Stephen Hughes wrote:
leonardjayawardena wrote:I think fellow Christians being called brothers in the New Testament is a special extension by Christians of the classical Greek sense of ἀδελφός since God is the immediate spiritual Father of all believers.
This seems to be an example of what I meant by "socks on hands" use of Greek. I suggest that you enrol in a recognised programme to study some Greek. Like other branches of knowledge, there are recognised conventions for the arrangement of knowledge within the discipline. If you want to discuss Greek, let's discuss it primarily on it's own terms as a language. Other things could be brought to bear as corroberating evidence if they are relevant.
Contrary to one of your present underlying assumptions, there is no one
"classical" sense of the word ἀδελφός. You have just shown that there were a number of uses
by quoting the opening section of Antiphon Φαρμακείας κατὰ τῆς μητρυιᾶς.
We do see that there is a usage of ἀδελφός / ἀδελφή to refer to fellow christians. And there is a need for that knowledge to be placed somewhere. The relationship between a father and his children has a logical
extension in some cases to the relationship between brothers and sisters. The conclusion, however, doesn't really have anything to do with a knowledge of Greek.
Contemporary evidence suggests that the use of ἀδελφός / ἀδελφή to refer to fellows of other fraternities or societies. That sort of textual evidence from a contemporary source is stronger than a conjecture based on a logical extension.
You are wrong in thinking that I have assumed that there is only one "classical sense" of the ἀδελφός. Before writing I checked with the Lydell, Scott and Jones and saw all the meanings listed there. Indeed in the other thread I wrote
In classical Greek, ἀδελφός means a "brother," as per Lydell and Scott. ἀδελφοί can mean "brother and sister" (E.El.536). The meanings "kinsman" and "tribesman" are given in this lexicon with the Septuagint as the source.
What I have meant throughout this thread is the classical Greek sense of the word ἀδελφός as "blood brother," which is its primary meaning in classical Greek so far as I know.
In Φαρμακείας κατὰ τῆς μητρυιᾶς, adelophoi/adelphos
after the first occurrence (qualified with homopatrios
) refer to step brothers, which meaning comes within "blood brother." So isn't it the same sense?
Lydell, Scott and Jones has the following:
5. brother (as a fellow Christian), Ev.Matt.12.50, Act.Ap.9.30, al.; of other religious communities, e.g. Serapeum, PPar.42.1 (ii B. C.), cf. PTaur.1.1.20.
I don't have access to the non-biblical references, so I have no idea of the basis on which fellow members of these other religious communities were called "brothers." But in the Christian community brotherhood was based on the common spiritual Fatherhood of God of all believers. That being so, the relationship between His spiritual children is analagous to that between literal brothers and sisters. That is why I said that the use of adelphos
to refer to fellow Christians is an "extension" of the primary meaning of adelphos
, viz. 'blood brother.' Now what if the first century Greek-speaking Christians had been unaware of the use of adelphos
in relation to members of other religious commufhnities? Would they have still used this word to refer to fellow Christians? I think they would and that's why I think their use is independent of its use to refer to members of other contemporary religious communities. However, the concept of God as Father is not a new teaching in the New Testament. It is found in the Old Testament.
Malachi 2:10: Οὐχὶ θεὸς εἷς ἔκτισεν ὑμᾶς; οὐχὶ πατὴρ εἷς πάντων ὑμῶν; τί ὅτι ἐγκατελίπετε ἕκαστος τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ τοῦ βεβηλῶσαι τὴν διαθήκην τῶν πατέρων ὑμῶν;
Because God is the common Father, every Israelite is a brother (Heb. ah
). God's fatherhood of Israelites is ultimately rooted in His adopting Israelites as his sons and daughters (Exodus 4:22; Deut. 32:6; Is. 53:16; Jer. 31:9 et al). The NT church as the Israel of God fulfills the promises to Israel and become "sons" and "daughters" of God (see 2 Corinthians 6:18 and the OT passages on which that verse is based).
So unless good arguments to the contrary are adduced (not vague statements and generalities) I would think that NT Christians' use of ἀδελφός / ἀδελφή to refer to fellow believers is basically an extension of the primary meaning of those words in classical Greek to express a concept already found in the Old Testament. Or, more accurately, a continuation of an extension already present in the OT (vide Mal. 2:10).
As I also mentioned in an earlier post, a fellow Israelite is also an ah
because they are all the seed of Abraham and Israel. The Septuagint renders this word as adelphos
and this is followed in the NT in certain passages in reference to fellow Jews (e.g., Acts 13:26). It it evident from Romans 9:3, ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν συγγενῶν μου κατὰ σάρκα, that adelphos in this context reflects the wider sense of ah
as "kinsman." Abraham and Israel are therefore "fathers" in the sense of "ancestors." Now this sense of ancestor cannot be what an Israelite meant when he called God "father" as in Malachi 2:10. If so, then a fellow Israelite is an ah
of the closest degree of relationship by virtue of the common Fatherhood of all Israelites. This closest degree of relationship in this context is the meaning conveyed by the primary sense of adelphos
in classical Greek, in which sense this word is used in reference to fellow believers in the NT.
That is my analysis. What do you think?