BAGD has BAGGAGE – like all of us!

The following is my response to someone else taking polite issue to my article on Katargeo. The gist of it was that the justly-respected BAGD more or less allows for the greater variance of meanings for katargeo than I argued for.

A few words on the authors of BAGD. I have great respect for the hard work they did, but there needs also to be a willingness to suspect their conclusions. To use Luther’s terminology (in a different context) we must maintain a magisterial respect for God’s Word and relegate any other comments and commentary to a ministerial role.

To say, “well, these are Greek scholars. They should have the final say in what katargeo must mean” is to forget that they are also just men. Like all men, they are prone to presuppositions. They – and all of us – are like the blind Indians who approached an elephant and came up with different definitions of what they were handling; the man who felt the trunk said it was a snake, the man who felt the leg said it was a tree, and so on.

Likewise the liberal approaches the Bible with a liberal bent, the dispensationalist approaches it allowing his futurist framework to stay intact, etc.

In other words BAGD, has baggage -like all of us.

Walter Bauer – not sure of his theological views but Wiki has this:
“Through studies of historical records Bauer concluded that what came to be known as orthodoxy was just one of numerous forms of Christianity in the early centuries. It was the form of Christianity practiced in Rome that exercised the uniquely dominant influence over the development of orthodoxy and acquired the majority of converts over time.”

From Jstor.org (http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1509492?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21104583219437):

Bauer “tried to prove that in many regions what came to be known as “heresy” was in fact the original manifestation of Christianity. The “good guys”of Christianity, in Bauer’s view, included Marcion and Mani! Through the countering opposition of others like Polycarp and Clement, the goalposts of were moved, settling us into a new orthodoxy.

William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich were, respectively, Lutheran and United Evangelical Church (Brethren). This is not meant to dismiss their studies, but just to remind us that this background can cloud – I believe does cloud – their lexical judgments. More on this later.

Frederick Danker – Lutheran pastor from Concordia & University of Chicago, wrote some great works on the Greek classics.

I like this quote from him:

“Good scholars must be both honest and accurate….in my profession, no matter what we say, someone disagrees with us.”

More problematic is his redefining the term “Jew” as merely “Judean”. This greatly alters the veracity of many passages in the OT and NT when it speaks of God’s promises and judgments concerning them. IMO Danker’s eschatology, not to mention his background, insinuated a smoother definitions to Jew to allow for an easier verdict on the actions of these “Judeans” (sic) who rejected Christ.

One website has this:
“But he determined that “Jews” should be translated as “Judeans,” referring to the proper name of the people who then lived in southern Palestine.


“Over the centuries, the word ‘Jew’ in translations got so distorted and caused so much unnecessary acrimony, causing such tragedies between Christians and Jews,” the Rev. Danker told the Post-Dispatch in 2001, in an interview about his lexicon.”

All of this is just a reminder that, when it comes to studying the Bible, the best tool is the Bible itself, study and prayer. This is not to say that Greek and Hebrew lexicons aren’t helpful, just that they are ministerial tools.

About asterisktom

I breathe, therefore I blog.
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