If soul sleep is true, then why did Jesus tell the criminal on the cross that he would be with him that day in Paradise?
As I’ve indicated numerous times, I’m a materialist about human beings. I don’t think that I’m an immortal ghost/soul living inside a body. I think that I’m a physical creature. Long before I encountered philosophy of mind or neuroscience, I became convinced that this is what the Bible teaches, making its teaching on human nature stand out like a sore thumb against the pagan Hellenistic theology of the first century.
I also become convinced that since I am not an immortal ghost living inside a body, when my body dies I will not escape death and live on in heaven, or the underworld, or the astral plane or anything of that sort. I think the Bible teaches that death is very real and it puts an end to our life. There is no conscious state of any sort immediately following death. There is noting at all. Of course, I am a Christian and I do believe in the resurrection of the dead, but that obviously doesn’t happen when a person dies, or I think somebody would have noticed by now. The view I hold has sometimes been called “soul sleep” because it views death as a state of “sleep” or unconsciousness. It’s not an ideal term because it can be taken to imply dualism and maybe “person sleep” would be a better alternative, but it’s too late for that. The term has been coined.
Holding and expressing these views rubs some of my fellow conservative evangelicals the wrong way, but for the most part there’s really no disputing that the Bible presents human nature and death this way literally dozens of times in fairly clear language. Affirming dualism and the view that we live on as immaterial spirits after death and go somewhere is a point of view held in the teeth of the biblical evidence. This fact too, I suspect, rubs some of my fellow conservative evangelicals the wrong way.
In spite of the fairly clear overall teaching of the Bible, there is a very small handful of biblical passages (no more than four, in my view) that might be used (and have been used) to suggest that actually the general impression given by most of what the Bible teaches is false, and that really we do survive our bodily deaths and travel to heaven, or hell, or some other place and live consciously there. This should not be surprising. Whether you’re doing surveying, earth science or biblical interpretation, when formulating a theory you’re always going to be confronted with recalcitrant evidence, that is, evidence that at first glance seems to go against the flow of the well-established facts and is in need of an explanation. The existence of such evidence in science or in Scripture does not falsify a theory.
One of those texts is Luke 23:43. Here, Jesus has been crucified, and on that same Friday some criminals had been crucified with him (it was normal for multiple people to be crucified together). Here’s what we read in Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
It’s clear enough how this passage would be used by those who do not share my view: Since Jesus told someone that even though they were going to die that day, they would experience Jesus’ presence later that day as well, it must be the case that (according to Jesus), people survive their bodily death, with or without the bodily resurrection.
Given the essential uniformity that I think we find in the teaching of the bible generally on this subject (namely, that we do not survive our bodily death), I have two choices. I can either say that we have an important conflict between what Jesus said as recorded in Luke 23:43 and the bulk of what the biblical writers said on the subject, or I can attempt to interpret this text in Luke in a way to fit with what the rest of the bible teaches. I think that I can quite successfully do the latter. I make no promises that I will convince those who disagree with me, but I have long held the view that nobody can be convinced against her will. (The other possible course of action – to adopt less plausible interpretations of dozens of other texts for the sake of this one – does not strike me as particularly sensible.)
The argument from experience
The first approach is the less controversial, and it is to point out that even if there is no conscious intermediate state between death and resurrection, Jesus’ words would still be quite true from the dying criminal’s perspective. This is the major argument, and it is the one that I think is the most plausible. Peter Van Inwagen explains:
The words of Jesus are, obviously, supposed to be what The Book of Common Prayer calls “comfortable words.” Let me ask a question in somewhat the same spirit as the question I asked a moment ago. Imagine that the Good Thief dies in agony; “the next thing he knows,” as the idiom has it, he is in Paradise. He presently discovers that over three thousand years have passed since he died. Was he deceived? Was it somehow wrong of Jesus to say to him, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise”? If so, what should Jesus have said? Should he have said, “After the general resurrection, which will occur after an indefinite period that only the Father knows, you shall be with me in Paradise – but it will seem to you as if no time has passed”? Are there not circumstances in which taking extreme care to frame one’s statements in words that express only the strict and literal truth is unsatisfactory from a pastoral point of view? And are there not, in fact, circumstances in which taking extreme care to frame one’s statements in words that express only the strict and literal truth can impede communication? (I know that a certain large structure in Manhattan is a terminal and not a station; nevertheless, I don’t generally call it Grand Central Terminal, because that’s not what most people call it. And from my calling it Grand Central Station you cannot infer that I believe that it’s a station rather than a terminal.) In any case, to suppose that Jesus and the Good Thief would have attached much importance to the distinction between the strict and the lax interpretations of Jesus’ words – the strict being the one insisted on by those who are treating these words as proof text, and the lax being the one I’m pushing – seems to me to attribute an analytical cast of mind to two first-century Jews (in their extreme agony, let us remember) that is probably unwarranted.1
If I told you that you were about to experience being in paradise, and then, from your perspective, you did just that, then there is a straight forward sense in which I have told you the truth.
In other words, if I told you that you were about to experience being in paradise, and then, from your perspective, you did just that, then there is a straight forward sense in which I have told you the truth. Sure, if “soul sleep” involved believing in a period of relaxed but still conscious rest, sort of a shadowy but comfortable existence in bliss between death and resurrection, then this verse would present a problem. This is another reason why the term “soul sleep” isn’t ideal. However, it doesn’t involve this sort of thing at all. It refers to an absolute loss of all consciousness. From the perspective of personal experience, if your consciousness completely ceased at t1 and then you regain consciousness at t5 (where the gap between t1 and t2, the gap between t2 and t3 etc is one year), even though four years had actually passed you would experience t5 immediately after t1, as though no time at all had passed in the interim. If, just as t1 was approaching, I had said to you “I tell you, in just a few seconds you will be at t5,” then it could hardly be said that I was lying to you. And if this is so (and let’s imagine that at t5 the resurrection of the dead will occur and all things will be made new), there would likewise be nothing wrong with my saying that “in just a few seconds you will be with me in Paradise.” The German Reformer Martin Luther, who also believed in soul sleep, described just this: “For just as one who falls asleep and reaches morning unexpectedly when he awakes, without knowing what has happened to him, so we shall suddenly rise on the last day, and we shall know neither what death has been like or how we have come through it.”2
This approach, although already sufficiently plausible to be taken seriously, is further bolstered by the way that the biblical writers used the Greek word paradeisos (paradise). This term is used in Genesis 2:8 and elsewhere in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) to refer to the garden of Eden. It is used in this connection to refer to the eschatological restoration that God will bring about (Isaiah 51:3). It is used again in Revelation 2:7 in connection with the tree of life, something said (in chapters 21 and 22) to be present on the “new earth.” So there is no suggestion in Scripture that the term should mean “heaven” or some sort of spiritual intermediate state. On the contrary, it suggests a very physical state of existence and is connected with a restored physical world.
If all you were looking for is a plausible and sufficient explanation, you have just found it, and you can stop reading now.
The Grammatical Argument
The second argument is more technical and more contentious, and I freely grant, less plausible. If this argument is unsound, little changes. In Luke 23:43, the words in question are amen soi lego semeron, “Assuredly I tell you today” – and the question is “where does the comma go – before or after the word “today” (semeron)? According to New Testament Greek scholar E. W. Bullinger, the comma really belongs after the word “today.” The reason for this concerns the use of the Greek word for “today,” semeron. Bullinger explains in his lexicon,
When it comes after a verb, it belongs to that verb, unless it is separated from it and thrown into the next clause by the presence of hoti (that).3
Now let’s turn to the verse. The verb after which semeron occurs is “I say,” lego. There are thus two possible translations of this sentence in Luke, depending on whether or not hoti is used. They are as follows.
With hoti, the sentence would read:
“Assuredly I say to you that (hoti) today you will be with me in Paradise.
Or without hoti:
“Assuredly I say [preceding verb] to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.
Bullinger makes reference to other examples where this is demonstrated in the NT (e.g. Matt 21:28, “Go today, and work in the vineyard”), and perhaps more importantly for Luke, in the Septuagint such as Dt 8:1, “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do.”
It is a widely recognised and prominent feature of Luke’s Gospel that the Greek used is clearly influenced by the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament. And as you look through the Septuagint, you will see that semeron, translated “this day,” routinely belongs to the preceding verb (in cases where there is a preceding verb, of course). This is not an overly subtle twist or unwarranted claim on my part. It is universally accepted in Lukan scholarship that his Greek reflects the Septuagint.
Commenting on this passage, Joseph Hong, although he opposes what I am suggesting, admits the facts of the case. At a confident moment he asserts that it “undeniably makes more sense to associate the word with the following clause, rather than the preceding clause.”4
But while this is his conclusion, he is forced, when actually dealing with the evidence in the text itself, to back away and acknowledge that this is not really where the weight of evidence lies. Attempting to describe the evidence as uninstructive, he was prepared to say (in contrast to the above quote), “from a strictly textual point of view it is impossible to determine which of the clauses before and after it the word ‘today’ should be associated with” (p. 416). That’s quite a contrast. It is even more intriguing to note that when he is surveying the same biblical evidence Bullinger referred to, he is forced to admit even more: “As a preliminary observation we can say that as a rule, ‘today’ is placed after the related verb.” (p. 412)
So the translation that he claims is “undeniably” more sensible is also the translation which, according to him, is not normally correct. Hong does not say that this observation is necessarily or universally true, only that it is a true preliminary observation. This is wise, because insisting on hard, fast and inevitable rules in the way Greek sentences must be constructed generally paves the way for counterexamples that somebody might be able to hunt down and use to trip you. General observations are good enough. Allowing these observations to be the deciding factor in this case would mean that the related verb would be lego, “I say,” rather than ese, “you will be.”
While numerous commentators make very brief comments of disagreement towards the suggestion of Bullinger, these dismissive comments tend not to incorporate evidence based in New Testament Greek. Evans, in his commentary on Luke, says that in fact there are some early manuscripts that do punctuate the verse in this way (of course the very earliest mss had no punctuation at all).5 That manuscript is Codex Vaticanus, the oldest extant Greek copy of the New Testament, written in the fourth century.
Just as in the case of other contentious issues (intelligent design, global warming, the case for America’s invasion of Iraq), what one makes of even tangible, visible evidence like this is always going to be controlled to some extent by one’s prior commitments. Online apologists for the traditional view have argued at length that the mark here must be an either accidental “blot” or an incorrect punctuation mark added by an unknown editor at an unknown time, while some Jehovah’s Witnesses (whose New World Translation places the comma after “today”) claim this manuscript as solid proof of their position. Such blots do occur in New Testament manuscripts. It is at least possible that this dot that resembles a comma in precisely the place where some people argue that a comma belongs is just a lucky (or unlucky) coincidence. I accept that, although we would have to acknowledge, at the least, that it is quite a coincidence if it was accidental (and remarkable coincidences do occur). It is also possible that an early scribe added the mark because of an existing view that the sentence should be read in the manner Bullinger later suggested, which is significant because it would indicate that the view had some currency, and it would also resolve any objection that there is not enough space between the letters for a comma to have been intended, because this explanation would involve a scribe inserting a mark into a space that was indeed too small for it. I favour this explanation for why the comma is present in this spot in this manuscript. Much more importantly, however, I heed the advice of New Testament textual scholar Bruce Metzger, who warns: “The presence of marks of punctuation in early manuscripts of the New Testament is so sporadic and haphazard that one cannot infer with confidence the construction given by the punctuator to the passage.”6 This evidence is tenuous, but it should be considered evidence nonetheless. The grammatical argument, however (which is also tentative), must be considered with or without the manuscript evidence. It is an observable fact, as best I can tell, that when semeron is used and there is a preceding verb and hoti is not used, semeron does belong to that verb (setting aside Luke 23:43 for now). Bullinger’s claim is that Luke 23:43 should be treated likewise.
Although the evidence that I have seen in the New Testament supports Bullinger’s claim, I take seriously the charge that his claim is too strong.
Although the evidence that I have seen in the New Testament supports Bullinger’s claim, I take seriously the charge that his claim is too strong. Maybe the rule is not hard and fast. Maybe someone might at some point dig up an unambiguous case where hoti is not used and where semeron belongs to the following verb in the same clause. At very least, Bullinger has drawn our attention to a possible burden of proof. There are undeniably plenty of cases where semeron belongs to the preceding verb, and there are cases where hoti is used, clearly forcing semeron into the following clause. What we now know as a result of this is that anyone who insists that semeron must attach to the following verb where hoti is not used must shoulder the burden of proof and provide clear evidence for why this choice must be made, since there does exist a tendency for this practice to not be followed in the New Testament. One way of making that case is by claiming that this rule, being based on a fairly small amount of data, is weak, and should give way to a better established rule, namely the pattern in the New Testament of how the writers use Amen lego soi (“assuredly I tell you”) as a unit by itself. This phrase is used more than 70 times in contexts where it is an introductory phrase, and Luke 23:43 would represent an exceptional case. So, the argument goes, we should treat Amen lego soi as a unit here, too.
Theologically, the translation that Bullinger proposed says nothing contentious. Unlike the traditional reading, it does not suggest a timeframe for the fulfilment of Jesus’ words to that very day, but neither does it deny that time frame. It says nothing about when the criminal should expect to be in paradise, only that he should expect it.
My worry is that since the second explanation of Luke 23:43 that I have offered (the grammatical argument) takes so much longer to unpack, readers might think that I am attaching significantly more weight to it than to the first argument. I am not. I think that the first argument is more compelling and actually renders the second argument moot. But the second argument is sufficiently interesting that it should be considered as well.
On the whole, then, I do not think that Luke 23:43 should be used as part of a larger attempt to reverse the wider biblical picture of human nature and death. At most it should give us pause, but we can say with confidence that there is at least one very plausible way to resolve this pause, perhaps even two.
- Of proof texts and ghosts: The Bible and the mind-body question, part 2
- “You will never die”: What did Jesus mean?
- Aquinas agrees: Jesus said we will “not die forever.”
- Tom Wright: Wrong about Soul Sleep
- Episode 042: The Minimal Facts Approach to the Resurrection
- Peter Van Inwagen, “Dualism and Materialism: Athens and Jerusalem?” Faith and Philosophy 12:4 (1995), 484. [↩]
- From Martin Luthers Werke, Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Weimar, 1883-), cited in Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, trans. Robert C. Schultz (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966), 414. [↩]
- E.W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 810-811. [↩]
- Hong, “Understanding and Translating ‘Today’ in Luke 23:43,” The Bible Translator 46:4 (1995), 416. [↩]
- C.F. Evans, Saint Luke, TPI New Testament Commentaries (London: SCM Press Press, 1990), 874. [↩]
- Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 3rd Edition, 1975). [↩]
82 thoughts on “Luke 23:43 and Soul Sleep”
These are good solid points. Would you say the same “argument from experience” could aptly be applied to Phillipians 1:23?
Absolutely Joey. When I die I expect to experience departing this life and immediately being with Christ.
I think both of these points together make it fairly certain that this verse does not support the “traditonal view”. But thats just me I guess.
The question that I have is why do we have to have a “soul sleep”? I mean, Paul suggests that “in a twinkling of an eye we will be changed”. I have always understood this in the context of “the new spiritual body”. So, what happens in this temporal sphere is really irrelevant, since to the dead the next thing they know is either destruction or life eternal.
Do we really _need_ to call it anything?
oh, i just read your post, I was typing this and didnt refresh the page lol.
I’m going to have to check out your podcast series on this subject; I’ve long had physicalist leanings but not from a position of scholarly knowledge.
One question, though, about the fate of the unsaved after death. Will they too experience a resurrection, followed by a judgment and final destruction? Or will death in this life simply be the end?
Geoff – the transformation in the twinkling of an eye in 1 Corinthians 15 refers to the time when Christ returns and the dead are raised.
CPE, yeah the New Testament is pretty clear that the saved and the lost all rise in the resurrection (e.g. John 5:28, Acts 24:15).
Where is the evidence?
Glenn, nail, head, bullseye.
When you say at the beginning regarding how these views rub conservative evangelicals up the wrong way, my experience is they cry ‘heretic’ and overtly or covertly, cut all ties. Such a shame. Good post, cheers.
I think this is one of the hardest things conservative evangelicals have wrapping their heads around. I am not really an evangelical anymore, but I still have a deep issues dealing with the mind/body problem.
However, at my funeral (and I hope it is far away) I don’t want anyone telling people “Joel is looking down on us from heaven” or something like that. I want people to emphasize that I will rise again in a PHYSICALLY RESURRECTED body.
Good call. Thanks for the nice post.
Will the person impersonating Richard Dawkins please stop? I don’t know if you are an atheist feeling the need to lend a little weight to your arguments (or, questions as they more often seem to be) or a Christian playing a weakened devil’s advocate. But it’s pretty lame.
Be proud of your own name and don’t rely on the weight of others.
Glenn, putting the physicalist view forward, and the generally Biblically-held expression of no eternal component of humanity surviving after death, what actually happens at the point of salvation and the point of death.
Scripture would seem to point to the Holy Spirit residing in an individual at the moment of faithful confession of Jesus as Lord and saviour, including an OT equivalent of saving faith. As Ecclesiastes states, the spirit returns from whence it came on death. I would suggest that the Holy Spirit, the seal of our hope in the resurrection, returns to God and confirms our name remaining in the book of eternal life. If, before we die, we have rejected the gospel, the HS has departed our body and so on death we can only expect a resurrection before condemnation to the second death.
Seem reasonable to you? It robs God of His merciful gift of eternal life if we already have that element built in somehow.
Interesting. You put in words (the argument from experience) what I have thought for a long time. It just always seemed common sense that to the dead person, arriving at judgement was instantaneous, but to the living, judgement was yet to come.
To hijack the phrase: “already, not yet”.
James, I think that the idea of the spirit returning to God when we die, as I explained in my latest podcast episode “In Search of the Soul, Part 5,” only refers to us giving up the breath of life, the sustaining power of God, like animals do when they die.
I don’t think the Holy Spirit physically dwells inside our frame. I don’t even think that idea makes sense.
The idea that the Holy Spirit in-dwells the believer is scattered throughout the NT; it makes no sense that this concept makes no sense. What about 1 Cor 6:19 – Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? Or Eph 1:13. The NT is replete with believers receiving or being filled with the Holy Spirit. He is the seal to show we are saved, our teacher and the perfect representation of Jesus IN each person.
In the above post, I concur that spirit means the breath of life, but I see compelling evidence for the Holy Spirit acting as the confirmatory agent that, at the moment of death, we qualify for eternal life at the resurrection. The believer dies and is no more aware of time, yet that connection with the Holy Spirit, the seal being returned to God as it were, inks our names into the Lamb’s book of life.
It makes perfect sense.
Well, I don’t see this stuff about the Holy Spirit being a confirmatory agent at the moment of death or anything like that.
As for the idea making no sense, we are spatial. The Holy Spirit is immaterial and not located in space. That’s why I think it makes no sense.
Have a look at a recent blog post of mine on the popular idea that the Holy Spirit actually lives inside human bodies.
The gramatical argument may hold some water. It would be interesting to see if there are exceptions. The harder the rule, the more solid the argument, but frequent exceptions point to which translation fits the sentence and context best.
I think the first argument is not that effective unless one is arguing for time dilation, that is, it is not an apparent instance because one is unconscious, but a real instance because the time taken is really such. I especially think this with Phillipians because the contrast is staying for fruitful ministry, or being with Jesus. If Paul knew it was soul sleep his argument makes no sense, why not stay alive?
But even if we concede the Lukan passage offers no argument for or against soul sleep, there are other arguments against it. That is not the point of this post but have you dealt with other passages elsewhere?
I don’t really see why the argument from experience needs any sort of time dilation. I can easily imagine why a battle wearied Paul might wish to experience the immediate presence of Christ, but also sense the duty of serving the church.
And as for other texts, I think there are about four in total, including this one. And no, I haven’t covered them here yet. I think there’s a ready answer for each of these texts on what is probably the shortest list in the world. 😉
battle wearied Paul
If that were the case, I guess possible (but I think unlikely given the argument offered); but the context doesn’t read battle wearied, either immediately or the letter. The Phillipians bring Paul great joy, but nothing can offer the joy of being in the presence of Christ. I am not unfamiliar with this thought, my pastor suggests what you are here as applied to Phillipians. If soul sleep were known to be true, then I guess one could squeeze these ideas from Phillipians. But if one is establishing the intermediate state I think Phillipians speaks against your thesis.
bethyada, I think you’re a bit to keen to see a thesis discredited. There is no reason at all why an argument from experience is inferior to some “time dilation” theory.
You can say, if you insist on saying it, that the experience of immediately being with the Lord is not a positive thing and that Paul would not have desired it in and of itself. I have no motivation to accept that, nor do I see a strong reason, apart from a doctrinal one 😉 to accept it. My reading of that passage leaves the door open to either view on the intermediate state.
PS – I’m curious as to who your pastor is now.
Glenn, you said, ‘The Holy Spirit is immaterial’. I would disagree. What little we can glean from the bible about the nature of spirit matter is that it too occupies space but just not of a form we can comprehend, nor does it adhere to the rules governing our universe.
Thanks for pointing out a blog entry more relevant to some of my points above. I read it and submitted some thoughts. Cheers
James, I’m intrigued. Where exactly does the Bible state (or at a minimum suggest) what you are asking us to accept?
I think it’s great that so much of Christian scholarship is highlighting and moving away from the idea that we’ll float off as disembodied spirits of some gasseous nebulous state to live in heaven in a state of being for the more biblical idea that whole person is a physically embodied person and that ultimately, life after death will entail a body, but it seems to me that the pendulum is swinging to far the other way.
What doesn’t make sense to me is in virtue of what a resurrected body has in common with the former earthly body if not consiousness that survived somehow after death. Our bodies decay, scatter and become part of other bodies.
I certainly don’t think it can be wrapped up in our organization. It seems to me for example that the transportation thought experiments where one could in theory have the information of the structure of his body transmitted to another location, have matter their assembled and then the original destroyed serves only to create a clone that thinks it lived your life and results in your death.
here’s a biblical counter example. Revelations 6 it seems presents the souls of the saints presumably prior to the ressurection asking God how long it will be before he acts and judges. It presents the number of souls accumulating as the saints are slain.
As for the matter of the allegedly Christian Physicalism competing with Hellenistic thought, I’d be more wary of citing common ground with paganism as a reason to doubt. It may be a reason for scrutiny, but clearly we should not be surprised that Christianity should agree with other religions on some grounds given that religions say lots of things and are bound to agree. Surely there is disagreement here, we emphasize the importance of embodiment, but this to me doesn’t indicate an absolute statement against disembodiment as well.
Rob, of course the mere fact of agreement with paganism doesn’t prove an idea false, and I wouldn’t suggest this. What I said is that the Biblical teaching here does in fact mark a point of difference from its pagan surroundings.
Regarding your comments about the connection between us now and us at the resurrection, that was the subject of a recent podcast: In Search of the Soul, part four.
And in Genesis 4:10, God says that Abel’s blood is crying out from the ground…
I’m not convinced that the Revelation 6 account is, at all, something we should be deriving our theory or the nature of persons from… It’s just not, at all, what that passage is trying to convey, and in texts of the apocalyptic genre, reading in such “extra” meanings is generally suspect.
Nathan, is it my statement on the nature of spirit that intrigued you? I’m sorry that I’m often big on ideas but light on scripture. It does look a bit kooky on inspection, but inferences from scripture, and direct verses, have led me to question the misty vapour nature of spirit that we are conditioned to understand it as, from Greek thinking to Hollywood.
The inferences come from the verses (and I can dig them out if you wish but am mindful not to hijack Glenn’s thread further) that clearly separate heaven as the domain of spiritual beings from earth as the home of created beings (us) eg John 3:13. We can’t intrude on heaven, except by visions (Paul’s for instance), but spiritual beings can mix with humanity (Nephilim in Gen 6, angelic visitations, Abraham’s conversation before Sodom’s destruction). I also like the passages in the gospels that describe Jesus’s post-resurrection nature; he appeared among them; he was touchable, he ate with them, he had (note) flesh and bones, but not flesh and blood. In the OT the life was regarded as being in the blood (Levitcus), but in the incorruptable body (1 Cor 15) the life is direct from God through a physical resurrected body that is still classed as SPIRIT.
Therefore, I see the gnostic/Platonic version of the nature of spirit in direct contradiction to the biblical expression. Does that make sense?
thanks Glenn, that was great, and I agree. I admit I only read the first section 😛
“Spiritual beings” in whatever shape/form/substance they take are not the same shape/form/substance as the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit was not created.
In the OT life is given by God who “breathed” it into Adam and it is this life-sustaining breath that keeps the saved alive post-resurrection. Those that are not saved have this life-sustaining ‘breath’ removed from them at judgement and their remains destroyed.
Nathan, I don’t know why the Holy Spirit has to be different to other spiritual beings just because he was not created. After all Jesus was not created either and he has the form of a man.
As far as Adam’s pre-fall existence goes, I believe he was endowed with the Holy Spirit and so could commune with God on a minute-by-minute basis as we can (albeit God chose material form to fellowship with him which would have negated a faith walk!) In other words God’s breath gave him natural life, cognitive thought etc (dualists would call this element a soul/spirit); the Holy Spirit gave him spiritual life.
He disobeyed and ate the fruit despite God having declared to him that if he ate of it he shall surely die (Gen 2:17). Adam lived many hundreds of years beyond that day and eventually died a natural death (I don’t think they were created eternal otherwise why would God have barred them from the tree of eternal life?), but he died spiritually when the Holy Spirit was lifted from him and he was no longer able to commune with God on the same intimate level.
That’s my take anyhow.
I understood ge 2:7 to mean that the Creator put a spirit into the man. This is what makes us different from animals. When the man dies, the spirit is released and goes to death, whether Abraham’s Bosom or Hades, to await either resurrection without condemnation or face judgement (respectively) and a last chance to argue one’s case before Judge Jesus and one final hope to avoid the second death, being thrown into the Lake of Fire.
How do you explain demonic possession, if not for our bodies being controllable vessels (although with a will of its own).
However, maybe you are partially correct. What is a spirit, and what is the religious mumbo jumbo that relegates spirituallity to mysticism and mythology? I think a spirit is a much more physical and real object than we take it for. I think these bodies we control are limited in what they can see, hear, touch and feel in the world around us. There are other beings and technologies all around us of which we are completely ignorant (2 Kings 6:17). I think Abraham’s Bosom/Paradise/Hades/Tartarus/Death are actual physical locations in the bowels of this planet (1 Sam 28:13)
There are tons of references all through the Bible about the spiritual nature of who we are, because we are also sons of God, just like Jesus who is our kinsman redeemer. Why else would we be instructed to walk in the spirit and overcome the lusts of the flesh? – a simple instruction without any hint of symbolism.
jiranz2, “I understood ge 2:7 to mean that the Creator put a spirit into the man. This is what makes us different from animals.”
The trouble is, that same Old Testament also says that the animals have that very same thing mentioned in Genesis 2:7 in them – the neshamah that comes from God. So that’s not something that makes humans and cows different.
Walking “in the Spirit,” I think is a reference to the Holy Spirit.
Thanks for your reply – more questions though :).
Where? I looked for strong’s 05397 but couldn’t find a reference to normal animals. In some cases, like Daniel, it does appear to refer to the physical breathing of the body.
Isaiah 42:5 is interesting – combines breath of God with spirit in same sentence.
I think to walk in the spirit means to demonstrate love, joy peace, … what Paul calls the fruits of the spirit because God approves and values those things. It’s up to us to overcome the lusts of the flesh; and Paul tells at length how difficult it is to do so. At the end of the day, the body is worthless; the spirit is the life-giver.
Another thing, as for us each being temples or collectively a temple, I think both answers may be right. Rev 3:20 indicates a personal coming of Jesus into a man, and the other argument above is also interesting – also God is too big for a single dwelling.
Now though experience isn’t Biblical, you should go interview ambulance officers. I met one, not a Christian, who has got used to near-death patients looking at invisible people, often past-dead relatives. There may well be some souls that walk the earth before the angels take them away. What do you think of Jesus raising the dead from the sea, death and hell, keeping in mind that Jesus allowed Legion to run into the sea? Have you considered the book of Enosh on the topic of spirits?
Bill Deagle’s [I don’t know his reputation, ups and downs or life’s mistakes] story (via camelot studios) is fascinating.
jiranz, regarding the way the Bible uses the words for spirit and breath, you might enjoy a podcast episode of mine here where I cover that.
I’ve become very skeptical of personal stories about surviving death (or near death). They are contradictory and subject to many possible explanations.
Not to mention that the brain just does weird things sometimes under weird stimuli. Almost dying certainly qualifies for that.
The only way to tell for sure that something’s up is if they knew something they couldn’t otherwise, like an out-of-body experience where they see something on the top shelf that they couldn’t have seen before, and I’ve heard of such stories, but as I have no better than hearsay evidence I would never use that to make a point.
The quote you gave above read “today you will be with me in paradise.”
Bibles didn’t use to read like that. There is an entirely different meaning between:
“today you will be with me in paradise”
“to day shalt thou be with me in paradise”
1) shalt and will (or wilt) are different words with different meanings. This can be confirmed with any decent English dictionary.
2) Consider the familiar “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” It doesn’t read “You will not commit adultery” because that would make God a liar the first time someone took his neighbor’s wife. There is a difference between the two words, and it’s quite significant.
3) a solid example of the King James usage of the word “shalt” in combination with “this day” can be found in 1 Samuel 18:21, where Saul promises that “this day thou shalt be my son in law in one of the twain.” David was not married that day: there were multiple days of time span expected to pass, a lot of traveling, killing, and presumably a bath before the wedding ceremony. David was not the king’s son-in-law until after the wedding (see verse 27).
4) Americans, Scotsmen, etc are notoriously bad about knowing how to use “shall” and “will” correctly in English grammar. Fowler’s “The King’s English” comments on this, and has a whole section devoted to “shall” and “will.” There’s an old joke of the Scotsman who falls in the river and drowns, yelling “I will drown! No one shall help me!” When that makes sense, you’ve got the meaning.
So here’s my point. I’m not sure what version you’re quoting above, but if you were using an earlier version, such as Wycliffe (1300s), Tyndale (1525), Bishops (1568), Geneva (1587), or the King James (1611, 1769) all of them read correctly:
“to day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (King James Version)
Which is absolutely correct, and not the least bit contradictory of “soul sleep” or any other biblical passage. Grammatically, this is the giving of a command, a proclamation, a promise, under the authority of the speaker, and the promise is issued that very day.
The “moving the comma” is generally not good.
1) The resulting phrase of “I say unto you today, you will be with me in Paradise” has a very weak meaning. Rather than a promise given under his own authority, this becomes simply a prediction that the thief would be with Christ in Paradise …
2) It involves an argument to re-translate accepted scripture, when proper accepted scripture already reads correctly, if we take the time to learn English grammar. The ancient and accepted English translations are entirely in favor of “soul sleep” no matter how many new translations modify the text so that their version places Jesus and the Thief in heaven that day.
Sometimes a difference in grammar can entirely change the meaning: this is one of those examples.
The trouble with that is, Andrew, in Luke 23:43 the word translated “shalt” or “will” is emou (from eimi) does actually mean “will.” i.e. It has a predictive sense, telling what will happen.
It’s a feature of langauge in Hebrew, Greek and English, that statements in the form of factual predictions can and do serve as instructions (e.g. “Young man you will go straight home right now and you will go to your room!”). This is how, for example, the word eimi works. It is literally a prediction, but sometimes it can be used as instruction. Here are some examples of it in use (I’ll follow your example and use the King James version):
Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Matthew 10:15 “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
Matthew 13:49 “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just…”
Mark 13:13 “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Luke 1:34 “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”
I won’t labour the point. But the fact is, eimi is the ordinary word for “will” in that it carries a predictive sense, so there’s no linguistic reason to take it to mean any more than this in Luke 23:43. There may be personal reasons, but that’s another matter.
You gave a couple examples where the Greek emou is used in the predictive sense. However, it took me only seconds to find an example of the same Greek word used in the command (proclamation) sense:
Mat 5:48 KJV
(48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Clearly, that is not “predictive.” Not everyone he is talking to is going to be “perfect.” In fact, there is a good case that not a single person can possibly fulfill this command, so if this was “predictive” that would make Jesus a liar, or a failed “predictor.”
Linguistically (as demonstrated above) the Greek emou can be translated as “shall” or “will” – not because the two words are the same, but because the Greek word covers that a range that includes the scope of both English words!
If your translators are trying to create a case for “flying to heaven as an immortal spirit when you die” they will translate this Greek word as “you will be”, as in “today you will be with me in paradise.” This places Jesus and the thief in Paradise, together, sometime that day.
If your translators had peeked ahead in scripture even a little, noticed that Christ was dead and in the grave for three days, known that the dead “know nothing” and realized that the dead still had not risen when Paul wrote his letters, they will translate this Greek word as “thou shalt be” as in “today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” This is the date that the divine promise to the thief is sealed.
Need another Greek example? They are all over the place:
Mat 6:5 KJV
(5) And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
If that was “predictive” then Jesus would be made a liar as soon as someone prayed like the hypocrites. No, this was “declarative” … “will” would have been an improper translation in this verse, and it would be very sad if a translator was so ignorant as to think that Jesus was making a prediction, instead of issuing a commandment.
Yet, this is exactly what our modern translators have done in the RSV, NIV, NASB, NLT, ESV… while making a fake excuse that “shall” is an obsolete word with identical meaning to “will.”
Do you need more examples? It doesn’t seem that you looked very hard… those two were from the first four possible Greek instances. At this rate, you are likely to find another 90+ examples (50%) of the same Greek word used in a purely “declarative” sense.
“You will not bear false witness.” That’s a [false] prediction.
“Thou shalt not bear false witness.” That’s a command.
So, instead of arguing about “linguistic reasons” please recognize:
1) The Greek texts requires proper translation
2) Our English reformers were not hostile to “soul sleep” and valued the doctrine of the resurrection
3) This is reflected in the English text of said Bibles, including the Wycliffe, Tyndale, Geneva, Bishops, and King James translations
4) These translations read correctly in this passage, unlike modern translations which have been edited to try to provide support for the “immortal soul”
In other words, the meaning is a matter of translation, and we’ve already had the correct translation for 650 years, since the days of John Wycliffe all the way through the standardized King James Version. It’s only been modified to fit the “traditional view” in the last 130 years, since the Revised Standard Version of 1881.
Or do you really think that “today you will be with me in Paradise” was the correct choice of translation?
New Zealanders might be just as bad with their grammatical usage of “shall” and “will” than the notorious Scots, but trust me, from personal experience, it’s not that hard to learn, once you set your mind to it. You can’t separate English grammar from English language, and since our Bible is written in English, it’s time to learn the grammar, too.
Andrew, I never said that the word eimi is never used to issue commands. On the contrary, I actually stated that it can be used that way. Recall:
It is therefore unfair and even careless for you to now challenge me, asking “do you want more examples”? I never denied that it can be used in an instructive way, so why issue this challenge? What I showed you is that the mere presence of this word does not and cannot show that it is instructive, since it is commonly used in a predictive way. Your claim was that this word, since it is translated “shalt,” is not a prediction. What you can now (hopefully) see is that this is not the case. This word very often serves as a prediction, and the predictive word can, in some cases, have an instructional sense (as it does in english).
And yes, I think that “will” is the correct translation here. It certainly doesn’t mean “today I instruct you to be with me in Paradise.”
Was it “unfair” and “careless” to ask you if you wanted more examples? Sorry for misunderstanding – the only other reason you could have for arguing that “shall” was an incorrect translation would be a denial denial that this little Greek word covered the scope of a set of words, inclusive of Shall and Will.
I had thought that you had merely overlooked this, and needed a positive example. I didn’t realize that you actually had the logic backwards, and reasoned that if “will” has even once been a correct application, that it is always the correct application?
If you think that “will” is the correct translation here, then your Bible contains multiple contradictions that now hinge on that verse, because:
1) Jesus was not in Paradise that day,
a. Acts 2:31, his soul was not left in hell,
b. John 20:17 three days later he had not yet ascended
2) the thief was not in Paradise that day
a. Ecc 9:5, the dead know nothing, nor have any reward
b. 2Ti 2:18 the resurrection is an event yet future, and is not past
Biblical context provides more than sufficient information for a translator to correctly apply that little Greek word to its specific meaning of “shall.”
Your refutation logic is backwards, and you misrepresent what I said entirely. My claim was not that “this word, sinceit is translated “shalt”, is not a prediction.” My claim was that this word is correctly translated “shalt” because it is not a prediction, but a promise and a decree.
The accepted English translation is evidence of the correct meaning, just like green leaves are evidence of Spring, and good works is evidence of a living faith. It is likewise backwards logic or misrepresentation to say that I was claiming that it Spring existed because of the leaves, or that faith existed because of good works.
It seems like you are purposely trying to mangle the meaning with your “today I instruct you to be with me in Paradise” … it reminds me of when someone purposely tries to make their body rigid to “prove” that they cannot reach something on a high shelf. Please try again, more sincerely, without trying to fail this time?
“To day I decree that you will be with me in Paradise.”
Did Moses deliver the “Ten Instructions” to Israel? No, he didn’t. So why did you put forth “today I instruct…” as a construction? The Ten Commandments could have been called the Ten Decrees. They were not the Ten Suggestions, or the Ten Predictions.
Did you stop and read the account in 1 Samuel where the same English word structure is used? Did you take the time to learn the differences in these two words?
I cannot figure out if you’ve realized that you’ve already admitted that both words (shall, and will) are necessary to cover the entire scope of the meaning of the Greek emou, because first you deny it, and then you admit it, while denying the resulting implications.
One thing that just now strikes me as funny: you’re the first person I’ve seen that has said that “to day shalt thou be with me in Paradise” was an incorrect translation, to be corrected by changing “shalt” to “wilt.” That’s a new experience, for me.
Andrew, just have a look back over what I’ve said, because you’re misconstruing me.
1) I have observed that eimi is usually translated “will.”
2) I have observed that eimi functions exactly like the English word “will.” It’s usually predictive, but can carry an imperative or declarative connotation. This is true of our word “will.”
3) In my original blog entry, I never said that this verse should be changed by changing “shalt” to “wilt.” I said that there may be a translation error based on where the comma is placed. I never even used the word “wilt” in my blog entry, so I don’t know where you got that from.
In regard to the “contradictions” you refer to, I hope you noticed that in this blog entry I explained that I was providing translation solutions that were compatible with Jesus NOT being in paradise that day.
You’re obviously passionate about the difference between “will” and “shalt” for some reason. However, you know, I am sure, that if we wanted to know which Greek word should be used for the word “will,” it would indeed be eimi.
A reminder, you said: “Here are some examples of it in use (I’ll follow your example and use the King James version):”
1) Given that you already said that you were using the King James Version for your comparison, your first observation is entirely inaccurate, and can be demonstrated false. “Usually” would imply something better than a 50% ratio. Did you count any instances at all? Did you measure anything, or just pretend to? DID YOU?
Translation as “shall” is the rule, not an exception as you state.
This is easily measured. I could start listing instances (out of the set of 188 New Testament instances) … but that’s not good use of blog space.
Out of 170 New Testament verses that contain said Greek esoumai only 25 even contain “will” “wilt” or “would” anywhere within the verse… these can be individually checked.
Luke 12:34, 12:55, 21:7, 22:49,
2 Corinthians 6:16, 6:18 (one instance each)
2 Timothy 4:3
Hebrews 1:5, 8:10 (one instance each)
Hebrews 2:13, 8:12,
Revelation 21:3, 21:7 (one instance each)
So, to compared, when you say that “you have observed that eimi is usually translated “will” you are really only referring to an 8% minority of the total instances, 15 in all.
I’m left to conclude either that you only wanted to make it seem that you had collected data, or that your observations are worth very little.
2) Faulty observations lead to faulty conclusions. The Greek word esoumai does not function exactly like the English word “will.”
I do not think you would say this if you were used to using “shall” and “will” in everyday speech. Did you looking up the words “shall” and “will” in a decent English dictionary yet? Their application between predictive and declarative depend on whether it’s used in the 1st person, or the 2nd/3rd persons (although it’s really less complex than it seems at first glance.)
3) You had said that you believed “today you will be with me in Paradise” to be the correct translation. Grammatically, by choosing the word “the” you excluded all others, including the “shalt” that we were already discussing.
As I was trying to point out, I don’t think you are used to hearing these words used correctly. “today you will be with me in Paradise” says:
a) That Jesus predicted he would be in Paradise that Passover
b) That Jesus predicted that the thief would be in Paradise that Passover
c) That Jesus issued this statement by his status as a “predictor” and that Jesus did not have the authority to issue this as a promise.
The argument of “moving the comma” (popular among the Jehovah’s Witnesses) has little effect on the meaning of the word “shall” in this verse. The only thing that would do is to indicate that the promise of salvation was not something that was determined that day … which would be decidedly more friendly to the Calvinists, who would argue that the Thief’s fate was sealed before he was born.
* * *
I understand perfectly if the difference between “shall” and “will” sounds confusing to someone who is not used to hearing the grammar in normal speech. But you’re advertising that you have multiple degrees in Theology: you’re not supposed to pretend to have researched something, when you haven’t.
* You did not “observe” that said Greek is translated as “will” in the majority of cases.
* It is obviously false that “will” is the G2071 esomai equivalent. Equivalent is a mathematical term meaning “equals” and “always replaces” and not the same as “is sometimes correctly translated as…”
* Given that “shall” and “will” are and not interchangeable,
* Given that “shall” and “will” are among the set of acceptable translations,
*** It is a mathematical impossibility that said Greek word is equivalent to either “shall” or “will” because it covers the range included by this set.
In a different field, if “fruit” includes apples, pears, and oranges, then “apples” can never be equivalent to “fruit” because “apples” is a subset of fruit. This isn’t rocket science, and it doesn’t require degrees in Hebrew or Greek, either.
So, I’m a bit irked that you would pretend to know what you’re talking about, then speak with authority about something to give wrong information, without attempting to take the time to even assimilate the information first.
I’m also a little passionate against those that pretend to be Hebrew and Greek scholars when they don’t know what they’re talking about, and act as if they have authority, and put others down with their bluff.
You have a banner that says “Help me get to Oxford!” It is my experience there often seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of Theological letters behind one’s name and the potential for a welded mix of arrogance and reinforced stupidity. I see this all the time. Why do you want to go to Oxford?
Back to “passionate:” I get upset when people create false statistics, and start repeating them as fact. How did you make your observation that this word was usually translated “will?”
You said you won’t try to argue the matter further. I hope you’ve figured out what I’m trying to say.
For the record, Glenn, I’m not saying you’re a bad guy, but the syndrome I was describing runs pretty rampant in some places, so perhaps my fuse was a little shortened in this regard. I may be “passionate” but I also forgive easily, too.
Andrew, I’ll try again: I have never said that “shall” isn’t the meaning of this word. My point was simply that the predictive sense of eimi is the normal one. ANd shall generally has a predictive meaning. Will you at least tell readers that you found this out in your checking, and observed that the predictive sense is the most common for eimi? It’s not even a debatable point.
Without revisiting the arguments, if you will simply acknowledge this easily observed fact, then I will be able to see that it’s the truth that you’re interested in. If you actually won’t acknowledge this, then I don’t know what your agenda was, but it wasn’t truth. Your strange but very strong drive for the KJV language makes me wonder if it’s the KJV that’s the object of your support here.
Tell me, would you regard yourself as a believer that the KJV is the best version we have? The only reliable translation today, perhaps?
Do you know how to determine when instances of “shall” and “will” are predictive and when they are declarative?
I’m not going to lie for your readers. The majority of the instances are declarative. I don’t even know why you’re arguing this, because it really doesn’t matter on this topic anyway: the only thing that really matters is that both are possible translations.
But, since you insist on trying to engage in one-up-man-ship and arguing the contrary:
I just finished demonstrating that only 8% of the possible instances resulted in a translation of “will.” The other 92% fall into the “shall” category, which has a different meaning altogether. “This will happen” doesn’t mean the same thing as “this shall happen.” The only way “shall” would become “predictive” is if it was used in the 1st person.
Maybe it’s your turn to do some research. You would have to show that a significant enough percentage of the instances are either:
1) “shall” in the first person
2) “will” (or “wilt”) in the second or third persons
I’ve already demonstrated that 92% of these instances use a form of “shall” and anyone who has read the Bible much should recognize that the first person “I shall” form is very uncommon. Therefore, if you insist that there is only one “normal” sense, meaning “most common”, then that sense is the declarative, not the predictive.
You have a finite set of 188 total instances in the New Testament to search from. If you can demonstrate a set of at least 95 instances where this word is used in the first person “shall” or the second/third person “will” then you would be able to contradict me.
The only reason that I can figure that you’re arguing would be because you don’t know the difference between a prediction or a declarative promise/command.
shall, v, [pt should] … to determine futurity in the first person, and determination, obligation, etc. in the second and third persons.
In the colloquial tongue, “futurity” means “predictive.”
So, according to you, unless I recant what I’ve already proved and “agree with you” I am “not seeking truth.” And you’re the measure of truth? Bad form, Glenn. Bad form. If you want me to agree with you, then PROVE something, and stop expecting me to take your word (or “observations”) as gospel when what you say flies in the face of known evidence.
What you’re doing now is wanting to be honored as an expert in an aspect that you haven’t attempted to research. On this subject, I once had someone (authoritatively) tell me that the reason “shalt” was used in Luke 23:43 was because “there is no such thing a a 2nd person form of will.”
To his credit, however, he allowed himself a chance to be proven wrong, if I could provide “at least one instance in scripture where there is a 2nd person form of will.” He actually backed down a little when I gave him a list of 245 instances and the appropriate entry from dictionary.com identifying “wilt” as a specific 2nd person form of “will.”
So why are you arguing that Luke 23:43 must be speaking in the mere predictive sense? I can think of a few “agendas”
1) You might have an extreme bias for a particular newer translation: i.e. an “the New International Version is inerrant” position, or so forth…
2) You might have a grudge against the older accepted English translations, and want to deny them credit for being correct.
3) You might be afraid that it would “look stupid” to have not noticed the Conditionalist implications of the grammar all this time.
4) You might think it threatens your ego if your two explanations are not honored… a fear of being “shown up” so to speak.
5) Or perhaps you might be a closet “Immortalist” that operates as a “Conditional Immortality” double-agent
You will lose a debate trying to use either of your other explanations. They have fatal flaws that will leave you in trouble. They’re not sound. I know, because I’ve seen them used to bad effect. I used to have to resort to saying that the “commas were not inspired” (I wish I had known better grammar then!)
I thought you’d appreciate a better answer. Instead, you seem offended that someone’s offering an idea that’s not your own, and you’re trying to act like an authority before you’ve studied it.
(12) Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
(13) He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
If you were interested in the truth, you wouldn’t be so quick to reply without having at least cracked a dictionary first. Think about it for while, there’s no hurry. No one is rushing you. After that, if you still want to try to show me wrong, demonstrate some form of measurable proof.
“I just finished demonstrating that only 8% of the possible instances resulted in a translation of will.”
But you didn’t show that only 8% of all cases are prediction.
It’s not my job to provide a concordance service, but anyone at all can check. Eimi just indicates statements of fact, generally predictions. You know this already because you’ve checked, but for the benefit of the reader, they can look up these:
Do we really need to go on? Every one of these cases is a prediction of some sort. I have just scratched the surface. So it’s not really a controversial claim on my part. Those verses use eimi, and they have a simple predictive sense.
“The majority of the instances are declarative.”
Predictions are declarations – declarations about what is the case or will be the case. I just don’t see the point here. You’re identifying something truly obscure.
Ego is no issue here. I have no horse in the race, and no important belief of mine stands or falls on this belief of yours. I think you’re becoming more hostile and personal than I am comfortable with, however. What’s more, as for your speculation about “extreme” bias against old translations and favour for new translations, these comments have revealed exactly why this is an important issue for you.
Wow… you posted a list of a bunch of unsubstantiated verse references? What is that supposed to demonstrate?
Let’s pull up your first instance that you claim is a “prediction”
Mat 5:21 KJV
(21) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
A “prediction” is a statement of probability. A “declaration” is a a promise, or a command. Do you understand the difference? The former might or might not happen, depending on circumstances. The latter is not “iffy” or dependent on something else, but a statement of fact backed by the authority of the speaker.
You had a little post where a “predictor” offered two boxes, but specified that he wasn’t God, and wasn’t precognitive, but only made predictions. You seemed to understand the difference then.
Let’s see if your last verse is really as you say, also:
Mat 24:27 KJV
(27) For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Again, a statement of authority backed by the power of God. This is not a “prediction” but a promise, and I don’t know why you’re arguing that the majority of the statements using this little Greek word are predictions. The Bible is filled with “God says” statements, which are not mere predictions.
You wrote: “Every one of these cases is a prediction of some sort.”
No, apparently they weren’t.
Let’s go over the basic gist of this one more time:
1) “There will be rain” is a mere prediction. Anyone can say this.
2) “There shall be rain” is a promise. If you say this, you are saying you have the power to make it rain, and the clouds obey your word.
But it seems you do have a horse in some sort of race. You noticed that I had a “KJV” tag on my bible quotes, and you tried to “make an issue of it” instead of paying any attention to the subject.
You wrote: “Your strange but very strong drive for the KJV language makes me wonder if it’s the KJV that’s the object of your support here.”
I suspected that you were trying to create an argument there before, as a diversion. But maybe you could answer this: What’s so “strange” about knowing the difference between “shall” and “will”, between a prediction and a promise? It didn’t sound like you meant “strange” in a nice way.
It seems to me that you are demonstrating a bias: you label the King James as “strange” and would rather theorize about migrating commas that to take a few minutes to notice that the English Bible already agreed with “soul sleep” since Wycliffe first penned them from Latin in the 1300’s.
Luk 23:43 Wycliffe
(43) And Jhesus seide to hym, Treuli Y seie to thee, this dai thou schalt be with me in paradise.
Now you can poke fun at my “strange preference” for the Wycliffe language, also. I imagine you wouldn’t be very popular at Oxford telling them that most of their new translations were wrong at Luke 23:43, anyway. It’s important to not step on their toes, right?
Good luck with your horse race.
Hang on a second..
“Let’s go over the basic gist of this one more time:
1) “There will be rain” is a mere prediction. Anyone can say this.
2) “There shall be rain” is a promise. If you say this, you are saying you have the power to make it rain, and the clouds obey your word.”
What if you say:
1. “There will be rain tomorrow”
2. “There shall be rain tomorrow”
In the verse in question there is such a qualification. In both 1 and 2 it will rain tomorrow.
Glenn’s grammatical argument was the placing of the comma, making the statement what Jesus says today, or about something that will happen today. Whether its “shall” or “will” is beside the point. It appears that its a wee bugbear of yours, fine, ok.
The question is, does the verse say:
“Truly I tell you today, you (will/shall – who cares..)…”
“truly I tell you, today you (will/shall – who cares..)…”
Andrew, this is bizarre. You are taking some predictive statements – claims about what will happen in the future, and you are saying that because the person making the claim can be confident in the outcome, they aren’t predictions. I don’t know why you are doing this. None of that is persuasive at all. The word simply refers to what will happen. That’s all. There’s nothing special about it.
What more is there to disagree over? Why stir up disagreement over a matter of label changing (calling them promises and therefore not predictive)? It’s because of your special interest in a certain translation, I suspect. Remember, I have no problem with “shall,” so it’s not like I think those Bibles that use “shall” are wrong. I think, with all respect, that this special interest is much more important than evidence in specific cases, so the interest will always be put first, and the evidence will be viewed in any way that supports that interest. That is why I say that as soon as this interest became clear, the rest of the discussion seemed rather pointless.
I just don’t know what you’re trying to do – at all!
The verse in Luke 23:43 is not as you suggest in your example. There is a big difference between:
“To day shalt thou be with me in Paradise”
“Thou shalt be with me in Paradise to day”
This could be easily demonstrated by diagramming the sentence (which does not work well in a blog format) so could I please turn your attention to a scriptural example?
1Sa 18:21 Geneva
(21) Therefore Saul said, I wil giue him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistims may bee against him. Wherefore Saul sayde to Dauid, Thou shalt this day be my sonne in law in the one of the twayne.
Saul knows full well that the task he gave is impossible to complete before the end of the day, which for the Hebrews, ended at sunset. David was not married that day.
Similarly, there’s the famous example from Genesis:
Gen 2:17 Tyndale
(17) But of the tre of knowlege of good and badd se that thou eate not: for even ye same daye thou eatest of it thou shalt surely dye.
Yet we know that Adam died at age nine hundred and sixty-nine. The sentence is pronounced and made sure on that day. In other words, the “same daye” modifies the shalting (the issuing of the promise) not the dying (the event promised.)
You’ve summarized your argument with “will/shall … who cares?” These are different words with different meanings. “You will not commit adultery” does not mean “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Why would you want to remain ignorant in your own native tongue?
What is the point of having the scriptures in the common tongue if you’re illiterate anyway? We might as well put it back in Latin!
If you don’t care what your Bible actually says and just plan to make up whatever you want, then “Who cares?” is your answer. You might as well go edit the scriptures with a penknife like Marcion the heretic, and make it say what you want it to say. Want to say the thief was in heaven that day? No problem: just use the prepackaged answer of “shalt and will makes not difference” and the general ignorance of the population will work in your favor.
An addendum: Adam lived 930 years, not 969.
Gen 5:5 Bishops
(5) And all the dayes that Adam lyued were nine hundreth and thirtie yeres, and he dyed.
The “grammar ignorance” ploy on shalt and will backfires because it “breaks the scriptures” and creates a contradiction. I’m a firm believer in “the scriptures cannot be broken” (see John 10:35).
“so could I please turn your attention to a scriptural example?”
What matters is what the original languages say, and how they should be translated into contemporary english, so that all can understand and know the truth.
Your use of archaic and irrelevant language appears to be an attempt to obfuscate, rather than to clarify.
If you wish to continue this discussion please do so using appropriate means.
How do you expect to be considered competent enough to translate Hebrew and Greek into English, when you’ve proven that you don’t even understand basic English grammar?
“Shall” and “will” are not archaic. They are simply often misused, just as people often substitute the adjective “good” when they should use the adverb “well.” Have you ever heard someone say “You did good?” This does not mean that adverbs are archaic, just ignorance has become en vogue.
Stop pretending that you understand Hebrew and Greek well enough to school the Wycliffe, Tyndale, and the King James scholars. Those people not only understood the original languages, but unlike you, they also understood English grammar.
Regardless, the scriptural examples I gave were self-sustaining, and I think it’s quite telling that you refuse to address them. Adam did not die that day. David was not the king’s son-in-law that day. The thief was not with Jesus in paradise that day. You don’t need a Ph.D. in theology to figure that out.
In practice, I’ve found it takes about 3 minutes to explain this to a normal person, and they can understand it. It’s not difficult. Ignorance can be easily fixed by education. Nothing can fix willful stupidity that chooses not to understand.
For the moment, to quell your last unsubstantiated claim that the language is “archaic” (I think what you mean to imply was “irrelevant”) I will demonstrate from a web page designed for teaching English:
The full spectrum of the English language is needed to correctly translate the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. Did you think they were written in gutter-slang, or that the Hebrews and Greeks were totally lacking such concepts included in “shall” and “will?”
In the meantime, you have not convinced me that you are honest or sincere, you refuse to discuss the proofs I’ve offered, you offer no proofs of your own, your sole argument seems to be that English grammar is archaic. If you have nothing constructive to add, just be quiet.
all I can say is “lol”, really.
“The full spectrum of the English language is needed to correctly translate the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. Did you think they were written in gutter-slang, or that the Hebrews and Greeks were totally lacking such concepts included in “shall” and “will?””
Incorrect. The “best” way to translate the original languages is into the idiom of the day in which it is translated, so it makes the most sense to those who might read it.
I don’t pretend to know Hebrew and Greek at all. I’ll let Glenn argue those points with you.
I refuse to discuss your “points” because they are irrelevant and just you trying to sell your particular slant on translations. When in fact what Glenn has raised here is a fundamental grammatical (punctuation) error, which affects the whole understanding of the passage. Try addressing that instead.
At your request, Geoff, to the point:
There is no error in punctuation in this verse in Luke 23:43. “To day” does not modify the previous phrase of “Verily I say unto you.” Why? Because:
1) it would be redundant and nonsensical and
2) As bible critics and scholars will point out in their critique of the New World Translation, there’s not a single other example of this form of phrasing in Christ’s speech in the entire New Testament (out of 76 other instances containing that “Verily I say unto you…”
Glenn is presenting a specific “grammar argument” but that argument is flawed. His problem is compounded because he is quoting a recent translation that has specifically edited that verse to make it compatible with “You fly to heaven when you die” doctrine.
Any English translation prior to 1881 has this verse translated correctly, both in comma phrasing and the use of shalt vs. will. I could add the American Standard Version of 1901 to this group also. None of these create any biblical contradiction through mistranslation in this verse. These represent 600 years of correct translations into English.
Your solution seems to be to spiral English literacy down to the level of Ebonics, and to try to “adapt” to this perceived illiteracy level by creating new scriptures with reduced vocabulary. This is a fundamentally flawed solution. We need all our English words, or there will be concepts that we will no longer be able to express that will disappear.
If you haven’t read this already, I suggest reading a book titled “1984.” It dealt the concept of thought control by removing words from the language, so that it became impossible to express or communicate certain ideas.
I’ll use an analogy, that you might understand easier. If you were to attempt to tinker with DNA, a decision that a particular series was “too difficult” and to remove it all together and replace it with something similar would cause problems, and deformities. A “look alike” does not have the same function.
Such is the case with “shall” and “will” in Luke 23:43. They may “look alike” to you, but they are entirely different words with different meanings. Change that one little word, as the Revised Standard Version, New International Version, and New American Standard Version have done, and suddenly the thief is in heaven that day.
I think that your attitude is “good” demonstration of a different problem: people don’t want to ever be told that they need to learn something.
And I’ll briefly address a second problem: people are bigots, and it is instilled into them from various avenues, and they don’t know how to recognize it, because they haven’t been called on it. Glenn noticed that I said the KJV was superior to the NIV, and he immediately shut down conversation.
He refused to analyze my statements and the issue on its merits that I presented. He judged my Bible as Black, and turned away. He may not admit this to himself, but that’s prejudice and bigotry. Apparently, it’s not safe to quote the King James, even though its language is the most readable out of the valid translations I was presenting, so I’ve availed myself of some other excellent translations for quotation purposes here.
So, to summarize:
1) You refuse to discuss the points because you don’t understand them and prefer to remain ignorant of basic English grammar. Ironically, you seem to have acted as if the Geneva and Bishops Bibles were too hard to read, presumably because of the non-standardized spelling…
… yet you seem to argue for the legitimacy of non-standardized everything (grammar, punctuation, spelling) and call it “understandable contemporary English.” That seems like a double standard, to me.
2) Glenn refuses to discuss the points because I have said that the King James (being one of a set of correct translations of this verse) is superior to the NIV (being one of a set of incorrect translations of this verse)
It looks like this conversation isn’t going anywhere. Both of you refuse to discuss the issue or analyze presented points.
So in other words, Andrew, you can’t actually rebut specific the grammatical argument that I put forward, but you’re sure it’s false?
You didn’t say a thing about the specifics of my grammatical argument. As such, I have nothing to worry about. You know, it’s fine to just say “I don’t know, because I haven’t investigated the issues Glenn raised.”
I don’t see how the first argument can stand without the second. Inwagon’s thesis isn’t compelling simply because Jesus has no need to use the word ‘today’. Omit ‘today’ and there’s no time frame in question – end of problem. If ‘today’ belongs with the antecedent then Inwagon makes no sense because Jesus could merely omit the word ‘today’ and end any need to expand on the particulars of the afterlife/soul sleep/resurrection, whichever, and His words would still be of comfort to the dying thief. Only if ‘today’ describes the preceding verb does Inwagon’s thesis make sense although it becomes rather moot.
The grammatical argument is significantly more compelling presuming the grammar being proposed is in fact correct. I have no expertise in that matter and withhold opinion until I’ve seen the counter-argument presented by a proponent (not that I think Glenn was unfair in his presentation but a proponent is more likely to present a stronger case – which is a general rule of thumb, I realize).
Well, I think the first argument is fine – if Jesus is talking about what the criminal should expect to experience.
In fact, not only can the first argument stand without the second, but they appear to exclude each other. The first argument explains what the verse might mean if “today” belongs to the preceding verb (“say”). The second argument is that “today” doesn’t belong to the preceding verb at all.
If you had bothered to read the above exchange, you might have noticed that I already gave a nutshell critique (a simplified layman’s version for Geoff) of why your so-called “grammatical argument” doesn’t work (post 53.)
Your style of response tells me several things:
1) That you are perfectly willing to misrepresent someone as a means of argument.
2) That you yourself have not researched your own argument, or else you would have recognized what I was talking about when referring to the 76 instances containing the “verily I say unto you” structure, every one with an absence of your proposed “grammatical argument.”
It wasn’t my original intention to “rebut” your argument, and I was trying to handle this delicately because I didn’t want to make you look stupid. However, I will point out that you have inadvertently rebutted yourself.
As Archena noticed, of the two “solutions” you offer, if one is true, it contradicts the other. It’s not intellectually honest to claim that you have “the answer” when all you’re really doing is listing a set of what you consider “possible answers.”
It shows that you don’t believe your own answers. They’re not even your arguments: they’ve been made by others before (such as the Jehovah Witness Watchtower Society.) So why do you take criticism of a borrowed argument so personally?
How hypocritical! Isn’t it funny that you haven’t said “I don’t know because I haven’t investigated the issues you’ve raised?” Instead you’ve rushed to answer. You weren’t even familiar with the differences between “shall” and “will.” I was the one kindly suggesting that you take your time.
I have researched this enough to have personally checked each similar instance of the phrase style in question, in the Greek, and verified that your specific so-called “grammatical argument” hasn’t a leg to stand on. You didn’t even recognize the reference, showing me that it’s you that hasn’t investigated the issues.
To remind you:
1) There is no grammatical reason to place a “to day” on the preceding phrase. Such would accomplish nothing and be meaningless.
2) There is not a single supporting instance in the gospels of Christ using a similar fashion of speech as proposed by your argument.
I think it’s rather hypocritical to hear you talk about “responsible blog authorship” and get upset about being “misrepresented” on another blog, when you exhibit that exact type of behavior when you have the reins of blog authorship.
In the meantime, it would be a pleasant surprise if you’d stop misrepresenting what I’ve said and casting unsupported aspersions upon my character. You have no idea what level of research I’ve done, but apparently I’ve covered areas that you’ve missed. If you put your ego aside for a moment we might get something accomplished.
Andrew, you did not even touch my grammatical argument. You told Geoff that you believe it is wrong, but you didn’t interact with it. I’m not misrepresenting you as far as I can tell. I didn’t see you delving into the claim about how semeron is used. I have just checked again, and I was correct – you didn’t address it at all. Just saying “that argument is flawed” (as you did) does not prove it.
It’s no good telling people what you personally would find pointless. That is purely subjective, and it is not a grammatical argument. I don’t find the verse pointless, whichever way the puntuation is written. So it’s your personal subjective impression vs mine. But surely that’s no way to resolve the issue. Therefore we should stick to the facts. The gramnmatical argument requires you, like me, to comment on how semeron is used, and give reasons for your comments. That’s the grammatical argument I used.
Please stop the personal insults about ego. I do not think that’s appropriate or helpful, and you have been doing it for a while now. I don’t care what you personally feel about me. If you want to address the grammatical argument, feel free. I will not mind if you don’t. It’s your call, and you are not obliged to do this (or to comment at all).
No, Glenn, the focus of this issue is not on semeron but rather the phrase “Verily, I say unto you…” or since you love Greek so much, amen lego. Since you will not do your homework, observe the 76 examples of “Verily I say …” :
Mat_5:18; Mat_5:26; Mat_6:2; Mat_6:5; Mat_6:16; Mat_8:10; Mat_10:15; Mat_10:23; Mat_10:42; Mat_11:11; Mat_13:17; Mat_16:28; Mat_17:20; Mat_18:3; Mat_18:13; Mat_18:18; Mat_19:23; Mat_19:28; Mat_21:21; Mat_21:31; Mat_23:36; Mat_24:2; Mat_24:34; Mat_24:47; Mat_25:12; Mat_25:40; Mat_25:45; Mat_26:13; Mat_26:21; Mat_26:34; Mar_3:28; Mar_6:11; Mar_8:12; Mar_9:1; Mar_9:41; Mar_10:15; Mar_10:29; Mar_11:23; Mar_12:43; Mar_13:30; Mar_14:9; Mar_14:18; Mar_14:25; Mar_14:30; Luk_4:24; Luk_12:37; Luk_13:35; Luk_18:17; Luk_18:29; Luk_21:32; Luk_23:43; Joh_1:51; Joh_3:3; Joh_3:5; Joh_3:11; Joh_5:19; Joh_5:24; Joh_5:25; Joh_6:26; Joh_6:32; Joh_6:47; Joh_6:53; Joh_8:34; Joh_8:51; Joh_8:58; Joh_10:1; Joh_10:7; Joh_12:24; Joh_13:16; Joh_13:20; Joh_13:21; Joh_13:38; Joh_14:12; Joh_16:20; Joh_16:23; Joh_21:18;
Your argument must insist that Jesus made one single exception to his normal mode of speaking in Luke 23:43, for some unfathomable reason to change his speech phrasing to amen lego humin semeron.
Then there’s the little problem that such a statement would be nonsensical. Of course Jesus is speaking “that day.” Everyone speaks “that day” on every day of their lives! There’s no reason for anyone to speak and say that they are speaking on that day. “Verily” already gives every bit of emphasis necessary. Semeron belongs with the second phrase, not the first.
That’s pretty simple. In the nutshell, your argument makes no sense and lacks supporting examples. It’s an artificial argument that’s only circulated for doctrinal reasons, not because of legitimate translational integrity. The only reason it’s had any popularity with a select group is because Luke 23:43 has typically been a “make or break” verse for proponents of “Soul Sleep.”
For the “soul sleep” advocate, the only reason one would have to propagate it is an ignorance of the meaning of the word esoumai, or in English, the concepts of “shall” and “will.” You demonstrated this earlier when you protested that “will” was the correct translation, and that it made no difference whether it was translated as “shall” or “will.”
I believe that we’ve already sufficiently demonstrated that the majority of all instances of esoumai (as in Luke 23:43 KJV, “shalt thou be”) is correctly translated with “shall” and I even gave a couple sample cases to demonstrate that there are situations where it would be impossible to render as “will” under any reasoning. I cannot believe that you are competent to argue about Greek grammar when you lack the foundational English grammar necessary for translation.
If you had honestly researched this topic before, you would have been familiar with the traditional opposing arguments, and you should have addressed it either yesterday, or the days before, when it was first alluded to. Only a few days ago you accused the author of “Fallen and Flawed” of being “lazy” – but it seems that you are quite lazy yourself.
I really have no interest in spending more time on your blog. You have my email address. If I have misjudged you and you are really looking for honest criticism, talk with me privately please, so I can be assured this isn’t about public posturing.
To summarize: “Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise” has already been the grammatically correct legitimate translation of this passage for the last 650 years, since the scriptures first found their way into English (I’m including Wycliffe’s translation.)
“To day” correctly modifies “shalt” which has an entirely different meaning than “will” and unlike your “grammatical argument” there are numerous scriptural examples that reinforce that this is the intended usage. There’s a reason why Bible translators and most commentators reject your “argument” and refuse to change the phrasing, and it’s not entirely because of an alleged bias against “soul sleep.”
Specifically altering punctuation does alter meaning. You wouldn’t be arguing for this unless it did alter meaning, and it’s a very dishonest method of exegesis. It’s poison. It will cost you the debate and the potential of winning your target audience when you’re seen grasping at such flimsy straws. You have not sufficiently researched your own argument, or addressed the points presented by its critics.
Like I said earlier, you have my email address if you want to talk.
P.S. When you insisted that I critique your “move the comma” argument does that mean that you’ve abandoned your “dying thief perspective” argument? As has been pointed out, by arguing two contradictory arguments at the same time you have already rebutted yourself.
Andrew, I understand that you might want to only look at Amen lego soi and follow the way other verses with that phrase are punctuated. But you haven’t given a reason for preferring the way that this phrase is typically punctuated over the way semeron works in a sentence every other time it is used. You say that “the focus” is not on that word. Well maybe yours is not, but if you look back at my original blog post, you’ll see that the focus was indeed on that word. I could mimic what you have done and paste all the occurences of that word, but it would serve no purpose. The point is: There’s no obvious reason to think that the pattern you refer to should obviously or automatically trump the pattern that Bullinger refers to. Can you think of one?
You find it rhetorically powerful to accuse me of saying that this verse counts as “one single exception” to the way that the phrase Amen lego soi is normally related to its surrounding punctuation. But this only seems important to you because you’re privileging the way that this phrase is normally used over and above the way semeron is normally used. After all, I could also use bold text and point out that you are claiming that Luke 23:43 is the one single exceptional use of semeron. That sure sounds rhetorically powerful as well. Why believe that? It’s just not as simple as you think.
So as far as the actual words and phrases are concerned, we’re not compelled to adopt the traditional punctuation, even if usage of the same phrase elsewhere favours it. Now you might point out that we’re not compelled to adopt my suggestion either. You’re right, we’re not. But I don’t need to show that. All I need to show is that there’s nothing obviously wrong with it. That is enough.
That fully addresses your first line of argument. Now for the second.
The second issue you raise is that you will not allow any translation that doesn’t gel with the way in which you would express yourself, translations that it would strike you as absurd or odd. But why assume that biblical writers adhere to Andrew Patrick’s manner of expression? For example, you say: “Then there’s the little problem that such a statement would be nonsensical. Of course Jesus is speaking “that day.” Everyone speaks “that day” on every day of their lives! There’s no reason for anyone to speak and say that they are speaking on that day.”
But this is your standard and yours alone. It’s subjective, personal, created by you and subject to your own personal tastes and tendencies. Clearly we can’t do exegesis this way. What’s even worse is that it makes you the judge of Scripture. It forces you to condemn Deuteronomy 30:18 as nonsensical, for example. It reads, ” I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed.” Now, do you object to this? Is God, or the writer, nonsensically pointing out that God was speaking on that day? Surely not. Therefore this is not an objectively fair objection to my suggestion.
So your two replies are wrong: You say it makes no sense, I just showed that it was fine and you were being subjective. You said that it has no examples, but it does: Every single solitary example of semeron that meets the criteria that Bullinger spelled out fits what I said.
You are being entirely unfair to accuse me of not being “honest.” As sinful creatures it is natural to try to dismiss those who don’t make us feel better by agreeing with us as evil in some way. But it’s just not so. I am not dogmatically saying that this is the only possible translation. But based on all the evidence I have seen – including the evidence you refer to (which is not at all new) – I can see, and have shown, that it is perfectly possible.
Now a comment about your PS: You say that I am rebutting myself by offering two arguments that invovkle different translations. I think you’ve skimmed through my blog and not really appreciated why I have described two arguments and not just one. My point has been that however one translated this passage, the text doesn’t create any fatal problems for soul sleep. I explained (drawing on Peter Van Inwagen) how the common translation isn’t a problem for the soul sleep, because it correctly describes what a dying thief can expect to experience. My second argument is entirely independent of this, and explains why a person might not even need to use the first argument. By suggesting that I am making two opposite claims you’re mischaracterising or misunderstanding what I have said.
Hopefully this is clearer now.
It seems that I’m required to not only dismantle your arguments and misinformation, but to atomize every remaining shred. I don’t think you’ve ever critically analyzed your own argument at all, and you certainly haven’t done any homework for your last response.
Let’s start with an easy one, and I will be blunt. Your so-called “pattern” if a fabrication. It’s false, no good, invalid, and contradicted by the Greek text. There’s a reason why sensible Greek scholars don’t take it seriously.
First, let’s establish a concept called “the burden of proof.” You are challenging the accepted established position, and as such, you are required to present an absolute case. This you have not done. Rather, it seems that you have attempted to shift the burden of proof against the entire history of biblical translation and scholarship.
Second, there’s the little problem of the Greek text. There’s a very small sample set of forty-one New Testament verses that contain the Greek semeron. Out of these, there’s only a few that would test your theory, but these are sufficient to contradict your claim concerning Bullinger’s so-called “grammatical rule.”
Sample contradiction 1: Luke 19:5
(Luk 19:5 KJV) And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
Bullinger’s proposed correction of the text would read: “…make haste, and come down to day; for I must abide at thy house.”
Yet, it seems clear that Jesus was speaking as to when he would abide at the house of Zacchaeus, that time being “to day.” The preposition gar follows semeron, and no preceding hoti steps in to rescue Bullinger as would be required by your theory.
Sample contradiction 2: Luke 19:9
(Luk 19:9 KJV) And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
Would you also propose that we consistently follow your rule, and translate this as: “And Jesus said unto him that day, Salvation is come to this house… ?”
Sample contradictions 3, 4, and 5:
(Act 13:33 KJV) God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
(Heb 1:5 KJV) For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
(Heb 5:5 KJV) So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
Fortunately, this is a case where we can turn to the second Psalm, translated in Hebrew, to verify the correct phrasing, from Psalm 2:7, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”
According to your esteemed Bullinger, because there is no preceding instance of hoti the Greek semeron “to day” should modify the former verb “art” rather than the latter verb “begotten.”
Will you be consistent, and insist that these scriptures are also mistranslated?
Sample contradiction 6: Hebrews 3:7
(Heb 3:7 KJV) Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,
There’s no intervening hoti there, Glenn. Would you attempt to “correct” this translation too?
(Hebrews 3:7, Glenn Peoples Version) “Wherefore, (as the Holy Ghost saith to day, If ye will hear his voice?”
Sample contradiction 7: James 4:13
(Jas 4:13 KJV) Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
Again, it seems that you failed to subject your pet theory to any sort of reasonable test. Under your “grammatical argument” this verse would now become:
(James 4:13, Glenn Peoples Version) “Go to now, ye that say today or tomorrow, We will go unto such a city, and continue there a year….”
The Greek text of James has no words between the lego and semeron. There’s no wiggle room here.
You’ve neglected your duty to shoulder the burden of proof, and expected us to believe you simply on your say-so. I think it’s been demonstrated that your “grammatical rule” is ill-researched, and seems to only be used for pre-existing doctrinal reasons, and was created for this one verse out of the entire Bible.
Thirdly, when there is an established pattern of seventy-six instances of a form of grammatical speech, used consistently throughout the New Testament, under what presumption do you discard this evidence so readily? Jesus consistently used the phrase construction of “Verily I say unto thee” an additional seventy-five times and you have been unable to provide a single instance where he felt compelled to tack a redundant “to day” at its end.
Glenn Peoples wrote:
Up until now, I hadn’t chosen to focus on that word. Your blog format is hardly ideal for presenting arguments from the Greek text to the layman. I traditionally use large amounts of space and an array of colored text to help clear up the “Greek smoke screen” that arguments like yours typically hide behind.
Glenn Peoples wrote:
I think I have already sufficiently illustrated that your so-called rule is balderdash, and is not the way it is “normally used over and over … the way semeron is normally used.”
Glenn Peoples wrote:
When all other seventy-five instances of Christ’s speaking match this pattern without contradiction, you would require a very strong case to argue for the exception. You have proven no such case. To the contrary, I have shouldered the burden of proof and disproved your so-called “rule.” This was something you should have been willing to do on your own.
Then, by that token, since I’ve now done your homework for you, and demonstrated that your argument was patently false, that should be “enough” for you to abandon it, eh?
Now, on to the “next issue…”
Glenn Peoples wrote:
Of all the absurd accusations! Are you implying that I chose the Wycliffe text because it matched my normal mode of speaking? Or that I hunted for a Bible to match my style of expression, and it just happened to coincide with what was used in the language of the Geneva Bible? I force myself to adopt the biblical style of expression, rather than the other way around.
Glenn Peoples wrote:
I think it’s rather ironic that one who claims the right to re-translate scripture for the express purpose of changing the meaning is the one accusing me of setting myself as the “judge of Scripture.” I’m the one pointing out that the text was perfectly valid just as it is written. Rather, you have demonstrated little regard for retranslating the text to match your beliefs.
Nor is it objectively fair for you to take my quote so far from its original context. The Hebrew text of these chapters habitually uses a certain style of phrasing, and if we follow this through, this reinforces my point all the more clearly:
(Deu 30:15 KJV) See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
(Deu 30:16 KJV) In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
Deu 30:17-18 KJV
(17) But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
(18) I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
(Deu 30:19 KJV) I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Have you learned nothing from this? In the words that God gave Moses in Deuteronomy (which, by the way, is the issuing of declaration and a covenant) we can point to numerous examples to show this is a consistent method of Hebrew speech.
When we look at the speech patterns used by Jesus recorded in the Greek scriptures, likewise we can see a similar pattern, that is, the consistent “Verily I say unto thee” which lacks any superfluous “to day” tacked on the end.
I can point to Deuteronomy and show that a particular manner of Hebrew speaking was used consistently. I can also point to the Greek and show that a particular manner of Greek speech was used consistently. You argue against all examples, and must protest for a sole exception in Luke 23:43.
Glenn Peoples wrote:
You demonstrated that you hadn’t bothered to look carefully at your “example” and out of the very limited sample set of the New Testament semeron I’ve shown at least seven that violate what you’ve said. You’re wrong on both counts.
Glenn Peoples continued:
Was it honest when you said that you’d observed that “eimi” was usually translated as “will?” You picked a fight over this, insisting that an approximate 8% minority constituted “usually.” That doesn’t seem very honest to me.
Glenn wrote, in post 42
You don’t seem very honest to me, Glenn.
I specifically spoke concerning an established line of 650 years of English biblical text, and contrasted this with the recent line of translations over the past 130 years, and you tried to pick a fight over the King James text. When that didn’t work, you pretended it had, and said there was no use discussing anything further.
Glenn wrote, post 44,
Again, this hardly seems like a sincere or honest response. You refused to discuss the issue on its merits, and were trying to create a diversion. I think this particular speculation was proved to hit the mark: I think you’re fighting so hard because the implication would demonstrate that the King James text does not contradict “soul sleep.” Some people irrationally hate that Bible, and it seems you were trying to tap into that bigotry.
Next, when you deemed to talk to me again, you accused me of attempting criticizing something that I had never attempted to research. Did you have any backing for this claim? No, you didn’t. You created it as an accusation, which was hardly honest.
Is it “honest” to accuse others of being “lazy or a liar” when they post blog articles without proper research when you yourself are guilty of the same thing? You will be judged by your own measure.
Finally, I asked that you send me email if you wished to continue to discuss this matter, or if you were seeking an honest criticism, but it seems that this wasn’t your intention. Instead, it seems that you’re just trying to edge in a “last word” to “win the argument.”
If indeed, that the evidence I refer to is not at all new to you, then I indeed judge you to be dishonest for not giving a hint of the substantial contrary evidence in your article, and for pretending that you didn’t recognize it earlier when I alluded to it.
I don’t think you understand this. Think about this for a moment please: you have proposed two solutions, which we shall call “A” and “B.” Perhaps “A” might be true, and perhaps “B” might be true, or perhaps neither might be true. But it is impossible that both are true. One contradicts the other. For both of your theories to be true, the verse must read:
“Verily I say unto thee today, today you will thou be with me in Paradise.”
Show some backbone! One doesn’t worship both the LORD and Baal, one doesn’t step out to walk on water with a lifejacket on, and one doesn’t decide to be Christian “just in case it’s all true.”
It would be different if you were presenting options prefaced by a “I am not sure, but these are possible explanations that I have heard” but that’s not how you have presented yourself in this blog.
Glenn Peoples wrote:
How can both be true, Glenn? It “to day” belongs to the preceding phrase, than that contradicts your “experience of the dying thief” argument. But, if you translate the second phrase with “today will” then obviously it contradicts your “grammatical” argument. You cannot have both at the same time! There is only one “to day” in that passage!
You talk of someone “needing to use the first argument” as if what simply matters is “having an argument” rather than determining the absolute truth of the passage. That’s not Christian integrity (something you claimed to be concerned about when you posted on Fallen and Flawed.)
Concerning your “experience of the thief” argument, I am less critical of it because at least it doesn’t attempt to re-write scripture and formulate nonsense rules. But consider this:
1) The thief knew he was going to die that day.
2) The common Jewish experience was that the resurrection was at a future time.
3) This has been commonly called the “Resurrection” or the “Day of Judgment”
4) When one falls on sleep, you awake on a different day.
5) This has the problem that Christ’s statement is not a literal truth, when it was prefaced with the phrase “Verily I say unto thee” which would tend to contradict an interpretation that could only be viewed as “correct” through such gymnastics.
Your “experience” theory actually contradicts “soul sleep” when examined more critically, implying that such was far from the Jewish expectation, or at least not understood by the Jewish thief.
Concerning his “experience theory” Glenn wrote:
If this was really your attitude, why did you so fiercely resist when I demonstrated that “to day shalt thou be with me in Paradise” was not only correctly translated, but perfectly compatible as “soul sleep” in the literal sense of the English grammar?
So why insist that I dismantle all other possible arguments to their bare atoms? Reading the traditional scriptures in their most literal sense exactly as written is the strongest argument imaginable! This should always be our preferred method of interpretation.
This is correct exactly as written, and has been correct since the 1300’s. The promise is being issued that day, and it has nothing to do with the day of fulfillment. That’s the intended meaning of “to day shalt” means and this can be confirmed by any decent English dictionary, Fowler’s “The King’s English”, or by scriptural example including Genesis 2:17, 1 Samuel 18:21, and 1 Kings 2:31.
If you still want to talk about this, send me a private email, please.
I mistyped that last verse reference. Instead of 1 Kings 2:31 that should have been 1 Kings 2:37 (also 1 Kings 2:42, if one reads further.)
1Ki 2:37 KJV
(37) For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head.
1Ki 2:42 KJV
(42) And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good.
This verse reference is helpful when combined with Genesis 2:17 and 1 Samuel 18:21, because Shimei did not die the day he passed the brook Kidron, but the “shalt surely die” went into effect on that date. The “shalting” (the promise) happened that day, not the dying, which was the fulfillment of the promise.
I think the other examples from Genesis 2:17 and 1 Samuel 18:21 are stronger proofs, because there’s no room to argue that perhaps “knowing” happened that day in 1 Kings 2:37 (though that objection doesn’t won’t help them on verse 42.)
Andrew, you have asked me a couple of times not to post public responses to your public criticisms of my position. I think this request is unreasonable. If you have been prepared to publicly criticise my arguments, then you need to be prepared for me to assess your criticisms in public. However, as you know, it takes a while to respond to a large number of comments, so this may be my last such response to you on this comment thread. I do think it (including this post) has been worthwhile, however, if only to show readers with any doubts about what I have said that my position withstands the criticisms that have been made of it.
I gave two replies to you previously: Firstly I explained that it’s no good ignoring the pattern regarding semeron and granting automatic privilege to the pattern regarding the Amen lego sayings. They both exist and we need to acknowledge them both, which opens up two possible translations.
Your first response was very surprising. You said: “Your so-called “pattern” if a fabrication. It’s false, no good, invalid, and contradicted by the Greek text.” This took me by surprise because the pattern is so clearly real and so easy to verify. Any person can look up any instance of semeron and see the pattern. As Bullinger noted, when semeron follows a verb it belongs to that verb unless it is forced into the next clause. I was hardly prepared for the counterexamples you tried to use. They were:
Luke 19:5, And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
I will admit that there are cases when it’s not clear where clause breaks belong. The observation that I’ve posted is one about which verb semeron belongs to within a clause. You know this, because I quoted Bullinger when he noted that the word can be moved into the following clause by the word hoti. Now look at the example you chose. Ask yourself where each sentence begins. The word order created by inserting “for” before the word “today” could trip you up, because this makes it look like one sentence – two clauses separated by a comma. But since you checked this verse in the Greek you already know that this isn’t what we’re looking at.
If this were one long sentence, then gar (“for”) would be placed before semeron (“today”). Why then does gar appear after semeron? This is the giveaway that we are looking at two sentences. You may not realise this, but gar is rarely used as the first word in a sentence, even when it is natural in English to think of “for” as the first word. Gar is placed after the first word, but understood as the first idea.
You don’t seem to trust me, so I had a quick look online to see if there were any credible academic resources I could show you without you having to look too far, and it wasn’t hard. Check this college’s website and note the following:
The placement of gar following semeron, which would otherwise be a bit strange, is understandable since semeron is actually the first word of a new sentence. In fact we have here two short sentences from Jesus. But if semeron is the first word of the sentence, then there’s no preceding verb. If there’s no preceding verb, then you can’t even ask whether or not Bullinger’s rule applies, because Bullinger’s claim was that where semeron follows a verb in a clause, it belongs to that verb unless it is thrown into the next clause by hoti.
So this is not a counter-example, and I hope you can now clearly see why. The first example has now been addressed. Let’s move on to the next.
Luke 19:9, And Jesus said unto him, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”
Andrew, this is a quote. “And Jesus said unto him” are Luke’s words, and then the rest are from Jesus. Never mind the clause, the sentence itself begins with “Today.” Of course the word can’t belong to a preceding verb here, but that’s only because there isn’t a preceding verb in the sentence. Why would you use this?
Example 2 has now been addressed. Let’s move on to the next.
Acts 13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
Actually this is pretty simple. There are two sentences here. There’s no conjunction between the two, connecting them. You are my Son. This day I have begotten thee. “You are my son this day I have begotten thee” is certainly not natural. There are two statements. Therefore the second sentence begins with Semeron, and there simply isn’t a preceding verb to look for. The same is true of Heb 1:5 and Heb 5:5. These are all the same. They are instances of two sentences. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no serious objection to them being run together as they are still easily understandable as two separate statements. But to use them as clear cut examples of how semeron does or does not relate to the preceding clause in a sentence will not work.
These examples are now addressed. On to the next.
Hebrews 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, “To day if ye will hear his voice,”
This is another quote of an entire sentence. Andrew, why use this? Semeron is the first word of a sentence here, not merely the beginning of a new clause. There just isn’t a preceding verb to check. How can you think that examples like this are good?
James 4:13 Go to now, ye that say, “To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:”
Another quote, Andrew. Semeron is the first word in the sentence, so again, there is no preceding verb to even look at.
Remember Bullinger’s claim – When semeron is preceded by a verb, it belongs to that verb. That’s his claim. Yet you have used cases where semeron is the first word in the sentence, and is not preceded by a verb. Maybe you forgot what Bullinger’s claim was. Have another look at the blog entry.
So in reality none of the examples you have given turned out to be what you thought they were. I appreciate that you took the issue seriously enough to look up how the word is used at all, but I am sure you will now see how the above examples fail.
The fact is, the word semeron relates to the preceding verb in a clause (where there IS such a preceding verb of course), unless it is overtly pushed into the next clause (which is what hoti does).
Secondly, I turn to your personal impression that it would be absurd for someone to affix the word “today” to a clause describing their actions. I provided an example where the Old Testament portrays God himself as speaking in the way that you called absurd. God said, according to Deuteronomy, “I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed.”
You don’t like me using this example, however, because you say it takes you out of context: “Nor is it objectively fair for you to take my quote so far from its original context. The Hebrew text of these chapters habitually uses a certain style of phrasing, and if we follow this through, this reinforces my point all the more clearly:”
I note your examples, but it seems to me that it reinforces my objection to your subjective impression. If it’s absurd for a person to note that he is saying or doing something “today,” then there’s a pattern of repeated absurd language in the Old Testament. God, according to your standards, repeatedly notes that he is saying or doing something “today” when it is patently obvious that he is doing so. Why add “today”? And this is the same challenge that you are making to my suggested reading of Luke 23:43. I say, then, that what’s good for the Old Testament is good for Luke 23:43.
You say that this is a repeated method of Hebrew speech. But Jesus spoke Hebrew/Aramaic, so this isn’t a reason for rejecting my suggestion. What you mightn’t be aware of is the fact that Luke’s Gospel is widely acknowledged by many New Testament scholars to use a style of Greek that is similar to the Septuagint – the Greek Old Testament. If this is so then your observation about this common way of using “today” in the Old Testament is a point in favour of my suggestion about how this verse should be translated, because it establishes a clear precedent for speaking in exactly the way that Luke 23:43 is written.
Here are some examples of how semeron is used when hoti is not used:
Matt 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive our… [etc]”
Matt 21:28 “A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard… [etc]”
Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Acts 26:6 “I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:”
I won’t even try to be exhaustive. This usage without hoti is normal, and this is just a random sample. This fact can be checked by anyone at all with access to a Greek New Testament, including you.
Here are some examples of how semeron is used with hoti in the way that Bullinger describes, just for illustrative purposes:
Mark 14:30 “And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.”
This is a very helpful example because it is so similar to Luke 23:43, except hoti is used. See the difference it makes? It clearly pushes semeron into the next clause.
Luke 4:21 “And he began to say unto them, [hoti] This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Hoti is not actually translated into English in this verse, but I have pointed out where it appears, and you can clearly see the effect it has, pushing semeron into the next clause.
These observations are not special or unusual. They are normal, and again, you can check. Anyone can.
Unfortunately, you then repeat a rhetorical device that I have addressed already:
But this isn’t correct. As I have noted, you are also arguing for a sole exception, namely an exception in how semeron is used. I don’t condemn this, however, because I acknowledge that either way we translate this, we are going against a common pattern.
Finally, you really do misunderstand why I use two different arguments that cover two different possibilities.
I know this. Why are you supposing that I don’t see it? What I have said is that A is possible and reasonable, and that if a person is not persuaded by this, then they should also consider B which is also possible. Either one will do, and each one is clearly plausible. I explained in my last comment that this is what I am doing, so I don’t know why it’s still an issue for you. The impression that you are giving is that my whole post was about option B. The fact is that I think that option A is fine. But option B is also consistent with the evidence. Is it true? It’s hard to say because either translation is possible.
With that, Andrew, I choose to stop offering lengthy replies to your public criticisms. You can reply or not, at your leisure. At very least you now know that what I have said is not contrary to the evidence.
It seems the only reason you have for refusing to talk privately, is because you are doing this for public display. There were other things we needed to discuss that would not be appropriate for a public forum, and besides, it would have not been discourteous to have let me know you had responded. Your blog has no “notification” mechanism.
You have issued a lengthy “defense” for the examples I showed. However, what you are employing is a type of “circular reasoning.” That is, you have already determined where you think the “sentences” are, and then said that nothing counts because these phrases are now sentences?
That’s absolutely backwards. According to this style of logic, it would be impossible to come up with any example that could not be explained away with such circular reasoning.
What was that? Did you just say that we needed to look and use a judgment to determine the phrasing, rather than “Bullinger’s Rule?” That means it’s not a rule, Glenn. You’ve admitted that your claim does not apply in this case. Semeron belongs in the latter phrase, not the former, and there is no hoti to perform this. Calling the phrases “sentences” makes no difference.
I have to wonder when you ask “Why would I use this [second] example.” Were you not aware that the Greek text contains no quotation marks? Determining where sentences begin or end requires translation, context, knowledge of accepted and existing patterns, etc.
It seems that you would have me believe that your theory is supported by all of the Greek New Testament, except, of course, for all of the places where it would be contradicted.
The Greek word semeron “to day” only occurs in 41 places, and out of those, with a quick eyeball count only about 18 (more or less) of these might be considered cases where we might possibly test this theory, where our English translations insert punctuation.
Out of this set of 18, you’ve quickly discarded the first 7 where I demonstrated that this conflicts “Bullinger’s Rule.” You are now backpedaling and compromised with applying your “Rule” except when it doesn’t work, and then you resort to context to solve the phrasing problem.
So now your possible test set is reduced to 11, and I’m sure that any additional counter-examples would be tossed aside for similar reasons. However, we cannot include Luke 23:43 in this set, since this is the object of our debate, so you’re down to 10 now.
In other words, you’ve applied a subjective standard of “How you feel the Phrasing should be” to rescue “Bullinger’s Rule.” However, you presented this as a solid “rule” without exception, and not a guideline. A Rule cannot be enforced only after you’ve made your decisions about phrasing! That’s circular logic!
So, you’ve started with a small set, reduce that set to a couple instances that you think “prove” your theory, and toss out a greater amount that disprove your theory. That’s hardly objective.
Nor does it deal with the fact that there is a far greater number of sample instances establishing “Verily I say unto thee” as the established complete packaged pattern. You keep trying to ignore this. Even if we stop reducing the numbers where we were above, your remaining 10 non-contradicting examples are hardly enough form a more convincing pattern than the 75 examples of “Verily I say unto thee.”
Ten versus seventy-five. Actually, that’s ten (10) ignoring another seven (7) contradictions, opposing seventy-five (75) complete “Verily I say unto you” style phrases without contradictions.
Glenn, you needed a complete case without contradictions to form a rule. There’s far more evidence for forming a rule out of “Verily I say unto thee” always being a complete self-contained introductory phrase.
It’s not honest to take every contradictory example and declare that “it doesn’t count because I’m going to redefine them from phrases to sentences” for the artificial reason of trying to defend your proposed rule, which apparently is also rejected by the overwhelming majority of Greek scholarship and bible translations…
You’ve tried to play the “weigh in the scholarly authority” card here, and I can’t comprehend why. Your chosen scholar stands against everyone else. That’s not a winning route for you. You needed to be able to make your case from scratch.
Yes, what you say is contrary to the evidence. These worse part is you don’t seem to care. You’ve latched onto this particular ride, and you’ll defend it right or wrong. Why? My guess is pride.
The practical effect of this is you are re-writing scripture to fit your doctrinal beliefs, and unfortunately it is actions like this that discredit the “Conditional Immortality” community in the eyes of other Christians.
Additionally, your memory is seems very short. You complain about “public criticism” but it was not very long ago you were complaining because I had refrained from criticizing your arguments, taunting that perhaps I had “never looked into this before,” goading that I must be unable to answer your specific theory, and so forth. You have no right to complain about “public criticism” when that’s exactly what you asked for.
But there are other parts of this conversation that would have been more appropriate to discuss in private, but you have insisted on publicity (See Matthew 18:15.) Since you will not talk to me in private, I’ll say openly, that I do have something against the way you tried to use my early quotation of the King James to cast aspersions on my motives.
Mat 18:15-16 KJV
(15) Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
(16) But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
You displayed a type of bigotry, one that’s popular in much of the modern academic community, but it’s unacceptable. It’s neither logical nor rational, nor chivalrous, nor a proper Christian attitude, and it was employed to cause division and to avoid addressing the actual subject matter on its merits. Were you really interested in discussing the full merits of English translations? I don’t think you were. As you yourself said, you were just using it as a reason to exit the conversation, but not without first impugning my motives.
Fortunately, this is a small blog, so maybe this counts as the “two or three witnesses” category. If you want to talk about this, email me privately, and I’ll even post after the fact when we have this resolved.
Andrew P, I have scanned through your reply and I am very comfortable with the facts as they stand.
* We have to use judgement to determine what is a quote and what is not. This is obvious.
* Your “that means it’s not a rule” argument here is just wrong. The “judgement” was about where the sentence begins and ends, drawing on solid grammatical evidence. Since the rule was about how words function within a sentence, I’m not violating the rule in doing this.
You’re free to think that I have merely “discarded” your examples, but the fact is that I used good reasons to show that they were not counter examples at all. You may, if you feel compelled, attribute to me unwillingness to consider possible counter examples, but the fact is that I have done just that, and I believe I was fair in doing so. Therefore I need not add anything.
Shall is rarely used in spoken form here in America (I can’t speak for the rest of the English speaking world). When it is used, it is usually understood to be equivalent to will. Shall as a word distinct from will still has some traction in written English, but where spoken language goes, written language usually follows (eventually). Whether or not the word is “obsolete” or “archaic” depends, of course, on the meaning of those words. Whatever the case, shall is certainly “on its way out”. Anyone who disagrees is probably ignorant, or just lying. My hunch is that even Andrew, the great defender of shall rarely uses the word in spoken form.
Some of Andrews comments regarding shall are just linguistically naïve. Most people use shall and will interchangeably. In language, meaning is determined by use; therefore linguistic “correctness” is determined by use. Therefore (in America, at least) shall and will are properly interchangeable (Andrew’s contrary evidence from some random website notwithstanding).
Now it may well be the case that distinguishing between shall and will is useful or helpful (I tend to agree). Feel free to try and revive a dying word– unless you persuade millions of people to join your crusade, you’ll fail. Many of the words, expressions, and grammatical conventions that you use and consider to be correct can be traced back to mistakes and other corruptions. This is the natural evolution of language.
I find it amusing that Andrew portrayed Glenn’s apparent dislike of the AV as “bigotry”, but in the same breath dismissed “Ebonics” as something implicitly inferior. Don’t judge my vernacular as Black, and turn away, Andrew. You may not admit this to yourself, but that’s prejudice and bigotry.
Oh NO I di’int!
OK, setting aside one person’s attempt to hijack the blog…
Getting back onto the actual subject of the blog entry – as I made pretty clear in the blog entry itself, even as written, “assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (setting aside concerns over emou, since I have shown that it is normally used in the same was as “will” – which can be predictive or imperative), the text isn’t a problem for soul sleep as it refers to the experience of the dying criminal, and even if soul sleep is true (as I think it is), the experience of Paradise would have been immediate.
Regarding the second possibility (that the comma belongs after “today”), biblical commentators that I have read have never actually challenged Bullinger’s observation (either because they haven’t read Bullinger, or because they’ve checked the way semeron is used and they did not rebut Bullinger because they saw that his observation was correct). Now having seen someone actually try to come up with counterexamples (and fail, in my view, for reasons already explained), the discussion has reinforced the confidence I have that Bullinger was demonstrably right and that his observation stands up to attempted counterexamples.
Saying that his observation was right (which it is), however, doesn’t mean that his proposed translation has got to be correct. It only means that it cannot be dismissed and is a live possibility. After all, it’s also true that there’s a pattern of how Amen lego soi (“Assuredly I say to you”) and similar phrases are used. We have no right to automatically privilege one over the other. There’s no opportunity to be dogmatic about it.
Well call me impressed. I had heard of the “the comma’s in the wrong place” line of argument before, but I had only heard of it from reactionary types who just dismissed it as a way of “changing the word of God.” It’s no such thing. It’s a real question about how to best translated and express the word of God, surely. Actually seeing it well explained and (very successfully, I think) defended from some attempts at rebuttal is an eye opener. Like you, Glenn I wouldn’t say that you’ve shown that this is definitely the correct translation (with the comma after “today), but I hand it to you. I can’t just ignore it or assume it’s not plausible anymore.
Andrew, sorry, but I think your counterexamples were simply not counterexamples as Glenn showed. Quoting someone else’s sentence means that even though the first word of the quote appears within your sentence, you still have to regard it as the first word of a sentence (namely, someone else’s sentence).
I hope you do publish on this, Glenn. Other people need to at least be exposed to this. It’s not earth shattering stuff, but it’s still interesting.
In its original printing, behold Glenn’s Golden Grail:
It actually seemed pretty funny to see Glenn’s source. One tiny entry, in one lexicon, on page 810-811, inventing a rule that no other lexicon or translation team has recognized, but he cites his own rule as if it were an authority when he writes his “Lazarus and the Rich Man” article. Yet he doesn’t claim that any other verse suffered in translation because of lacking his proposed “rule.”
Apparently this “rule” was created for the sole purpose of supporting his explanation of a single verse. Not only have critics pointed out that his supposed LXX references do not match the patterns that he says they do, but even looking at his lexicon entry you can see where he gives a non-conclusive example as positive support that could be interpreted either way.
I hope you do publish something, Glenn. You’ll need to do better. Continued postings protesting that you’ve “answered everything” won’t hold up in an actual article.
I want to see how you justify circular logic that you are allowed to determine phrasing before applying your rule of how to determine phrasing. Your “rule” doesn’t work if treated as a rule, and even if you had no contradictions, you lack a sufficient sample set to establish a rule, let alone enough to outnumber the already well-recognized established rule concerning Christ’s introductory form of speech.
I’d like to see you publish that. So publish something, and try to be more convincing this time, because you’ll also be arguing against the whole world of Greek scholarship and the entire history of Bible translation. It won’t be your personal blog anymore, and you can’t discredit all of them with religious slurs.
Andrew, I’m not sure if you knew this, but acting scornfully towards a claim about an observable pattern is not the same as a rebuttal. Just a minor correction though: I won’t be arguing against any Greek scholarship, because no serious Greek scholarship (that I am aware of) has ever been published showing (or even trying to show) that Bullinger’s observation is incorrect. It’s amazing, even though so many people might have a theological reason to want to do so, they don’t do it. I actually take heart from that.
What’s tragic is that I suspect there may be a person behind the name “andrew patrick” who really sincerely believes that he’s serving as some sort of prophetic voice, taking wicked people like you to task Glenn. It’s tragic, it’s crazy, but it may just be why he’s here.
I have to agree with your assessment though – there’s some outrageously dishonest quoting in his last comment. Why even reply to him? Surely you’re only encouraging him. I think he’s probably more visible at your blog than anywhere else on the internet. Does his ego really need stroking by answering him? I wouldn’t. There are serious people who would actually benefit from your comments. Don’t cast your pearls in that direction anymore – that’s my advice anyway.
Hi guy – I did appreciate your comments about Luke 23:43 – a French friend and I were discussing about this text and your comment is exactly what we think about it – no matter how the “traditional” translations show it, the most important is the context – I did appreciate the text in old Greek…that man could never be with Jesus at that same day in Paradise! for sure comma thanks comma Bosco (A comma can really makes a lot of difference!)
I hope you are still responding to this post. I find your grammatical argument interesting, and I’m still thinking through it. I’ve also read through most of you debate with Andrew Patrick (I hope this doesn’t stir up bad memories for you : ). He brought up a point that had crossed my mind as well, namely, how the phrase “truly I say to you” is used. Your response was basically, why does the usage of that phrase take precedent over the usage of “today.” It’s a good question. My initial response would be that the former is a very idiosyncratic phrase intimately connected to Jesus, which, by my count is used 76 times. It seems very much like a catch phrase that would govern the grammar around it. The word “today” is just a word with little significance in all the recorded statements of Jesus (used only 20 times in the Gospel and not everyone is spoken by Jesus). Although, “today” may follow a certain grammatical rule, it seems that such an important phrase would take precedent.
Anyway, of the 76 occurrence of the phrase, “that” is used 31 times after “to you.” I cannot find any discernible reason for its inclusion or absence. It does not seem there is any change of meaning or usage whether it is there or not. What is clear is that “that” could easily be put in directly after “to you” in every instance. So, it seems even when “that” is not explicit, it is understood. An understood or implied “that” would still move “today” to the next clause.
I was curious if you had any thoughts on the matter. Thanks
Greek syntax requires the comma to be where it is in the KJV and all modern versions except the corrupt NWT, which is actually not a translation at all. Please read my study on the matter here:
I teach Greek at the undergraduate and graduate level and have read through the NT in Greek several times.
Thomas Ross, M. A., M. Div., Th. M., Ph. D. (cand.)
Thanks for your comment, Thomas.
Thomas, without re-litigating everything that has already been said, I would just observe two things: Firstly, obviously the rules of Koine Greek grammar (like those of Hebrew grammar or of any ancient language) are supposed to reflect actual usage, rather than vice versa. Secondly, even if the comma belongs where you say that it does (and in the article I hopefully let everyone know that I grant the force of the objection from “Amen lego soi,” which seems to be the same point that you’re making here), hopefully the primary point received here, as I tried to stress in the article, is that the verse is compatible with soul sleep, however it is punctuated. I’m not saying that you deny that of course, just making sure it remains in centre stage.
I have read E.W. Bullingers book and your article with great interest and whilst challenging the following scripture is sufficient enough to put the argument to rest:
Revelation 6:9-10 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
Here we have souls (psychē – soul, life, mind) that are clearly conscious after death with memory of what had transpired and calling upon God for justice. Further to this they are subsequently clothed in white robes and instructed to rest / wait for a while longer.
Revelation 6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
This passage is plain and clear, there is no possibility for re-wording it or moving punctuation to alter its meaning.
Additionally we see a dead Moses conversing with the Lord during the transfiguration:
Matthew 17:1-3 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Moses having been deceased for some time was conversing with the Lord Jesus:
Deuteronomy 34:5-7 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
Hi Paul – I know it’s tempting to just jump to our understanding of other verses when there’s a discussion in front of us about a particular passage. I generally – with all due respect – ignore that sort of response.
This blog post is about whether or not Luke 23:43 is compatible with soul sleep, and my conclusion is that they are compatible, even if Bullinger is wrong. This passage is compatible with soul sleep, even if soul sleep is false.
Whether your briefly stated interpretation of those other passages is correct is a different matter. I think you are quite mistaken about the meaning of those other passages, but that’s not important when considering the merits of this blog post.
Glenn. You stated in one of your above articles that you believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. I have found that over the many years I have been a believer,the specifics of this doctrine as understood by scholar and layman can vary considerably. How exactly do you understand this doctrine? You articulate well the same understanding I have about the state of the dead and the false understanding of most traditionalists regarding the immortal soul and eternal torment. I personally believe there is substantial scriptural evidence to doubt the doctrine of the Trinity, and would like to understand how you came to a different conclusion. Regards. Brad Tunell
Bradford, such questions can be sent privately (there is a contact form over on the right). It’s off-topic for this article.
I hold to the basics of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, so that I am not a tritheist or a modalist. There is one God, and God exists in three persons, the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit, each of whom is fully God, sharing in the divine essence, is distinct from the others, is without beginning, and exists eternally. I don’t insist on any particularly idiosyncratic version of the Trinity beyond the minimal necessities. But again, this is rather off-topic for this article on Luke 23:43.
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