[B-Greek] the best Metalanguage to understand the Greek NT?(was "2 Peter 1:1")

yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Sun Apr 25 10:49:32 EDT 2010

Bryant EGRAYE:
> It is not a free floating norm. The OT and LXX are quite consistent with regard
> to Tsedeqah + cognates = DIKAIOSUNH + cognates. The norm would be the character
> of God as revealed in the Torah both in ethical and forensic contexts. In fact,
> the Judah/Tamar incident shows a cultural/ethical norm being carried out in
> Genesis 38. All of these concepts carried over into the NT. Its in the
> Intertestmental Literature that the concept of "right works" leading ot
> salvation is being emphasized. The NT consistently uses DIKOSUNH + cognates in
> Forensic (Galatians 2-3; Romans 1:17ff; 3:20-26) and ethical (James 2; Matthew
> 6:1) with the of norm being the character of God as revealed in the Lord Jesus
> Christ.
A great resource for thinking through the connotations of DIKAIOSUNH in the NT is, ironically, the article on ṣdq in Jenni and Westerman's Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. They suggest that the penchant among Bible translators and lexicographers to try to use the gloss "right" in some form "righteousness" or "make right" or "right actions" has complicated our understanding of the term. 

> The lexicons and Bible translations take pains, guided by the Gk. translation dikaiosynē and the Lat. iustitia (LXX, Vg., resp.), to render the verb ṣdq with “to be right,” the subst. with “righteousness, right.” Indubitably, ṣdq values some human and divine modes of behavior positively. But from which perspective? Since the beginning of Hebr. historical linguistics, the response has been disputed (summary of the literature in Schmid, op. cit. 1f.).

Their gloss, suggesting their understanding of the basic idea of the verb ṣdq is "to be communally faithful, beneficial." The set of perspectives for understanding the meaning of terms related to ṣdq is taken from typical ANE social relations. That is a good place to start, often neglected. The article is very helpful, linguistically sophisticated but avoids jargon. Of course there are many meanings to the various forms (adjective and noun) connected in one way or another to this term.

One of the most interesting aspects of the article provides help for understanding the use of DIKIAOSUNH in 2 Peter. The Hebrew term ṣdq is often used to describe the what is at stake in a (covenant) law suit in which the "righteousness" of one party is challenged by another before a judge. The final verdict of "righteousness" implies the opposite verdict "unrighteous" in the other party. Since the heretic-false prophets that Peter condemns in the letter (chapters 2-4) have, in fact denied the second coming of Christ and the validity of the "promise" for him to return and put the world to rights, they have called into question the "righteousness" of God. That is why Peter starts his letter immediately with reference to this thought and winds up his argument in chapter 3 by affirming God's intent to make all things right. Even the aparent delay used by the false teachers is turned on its head. God's delay, i.e. patience, allows for repentance. That is why it is important for Peter to affirm that the very faith that the faithful have attained is a result of God's righteousness. It is that faith that the false teachers are calling into question.

Yancy Smith, PhD
yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Y.W.Smith at tcu.edu
yancy at wbtc.com
5636 Wedgworth Road
Fort Worth, TX 76133

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