Some B-Greek "No-no's"
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Thu Dec 23 07:59:15 EST 1999
The traffic on B-Greek yesterday was thick and fast; a day's digest on a
normal day with a lot of correspondence tends to be 60-80K in length (Dec 1
was 98K), but it seems to average about 60; the digest sent out at midnight
EST yesterday is 137K, the longest I can remember in recent years.
Much of this correspondence was very interesting; some of it was off-topic
like the question about ascription of deity to the Roman emperor Augustus;
some of it was trivial enough to be marked "trivial" by the senders in the
subject-headers; some of it was rather surprisingly open in revealing
theological perspectives of list-members, particularly on interpretation of
some of the Johannine passages the Greek text of which can be understood
with some justification in more than one way; some of it was unusually
chatty; and finally, some of it was really quite out of place on B-Greek.
I'd like to comment on these items in reverse order--hUSTERON PROTERON,
that is ("the last shall be first").
PERSONAL NOTES OR MESSAGES: it may occasionally happen that a list-message
responding to another list-message may include a sentence or two addressed
to the sender of the original message, and so long as that's done in good
taste and in good humor, there's no harm done, no offense taken. But there
were a couple messages yesterday that were really private exchanges between
list-members; let's try to avoid that altogether, please. You can normally
find e-addresses of list-members you want to contact in current
correspondence in your own archives or in the list-archives, and if you're
stumped for an address you need you're welcome to ask Carlton or me for it.
GRATUITOUS, EXTRANEOUS COMMENTS: coming close to the sort of private
exchange noted above were chatty comments that appeared in two of the
stranger threads yesterday--the thread on Beck's translation and the thread
on "archangel" in Jude 9. Wholesale comparisons of off-beat or curious (not
meant to be disparaging) Biblical translations are pretty far out if they
aren't linked to questions about the Biblical Greek text somewhere. The
discussion of "archangel" involved some wholly bizarre speculation about
the relationship of the Greek and Hebrew languages, including a
theologically-based assertion about the linguistic parentage and "priority"
of Hebrew over Greek. That sort of thing really doesn't belong in
list-discussion here; it may do no harm but it may spread misinformation
and it's not at all unlikely to expose ignorance of a sort that most of us
would rather not expose.
REFERENCES TO ONE'S OWN OR OTHERS' RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: I don't think
there's anything amiss if, in explaining why one looks at a particular
Biblical Greek text as one days, one mentions one's own religious
affiliation; on rare occasions I've done so myself and I'm not ashamed of
it--BUT UNLESS it really is helpful for clarifying what one is stating in a
discussion (helping others understand, for instance, why I can look at this
verse this way and not be tarred and feathered out of my own congregation),
it won't make the interpretation you present any more persuasive by virtue
of knowing what group supports the view--an interpretation ought to be able
to stand on its own merits demonstrated in terms of morphology, syntax,
diction, and context of the passage. And finally, it is NOT OK to ask
others in list-correspondence about their religious affiliation. I assume
it is universally understood, moreover, that Apologetics is alien to
B-Greek; this forum is not to be used either to promote or to defend or
attack the faith or doctrines of any individual or any religious group.
THEOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION: Yesterday's discussion of Johannine passages
(John 1:1, 8:58, and 1 John 1:1-4 included some very candid remarks about
personal interpretations of the meaning of these passages in theological
terms. As George Goolde pointedly and correctly remarked at one point,
after citing one such message, "Which shows that we all have theological
presuppositions which sometimes color our understanding of the Greek text."
I don't think there's anything wrong with that with reference to specific
passages in the Greek text where interpretation of the Greek text will vary
depending upon the presuppositions that one brings to bear upon it--SO LONG
AS the Greek text can be interpreted consistently with such and such a
perspective. What is OUT OF PLACE, however, is a mini-dissertation
marshaling scriptural witness drawn from the far or near corners of
scripture in the effort to demonstrate that THIS, and ONLY THIS
interpretation can possibly be legitimate. That would necessarily involve
hermeneutical assumptions that are themselves not agreed upon amongst us
and even if allowed, would "preach only to the converted."
OFF-TOPIC questions, like the one yesterday about attribution of deity to
the Roman emperor Augustus are not infrequently posed on B-Greek because
this list-membership seems a likely resource and because they bear upon the
research that a questioner is doing. Usually such questions are posed with
a request that answers be sent back off-list--and if the matter is
theological, the answers SHOULD be sent off-list, but it happens often
enough that it is a matter of some interest to the whole list and there
seems no harm in sharing the information. We really don't want to squelch a
thread of this sort--or even a bit of humor (so long as it's tasteful and
relevant in some not utterly far-fetched way to B-Greek) or nip it in the
bud; we'd rather see what develops and let it continue unless it gets to
the point of violating list netiquette.
But enough already, and perhaps too much.
Carl W. Conrad
Co-Chair, B-Greek List
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
More information about the B-Greek