Word-Study Fallacies

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.

Word-Study Fallacies

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » March 2nd, 2012, 11:14 am

I just found McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry online, and in Vol. 12 an interesting article "Hebrew and Greek Word-Study Fallacies" by Benjamin Baxter. Everyone here should already know what word-study fallacies are, but if you don't, this article could be a good (free!) place to start. It uses Barr, Silva and Carson etc. but aims to be more systematic and comprehensive in classification.
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Re: Word-Study Fallacies

Postby SusanJeffers » March 3rd, 2012, 8:01 am

thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I teach in an entirely online environment, and about half of my courses allow so little time for Greek that my students do well to master the Greek alphabet well enough to sound out words - e.g. I insist that those who take a six-week continuing ed course on a book of the New Testament learn "a little bit of Greek" and the same for OT/Hebrew. Word studies are popular among the students, in part because Strongs and the KJV are so widely available online and in print.

For my next "Intro to Biblical Studies" course I hope to go through this article carefully and excerpt key points, posting a link so students can also read the whole article themselves. Then we'll discuss it "in class" (online).

I'm especially pleased with the tone of the article and its use of Carson's Exegetical Fallacies, whose first edition was one of the first books I bought back when I first became interested in biblical Greek.

I would be very grateful to know of any errors or mis-statements in the article, or other criticisms of it, from other b-greekers.

χαρις σοι, και ειρηνη!

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Re: Word-Study Fallacies

Postby David Lim » March 3rd, 2012, 10:53 pm

SusanJeffers wrote:I would be very grateful to know of any errors or mis-statements in the article, or other criticisms of it, from other b-greekers.


I have some comments concerning the Greek words mentioned:
Page 8: I think the basic meaning of "αποστολος" is indeed "sent forth one", just as its root "αποστελλω" means "send forth", especially when we are considering the usage in the new testament. (See Mark 3:14, Luke 11:49, John 13:16, 17:18, 20:21.)
Page 20: To say that the author of Hebrews plays off the different meanings of "διαθηκη" would actually demolish his argument because it is completely based on the presupposition that "η καινη διαθηκη" is exactly the kind of "διαθηκη" that requires the death of "ο διαθεμενος", the one who made "η καινη διαθηκη" and brought it into effect upon his death. So I cannot believe the suggestion that two different meanings of "διαθηκη" are used in Hebrews, unless we think that the author of Hebrews was just making an empty argument.
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Re: Word-Study Fallacies

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » March 3rd, 2012, 11:59 pm

David Lim wrote:So I cannot believe the suggestion that two different meanings of "διαθηκη" are used in Hebrews, unless we think that the author of Hebrews was just making an empty argument.

One man's empty argument is another man's midrash.
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Re: Word-Study Fallacies

Postby David Lim » March 4th, 2012, 2:02 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:
David Lim wrote:So I cannot believe the suggestion that two different meanings of "διαθηκη" are used in Hebrews, unless we think that the author of Hebrews was just making an empty argument.

One man's empty argument is another man's midrash.


Sure. Please explain to me how you think the author of Hebrews was supporting his argument then, since it is apparent that he was using the fact that a "διαθηκη" required the death of the one who made it to show that the new "διαθηκη" also required the death of Christ. In the first sentence he says that Christ is the mediator of a new "διαθηκη", having died for the full redemption of the transgressions upon the first "διαθηκη", and thus the ones who have been called might receive the inheritance. In the next sentence he says that the reason for that is that where there is a "διαθηκη", it is necessary for the one who made the "διαθηκη" to die. In the following sentence, he makes it clear that both the first "διαθηκη" and the new "διαθηκη" were inaugurated in the same way, that is, by blood. He implies that under the first the blood of calves and goats was a symbol of the blood of Christ, which he offered in the real sacrifice in the second.
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Re: Word-Study Fallacies

Postby baxterb » August 30th, 2012, 7:46 pm

Thanks Eeli for the positive response to my article. FYI, I have also written a book on this topic called "In the Original Text It Says". See: http://www.amazon.com/%2522In-Original- ... xt+it+says

The only reason I give the amazon link is because there is a review of the book on that page that will give you a good idea of what's in the book. The book is available at most online retailers I know about.

David, I think you may find helpful what R.T. France says in his commentary on Hebrews in The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Revised Edition 13 regarding Heb 9:15-17 (p. 120):

"The mention of death as the basis of the new covenant ..., together with the idea of "inheritance," leads the author into his wordplay on diatheke. A will (diatheke) does not take practical effect until the testator has died, as these verses explain at rather repetitious length; "inheritance" comes only as the result of a death. The switch to the second sense of diatheke (an "obvious rhetorical conceit," Attridge, 254) should not be pressed too far, since the death involved with regard to the new covenant is not that of the one who made the diatheke (namely, God) but of his Son as a third party ("mediator"). The promise of a new diatheke does not demand the death of God! Our author's point is merely that diatheke and death belong together."

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