[b-greek] Re: MORFH

From: Maurice A. O'Sullivan (mauros@iol.ie)
Date: Wed Feb 27 2002 - 09:21:36 EST

At 11:11 27/02/02, Jonathan Burke wrote:

>Still looking for any indication that the word MORFH was understood as
>'essential nature'.

One difficulty I detect here is your insistence on a _word_ ; as has been
pointed out on this list often enough, meaning does not operate on that
restricted level alone.

W. Poehlmann in his article on MORPHE in:
Balz, Horst, and Gerhard Schneider, eds. Exegetical Dictionary of the New
Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.

distinguishes sharply between MORFH ( as a _word_ ) in Mark, and as a
"antithetical expression " in Philippians.

>>the risen Lord appears in "another _form_" and therefore cannot be
recognized by his familiar physical form of appearance. The assumption here
is that supernatural forms were capable of changing their MORFH.<<<

But in Ph. 2:6 f. , he insists:
>>we should not relate the two-fold MORFH of Christ to the concept of
[ Here he expresses his difference with Spicq: Spicq, Ceslas. Theological
Lexicon of the New Testament. 3 vols. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, 1996 ]

He goes on:
<< The antithetical expression of the preexistent and earthly Christ does
not derive from the idea of the adaptability of a divine being. MORFH QEOU
and MORFH DOULOU are metaphorical expressions that should be interpreted as
poetic approaches to the state of Christ before and during his work on earth.>>

He differs from both TDNT V 197 when he describes the change from MORFH
QEOU to MORFH DOULOU as " neither a simple change of appearance, leaving
the nature unchanged " and from Kasemann when he postulates " a change of
the Son's nature "

His most important point, though, is when he says:
"To contrast 'appearance' and 'substance' ignores the wording of the hymn
MORFH in Ph. 2:6f refers not to any changeable form but to the specific
form on which identity and status depend ".

Just one note on your first example of MORFH from the LXX:

>Judges 8:
>18 Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What *manner* [MORFH] of men were
>they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they;
>each one resembled the children of a king.

I don't know what text the LXX translator was relying on for this version
--- BHS has instead the question "where are they?", which is seen in the RSV :
<< 8:18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmun'na, "Where are the men whom
you slew at Tabor?" >>

Interestingly, the NRSV has an ambiguous translation, which can be seen as
straddling the two (? ) text traditions:
<< 8:18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, "What about the men whom you
killed at Tabor?" >>

Maurice A. O'Sullivan [ Bray, Ireland ]

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