καταβολη

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

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » September 10th, 2014, 11:17 pm

No doubt at least some here are aware of the notion that καταβολη can mean 'casting down' rather than 'foundation' and that the phrase καταβολη κοσμου in the NT refers to some sort of destructive 'fall' rather than to creation as the 'foundation of the world'.

LSJ begins its definition of καταβολη with 'throwing down' but offers no citations in support of the word actually carrying that meaning. I'm assuming it's beginning its definition with a sort of hyperliteral calque to illustrate the meaning of the word's constituent parts rather than actually giving 'throwing down' as a possible sense of the word.

I've never found any evidence to support such a claim I'm wondering if anyone else here knows of a usage which would support it, or if I can safely dismiss the idea once and for all.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: καταβολη

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 11th, 2014, 6:00 am

I must admit I have never heard of it, but it sounds like one of those things that resulted from someone looking it up, maybe in Strong's or the LSJ, and assuming that the purported etymological "meaning" of the word was the actual usage.

καταβολή, ῆς, ἡ (s. καταβάλλω; Hippocr., Demosth. et al.; ins, pap, 2 Macc 2:29; AssMos Fgm. a=Tromp p. 272; EpArist, Philo, Joseph.; Just., D. 102, 4 τῇ ἐπὶ τοῦ πύργου καταβολῇ [s. καταβάλλω 2]; Ath., R. 17 p. 69, 6).
① the act of laying someth. down, with implication of providing a base for someth., foundation. Readily connected with the idea of founding is the sense beginning (Jos., Bell. 2, 260 ἀποστάσεως καταβολή) τ. καταβολὴν τ. στάσεως ποιεῖν be responsible for beginning the dissension (cp. Polyb. 13, 6, 2 καταβολὴν ἐποιεῖτο τυραννίδος) 1 Cl 57:1. Esp. καταβολὴ κόσμου (Plut., Mor. 956a ἅμα τῇ πρώτῃ καταβολῇ τ. ἀνθρώπων): ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου from the foundation of the world (Theoph., Ant. 3, 26 [p. 258, 27]; difft., Polyb. 1, 36, 8; 24, 8, 9; Diod S 12, 32, 2—all three ἐκ καταβολῆς) Mt 13:35; 25:34; Lk 11:50; Hb 4:3; 9:26; Rv 13:8; 17:8; B 5:5. πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου (AssMos Fgm. a) J 17:24; Eph 1:4; 1 Pt 1:20.—OHofius, ZNW 62, ’71, 123–38. Also abs. (without κόσμου, s. κόσμος 3; cp. EpArist 129) Mt 13:35 v.l. This may be the mng. of Hb 11:11, where it is said of Sarah δύναμιν εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος ἔλαβεν she received the ability to establish a posterity (s. NRSV mg.). But
② κ., a t.t. for the sowing of seed, used of begetting (τοῦ σπέρματος [εἰς γῆν ἢ μήτραν M. Ant. 4, 36]: Plut., Mor. 320b σπορὰ κ. καταβολή of the procreation of Romulus by Ares and Silvia; 905e; Ps.-Lucian, Amor. 19; Galen, Aphorism. 4, 1, XVII/2, 653 K.; cp. Philo, Op. M. 132; Epict. 1, 13, 3; Herm. Wr. 9, 6; Ath., R. 17 p. 69, 6 σπερμάτων καταβολήν; s. Field, Notes 232). If this mng. is correct for Hb 11:11, there is prob. some error in the text, since this expression could not be used of Sarah, but only of Abraham (e.g. αὐτῇ Σάρρᾳ=‘together w. Sarah’ is read by W-H. margin; Riggenbach; Michel; B-D-F §194, 1. This use of the dat. is found in Thu., X. et al., also Diod S 20, 76, 1; Appian, Samn. 7 §2; Polyaenus 6, 18, 2; 7, 15, 3; 8, 28; Theod. Prodr. 6, 148 H. αὐτῇ Ῥοδάνῃ). Windisch, Hdb. ad loc. and s. αἷμα 1a.—MBlack, An Aramaic Approach3, ’67, 83–89.—DELG s.v. βάλλω. M-M. EDNT. TW.



Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

I know of no one in the history of interpretation who has ever even mentioned the idea.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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cwconrad
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Re: καταβολη

Post by cwconrad » September 11th, 2014, 6:14 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:No doubt at least some here are aware of the notion that καταβολη can mean 'casting down' rather than 'foundation' and that the phrase καταβολη κοσμου in the NT refers to some sort of destructive 'fall' rather than to creation as the 'foundation of the world'.

LSJ begins its definition of καταβολη with 'throwing down' but offers no citations in support of the word actually carrying that meaning. I'm assuming it's beginning its definition with a sort of hyperliteral calque to illustrate the meaning of the word's constituent parts rather than actually giving 'throwing down' as a possible sense of the word.

I've never found any evidence to support such a claim I'm wondering if anyone else here knows of a usage which would support it, or if I can safely dismiss the idea once and for all.
I really don't see what the problem is here. When I look it up in LSJ, I read:
καταβολ-ή, ἡ,
A throwing down : hence, sowing, Corp.Herm.9.6 ; esp. of begetting , κ. σπέρματος, σπερμάτων, Philol.13 , Luc.Am.19 , cf. Ep.Hebr.11.11 , Arr.Epict.1.13.3 ; ἡ Ῥωμύλου σπορὰ καὶ κ. Plu.2.320b.
I see several citations there.as well as an indication of four other meanings, including the other major sense, laying of a foundation.
Moreover, since καταβολή is clearly a verbal noun, I checked LSJ for καταβάλλω.and find:
II let fall, drop, ἀπὸ ἓο κάββαλεν υἱόν Il.5.343; κάββαλε νεβρόν, of an eagle, 8.249; of a fawning dog, ου᾿Ατα κάββαλεν ἄμφω Od.17.302; ἴουλον ἀπὸ κροτάφων κ. Theoc.15.85; of sails, καθ’ ἱστία λευκὰ βαλόντες Thgn.671; τἀκάτια Epicr.10; κατ’ ὁφθαλμοὺς βαλεῖ A.Ch.574; τὰς ὁφρῦς κ. E.Cyc.167; κ. τὰ κέρατα droop their feelers, Arist.HA590b26: in Politics, abandon a measure, καταβάλλοντ’ ἐᾶν ἐν ὑπωμοσίᾳ D.18.103. …

6 throw down seed, sow, Men.Georg.37, cf. καταβλητέον; κ. τὸ σπέρμα, of the male, Epicur.Nat.908.1:—Pass., Placit.5.7.4, Sor.1.33, Ocell.4.14: metaph., σπέρμα κ. τοιούτων πραγμάτων D.24.154; κ. φάτιν ὡς . . spread abroad a rumour, Hdt.1.122, cf.E.HF758(lyr.).

7 lay down as a foundation, mostly in Med., τὴν τῆς ναυπηγίας ἀρχὴν καταβαλλόμενος Pl.Lg.803a: esp. metaph., -βαλλομένα μέγαν οἶκτον beginning a lament (cf. infr. 8), E.Hel.164(lyr.); Ἀρίστιππος τὴν Κυρηναἷκὴν φιλοσοφίαν κατεβάλετο Str. 17.3.22; καταβαλέσθαι τοὑπτάνιον Sosip.1.39; ἐξ ἀρχῆς καινὴν νομοθεσίαν D.S.12.20; τὴν Στωἷκῶν αἵρεσιν Plu.2.329a: hence generally, to be the author of, commit to writing, ἱστορικὰς καταβαλόμενοι πραγματείας D.H.1.1; λόγον Darius ap.D.L.9.13; φλυαρίας Gal.7.476:— Pass., ὅταν δὲ κρηπὶς μὴ καταβληθῇ . . ὁρθῶς E.HF1261: freq. metaph., δεδημοσιωμένα που καταβέβληται Pl.Sph.232d; πολλοὶ λόγοι πρὸς αὑτὰ -βέβληνται Arist.EN1096a10; καταβεβλημέναι μαθήσεις fundamental, established, Arist.Pol.1337b21; τὰ κ. παιδεύματα ib.1338a36, cf. Phld.Rh.1.27S.
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ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: καταβολη

Post by Stephen Hughes » September 12th, 2014, 3:17 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:No doubt at least some here are aware of the notion that καταβολη can mean 'casting down' rather than 'foundation' and that the phrase καταβολη κοσμου in the NT refers to some sort of destructive 'fall' rather than to creation as the 'foundation of the world'.

LSJ begins its definition of καταβολη with 'throwing down' but offers no citations in support of the word actually carrying that meaning. I'm assuming it's beginning its definition with a sort of hyperliteral calque to illustrate the meaning of the word's constituent parts rather than actually giving 'throwing down' as a possible sense of the word.

I've never found any evidence to support such a claim I'm wondering if anyone else here knows of a usage which would support it, or if I can safely dismiss the idea once and for all.
timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:No doubt at least some here are aware of the notion that καταβολη can mean 'casting down' rather than 'foundation' and that the phrase καταβολη κοσμου in the NT refers to some sort of destructive 'fall' rather than to creation as the 'foundation of the world'.

LSJ begins its definition of καταβολη with 'throwing down' but offers no citations in support of the word actually carrying that meaning. I'm assuming it's beginning its definition with a sort of hyperliteral calque to illustrate the meaning of the word's constituent parts rather than actually giving 'throwing down' as a possible sense of the word.

I've never found any evidence to support such a claim I'm wondering if anyone else here knows of a usage which would support it, or if I can safely dismiss the idea once and for all.
Not to directly answer your question, but let me take up those words "destructive" and "fall" for discussion for a moment to paint a broad backdrop in front of which you intelligent people can participate in this unfolding dialogue, watched by the audience of registered users, guests and bots :shock: :lol: .

So far as I understand, βαλεῖν involves the extension of the arm in the direction you want something to go. If the place it is going to is close enough, it is "put", "place" (not letting go of it), and if the place is beyond your reach it becomes "throw" (letting go). Either way - close or far - it is likely that the location is changed not the state (guided ( often safely) to a new spot). [It is like the word "pass" in that regard, which could be either "hand (to somebody)" or "throw (to somebody)" depending on how close the person is (and whether the thing being passed could sustain a flight intact)].

So far as I know, "to throw" with a forceful or destructive sense sense is ῥίπτειν "to hurl", and that perhaps necessarily involves letting go. To use (destructive) force without letting go before impact seems to be expressed by ῥήγνυειν "to smash", and that necessarily involves not letting go.

It is only slightly relevant to your question (by way of comparison), but it could also be noted that there is also the particularly graphic ἐδαφίζω "to flatten the ground (to serve as a floor)" used in a destructive sense in:
Psalm 136:9 (Heb. 137:9) wrote:μακάριος ὃς κρατήσει καὶ ἐδαφιεῖ τὰ νήπιά σου πρὸς τὴν πέτραν
Happy is the person, who uses your children (like the back of a shovel or some other implement) to flatten (pat down flat) the earth to serve as a floor, (only it will be) against the rocky ground (not soil).
(sort of quoted at Luke 19:44 q.v.)
I know we are talking about a pre-gravity understanding of how things work, but if you are considering whose energy is expended in causing something to travel down (from one's hand to the floor, perhaps), there is also the word πίπτειν or καταπίπτειν which could be used to express an unaided / unforced downward (vertical only) motion.
  • βαλεῖν τὸ μῆλον don't damage it, so someone can eat it (or others can each eat a κόμμα "piece" or τεμάχιον "slice" (strictly speaking only used of fish), if you μοιράω "divide up between people" by κόπτειν "cutting (it) up" or τέμνειν "cut pieces off (it)", if you like your fruit peeled that is ἀπολέπειν, (and the fruit or vegetable skin is λέμμα)).
  • ῥίπτειν τὸ μῆλον to smash it on impact.
  • ῥήγνυειν τὸ μῆλον to smash it on something.
  • πίπτειν τὸ μῆλον (subject) and you can watch it move down.
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rensrinze
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Re: καταβολη

Post by rensrinze » September 12th, 2014, 10:48 am

Good afternoon,
I read the post on 'καταβολη' in which prof. Conrad expressed his doubt on behalf of the 'disruption' meaning in theological circles. A dutch classical scholar, prof Douwe Holwerda interpretes the term as being the birth of Israel as a nation under God after the exodus from Egypt.It is written in the dutch language for members of his church to demonstrate that this term:"before the foundation of the world" not can be used as proof for the orthodox dogma of election. His vision did not find much approval in the church he used to attend. Dr. Holwerda died in 2013.
"De grondlegging der wereld" en "Zag Israel zijn uittocht als schepping" are the titles and I used this material as base for a Master thesis in which I came to the conclusion that in the biblical literature 'καταβολη του κοσμου' has to do with αιωνοι' and the role of Israel in God's plan.Greets Rensrinze, Holland
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timothy_p_mcmahon
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Re: καταβολη

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » September 14th, 2014, 2:09 am

I'm now confronted with the argument that since καταβαλλω means such things as 'cast down, overthrow, etc.,' the related noun καταβολη must carry senses parallel to those.

I just can't think offhand of other Greek verb/noun pairs where the verb or noun carries meanings not found in the other.

Any examples?
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: καταβολη

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 14th, 2014, 3:17 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:I'm now confronted with the argument that since καταβαλλω means such things as 'cast down, overthrow, etc.,' the related noun καταβολη must carry senses parallel to those.

I just can't think offhand of other Greek verb/noun pairs where the verb or noun carries meanings not found in the other.

Any examples?
Well, κατάλυμα does not have any of the senses of καταλύειν involving "to destroy."

But I have a deeper concern, namely, that the person you're having an argument over the meaning of καταβολή isn't really equipped to appreciate a proper lexicographical argument. The basic notion is that we identify meaning from usage rather than etymology, and our lexicographical resources are based on centuries of effort by top Greek scholars in documenting attested usages. If a proposed meaning is not documented in LSJ, BDAG, etc., it is probably wrong, regardless of whether apparent cognate has that meaning. Instead of taking on the burden of explaining the etymological fallacy to your sparring partner, you should insist that the burden rests on showing any use of καταβολή with the claimed meaning.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: καταβολη

Post by Stephen Hughes » September 14th, 2014, 4:53 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:The basic notion is that we identify meaning from usage rather than etymology, and our lexicographical resources are based on centuries of effort by top Greek scholars in documenting attested usages.
There is a degree of subjectivity in every human endeavour - dictionary building is one such endeavour. As good as they are they shouldn't be taken with absolute objectivity.

Reference works, no matter how good, need to be used by competent users. The ability to question what is put forward in them is an important skill in being a competent user. Even if in the end the same conclusion is reached, then the dictionary has become part of the learning process that leads to an understanding, rather than just "the answer" (that can be accepted with confidence from authority) that defines a word in terms of another language, or in terms of other words in the same language (or by using pictures / animations). A passive reception of ideas as opposed to active engagement with new ideas is not altogether a bad thing, and is often convenient for "crowd control" in teaching, but the outcomes that can be achieved by that type of learning are sometimes very limited. Things such as rote-learning and I-tell-you, you-tell-me-back exams are a result of a passive reception in learning / teaching.

I always encourage a critical discussion of reference materials. The outcomes of that discussion are generally positive. If the discussion leads to feeling of over-self-confidence, then the sheer volume of the reference material soon brings a sobriety. Being unable to formulate questionings in itself leads to a realisation that one has a long way to go in one's learning. Asking outside the box questions has the basic advantage in realising that there may be more to life than what we are familiar with. Coming to a text asking, "How would I have expressed this?" is far more interactive than analysing at a distance. Coming to a reference work with the same engagement is profitable and rewarding too.

Making mistakes, realising them and correcting them, is a very good way to learn. Learning passively from reference materials can sometimes remove that possibility. Some people can accept their mistakes easily and get on with their life, others take things to heart for a longer time - it depends on the environment to a large extent as well as the character.
Stephen Carlson wrote:Instead of taking on the burden of explaining the etymological fallacy to your sparring partner, you should insist that the burden rests on showing any use of καταβολή with the claimed meaning.
Even if there were such other uses in other contexts, that would not imply that that other meaning could be used to interpret texts in a new way. Bringing new meanings to old contexts - either a widening or narrowing / specialisation of meaning is an interesting study in the history of ideas. There are some elements of that discussed in the New Testament with words involving religious traditions and practices. In those cases, a word may have a positive meaning for one group and a negative meaning for another. It is interesting to think of things from the different perspectives of the different parties.

If καταβολή were shown to have another meaning, and that meaning were applied to the texts at hand, that would really be an event in the history of textual interpretation. Further to showing that a meaning were possible, it would be better to show that it had been understood in that way at the time of writing or subsequently.

I suggest that you don't try to "win" an arguement. Clever ways of arguing to push one's view do more to stop enquiry rather than foster it. If there is no future in where your discussion partner is leading the conversation, it will become clear soon enough. If at the end of the discussion both of you have moved forward and you have discussed and understood things better, then that is a positive outcome.
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timothy_p_mcmahon
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Re: καταβολη

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » September 14th, 2014, 3:05 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Well, κατάλυμα does not have any of the senses of καταλύειν involving "to destroy.”
Thanks, Stephen C, for this example.
Stephen Carlson wrote:But I have a deeper concern, namely, that the person you're having an argument over the meaning of καταβολή isn't really equipped to appreciate a proper lexicographical argument. The basic notion is that we identify meaning from usage rather than etymology, and our lexicographical resources are based on centuries of effort by top Greek scholars in documenting attested usages. If a proposed meaning is not documented in LSJ, BDAG, etc., it is probably wrong, regardless of whether apparent cognate has that meaning. Instead of taking on the burden of explaining the etymological fallacy to your sparring partner, you should insist that the burden rests on showing any use of καταβολή with the claimed meaning.
That’s essentially what I’ve tried to do to this point. But my ‘sparring partner’ thinks he’s solved a theological crux by importing this new meaning of καταβολή into a passage, and, well, I think he's simply got too great an investment int this to see it any other way.
Stephen Hughes wrote:I suggest that you don't try to "win" an arguement. Clever ways of arguing to push one's view do more to stop enquiry rather than foster it. If there is no future in where your discussion partner is leading the conversation, it will become clear soon enough. If at the end of the discussion both of you have moved forward and you have discussed and understood things better, then that is a positive outcome.
Thanks, also, Stephen H, for your helpful thoughts. I agree that winning an argument is of little value. Mostly I’m concerned about presenting sufficient objections to dissuade lurkers on the thread.
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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: καταβολη

Post by Shirley Rollinson » September 16th, 2014, 6:48 pm

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Well, κατάλυμα does not have any of the senses of καταλύειν involving "to destroy.”
Thanks, Stephen C, for this example.
Stephen Carlson wrote:But I have a deeper concern, namely, that the person you're having an argument over the meaning of καταβολή isn't really equipped to appreciate a proper lexicographical argument. The basic notion is that we identify meaning from usage rather than etymology, and our lexicographical resources are based on centuries of effort by top Greek scholars in documenting attested usages. If a proposed meaning is not documented in LSJ, BDAG, etc., it is probably wrong, regardless of whether apparent cognate has that meaning. Instead of taking on the burden of explaining the etymological fallacy to your sparring partner, you should insist that the burden rests on showing any use of καταβολή with the claimed meaning.
That’s essentially what I’ve tried to do to this point. But my ‘sparring partner’ thinks he’s solved a theological crux by importing this new meaning of καταβολή into a passage, and, well, I think he's simply got too great an investment int this to see it any other way.
Stephen Hughes wrote:I suggest that you don't try to "win" an arguement. Clever ways of arguing to push one's view do more to stop enquiry rather than foster it. If there is no future in where your discussion partner is leading the conversation, it will become clear soon enough. If at the end of the discussion both of you have moved forward and you have discussed and understood things better, then that is a positive outcome.
Thanks, also, Stephen H, for your helpful thoughts. I agree that winning an argument is of little value. Mostly I’m concerned about presenting sufficient objections to dissuade lurkers on the thread.
it sounds like you've got a "General Six-Principle Baptist" on the line.
(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Si ... e_Baptists - where (until I get in and edit it) the page stresses that καταβαλλω means "casting down or overthrow" with reference to Hebrews 6:1-2
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