News:


Main Menu
Menu

Show posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Show posts Menu

Messages - Rob Morris

#1
Quote from: Charles Austin on April 10, 2024, 04:39:37 AMP.S. in "America, the Beautiful," we sing "God shed his grace on thee," but in the second verse we sing (or are supposed to sing, some singers don't) "God mend thy every flaw."
I always inwardly cringe as we proclaim incorrectly, "thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears," but ...

The "alabaster cities" line was a reference to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Otherwise, we don't have alabaster cities.

https://www.dictionary.com/e/america-the-beautiful-lyrics-you-dont-know/

However, even that city was not "undimmed by human tears". You can read Devil in the White City by Erik Larson for an engrossing overview of the exposition itself (fascinating undertaking) and the murderer/serial killer who was at work within it.
#2
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 08, 2024, 07:51:21 AM
Quote from: SomeoneWrites on April 07, 2024, 04:02:14 PM
Quote from: Rob Morris on April 07, 2024, 03:30:14 PMI appreciate the note. All I can do is tell you again: the arguments you have found persuasive are ideology masked as grammar. Sometimes, the most courageous thing a scholar can do is simply to agree with the wisdom of the scholars who came before, even in the face of more popular ideas that come packaged with the sheen and thrill of discovery.

The more I read, the more I'm finding the opposite.  Ideology masked as grammar is definitely a concern of mine and I'm seeing it in places like AIG, where such an interpretation is required.  The passage could say a number of things, and it doesn't affect my understanding of science or history.  My career doesn't depend on it, and if I were attending a church regularly, I don't think even an LCMS church would bar me from communing there.  However, I believe I would be placed under scrutiny for my thoughts on the text if I were wearing a collar. 

So at the end of the day, I'm going to be examining the scholarship, and they make a convincing case based on the grammar and how the passage reads.  You disagree.  I'm okay with this.  :)

Oh, I'm not troubled by it. None of what you have shared is a new idea to me. Examined it all in various garb a decade and a half ago. And it seems like you genuinely want to believe that you are being measured in your viewing of this data, so I'll leave you with one final challenge for your own peace of mind:

If this is truly a grammatical and not an ideological theory that you are propounding, find any other place in Hebrew writing where a construct modifies a finite verb. Compare that to the number of times that a definite article is elided and tell me what probability would indicate.

Maybe it will help you to understand why I am being so dogmatic on this if I relay one anecdote: I attended a Society of Biblical Literature conference at which a friend of mine was presenting. I went to a round table discussion with a lot of the big names in Biblical studies from Yale, Harvard, etc. At one point I had the privilege of hearing them speak clearly into microphones that they were actively looking for ways to subvert the traditional understandings of scriptures. I spoke to one of my professors (a Yale alum) about it afterwards. His take? "Imagine the effrontery that it takes to look at words that have been studied for thousands of years and believe that you alone have seen a new meaning... Did you think they really believe all the theories that get them published?"

So, that's my challenge for you if you want to take it up: Show me even one other place where Hebrew uses the construction you find so compelling, and I will be happy to re-examine.

Blessings!
#3
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 07, 2024, 03:30:14 PM
Quote from: SomeoneWrites on April 07, 2024, 10:04:20 AM
Quote from: Rob Morris on April 06, 2024, 08:56:04 PMI am sorry if saying this offends you. That most certainly is not my goal. However, what shall I do when I do have expertise in a field and others (including those in your links) are making claims in that field that are incorrect?


I'm not offended by disagreement.  Not at all, and I hope that wasn't inferred or implied.

This is all very simple. 

We both our convinced of our positions based on the grammar. 
You think it's pointed one way.  I think it's pointed a different way. 
We both think our position gives the better and clearer reading.
You have expertise in this field.  I'm observing the what other experts in the field have said.
You have seen people turn this into a theological argument.  I've witnessed people turning this into a theological argument on both sides. 
I'm  not going to tell you that your position a theological one. 
I'm going to ask you not to tell me my position is a theological one. 

very simple.  I hope that clears this up. 

I appreciate the note. All I can do is tell you again: the arguments you have found persuasive are ideology masked as grammar. Sometimes, the most courageous thing a scholar can do is simply to agree with the wisdom of the scholars who came before, even in the face of more popular ideas that come packaged with the sheen and thrill of discovery.
#4
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 07, 2024, 07:45:55 AM
So, you are left with two possibilities:

One: a dead simple grammatical construction is determined by scholars thousands of years later to mean something different than its plain meaning. It just so happens that this dead simple construction addresses the creation of the earth: one of the biggest theological/scientific controversies in existence for the last 160 years. It also just so happens that the exact same construction is not doubted in any other place than this passage. All of this is, of course, coincidental.

Two: scholars, influenced by generations of the other debates raging around the topic, promote obscure possible explanations and translations of the dead simple phrase because those would better fit their preferred reading.

The fact that the NRSV translators went with the simple grammatical translation and the NRSVUE translators decided to switch, relegating the simple to a footnote, should be pretty telling.

I am sorry to be so truculent on this. I hope this doesn't seem like narcissism... If it helps at all, I have served as an editorial proofreader on an advanced Hebrew grammar textbook, have served as a test instructor for multiple Hebrew online courses, served as head Hebrew TA at Gordon-Conwell seminary for two years, winning the Hebrew department award for my graduating class and was a guest lecturer for Bethel Seminary's Hebrew classes. I am not just being a stick in the mud out of stubbornness. I am throwing the flag on ideologal arguments posing as grammatical ones.

But that's enough from me on the topic. Blessings to each of my interlocutors.
#5
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 06, 2024, 08:57:07 PM
Quote from: John Mundinger on April 06, 2024, 07:58:04 PM
Quote from: Rob Morris on April 06, 2024, 07:42:46 PMQal perfect is used for completed action. Not inception of ongoing action.

The whole case for your preferred translation hinges on the construct matter, the theorizing of which is very poor grammatical analysis for the reasons I have stated.

As I said, feel free to go ahead and make your arguments against or for creation based on theology, metaphysics, ideology, whatever. Just don't make them based on the grammar of Genesis 1:1.

And when I see a translation like the NRSVUE, to which I objected above, I am looking at the work of an idealogue, not a grammarian.

"when God began to create" certainly is consistent with Luther's explanation of the First Article.  God began to create and has continued to create.

You are once again proving my point. You are making an argument from theology, not from Hebrew grammar. My point was not about theology. My point was about grammar.
#6
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 06, 2024, 08:56:04 PM
Quote from: SomeoneWrites on April 06, 2024, 08:32:19 PM
Quote from: Rob Morris on April 06, 2024, 07:42:46 PMQal perfect is used for completed action. Not inception of ongoing action.

The whole case for your preferred translation hinges on the construct matter, the theorizing of which is very poor grammatical analysis for the reasons I have stated.

As I said, feel free to go ahead and make your arguments against or for creation based on theology, metaphysics, ideology, whatever. Just don't make them based on the grammar of Genesis 1:1.

And when I see a translation like the NRSVUE, to which I objected above, I am looking at the work of an idealogue, not a grammarian.



I can tell you my arguments are based on grammar.  Please don't say otherwise.  the dont see it as a problem. 

It is a prepositional phrase, followed by a Qal perfect verb, followed by nominative. It is about a simple a grammatical construction as you can get. The fact that so many buckets of ink have been spilled over it is because of what it says, not confusion about its grammar. As I have repeatedly stated, this exact construction is used countless times in narrative Hebrew. This is the only time that it generates any controversy. I would hope that an inquiring mind would ask why is that? The answer does not lie in the grammar.

I am sorry if saying this offends you. That most certainly is not my goal. However, what shall I do when I do have expertise in a field and others (including those in your links) are making claims in that field that are incorrect?

Perhaps it is best if I simply walk away. It seems this conversation is now generating more heat than light.

#7
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 06, 2024, 07:42:46 PM
Qal perfect is used for completed action. Not inception of ongoing action.

The whole case for your preferred translation hinges on the construct matter, the theorizing of which is very poor grammatical analysis for the reasons I have stated.

As I said, feel free to go ahead and make your arguments against or for creation based on theology, metaphysics, ideology, whatever. Just don't make them based on the grammar of Genesis 1:1.

And when I see a translation like the NRSVUE, to which I objected above, I am looking at the work of an idealogue, not a grammarian.

#8
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 06, 2024, 03:48:33 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on April 06, 2024, 02:45:55 PM
Quote from: Rob Morris on April 06, 2024, 08:19:01 AMIf all that you look at is orthography, sure. If you ignore the fact that there is a preposition prefixed to the noun, sure. If you ignore the fact that it is followed by a verb instead of by a noun, sure.

The preposition ב has five major sections in Brown-Driver-Briggs. There are 27 subsections under those. Another lexicon listed 20 definitions for this preposition. "In" is not the only way it can be translated. Consider Genesis 2:4 when it is translated "when."



Hebrew prepositions certainly have a great deal of flexibility. If you wish to translate 1:1 as "When the beginning, God created..." go for it. I would recommend (and a typical rule of translation) is that you use the most common gloss unless it is insufficient. I do not find "in the beginning" to be unclear or insufficient.

What that doesn't do is render it, "In the beginning, when..." That would translate the preposition twice, one time in and one time outside the prepositional phrase. That would be out of bounds.
#9
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 06, 2024, 01:47:55 PM
Quote from: SomeoneWrites on April 06, 2024, 12:01:34 PM
Quote from: Rob Morris on April 06, 2024, 08:19:01 AMIf all that you look at is orthography, sure. If you ignore the fact that there is a preposition prefixed to the noun, sure. If you ignore the fact that it is followed by a verb instead of by a noun, sure.

Then the question becomes why is the translator comfortable ignoring so much grammatical data?

For a translation approach that is prioritizing dynamic equivalency rather than formal equivalency, this sort of translational decision is common. That's why I referenced a paraphrase like the message. For a translation that wishes to reflect formal equivalence to any degree, any option other than "in the beginning, God created" would be out of bounds.

Maybe putting it another way would be helpful: what other possible grammatical structure could the author have used to say "in the beginning, God created"? You have to have a prepositional phrase, a simple verb and a subject. That's what we have. On the other hand, if the author wished to say something different from that, they would have had several ways to do so.

If we were talking about a verse that said "in the morning, Abraham arose", we wouldn't be having this discussion at all. The grammar is both simple and clear. It's only because people are squirrelly about the topic of creation that grammarians going all the way back to the medieval Rashi have tried to find leeway.

I appreciate your responses.  I would say the more that I dig at this, the more I'm skeptical of your position.  The people involved don't seem to be hung up on issues of creation at all. The RSV provides the alternate reading, and it's not like they don't have people that have a mastery of Hebrew. 

I found this

QuoteThis is more of a Masoretic pointing problem than anything. The way the vowels are pointed, there is a noun, rēšīṯ, with a preposition, bə-, with no article, i.e. bārēšīṯ (=bə-hā-rēšīṯ). The lack of the article is an indication that the phrase is in construct with what follows, which is a finite verb, something that does not occur anywhere else to my knowledge (or if it does, it is extremely rare). However, this is simply not grammatical. If the prepositional phrase were in construct, the verb would have to be an infinitive construct, which is how Standard Judaean Hebrew works. Also, such would make the clause dependent requiring an independent clause. Instead, we get a wayyiqtōl verb phrase that starts a new "sentence" or stream of thought. Instead, it would require a simple wəqātal verb as you find in a sequence of volatives (Lambdin §107.b).

So, the ungrammatical nature of the reading added to the fact that none of the ancient versions read it as a temporal clause, indicates that the most likely explanation is that the Masoretes had preserved a reading tradition that was in error, while the consonantal text is still correct.

And that seems consistent with

https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/hebrew-and-you-with-lee-m-fields-is-gen-11-a-subordinate-idea-or-a-main-clause
Though she biases the masoretic pointing and offers her rationale. 

It's nowhere near cut and dried.  I'm largely reading the positions from either apologetics vs. scholars.  And the scholars aren't necessarily unbelievers.  The apologetics camp is giving a very KJV-only vibe which only increases my skepticism. 




I'm not going to have a great deal of time today to go into this. The first piece that you are quoting, whatever the source, is completely ignoring Kethib-Qere Masoretic practices, and as soon as you adjust for that your quote is proving my point. Construct nouns are not followed by finite verbs. Ever. The solution is easy and orthographically common: I would simply respond that dropping the definite article inside a prepositional phrase is far more likely than the solution that author is proposing.

For some reason the Zondervan page won't load for me right now, so I can't comment on that scholar's approach.

I continue to stand by my statement that this is simple, straightforward grammar made complicated by the content, not by the grammar. If the sentence said, "in the morning, Abraham arose" We would not be discussing it at all, no one would be publishing a word about it, and there would be zero controversy. That's my whole point.

People are trying to get the grammar to make a case for them, where it simply cannot do so. Neither for an absolute ex nihilo viewpoint, nor for some pre-existing universe. You have to look somewhere else to make your arguments. The grammar won't do it for you.
#10
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 06, 2024, 11:58:59 AM
Quote from: John Mundinger on April 06, 2024, 08:30:35 AM
Quote from: Rob Morris on April 06, 2024, 08:25:34 AMWould you be willing to put that translation on your Hebrew final, if graduating depended on it?

I suspect that the answer to that question would depend on the seminary's affiliation.

You are making my point for me. A Seminary's affiliation should have no bearing on how to to translate a simple Hebrew sentence. The only reason to believe that it would is because of the content of that sentence, not the grammar.
#11
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 06, 2024, 08:25:34 AM
Or maybe a simpler route from point A to point B: Go back and look at the translation that Pastor Stoffregen quoted which prompted my criticism. Reread it and ask yourself if you would be willing to risk your credibility as a Hebrew scholar in order to defend that translation. Would you be willing to put that translation on your Hebrew final, if graduating depended on it?
#12
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 06, 2024, 08:19:01 AM
If all that you look at is orthography, sure. If you ignore the fact that there is a preposition prefixed to the noun, sure. If you ignore the fact that it is followed by a verb instead of by a noun, sure.

Then the question becomes why is the translator comfortable ignoring so much grammatical data?

For a translation approach that is prioritizing dynamic equivalency rather than formal equivalency, this sort of translational decision is common. That's why I referenced a paraphrase like the message. For a translation that wishes to reflect formal equivalence to any degree, any option other than "in the beginning, God created" would be out of bounds.

Maybe putting it another way would be helpful: what other possible grammatical structure could the author have used to say "in the beginning, God created"? You have to have a prepositional phrase, a simple verb and a subject. That's what we have. On the other hand, if the author wished to say something different from that, they would have had several ways to do so.

If we were talking about a verse that said "in the morning, Abraham arose", we wouldn't be having this discussion at all. The grammar is both simple and clear. It's only because people are squirrelly about the topic of creation that grammarians going all the way back to the medieval Rashi have tried to find leeway.
#13
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 05, 2024, 11:49:55 PM
No offense, but I stand 100% by what I stated. If any Hebrew test had those three words on it, and you translated them as anything other than "in the beginning, God created", the professor would have to mark you down as incorrect. Simple prepositional phrase, followed by a simple Qal perfect verb, followed by a clear nominative subject. Include the compound direct object if you wish. Doesn't change the matter one bit. I do not find either Rashi (as referenced by Pastor Stoffregen), or the "consensus of modern biblical scholars" (as referenced by Instagram and linked by Someone Writes) to be particularly compelling when they are willing to so completely overlook basic Hebrew grammar.

Please note that I did not make a metaphysical argument or a theological one. Simply a grammatical one. And on this matter, while I try not to be bullheaded on other topics, there is not a soul that could convince me otherwise. How to understand what it says... how to apply what it says... the implications of what it says... happy to discuss. But what it says is not unclear to any except those who wish to make it so. And anyone who has taken even six weeks of Biblical Hebrew knows it, no matter what they may wish to do with the implications within the larger passage.
#14
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 05, 2024, 09:46:14 PM
Jawohl
#15
Your Turn / Re: Aquinas on Faith and Reason
April 05, 2024, 05:51:31 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on April 05, 2024, 05:35:41 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on April 05, 2024, 04:01:57 PM
Quote from: John Mundinger on April 05, 2024, 03:04:46 PM
Quote from: Dan Fienen on April 05, 2024, 01:18:35 PMBTB, it is this last that is fall back on when trying to reconcile Genesis with astrophysics. How they go together, I just don't really know. I recognize all the arguments that have been made, and most of them have been expressed on this forum. How an inerrant Bible fits with our observations of the universe is something that I at this time leave as a mystery that I don't know the answer to.

I make no effort to reconcile Genesis and astrophysics.  I hold one as spiritual truth and the other as a sound scientific theory.  I read Scripture to better understand my relationship with the God who creates, redeems and sanctifies, not for the purpose of better understanding the natural world.  And, I read science texts for the purpose of better understanding the natural world, not for the purpose of better understanding my relationship with the Triune God.

That said, it should be note that there is one interesting point of agreement between Genesis and astrophysics - the cosmos came from nothing.
Genesis doesn't really state that the creation came from nothing. Genesis 1 begins:

1 When God began to create  the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God  swept over the face of the waters. [NRSVUE]

There was a chaotic earth. There was "the deep." There was water.

In Genesis 2, God "forms" ha'adam and the plants and the animals from the ground. In this account, God is always using something to form creation.

The Wiki article on ex nihilo includes these paragraphs [footnotes removed]:

To these can be added the account of the Book of Genesis, which opens with God creating the heavens and the earth, separating and restraining the waters. To further clarify the meaning of the Genesis creation account, the Hebrew sentence which opens Genesis, Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'aretz, can be interpreted in at least three ways:

  • As a statement that the cosmos had an absolute beginning (In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth).
  • As a statement describing the condition of the world when God began creating (When in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was untamed and shapeless).
  • As background information (When in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, the earth being untamed and shapeless, God said, Let there be light!).
Though option 1 has been the historic and predominant view, it has been recently suggested that (since the Middle Ages) it cannot be the preferred translation based on strictly linguistic and exegetical grounds. Whereas our modern societies see the origin of matter as a question of crucial importance, for ancient cultures this seems to have not been the case. When the author(s) of Genesis wrote the creation account they were more concerned with God bringing the cosmos into operation by assigning roles and functions.

The biblical texts are not the best places to look for creation ex nihilo.

This is incredibly helpful.  I do not know Hebrew.  So I appreciate the excursus on the opening words to Genesis.  How would you, Pr. Stoffregen, translate those opening words?

I'm sure the Septuagint has a difference, perhaps.

I taught Hebrew for several years (though it was now ages ago). The language is pretty straightforward. "In the beginning, God created" is the only translation a Hebrew 101 instructor would accept for "bereshith bara Elohim". The other shades/interpretations are rather fanciful and informed less by grammar than by presupposition.

Where there is room for discussion is in the next phrase, where it says "now the earth was formless and void". There is semantic discussion to be had about what it means for the as-yet uncreated earth to be "tohu vebohu". "Without form and without content" seems to be as close as Hebrew can get to saying that there was no shape and no content. Or, in modern terms, no matter existed. It could mean what primordially existed did so in a chaotic state, but to translate it thus, as the NRSVUE does is editorializing, not translating, in my opinion. More akin to paraphrasing a la the Message than to translation.
SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk