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Thread: The problems with Greek translation.

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    Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Universal Salvation may have began with Origen, it seems:

    Origen, Bardaiṣan, and the Origin of Universal Salvation*

    ''Is Origen of Alexandria the inventor of the eschatological doctrine of apokatastasis— of the eventual return of all creatures to the Good, that is, God, and thus universal salvation? Certainly, he is one of its chief supporters in all of history, and he is, as far as we know, the first to have maintained it in a complete and coherent way, so that all of his philosophy of history, protology, and anthropology is oriented toward this telos.1 There are, however, significant antecedents to his mature and articulate theorization, at least some of which he surely knew very well, and there is even a possible parallel. For this conception did not appear ex nihilo, but in a cultural context rich in suggestions and premises, and in a philosophical framework of lively discussions concerning fate, free will, theodicy, and the eternal destiny of rational creatures.''

  2. Top | #52
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    "eternal" is not an alien Western / English concept imported into the ancient Greek text.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    As there are no Greek words for eternal or everlasting, the idea of . . . .
    This is simply false. The word aionios does include the meaning "eternal" or "everlasting."

    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    I've found Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, αἰώνιος, and it does include "eternal" as a translation.
    It helps to check the Lexicon.

    DBT: As there are no Greek words for eternal or everlasting, the idea of eternal damnation and eternal life appears to fall apart on translation, apparently making the doctrine of eternal life and eternal punishment/damnation false?

    ''I understand the meaning of the word aionios (often appearing in genitive plural aionion) in Greek to carry the connotation of 'pertaining to the age' or 'age enduring.' The word is a form of the word we have borrowed into English from the Latin transliteration of the Greek as aeon or eon. The problems in interpreting it as the English “eternal” or “everlasting” are several.''
    No, "eternal" and "everlasting" are not tainted English ideas. They are in the ancient texts, as is obvious from many examples. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin, translated aionios as "eternal," and it was not his tainted English heritage which put that idea into his head. Trust me -- Jerome in the 4th century was not a victim of King James Bible contamination when he translated the Greek into Latin vitam aeternam = English eternal life.


    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    From the Liddell-Scott dictionary, aiônios has such meanings as "holding an office or title for life, perpetual," Having some position for life means that it is bounded only by how long one will live, not by any feature of the position itself, like a fixed-length term. So in this context, it means "indefinitely", meaning that it has no intrinsically-specified end, though it can be ended by some outside cause.
    Plus, a little checking earlier, in the Septuagint, shows the Hebrew word for "eternal" or "everlasting" translated into Greek aionios. So it is even a pre-Christian Greek word which included "eternal" in its meaning.

    So obviously there was a Greek word (aionios) for "eternal" or "everlasting." There was probably also an Aramaic word for this.

  3. Top | #53
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Surprise, surprise, I agree with Lumpy here.

    This argument that aiönios != eternal seem to me a case of making the Bible in one's likeness, much like what Xenophanes pointed out 2500 years ago.

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    Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post

    This is simply false. The word aionios does include the meaning "eternal" or "everlasting."



    It helps to check the Lexicon.

    DBT: As there are no Greek words for eternal or everlasting, the idea of eternal damnation and eternal life appears to fall apart on translation, apparently making the doctrine of eternal life and eternal punishment/damnation false?

    ''I understand the meaning of the word aionios (often appearing in genitive plural aionion) in Greek to carry the connotation of 'pertaining to the age' or 'age enduring.' The word is a form of the word we have borrowed into English from the Latin transliteration of the Greek as aeon or eon. The problems in interpreting it as the English “eternal” or “everlasting” are several.''
    No, "eternal" and "everlasting" are not tainted English ideas. They are in the ancient texts, as is obvious from many examples. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin, translated aionios as "eternal," and it was not his tainted English heritage which put that idea into his head. Trust me -- Jerome in the 4th century was not a victim of King James Bible contamination when he translated the Greek into Latin vitam aeternam = English eternal life.


    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    From the Liddell-Scott dictionary, aiônios has such meanings as "holding an office or title for life, perpetual," Having some position for life means that it is bounded only by how long one will live, not by any feature of the position itself, like a fixed-length term. So in this context, it means "indefinitely", meaning that it has no intrinsically-specified end, though it can be ended by some outside cause.
    Plus, a little checking earlier, in the Septuagint, shows the Hebrew word for "eternal" or "everlasting" translated into Greek aionios. So it is even a pre-Christian Greek word which included "eternal" in its meaning.

    So obviously there was a Greek word (aionios) for "eternal" or "everlasting." There was probably also an Aramaic word for this.
    OK, then Christians who make that claim in an attempt to argue that Hell is not eternal (Universalists), that God is merciful because punishment is corrective and finite are quite simply wrong.

    That is my point.

    Their argument going something like this;

    Quote;
    ''The Bible speaks of at least 5 "aions" and perhaps many more. If there were "aions" in the past, then aions must have an end. The New Testament writers spoke of "the present wicked aion" which ended during that very generation. Obviously, it was followed by another "aion"-- the "aion" in which we presently live. If there are "aions" to come, it must mean that this one we live in will also end.

    There is a verse which says "the consummation of the aions" proving that each "aion" ends. So how can they be eternal?
    There is "the coming eon" (Matt.10:30, Luke 18:30
    There is "the present wicked eon" (Gal.1:4)
    There is "the oncoming eons (future)(Eph.2:7)
    There is "the conclusion of the eon (present) (Mt.13:39,40)
    There is "the secret concealed from the eons (past) (Eph.3:9)

    Plainly, the Greek word "aion" transliterated "eon" cannot mean "eternal." A study into the Greek of the Biblical period and before will bear this out.

    "Aionion" is the adjective of the noun "aion."

    Since grammar rules mandate an adjective CANNOT take on a greater force than its noun form, it is evident that "aionion" in any of its adjective forms (ios, ou, on) CANNOT possible mean "everlasting" or anything remotely indicating eternity or unending time.

    For example, "hourly" cannot mean "pertaining to days, weeks, months, or years. The word MUST mean "pertaining to an hour." Therefore, "aionion," the adjective form of the noun "aion" which clearly means a period of indeterminate TIME, CANNOT mean, "forever and ever, eternal, everlasting, eternity, etc." or other words which connote timelessness or unending ages. ''


    Quote:
    ''But there IS evidence from ancient Greek literature that kolasin meant corrective punishment. (Again, see Chad Holtz’ blog for more, because I don’t feel like turning this into yet another monster post.)

    In any case, the passage in Matthew 25 could be translated, “Then they will go away to the age of punishment, but the righteous to the age of life.” (Which at least would leave it more open to a range of interpretative possibilities.)

    Now, there’s a lot more to the kolasin aionion debate than this. (Riveting, isn’t it?) And saying that kolasin aionion could mean an “age of corrective punishment” isn’t the same as saying it definitely does mean an “age of corrective punishment.”

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Why should it be necessary to go through all this trouble to do this detective work? Especially if the Bible's author is an omnimax entity that wants to get its message across.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Why should it be necessary to go through all this trouble to do this detective work? Especially if the Bible's author is an omnimax entity that wants to get its message across.
    It would save a whole lot of trouble.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Universal Salvation may have began with Origen, it seems:

    Origen, Bardaiṣan, and the Origin of Universal Salvation*

    ''Is Origen of Alexandria the inventor of the eschatological doctrine of apokatastasis— of the eventual return of all creatures to the Good, that is, God, and thus universal salvation? Certainly, he is one of its chief supporters in all of history, and he is, as far as we know, the first to have maintained it in a complete and coherent way, so that all of his philosophy of history, protology, and anthropology is oriented toward this telos.1 There are, however, significant antecedents to his mature and articulate theorization, at least some of which he surely knew very well, and there is even a possible parallel. For this conception did not appear ex nihilo, but in a cultural context rich in suggestions and premises, and in a philosophical framework of lively discussions concerning fate, free will, theodicy, and the eternal destiny of rational creatures.''

    It should be quite "logical" to automatically expect believers to believe that ANY gods or maybe demi-gods would possess godly powers to raise up the dead.

    It's normal for variable types of believers, I suspect. Plagarisn is not the requirement for a salvation belief , IOWs.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Why should it be necessary to go through all this trouble to do this detective work? Especially if the Bible's author is an omnimax entity that wants to get its message across.
    Because you don't want to be taken for an idiot when someone notices that you naively approached an ancient text you knew to be in translation as though it had been written in your own time and tongue? That seems pretty straightforward to me. If your "omnimax" God exists, then it presumably is the creator of your fabulously complex brain. Why wouldn't it want you to use it? The idea that the only thing God would desire to give us are simple and straightforward messages not requiring of any thought or contemplation certainly contradicts the fundamentally mysterious character of God described in the Christian Scriptures.

    And it's not just translation issues you need to worry about, anyway; the concept itself is less than simple. I don't believe that any truly fundamental concept is ever really going to fit in the cage of language without difficulties. Language is our attempt to abstract a reality too complicated for us into simpler (but less accurate) categories that we can understand well enough to use functionally to communicate. It is not designed for or capable of encapsulating the world it describes perfectly. I may be accused of getting too abstract here, but an "Eternal life" is definitely one of those things I would not expect to fold neatly into three syllables without information being lost. What temporally living human can tell you anything about an eternal life? None of us have ever lived even a millenium, let alone fifty or a hundred or a million millenia, if that is what you have decided the term means. How can our language encapsulate that at all? If we did live that long, our language to describe time and the passage of time would be very different.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Why should it be necessary to go through all this trouble to do this detective work? Especially if the Bible's author is an omnimax entity that wants to get its message across.
    Because you don't want to be taken for an idiot when someone notices that you naively approached an ancient text you knew to be in translation as though it had been written in your own time and tongue? That seems pretty straightforward to me.
    But if such a text is presented as being absolute, final truth for all of humanity over all of time, then it's another story. It would be easier to implant such a supposed revelation in everybody's brains and be done with it.

    If your "omnimax" God exists, then it presumably is the creator of your fabulously complex brain. Why wouldn't it want you to use it?
    What a stupid argument. I try not to write impossibly cryptic messages and then complain about people not deciphering them. Let alone treat such messages as a gotcha, by making them easy to misunderstand and then saying "Gotcha!" when anyone misunderstands them.

    I also am far from being omnipotent or omniscient, and I am not going to brag about how I am omnibenevolent.
    The idea that the only thing God would desire to give us are simple and straightforward messages not requiring of any thought or contemplation certainly contradicts the fundamentally mysterious character of God described in the Christian Scriptures.
    Tell that to everybody who claims to know in incredibly gory detail what the Xian God supposedly wants. Such people need to know how very wrong they are.

    Politesse, I am not sure what you are claiming. Are you claiming that the Xian God is not omnipotent? Not omniscient? Not omnibenevolent? Any combination of these departures from being tri-omni?
    What temporally living human can tell you anything about an eternal life? None of us have ever lived even a millenium, let alone fifty or a hundred or a million millenia, if that is what you have decided the term means. How can our language encapsulate that at all? If we did live that long, our language to describe time and the passage of time would be very different.
    Mathematicians understand infinities just fine, even though their minds are as finite as everybody else's minds.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    But if such a text is presented as being absolute, final truth for all of humanity over all of time, then it's another story.
    Perhaps we shouldn't do that, then. The text itself has some very firm words against idolatry.
    It would be easier to implant such a supposed revelation in everybody's brains and be done with it.
    Are "easy" and "good" synonyms?

    What a stupid argument. I try not to write impossibly cryptic messages and then complain about people not deciphering them. Let alone treat such messages as a gotcha, by making them easy to misunderstand and then saying "Gotcha!" when anyone misunderstands them.
    Has God said "gotcha" to you lately?

    Tell that to everybody who claims to know in incredibly gory detail what the Xian God supposedly wants. Such people need to know how very wrong they are.
    Well yeah. They're numbskulls.

    Politesse, I am not sure what you are claiming. Are you claiming that the Xian God is not omnipotent? Not omniscient? Not omnibenevolent? Any combination of these departures from being tri-omni?
    I don't think those terms are even logically coherent. How could you apply them to anything?

    Mathematicians understand infinities just fine, even though their minds are as finite as everybody else's minds.
    No, they use abstractions and symbols to stand in for concepts their minds cannot actually comprehend. You can comprehend after a fashion the infinity symbol and what it is meant to represent. You cannot picture an infinite number of, say, dachsunds. Infinity is a very vague idea, translated into a very concrete symbol whose form is based on an ancient mythic archetype. Luckily, you don't need to truly understand the nature of something to be able to do mathematics around it. But that doesn't mean that the little curlicue actually is infinity; it only represents it. Similarly, the Bible might represent the divine Logos, the word of God. But it cannot be the word of God. If you worship the Bible, you are worshiping ink blots on paper.

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