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Sunday, November 28, 2004

CARMJW36350 - Rob Bowman on Romans 11:36 - The Root Fallacy 

Rob commits the "root fallacy" as documented by Daniel Wallace in his Exegetical Grammar on page 363 within his discussion on Prepositions. Rob Bowman compares the DIA in Romans 11:36 with DIA in Colossians 1:16 thereby failing to distinguish the grammatical usage and commiting the "root fallacy."

2. Root Fallacy
As lexicographers have long noted, the root meaning of a word is not necessar­ily an accurate guide to the meaning of the word in later literature. The same is true of morpho-syntactic categories: One ought not look for some kind of invariant meaning that is always present with the preposition. The meaning of words changes in time. Further, a word has a field of meaning rather than a point. Such is no less true for prepositions than for other words. [GGBB 363, Prepositions]


Posted on Sun Nov-28-04 10:54 PM by jessica

Dear Acts1verse8,

I can understand why you would respond to Colossians 1:16 with Romans 11:36 because this faulty line of reasoning has been around for a long time and promoted by Evangelical Apologists in a way that misleads you in to thinking that the Greek language is using the preposition DIA in the same way at both Romans 11:36 and Colossians 1:16.

Rob Bowman in 1989 published this same line of reasoning in his book saying:


"The JWs try to turn this evidence on its head by pointing out that these texts all say tht God made the world through Christ, and conclude from this that Christ was God's" junior partner, as it were" (p71) in thework of creation. They note that in 1Corinthians 8:6 creation is said to have come from the Father, but only through Jesus. -- There are at least two reasons why this objection cannot be valid. First, the New Testament also states that the world came through God (Rom. 11:36), specifically through the Father (Heb. 2:10). (The same Greek word translated "through" or its contracted form [di'] appears in all these verses.) This means that "through" does not imply a lesser or secondary role in creation, as the JWs claim. This is apparently so embarrassing to the Witnesses that they translated di' as "by" instead of "through" in Romans 11:36-"Because from him and by [di'] him and for him are all things" (NWT). It is also noteworthy that Romans 11:36 says that all things are "for" (eis) God, whereas Colossians 1:16 says that all things are "for" (eis) Christ." --Rob Bowman, Why You Should Believe In the Trinity, 1989 [Emphasis added; -- Rob here states that because the "same Greek word" is used in 1Corinthians 8:6 and Romans 11:36 that to render DIA in Romans 8:6 as is done in the NWT is an "embarrassment" to the NWT commitee! Rob here holds to only one English rendering for DIA, "through" in spite of the fact that BDAG differentiates between the usage in 1Corinthians 8:6 and Romans 11:36 and allows for the English "by." In Rob's haste to condemn the NWT rendering he has documented for posterity his committing of the root fallacy.]


On July 30, 2003 Rob repeated this same logic in a reply to a post to me on evangelicals_and_jws, 3386

2. In Romans 11:36 Paul says that "all things" are "through him," that is, through God. Grammatically the instrumental preposition DI' indicates that the object of the preposition is the instrument or agent through whom something is done. Therefore, God is being spoken of here as the instrument or agent through whom all things are. [Emphasis added; Rob assigns the sense of DIA at Romans 11:36 to "instrument or agent" and characterizes DIA as "the instrumental prepostion" and not that DIA is uses in this context instrumentally. To attribute just the sense of "instrumentality" to DIA is to assign a basic meaning to that prepostion and therefore violates what Wallace calls the "root fallacy."]

My point is not to reject careful grammatical analysis. Rather, my point is that grammatical analysis has to be part of the larger exegetical task, which takes grammar, syntax, and semantics all into consideration.

Here is my reply to Rob Bowman later on that same day:

“Rob, In Colossians 1:16 DIA is used in the sense of one person using another as an intermediate agent. It is not just creation that shown to be the action of the Father through the Son in Colossians 1. The God and Father of Jesus Christ is seen throughout the verses surrounding the hymn as the one who does other things through the Son, including reconciliation of the elect.

In Romans 11:36 the case is entirely different. There DIA is used to signify the originator of the action. There is not another person performing the action through God. In fact the context makes that very much impossible as this is a statement that emphasizes the absolute Sovereignty of the Father. (Romans 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? 35 or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.)

BDAG contrasts these two usages of DIA on page 225 sections 4a and 4b, assigning the senses of the usage exactly as I have outlined.”

Rob never answered this post and therefore we did not discuss this further. Therefore I will expand upon the citation from Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich (BDAG).


BDAG gives the following senses of DIA followed by the genitive as found in Romans 11:36:

  1. marker of extension through an area, via, through
  2. marker of extension in time, throughout, during
  3. marker of instrumentality or circumstance whereby someth. is accomplished or effected, by, via, through
  4. marker of pers. agency, through, by

  5. a. with focus on agency through (the agency of), by… Christ as intermediary in the creation of the world J 1:3, 10; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16
    b. with focus on the originator of an action β. of divine activity:—of God … Ro 11:36

In Rob’s book and in his post he incorrectly assigns the sense of DIA in Romans 11:36 as that of "instrumentality" and not of agencyas does BDAG. Notice also that agency in BDAG is further broken down into intermediate agency (Col 1:16) and ultimate agency (Romans 11:36). The agency at Romans 11:36 is that of God as the "originator" of an action. The agency at Col 1:16 is that of the Christ as the "intermediate" of an action.

When Rob Bowman said "My point is not to reject careful grammatical analysis. Rather, my point is that grammatical analysis has to be part of the larger exegetical task, which takes grammar, syntax, and semantics all into consideration" it appears he did not take all of the proper factors into consideration.

Thus the usage of DIA at Romans 11:36 cannot be used to reduce the "divine activity" of God to that like the "intermediary" role of Christ in Colossians 1:16. It may also not be used to elevate the "intermediate" role of the Son to the level of the ultimate agency of the Father as "originator." BDAG confirms this exegesis.


Just me,
Jessica

--
http://jessicacarter.blogspot.com/



Rob responds in a different thread at CARMJW36542 and so I ask him for clarification at CARMJW37207 :

Dear Rob,

As you have likely noted, BDAG considerers the instrumental usage of DIA + Genitive to be different usage than agency. In your post 3386 at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evangelicals_and_jws/message/3386 you said:


2. In Romans 11:36 Paul says that "all things" are "through him," that is, through God. Grammatically the instrumental preposition DI' indicates that the object of the preposition is the instrument or agent through whom something is done. Therefore, God is being spoken of here as the instrument or agent through whom all things are.


I had made this comment regarding classification of DIA as “instrumental” at http://jessicacarter.blogspot.com/2004/11/carmjw36350-rob-bowman-on-romans-1136.html


“In Rob’s book and in his post he incorrectly assigns the sense of DIA in Romans 11:36 as that of "instrumentality" and not of agencyas does BDAG.”


Do you continue to classify the usage of DIA when applied to the Father at Romans 11:36 as an instrument or do you now agree with BDAG that these are distinct? Where do you put DIA in Colossians 1:16? After Wallace discussed the “root fallacy” he says to default to BAGD for specific applications.

Also your wording above identifies DIA as being “the instrumental preposition.” You do not say that DIA in this context is used “instrumentally.” You simply appeal to the “fact” that DIA is instrumental to prove that the Father was an instrument. If DIA + Genitive can be other than instrumental then this is circular reasoning . If you considered all usages of DIA + genitive to be an instrumental usage then this is the “root fallacy” that Wallace describes.

Can you clarify these issues?

Just me,

Jessica





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