Friday, September 28, 2007

Linguistic Society of PNG in Madang

I won't be posting anything for several days since I'm leaving for Madang today to attend the meeting of the Linguistic Society of PNG.

The meeting will take place not too far away from this tree that is always covered with--or should I say hung with--"flying foxes."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Doubts, Disputes and Distinctions of διακρίνω

In 2001 I submitted a suggestion to the NET Bible translation committee for translating διακρινόμενος in James 1:6 as 'making distinctions' instead of 'doubting'. The suggestion was rejected.

'Doubting' is proposed in the Greek lexicons as a special New Testament meaning, but this simply is not necessary. The same word is used in James 2:4 with its normal sense. James 1:6 should not be read as "he should ask in faith without doubting." It is better read like this...

But he must ask in faith without making distinctions, for the one who makes distinctions is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind.
I wonder how many people have struggled to understand the logic of not allowing for doubts in James 1:6 when the whole point in James 1:5 is that a person lacks wisdom and God gives it generously to those who ask for it without finding fault...
If anyone of you is lacking wisdom, let him ask of God, the one giving generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him.
We need a child-like faith when we ask God for wisdom. A child-like faith can doubt, but a child-like faith will ask the Father and trust him to give what is best. This is the force of what it means to ask "without making distinctions." When we pray, we need to pray according to the Lord's will (cf. James 4:15), not specifying how we want our prayers answered without allowing for the possibility that God may have a better answer for our needs.

This accords with the pattern of James's readers in 4:3...

You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, in order that you may spend on your own pleasures.
Peter Spitaler (2007: 202) writes...
It is problematic to deduce a special NT meaning "doubt" (using reflexive expressions like "dispute with oneself" or "being divided against oneself") from the middle voice διακρίνομαι. Such reflexive meanings are not present in the classical/Hellenistic Greek because the middle διακρίνομαι consistently denotes a contesting partner other than - and outside of - oneself.
Here is the latest research on the word διακρίνω...
Peter Spitaler. 2007. "Διακρίνεσθαι in Mt. 21:21, Mk. 11:23, Acts 10:20, Rom. 4:20, 14:23, Jas. 1:6, and Jude 22-the 'semantic shift' that went unnoticed by patristic authors." Novum Testamentum 49:1-39.

Peter Spitaler. 2006. "Doubt or Dispute (Jude 9 and 22-23). Rereading a Special New Testament Meaning through the Lense of Internal Evidence." Biblica 87(2): 201-222.

David DeGraaf. 2005. "Some doubts about doubt: the New Testament use of Διακρινω." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48(4): 733-755.

Norbert Baumert, SJ. 2002. "Das Paulinische, Wortspiel Mit krin-." Filologia Neotestamentaria 15: 19-64.
Perhaps with the recent outburst of scholarship on this word, translation committees will be more willing to hear suggestions for better translations where διακρίνω occurs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Luke's Trial of Peter around the Fire

I want to suggest some arguments for interpreting the pericope of Peter's denial as a kind of court trial. Introducing the account of Peter's denial of Jesus in Luke 22:54-62, I. Howard Marshall says this in his NIGTC commentary...
In Mk. the arrest of Jesus is followed by a night-time trial of Jesus, the mocking of Jesus and the denial by Peter (Mk. 14:53-65); since Luke has recorded a morning trial in place of Mark's night-time trial, he has necessarily placed the accounts of the denial and the mockery before his trial scene. The result is that we are given a further example of the πειρασμός in which the disciples were placed (22:46)...
πειρασμός means 'test', 'trial' or 'temptation', so Marshall introduces this narrative section by pointing out that a unique feature of the way Luke tells the story is that the 'trial' of the disciples during Jesus' arrest is highlighted more than in the other Gospels. He doesn't limit the sense of 'trial' to the court, but referring to the German scholar W. Dietrich, Marshall continues...
According to Dietrich, 145-157, the Lucan narrative is more forensic in character, various witnesses in turn making an accusation against Peter, first a woman (whose testimony is ipso facto suspect) and then two men (whose testimonies confirm each other). The scene reaches its climax in the confrontation of the denier by the One who has been denied. Thus the roles of Satan as accuser and Jesus as the defender of Peter (22:31f.) are depicted in the actual narrative.
However, for several of the unique features of Luke in this pericope, Marshall states, "No plausible explanation of the change has been suggested." He says this about the servant girl in 22:56 referring to Peter in the 3rd PERSON in Luke instead of the 2nd PERSON as it is in Mark. However, this could readily be explained as the girl accusing Peter within a trial scene. The unique use of the vocative 'woman' on Peter's lips may function to discredit her testimony. The three accusers in the Gospels are different. Luke is the only one that includes two men, which may also be significant for interpreting this as a trial.

In Luke 22:59, Marshall sees no evidence of a trial scene...

ἐπ’ ἀληθείας (4:25; 20:21) replaces Mk. ἀληθῶς, a word which Luke reserves as an equivalent for ἀμήν (except Acts 12:11). The accusation is in the third person, diff. Mk., Mt., Jn., a change for which no redactional motive can be seen.

However, these changes may also serve to picture Peter within a forensic trial. While the other Gospels have this man speaking directly to Peter, Luke tells the story that the man is speaking to the others around the fire about Peter. It gives a greater sense of Peter being on trial with a witness giving testimony. This also explains why he says ἐπ’ ἀληθείας, literally "upon truth" or "based on truth." Rather than just meaning 'truly' or 'certainly' (as in Matthew and Mark), "upon truth" in Luke gives this statement more the sense of Peter being on trial in court. This man is giving a testimony based "upon truth" or based on evidence. The evidence that he gives that Peter was with Jesus is: "for he is a Galilean."

The oil on canvas painting is "The Denial of Saint Peter" by Gerrit van Honthorst, c. 1623, and is housed at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Source Text" for a Bible Translation Cluster Project

These days I’m doing an advisor check of a Bible translation for Luke 21-24. The vernacular translation will be used as the source text for related Austronesian languages at a translation workshop in November and December.

The back translation into the pidgin trade language will be used as the source text for two different groups of neighboring but completely unrelated Papuan languages at the same workshop. The cross-fertilization that comes from working together in a workshop approach is one of the highest values of this project. Even though the translators come from unrelated languages, they share ideas with one another about the translation problems they encounter each day, and they are learning about different kinds of translation solutions even though they might not have had the same problems.

So it’s important that we do a thorough exegetical check on this translation and its back translation, since the exegesis will be multiplied 11 times. I’m not the only one doing this exegetical check. There are normally four of us doing it separately and passing our notes to one another. This is in addition to the national translators who drafted the translation and are also developing their own exegetical skills.

When I say that this translation and back translation will be used as “source texts,” this only refers to the initial step of using the computer program Adapt It to make a first draft. Adapt It is good at remembering the predictable stuff in a translation so the translators have more time to spend thinking about the tougher translation issues. This draft will be edited many times before it goes through advisor and consultant checks and finally gets printed. Throughout the process, the translators consult multiple English and pidgin versions as well as various translation helps. Their translations are also checked against the original language texts (Greek for the Gospel of Luke) by the advisors and consultants working with the project.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Johnson on Theology and Ethics in the Letter of James

Yesterday, I was looking at Luke Timothy Johnson's "EPILOGUE: The Importance of James for Theology" in his collection of essays, Brother of Jesus, Friend of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004). I don't think I ever read this essay when I bought the book after it first came out. I was pleased to see that one of the main arguments of my current M.A. thesis on coherence and discourse structure in James agrees with Johnson's discussion (pp. 246-8) of James's theology.
Most distinctive in James's understanding of God (as patristic interpreters and Kierkegaard perceived) is that God is the giver of gifts. James makes the point three times. In 4:6, James takes from the text of Proverbs 3:34 ("God resists the proud but gives grace to the lowly") the lesson that "God gives more grace" (meizona de didōsin charin). That this is neither a random nor a careless observation is shown by James's very first statement concerning God in 1:5, that God "gives to all simply (haplōs) and without grudging (mē oneidizontos)." Finally, there is the programmatic statement in 1:17, "every good and perfect gift comes down from above from the father of lights with whom there is no change nor shadow of alteration." Taken together, these three statements assert that God's giving is universal, abundant, without envy, and constant. Such a view of God is the basis for James's perception of reality as God's creation, open to his constant care but also answerable to God as the source of all that is good. This view of God is, in turn, the deep premise for James opposing an ethics of solidarity to the logic of envy, for in the first the world is construed as an open system in which cooperation makes sense, while in the second the world is considered a closed system in which competition is demanded.
This theme of God giving is implicitly in the letter a lot more than what Johnson states, and even with the “give” terminology in 5:18 (where heaven “gave” in response to Elijah’s prayer). I love how Johnson develops this discussion of God's gifts in terms of the world being an open system where God’s gifts oppose a closed system where we would have to compete in envy with one another.
Because God does not exist in isolation from the world but is in constant and active relationship with the world, human existence is defined in terms of a story in which both God and humans play roles. The story has as its past what God has already done: created the world and humans as representatives ("first-fruits") of that creation; revealed his will in the law and the prophets and "the faith of Jesus Christ"; implanted in humans the "word of truth" and "wisdom from above" and "spirit." The story has as its future what God will do in response to human behavior within God's creation: God will judge the world; will reward the innocent and faithful and persevering, who have spoken and acted according to "the royal law of liberty." And God will punish the arrogant and oppressive who blaspheme the noble name by their aggressive and hostile attitudes and actions against God's people. The present of the story-line is found in the moral decisions made by James's readers, above all their choice to live as friends of the world or as friends of God (4:4).
Relating what God has done and will do in the past and future to our present moral decisions is exactly what I do in my thesis. Most people think of James in terms of the imperative wisdom ethics. But this cannot be separated from the indicative statements about God.
It is of first importance, then, to understand that James does not "do theology" in an abstract manner, as a form of speculation about or study of God. Rather, James uses his theological propositions precisely as warrants and premises for his moral exhortation. His statements about God and his commands do not sit side by side in accidental juxtaposition. The two kinds of statements are intimately related. In James's 108 verses, there are some 59 imperatives (46 in the second person, 13 in the third person). And these imperatives are almost always accompanied by explanations or warrants, for which James uses participial constructions (1:3, 14, 22; 2:9, 25; 3:I), gar clauses (1:6, 7, 11, 13, 20, 24; 2:11, 13, 26; 3:2, 16; 4:14), and hoti clauses (1:12, 23; 2:10; 3:1; 4:3; 5:8, 11). The commandments are also sometimes connected to purpose clauses (1:4; 5:9) or used in the context of an implied argument signified by the use of oun (4:4, 7; 5:7, 16), dio (1:21; 4:6), or houtōs (1:11; 2:12, 17; 2:26; 3:5). In these connections, it is always the theological statement that stands as the cause or the purpose or the motivation or the warrant for the moral action recommended. James's moral exhortation, in short, is grounded in James's understanding of how humans are related to God. Because of this, each of the moral exhortations in James invites reflection by readers not only about their own lives—how to translate and perform James's script in the texture of their actual existence—but also about the nature of the world and of the God who creates, shapes, and saves the world in which humans are invited to participate as a sort of "first-fruits."
I don't always agree with everything that Johnson says about the Letter of James, but I resonate with these three paragraphs more than just about anything I have read in Jamesian scholarship.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More With Less Recent James Research

In addition to the more recent titles on the Letter of James that I posted yesterday, I am also adding some titles to the RECENT JAMES RESEARCH list that are a few years older...

The following essays all come from this edited volume by Chilton and Evans. I have only included those titles that deal more or less specifically with the Letter of James...

Bruce Chilton. 2005. "James, Peter, Paul, and the formation of the Gospels." In The missions of James, Peter, and Paul: Tensions in early Christianity, ed. Bruce Chilton and Craig Evans, 3-28. Supplements to Novum Testamentum, 115. Leiden: Brill.

Peter H. Davids. 2005. "James and Peter: The literary evidence." In Chilton and Evans, 29-52.

John Painter. 2005. "The power of words: Rhetoric in James and Paul." In Chilton and Evans, 235-73.

Bruce Chilton. 2005. "Wisdom and Grace." In Chilton and Evans, 307-22.

Wiard Popkes. 2005. "Leadership: James, Paul, and their contemporary background." In Chilton and Evans, 323-54.

Peter H. Davids. 2005. "The test of wealth." In Chilton and Evans, 355-84.

Marianne Sawicki. 2005. "Person or practice? Judging in James and in Paul." In Chilton and Evans, 385-408.

Jacob Neusner. 2005. "Sin, repentance, atonement, and resurrection: The perspective of rabbinic theology on the views of James 1-2 and Paul in Romans 3-4." In Chilton and Evans, 409-34.

Peter H. Davids. 2005. "Why do we suffer? Suffering in James and Paul." In Chilton and Evans, 435-66.

Ithamar Gruenwald. 2005. "Ritualizing death in James and Paul in light of Jewish apocalypticism." In Chilton and Evans, 467-86.

Bruce Chilton. 2005. "Conclusions and questions." In Chilton and Evans, 487-94.

Patrick J. Hartin. 2005. "'Who is wise and understanding among you?' (James 3:13): An analysis of wisdom, eschatology, and apocalypticism in the Letter of James." In Conflicted boundaries in wisdom and apocalypticism, ed. Benjamin G. Wright III and Lawrence M. Wills, 149-68. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.

Patrick A. Tiller. 2005. "The rich and poor in James: An apocalyptic ethic." In Conflicted boundaries in wisdom and apocalypticism, ed. Benjamin G. Wright III and Lawrence M. Wills, 149-68. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.

William R. Baker. 2005. "Book of James." In Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible, ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, 347-51. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Patrick J. Hartin. 2004. James of Jerusalem: Heir to Jesus of Nazareth. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

The following essays were newly published in Luke Timothy Johnson's 2004 Brother of Jesus, friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James. I'm listing these studies separately, but I'll be adding the essays that were reprinted in this volume according to their original publication details.

Luke Timothy Johnson. 2004. "Prologue: James's significance for early Christian history." In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 1-23.

__________. 2004. “A survey of the history of interpretation of James.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 39-44.

­­__________. 2004. “The reception of James in the early church.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 45-60.

­­__________. 2004. “Journeying east with James: A chapter in the history of interpretation.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 61-83.

­­__________. 2004. “How James won the West: A chapter in the history of canonization.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 84-100.

­­__________. 2004. “Gender in the Letter of James: A surprising witness.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 221-34.

­__________. 2004. "Epilogue: The importance of James for theology." In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 235-59.

The following essays are from the edited volume by J. Schlosser. I have only included the English titles for now...

Robert W. Wall. 2004. "A unifying theology of the Catholic Epistles: A canonical approach." In The Catholic Epistles and the tradition, ed. J. Schlosser, 43-71. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

Richard J. Bauckham. 2004. "The wisdom of James and the wisdom of Jesus." In Schlosser, 75-92.

John S. Kloppenborg. 2004. "The reception of the Jesus traditions in James." In Schlosser, 93-142.

Jonathan P. Yates. 2004. "The reception of the Epistle of James in the Latin West: Did Athanasius play a role? In Schlosser, 273-88.

Matthew Spencer, Klaus Wachtel & Christopher J. Howe. 2004. "Representing multiple pathways of textual flow in the Greek manuscripts of the Letter of James using reduced median networks." Computers and the Humanities 38:1-14.

David Instone-Brewer. 2004. "James as a sermon on the trials of Abraham." In The New Testament in its first century setting: Essays on context and background in honour of B. W. Winter on his 65th birthday, 250-68. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Bruce Chilton. 2004. "James, Jesus' brother." In The face of New Testament studies: A survey of recent research, 251-62. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Mariam J. Kamell. 2003. Wisdom in James: An Examination and Comparison of the Roles of Wisdom and the Holy Spirit. M.A. thesis, Denver Seminary.

Luke L. Cheung. 2003. The Genre, Composition and Hermeneutics of James. Carlisle: Paternoster.

Patrick J. Hartin. 2003. James. Sacra Pagina Series, vol. 14. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

David E. Aune. 2003. "Letter of James." In The Westminster dictionary of New Testament & Early Christian Literature & Rhetoric, 238-41. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox.

Benjamin J. Pehrson. 2002. Noachic allusion and echo in James 3.1-12: Implicatures of new creation eschatology. M.A. thesis, Wheaton College Graduate School.

David C. Parker. 2002. "The development of the critical text of the Epistle of James: From Lachmann to the Editio Critica Maior." In New Testament textual criticism and exegesis: Festschrift J. Delobel, ed. A. Denaux, 317-30.

Wesley Hiram Wachob. 2002. "The apocalyptic intertexture of the Epistle of James." In The intertexture of apocalyptic discourse in the New Testament, ed. Duane F. Watson, 165-86. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.

Luke Timothy Johnson. 2000. “An introduction to the Letter of James.” Review and Expositor, 97:155-67. Also in Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 24-38. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans (2004).

Douglas J. Moo. 2000. The Letter of James. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Recent Letter of James Research

I have recently become aware of several new works of scholarship on the Letter of James. Under this blog’s heading of RECENT JAMES RESEARCH, I am adding ten titles that have been published in the last year. Six of these are essays that come out of edited volumes rather than journals or monograph series, so I give you the pretty front covers next to the essay title included in each one...

Richard Bauckham. 2007. "James and the Jerusalem community." In Jewish believers in Jesus: The early centuries, ed. Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik, 55-95. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

The following five titles that include the "Search Inside!" logo can be browsed and searched online with the Amazon Online Reader. This is even true for Beale and Carson's Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament even though it has an availability date from of November 1st. Follow the links.

D. A. Carson. 2007. "James." In Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament, ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, 997-1014. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

James M. Darlack. 2007. Pray for reign: The eschatological Elijah in James 5:17-18. M.A. thesis, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. (available for free download here)

Patrick Hartin. 2007. "The religious context of the Letter of James." In Jewish Christianity reconsidered: Rethinking ancient groups and texts, ed. Matt Jackson-McCabe, 203-31. Minneapolis: Fortress.

John S. Kloppenborg. 2007. “Diaspora discourse: The construction of ethos in James.” New Testament Studies 53:242-70.

Peter Spitaler. 2007. "Διακρίνεσθαι in Mt. 21:21, Mk. 11:23, Acts 10:20, Rom. 4:20, 14:23, Jas. 1:6, and Jude 22—the “semantic shift” that went unnoticed by patristic authors." Novum Testamentum 49:1-39.

David G. Horrell. 2007. "The Catholic Epistles and Hebrews." In Redemption and resistance: The messianic hopes of Jews and Christians in antiquity, ed. Markus Bockmuehl and James Carleton Paget, 122-35. London: T&T Clark.

Huub van de Sandt. 2007. "James 4,1-4 in the light of the Jewish two ways tradition 3,1-6." Biblica 88:38-63.

Kurt Anders Richardson. 2006. "Job as exemplar in the Epistle of James." In Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament, ed. Stanley E. Porter, 213-29. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Donald J. Verseput. 2006. "James 1:19-27: Anger in the congregation." In Interpreting the New Testament text: Introduction to the art and science of exegesis, ed. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning, 429-40. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

(Bock and Fanning's Interpreting the New Testament Text also has the "Search Inside!" feature)

I hope to review these and other works of Jamesian scholarship as I have time.

It’s good to see so many topical volumes including essays on James since we too often have not seen James factored into theological enquiries of early Christianity and the New Testament. It looks like the tide is finally changing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Announcing - go James Tauber !

The slogan is "Make a habit of it."

James Tauber is once again working on a project that really piques my interest (see my previous posts about his Greek Nominal Paradigm Browser and how he introduced me to Many Eyes).

There are many things that I want to be more disciplined about, activities that I want to be a regular part of every day, or every week. Today, James introduced his new website

The site hasn't launched yet, but it does give an idea of what we can expect from this site in the future...
  1. List the things you'd like to do on a regular basis and group them into routines
  2. Track your success or failure and monitor your progress over time.
  3. Share tips with others who are working on developing the same habits.
I don't know if the 3rd aspect of the site means that it will be some kind of social networking site, but whether it is or not, this is the most intriguing aspect of the idea. It looks like it won't just be a tool to help one develop good habits--it's going to be a way to network ideas and benefit from the experience of others.

I know that I can do no good thing in my own power. I need God's grace, and part of that grace is what he gives us through relationships with others.

Let's make a habit of it together.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

PhD in New Testament?

Are you looking to pursue a PhD in New Testament? Nijay Gupta has laid out a pretty comprehensive set of factors to consider here from an evangelical perspective for schools in both the U.S. and U.K.

Some of the faculty that Nijay lists for schools have changed since his essay was written (e.g. Richard Bauckham is retiring from St Andrews, Markus Bockmuehl has moved from Cambridge to St Andrews [UPDATE 2007-09-23: and then on to Oxford], Peter Williams has moved from Aberdeen to Tyndale House).

The castle in Nijay's blog header is Dunstanburgh Castle, which can be seen from my wife's aunt and uncle's cottage in Northum-berland, England. This is not too far from Durham University where Nijay is studying. Here's another view...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Many Eyes: A Tool For Proofreading?

James Tauber made me aware here of an online application by IBM called Many Eyes, a tool for creating and sharing visualizations of data. Since James has done a lot with Greek inflectional morphology, the visualization he created at Many Eyes is of dative plural masculine nominal endings in the Greek of the New Testament. Even though James's data is not a natural text composed of words, he has effectively used the "Word Tree" visualization on the Many Eyes site to show the patterns of letters that appear in various endings for masculine plural dative nominals in NT Greek.

The Many Eyes site describes the "Word Tree" visualization...
A word tree is a visual search tool for unstructured text, such as a book, article, speech or poem. It lets you pick a word or phrase and shows you all the different contexts in which it appears. The contexts are arranged in a tree-like branching structure to reveal recurrent themes and phrases.... A word tree is a visual version of a traditional concordance.
I am considering this online application as a tool for proofreading lengthy texts using the "Word Tree" visualization. I am nearly finished with an M.A. thesis that needs to be reduced. One way to reduce the thesis is to remove redundancies. If I upload the full text of my thesis onto the Many Eyes site, I could use it to find instances of repetitiveness in the thesis. Here is what Many Eyes turns up for a search of "noachic" in my previous M.A. thesis, "Noachic Allusion and Echo in James 3.1-12: Implicatures of New Creation Eschatology"...
One drawback for using the tool this way is that it can only show me potential redundancies where I have used the same word and not where I have used different words to express the same meaning. Another drawback would be that I would have to do searches for individual words and look at the visualizations for only those words in order to see where they occur in the same context. Which words would I check?

Nothing will prove more valuable for removing redundancies than a fresh reading of the text. However, in that reading, if I come across statements that sound a little bit too familiar, the Many Eyes tool may prove valuable for looking up specific words and quickly getting a visualization of how those words are used in context. One nice feature of the "Word Tree" visualization is that you can sort the results by occurrence order, frequency order, or alphabetical order. Frequency order would be the most useful for determining redundancies.

Monday, September 17, 2007

500th Book Added at

I added the 500th book to my collection at today. Check it out here.

So what was the 500th book? Finally, after several years of searching, I finally found this book for a decent price through Germany's site:

Matthias Konradt. 1998. Christliche Existenz nach dem Jakobusbrief: Eine Studie zu seiner soteriologischen und ethischen Konzeption. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 406 pp.

The translated title is "Christian existence according to the Letter of James: A study in its soteriological and ethical conception."

From what I have read, my understanding of James seems closest to that of Matthias Konradt, so I'm looking forward to reading this, and improving my German at the same time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

James Tauber's Nominal Paradigm Browser

I have added a link under Greek Resources on the Web to James Tauber's Nominal Paradigm Browser for nominal forms in the Greek New Testament.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Testament Greek Course Nearly Done

The 18 Papua New Guinean students take their third and final exam tomorrow during this 6-week introductory NT Greek course. It's been a great learning experience for me as the teacher, and hopefully for them too. Teaching every day, morning and afternoon, for 6 weeks is quite difficult. I'm really thankful for the help I had.

I will soon be catching up on other responsibilities that have been put on hold. I hope to blog more on how the course went. I've got some posts started, so I'll try to finish at least some of them.

Tomorrow and Wednesday, most of the students will start their long journey home to families and communities who will have dearly missed them for 7 weeks. Several of the students return for a New Testament Exegesis course that starts only 3 weeks after this Greek course finishes. Pray for safe and speedy travels, valuable time spent at home, and the grace of God to give them everything they need, especially as they often face criticisms from family and communities for wasting their time doing things like this.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Cause of Joy in 2 Corinthians 2:3 - #1

Last Wednesday at Better Bibles Blog, Wayne Leman has asked Who Will Be Joyful? concerning the last part of 2 Corinthians 2:3. I have really enjoyed studying this letter ever since I took Scott Hafemann's Advanced Koine Reading course on 2 Corinthians at the Wheaton College Graduate School in 1999. So I had to respond to Wayne's questions.

The exegetical problem is indicated by the split between English versions...

1. Paul wanted the Corinthians to have the same joy that he did

2. Paul wanted the joy of the Corinthians to make him joyful

Versions following option (1) include...

  • for me to be happy is for all of you to be happy (REB)
  • that you would all share my joy (NIV/TNIV)
  • that my joy would be yours (NET)
  • when I am happy, then all of you are happy too (TEV)
  • whatever makes me happy also makes you happy (GW)
  • that you would share my joy (NCV)
  • that my joy is yours (HCSB)
  • if I am happy, it means that all of you will be happy (The Source)

Versions following option (2) include...

  • when you should make me feel happy (CEV)
  • my joy comes from your being joyful (NLT)

Versions that allow a somewhat ambiguous interpretation of options (1) and (2) include...

  • that my joy is [the joy] of you all (KJV)
  • that my joy would be the joy of you all (RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB)

Here is the heart of Wayne's post (written before it was acknowledged that the last 5 versions are quite ambiguous and they were grouped with option [1])...

If we simply counted versions, option 1 would win by majority rule. But exegesis can't be determined just by voting. Some kinds of evidence may be more important than others. Sometimes a minority position eventually becomes a majority positions.

We must also take into account internal evidence (such as logical flow) for understanding a passage: What makes most sense in the context? For me, it makes most sense for Paul to be saying that he wanted to be made happy by how the Corinthians responded to his previous instructions to them. But the Greek doesn't tilt me one way or the other. In such a case, many say that we should leave an English translation "ambiguous" since the Greek is "ambiguous." But I cannot think of a way to leave the English ambiguous in this case. (I'd like to hear from you if you can.) Sometimes, when translating, there is no way to leave a translation ambiguous when we are unsure what the source text meant. At a minimum, in such cases, I believe we should include a footnote explaining that the Greek could have two different meanings.

Do you think that the linguistic evidence in the Greek text tilts us more strongly toward option 1 or 2? And what leads you to think that if you do? And if you are not sure which option should be chosen in translation of 2 Cor. 2:3, what do you suggest an English translation have in its text and in its footnote?

Good questions Wayne! In response to his questions, it has been acknowledged that the KJV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, and NASB are quite ambigous. This is because the ‘of’ in English can indicate that Paul’s joy either comes from ‘you all’ or that his joy would move in the opposite direction. David Lang responded to Wayne's post and suggested...

One way to preserve the ambiguity might be to focus on the connection between
Paul's joy and that of the Corinthians, rather than on who brings joy to whom. Possible wordings might be:

  1. "being confident in you all, that my joy and yours go hand in hand."
  2. "...that my joy is connected (joined? linked?) to your joy."
  3. "...that my joy is connected to all of you."
  4. "...that my joy depends on all of you."

Of all of these, suggestion 1 is the least "literal," but I think it sounds the most natural. Suggestion 3 is the closest to the original Greek construction, while still being ambiguous. Suggestion 4 is the least ambiguous and comes down on the side of saying that the Corinthians' joy would make Paul joyful (your option 2).

This is a great translation discussion that stems from the ambiguity of the Greek genitive phrase πάντων ὑμῶν 'of all of you'. I tend to agree that if the Greek is ambiguous that we should try to leave our translations ambiguous as well.

However, this verse is not talking at all about joy moving from Paul to the Corinthians or from the Corinthians to Paul. And I don't think a translation should be left ambiguous here. It’s true, if we just look at the Greek of this last clause in the verse, it appears quite ambiguous…

πεποιθὼς ἐπὶ πάντας ὑμᾶς ὅτι ἡ ἐμὴ χαρὰ πάντων ὑμῶν ἐστιν.

having confidence in you all that my joy is [of] all of you.

Alternate interpretations of the genitive phrase “of all of you” could be read as “my joy is [from] you all” or “my joy is all of yours.” There is certainly a difficult exegetical question here concerning the cause of joy and how that joy is functioning in Paul's argument. However, the immediate and wider contexts in the letter argue against an interpretation that has to do with joy itself being transferred from one party to another. More on that next time…