Sunday, November 28, 2004
Rob commits the "root fallacy" as documented by Daniel Wallace in his Exegetical Grammar on page 363 within his discussion on Prepositions. Rob Bowman compares the DIA in Romans 11:36 with DIA in Colossians 1:16 thereby failing to distinguish the grammatical usage and commiting the "root fallacy."
2. Root Fallacy
As lexicographers have long noted, the root meaning of a word is not necessarily an accurate guide to the meaning of the word in later literature. The same is true of morpho-syntactic categories: One ought not look for some kind of invariant meaning that is always present with the preposition. The meaning of words changes in time. Further, a word has a field of meaning rather than a point. Such is no less true for prepositions than for other words. [GGBB 363, Prepositions]
Posted on Sun Nov-28-04 10:54 PM by jessica
I can understand why you would respond to Colossians 1:16 with Romans 11:36 because this faulty line of reasoning has been around for a long time and promoted by Evangelical Apologists in a way that misleads you in to thinking that the Greek language is using the preposition DIA in the same way at both Romans 11:36 and Colossians 1:16.
Rob Bowman in 1989 published this same line of reasoning in his book saying:
"The JWs try to turn this evidence on its head by pointing out that these texts all say tht God made the world through Christ, and conclude from this that Christ was God's" junior partner, as it were" (p71) in thework of creation. They note that in 1Corinthians 8:6 creation is said to have come from the Father, but only through Jesus. -- There are at least two reasons why this objection cannot be valid. First, the New Testament also states that the world came through God (Rom. 11:36), specifically through the Father (Heb. 2:10). (The same Greek word translated "through" or its contracted form [di'] appears in all these verses.) This means that "through" does not imply a lesser or secondary role in creation, as the JWs claim. This is apparently so embarrassing to the Witnesses that they translated di' as "by" instead of "through" in Romans 11:36-"Because from him and by [di'] him and for him are all things" (NWT). It is also noteworthy that Romans 11:36 says that all things are "for" (eis) God, whereas Colossians 1:16 says that all things are "for" (eis) Christ." --Rob Bowman, Why You Should Believe In the Trinity, 1989 [Emphasis added; -- Rob here states that because the "same Greek word" is used in 1Corinthians 8:6 and Romans 11:36 that to render DIA in Romans 8:6 as is done in the NWT is an "embarrassment" to the NWT commitee! Rob here holds to only one English rendering for DIA, "through" in spite of the fact that BDAG differentiates between the usage in 1Corinthians 8:6 and Romans 11:36 and allows for the English "by." In Rob's haste to condemn the NWT rendering he has documented for posterity his committing of the root fallacy.]
On July 30, 2003 Rob repeated this same logic in a reply to a post to me on evangelicals_and_jws, 3386
2. In Romans 11:36 Paul says that "all things" are "through him," that is, through God. Grammatically the instrumental preposition DI' indicates that the object of the preposition is the instrument or agent through whom something is done. Therefore, God is being spoken of here as the instrument or agent through whom all things are. [Emphasis added; Rob assigns the sense of DIA at Romans 11:36 to "instrument or agent" and characterizes DIA as "the instrumental prepostion" and not that DIA is uses in this context instrumentally. To attribute just the sense of "instrumentality" to DIA is to assign a basic meaning to that prepostion and therefore violates what Wallace calls the "root fallacy."]
My point is not to reject careful grammatical analysis. Rather, my point is that grammatical analysis has to be part of the larger exegetical task, which takes grammar, syntax, and semantics all into consideration.
Here is my reply to Rob Bowman later on that same day:
“Rob, In Colossians 1:16 DIA is used in the sense of one person using another as an intermediate agent. It is not just creation that shown to be the action of the Father through the Son in Colossians 1. The God and Father of Jesus Christ is seen throughout the verses surrounding the hymn as the one who does other things through the Son, including reconciliation of the elect.
In Romans 11:36 the case is entirely different. There DIA is used to signify the originator of the action. There is not another person performing the action through God. In fact the context makes that very much impossible as this is a statement that emphasizes the absolute Sovereignty of the Father. (Romans 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? 35 or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.)
BDAG contrasts these two usages of DIA on page 225 sections 4a and 4b, assigning the senses of the usage exactly as I have outlined.”
Rob never answered this post and therefore we did not discuss this further. Therefore I will expand upon the citation from Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich (BDAG).
BDAG gives the following senses of DIA followed by the genitive as found in Romans 11:36:
- marker of extension through an area, via, through
- marker of extension in time, throughout, during
- marker of instrumentality or circumstance whereby someth. is accomplished or effected, by, via, through
- marker of pers. agency, through, by
a. with focus on agency through (the agency of), by… Christ as intermediary in the creation of the world J 1:3, 10; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16
b. with focus on the originator of an action β. of divine activity:—of God … Ro 11:36
When Rob Bowman said "My point is not to reject careful grammatical analysis. Rather, my point is that grammatical analysis has to be part of the larger exegetical task, which takes grammar, syntax, and semantics all into consideration" it appears he did not take all of the proper factors into consideration.
Thus the usage of DIA at Romans 11:36 cannot be used to reduce the "divine activity" of God to that like the "intermediary" role of Christ in Colossians 1:16. It may also not be used to elevate the "intermediate" role of the Son to the level of the ultimate agency of the Father as "originator." BDAG confirms this exegesis.
Rob responds in a different thread at CARMJW36542 and so I ask him for clarification at CARMJW37207 :
As you have likely noted, BDAG considerers the instrumental usage of DIA + Genitive to be different usage than agency. In your post 3386 at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evangelicals_and_jws/message/3386 you said:
2. In Romans 11:36 Paul says that "all things" are "through him," that is, through God. Grammatically the instrumental preposition DI' indicates that the object of the preposition is the instrument or agent through whom something is done. Therefore, God is being spoken of here as the instrument or agent through whom all things are.
I had made this comment regarding classification of DIA as “instrumental” at http://jessicacarter.blogspot.com/2004/11/carmjw36350-rob-bowman-on-romans-1136.html
“In Rob’s book and in his post he incorrectly assigns the sense of DIA in Romans 11:36 as that of "instrumentality" and not of “agency” as does BDAG.”
Do you continue to classify the usage of DIA when applied to the Father at Romans 11:36 as an instrument or do you now agree with BDAG that these are distinct? Where do you put DIA in Colossians 1:16? After Wallace discussed the “root fallacy” he says to default to BAGD for specific applications.
Also your wording above identifies DIA as being “the instrumental preposition.” You do not say that DIA in this context is used “instrumentally.” You simply appeal to the “fact” that DIA is instrumental to prove that the Father was an instrument. If DIA + Genitive can be other than instrumental then this is circular reasoning . If you considered all usages of DIA + genitive to be an instrumental usage then this is the “root fallacy” that Wallace describes.
Can you clarify these issues?
Sunday, November 14, 2004
- Reply to JB15823-Jas #17: Retracing the Threads
- (CARMJW35401) - Bowman misrepresents BeDuhn on John 8:58 on CARM
- Reply at 16597 - Jason #23: [Tue Jan 11, 2005 10:18 am ](John 8:58)
- Up to Rob #23
- Down to Rob #21
[Editor's note: The main issue Rob raises here appears to be a claim that Jason has changed his arguments. Could this be a prelude to what Rob's next posts will include? New arguments or changed ones? Time will tell.]
I begin my reply to your last group of posts by addressing an issue pertaining to your position on word order that you raised in your post #17. (I will give both post numbers and page numbers from the archive in the Files section of this discussion group.)
In your post #17, you wrote:
In your post 3, you denied that the word order found in most English translations of this verse was, in my words, "fractured or broken syntax." You argued that English has flexibility to put dependent clauses before main clauses, and this does not constitute "fractured" syntax. I clarified that my characterization referred to both the word order and the disharmony of verbal tenses between the main and dependent clauses, and that these two aberrations together merited that characterization. You subsequently (your post 5) acknowledged that that was my meaning. (p. 217)
This is not an accurate summation. Here is the passage from your post #4 to which you are referring:
Please note that I have said both in my book and in my earlier post that the single weakness of inverting standard subject-verb-predicate complement is not in and of itself enough to judge a translation of John 8:58 faulty, or to provide grounds for charges of bias. It is only the combination of inversion of standard word order with the anomalous tense of English "am" that together gives reason to fault the translation significantly. See the last paragraph of page 110 in my book where I enumerate three anomalies that, stacked one upon the other, build up progressively increasing grounds for suspecting bias; and my post #2 where I say: "In itself, either weakness does not cry out 'bias.' It could just be lame translating. But when there is inconsistency . . . and the weaknesses begin to pile up in a single verse, and there are other clues (such as capitalizing "I Am") to the translators' thinking, then one starts to have grounds for suspecting bias." (p. 38)
I replied in my post #5:
** I recognize that you did fault traditional versions at John 8:58 for the cumulative effect that you perceived in their "inverted word order" combined with their rendering of EIMI with "am." However, if such "inversion" is not itself bad English, as you had claimed, it cannot be a valid part of a cumulative complaint against the versions exhibiting that word order. You argue that most versions are faulty in two respects and that it is that combination of the two faults that suggest bias. Well, if one of these faults is not really a fault, the argument based on the combination of thetwo "faults" is unsound. ** (p. 49)
The point that I was acknowledging here was that in your opinion the two "defects" (of "inverted word order" and the use of "am" to render EIMI) together constituted evidence of bias on the part of the translators. I agreed that you built your case *for bias* on the cumulative effect of these two aspects of the traditional translation (along with the capitalization of "I AM," which as I pointed out applies to only a few modern versions). I did *not* agree that your meaning (previously) was that the traditional rendering of John 8:58 was "fractured or broken syntax" only when those two "aberrations" were combined. In fact, I pointed out that "you had claimed" that the "inversion" of the clauses was "itself bad English." That is clearly what you said repeatedly in your post #2:
But leaving that aside for the moment, and looking at these various versions just as English sentences, they are not English sentences. That's true of the NW as well as of almost all of the others.... I think you and I agree that the only reason for the broken syntax -- having "I am" at the end of the sentence -- is the mistaken notion that Jesus is quoting Exodus. So at least can we agree that the main subject and verb should stand at the beginning of any English translation ("I am before Abraham was born") before we go on to debate the proper rendering of the tense of the main verb? ... The NW rendering of John 8:58 has only the anomaly of broken syntax (the main clause at the end of the sentence), which it shares with almost all the other versions, and that's just a residue of the English translationtradition of the verse as far as I can see. (pp. 18, 22, 24)
Please note that you described the wording of the NWT as "broken syntax" even though it has only one of the elements for which you faulted most translations. You stated that these translations of John 8:58, including the NWT, "are not English sentences." The only basis for this judgment with regard to the NWT was that it puts "the main clause at the end of the sentence." And you referred explicitly to "having 'I am' at the end of the sentence" as "broken syntax." In your book, you characterized the NWT along with other translations that put the dependent clause first in John 8:58 as having "mangled word order" in this respect: "Yet all of the translations we are comparing, with the exception of the LB [Living Bible], offer precisely this sort of mangled word order" (_Truth in Translation_, 105). I do not know how you can now claim that you had said otherwise.
We see, then, that you have flatly misstated what you originally said about the "broken syntax" of most translations of John 8:58. You cannot have "clarified" (as you claim) that you meant that two or more of the objectionable features had to be present, when you repeatedly stated outright that just one feature (wrong order of clauses) constituted broken syntax. This is really a change in your argument. I emphasize this point because some people (including you!) are claiming that you have remained rock steady in your argumentation throughout our debate while I supposedly have been desperately changing my arguments here and there in order to "win at any cost." Is this change of argument on your part a big deal? No, in and of itself it is not. There is nothing wrong with revising one's argument to overcome a particular objection or problem. There is something wrong with revising one's argument, denying that one has done so, and falsely stating that one's debate opponent has agreed that your meaning has not changed.
In addition to the above misstatement of your earlier argument, your review (in your post #17) also passes over the change in your argument concerning what is wrong with the order of clauses in most translations. In both your book and your first two posts, you argued that these translations erred because they put the main clause at the end of the sentence instead of at the beginning. I documented this argument in my post #3 (pp. 29-30). Your book faulted these translations for putting the "predicate phrase" before the main subject and verb. In your first post, you faulted them because they "place the main clause after the adverbial clause, rather than before it, violating standard English syntax." In your second post, you objected that "the main subject and verb should stand at the beginning of any English translation." In response, I pointed out that perfectly good English sentences often place adverbial clauses first (giving some examples from your own post) and that English Bibles like the NRSV often do so specifically when translating clauses that begin with the word "before" (my post #3, pp. 30-33).
You then replied in your post #4 that you were glad for the opportunity to "improve defects of clarity" in your book and that although you knew what you "meant to say" and your "manuscript readers" understood what you were saying, you "evidently did not successfully say" what you intended (p. 37). You went on to acknowledge that you "skipped right over" the fact that "modern English" does have some "general flexibility...in placing subordinate clauses relative to the main verb," explaining that such flexibility "is not found in connection with the English be-verb" (p. 38). "The English be-verb cannot stand alone" without a complement, and when we want to make an existential statement without a complement we cannot use the be-verb but must instead use a verb like "exist" (p. 38).
This explanation represented a considerably different, more nuanced argument than the one you had presented in your book and in your first two posts. However, I did not challenge your claim to be merely explaining what you and your manuscript readers had no trouble understanding that you had meant. I did not suggest that you had changed your argument because you wanted to win at all costs. Instead, I accepted what I called "your newly clarified argument" and addressed it alone, making nothing of the way it differed from your earlier presentation. I said nothing more about it. As everyone following this debate knows, you did not grant me the same courtesy later in the discussion when I offered a fresh analysis of the issues pertaining to the PPA.
In Christ's service,
Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
Center for Biblical Apologetics
- (CARMJW35401) - Bowman misrepresents BeDuhn on John 8:58
- Read the rest of the thread on CARM if you have the patience and draw your own conclusions.
You had asked me:
Do you agree with BeDuhn that the NWT rendering is also "fractured syntax" and not acceptable English?
And yet what Jason BeDuhn really said is:
Jason's Post 17#WORD_ORDER
[Editor's note: The NWT reverses the word order, placeing "I have been" at the end of John 8:58 which is something BeDuhn criticizes, however to merit the characterization of "fractured or broken syntax," in his view as stated here, it would also need to translate EGW EIMI as "I am."]
The NW translation differs from those preferred by you only in its rendering of the verbal tense. It agrees with them in the inversion of normal English word order, and I have criticized it alongside of them for that. In your post 3, you denied that the word order found in most English translations of this verse was, in my words, 'fractured or broken syntax.' You argued that English has flexibility to put dependent clauses before main clauses, and this does not constitute 'fractured' syntax. I clarified that my characterization referred to both the word order and the disharmony of verbal tenses between the main and dependent clauses, and that these two aberrations together merited that characterization. You subsequently (your post 5) acknowledged that that was my meaning.
Your Post #5 to which Jason refers quotes you saying:
I recognize that you did fault traditional versions at John 8:58 for the cumulative effect that you perceived in their “inverted word order” combined with their rendering of EIMI with “am.”
It is really better to get these things out in the open. If you would like to apologize here I will blog that as well. Perhaps you merely forgot what you and Jason had said. I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to clear this up.