[b-greek] Re: James 1:3

From: Steven R. Lo Vullo (doulos@appleisp.net)
Date: Sat Sep 01 2001 - 19:53:06 EDT

on 9/1/01 4:28 PM, jwest@highland.net at jwest@highland.net wrote:

>> I would agree that hUMWN can modify DOKIMON, but I fail to see how THS
>> PISTEWS can be construed as "faithful people."
> because nouns name things. they are not mere abstractions.
> thus, the people named here are described as faithful.

Of course nouns name things. This is true whether a noun is abstract or not.
How that automatically leads to the conclusion ("thus") that a singular
genitive abstract noun should be taken in a vocative sense as addressing a
plurality of people is not entirely clear. Do you have any examples of
PISTIS in the singular unabiguously used of a plurality of people?

>> For one thing, your translation suggests THS PISTEWS be taken in a vocative
>> sense, though the case is genitive.

> the genitive here functions merely to specify that they are the faithful ones
> (in opposition to and contradistinction to the unfaithful)

Why on earth even suggest such an improbable (and unknown until you can show
a parallel) usage when it is entirely natural and makes perfect sense to
take THS PISTEWS as an objective genitive with TO DOKIMON? Can you show us a
similar example of a genitive of this sort, i.e., a genitive noun used
absolutely as an address in the middle of a sentence? I get the feeling you
are just trying to get a rise out of us with this suggestion.

>> And while PISTIS in certain contexts can mean "faithfulness," I don't see how
>> it can mean "faithful one."

> because- with all due respect- you are translating far too literally--
> thinking in a modern mindset, and not availing yourself of the fact that in
> ancient palestine people used nouns to describe the attributes of folk rather
> than as mere abstractions.

Far from "translating far too literally," if you reread my post, you will
see that I have not translated the clause at all. I'm just trying to do
justice to the grammar, syntax, and lexical considerations associated with
the text. I invite anyone to translate this verse as idiomatically as they
choose--as long as in the end the translation doesn't fly in the face of
what the grammar, syntax, and lexis involved indicate. As a general rule,
don't you think we should opt for the most probable meaning of a unit of
writing based on lexical, grammatical, and syntactical comparison with other
literature of the same sort, rather than for highly imaginative and
subjective proposals that posit odd grammatical and syntactical explanations
and rare or unknown uses of words?

As far as how "ancient palestine people" used nouns, how could I know that
without reading what they wrote? That is really the issue here. Do you know
of any other uses of PISTIS that designate "faithful ones." Remember, these
would have to be in the *singular* number designating a *plurality* of
people. And, as I requested above, can you offer us a similar syntactical
example of a genitive noun used absolutely as an address in the middle of a
sentence? I presume that if "ancient palestine people" used PISTIS this way,
it would be reflected abundantly in their writings.

>> This would be covered by hO PISTOS. Finally, PISTEWS is singular, not plural.
>> Even if it were plural, the only sense I know of for PISTIS in the plural is
>> something like "pledges" (although the plural is not used in the NT).

> the singular often stands in place of the plural when a group is conceived in
> its singularity. again, you are thinking like a modern individualistic
> american rather than a first century jewish christian (the folk addressed by
> james).

If this is as common as you say, you should have no problem sharing some
examples of PISTIS used in this very way.

On the other hand, when in doubt, just appeal to "modern american
individualism." That seems to work with a lot of people. What I wonder is,
when you describe me as a "modern individualistic american," how you can
possibly know whether I am a modern-thinking person, individualistic, or
even American. My last name is Sicilian. How do you know I haven't lived in
Sicily most of my life? And since I am Sicilian, I suppose that would warp
my thinking as well, since it would presumably be difficult for a modern-day
Mafioso to understand the thinking of first century Jewish Christians who
were not involved in organized crime. So much for the value of stereotyping
all Americans (or anyone else).

Whenever someone appeals to "American individualism," "Western thought," or
other similar stereotypes, I never take that as a cue to cower; rather I
always assume that the person making the accusation is having trouble making
his/her case. It doesn't really make a point, it is just a thinly-veiled ad
hominem argument that only appeals to those who have a similar prejudice.

As far as how "a first century jewish christian" *thought*, how on earth can
I know that except by what he and his contemporaries *wrote*. And how can I
understand what they wrote except by analyzing their writings lexically,
semantically, grammatically, and syntactically in comparison with similar
literature or writing from the same period of time. Oh, I know. I'll just
shed my "Western logic," tap into the "universal mind," and all should
become clear.

Steve Lo Vullo
Madison, WI

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