Friday, December 5, 2008

'soma psychikon' in 1 Cor. 15


From JETS:

Second, many commentators, most notably Robert H. Gundry in his magisterial Soma in Biblical Theology, have exploded the old ploy to construe σώμα ψυχικόν as "physical body" and subsequently oppose it to σώμα πνευματικόν ("spiritual body"). By way of summary, σώμα is never used in the NT to denote anything other than the physical body or the human being with special emphasis on the physical body. Hence to maintain that σώμα πνευματικόν refers to a σώμα made out of πνεύμα ("spirit") is self-contradictory, for an immaterial body composed of πνεύμα, by definition, ceases to be a σώμα ("physical body"). Rather, as William Lane Craig points out, Paul discloses the meaning of ψυχικόν and πνευματικόν in 1 Cor 2:14-15: "Α ψυχικός άνθρωπος Csoul-ish human') does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him or her . . . but the spiritual human (πνευματικός) discerns all things." Here we find that ψυχικός and πνευματικός represent opposite dominating principles towards which a person can be fundamentally oriented—either the person's own ψυχή ("soul") or the πνεύμα ("Spirit") of God.29 Clearly ψυχικός άνθρωπος does not signify a "physical human," but rather a human primarily inclined towards the selfish desires of his or her own soul. Likewise, πνευματικός does not refer to an immaterial human, but rather a human primarily inclined towards the desires of the Holy Spirit. It logically follows, therefore, that a σώμα ψυχικόν ("soul-ish body") is a body instinctively steered by the will of the soul, while the σώμα πνευματικόν ("spiritual body") is the same body of flesh as the σώμα ψυχικόν but instinctively steered by the will of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the notion that Paul's doctrine of resurrection in 1 Cor 15:44 opposes the physical body to an immaterial spiritual body is seen to be vacuous.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


A belated celebratory shout for the new, the new home of the Better Bibles Blog (formerly found here), one of my favorite blogs on the Web, period—and the inspiration for this blog and many of its posts. In my glee I cooked up a Twitter feed and two widgets for and will be turning them over to the powers that "BBB" at that blog:

Twitter feed:



(feed with links to posts only) (feed with links to both posts and comments, via Twitter)


Friday, November 7, 2008

VT on [ydm] in Amos 5:13

From Vetus Testamentum :

To understand the word ידם in Amos v 13 the point is not necessarily to decide whether it signifies silence, mourning or moaning but to recognize that the verb, regardless of which of these options one prefers, signifies shock and extreme anguish before a display of God’s power.14 This is evident from other usages of the verb in the Hebrew Bible.


Friday, September 12, 2008

JSOT on 'anak' in Amos 7:8

From JSOT:

Duping the Prophet: On [anak] (Amos 7.8b) and Amos's Visions*
by Tzvi Novick
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 33, No. 1, 115-128 (2008)


I have suggested that, after Amos intercedes to avert the destruction
portended in the first two visions, God rigs the third and fourth visions
so that the prophet will unwittingly sentence Israel, and thus preclude
himself from again intervening on their behalf. God achieves this aim
by taking advantage of the fact that Amos, while prophesying in the
north, is by origin a southerner. The wordplays in the third and fourth
visions rely on puns particularly accessible only to speakers of the
northern dialect, so that Amos can be lured into them unsuspectingly.
In line with this approach, I have interpreted [ank] in 7.8b as a dialectical
variant specific to the north, with the meaning ‘I’ or ‘sigh’. Different
versions of both interpretations have been suggested before, but, in
addition to providing a general framework that explains why [ank] on
either interpretation is otherwise unattested in Biblical Hebrew
(namely, because it is specific to the northern dialect), I have also
marshaled new arguments in support of both proposals.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NTS on 'arrabon' in 2 Cor. 1 and 5

From NTS:

[A]ρραβων as Pledge in Second Corinthians
Yon-Gyong Kwon
New Testament Studies (2008), 54: 525-541


This article argues that αρραβων in 2 Corinthians (1.22 and 5.5) does not mean ‘down payment’ or ‘first installment’ but ‘pledge’ without any sense of pars pro toto. After showing that the meaning of the word depends on its context, the study goes on to examine the two occurrences of the word, concluding that Paul either appeals to the Spirit as God's pledge for his apostolicity (1.22) or as a pledge for the surety of bodily resurrection (5.5). The common view that αρραβων depicts the Spirit as the present realization of salvation is thus exegetically unfounded.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Arie Uittenbogaard on 'a little lower' in Psalm 8:5


From Arie Uittenbogaard:

Psalm 8:5 celebrates mankind's autonomy and sovereignty. The word elohim should here (if not always) be translated with 'powers that be' (after Romans 13:1) and the verb hasar should not be ignored:

[My] translation:

Psalm 8:5, "And You made him so that he requires little from the powers that be."


Uittenbogaard's take was really interesting and brand new to me. I wonder if this reading would at all speak to Israel's polytheistic religious surroundings; all other religions in their world at the time (how's that for a generalization) bore the idea that you got different things (i.e. crops, offspring, victory) from different gods, and had to appease them all with different sacrifices--and so monotheism was radical because it suggested one God could be in charge of everything. (By the way, I think the majority of American Christians are functionally polytheistic, worshiping God on in his sanctuary and the gods of capitalism, consumerism, nationalism, militarism, and other -ism's in their sanctuaries.) But still, the "requires little from the powers that be" doesn't fully fit this idea, since humans needed nothing from the idol gods of their neighbors (if that's what 'elohim' means here), and needed everything from God.

Anyway, I wonder how YLT and GLT (see below) landed on their rendering (which Uittenbogaard applauds), since it seems like a very unusual choice compared with most historical versions given here. But the NET (see below) sure has done its homework on this!

More generally, looking at these wildly varying translations of this verse is a reminder of the peril of Bible translation; there are so many different ways to translate a verse--and even so many different ways to get it right! And when self-professed "literal" (<skepticism>snort</skepticism>) translations conflict with each other this much, you see why the word "literal" should never leave home without its quotation marks. I realized in compiling these that even the most staunch supporter of "literal" translation would never consistely render "elohim" as "gods" rather than occasionally (and interpretively, if correctly) go with "God." Wouldn't true consistency (or, the [<scorn>eye roll</scorn>] concordant method) in, among other places, Exodus 20:2-3, either turn references to God into "pagan gods" or references to pagan gods into "God"? That would be a slight problem.

Update: Here and here is the analysis I asked for from John Hobbins, and here's a look at the LXX from Suzanne. More here from Bob MacDonald.

ותחסרהו מעט מאלהים

וַתְּחַסְּרֵ֣הוּ מְּ֭עַט מֵאֱלֹהִ֑ים

watəḥassərēhû mmə‘aṭ mē’ĕlōhîm

ηλαττωσας αυτον βραχυ τι παρ' αγγελους

You diminished him a little in comparison with angels


Minuisti eum paulominus ab angelis

Thou hast maad hym a litil lesse than aungels

Du hast ihn wenig niedriger gemacht als Got

After thou haddest for a season made him lower the the angels

For thou hast made him a little lower then God

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels

And causest him to lack a little of Godhead

For thou hast made him but little lower than God

Yet Thou hast made him but little lower than the angels

Yet thou hast made him little less than God

For you have made him only a little lower than the gods

Yet you made them inferior only to yourself

For You have made him lack a little from God

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings*

Yet you have made them a little lower than God*

* Or than the divine beings or angels: Heb elohim
Yet you have made him little less than a god

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings*

You have made them* a little lower than the heavenly beings**

You made us a little lower than you yourself

and make them a little less than the heavenly beings?*

* Heb “and you make him lack a little from [the] gods [or “God”].” The Piel form of חָסַר (khasar, “to decrease, to be devoid”) is used only here and in Eccl 4:8, where it means “to deprive, to cause to be lacking.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive either carries on the characteristic nuance of the imperfect in v. 5b or indicates a consequence (“so that you make him…”) of the preceding statement (see GKC 328 §111.m). Some prefer to make this an independent clause and translate it as a new sentence, “You made him….” In this case the statement might refer specifically to the creation of the first human couple, Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 1:26-27). The psalmist does appear to allude to Gen 1:26-27, where mankind is created in the image of God and his angelic assembly (note “let us make man in our image” in Gen 1:26). However, the psalmist’s statement need not be limited in its focus to that historical event, for all mankind shares the image imparted to the first human couple. Consequently the psalmist can speak in general terms of the exalted nature of mankind. The referent of אֱלֹהִים (’elohim, “God” or “the heavenly beings”) is unclear. Some understand this as a reference to God alone, but the allusion to Gen 1:26-27 suggests a broader referent, including God and the other heavenly beings (known in other texts as “angels”). The term אֱלֹהִים is also used in this way in Gen 3:5, where the serpent says to the woman, “you will be like the heavenly beings who know good and evil.” (Note Gen 3:22, where God says, “the man has become like one of us.”) Also אֱלֹהִים may refer to the members of the heavenly assembly in Ps 82:1, 6. The LXX (the ancient Greek translation of the OT) reads “angels” in Ps 8:5 (this is the source of the quotation of Ps 8:5 in Heb 2:7).
Yet we've so narrowly missed being gods

and You make him little less than the gods

And You made him so that he requires little from the powers that be.

Monday, June 30, 2008

JSOT on 'tob' in Genesis 6.2

Carol Kaminski in JSOT:

In Gen. 6.2 the sons of God see that the daughters of humankind are 'beautiful', yet the adjective used in 6.2 is not {he}{pe}{yod}, 'beautiful, handsome', but {bet}{vav}{tet}, 'good'. An examination of the adjective {bet}{vav}{tet} in the present study leads to the conclusion that {bet}{vav}{tet} in Gen. 6.2 does not mean 'beautiful', but 'good'. This study proposes that 6.2 is not connected to the 'beauty' motif found in the ensuing chapters of Genesis, but to the 'seeing...good' motif in the preceding creation story (Gen. 1-3). The conclusion is reached that what sets the story in motion is not the attractive appearance of the women, but the false judgment by the sons of God whose actions recall Eve's in Gen. 3.6.