NovT, διακρίνομαι, and ‘Doubts About Doubt’

Vol. 49, no. 1 (2007) and Vol. 48, no. 4 (2006) of Novum Testamentum have just been released online (full text available to institutions/individuals with a subscription). 49.1 contains an article by Peter Spitaler on a subject near and dear to students of the Epistle of James:

Διακρíνεσθαι in Mt. 21:21, Mk. 11:23, Acts 10:20, Rom. 4:20, 14:23, Jas. 1:6, and Jude 22 — the ‘Semantic Shift’ That Went Unnoticed by Patristic Authors,” Novum Testamentum 49.1 (2007): 1–39.

This article investigates how patristic and medieval writers interpret New Testament passages with the middle/passive διακρίνω. Contemporary NT scholars posit a difference between NT and classical/Hellenistic Greek meanings and usually justify their choice by means of a semantic shift. In the texts analyzed for this article, there is little evidence that Greek patristic and medieval authors acknowledge a meaning of διακρίνομαι that deviates from the Koine meaning. If, indeed, a semantic shift took place, they show no awareness of that movement. The transformation of meaning first occurs in translations from Greek to Latin.

Spitaler has previously published on the meaning of διακρίνομαι in Biblica:

Doubt or Dispute (Jude 9 and 22-23). Rereading a Special New Testament Meaning through the Lense of Internal Evidence,” Biblica 87 (2006): 201–222.

The middle/passive verb διακρίνομαι occurs twice in Jude’s letter. It is usually rendered with the classical / Hellenistic meaning “dispute” in v. 9, and the special NT meaning “doubt” in v. 22. Beginning with a brief discussion of the methodological problems inherent in the special NT meaning approach to διακρίνομαι, this article offers an interpretation of vv. 9 and 22 based on the letter’s internal evidence. The content of Jude’s letter permits διακρίνομαι to be consistently translated with its classical / Hellenistic meaning, “dispute” or “contest”.

See also:

David De Graaf, “Some Doubts About Doubt: The New Testament Use of Διακρίνω,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48 (2005): 733–755. (Check here for availability.) An abstract is not available, but here are the opening and closing words of the article:

The verb διακρίνω appears nineteen times in the Greek NT. In most translations, nine of these instances (Matt 21:21; Mark 11:23; Acts 10:20; 11:12; Rom 4:20; 14:23; jas 1:6; Jude 22) are rendered with words that express uncertainty, such as “doubt,” “hesitate,” or “waver.” The argument set forth in this article is that “uncertainty” is not the meaning that the biblical authors intended to convey in these nine cases, and that they should instead be rendered with words that express divided loyalty or disunity. (p. 733)

. . . In instances where διακρίνω is explicitly contrasted with a member of the πίστ- word group, the latter should be taken to have a sense that is more readily translated with the terms “loyalty” or “faithfulness” than with “faith.” (p. 755)

Time does not permit me to interact with these articles on the blog. Suffice it to say, if you are interested in what James has to say about doubt contrasted with faith, then these articles are worth reading. They challenge the “special NT meaning of” διακρίνω — “doubt.” Instead, πίστ* and διακρίνω often have much more to do with one’s loyalties and character rather than with one’s mental assent to an unprovable concept.

Patrick’s James the Lord’s Brother – rough draft in HTML

Previously I posted on finding a PDF scan of William Patrick’s James the Lord’s Brother (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1906) on the Internet Archive (see previous post). The work is still available as a 35MB PDF, but I have done a rough scan and edit of the work into HTML (AVAILABLE HERE).

This is a very rough scan. I have not proofread it, and the formatting of verse references used in the original text did not scan well (as of now there is no dividing punctuation between all chapter and verse numbers). This draft has other formatting issues with italics, etc. So, be sure to check this scan against the PDF. Also, the Scripture and subject indexes are neither formatted nor proofread.

I’ve assigned “anchors” to all page numbers, so if you’re interested in citing a particular page in this document, just add # followed immediately by the page number in the document url. Example:

http://jamesthejust.oldinthenew.org/patrick.html#98 will take you to pg. 98 (Ch. 5 on “The Epistle of James”).

Again, for the sake of any Luddites, here are a few links for obtaining a paper copy of Patrick’s work: Open WorldCat / Amazon / used.addall.com / Bookfinder

*After looking around a bit, I also found F. J. A. Hort’s Judaistic Christianity (London: Macmillan, 1894) on the internet archives. Perhaps I will be able to OCR scan this and make it available as well.

Sale on Sacra Pagina James Commentary

Patrick Hartin’s commentary on James is on sale at Eisenbrauns.

Regular price: $39.95
Sale price: $21.22
To expensive? Find it in a library.

Written for the Sacra Pagina series (Liturgical Press), this commentary represents a career’s worth of quality scholarship on the Epistle of James. Hartin has established himself as a top-notch James scholar, authoring several important works, including: James and the Q Sayings of Jesus, A Spirituality of Perfection in James, James of Jerusalem: Heir to Jesus of Nazareth, and several related articles.

Don’t miss your chance to purchase an inexpensive copy if you’re interested in quality James scholarship. As of 11:59 pm, 11 January 2007, there are only 6 left!

Converting Excess to Access… Theological Book Network

Did you get a bunch of books for Christmas? Are you wondering where you are going to put them all? Thinking about weeding out your library? Is that Christmas money burning a hole in your pocket? Do you care about the theological instruction of Christian leaders in the Majority World?

If you answered “Yes” to any two of the questions above, then you should consider donating either books or funds to the Theological Book Network.

Theological Book Network’s Mission:

To provide quality academic books and journals to the libraries of Majority World seminaries, colleges and universities that provide theological training toward the development of leaders, teachers and clergy in the Christian Church.

How Does it Work?

The Theological Book Network collects academic books and journals from Western theological libraries, publishers and scholars. All donations are brought to our warehouse where they are sorted and packed for shipment. TBN works with regional networks of institutions for efficiency and breadth of distribution. Recipient institutions share some financial, logistical and administrative responsibilities for the shipment.

If you attend or work at a school with a theological library (that is not listed here) then please let the library staff know about this service. Pass the word along to your professors, colleagues and classmates as well.

The headline of TBN’s site reads “Converting EXCESS in our world to ACCESS in the rest of the world.” Take a look. I know that I will.