[b-hebrew] FW: origin of evil

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Sep 11 21:04:48 EDT 2006


I guess here is maybe where we will disagree.

I see no difference in the semantic domain between the adjective that
is used to describe an object from the same adjective used to describe
an action. Thus analysing the semantic domain as it applies to objects
will clarify the semantic domain as it applies to actions and visa
versa. I find your distinction between objects and actions highly
artificial and not according to linguistic practice. And as I said
before, the use in Isaiah 45:7 where an adjective stands alone, it
refers to either action(s) or object(s).

You do agree that the examples I gave used R( in a manner inconsistent
with a definition that requires a moral aspect to it.

On 9/11/06, Lisbeth S. Fried <lizfried at umich.edu> wrote:
> Dear Karl,
> Sorry, I had in mind sentences where actions were described as ra(, not
> objects.
> The question is not really the semantic range of ra(, but rather how to
> translate Isaiah 45:7.
> Would you admit to God behaving immorally, or is that is out of the question
> by definition?

That is a theological question that is only peripherally connected
with the question on how to understand Isaiah 45:7.

A theologian who comes to the question with the presupposition of
"Scripture interprets Scripture" where God is elsewhere stated as
being unable to practice evil, then Isaiah 45:7 is a proof passage as
to why R( cannot mean "evil".

A linguist looking at other adjectival uses of R( will have to admit
that the use of the adjective R( in Isaiah 45:7 does not necessarily
mean that God acts immorally, in so far as other adjectival uses do
not always involve a moral aspect.

> ...  The writers were concerned to display God's supreme power
> and didn't worry about whether we would consider the acts moral or not.

That is a theological presumption that people from other theological
persuasions will find objectionable.

> Consequently, I think that God is shown behaving immorally.

Personal opinion.

> For example, it seems to me that causing death only out of anger is not
> moral.

To answer this properly would require a theological treatise, which I
think is well out of the guidelines of this group. I think the
moderators would agree with me. The short answer is that God is never
shown acting out of a fit of anger, his anger is always deserved and
as a response to man's disobedience.

> There are the cases, for example, of Nadav and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-2) and of
> Uzza (2 Sam. 6:6-7).  There is God hardening Pharaoh's heart, only to prove
> God's power. I think the flood is another example.
> These stories were written to illustrate God's awesome power and supreme
> freedom of action.
> The story of Abraham questioning God about the morality of his destroying
> Sodom illustrates the fact that God's actions can be judged as being moral
> or not moral. They do not need to be assumed to be moral by definition,
> simply because God is the actor. That was not Abraham's assumption.

Others read Abraham as posing rhetorical questions, not that he was
questioning God's morality.

As for NDB and )BYHW), they had done what God had already defined as a
capital offense, and with no expression of anger on God's part, he
carried out the sentence.

Basically, you are questioning God's justice, and upon which
standards? Who defined your concept of justice? Does the clay have the
right to question the potter 'why did you make me this way'?

But I digress. These questions are not linguistic, but theological.

> Liz

In closing, you know, because I have said so on this list, that I
follow as closely as I can the teaching of the New Testament, which
was based on Tanakh. In other words, the New Testament is a
continuation of Tanakh and the only correct continuation of Tanakh. As
a result, I reject the Mishna, Talmud, Zohar, Maimonides et al as
being valid sources in the study of Tanakh and Biblical Hebrew (sorry,
Shoshanna). Further, I accept the teachings that Bible was without
error in the original autographs, which we no longer have and that
Scripture interprets Scripture.

However, when responding to people on this list, I have been careful
to keep my theology out of my responses as far as possible. When a new
member asks a question about a controversy, even those in which I
participated and chose sides, I have been careful to give all sides as
accurately as I can, including that with which I disagree. I have also
tried to limit myself to linguistic arguments, which a few times have
been misunderstood because of how they effect theology. And sometimes
I add the other side of a controversy when only one side is presented
on this list.

Karl W. Randolph.

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