Thursday, December 14, 2006

Who's This "We" You're Talking About?

A point has been raised, and I think it's a good one. "Why are you saying we shouldn't use the Septugint for our vocabulary definitions when the lexicon you've referenced says that the LXX is by far one the most influential of their own sources?"

That's a fair question. So let me amend my previous statement with this qualifier about who "we" are. We are not everyone in the world who want to know what Koine Greek means. We are people who haven't spent their lifetimes studying the language, various papryii, documents from not only the New Testament, but also the NT psuedopigrapha, the writings of historians, philosophers, and the common people, as well as the LXX. And if you are one of those people, I would suggest that you would do well to start your search for what a word means with a reference book devoted to that purpose, instead of a translation of another document, even if the translated document had a profound influence on the development of a language.

Think about it this way. If you were going to try to found out what an English word means, would you go to the King James Bible, or would you go to the Oxford English Dictionary? Most people (the "we" here) would go to the dictionary, despite the fact that the King James Bible had a profound influence on the development of our language.

In the same way, we have no need to limit ourselves to a single source, because we have a source that discusses those words--it talks about the semantic range they have, and it discusses them in context. And that source, as I've previously mentioned, is A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.

By the way, as an aside, if you want to know which one you have, the easiest way to tell is the cover. Blue boards are BAG (1957), green boards are BAGD (1979), and maroon boards are BDAG (2000).

I'm still one my way to discussing the meaning of the two words in question (σῴζω and ψυχή). We'll follow that with a discussion of how people have translated James 1:21 (not interpretation yet) down through the years, and why it's significant the no one has translated the phrase "save your souls" as save your lives. And finally, we'll end with a discussion of the verse in context, and attempt to reason out it's meaning.

Hope you'll stay with me while I, er, we, make this journey together.

9 comments:

bluecollar said...

Dude, keep up the good work!!! I love what you and centure0n are doing. I am praying for you both as you do battle against heresy.

Gummby said...

blue: thanks for the words of encouragment, and just for taking the time to visit.

bobby grow said...

I think the soul/life dichotomy is an arbitrary dichotomy relative to the Bible's ontology of man. In other words, I don't think the rendering of psuche as soul or life, in James, actually does anything to forward an understanding on what nuance of salvation James' is emphasizing (i.e. justification or sanctification).

Bluecollar,

heresy is a little strong; heterodoxy would be a little more careful way to term your disagreement with, Antonio.

bluecollar said...

Mr. Grow - I know that you are aware that Calvinists look at sanctification as going hand in hand with justification. The Spirit's work begins with His separating us from the world, 2 Thess. 2:13, and taking us on to conformity to Christ (Romans 8:29). Yes Justification and Sanctification are distinct, yet they cannot be separated as to experience in the Christian life. I believe, then I am justified, right that very moment and eternally so. The Spirit procedes in His ministry to conform me to Christ. Therefore, what James 1:21 is talking about is both the looking back at the power of His word that saved us, and its ongoing power to sanctify us, (2 Tim.3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:2; Romans12:1-2). Therefore, we say that Christ saved us from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin (the here and now) and the presence of sin (when we go to meet Him in the air). In each case the word is involved, even giving us the hope by which we are purified ( 1 John 3:3).

bobby grow said...

Yes, Mark, I am aware of the inter-relationship between the two prongs of salvation. But Calvinism cuts such a thin line between the two, that it appears that one, justification, becomes contingent upon the other (sanctification). And this is where I disagree with Calvinism, most decisively.

bluecollar said...

Bobby - Where in my previous comment do you see me blurr the lines when you say this "it appears that one, justification, becomes contingent upon the other (sanctification)."?

I have seen you make that statement before. I do not know where you are coming from.

Respectfully,
Mark

bobby grow said...

Mark,

it's not what Calvinism "says"; because categorically it reflects great logic--it's the functional outworking that's the problem. Its the emphasis on external signs that is the problem. Even if you attribute works to God, it's still man who "does" them, as the acting agent. Also Calvinism speaks of good works, but never never defines what those are . . . so a person is left with a subjective theoretical grid that they will never know if they hit it. The spirituality of Calvinism leads this person to an unhealthy focus on self.

I won't argue this point anymore. I really don't think you folks honestly want to deal with the implications of your view. There is plenty of literature that illustrates my points on Calvinism's impact. All you have to do is go read about Puritianism--which lived out and "felt" the Calvinist ideals in everyday life. I'm left believing that Calvinists today don't really "get" the weight of their own position. So don't fret, I'm done, I'm glad you can live with your Calvinism. I'm glad you don't feel the weight of needing to exemplify certain works to be assured of your election (practical syllogism). I'm glad you've been able to progress beyond your forebears (William Perkins; William Aames; et al), and enjoy your salvation. Good.

Gummby said...

Bobby: I know we're in James still, so I hate to switch gears on you, but I have to ask at this point.

You said: Also Calvinism speaks of good works, but never never defines what those are . . . so a person is left with a subjective theoretical grid that they will never know if they hit it.

What is your beef here with Calvinism? Is it that it speaks of good works (which the Scripture does as well), or that it doesn't define clearly enough what those works are?

bobby grow said...

Gummby asked:

What is your beef here with Calvinism? Is it that it speaks of good works (which the Scripture does as well), or that it doesn't define clearly enough what those works are?

It's not "works", I agree Christians and good works are inseparably related. It's how and for what purpose "good works" function in the believers life--within the framework known as Calvinism. I believe good works in the bible are meant to be a testimony and bear witness to who Christ is (cf. Mt. 5; Mt. 25; etc.)--not to be the standard by which we determine if we are in good standing with the LORD.

But that's a particular I have a problem with Calvinism over. Generally I have a bigger problem with its methodological/theological approach. The categories it uses to interpret scripture, the scholastic methodology it has used historically, etc. I have an article on Christian Humanism over at my blog right now, which further discloses my "beef" with Calvinism.