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10 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 1:24AM #21
KrisK10
Posts: 63
Bob,

Even if Trypho is a fictive opponent, there can be no doubt (can there?) that Justin sees parthenos to mean virgin. Therefore, virgin *had* to be an understood meaning of parthenos to *some* people. Even the later translation of the Hebrew scriptures (using neanis) looks like a defensive reaction to the parthenos that sat in the LXX for so long (why change it if it didn’t mean virgin?). Even if you are correct that some Jews saw your definition in parthenos, it seems to me that you’ve got to acknowledge in your explanation that some other Jews saw a virgin definition in parthenos. Once this is done, the only reasonable explanation for how these Jews understood Isa 7:14 seems to be that they thought the virgin (betrothed probably to Ahaz or Isaiah) would by natural means conceive with her husband after their marriage (per R.E. Brown). If so, then it seems a pretty good fit that it was a sect of Jews that believed this that translated the LXX or, if we assume your definition of parthenos, it was just a slight coincidence that they used parthenos instead of neanis, the former being the one that best accomadated those Jews who then (and/or later) saw a virgin in Isa 7:14.

But I would like to add here that I’m not nearly as confident as you that the 6 parthenos references you cite in your book show that those authors had in mind a woman who had not yet had her first child, instead of having in mind a virgin. The referral to the raped Dina as a parthenos may just be a sort of retro reference to her state before she was raped; the chronology of the passage doesn’t seem to be the emphasis (Gen 34:1-5). Likewise for the “parthenos” in Joel 1:8, which may be referring to the lamenting of a virgin for her soon to be husband. The Ignatius quote – “I send greeting to the households of the brothers with their wives and children, and to the parthenous who are called widows” – sounds like it could be referring to virgins who had no parents and were therefore included among the group “called widows”. The argument that a qualifier, such as “a man had not known her” (Gen 24:16; Judges 21:12; Lk 1:27,34), means that parthenos did not mean virgin on its own seems questionable; these could just be additional phrases of description by writers whose goal was not perfect efficiency in their word usage (e.g. On hearing of her brothers death, she was sad, very sorrowful.)

If it turns out that parthenos means virgin and only virgin, then the sectarian translation explanation for the LXX suggested above seems a pretty good explanation in my mind for all the evidence before us. The only other explanation I've seen (which I know you're not proposing) is that the translation of almah into parthenos was a mistranslation, which then sat uncorrected for over a hundred years (which I find to be a long shot).

Kris
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10 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 5:17AM #22
MisterC
Posts: 1,865
Bob, you stated, "It's quite easy to make fun of Q scholarship: it's all about a hypothesis! But after we get over our little laugh at the silly scholars, we are still left with the problem of explaining the relationships among the synoptic gospels. Goodacre and Farrar aside, there is still no better explanation (i.e., hypothesis) than Q. So NOBODY can do gospel interpretation without resorting to hypotheses. If you read, even cursorily, in the best of Q scholarship in the last quarter century, you cannot but be impressed by its erudition, its painstaking attention to methodology (including robust reflection on the role of hypotheses) and its honest self-awareness about the fragility of the evidence with which it deals, "

DDC: Yeah, I do get wrapped up in my hyperbole... ("veneer,"  "cozy, "mythical Q," etc.) It's a reaction to the presentation of Q, intentionally or unintentionally as fact. (I think Charlie Hedrick did one of  the best presentations of the synoptic problem I've read in a book he wrote about a decade ago.) I also think I was talking about Goulder, not Farrer, but I'm not sure where that article went. Like Thompson, I'm not certain there is not another explanation, one which is congruent with the themes we find in the two books and  in ANE literature. But, that would be my bias. Thanks for your response.

Dennis
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10 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 8:28AM #23
PeterKane
Posts: 63
Dennis:  To make you feel better, I do remember Kloppenborg quiping at last spring's meeting how he was surprised that often his 3 Q layers were just taken as fact.

Peter
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10 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 2:12PM #24
RJMcElwain
Posts: 3,013
Bob,

Another non-historical question.:)

Since the lose of Bob Funk, and without an executive director, how are things functioning at Westar these days? And what changes at Westar do you anticipate in the next several years?

And I'm glad to see the significant expansion of Westar's Board of Directors.
Robert J. McElwain

"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." (Supposedly)Thomas Jefferson

"He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral."
St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Plato
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10 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 5:02PM #25
MisterC
Posts: 1,865
[QUOTE=PeterKane;251534]Dennis:  To make you feel better, I do remember Kloppenborg quiping at last spring's meeting how he was surprised that often his 3 Q layers were just taken as fact.

Peter[/QUOTE]

Yeah, I was talking with one of the major players in my field, one who had many years ago proposed a certain process for writing. He stated that he got nauseated every time he came into a classroom and saw the process pasted to the wall, as if it was the "Five Commandments" of writing. It was meant to be a method, not THE method. (It is much like what I throw out here. That reminds me of a related question to ask Dr. Miller.)

Dennis
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10 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 5:05PM #26
MisterC
Posts: 1,865
In light of the findings of the Acts Seminar, which has received favorable votes about the purpose, the dating, and the genre of Acts of the Apostles, is it possible that The Gospel of Luke will be revisited? Are the writings considered still "connected," as in written by the same author?

Dennis
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10 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 7:59PM #27
MisterC
Posts: 1,865
[QUOTE=Bob Miller;253002]This is an interesting issue.  The Seminar has been convinced that Acts was written in the early second century.  Since there is a strong tradition in scholarship for attributing Luke and Acts to the same author (though this has been questioned recently), the dating of Luke needs to be seriously considered.  Here is the problem I see for the Jesus Seminar: a number of sayings that the Seminar voted red are attested only in Luke.  If Luke is as late as the second century, the question is how Luke has sole access to authentic Jesus material from eighty years in Luke's past.  Perhaps problems like this will provoke a re-opening of the Luke-Acts connection.

Bob[/QUOTE]


That sounds really exciting! (I really need to go back to school. These studies "get me to thinking." And, that is good!

On a different matter, I note that you stated the JS Paulines will be released in the "near" future. Daryl Schmidt was animated when he talked (and when he wrote) about the new translation. It would be so neat to see some kind of tribute or dedication to him in the publication. He was indeed a "gentleman and a scholar," in the truest sense of both.
Dennis
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10 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 11:29PM #28
KrisK10
Posts: 63
Bob,

I’ll take it as a complement that you think my critique is rigorous and well informed. Let me say too that my aim is not to tear down your work (sometimes I think I can come across that way). I’m just a regular Joe who a couple years ago tried his best to occupy the position of skeptics and fundamentalists on this topic and found it frustrating that neither made complete sense to me. So this is all just my two cents from it all. I wasn’t even going to bring it up here, but it came to mind when you made a comment to Bob. I should note too that it’s been a while since I’ve looked at this stuff, but I usually take notes when I study something in depth, so I’m going off those for my points here.

You said, “Justin *wants* parthenos to mean virgin and he seems to be arguing hard to press that point.” I strongly disagree with you on this. Justin is *not* arguing that parthenos means virgin, he assumes it. What Justin is arguing hard for is a virgin *conception*. Here it is again:

…if He to whom Isaiah referred was not to be begotten of a virgin [parthenos], of whom did the Holy Spirit declare, “Behold, the Lord Himself shall give us a sign: behold, the virgin [parthenos] shall conceive, and bear a son [Isa 7:14]?” For if He also were to be begotten of sexual intercourse, like all other first-born sons, why did God say that He would give a sign which is not common to all the first-born sons?…you assert that the Scripture is not so as they have expounded it, but says, “Behold, the young woman [neanis] shall conceive,” as if great events were to be inferred if a woman should beget from sexual intercourse… (Dialogue with Tryhpo, Ch. 84).

Additionally, if I try to superimpose your definition of parthenos on Justin’s argument above, it becomes unintelligible to me.

Therefore, it seems *inescapable* to me that Justin thinks parthenos means virgin (even if Trypho is a fictional construct). Therefore, it has to be true that some Jews thought parthenos meant virgin in the second century when Justin wrote (which BTW was the same time Ignatius wrote).

Now you asked me for other examples that support a virgin definition of parthenos. When I looked at this a while back, I actually poked around a little bit trying to find some, but here’s the problem: In almost all cases, it’s impossible to tell if an author who mentions a parthenos thought that the parthenos was a virgin, or thought that the parthenos was a woman who hadn’t yet had her first child, because almost all of the references just refer to the parthenos without any helpful hints to which way they saw it. I believe Justin Martyr’s statement above is a one-off instance where, only because of the unique argument Justin is trying to make, we have a clear and unambiguous view of exactly what Justin thought a parthenos was – a virgin. In other words, I think it’s only by luck that we have this example. I would guess that you too found the same difficulty in discerning meaning when you combed the records for support of your definition, and that your 6 examples were the only ones you were able to find (more on those below). So I have no other examples.

Let me also add this for whatever its worth. There seems to be a huge consensus that parthenos means virgin, or that virgin is at least one of its meanings. Almost all conservative Christian types seem to think so, all the way down to the fairly well respected R.E. Brown. Many skeptics agree too, forcing almost all of them to argue that a translation error was made (which, as I said before, would have been a pretty lucky break for the Christians, not only that such a mistake happened, but that it sat uncorrected for over a hundred years). Lastly, the Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon shows for parthenos: “maid, maiden, virgin, or girl” (neanis is: young woman, girl, or maiden (no virgin)).

Given all the above, it became impossible for me to accept any explanation that did not acknowledge, and factor into their overall explanation of Isa 7:14, that some Jews in the second century thought parthenos meant virgin. As I said before, if some Jews in the second century thought parthenos meant virgin, and assuming word definitions change slowly over time and that the parthenos translation of Isaiah sat for over a hundred years uncorrected, then these (non-Christian) Jews *must* have considered “virgin” an acceptable rendering of Isa 7:14. And if this is true, then Brown’s conclusion is the *only* solution that makes any sense to me: These Jews must have thought that the woman in Isa 7:14 was a virgin who was betrothed (probably to Ahaz or Isaiah) who would then by natural means conceive after her marriage.

At this point there is a clarification needed in our dialogue. You said, “The passage can be read as you and Brown do…except that it makes slightly more sense to take Isaiah's to mean that the woman already is pregnant (Hebrew does not distinguish present from future in verbs)”.  While I agree with you that this is a strong possibility in the original intent of Isa 7:14, Brown and I are talking about the *Greek translation* of Isa 7:14, not the Hebrew. There is no question in my mind (nor do I think even in Brown’s mind) that the original Hebrew word almah meant simply “young woman” with no connotation about whether she was a virgin or a non-virgin. The issue here is only WRT parthenos. 

I cannot provide a much better summary of why I find your six examples, which you feel support your parthenos definition, less than straight forward. I would only note that my observations do not originate with me; I got them all from various commentaries on the web, and I think they have some merit regardless of the credentials, beliefs, or biases of the persons making them. You suggested that the most strained of my objections was: “..you have to resort to explanations in which "widow" means a never-married woman.” You are referring to the Ignatius quote and Joel 1:8, which I’ll now try better to clarify.

The Ignatius quote says: “I send greeting to the households of the brothers with their wives and children, and to the parthenos who are called widows.”  I’m not saying that the parthenoses *are* widows; I’m saying that this passage could be referring to virgins who had no parents (e.g. they died) and were therefore *included among the group* “called widows” (why else the phrase “who are called” widows?).

Joel 1:8 says: “Lament to me like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth.” Here there is some question as to the meaning of “husband”. According to Duet 22:23-24: “If there is a young woman, a virgin already *engaged* to be married, and a man meets her in the town and lies with her, you shall bring both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death, the young woman because she did not cry for help in the town and the man because he violated his neighbor’s *wife*.” If a betrothed virgin can be called someone’s “wife”, then it seems to follow that the man engaged to that virgin can be called her “husband. Therefore, Joel 1:8 may be referring to a virgin whose fiancé died.

After all the above is said, the main point I was trying to make was with regard to how one explains the translation of almah into parthenos (which was actually done after the official LXX, and I think with less oversight and unanimity). If parthenos means virgin and only virgin, then I think by far the best, if not the only, reasonable explanation is that the translation was done by a sect of Jews who thought that the woman in Isa 7:14 was a virgin who was betrothed to Ahaz (or Isaiah) who then by natural means conceived after her marriage. The Hebrew Isa 7:14 certainly leaves this possibility wide open, and it seems reasonable that Jews would speculate what the real situation was behind the ambiguous term almah (i.e. other Jews probably thought that Isa 7:14 referred to the *already pregnant wife* of Ahaz or Isaiah). It’s a sectarian translation as Richard Carrier suggests.

If there were two or more definitions of parthenos in existence when Isaiah was translated into Greek, or just the one definition that you propose, it seems just a little too lucky that parthenos was used instead of neanis, the former being the only one that accommodates those Jews who then (or later) saw a virgin in Isa 7:14, and the latter quite frankly seeming the more correct translation of almah. If there were two or more definitions of parthenos in existence when Isaiah was translated into Greek, one being virgin, I think the sectarian translation suggested above is still the most likely explanation.

You've pretty much exhausted me in trying to explain this. I hope it's made some sense. If not, I respect your position, I just think it doesn't quite nail what's going on.

Kris
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10 years ago  ::  Jan 31, 2008 - 1:54AM #29
PeterKane
Posts: 63
[QUOTE

The biggest challenge is building membership.  We should have five times the number of Associates that we do.  A major task of the next decade is growing our Associate base.  But the priority has to be nurturing our most vital asset: our strong academic base.

Bob[/QUOTE]

Bob:  I was trying to finish Overman, Matthew's Gospel and Formative Judaism tonight, but I was struck by a paragraph in his description of the function of Disciples in Matthew, and immediately your comment above came to mind.  Against G. Strecker, who argued that for Matthew, 'Jesus and the disciples are set in unrepeatable, holy past', Overman's objection to this idea was that, according to the sociology of knowledge, 'the text always interacts and is influenced by the setting and horizon of the writer...'

Well, so what.  I never met Bob Funk personally, and I very much regret that.  However, everything  of his I read  tells me that while he was an exceptional and creative scholar, he never lost sight of the fact that he was functioning in a very public context, and deliberately so.  Society in this century has its axes of power as did the first century.  And Funk knew how to play them.  And he influenced other scholars to do the same.

I don''t think much of the notion of the politically correct Church of Westar.  But neither do I think that the academic efforts of Westar are done in a vacuum.  There are power structures out here that are impacted by what you do.  There are ways we have of relating to each other in the hinterlands, that are either held up, or challenged.  It isn't just the academics alone.  It is also the public interaction that is equally as important.  And each influences the other.  Do both well.

Peter
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10 years ago  ::  Jan 31, 2008 - 9:56AM #30
chuckj
Posts: 443
[QUOTE=Bob Miller;253002]This is an interesting issue.  The Seminar has been convinced that Acts was written in the early second century.  Since there is a strong tradition in scholarship for attributing Luke and Acts to the same author (though this has been questioned recently), the dating of Luke needs to be seriously considered.  Here is the problem I see for the Jesus Seminar: a number of sayings that the Seminar voted red are attested only in Luke.  If Luke is as late as the second century, the question is how Luke has sole access to authentic Jesus material from eighty years in Luke's past.  Perhaps problems like this will provoke a re-opening of the Luke-Acts connection.

Bob[/QUOTE]

Dr. Miller,

There is another issue, too.  The further apart the authorship dates for Lk and Mt get, the less likely it would be that Lk did not know Mt, and the less likely it would be that there was a Q--since Q would have had to have existed for decades and yet go unmentioned and leave no copies.

I am actually, to this point, unpersuaded by the work of the Acts seminar because of (1) the relationship of Lk and Acts, (2) the relationship of Lk and Mt, and (3) the theme of Act 3 of Acts, which seems irrelevant to Marcionism.

If the Marcion hypothesis drags Lk into the second century I think the wrong end of the dating rope will have won the tug of war.

Chuck
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