without any interest
> the context either historically or literarily. it seems that most listers
> operate on the presumption of the etymological fallacy. and they also
> to operate on the assumption that words remains completely static in
> even over decades and centuries!!!! fascinating, that after decades of
> research which has shown the dangers of such an approach, that folk still
> use it.
> i repeat, words have usage, not meaning. meaning is supplied by context.
> in the NT, "agapaw" ALWAYS contextually, literarily, and historically
> denotes a love which requires nothing in return- notwithstanding the false
> example of demas who is demonstrated to be depraved BECAUSE he "LOVES" the
> world!!!
> Best, and nice to see some activity and discussion on the list after a
> rather lenghty period of relative peace. *chuckle*
> Jim
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> Jim West, ThD
> ---
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