Barry Newman's Blog

June 28, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XV)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 11:10 pm

The active forms

A brief comment should be made on the two active forms derived from “euaggelizo”. One text has already been referred to above – Rev 14: 6.  The other (Rev 10: 7) occurs in a reference to the mystery of God that he had proclaimed to his servants the prophets. Like the usage in Rev 14: 16, translations simply refer to “proclaiming” rather than “proclaiming the good news”.  The reference to “proclaiming” alone is deemed to be sufficient. In one case, the presence of the noun “euaggelion” is sufficient for the notion of “good news” to be evident.  In the other case, “the mystery of God” is what is being announced.  That the active voice is used in both instances may be partly a reflection of there being no need to refer to any other object of the verb, or it may simply reflect an idiosyncratic choice by the author.

The passive forms

The occurrence in Gal 1: 11 has already been mentioned – “the good news announced by me”. The two instances in 1 Peter translate: “The word of the Lord abides forever and this is the word, the good news announced to you” (1: 25) and “For this is also why the good news was announced to the dead” (4: 6). The other two cases are found in Hebrews: “For we also have had the good news announced to us just as to them” (Heb 4: 2) and “Those who formerly had the good news announced (to them) failed to enter because of disobedience” (Heb 4: 6).  From the point of view of the English language, each of these instances is indeed in the passive voice.  In the last three instances “good news” is probably not the most appropriate rendering.  Something like, “great news” or even “great declaration” may be more suitable.

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June 26, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XIV)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:25 pm

“Euaggelizomai” in close association with “euaggelion”

There are 4 instances where “euaggelizomai” is mentioned in close association with “euaggelion” and on each of these occasions “euaggelion” is delivered by  “euaggelizomai” (1 Cor 15: 1, 2 Cor 11: 7, Gal 1: 11, Rev 14: 6).

Given that what is being announced is “good news”, the verb itself does not need to be translated in such a way as to refer again to “good news”.  Indeed it would be quite strange to do so. In each case, the verb is commonly translated simply by such as, “preach”, “proclaim” or “announce”.  The words, “preach”, “proclaim”, “announce” and even “declare” tend to convey the idea of something “sober” or “grand” being brought to notice.  Besides, the general rule referred to earlier, that “when what is being announced or conveyed in some way or another is directly and explicitly referred to at that point in the text, a translation that refers simply to ‘announcing’ or similar seems permissible” certainly applies in these cases.  Explicit and direct reference is being made to what is being “announced”.  Referring to “good news” as “great news”, Paul had proclaimed “the great news” (1 Cor 15: 1, 2 Cor 11: 7), “the great news” had been preached by Paul (Gal 1: 11) [passive voice]) and an angel announces “great news” (Rev 14: 6).

Instances of “euaggelizomai” in relatively close association with “euaggelion”

There are 4 instances where the verb is in relatively close association with the noun “euaggelion”.  The references are to “how beautiful are the feet of those who announce good news … but not all the Israelites accepted the good news” (Rom 10: 15, 16), “in proclaiming the good news I make the gospel free of charge not making use of my right in the gospel” (1 Cor 9: 18) (note the two references to “gospel”), “I am astonished that … you are turning to a different gospel … some want to pervert the gospel of Christ but if we or an angel should proclaim good news to you contrary to the good news we proclaimed to you  let him be eternally condemned” (Gal 1: 6-8) (note the two references to “proclaiming good news” and the two references to “good news”).

June 24, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XIII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:15 pm

“Euaggelizomai” in the New Testament

Euaggelizomai” is found 52 times in the New Testament.  Five times it occurs in the passive voice (Gal 1: 11, 1 Pet 1: 25; 4: 6, Heb 4: 2, 6) and on the other occasions it is judge to be in the middle voice, though many forms are common to both middle and passive voice.  Additionally, the verb in active voice, “euaggelizo”, occurs twice (Rev 10: 7:14: 6).  Combining all voices, the moods represented are indicative (20), and subjunctive (4), and it occurs as an infinitive on 10 occasions and as a participle 20 times.  All participles referred to the person, persons or means by which the “good news” was proclaimed.

Even though the number of New Testament instances of “euaggelizomai” and “euaggelizo” and the number of those external to the New Testament that were examined were relatively small, the distribution of voices, moods and the number of instances of the verb forms occurring as infinitives or participles were quite similar.  See Tables 1 and 2

Voice/Source

Passive

Middle

Active

Total

New Testament

5

47

2

54

External to the New Testament

5

50

2

57

Table 1

Distribution of the passive, middle and active voice for the verb forms “euaggelizomai” and “euaggelizo” in the New Testament and external to the New Testament

Mood, Infinitive, participle/ Source

Indicative

Imperative

Subjunctive

Optative

Infinitive

Participle

Total

New Testament

20

4

10

20

54

External to the New Testament

17

3

1

12

24

57

Table 2

Distribution of the indicative, imperative and subjunctive moods, and occurrences as an infinitive or as a participle for the verb forms “euaggelizomai” and  “euaggelizo” in  the New Testament and external to the New Testament

June 22, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:48 pm

“Euaggelizomai” in the Greek literature external to the New Testament

Using the TLG program I located 55 instances of “euaggelizomai in the Greek literature external to the New Testament up until about the beginning of the 2nd century AD.  17 were in the indicative mood, 3 were in the imperative mood and there was 1 example where the optative mood was involved. 11 were infinitives and 23 were participles.  All participles referred to the person, persons or means by which the “good news was proclaimed”. As for voice, 5 were passive with 50 judged to be of middle voice, while recognising that in many cases, middle and passive voices cannot be distinguished using form alone.  Additionally, there were 2 instances where the active verb, “euaggelizo” was found.  1 occurred as an infinitive, the other as a participle. The sources for both “euaggelizomai” and “euaggelizo” were: the Septuagint (20), Flavius Josephus (13), Philo Judaeus (12), Plutarch (3), Menader (2) and Aristophanes, Demosthenes, Lycurgus of Athens, Theophrastus, Soranus, Vitae Aesopi and Clement of Rome (1 each).  There was no reference to the noun, “euaggelion”, in any of the instances.

In a number of cases, it seems appropriate simply to translate “euaggelizomai” as “announcing” or similar without an explicit reference to “good news”.  Some examples: the announcing that it was the time for reaping a crop, the blossoming of an almond tree indicating that there would be a plentiful supply of fruit, and the declaring to certain Arabs by their women folk that they had so seduced some Hebrews that they had turned from God.

The general rule seems to be that, when what is being announced or conveyed in some way or another is directly and explicitly referred to at that point in the text, a translation that refers simply to “announcing” or similar seems permissible. Conversely, it seems to be that where there is no direct explicit reference to what is being “announced” or conveyed at that place in the text, something like “good news” may need to be referred to. None the less, depending on the actual text, the omission of any reference to “good news” may sometimes seem appropriate even when there is no direct and explicit mention of what is being announced or conveyed at that point in the text.

If something like, “making the announcement” were used in a translation, then supplying “good news” as part of the translation might be considered unnecessary, even if no direct an explicit reference were made to what that announcement was about at that place in the text.  The same would be true if “preaching”, in one grammatical form or another, could have been used as a translation for the verb. However there were no instances in the Greek literature external to the New Testament were, “preaching” in any grammatical form could have been used as an appropriate translation of “euaggelizomai” in any of its forms.

However, in all instances, whether or not there was a direct and explicit reference to what was being announced or conveyed, what was being announced or conveyed was “good news”, at least from someone’s point of view. Consequently, however the text is translated the underlying sense is that of announcing or conveying in one way or another, “good news”.

Some further examples: husbands eager to send good news to their wives, longing for and expecting them; a person stating he did not exult in the good fortune of foreigners telling glad tidings to anyone, the advice being given that good news being delivered should be carried swiftly, bad news, slowly, the Philistines sending good news to their idols and to their people, the good news that Gaius had made a complete recovery being announced by travellers as they arrived in a city, Joshua announcing the good news of the impending capture of the city, a person bringing good news that a person’s asses are safe. A deserter bringing good news to Vespasian concerning the disposition of a general’s troops. In the first four instances, there being no direct explicit reference to what was being spoken of, the translation probably needs to make a reference to “good news” or something similar, given the actual verbs being used.  In the other examples given, it might be judged that a simple reference to “announcing”, “declaring” or similar is sufficient.  Sometimes the news is of such a nature that one must be careful not to give too grand a sense to the announcing, by using a word such as, “proclaiming’ or even the word “announcing” itself.

For some additional and confirmatory material see, Hauck, F.[1] He provides an extensive survey of the usage of the verb (and related forms) and its meaning both in Biblical and non-Biblical material.

Though not explicitly referred to in Hauck’s work, the verb may have sometimes carried with it the sense of a messenger delivering his news with considerable flourish or gravitas.  The “good” aspect of his delivery was the considerable style in which the announcement was made. If my memory is correct, some years ago D. Robinson argued for something along these lines.  This would give weight to the idea that sometimes, the verb could simply be translated using “announcing”, “declaring”, “proclaiming” or similar, with the understanding that this was done with flourish, gravitas, grandeur or even exuberance.


[1] Hauck, F. , “euaggelizomai, euaggelion, proeuaggelizomai, euaggelistes” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, volume II, (trans. Bromiley, G.W.), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1964, 707-737

 

June 20, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XI)

Filed under: Uncategorized — barrynewman @ 11:02 pm

The grammatical form

As referred to above, “euaggelion” is neuter in gender. Of the 34 instances found outside of the New Testament, 25 were plural in form – “euaggelia” (20), “euaggelion” (4), and “euaggeliois” (1) with all 9 that were singular in form being “euaggelion”.  The plural forms dealt with singular entities in almost all if not all instances.

Of the 75 instances occurring in the New Testament, all were singular in form: “euaggelion” (39), “euaggeliou” (26) and “euaggelio(i)” (10)

The use of the plural in neuter forms to describe a single identity is not uncommon.  The use of the singular exclusively in the New Testament is however deserving of some comment.  Perhaps an explanation of, or an understanding of the phenomenon, can be found in what follows.

The use of the definite article

In the New Testament all but four of the 34 instances were accompanied by the definite article. In two of the 34 occurrences the definite article was accompanied by “touto” providing the meaning of “this” – the demonstrative adjective.  In the Greek literature external to the New Testament there were only three instances of the use of the definite article and it was with “euaggelion” in the singular.  It may be thought that there could be a general situation that when “euaggelion” is in the singular it is accompanied by the definite article.  However in the Greek literature external to the New Testament, the definite article only accompanied the singular form in 3 of the 9 possibilities observed.

Perhaps what should be recognised about the New Testament examples is that the gospel being referred to is the one and only definitive gospel, no matter how varied the terms in which it is expressed.  It is the gospel, spoken of twice as “this gospel”, which comes from God and is about him and his Son.  Of all the “good news” events, ideas, situations and pronouncements in the world, there has been this one and only supremely “good news” announcement from God.

However some comment should be made about the four instances in the New Testament where no definite article appears.  In two of the examples, the actual reference is to “a different gospel” (2 Cor 11: 4; Gal 1: 6).  Although in both instances Paul seems to have particular expressions of a different gospel in mind, his remarks were applicable to any different gospel and were probably so intended. This leaves us with the two “exceptional” instances – found in Rom 1: 1 and Rev 14: 6.

Rom 1: 1 reads, “eis euaggelion Theou”.  There are several examples of “eis to euaggelion tou Christou” and “to euaggelion tou Theou” in the New Testament, so the lack of the definite article in Rom 1: 1 is not to be explained by appealing to other aspects of the construction involving “euaggelion”.  Perhaps, if the real explanation is not a mundane one, it is Paul giving considerable solemnity to the “gospel” of God as he refers to at the very beginning of his lengthy theological and pastoral treatise.

As mentioned above, the passage in Rev 14: 6 concerns an angel who proclaims “an eternal gospel” (euaggelion aionion) to all those who dwell in earth, saying with a loud voice, “ Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water”.  Perhaps the reason why “euaggelion” is not accompanied by the definite article in this case is that unlike other occurrences of “gospel” in the New Testament, in this situation “gospel” refers to this isolated pronouncement.  If that is the case, one should not consider this instance as an example of the usage of “gospel” as “the gospel” as referred to almost entirely throughout the rest of the New Testament.

Finally, though the gospel of the New Testament is “the” gospel, it is not to be thought of as some simple statement concerning a single event.  In its totality it would require a lengthy description concerning a number of weighty matters.  By comparison the “good news” of the Greek literature external to the New Testament is almost always concerned with just one event, situation or activity.

June 17, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part X)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:55 pm

“Euaggelion” – “good news”?

In all instances found in the Greek literature external to the New Testament (including where the female noun was involved), the concept involved was one of “good news”.  Often the good news was with respect to a battle having been won, or an enemy having died.  Sometimes it was in terms of a person being appointed again to a prestige office. By way of some other specific examples, on one occasion it was with respect to having heard that a brother was safe, on another occasion there was a request for a reward for bringing good news, and in another there was a general comment about good news coming in quick succession by letter and messenger. Very commonly, and associated with a military victory, reference was made to offering a good tidings sacrifice.

In the New Testament, the gospel certainly reflects a “good news” character in almost all instances.  The concept of “good news” being present in all known instances outside of the New Testament up until around New Testament times would seem to suggest that one should so understand the gospel in all New Testament examples.  However, the text of Romans 2: 16 and perhaps that of Revelation 14: 6 seem to argue against reaching such a conclusion.  In Romans 2: 16 Paul identifies as one element of the gospel that one day God will judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.  Though there is a focus on the fact that Christ Jesus will be the judge, that judgement will occur, is the ultimate context.  The text in Revelation is also concerned with judgement.  It is not good news for some.   God is about to execute judgement.  Righteousness will be upheld, wickedness will be punished and justice will be the outcome.

Consequently translating “euaggelion” as “good news” or something similar, throughout the New Testament, would seem to be inappropriate particularly when judgment is the context.  However, that may partly be because we are not seeing things from God’s perspective.  Yet even when judgement is the context, “good news” even seen as such from God’s point of view, as a translation, may convey too light hearted an understanding.  A translation referring to “great news”, which can carry with it a sense of solemnity, may sometimes better express the intended meaning. In fact “solemn news” may be an even better rendering in some instances.  Furthermore, the idea of “news” does not automatically carry with it the grandeur that belongs to the “gospel”.  It is not “news” so much as an important announcement, a proclamation from a king, a declaration from a ruler over all.  So while “good news” will continue to be a common translation, we do well to remember the greatness, the grandeur, the wonder and the surpassing goodness of the “gospel” as well as in some respects, its very sober and sombre character.

June 14, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part IX)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:27 pm

“Euaggelion” in the Greek literature outside of the New Testament compared with “Euaggelion” in the New Testament

Using the TLG (Thesaurus Linguae Graeca) program I located 45 instances of the neuter noun “euaggelion” and its female equivalent “euaggelia” in the Greek literature external to the New Testament up until the beginning of the 2nd century AD.  Of course, “euaggelion” and “euaggelia” were found in various forms. There were 25 instances where the actual word, “euaggelia” occurred. Although it is not possible to be absolutely definitive as to whether a plural neuter form or a single feminine form was involved, the judgement as to whether or not a feminine or neuter form was in use was made, with some confidence,on the basis of the existence of other forms used in the particular source where the actual form, “euaggelia” was found.  As a result it was determined that there were 34 instances of the neuter noun “euaggelion” and 11 instances of the female equivalent “euaggelia”.

With respect to “euaggelion”, Plutarch supplied the bulk of the references (20) with a few multiple examples from Aristophanes (3), Appianus (3), Homer (2), Xenophon (2) and Isocrates, Aeschines, Diodorusus Siculus and Achilles Tatius (1 each).

Concerning “euaggelia”, 8 instances were found in the Septuagint and 3 in writings by Flavius Josephus.  In one of the instances in the Septuagint, the sense is probably something like a “reward” but its usage appears to involve a pun based on the sense of “good news”.  The messenger had brought what he thought was good news so he would have like to have received good news himself.

In what follows, given that there are no instances of the female noun in the New Testament, the focus is on the neuter noun, “euaggelion”.

June 13, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part VIII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 11:08 pm

In summary

The gospel has a primary focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus but has a breadth and depth to it not to be captured by some simple definition. Nor is it to be understood simply by referring to the word “euaggelion” alone. However the word occurs 75 times in the New Testament in a large variety of contexts and reference only to that word makes it clear that the gospel is about Jesus, comes from God and is about him, has been proclaimed and announced, is true and glorious, relates to the great judgement day, when lived by results in both suffering and blessing, and was the substance of Paul’s preaching.  There is one instance where “euaggelion” may be a reference to a particular gospel (Rev 14: 6) rather than the gospel that so dominates the passages of the New Testament (see below).

The New Testament books in which the word occurs and its frequency in those books are as follows:

Matthew (4), Mark (7), Acts (2), Romans (9), 1 Corinthians (8), 2 Corinthians (8), Galatians (7), Ephesians (4), Philippians (9), Colossians (2), 1 Thessalonians (6), 2 Thessalonians (2), 1 Timothy (1), 2 Timothy (3), Philemon (1), 1 Peter (1), Revelation (1).  The books with the greatest relative frequency are: Galatians and Philippians.  In the case of Galatians this is probably to be explained by recognising its overriding concern that the believers in Galatia not be wooed away from the gospel. In Philippians the bulk of the instances relate to the fellowship that Paul had with the believers in Philippi in the promotion of the gospel.

June 11, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclmation (part VII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:41 pm

Judgement and the gospel

Paul states that according to his gospel, on the day of judgement, the secrets of men will be judged and the judgment will be carried out by Christ Jesus (Rom 2: 16).  In a passage that most of have some difficulty in understanding, Paul speaks of Israel, that though with respect to election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers, as regards the gospel, they are enemies of God (Rom 11: 28).  Shall those who remain the enemies of God, whatever their heritage, escape judgement? The coming judgement is an aspect of the gospel. In a solemn text in Revelation there is a reference to an angel with an eternal gospel to proclaim (euaggelizomai) to all earth dwellers, but when he speaks with a loud voice, it is, “Fear God and give glory to him for the hour of his judgment has come; worship him” (Rev 14: 6).  The gospel that this angel has to proclaim may be a particular gospel (see later) but it too concerns judgment.

Life under the gospel

Living under the gospel can be and should be expected to be very difficult and yet not without blessings beyond compare. Those who leave house or brothers or sister or mother or father or children or lands for the sake of Jesus and for the gospel receive extraordinarily much together with persecutions and in the coming age eternal life (Mark 10: 29).  Indeed living under the gospel can cost a person his life but it means his life will be saved. Jesus said he who loses his life for my sake and the gospel will save it (Mark 8: 35). Paul himself suffered much and was shamefully treated at Philippi but with courage in God he spoke (laleo) to the Thessalonians the gospel of God in the face of much opposition (1 Thess 2: 2).  Paul had been imprisoned for the gospel (Philemon 13) and not only once. He could write to Timothy in his last days exhorting Timothy not to be ashamed of testifying to the Lord but sharing in suffering for the gospel in the power of God (2 Timothy 1: 8). Yet in spite of his suffering for the gospel, Paul lived his life in a way that promoted the gospel. To the weak he become weak that he might win the weak and become all things to all men that he might by all means save some, doing it all for the sake of the gospel that he might share in its blessings (1 Cor 9: 22, 23).  Living as God would have us to live we must not lose heart (2 Cor 4: 1, 21).

Paul and the gospel

Paul saw himself as serving God in the gospel (Rom 1: 9), the gospel that God had entrusted to him (Gal 2: 7; 1 Thess 2: 4; 1 Tim 1: 11).  This was the gospel he proclaimed (kerusso) (Gal 2: 2) and announced (euaggelizomai) (1 Cor 9: 18; 15: 1; 2 Cor 11: 7; Gal 1: 11).  But he did not want to abuse his authority in the gospel (1 Cor 9: 18). He became the father of the believing Corinthians through the gospel (1 Cor 4: 15) and acknowledged others who were fellow workers with him in the gospel (Phil 1: 5, 27; 2: 22; 4: 3, 15; 1 Thess 3: 2).  His proclaiming and announcing was so associated with the gospel that he could speak of “my gospel” (Rom 2: 16; 16: 25; 2 Tim 2: 8) and when referring also to those who worked with him, “our gospel” (2 Cor 4: 3; 1 Thess 1; 5; 2 Thess 2: 14).

Paul was absolutely aware that the gospel came from God and not himself and was about God and his Son and was not about him. When he wrote of “my gospel” and “our gospel” he was merely identifying himself as a preacher of that gospel, the gospel that had been entrusted to him.

June 8, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part VI)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:18 pm

The truth of the gospel

Of course the gospel is the truth.  It comes from God and is about him and his Son.  But Paul sometimes found it necessary to refer to the gospel in connection with the notion of truth presumably to remind his hearers that the gospel is indeed true.  The gospel deals with reality. Paul did not want them to be drawn towards a false gospel.  His warnings still apply today.

To the Thessalonians he writes of the truth to which they were called through the gospel (2 Thess 2: 1), to the Ephesians of the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation, and to the Galatians of the need to preserve the truth of the gospel (Gal 2: 5). But he also speaks of those who do not walk uprightly according to the truth of the gospel (Gal 2: 14), those who pervert the gospel of (the) Christ (Gal 1: 7) and the possibility of a different gospel and people turning to such a gospel (2 Cor 11: 4; Gal 1: 6).

The glorious gospel

Paul speaks to the Ephesian elders of the gospel of the grace, the great kindness of God (Acts 20: 24) and writes to the Galatians about turning to a different gospel, so quickly deserting him who called them in the grace of Christ (Gal 1: 6).  Life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel (2 Tim 1: 10) and there is light to be seen in the glory of the gospel of (the) Christ (2 Cor 4: 4). The gospel is the gospel of peace (Eph 6: 15) and one can speak confidently of the hope of the gospel (Col 1: 23). For Paul it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith (Rom 1: 16) and in accordance with the mercy of God, we gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph 3: 6).  The blessings of the gospel are to be experienced by those who promote the gospel ( 1 Cor 9: 23).

How good is this gospel!  To experience the grace of God which comes through Christ is to have light shine in one’s heart and to know and experience now and in the world to come all that flows from God’s merciful bounty.  Why would anyone turn to a different gospel or have their hope in any philosophy, any religious belief, any endeavour, any achievement, anything constructed, thought of, by man?

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