Nicene Creed

Richard Ghilardi qodeshlayhvh at
Sun Jan 19 03:24:18 EST 2003

Dear George and b-greekers,

On Sat, 18 Jan 2003 15:00:11 -0500 "George F. Somsel"
<polycarp66 at> writes:
> I attempt to not interpret the text through the lens of theology 
> (though
> that can be a daunting task) but to understand theology in light of 
> what
> the text states.  Of course, here we are faced with a situation 
> where the
> Council of Nicea, whose formulation we have before us, is the very 
> place
> where the trinitarian formula was enunciated.  Nevertheless, even 
> here it
> would be well to understand what the council said by examining the 
> text
> which has been left to us rather than imposing our understanding of 
> the
> doctrine upon their formulation.

Yes, yes I agree with all this. I merely wished to note that the
historical probability is all against your reading. But I will not
elaborate further, since that would not be appropriate for this list.

> I'm not sure what your point might be in stating "While it is true 
> that
> TON KURION is not a participle, neither is TO AGION!"  

I thought that my next sentence made my meaning sufficiently clear: "The
use of the participle is not a consistent pattern in this part of the
creed." But upon further reflection I can see that it did not. TO AGION
may be taken not as an attributive adjective but as a designation of TO
PNEUMA (the first one in the list):

 << I believe... in the Spirit, who is the Holy One...>> 

This is a common enough designation for the Divinity in Scripture. In
this view then, TO AGION would be appositive to TO PNEUMA and parallel to
the following participles. If TO AGION can be parallel to the participial
designations, why not TO KURION? Oh, I forgot that you reject that
parallelism precisely because they are not the same part of speech. OK.
I, then, can do with TO AGION what you did with TO KURION and make it the
direct object of TO ZWiOPOION with TO KURION appositive to it,
translating thus: 

<< I believe in... the Spirit, who enlivens the Holy One, the Lord...>> 

And if it is objected that TO PNEUMA TO AGION is a fixed appellation that
cannot be broken up, I can make the whole phrase the object of TO
ZWiOPOION with TO KURION appositive to it, thus: 

<< I believe in... the One who enlivens the Holy Spirit, the Lord...>>

All of this is well within the scope of what the Greek may legitimately
be taken to mean, to borrow a phrase from Brother Carl. But just because
it is POSSIBLE to construe the grammar in such a way as to support your
reading or my several readings doesn't make it correct or even PROBABLE.
As someone on this list once said ( I'm paraphrasing here!): The possible
is the last refuge for every cockamamie idea that comes down the pike.
All these ways of reading the text -- both yours and mine, George -- are
absurd. I do not say this merely out of theological bias. There are sound
grammatical reasons for reading the text in the traditional way. I did
not see them or mention them in my previous post because I was MISREADING
THE TEXT! The proof is in the sentence you quote me as writing above:

Richard: << While it is true that TON KURION is not a participle, neither
is TO AGION! >>

But the text does not say <<TON KURION>> but rather <<TO KURION>>. Is
AGION neuter or masculine? Neuter, of course. No one will dispute this.
Is KURION neuter or masculine? It must be neuter because its article is
neuter. But isn't KURIOS a masculine noun? Yes, but not in this text.
Here it's a substantivized adjective: KURIOS, KURIA, KURION or KURIOS,
KURION. It means "lordly" or "sovereign" as Carl pointed out in a
previous post. It cannot be the object of TO ZWiOPOION referring to the
Lord Jesus. For then the masculine article would have to be used: TON
KURION, as I mistakenly **thought** the text read. TO KURION can only be
a designation for the Holy Spirit, appositive to TO PNEUMA TO AGION and
parallel to the following participles.

> I'm not aware 
> that
> I stated that TO hAGION was a participle.  If, however, I should 
> have said
> anything to so indicate, I repent in sackcloth and ashes and beg 
> your
> forgiveness.  

This feigned **apology** is more than a bit overdrawn, eh?

> Yes, ZWiOPOIHQEIS in 1 Pet 3.18 is in the aorist.  It is always 
> dangerous
> to judge regarding the state of the event which is described by 
> resorting
> to reliance upon the tense of the verb and even more hazardous to 
> base
> one's theology upon a tense.    

I agree emphatically!

> If you will note, LALHSAN in the 
> text of
> the creed is likewise an aorist.  Are we to assume thereby that God 
> is
> said to have only spoken ONCE through the prophets?  Such a 
> judgement must
> fail upon any consideration.  Let's just read what the text says.

I wrote in my previous post:

<< ... TO LALHSAN, describes an historic activity of TO PNEUMA TO AGION.
Now since the tense of TO ZWiOPOION is present we would expect it to
describe the present on-going activity of TO PNEUMA TO AGION. And it
does! The Spirit is the one who gives life -- past, future and right now
in the present.... If TO ZWiOPOION were in the aorist tense, you would
have a much stronger case for your translation. For then it would be an
historic activity of TO PNEUMA TO AGION just like TO LALHSAN is. Your
citation of 1 Pe 3:18 actually supports Moule's translation because there
ZWiOPOIHQEIS, in the aorist tense, describes the once-for-all historic
activity of TO PNEUMA TO AGION in raising Jesus from the dead. >>

Although I do not say so explicitly in the above quote, it should be
fairly easy to infer that I understand that LALHSAN is in the aorist
tense. In fact, my argument depends on it. I don't see how you could
assume that God spoke only once through the prophets from what I wrote.
But this I will affirm as clearly as I can: God spoke once and for all in
history through the prophets, especially the Prophet Jesus. In other
words, God's self-revelation as a whole may be viewed in the utterances
of the prophets with Jesus as their crowning glory. A fitting use for the
aorist tense I'd say.

Yours in His grace,

Richard Ghilardi -- qodeshlayhvh at
New Haven, CT USA

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