Monday, June 16, 2008

Responding to Churchfellaway

Churchfellaway (CFA) has provided a video responding to Dr. White's response to a Muslim fellow. (link) CFA begins badly, having to ensure the audience that he is not defending the Muslim.

He wants to respond to the fact that Thomas called Jesus "God." His first argument is that Thomas didn't speak English (ok ...) and didn't speak Greek (how in the world does he conclude that? he does not say). He claims Thomas never would have said "theos."

As reported by the Apostle John, however, that's just what Thomas said:

John 20:28 και απεκριθη ο θωμας και ειπεν αυτω ο κυριος μου και ο θεος μου

θεος = Theos = God

He claims that he calls Jesus "Elohim."

He says we know that it was translated from Elohim, because we see Jesus making a reference in John 10 where Jesus is accused of making himself God. Jesus responds by quoting Psalm 82:6 to them, which states: "I have said, ye are gods ..." the word being used in the Hebrew original of Psalm 82 being Elohim.

It's a little irritating for him to keep calling Psalm 82, "Psalms 82."

There's an obvious problem with his argument: John 10 is not the context of John 20:28, and there's no real reason to suppose that Thomas spoke these words to Jesus in anything other than Greek.

Furthermore, there is an underlying problem with CFA's view of the significance of Jesus' reference to Psalm 82:6. Jesus was not suggesting that he was merely a Psalm 82:6 Elohim: merely a judge or ruler. Instead, he was convicting them using Scripture. They could not answer him. He started from Psalm 82:6, and said if it was lawful to use the name of God to describe the judges ordained by God, how much more lawful it was for Jesus who was sent into this world by the Father to use that title. Psalm 82:6 was provided for contrast, not for explanation of his own title.

In fact, CFA is so bold as to call this an "English and Greek farce." Of course, CFA has no good reason to suppose that the gospel of John was originally written in some other language than Greek. Greek fragments of the Gospel of John are among the earliest fragments of the New Testament in our possession. By calling John's account a "farce," CFA is actually opposing not Dr. White, but Scripture.



Rhology said...

there's no real reason to suppose that Thomas spoke these words to Jesus in anything other than Greek.

You mean, other than the fact that it's generally supposed that they spoke Aramaic to each other?
Could you elucidate, please?


Turretinfan said...

Dear Rhology,

When you say "it's generally supposed that they spoke Aramaic to each other," I'm confident you're not getting that from Scripture.

I'm not saying we can completely rule out that possibility, but on the other hand, arguing from the fact that many Jews did speak Aramaic is not a particularly strong argument for the idea that these Jews here were speaking it.

Or perhaps I'm overlooking something ...

When Jesus speaks in Hebrew to the girl or in Hebrew on the cross, the fact is noted and the Hebrew is provided, together with a Greek translation. Likewise, a few borrow words like "Messias" and "Rabbi" are translated.

That tends to suggest that the bulk of Jesus' words were Greek words, not Hebrew (i.e. Aramaic), though he sometimes spoke Hebrew.


Rhology said...

Hmm, good point. Thank you sir.

Turretinfan said...

Bart Ehrman, of course, would disagree. He thinks Jesus only spoke Aramaic. That's why he rejects the account in John 3, in which Nicodeamus misunderstands the Greek word that Jesus uses ... apparently, the same mistake would not occur in Aramaic.

We, however, accept that the John 3 account is authentic, and consequently conclude that Jesus spoke Greek as well as Aramaic.


Ken Temple said...

Good post. Which Greek word does Nicodemus mis-understand in John 3?

The concept of "born again", ? (born from above, anothen ) ?

The inter-play of "wind" and "Spirit" ? (same word, pneuma, pneumatos) ?

How do we know he mis-understands a Greek word; rather than just not comprehending the concept of being born again, (from above) by the Spirit?

Jesus seems to point to Ezekiel 36:25-26 and 11:18-20 and that Nicodemus should have understood him, being a teacher of Israel. John 3:11.

Turretinfan said...

The word would be anothen (ανωθεν). Obviously, this is per Ehrman, which would be a dangerous ground on which to build one's final theological conclusion.

Ehrman characterizes it as Nicodemus misunderstanding ... we could simply view it as an interesting play on words. Either way we'd seem to reach the conclusion that it seems likely that the transcript of the conversation was non-translated.

"Nicodemus," after all, is a Greek name and Nicodemus was a wealthy man who would (one would think) know Greek. Some people guess that this Nicodemus was the brother of Josephus (the famous historian) ... which would similarly tend to support the idea that he was well educated in Greek.