[b-greek] Eph 1:4/5 "in love"

From: Wayne Leman (wleman@mcn.net)
Date: Sat Sep 23 2000 - 13:31:05 EDT

Mark was troubled by my epistemological comment:

> -----
> There appear to be very few cases of intended ambiguity in scripture. This
> is not surprising because ambiguity in serious literary would be confusing
> to a writer's audience, and few biblical writers likely wanted to confuse.
> There are *no* certainties in any of my claims in this message, but,
> a strong tilt of the odds from what we know about language usage around
> world.
> ----
> Something, and I am not sure exactly what, just doesn't settle well with
> concerning this comment. I am seeking help.

Mark, many of us in life like to think in categorical terms. We are
attracted to the binary oppositions of computers and theological categories
(e.g. "we're right; they are wrong"). But thorough language research shows
that language behavior is often not categorical, but, rather scalar.
Languages are much like people (not surprisingly, since people speak them
and change them). There ARE absolutes in language, but there are also many
in-between shades of gray. I happen to believe the "in love" phrase in Eph.
1:4/5 was intended by the original author to syntactically relate to only
one of the two possible options in that passage. As such, this would be a
categorical issue (rather than a scalar issue), but then we get back to your
original question: Which option is the "right" one?

Nearly 2000 years after Ephesians was written we do not know for *certain*
which option the author of Ephesians intended. The uncertainty is on *our*
part, not on the part of the original author. Much of science is that way:
we build hypotheses and test them. We try to get the best data we can to
build the best hypotheses. And then we humbly recognize that we may yet have
to change our current best hypothesis.

I am not a postmodernist when it comes to literary analysis and "truth". I
do believe there are absolutes and "real" facts in Scripture. But I am also
a realist when it comes to *our* recognization of what are the "true facts"
of Scripture. There is a fair amount of uncertainty. There is also a good
amount of highly-ranked exegetical hypotheses. Not having absolute certainty
in parts of exegesis is unsettling for some of us, but I think it's reality.
Of that I am absolutely certain!! :)

I hope this is all *absolutely clear*!! :)

Wayne Leman
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