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Archive for January, 2008

Back to Eph 2:14-15

Now that I’ve got Greek fonts on the blog, I am going to try to get back around to my intended post about Eph 2:14-15.

Here’s the section in question, with the two phrases under consideration colored red and blue:

καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας

Before moving ahead, let me make a few general comments about issues I will not be discussing:

1) I’m translating λύσας as “breaking down.” It’s in reference to a wall. Breaking down seems appropriate imagery. “Destroying” is just as well and may pop up in the discussion.

2) I’m translating καταργήσας as “rendering inoperative.” In the context of Ephesians where ἐνεργέω has appeared three times already (1:11, 20; 2:2), “rendering inoperative” seems an acceptable antonym. I think the author had in mind to contrast these two words.

3) τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ is typical of the style in Ephesians—more words than is necessary. In order to hold on to all of the Greek words I have rendered it with the wordy phrase “middle wall of partition.

4) The participle καταργήσας can be seen in at least two ways: causal or means/manner—either “by rendering the law inoperative” or “because he rendered the law inoperative.” There is little difference when we get down to it, but I think means/manner is the better rendering, especially in light of the conclusions I come to below.

5) ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ is shorthand for Jesus’ life, especially his death on the cross.

6) There is much more to consider in the sentence of vv. 14-16. I am only looking at this section in order to discuss the reading of the two phrases highlighted.

At least four options for how to read this section:

1) τὴν ἔχθραν is in apposition to τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ and ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ modifies ἔχθραν, thus rendering the section something like:

…and breaking down the middle wall of partition, the hostility in his flesh, by rendering inoperative the law of the commandments in decrees…

It is a bit awkward to say hostility was in Christ’s flesh; though, I suppose one could make a case that it was a way to say that in being human Christ carried the hostility humanity had with God. This rendering would imply that the hostility is between God and humanity. It is true that Christ bore our sins in his flesh and in so doing destroyed the wall of hostility between God and humanity, but in the context of Ephesians 2, the wall of hostility is torn down between Jews and Gentiles. Plus, it is likely that the prepositional phrase would be preceded by an article if it were an attributive phrase.

2) τὴν ἔχθραν is in apposition to τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ and ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ modifies λύσας, thus rendering the section something like:

…and in his flesh, breaking down the middle wall of partition, the hostility, by rendering inoperative the law of the commandments in decrees…

One could more easily and more rightly read the hostility as that hostility between Jews and Gentiles. But, I follow Hoehner in believing this rendering particularizes the meaning a bit too much. Here, Christ’s death is directly connected to the breaking down of the dividing wall. Surely the wall was destroyed with Christ’s death, but its destruction was a secondary effect.

3) τὴν ἔχθραν is in apposition to τὸν νόμον and ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ modifies καταργήσας, thus rendering the section something like:

…and breaking down the middle wall of partition, by rendering, in his flesh, the hostility, the law of the commandments in decrees inoperative…

Though popular with many English translations, this rendering has a few shortcomings, as Hoehner notes:

  • making “hostility” in apposition to “the law” does not resonate with the rest of Scripture. The law is never presented as hostile. Take for instance Ro 7, where there is much discussion of the law. There the law is holy (Ro 7.12), spiritual (Ro 7.14), a delight (Ro 7.22; Ps 1.2) and good (Ro 7.12, 16; Ps 19:7). The law may cause hostility (7.18) but in itself it is not hostile.
  • the hostility is again placed between God and humanity. This does not fit the context that is focused more on the hostility between Jews and Gentiles.
  • “rendering the hostility inoperative in his flesh” does not fit well. “Abolishing” or “putting to death” works better given that Christ was put to death in the flesh. But, καταργήσας is better rendered as “make or render inoperative.” The context would rather imply that the hostility between Jews and Gentiles is destroyed not just made inoperative; only the law is made inoperative.
  • ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ sits between τὴν ἔχθραν and τὸν νόμον, which are seen to be in apposition. That seems a bit too odd.

4) τὴν ἔχθραν is in apposition to τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ and ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ modifies καταργήσας, thus rendering the section something like:

…and breaking down the middle wall of partition, the hostility, by rendering inoperative, in his flesh, the law of the commandments in decrees…

This rendering, with τὴν ἔχθραν in apposition to τὸ μεσότοιχον, addresses the notion that the hostility is broken down and not just made inoperative as it would be if in apposition to the law. ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ, however, being connected to καταργήσας signifies that in Christ’s death, the law was rendered inoperative, not necessarily destroyed. This is consistent with other Pauline texts where the believer is no longer under the law (Ro 1.1-6; 10.4; Ga 2.19; 3.24-25). So the thinking would be something like the following:

  • There was hostility between Jews and Gentiles because the law was misused.
  • The stipulations of the law were to protect the Jews from the practices of the world. They were to keep the law as a testimony to God, since they were the kingdom of priests.
  • The law then was meant to provide opportunity to witness to their Gentile neighbor of God’s wonderful deliverance and care.
  • But, rather than using the law as a witness, it became a tool that enabled them to look down on the Gentiles whom they considered sinners.
  • This caused hostility.

It was not the law that was hostile but the wrong conception and use of it which resulted in hostility on both sides. To solve the problem, the law was rendered inoperative in Christ’s flesh and therefore Jews and Gentiles in Christ would not have the law as their mode of operation. The hostility was destroyed!

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Listening to: Arr Eleventic – Bodh Gaya
via FoxyTunes

Library Organization

Do you use an online library organizer? I’ve got most of my small collection of books at LibraryThing, Shelfari, and most recently Amazon’s yourmedialibrary. I’m not sure which I will stick with moving forward. Any suggestions?

Biblical Cross-references Visualized

From The Daily Dish by Andrew Sullivan at TheAtlantic.com.

Chris Harrison and Christoph Römhild have collaborated to create a visual representation of cross-references in the Bible. Harrison explains:

Due to the extremely high number of cross-references, this lands more on the aesthetic side of the information visualization spectrum. Different colors are used for various arc lengths, creating a rainbow like effect. The bar graph running along the bottom shows every chapter in the Bible and their respective lengths (in verses). Books alternate in color between white and light gray.

“It’s the Bless-Me Club”

NT scholar and bibliobloger, Ben Witherington, comments on Joel Osteen in GOOD magazine.

Punctuating Eph 2:14b-15a

[FINAL UPDATE: Thanks to this, I am now able to display Greek unicode on the blog.  See actual Greek characters below where there used to be a bunch of ????s. Unfortunately, I spent too much time trying to figure out how to display Greek that I am not sure I will have time to do the original post I had planned.  We’ll see how the day goes.]

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I had in mind to write a post discussing the punctuation issue of this section of Eph 2. I typed out the section using Unicode. It looked fine in my blog editor. But, when I posted to the blog, this is what I got:

καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόμασιν καραργήσας

It was keyed in as follows:

kai; to; mesovtoicon tou: fragmou: luvsaV th;n e[cqran ejn th:/ sarki; aujtou: to;n novmon tw:n ejntolw:n ejn dovgmasin katarghvsaV

Does anyone have an idea of what the problem is? I’m not a techno geek, but I’m not a complete neophyte. I am a bit frustrated.

STAY TUNED

UPDATE:

I’ve tried everything I know how. I followed the advice from Mike (see comments). Still no luck. Is there anybody who can help? Is it a theme issue? I can type and display Greek everywhere else on my computer (mail, word processor, blog editor). Greek even shows up when viewing other people’s blogs. What do I have to do to get it on mine?

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Listening to: Panda Bear – Good Girl / Carrots
via FoxyTunes

Submitting Wives and Loving Husbands

As I’ve already noted, Jim West got the ball rolling. Fellow Truett alum and current Fuller student, Matt Barnes, picked up the baton. He and I have been interacting a bit.

Jewett Flattens Romans

so says Luke Timothy Johnson in the latest issue of Christian Century (January 15, 2008).  Johnson’s article, “Reading Romans,” a review of Robert Jewett’s new Hermeneia commentary on Romans, contains the following:

“…Jewett’s relentless application of current preoccupations flattens one of the world’s most powerful religious writings to the level of the banal and reveals how little theological passion and insight are to be found among contemporary New Testament interpreters.” (32)