[b-hebrew] Ezek 3:26
jshepherd53 at gmail.com
Sun Jul 21 01:04:59 EDT 2013
First, let me say that I hope the reason you're away for a few days is that
you're getting some vacation time and some relaxation. Enjoy it.
So, at this point, I'm only going to reply to part of your response, the
first part where you attempt to do some linguistic work. I'll get to the
rest of the post later.
You said: "You have done what Ruth would say is confuse action with
"I already a few times covered how to recognize the difference using the
word 'swing' in English, now I’ll give an example from koiné Greek:
"The action in παρακαλειν is to call aside. The function is why there is a
calling aside, and we find that it is used for instruction, scolding,
encouragement, upbraiding, and it’s the context that indicates for which
reason the person was called aside. The translator that translates
παρακαλειν into English has a problem—English doesn’t have the concept of
calling aside for all those purposes. If the translator merely translates
the action, that makes no sense in English. So he ends up translating the
function, the why the action was taken.
"If, on the other hand, the intent of handling the text is merely to read
the text with the intent as far as possible 'to get inside the head' of an
ancient Greek, the reader will recognize that παρακαλειν does NOT mean to
instruct, to scold, to encourage, to upbraid, rather it’s an action that is
used to facilitate all these contexts and listing the action is often the
shorthand of referring to the reason for the action."
Okay, Karl, here's a number of points in response.
(1) If Ruth is lurking, hopefully she can clarify, but this distinction you
attribute to her between action and function is not one that she made. That
was your formulation in your attempt to capture her thought; she never
confirmed this, and probably because it didn't really express what she was
trying to say. She made a distinction between form and function, and your
distinction between action and function is not the same thing.
(2) Your suggestion that I made a confusion between action and function is
not really correct. When you use these terms you are the one who is making
the confusion, and the confusion at least borders on confusing linguistic
and extralinguistic categories. Furthermore, "action" is not the term to
use when trying to when trying to capture the "main" idea of a particular
lexeme, because it assumes the lexeme is either a verb or a noun that names
an action. Your distinction does not cover nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc.
(3) The proper linguistic distinction to make is not between action and
function, but rather between some kind of original "core" or "root" meaning
and function/usage in its occurrences in various contexts. What you are
trying to argue is that the original "core" meaning is somehow present in
all occurrences of the lexeme. The problem you have here is that there is
not a trained linguist in the entire universe who would hold to that
(4) Your example of παρακαλειν is a case in point. In fact, interestingly,
you have picked up on an example that is used in linguistic textbooks to
disprove the very point you are trying to make. To be sure, the verb is
made up of two Greek words that, if translated literally, would mean to
"call aside" or "call beside or alongside." And I believe there are a few
places in the NT where that meaning might be present. But in the grand
majority of the verb's occurrences, that meaning is not present. It
simply means, in various contexts, to "ask," "plead," "comfort," "beg,"
"encourage," etc. There is no problem for the translators, because, if you
were to "get inside the head of an ancient Greek," you would not find them
thinking that the word they were using or reading meant to "call aside." For
example, in Matt 8:31, the demons παρακαλειν Jesus to send them into the
herd of pigs. They are not calling Jesus aside. In Matt 8:34, the people
παρακαλειν Jesus to leave their region. They are not calling Jesus
is not "called aside" in Hades in Luke 16:25; he is simply comforted. Rachel
does not refuse to be "called aside" in Matt 2:18; rather, she refuses to
be παρακαλειν comforted. In Acts 19:31, the officials of the province do
not send a message to Paul calling him aside, rather they "beg"
(παρακαλειν) him not to venture into the theater. And on and on in
passage after passage.
This is what Peter Cotterell and Max Turner say in their book, *Linguistics
and Biblical Interpretation*:
"However much *parakaleo* looks as though it should mean 'to call someone
alongside to assist' (from *para* 'alongside' and *kaleo* 'to call')—and it
did once have this sense—in the New Testament period it means simply 'to
request', 'to encourage', or 'to cheer up'."
It just isn't the case that every time an "ancient Greek" spoke, wrote,
read, or heard *parakaleo*, that they were somehow thinking "to call aside."
I believe that meaning might have been present in some of the passages
where *parakaleo* is perhaps used in the sense of "invite," but, for the
grand majority of instances, that idea is not present, either in the text
or in their thinking.
Incidentally, Cotterell and Turner use this *parakaleo* example in a
section where they are discussing the etymological fallacy. I know in the
past you have denied that you are committing this fallacy; but, in fact,
your usage of *parakaleo* in support of your point is a textbook example of
So your Greek example doesn't work for Greek; your English example doesn't
work for English. And there is no reason to believe it would be any
different for Hebrew.
jshepherd53 at gmail.com
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