Thursday, November 29, 2007


Slightly edited from a post at an Orthodox discussion forum:
I remember hearing secondhand that a woman was on some forum (I do not think this one) and her pastor-husband asked her what she was discussing. She replied, "The Trinity." To which he said, "With who?" She said, "The Orthodox." Hearing that, he said, "You're going to lose."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Two Greek Readers

I just received the following two books from Amazon:

The two books differ greatly from each other in both content and format.

Most of the selections in KOINE GREEK READER (KGR) by Rodney J. Decker ($17.15 at Amazon) are from the Bible, whether the Greek New Testament (for which there are not translations) or the Septuagint Old Testament (with translations). The book also includes short selections from Ignatius, the Didache, 1 Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas, as well as four Creeds (the Nicene, Nicene-Constantinopolitan, Chalcedonian, and Apostles'), also with translations. All the selections, other than the Creeds, have supplemental readings, too, though these just have parallel translations and not vocabulary and grammatical notes. The New Testament selections begin with grammar reviews and vocabulary previews, and include recommended readings from various grammars, most of which the student should own or plan on owning, or at least have access to. KGR also includes several Appendices with helpful word lists and verbal charts and information, as well as Decker's essay on using BDAG (the Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich Lexicon), an earlier version of which is accessible from Decker's Website.

A Patristic GREEK READER (PGR) by Rodney A. Whitacre ($19.77 at Amazon) includes selections from the Didache, 1 Clement, Ignatius, the Epistle to Diognetus, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Melito of Sardis, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, the Desert Fathers and Mothers, John Chrysostom, Hesychios the Priest, and Symeon the New Theologian, and includes translations of all texts. There is introductory and historical information for each selection, with extensive running lexical and grammatical notes under the text. A separate section in the book contains translations of all the texts. There are three brief Appendices: Appendix A - All words that occur 50x or more in the New Testament (i.e., the words the reader should already know); Appendix B - Principal Parts of Common Verbs; and Appendix C - The Selections Arranged in Order of Difficulty.

PGR is more of a straight reader, whereas KGR also incorporates aspects of a grammar workbook. The books are relatively inexpensive, so the student who is interested in increasing his proficiency in New Testament Greek and/or expanding his reading beyond the New Testament texts should consider buying both of them.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"The Spirit, the holy, the lordly and life-giving one"

The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed as it is usually translated states:
"And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father"

και εις το Πνευμα το αγιον, το κυριον, το ζωοποιον, το εκ του Πατρος εκπορευομενον
(Commas and capitalization are per the text in The Synekdêmos - ΣΥΝΕΚΔΗΜΟΣ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΙΑΝΟΥ. Note that there is no comma after Πνευμα.)

In his book Credo (Yale University Press, 2003), Jaroslav Pelikan writes the following about this phrase in the Creed:
"...the language about believing in the third hypostasis or person of the Trinity as 'the lordly and life-giving' Spirit. The original Greek of that epithet, which is to kyrion in the neuter rather than ton kyrion in the masculine, is, strictly speaking, an adjective meaning 'lordly, of the Lord,' not a noun to be translated as 'the Lord,' as it is already with the Latin Dominum et vivificantem and would be in most subsequent translations into various languages." (p. 52)
Thus, instead of:
"And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father"
Pelikan translates it as:
"And in the Spirit, the holy, the lordly and life-giving one, proceeding from the Father" (p. 25)
In reciting and translating the Creed I had lazily overlooked this and/or assumed το κυριον was simply a neuterizing of ο κυριος to agree with the neuter το πνευμα. (κυριον would be the accusative form in both the masculine and the neuter.) This would be perhaps similar to the reason some give as to why Jesus calls Peter Πετρος in Matthew 16:18 in the wordplay with πετρα:
καγω δε σοι λεγω οτι συ ει Πετρος, και επι ταυτη τη πετρα οικοδομησω μου την εκκλησιαν, και πυλαι αδου ου κατισχυσουσιν αυτης
I.e., since πετρα is feminine, Jesus masculinizes it to Πετρος when naming Simon Peter, since He couldn't call him Πετρα.

(ο κυριος is just a masculine substantival form of the adjective, and η κυρια ("lady, mistress") is a feminine substantival form of the adjective. Couldn't το κυριον similarly be a substantival form of the adjective when referring to neuter nouns like Πνευμα, and not have to be the adjective "lordly"?)

I can think of a couple points in support of Pelikan's translation of κυριον as "lordly" (though I don't know if these were his reasons; he might have based his translation simply on το κυριον being neuter and agreeing with το Πνευμα):
  1. It is rare for the Spirit to be called "the Lord" in the New Testament. It only occurs at 2 Corinthians 3:17 and possibly at 2 Corinthians 3:18:
    17 ο δε κυριος το πνευμα εστιν· ου δε το πνευμα κυριου, ελευθερια. 18 ημεις δε παντες ανακεκαλυμμενω προσωπω την δοξαν κυριου κατοπτριζομενοι την αυτην εικονα μεταμορφουμεθα απο δοξης εις δοξαν καθαπερ απο κυριου πνευματος.
    At 3:17 it's ο κυριος το πνευμα εστιν ("the Lord is the Spirit"), not το κυριον το πνευμα εστιν ("the lordly one is the Spirit").

    3:18 reads απο κυριου πνευματος, and κυριου could be either the masculine noun κυριος, referring to Jesus or God the Father, or the neuter adjective κυριον (κυριος, -α, -ον), agreeing with πνευμα . As it stands, the phrase could be translated as:

    • "from [the] of-[the]-Lord Spirit" = "from [the] Spirit of [the] Lord"
    • "from [the] Lord, [the] Spirit" (i.e., the Lord = the Spirit)
    • "from [the] Lord of [the] Spirit"
    • "from [the] lordly Spirit" (= κυριον)

    If it's the second possibility, then this verse calls the Spirit "the Lord."

  2. In the Creed, God is called "the Father" (more specifically "one Father" - ενα Θεον), and Jesus is called "the Lord" (more specifically "one Lord" - ενα Κυριον), before one gets to the article about the Spirit. It seems to me that the authors would not also call the Spirit "the Lord," since the Creed declares belief in (just) "one Lord." Nor would they want to confuse the Spirit in any way with the Son by calling them both "Lord," especially since they were careful to differentiate the Son's relationship to the Father from the Spirit's: the Son being begotten from the Father, and of one substance/essence with Him; and the Spirit proceeding from the Father (but with no mention of Him being of one substance with Him or with the Son).
As for Pelikan's translation "the Spirit, the holy" (i.e., "holy" as an adjective, rather than as part of the (Holy) Spirit's name), perhaps once one establishes that το κυριον is an adjective, then the whole string of arthrous terms following το Πνευμα (i.e., το αγιον, το κυριον, το ζωοποιον - but not including the rest of the adjectival participles, since the Father and the Son now enter the clause) are viewed as being adjectives. Based on this, I think one could also translate this phrase as:
"And in the holy, lordly, life-giving Spirit"
Some of my questions are:
  1. Is Pelikan is right to translate το Πνευμα το αγιον as "The Spirit, the holy" - i.e., regarding αγιον more as an adjective than as part of the Spirit's proper name? (It seems to me, though, that a lot of the New Testament occurrences of το Πνευμα το αγιον are correctly translated in English as "the Holy Spirit.")

  2. At (or by) the time this phrase was added to the Creed (in 381 A.D. at The First Council of Constantinople), would the Church have regarded το Πνευμα το αγιον as meaning "the Holy Spirit" (as opposed to "the 'holy' Spirit")?

  3. Did the authors of the Creed choose to use the Second Attributive Position syntax (article-noun-article-adjective) - i.e., το Πνευμα το αγιον - instead of το αγιον Πνευμα (First Attributive Position - cf. Acts 1:8) or Πνευμα αγιον (Anarthrous Attributive - cf. Acts 19:2) because they viewed the phrase the same way Pelikan does (i.e., as meaning "the holy (adj.) Spirit")?

  4. Was το Πνευμα το αγιον the way the Church Fathers usually or often wrote "the Holy Spirit" (perhaps because this construction is very common in Acts) - as opposed to it meaning "the holy (adj.) Spirit"?
I posted my questions at the B-Greek list, but no one seems to be responding.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hebrews 10:5: An Interesting Case for Hermeneutics, Canonicity and Inerrancy

(At some point I'll lay out or develop my thoughts about the following. Or maybe they'll just appear in the comments in response to what others may say.)

Hebrews 10:5 reads:
διο εισερχομενος εις τον κοσμον λεγει, θυσιαν και προσφοραν ουκ ηθελησας, σωμα δε κατηρτισω μοι

"Therefore when he comes into the world he says: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.'"
  1. What does it mean for the "historical-grammatical method" (or "hermeneutic") that the author of Hebrews makes Jesus the speaker of these words?
  2. What does it mean for Evangelical Protestant beliefs about canonicity and inerrancy that the author of Hebrews used and quoted the Septuagint (LXX) reading of Psalm 39:7?*

    * Psalm 40:6 according to the Hebrew/Masoretic Text numbering. SEPTUAGINTA (Rahlfs) agrees with the Masoretic Text in adopting ωτια ("ears") [Ga (Psalterium Gallicanum)] here, rather than σωμα ("body") [B (Vaticanus), S (Sinaiticus), A (Alexandrinus)].
Feel free to comment!