1. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '07 17:471 edit
    >> 2nd Timothy 13:15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

    16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

    17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

    ______________________________________

    I want to invite some of you Biblical exegetes to grapple with this text a bit, rather than simply assuming (e.g., from familiarity) that it is clear on the face of it. Persons of all theological persuasions and doctrinal schools of thought are welcome.

    Instead of starting with an alternative translation, I want to offer some points: clues, if you will, that I see—

    (1) The Greek word graphe means writing; “scripture” is an accurate translation because all writing at that time was hand-scripted. Any special meaning for the word has to come from context.

    (2) The “you” in verse 15 is singular in the Greek, referring specifically to the person the author is writing to. [Note: the pronoun itself is not in the Greek text, but the verb oidas—to know or be acquainted with—is in the second-person singular.]

    (3) There is no verb at all in verse 16 in the Greek. Theopneustos—inspired; literally god-breathed—is an adjective modifying graphe.

    This is the single instance of the word theopneustos (so far as I can find) in the whole Biblical canon; it is also the only reference to “inspired scripture”.

    One question, of course, is exactly what “sacred writings”* the recipient of this letter could have known “from childhood”.

    Another is: Can this text, in its original Greek, really be taken to refer to the entire Biblical corpus (no less and no more)? Is not an alternative reading at least possible—and perhaps more accurately rendered from the Greek?

    At the very least, is this text so clear that one can properly insist that the notion that the entire Biblical corpus is theopneustos is, in fact, “proved” by scripture itself (or even clearly indicated)?

    I would be very interested if some of you could undertake to offer an alternative translation that seems closer to the original.

    NOTE: I am aware that there are various understandings of what “inspired” might mean—covering a range from divine verbal dictation to simply being moved to speak. I am interested here in any understanding in that range that would entail the Biblical texts being “the word of God”, however one understands that.


    __________________________________

    * iera grammata: which can be translated as sacred letters, characters, records or learning—literally, gramma means “that which is drawn”.
  2. Illinois
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    27 Aug '07 19:46
    Originally posted by vistesd
    >> 2nd Timothy 13:15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

    16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

    17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for ...[text shortened]... d letters, characters, records or learning—literally, gramma means “that which is drawn”.
    If I remember correctly, the early Christians used the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament). Right? Perhaps in verse 15 Paul was referring to the Old Testament?

    Paul himself also claimed to be speaking Truth according to the authority of God's Holy Spirit. If his words, including the words of the apostles, were indeed inspired by the same Spirit which inspired the OT, then I think it would be accurate to assume that they would all complement each other.

    Considered as such, then yes, Timothy 13:15-17 can be taken to refer to all inspired scripture.

    I hope I'm addressing the issues that you wish to be addressed here...
  3. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '07 21:181 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    If I remember correctly, the early Christians used the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament). Right? Perhaps in verse 15 Paul was referring to the Old Testament?

    Paul himself also claimed to be speaking Truth according to the authority of God's Holy Spirit. If his words, including the words of the apostles, were indeed inspired by the ...[text shortened]... inspired scripture.

    I hope I'm addressing the issues that you wish to be addressed here...
    First off, I just want to say: I knew you couldn’t resist this one! 😉

    If I remember correctly, the early Christians used the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament). Right? Perhaps in verse 15 Paul was referring to the Old Testament?

    Yes, one view is that—if this letter as taken as coming from Paul—then the sacred writing in verse 15 can only refer to the OT. The early church did indeed use the LXX, although I think Paul also quoted from the Hebrew texts and the Aramaic Targum.

    If, as the majority of textual scholars seem to have concluded, this letter is not Pauline, then what writings might be included depends on dating: the later the date, the more likely the Timothy to whom it is addressed could have had access to some NT texts (or perhaps the Q writings) in childhood.

    Paul himself also claimed to be speaking Truth according to the authority of God's Holy Spirit. If his words, including the words of the apostles, were indeed inspired by the same Spirit which inspired the OT, then I think it would be accurate to assume that they would all complement each other.

    Considered as such, then yes, Timothy 13:15-17 can be taken to refer to all inspired scripture.


    That’s an interesting linkage. Now Paul in some places said that he was not speaking with the Holy Spirit, in others that he was—and at least one case can be interpreted as suggesting that, in that case, he was not sure himself. I’m not sure that one can assume that in all the instances where he didn’t specify one way or the other, he either necessarily was or wasn’t.

    At first blush, I would say that your argument is reasonable—but I want to consider a it a bit further (and don’t want you to think that I’m sandbagging you, if I change my first-blush view. 🙂 )

    I hope I'm addressing the issues that you wish to be addressed here...

    Yes, you are. But part of my point is that I don’t think it is a slam-dunk from scripture, and that one has to acknowledge the necessity of the kind of interpretative effort you’re putting forth. (Which, you know, I don't have a problem with.)

    Unfortunately, I have to be gone for a little while—but I’ll be back, and hopefully we’ll get some more voices in the mix here.
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    27 Aug '07 23:55
    Originally posted by vistesd
    >> 2nd Timothy 13:15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

    16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

    17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for ...[text shortened]... d letters, characters, records or learning—literally, gramma means “that which is drawn”.
    At the very least, is this text so clear that one can properly insist that the notion that the entire Biblical corpus is theopneustos is, in fact, “proved” by scripture itself (or even clearly indicated)?

    "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:"

    "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."

    "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,"

    No doubt someone will use the old "magic decoder ring" argument to dismiss my assertion, but that's the way it is.
    The first century prophets identified and codified the canon of scripture.
    None of it means a thing if it's not true.
  5. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Aug '07 16:201 edit
    Originally posted by josephw
    [b] At the very least, is this text so clear that one can properly insist that the notion that the entire Biblical corpus is theopneustos is, in fact, “proved” by scripture itself (or even clearly indicated)?

    "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:"

    "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, bu fied and codified the canon of scripture.
    None of it means a thing if it's not true.[/b]
    (1) I don’t think that invoking the Holy Spirit necessarily means that one is mounting an MDR argument, though they might.

    (2) You are not quite correct in your description of the development of the Biblical canon:

    (a) It was not “prophets” but the early church, in council, by vote.

    (b) Some of the books were (according to most textual scholars, anyway) not even written by the end of the first century.

    (c) The canon, as it stands, was not recognized as such until the fourth century. However, what became canon was specified before then; along with “canons” that were different. In other words, it was not a settled issue.

    Those who decided the canon were not, however, sola scripturists (which is a product of the Protestant Reformation); they also did not believe the Bible was “self-interpreting” (whatever that means), but undertook the responsibility for interpretation; they were also not Biblical literalists, and used allegorical interpretation (which is not to say that they didn’t take some things as factual). I find it ironic that Protestants, who claim that the Christians who decided the canon were inspired by the Holy Spirit in their decision, but reject the notion of such inspiration when it comes to how they read and interpreted scripture, which is treated as “mere” tradition.

    The church came first (the earliest documents in the NT are letters that Paul wrote to established churches); the books of the NT are books of the church, written within the church for the church; it was the “church fathers” who interpreted those texts; it was the church that decided the canon. From the point of view of the early church, all the books that became part of the canon were inspired—but, they were not all equally inspired, or all did not equally well convey the inspired message. For example (and I’m making this up, just as a possibility for illustration), Paul may not have the full command of his writing skills all the time: some days, perhaps he was tired and had to struggle more to try to find the right words. That is one reason why context matters—a great number of my arguments over interpretation of the texts on here has come down to the fact that what I used as fundamental text, with which to contextualize others, represented only context for what some else saw as a more basic text.

    My question here, however, is not the broader one of claiming inspiration for the canonical texts. It is rather, the extent to which the verses in 2nd Timothy can be taken to directly refer to the whole canon. I think they cannot. Epiphenehas’s “argument by implication”, however, seems a sound one (in context 🙂 ). Nevertheless, I would at least see that argument as supporting (by implication 🙂 ) the earliest church interpretive tradition, which was largely, for a time, handed down orally in the context of catechism.
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    29 Aug '07 22:48
    If the Scriptures are "God breathed", then I'm afraid that God has bad breath!

    I'm not sure that I want to worship a being that would drown the whole world. (BTW, what was the purpose of killing all of the animals?)

    Paraphrasing Raymond Smullyan: Any God who would send a man to Hell for eternity couldn't be trusted on any matter whatsoever.
  7. SubscriberAThousandYoung
    Just another day
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    02 Sep '07 07:03
    Originally posted by gaychessplayer
    If the Scriptures are "God breathed", then I'm afraid that God has bad breath!

    I'm not sure that I want to worship a being that would drown the whole world. (BTW, what was the purpose of killing all of the animals?)

    Paraphrasing Raymond Smullyan: Any God who would send a man to Hell for eternity couldn't be trusted on any matter whatsoever.
    They were sinful animals.
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