I feel most at home in Christ when other brothers are throwing fast balls, and they are throwing them hard. To me, "fight a good fight" is a passage that I take within the context of the Pragmatics. FirstL
I apologize. I have been fighting a good fight with my heart. I am older now, and I do not know how much time on Earth God has in mind for me. I have been recovering from quadriple bypass, and now just getting on my feet. Also, my job. I am not normal in that I chose 50 years ago not to live in this world. Rather than pursue a career, I chose to pursue one and one thing only. That thing has been studying something called "Hellenistic Koine Greek." And no, I do not mean getting big degrees, and going for doctor this, that, or doctor other thing. While I have been to 6 universities, I did so only to learn Greek. It means that I make my living do very odd jobs. They are odd, lol! At night, however, I have been studying the language of the New Testament, and its linguistic and Pragmatical context, for over 50 years. I bought my first Greek grammar book in 1973. It is on my book shelf. I am getting old and weak. I apologize for not getting back to you.
Are you ready for a "Good fight?"
Here is what I think. We base our "dogma" on faith, prayer, study, Fellowship, our walk with Jesus, and scripture. Scripture, we base our understanding on Scripture on what the hand of the author actually wrote, and is the name at the top of that plate, the actual person who that person claimed he was, or, who "tradition" asserts? In other words, we must base our scripture on "scripture." That is our starting point.
If you made it that far, then I am fully confident that Paul would agree you are ready to put on that cestus.
Let's define what a "Bible Scholar" is. A Bible Scholar is someone who can read Hellenistic Koine directly from an extent manuscript. No, not the modern Greek alphabet that they print the Greek New Testament in today. When we read Homeric, Classical, or Hellenistic Koine, or post-Hellenistic Koine, it looks something like this:
"There once was a Greek from Crete"
He farmed mostly wheat ...
But when he got to Rome, they just sent him home
Because he just never washed his feet.
If you picked up a manuscript written before 500 AD, and even later, it is going to look like this:
Now, turn that upside down. Rip it into 20 pieces, and find this
There are about 550 extant Greek books that have been received from the ancient world. A "Bible Scholar" can look at the above second version and tell you what page of, let's say, Marcus Aureleaus that that chopped up piece of papyri that is the size of a stamp came from. He has read all of them, and all of them several times. There are under 100 of these chaps in the entire world. Most of us specialize in a handful of books. Read one for 10 years and you almost have it. We call these types "Critical Textual Scholars." The dialects are very, very different, and the vocabulary of each author is often totally unque. There were no dictionaries in Paul's world that we know of. So spelling too, is tough. You might find one writer use this, "ICOULDHAVEGONE" where another writer writes "IWOULDHAVEGONE," and the word is only used once by the author.
99.9% of every critical textual scholar I have ever met, talk with, or read with, and I have met 4 at Oxford, agree that Paul's Philemon was in truth actually written by him. It is the real deal,Paul's authentic voice. His culture, his language, his grammar, his vocabulary, and his "tone." I have never met another Critical Text expert that would dispute that the historical Paul of Tarsus wrote Romans and Phileon. They spoke Greek in Tarsus.
I am very, very sorry, but 99.9% of those same people adamently do not accept that Titus was written by the historical Paul of Tarsus. Oh, yes, you will meet many professional "pastors" who can read some Greek who will assert Titus was actually written by Paul. However, no "museum level" library in the world lists Titus has having been produced in the 1st century. None. I believe the guy who runs the "New Testament Manuscript" group in Texas still lists Titus as 1st century. However, he is a professional "pastor" who makes a living based off of it, and he has written zip on any Greek OTHER than the New Testament. That disqualifies him. You cannot be a witness in court for your own dad. The court will not accept you as a "dispassionate witness," and he has no world class qualifications within the realm of Greek dialects. Zero.
Sir, your question centers on one of the hottest topics in "New Testament Textual Criticism."
So, before we talk about your quest, take a breath. If you place the world's best and most fluent readers of Ancient Greek into a room, and I have read with Greek priests who just didn't have a clue, and asked them to stand on one side of the other, not every one of them will stand on the side of Ephesians having been penned in the 1st century. Romans? No problem. Phileon and 1 Cor, no problem, but Ephesians ... Ephesians is about 50/50. There are reasons, real reasons for that, but to see them, you have to be able to read post-Hellenistic Koine as well as your native language, and even better.
To put this in modern context, modern day art forgers study the brushes of the work they are copying. They learn to mix the paint the same way, and they use the same materials to make brushes and paint. They will even steal another painting because they want the canvas. Canvas has pollen in it.
I am convenced for myself with Ephesians, but I have only studied it for two years from the manuscripts. 1 Tim and Titus, I have studied for over 20 years, studying only those two books, but within the Pragmatics or the language from 300 BC to 415 AD. I have written a book on it and a copy of it has been added to the main library at Oxford University. Oxford houses the largest library of Greek manuscripts in the world. My book on 1 Tim and Titus is in the private libraries of four Greek professors (Tutors) who are full time lecturers on Greek at Oxford.
For now, I will say only this about Ephesians, I hope it helps open some ideas.
Look at the word "pastor" in Ephesians 4:11.
Think about that word in "English." What is that? Make a list of things that you would "semantically associate" with the English word, "Pastor."
Now, brother, put on a pair of sandals. Put on this cloth called a "hymation." It isn't a toga, it is a gentleman's wrap, and we will give you a cloak over that.
I'll take you to the library of Alexandria in exactly 60 AD, and you are going to go through the shelves with me looking for that word and how is it used. Are you game?
Here is that sentence in Greek. Don't feak!
καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους, τοὺς δὲ προφήτας, τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς, τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους
Here is the word you are looking for in all those scrolls, ποιμένας. That is masculine, plural, in the accusative for basically "poimenikos," a Hellenistic shephard. However, because we have a manuscript called "The Didache" we know how they organized their Fellowships, and that 1st century Christians did not have a class of "shephards." Remember at the end of Roman's 16:1. The women is clearly an established head of the Fellowship, but Paul does not call her a "Goat Herder." He calls her "THE" deacon, the very, very word he uses to describe himself when talking with Peter in Acts. The exact same word. When speaking with Peter he doesn't not call himself a "Goat Herder" for the Gentiles. The word "deacon" in 1st century is closer to "nurse," or attendant, someone who gets your water for you from the river and fills your cistern, someone who takes your "potty pot" outside. A "deaconios" puts a towel over your forehead when you are sick with fever. This is Paul's word for himself when talking to Peter about his work among the Gentiles. It is the same word his uses to introduce a woman in Romans 16:1. Paul doesn't call her "Behold, the Goat Herder of Cencheae." It is a very, very small detail. Here:
Romans 16:1, NRSV, "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon[a] of the church at Cenchreae, "
First, let's get rid of the "C." That is conventional 19th century English. It isn't correct, sorry. The name of the city is "Κεγχρεα." It is more like "Kegchrea." It was south of Athens. It is a fishing villlage.
Brother, this is a very, very fine detail. See this, "a deacon of the church." That is incorrect. There is no indirect article in Hellenistic Koine Greek. There is a "the," 36 of them actually, but no "a" anywhere in Koine. It isn't in Homeric or Classical Greek either. As an example, the translators of the NRSV arbitrarily added the "a" deacon. There is no "The Deacon."
It should be translated like this, "Behold, to men and God, I present to you our sister Phoebe, deacon of the Fellowship in the fishing village of Kegchrea." The verb for "behold" or "commend" is actually extremely old. It is more Mycenaean than reflective of the Hellenistic Age.
If I had awarded you a 10th degree black belt in Japan for Japanese fencing, and the Emperor of Japan were at the ceremony, I would in Japanese Introduce you to God first, and in front of all the other "Grand Masters." That is exactly what Paul is doing with this woman.
It is not "A Deacon." She is "Phoebe, Deacon of the Fellowship at Kegchra, the small fishing village south of Athens."
Why do they add "A"? Well, that is the very same word that Paul uses in Acts to lable himself before Peter.
Now, notice Paul addresses her as "Sister." That, sir, is her title. Compare that with Matthew 23:8-12. This is who Christians addressed each other in the 1st century. Get a copy of the Dichache. It is the only 1st century "Fellowship Handbook" that we have. It was found behind a wall in Constantinople in the late 19th century.
Here is another one, and we can look at that in English.
".... unity in the faith." In 60 AD, this "faith" was understood to mean "Trust." I can share several examples in the literature of the period where someone says, "This is my slave. I will sent him with you. He is my most TRUSTED." Another one is, "This is my maid. Take her with you with this money. She is my most trusted servant."
Sir, in post-Hellenistic Koine Greek, the concept of "faith" as a "Religion" does not evolve until the early Byzantine era. Faith in Romans means "trust." Take a look at John 2 at the wedding at Cana. The dicipiles didn't have "trust" in Jesus until AFTER they saw the water change to wine. Sir, John does not record that Jesus' diciples "found a mutual religion" when they saw Jesus change water into wine. They found "trust" in him. That, sir, is 1st century "pistis," trust, and that is 1st century Koine. Writing around 150 AD in Koine Greek, the same language, Emperor Marcus Aureleus wrote (Refering to Christians), "Those who use only 'trust' as their process for their search for truth are foolish."
Doesn't Paul say in Romans, "Through reading of the word we find faith"? In American English we could read that as "Through reading of the Word we come to Trust Jesus." Sir, that is 1st century Greek. There is no "blind faith" in 1st century Hellenistic Koine Greek. The word meant "trust," and it didn't come to mean a "Religion" until hundreds of years later.
Sir, just two words, in Ephesians, why are we using 4th century post-Hellenistic Koine litergical Greek back in the late 1st century?
Sir, I appeal to you, I think it is an honest question.
There is solid stuff in Ephesians, but it is also filled with early 3rd - 4th century AD litergical Greek.
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