Intro - Joel Ellis

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Benjamin Kantor
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Re: Intro - Joel Ellis

Post by Benjamin Kantor » January 2nd, 2019, 3:50 pm

I think it would be helpful to define what we mean by "exegesis" in the modern sense. I think it is a bit of a fallacy to say that the reason we never talk about "exegesis" in German literature or other fields is because it is only in biblical studies that we do this hyper-grammatical analysis. (Now I'm going to end up agreeing with everyone, but I think we should have a nuanced view of those who use the term "exegesis" so we can respectfully and thoughtfully interact with those who use the term and who do grammar translation.)

I think one of the reasons (not the only reason) why we only talk about "exegesis" in biblical studies and don't use "exegesis" in other fields may be related to the reason why we only say "baptism" to refer to the ritual but don't say "I baptized my bread in the oil" when we're at Olive Garden. Both are loanwords from Greek that we came to use in certain situations because of their specific association with a specific semantic domain in Greek from which the loan came. In other words, we took these loanwords from Greek not in their general sense, but only in a specific realm. So, we took βαπτισμα for the ritual and εξηγησις for the explication of scriptures.


In the ancient sense, εξηγησις seems to simply mean explaining, and in the context of the church fathers, often explaining the scriptures:
Epiphanius, after explaining a passage, concludes with (Panarion, 2.476.5):

ἀλλὰ γὰρ περὶ τῆς κατὰ τὸν ψαλμὸν ἐξηγήσεως ἅλις ἔχει ταῦτα.

'For these things (said above) are sufficient for the ἐξήγησις of the psalm.'



Chrysostom about Paul (de Sacerdotio, 4.7.20–21:

οὐχ ὅλας ἡμέρας καὶ νύκτας ἀνήλισκεν ἐφεξῆς εἰς τὴν ἐξήγησιν τῶν Γραφῶν;

'Was he (Paul) not absorbed whole days and nights continuously in the ἐξήγησις of the Scriptures?

I think the issue is with those who take the term "exegesis" to mean a hyper-grammatical analysis of every term and translation, though I do not think it has to mean that in the modern sense. I think someone who uses the term "exegesis" or "exegete" may simply refer to explaining and teaching the scriptures. It seems to me that the reason we talk about "exegesis", may be that the tradition of interpreting/explaining the scriptures grew mostly in Latin and Greek, and that was one term they made use of for it. The fact that it has come to be associated with hyper-grammatical readings does not mean that the use of "exegesis" in biblical studies—when we don't use it for other fields—means that it has to be associated with hyper-grammatical readings. I think its uniqueness for biblical studies may have more to do with it being a loan from Greek/Latin in that specific field. There are all sorts of words that we only use in biblical studies for things like that that we don't use in other fields: expositional preaching (simply means teaching through a book instead of topical, classicists also write commentaries for entire texts but I've never heard a classicist use the word "expositional" to refer to this).

Long story short, while I agree with everything in principle that Randall Buth and Daniel Streett say about exegesis, I think it might be worth considering the nuances of the history of how this word came to mean what some think it to mean, and that someone may simply mean "explaining" when they use the word "exegesis" as well (I hope).




Also, while I agree with a previous commenter that the church fathers never engaged in that hyper-grammatical analysis, they certainly would explain the scriptures with grammatical comments ...



Nilus Ancyranus (Εἰς τὸ τῶν Ἀισμάτων Ἄισμα, 80.6–7)

μητέρα δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα λέγει τὸ γεννῶν τοὺς βαπτιζομένους καὶ θαυμάσει μηδεὶς εἰ θηλυκῷ ὀνόματι καλεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα. (7) ἡ γὰρ σχέσις τῶν γεννωμένων ἀπαιτεῖ τοῦτο καὶ ἡ Ἑβραϊκὴ δὲ φωνὴ θηλυκῶς ὀνομάζει τὸ πνεῦμα διὰ τὴν αὐτὴν αἰτίαν ...

'And he says that the Spirit is a mother, who begets those who are baptized and no one will marvel if he calls the spirit with a feminine name/noun, for the relation of those who are begotten requires this and the Hebrew idiom calls the spirit by the feminine gender for the same reason ...
Last edited by Benjamin Kantor on January 2nd, 2019, 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Intro - Joel Ellis

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » January 2nd, 2019, 4:02 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 2:49 pm
- they don't do "exegesis" in the biblical studies sense at all.
OK, now we are limiting our notion of exegesis. In other words your defining the term to prove what the term means, which is circular.

I have been looking at commentary on extra-biblical texts for decades. Church Fathers are extra biblical. That's why I mentioned P. Tzamalikos whose specialty is philosophy not biblical studies. That he is native Greek may not be relevant. However, he moves through the ancient sources with remarkable ease. Reading his book is a major undertaking since he only translates the scolia not the hundreds of citations which he compares to the scolia.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Intro - Joel Ellis

Post by Barry Hofstetter » January 3rd, 2019, 10:31 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 4:02 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 2:49 pm
- they don't do "exegesis" in the biblical studies sense at all.
OK, now we are limiting our notion of exegesis. In other words your defining the term to prove what the term means, which is circular.

I have been looking at commentary on extra-biblical texts for decades. Church Fathers are extra biblical. That's why I mentioned P. Tzamalikos whose specialty is philosophy not biblical studies. That he is native Greek may not be relevant. However, he moves through the ancient sources with remarkable ease. Reading his book is a major undertaking since he only translates the scolia not the hundreds of citations which he compares to the scolia.
Guilty as charged! Except that I had in mind the particular type of exegesis done in biblical studies, which includes, as mentioned above, hyper-grammatical analysis on steroids, the purpose of which is nearly always to prove or disprove a particular theological point. It still remember having been trained how to handle texts in my classics studies, and then after moving into biblical studies feeling like I had gone through the looking glass, and a looking glass of the fun house mirror variety at that. Fortunately I had professors who actually had much broader experience, and that helped ease the transition.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Intro - Joel Ellis

Post by Barry Hofstetter » January 3rd, 2019, 10:32 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 4:02 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 2:49 pm
- they don't do "exegesis" in the biblical studies sense at all.
OK, now we are limiting our notion of exegesis. In other words your defining the term to prove what the term means, which is circular.

I have been looking at commentary on extra-biblical texts for decades. Church Fathers are extra biblical. That's why I mentioned P. Tzamalikos whose specialty is philosophy not biblical studies. That he is native Greek may not be relevant. However, he moves through the ancient sources with remarkable ease. Reading his book is a major undertaking since he only translates the scolia not the hundreds of citations which he compares to the scolia.
Guilty as charged! Except that I had in mind the particular type of exegesis done in biblical studies, which includes, as mentioned above, hyper-grammatical analysis on steroids, the purpose of which is nearly always to prove or disprove a particular theological point. It still remember having been trained how to handle texts in my classics studies, and then after moving into biblical studies feeling like I had gone through the looking glass, and a looking glass of the fun house mirror variety at that. Fortunately I had professors who actually had much broader experience, and that helped ease the transition.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: Intro - Joel Ellis

Post by Paul-Nitz » January 3rd, 2019, 12:34 pm

There are so many great things being said in this thread, I hardly know where to start!

Great to hear your take on things, Joel Ellis. I'm glad I asked.
I am convinced that treating Greek, Latin, and Hebrew as living languages and using an input-based approach focused on reading (and speaking) fluency would transform many students’ experience with the languages and vastly improve their ability to (1) learn the relevant grammatical and syntactical categories later, (2) retain a meaningful competence with the languages after their formal education is complete, and (3) read the text with greater ease and more accurate understanding.
Your mention of the Cell rule of Optina plan is very interesting. For others like me who had no idea what it is,
Brethern of the Optina Monastery enter into a daily read scripture discipline: one chapter from the Gospel and two chapters from the Epistle, proceeding in order, beginning with the Book of Acts and ending with the last chapter of Revelation. In this way, the last Gospel chapter is read on exactly the same day as the last chapter of Revelation. https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/150 ... -testament
Ben wrote that metalanguage can be very useful. He gave an interesting sample of ancient commentators using the same and a wonderful example of exegesis his video blog. I highly recommend watching it! I've watched it twice and will watch it again.
beniamin wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 9:18 am
I recently did a 99.9% Greek video blog on the difference between the use of οιδα and γινωσκω in Koine:
https://www.kainediatheke.com/single-po ... E%B4%CE%B1
Ben's balanced view of the use of the word "exegesis" is appreciated. It can be understood well and is used by many in a natural sense of explaining scripture (The word was also used by commentaries on Homer, by the way).

At the same time, some of us have had direct and somewhat unwelcome experiences with a certain kind of hyper-analytical exegesis. Barry's reminder of Daniel Street's comment brings a wry smile. It's not far off, if we understand that Street is talking about hyper-analysis.
Exegesis is largely the attempt to control a language that one doesn't actually know.
My view is not far off from Stirling's imperative.
Burn all the commentaries
Some find the commentaries very useful, and that's great. I am most often disappointed by them, but maybe I don't have the right ones.

In an attempt to bring the conversation back to the beginning, let me make a comment and invite reaction.

An implicit understanding of a language is necessary for a good understanding of a text. Learning about a language through metalanguage and rules (the Grammar Translation method) is an unnatural and, for most learners, an unsuccessful means of gaining implicit understanding. It can, and has, led to an undesirable type of hyper-analysis of a text that can't see the forest for the trees. Using metalanguage as a complement to an implicit understanding of a text can be very useful, especially when discussing the text with others. Exegesis is simply explaining meaning. Metalanguage is a valuable tool in exegesis.
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Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi

JMEllis
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Re: Intro - Joel Ellis

Post by JMEllis » January 3rd, 2019, 2:30 pm

I am thoroughly enjoying this thread and so thankful for the gracious but substantive conversation! I can see that I have a great deal to learn from all of you, and I look forward to sitting and listening in on these kinds of exchanges.
Paul-Nitz wrote:
January 3rd, 2019, 12:34 pm
In an attempt to bring the conversation back to the beginning, let me make a comment and invite reaction.

An implicit understanding of a language is necessary for a good understanding of a text. Learning about a language through metalanguage and rules (the Grammar Translation method) is an unnatural and, for most learners, an unsuccessful means of gaining implicit understanding. It can, and has, led to an undesirable type of hyper-analysis of a text that can't see the forest for the trees. Using metalanguage as a complement to an implicit understanding of a text can be very useful, especially when discussing the text with others. Exegesis is simply explaining meaning. Metalanguage is a valuable tool in exegesis.
I have lately been thinking a lot about how many exegetical/interpretive mistakes are made simply because many teachers do not know the language but only know "about" the language. I include myself in this category and am not meaning this as a criticism of anyone else. I see such errors in my own work and cringe every time I find another instance of it. How often does hyper-focus on grammar-translation result in fallacies that would never occur if we were simply reading and understanding the text in the dynamic and fluid way we understand our native language(s)? I do not mean that we should not take every letter and form seriously. Those of us who affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture cannot do otherwise. But is grammar-translation alone the best way to discover the revelatory substance of such texts? It seems many of us would (now) say no.
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Joel M. Ellis, Jr.
Pastor at Reformation Orthodox Presbyterian Church
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Benjamin Kantor
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Re: Intro - Joel Ellis

Post by Benjamin Kantor » January 11th, 2019, 8:21 am

Thought I would add an even more meta-languagey text I was translating from Eusebius recently:

Eusebius on Ps. 45.8:

ἐπὶ γὰρ τῆς πρώτης ἐπωνυμίας, καθ’ ἣν ὁ Ἀκύλας «θρόνος σου, θεὲ» ἡρμήνευσεν, σαφῶς ἀντὶ τοῦ «ὁ θεὸς» «θεὲ» εἰπών, τὸ ἑβραϊκὸν ἐλωῒμ περιέχει. κἀνταῦθα δὲ ὁμοίως ἐπὶ τοῦ «διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε, θεὲ» τὸ ἐλωῒμ παρείληπται, ὅπερ τὴν «ὦ θεὲ» κλητικὴν ἐδήλου πτῶσιν. ἀντὶ δὲ τῆς ὀρθῆς καὶ εὐθείας τοῦ ὀνόματος, καθ’ ὃ εἴρηται «διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεὸς» τὸ ἑβραϊκὸν ἐλωὰχ περιέχει σφόδρα ἀπηκριβωμένως, ἵν’ ᾖ τὸ μὲν ἐλωῒμ κατὰ κλητικὴν πτῶσιν ἐξενηνεγμένον, δηλοῦν τὸ «ὦ θεέ», τὸ δὲ ἐλωὰχ «ὁ θεός σου» κατὰ τὴν εὐθεῖαν· ὥστε ἀκριβῶς ἔχειν τὴν φήσασαν ἑρμηνείαν «διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε, ὁ θεός, ὁ θεός σου».

For regarding the first title, according to which Aquila translated «Your throne, O God», clearly rendering «O God» instead of «(the) God», the Hebrew contains ἐλωΐμ. And here, similarly, for «Therefore, [He] has anointed you, O God», the word ἐλωΐμ is used, which makes clear that the phrase «O God» [is in the] vocative case. And instead of the straight/nominative (ὀρθή) and direct/nominative (εὐθεῖα) sense of the noun, according to which is said «Therefore, God, your God, has anointed you», the Hebrew quite exactly contains ἐλωάχ, so that the word ἐλωΐμ would be expounded according to the vocative case, clearly signifying the rendering «O God», and ἐλωάχ clearly signifying the rendering «Your God» according to the straightforward. Therefore, the interpretation that says «Therefore, God, your God, has anointed you» has rendered accurately.
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