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Re: [John_Lit] A Grammatico-theological Question

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    In a message dated 9/11/2000 12:17:33 AM Eastern Daylight Time, baldeagl@airmail.net writes: [Leonard] ... God ), as opposed to the second translation is
    Message 1 of 76 , Sep 11, 2000
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      In a message dated 9/11/2000 12:17:33 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
      baldeagl@... writes:

      [Leonard]
      > I think the principal reason for the first translation ("and the Word was
      God"), as > opposed to the second translation is not a grammatical one,
      but a (legitimate)
      > theological one.

      << Frankly, I don't think there can ever be a "legitimate" theological
      reason for translating, although I commend you for being willing to
      admit this in an open forum.>>

      Two points of clarifications:

      1. In the first place, I was speaking of settling a grammatically
      ambiguous statement by reference to a theological argument. The whole point
      is that the phrase remains ambiguous if, in this case, only grammatical
      arguments are used.

      2. I was referring not to a theology (of my own) imposed on the text, but
      rather to a theology that inhabits the text of John itself and that is
      discovered through fully scientific exegetical methods. It is quaintly
      archaic to imagine that "theology" is an exclusively post-text phenomenon in
      the case of any of the New Testament writers. They are all (and especially
      John) thought to have been theologians in their own right (by an overwhelming
      majority of contemporary scholars). Thus there was no "admission" in my
      remarks of having introduced an extraneous element into the discussion.

      << Translations should stand on their own, without the need to be propped
      up by a theological line of reasoning. Otherwise, we are telling the
      text what it ought to say, rather than allowing it to speak for
      itself.>>

      Unless of course the text is one informed with a theology that is already
      there to be discovered. In this case, a theological line of reasoning for
      purposes of translation is perfectly legitimate for settling the meaning of
      grammatically ambiguous statements.

      [Leonard]
      The author of John is not thought to have been a polytheist, which is
      > precisely what would be implied by the (grammatically possible)
      translation:
      > The Word was a god.

      << The predicate construction may easily be understood as an adjective,
      as it is most commonly understood in Greek. This would describe the
      Logos as divine or godly, rather than "a god", (which would actually
      be an unusual rendering.) >>

      I acknowledged the legitimacy of this translation, but obviously do not
      understand the words in exactly the same way as you.

      << Yet, there *is* support in the OT and NT
      for calling men "gods". The term was not understood to mean the same
      as "the God", HO QEOS. Jesus Christ himself pointed this out in John
      10:34

      "Jesus answered, 'Is it not written in your own Law, "I said: You are
      gods"? Those are called gods to whom the word of God was
      delivered--and Scripture cannot be set aside. Then why do you charge
      me with blasphemy because I, consecrated and sent into the world by
      the Father, said, 'I am God's son'?" NEB>>

      This is a good point to make, but it is not strictly relevant to our
      discussion. It would be difficult to maintain (exegetically) that John meant
      nothing more by the statement kai theos en ho logos than is meant by this OT
      text cited by Jesus in 10:34. In Jn 10 Jesus is appropriating for himself the
      image of Shepherd of Israel which in Ezekiel 34 is claimed by God. This
      implies a strong functional equivalency between Jesus and God which can be
      illustrated by numerous other passages in John. "Son of God" is not the only
      way in which the Fourth Evangelist associates Jesus with the divinity.

      > It is clear from much in John's Gospel, besides this bald
      > formulation, that John thought of Jesus as fully divine.

      << Which, of course, is not to say that he *was* God. God's only Son
      would most certainly be divine, since he would have the same nature as
      his Father.>>

      If he is divine, then Jesus can legitimately be called God. This is in fact
      the correct orthodox understanding of the expression "Jesus is God". It is
      assumed, in a Catholic ambiance at least, that this point is made as part of
      a basic Christian catechetics.


      > The Nicean doctrine
      > is far closer to the thinking of John than are the humble opinions
      of the
      > anti-trinitarian contributors to this list.

      << I would argue (and the historical record supports the view) that the
      Nicean doctrine was the compromise result of a rancorous and bitter
      debate among theologians who held Platonic views of Jesus' nature and
      those who believed he was what he said he was, the *son* of God, and
      the Platonists won because they had the support of Constantine.>>

      This is a standard secular-historical point of view, not made more accurate
      by the fact that it is standard. An alternative view refuses to accept the
      idea that the presence of Constantine necessarily meant the absence of the
      Spirit, who, in John's terminology, was to lead the disciples of Jesus into
      the whole truth (after the death and resurrection of Jesus). Furthermore, it
      is naive historically to imagine that Platonism affected only the side of
      those who supported the divinity of Christ in the strict sense of the term.
      There was plenty of (and in fact an excess of) Platonic and Aristotelian
      logic operative in the arguments of the Arian and semi-Arian heretics as
      well. And it can be argued that in spite of their use of terminology derived
      from Greek philosophical sources, the "orthodox" Fathers of the Church were
      principally concerned to maintain the substance of the biblical presentation
      of Jesus. And that they successfully did so.

      Leonard Maluf
    • Maluflen@aol.com
      In a message dated 9/18/2000 5:39:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time, antonio.jerez@privat.utfors.se writes: [Responding to Leonard, who wrote:] Antonio, no
      Message 76 of 76 , Sep 18, 2000
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        In a message dated 9/18/2000 5:39:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
        antonio.jerez@... writes:

        [Responding to Leonard, who wrote:]
        << > Antonio, no matter how highly elevated a creature is, no matter how
        "close"
        > to God a creature comes, he is still infinitely -- yes, infinitely
        inferior
        > to God. If this were the case for Jesus it would have been incumbent on
        the
        > NT authors to make this point perfectly clear. Now there are texts in
        which
        > they do not do so, and in fact many of them confound Jesus quite
        deliberately
        > and quite thoroughly with God. If it is true that Jesus is not God, either
        > these writers were terribly misled, or they are terribly misleading.

        The only problem is that Luke and the other synoptic writers did not
        have to contend with a 20th century highly orthodox chap from America
        who is so infatuated with trinitarianism that he has to force it on the texts
        at all price. Leonard, why don't you take a close look at Peter's speech
        in Acts 2:22-36 again and see if you find any support at all for your
        position.
        This is as close to Luke's and the early Jerusalem church's Christology as
        we will ever get, and Jesus is never called or likened to God. He is a MAN
        (v.22) SENT by God (v.22) to fullfill God's plan for humanity (v.23). God
        resurrected him (v24) and MADE him into LORD and MESSIAH (v. 36).

        How do you explain that somebody who is God (as you claim Jesus is) has
        to be made Lord and Messiah by God? >>

        Antonio, it seems you didn't read my post carefully enough (which makes me
        wonder how carefully you read the biblical texts that challenge your
        understanding). What I said was that "there are texts" in the NT in which
        Jesus is thoroughly confounded with God. This is quite compatible, logically,
        with the existence of other texts in which he is not (and was carefully
        formulated precisely so as to accommodate these). The Acts text you cite is
        clearly one such, and, in Chalcedonian terms, it could be said that it is
        simply talking about Jesus as man, under which formality he is of course
        thoroughly subordinated to, distinct from and inferior to God. My only point
        is that there are other texts in which the NT authors, or most of them,
        express a kind of fuzzy identity between Jesus and God. So the God-Man
        construct of the later patristic writers and church councils seems to me to
        do justice the whole of the biblical evidence about Jesus while you seem able
        to handle only one side of the paradox. Keep trying though! It is wonderful
        that you invest so much mental effort in the search.

        Leonard Maluf
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