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Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Fri May 29, 2009 9:27 pm

Hi folks, I've entered your domain in need of your help with some Greek words that seem to be causing much confusion: aion and aionios. I've been studying the New Testament (in English I hasten to add). I'm trying to determine the meaning of some verses and in order to do this I've been looking at some of the Greek words, as sometimes the English translation may not do justice to the full meaning that was intended in the Greek. Many articles I'm reading are saying that 'aionios' can't mean 'eternal' or 'everlasting' as is claimed by the leading concordances. If 'aion' means 'age', then why does 'aionios' not mean 'pertaining to an age'? or something similar? How can a word have opposite meanings? I know a word can have more than one meaning and you can determine this via the context, but surely a word's meanings as varied as they may be, can't have 'opposite' meanings e.g 'black' can't sometimes mean 'white', 'high' can't sometimes mean 'low'. This would be crazy? I hope someone can help me with this, as a very important long held 'belief' rests upon the correct understanding of 'aionios'. :?
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby NathanSmith » Sat May 30, 2009 12:46 am

I'll offer two points:

- You need to consider idiomatic expressions as well as definitions.
- What makes you think that "eternal" has an opposite meaning to the concept of "age"?
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby Nooj » Sat May 30, 2009 7:51 pm

as a very important long held 'belief' rests upon the correct understanding of 'aionios'. :?
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:41 am

Thanks for your feedback so far guys. Yes, it is 'hell'. I haven't believed in a literal 'hell' for many years anyway, but it's good to be sure what the scriptures are actually saying about this very important subject. I've been debating with a pastor of a local church about the four words used to translate 'hell' in the OT and the NT and it's proving hard work trying to understand not only words like 'hades' and 'gehenna', as again, many articles and scholars seem to differ in their understanding of these words, but there seems to be a big divide over 'aionios' in particular. NathanSmith, you asked what makes me think that "eternal" has an opposite meaning to the concept of "age''? I have always understood 'eternal' to be the same as 'everlasting' or 'for ever' ie without end, in contrast to an 'age' which has a beginning and an end.

Is the 'kolasis aionios' that Christ speaks of 'without end' or is it 'pertaining to a period of time or age'? Surely an adjective or adverb agrees with the meaning of the noun? If 'aion' means an 'age' which is a period of time with a beginning and an end', (as Strong's for instance agrees) why then do the concordances I've checked not give 'aionios' a meaning pertaining to an 'age'? This doesn't seem consistant. A lot of the scriputures I've checked, in the NT and the Septuagint, where 'aionios' is used, MUST mean for a set period of time, otherwise the context wouldn't make sense: e.g Jonah 2:6 (''it's bars closed behind me forever'' - so Jonah was in the belly of the whale forever?? Of course not!!), Hab 3:6 (eternal mountains??). These two examples show that the period of time in question can be as little as three days, or thousands of years, but the period of time does end.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:38 pm

aion can also mean eternity, e.g. eis tous aionas (ton aionon), literally "to the ages (of ages)" which means "for ever." But it doesn't seem odd that a word referring to a long time could be extended to mean for ever. In fact, "eternal" shows the same development since you have Latin aeternalis < aeternus < aevum = aion (both in meaning and they're in fact cognate). I think opposite is much too strong. You always have to watch out for etymological fallacies with arguments of this sort. I'm not saying that the conclusion is wrong, but that the argument is not valid.

With Jonah 2:6, that comes from a prayer while he's in the whale -- it makes sense that he would describe his situation as "eternal". In Hab 3:6, you have to allow for non-literal uses of words. Consider these examples found online for eternal: "The Caribbean is home to many powdery beaches, eternal sunshine, and sparkling aquamarine waters..." or "I was warned about November - the month of the eternal rain, wind and lack of sunshine." I don't see anything wrong with describing mountains as eternal, even though they technically do not last for ever.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:07 pm

Thanks for your help modus.irrealis. Maybe 'opposite' isn't quite right, but on the one hand we have a definition that conveys a period of time that goes on and on with no end, or a period of time that is indefinite in its duration but will have an end (and if it's your eternal fate that is at stake, or rather to be understood, I think determining which definition is correct is vitally important). I disagree with your thoughts on Jonah when he thought he was going to perish in the Whale. I'm sure he was aware of the resurrection hope so he would have known that his fate would not be 'forever'.

The other examples you give of how we use words in a non literal way is a good point to consider. Your examples all show clearly that certain words are exaggerated. We can't really mistake the intended meaning though and so too with an example like 'eternal mountains'. We know mountains don't go on existing without end. I fail to see why the translators have not translated it 'age enduring mountains', as surely this is permissable if we've agreed that 'aion' can mean an 'age'. If they've used the word 'eternal' in a non literal way, and the word really does mean 'eternal' (which I don't think it can), then you could argue that Jesus didn't really mean the kolasis of the 'goats' would be 'forever', maybe he was exaggerating. I don't think that is the case. It makes more sense that just as mountains will crumble and end, Jonah would 'come forth' one day sooner or later ('on the last day'), and so too, the kolasis aionios is corrective punishment 'pertaining to the 'age' or for as long as is necessary to accomplish its purpose. What do you think..... :wink:
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:49 am

I've never thought of this, since I've always thought the word means eternal. In the Greek church for example, in the memorial service, there's a hymn that goes aionia he mneme "(may his) memory (be) everlasting", so it certainly came to have that meaning. But this seemed interesting so I went through the GNT examples, and some of them cannot imply any sort of end -- it's used of theos in Rom. 16:26 and qualities of God (time and kratos) in 1 Tim. 6:16, so "eternal" seems to be a meaning of aionios. I think "pertaining to the age" is the right translation for most of the other cases, but referring to the age to come (which as far as I can tell was thought of as being endless). I mean, "eternal" as applied to god must go both ways in time (or be outside of time in a sense), which isn't true of eternal life. The thing with aionios kolasis is that it's contrasted with aionios zoe, and in Mat. 25:41, just before, it doesn't sound like they're being sent off in order to return. How would you understand aionios zoe?

I won't argue over Jonah as I don't know the book well, but about translating it as "eternal mountains", if it's a non-literal usage in the Hebrew bible and the word happens to have the same non-literal usage in English, I'd say it's preferable to translate it that way. But I don't know anything about Hebrew, so I can't say anything to that.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:29 am

If we establish that 'aionios' as used in the original Greek, means 'pertaining to the age' rather than 'age enduring' which is a translation also offered, then the various scriptures like the two you quoted and most importantly Matt 25: 46 (zoe aionios, kolasis aionios) do make sense. God is a God who deals in ages (Rock of Ages). This in no way limits Him or calls into question His endlessness. He operates in time and through our ages.

The verses I quoted from the OT were from the Septuagint and thus were using 'aionios'. (Interestingly, the Septuagint is the translation that the apostles must have also used, because if you check where Jesus quotes from the OT, many times, the exact wording lines up with the Septuagint rather than the OT scriptures in the Hebrew language).

I would value your opinion on this article:

http://www.mercifultruth.com/eternity.htm

It's not that long and goes into the Greek meanings etc. It also thoroughly explains the meaning of 'zoe aionios' and 'kolasis aionios', as this verse is often used to 'prove' that 'aionios' must mean eternal or everlasting.

Hope you get a chance to read it and can give me some feedback. I'm rather disadvantaged in making sure of all these things, as I haven't studied Greek (I'm considering doing an on line course but my brain cells are not as quick as they used to be) and etymology and the such so I appreciate the help you guys are giving me.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:34 pm

About the article, I only read the first bit, and I'll try to read the rest a bit later, but some initial comments:

"One useful way to discover a word's meaning is to look at its parts. "

This is the etymological fallacy right there. A word might originally have been the sum of its parts but it doesn't have to be and it can quickly change. This is the same sort of argument that says antisemitism doesn't mean prejudice against Jews because Jews aren't the only Semites, but that is exactly what the word means. But aionios means, among other things, "eternal" in Modern Greek, so what happens to the aion+ios argument there? And in Modern Greek, the main meaning of aionas (the modern from of aion) is "century", and only secondarily means "a long period of time."

There's also too much emphasis in that article on English translations. I looked up the Vulgate translation of "the scriptures they use to support their false assumption":

John 3:16 vitam aeternam
Mat 18:8 ignem aeternum
Rom 16:26 Dei aeterni

And the Latin translators were surrounded by Greek speakers, and we're talking about a time not long after the NT was written, so if you don't think what the word meant in later Greek has any bearing.

The other thing is that it can't be denied that Greek speakers understood it to mean eternal. I found a passage in the works of John of Damascus on the word "aion" -- there's a translation online at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209 ... .ii.i.html -- but the thing that struck me is aionios de zoe kai aionios kolasis to ateleuteton tou mellontos deloi (aionois life and aionios punishment shows the unending of the future [age]), where the word aionios is clearly understood as meaning endless, otherwise it wouldn't show that the age to come will be endless.

John Chrysostom, in his commentary on Romans -- there's a translation at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf111 ... i-Page_525 -- he says that there will never be a release in the other life, and brings in Mark 9:44 and the passage in Matthew and says if life is aionios, then punishment is aionios. I can't see any other way to understand this passage than to take aionios as meaning everlasting -- I don't see what else would make sense in context.

I'm just bringing this up to show that there can be no linguistic argument against understanding aionios to mean "eternal". Perhaps there are good reasons to think it doesn't in specific cases, but those can't be reasons based on the language. Much of those arguments in the article seem to be more theological in nature, and I'm not equipped to discuss that so much, but I'll try it out.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby LMD » Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:34 pm

Hi all,
I was led to this page regarding the above article which I wrote. I just wanted to clear something up about what modus said. He said "that is the etymological fallacy" regarding my examination of the word parts. However, to my knowledge the etymological fallacy says that it is not correct to assume the meaning of the word based SOLELY on its etymology. That is why I was careful to say "one useful way to discover a word's meaning..." Even dictionaries use etymology simply as one way to communicate meaning even just to show how the meaning changed. Etymology is just one way, but not the only way. I think I should have driven that point home a little more, by not only focusing on the Biblical usage to follow, but also in contemporary secular society showing alternative usage.

The information I included about the eymology of aionios is meant to show that it does not mean eternal of it's own parts, but must evolved based on interpretation in order to mean "eternal." To my knowledge translation is not a perfect science but relies heavily on interpretation given etymology AND contemporary usage. The word aionios can mean "peanut butter sandwich" if everyone in contemporary society agrees. So to your point about John of Damascus: he was a Christian who lived 200 years after the doctrine of eternal torment had been established. Of course he will say it means eternal because it has to align with the doctrine he already believed. But, here are some alternative examples of usage, some of which are sources who are indifferent to Christian doctrine:

----------

1. Augustine (A. D. 400-430) was the first known to argue that aiónios signified endless. He at first maintained that it always meant thus, but at length abandoned that ground, and only claimed that it had that meaning sometimes. He "was very imperfectly acquainted with the Greek language."

2. A. D. 410 Avitus brought to Spain, from Jerome, in Palestine, a translation of Origen, and taught that punishments are not endless; for "though they are called everlasting, yet that word in the original Greek does not, according to its etymology and frequent use, signify endless, but answers only to the duration of an age."

3. The Emperor Justinian (A. D. 540), in calling the celebrated local council which assembled in 544, addressed his edict to Mennos, Patriarch of Constantinople, and elaborately argued against the doctrines he had determined should be condemned. He does not say, in defining the Catholic doctrine at that time "We believe in aiónion punishment," for that was just what the Universalist, Origen himself taught. Nor does he say, "The word aiónion has been misunderstood, it denotes endless duration," as he would have said had there been such a disagreement. But, writing in Greek with all the words of that copious speech from which to choose, he says, "The holy church of Christ teaches an endless aiónios ("ATELEUTETOS aiónios") life to the righteous, and endless (ateleutetos) punishment to the wicked." Aiónios was not enough in his judgement to denote endless duration, and he employed ateleutetos. This demonstrates that even as late as A. D. 540 aiónios meant limited duration, and required an added word to impart to it the force of endless duration.

4. Plato (De Repub. Lib. ii.) The Adjective. Referring to certain souls in Hades, he describes them as in aiónion intoxication. But that he does not use the word in the sense of endless is evident from the Phædon, where he says, "It is a very ancient opinion that souls quitting this world, repair to the infernal regions, and return after that, to live in this world." After the aiónion intoxication is over, they return to earth, which demonstrates that the world was not used by him as meaning endless. Again, he speaks of that which is indestructible, (anolethron) and not aiónion. He places the two words in contrast, whereas, had he intended to use aiónion as meaning endless, he would have said indestructible and aiónion.

5. In Rome there were certain periodical games known as the secular games, from the Latin seculum, a period, or age. The historian, Herodian, writing in Greek, calls these aiónian games, that is, periodical, occurring at the end of a seculum. It would be singular, indeed, to call them eternal or everlasting games. Cremer, in his masterly Lexicon of New Testament Greek, states the general meaning of the word to be 'Belonging to the aión.'" Herodotus, Isocrates, Xenophon, Sophocles, Diodorus Siculus use the word in precisely the same way. Diodorus Siculus says ton apéiron aióna, "indefinite time."

Here is an interesting note:

In the sixteenth century Phavorinus was compelled to notice an addition, which subsequently to the time of the famous Council of 544 had been grafted on the word. He says: "Aión, time, also life, also habit, or way of life. Aión is also the eternal and endless AS IT SEEMS TO THE THEOLOGIAN." Theologians had succeeded in using the word in the sense of endless, and Phavorinus was forced to recognize their usage of it and his phraseology shows conclusively enough that he attributed to theologians the authorship of that use of the word. Alluding to this definition, Rev. Ezra S. Goodwin, one of the ripest scholars and profoundest critics, says,(10) "Here I strongly suspect is the true secret brought to light of the origin of the sense of eternity in aión. The theologian first thought he perceived it, or else he placed it there. The theologian keeps it there, now. And the theologian will probably retain it there longer than any one else. Hence it is that those lexicographers who assign eternity as one of the meanings of aión uniformly appeal for proofs to either theological, Hebrew, or Rabbinical Greek, or some species of Greek subsequent to the age of the Seventy, if not subsequent to the age of the Apostles, so far a I can ascertain."

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/Aion_lim.html

-------------

In conclusion, the linguistic argument is not that it "cannot mean eternal." Like I said, it can mean "peanut butter sandwich" if everyone agrees. But the argument is that it does not mean eternal without interpretation or evolution of the word. Some clues exist as to when the evolution of aionios into "eternity" (as being a word which can be interpreted no other way) began as being the only way to understand the word:

From: HISTORY OF OPINIONS ON THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF RETRIBUTION By Edward Beecher, D.D.
Some centuries, then, after the death of Origen, that great theologian in his own esteem, the Emperor Justinian, directed Mennas, the Patriarch of Constantinople, to call a local council in the year 544 to condemn errors of Origen. Among these errors was the doctrine of universal restoration. Justinian, in his letter to Mennas, presents an elaborate argument against that doctrine among others, and concludes it with a careful statement of the true faith. Here, now, was a call for an unambiguous word to denote eternal, as applied to life and punishment. The emperor, writing in Greek, had his choice of words. What word, then, from the full vocabulary of Greece, did he select? Did he rely on the word aionios as, of itself, sufficient for his purpose? Not at all. As if aware that it could denote simply “pertaining to the world to come,” he prefixes to it a word properly denoting eternal, so that his language is this, “The Holy Church of Christ teaches an endless aionian life to the righteous and endless punishment to the wicked.” Here the word used to denote endless in both cases is ateleutetos. In the case of punishment he omits aionios entirely. To denote the endless life of the righteous he uses the same unambiguous word ateleutetos, but prefixes it to aionios. But when he thus said the Church teaches an endless aionian life to the righteous, did he mean so flat a tautology as an endless endless life? Or did he prefix to the life of the world to come, as used in the creeds, a word that truly denotes eternal?

It deserves, also, particular notice, that, in a deliberate and formal effort to characterize the punishment of the wicked as strictly eternal, he does not rely on or use the word aionios at all, but employs an entirely different word, ateleutetos.

There was good reason for the distrust of Justinian of the power of the word aionios to express endless life and endless punishment. One of his contemporaries, the philosopher Olympiodorus, had pointedly used the word as directly opposed to endless punishment, and denoting a limited period. Speaking of the punishments of Tartarus, he says, Do not suppose that the soul is punished for endless aions [Greek letters here] in Tartarus. Very properly, the soul is not punished to gratify the revenge of the divinity, but for the sake of healing. But we say that the soul is punished for an aionion period [Greek letters here], calling its life, and its allotted period of punishment, its aion.” Of the very worst, he says that they need a second life, and a second period of punishment, to be made perfectly pure, and that Plato called this double period their aion. With this distinct denial of endless punishment before his eyes, and a recognition in its place of aionian punishment as the direct antithesis to it, how could Justinian express endless punishment except by another word denoting endlessness?

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/Retribut ... tion19.htm

--------------

So my point was not to submit etymology as the final and only indicator but to start from that, and then to show Biblical USAGE of it.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:32 pm

Hi LMD, thanks for joining us and clarifying some points raised from your well written article. :D
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:08 pm

This is a question that requires a lot of looking into things, but here are some quotes that seem to me to suggest aionios = eternal from early on. From Plato's Timaeus (37c-d):

ὡς δὲ κινηθὲν αὐτὸ καὶ ζῶν ἐνόησεν τῶν ἀιδίων θεῶν γεγονὸς ἄγαλμα ὁ γεννήσας πατήρ, ἠγάσθη τε καὶ εὐφρανθεὶς ἔτι δὴ μᾶλλον ὅμοιον πρὸς τὸ παράδειγμα ἐπενόησεν ἀπεργάσασθαι. καθάπερ οὖν αὐτὸ τυγχάνει ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν, καὶ τόδε τὸ πᾶν οὕτως εἰς δύναμιν ἐπεχείρησε τοιοῦτον ἀποτελεῖν. ἡ μὲν οὖν τοῦ ζῴου φύσις ἐτύγχανεν οὖσα αἰώνιος, καὶ τοῦτο μὲν δὴ τῷ γεννητῷ παντελῶς προσάπτειν οὐκ ἦν δυνατόν: εἰκὼ δ' ἐπενόει κινητόν τινα αἰῶνος ποιῆσαι, καὶ διακοσμῶν ἅμα οὐρανὸν ποιεῖ μένοντος αἰῶνος ἐν ἑνὶ κατ' ἀριθμὸν ἰοῦσαν αἰώνιον εἰκόνα, τοῦτον ὃν δὴ χρόνον ὠνομάκαμεν.

There are all sorts of opinions on this text -- what's the difference between aidios and aionios? --- but as far as I can see it says that the ideal world is aionios a property which it was impossible to attach to the physical world, and so he created an aionios moving image of the aion, the image being what we call time. This suggests to me that Plato is here trying to express eternity and used the word aion to do so.

From Philo, De Plantantione:

τὸ δὴ "θεὸς αἰώνιος" ἴσον ἐστὶ τῷ ὁ χαριζόμενος οὐ ποτὲ μὲν ποτὲ δὲ οὔ, ἀεὶ δὲ καὶ συνεχῶς, ὁ ἀδιαστάτως εὐεργετῶν, ὁ τὴν τῶν δωρεῶν ἐπάλληλον φορὰν ἀπαύστως συνείρων, ὁ τὰς χάριτας ἐχομένας ἀλλήλων ἀνακυκλῶν δυνάμεσιν ἑνωτικαῖς καθαρμοσάμενος, ὁ μηδένα καιρὸν τοῦ ποιεῖν εὖ παραλείπων, ὁ κύριος ὤν, ὡς καὶ βλάπτειν δύνασθαι.

I can't find an English translation but as I understand it, it's saying "'theos aionios' is the same as 'he who gives not sometimes, sometimes not, but always and continuously, he who does good continuously, he who unceasingly connects..." where the emphasis is on aionios implying some continuous, unending aspect of god.

And then aionios is sometimes contrasted to proskairos ("temporary"). For example from Gregory of Nyssa (a translation can be found at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf205 ... ii.ii.html):

εἰ οὖν οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν τῷ υἱῷ ἡ αἰώνιος ζωή, ἆρα ψευδὴς ἁλώσεται ὁ εἰπὼν ὅτι Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ζωή, ἢ ζωὴ μὲν ἐστίν, οὐκ αἰώνιος δέ; ἀλλὰ τὸ μὴ αἰώνιον πρόσκαιρον πάντως, τὸ δὲ τοιοῦτο τῆς ζωῆς εἶδος κοινὸν καὶτῶν ἀλόγων ἐστίν.

"that which is not aionion is temporary"

Also, from Ignatius (translation can be found at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ante-Nice ... Chapter_XI.)

φεύγετε καὶ τὰ τοῦ πονηροῦ ἔγγονα Θεόδοτον καὶ Κλεόβουλον, τὰ γεννῶντα καρπὸν θανατηφόρον, οὗ ἐάν τις γεύσηται, παραυτίκα ἀποθνήσκει οὐ τὸν πρόσκαιρον θάνατον, ἀλλὰ τὸν αἰώνιον.

"dies not the temporary death but the aionios death"

I don't see how this has anything to do with Augustine, besides the fact that he had very little influence on the Orthodox East so I doubt he could have started a shift in the meaning of a Greek word.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:24 pm

Hi,

LMD wrote:I was led to this page regarding the above article which I wrote. I just wanted to clear something up about what modus said. He said "that is the etymological fallacy" regarding my examination of the word parts. However, to my knowledge the etymological fallacy says that it is not correct to assume the meaning of the word based SOLELY on its etymology. That is why I was careful to say "one useful way to discover a word's meaning..." Even dictionaries use etymology simply as one way to communicate meaning even just to show how the meaning changed. Etymology is just one way, but not the only way. I think I should have driven that point home a little more, by not only focusing on the Biblical usage to follow, but also in contemporary secular society showing alternative usage.

Alright, thanks for clarifying.

I read a bit more on the article, and I noticed that where you discuss 1 Tim. 1:17 you use the translation "immortal" for "aftharton". But the basic meaning of the latter is "incorrupted/ible", which might imply and be implied by "immortal" in certain cases. I don't see the support for this translation, especially since you're being very precise about the meaning of aionios. And again with 2 Tim 1:10, where you take "aphtharsia" as "immortality", but I read it as "incorruptibility".
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby LMD » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:45 pm

Just curious, do you believe the King James Bible translators were incorrect in their translation of aphtharsia as "immortality?" The basic meaning of aphtharsia is incorruptible, but most scholars agree that the general meaning is immortality. So, even if it means incorruptible (not able to decay), the addition of "life" shows that Paul saw a distinction between "aphtharsia" and "life" enough to mention it separately several times. The question is: what, then, is the Bible's OWN definition of the compound term "aionios life" regardless of what WE think it could be, and why is it distinguished from aphtharsia? The Bible is very specific about its definition, which I cover. Due to its definitions of aionios life it is unncessary to contrast "aionios life" with "aionios kolasin (chastisement)" to prove both being infinite. The Bible promises both the life of the ages, and resurrection to incorruptibility. Since "aionios life" is a term applied to "knowledge of God" which is internalized, available now in the aion of today, contrasted with death in sin and recommended as a cure, then simple simple biological conscious is not what the Scripture intends. Therefore aphtharsia as immortality is implied by the distinction.

You see, the argument is not that aionios can NEVER be used as eternal. It can mean "donkey." But, if I am Plato and I want to express the difficult concept of eternity, I would refer to an endless aion, then, very naturally, I would use aionios to point to that aion. If used enough in THAT particular context by everyone everywhere at all times, then we can say that the word always means eternal. That wouldn't mean that aionios meant eternity of its own merit (which Christians assume), it would just mean that aionios is being used to refer to a linear endless aion, or an aion above time and that it had enveloped all other usages, which is not the case. In fact, many scholars admit that the general usage around 1-500 AD was that aionios referred to time intervals. The argument is really against the idea, from theologians, that aionios can NEVER be rendered as temporary, which I think you would agree with based on what you have said. That aionios is/was never used mean temporal is clearly false throughout history, given that scholars have referenced it as such.
Last edited by LMD on Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:03 am, edited 14 times in total.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby LMD » Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:05 am

Also, I just wanted to mention one thing about the statement on that website: He says "For if the Apostle plainly says that what is not eternal is temporary". That quote from Corinthians is a very rushed misquote. The Bible never says that. It does not contrast eternal with temporal but "seen" and "not seen". It contrasts the the pain and suffering of the present which is seen and passing, with the weight of glory regarding an age which is not yet seen, being that it is yet in the future: http://mercifultruth.com/eternity-detailedstudy.htm
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:56 am

LMD wrote:Just curious, do you believe the King James Bible translators were incorrect in their translation of aphtharsia as "immortality?" The basic meaning of aphtharsia is incorruptible, but most scholars agree that the general meaning is immortality.

I'd say incorrect, yes. What I learned growing up was incorruptibility and immortality (as applied to us) were different things, the first referring to the fact that our bodies would not become sick or hungry and so on, while the second referred to that there would be no physical death (separation of soul and body). In my own reading, I haven't seen anything that would contradict that, so it's strange to me that it would be translated as immortal, especially when applied to God, but also in any other setting. I agree with you that aionois zoe is something different than both immortality and incorruptibility, but I don't see any reason to merge the latter two. Do you know what the evidence would be to take it as immortality?

About Plato, though, he doesn't use any modifier to make aion mean eternity. The word, together with aionios, could mean eternity and imply endlessness. I agree with you that's not always the case -- it's clearly not always the case just in the NT. As to whether the word implies endlessness when used with κολασις, that seems more of a theological question. I disagree with you on what the text says but I'm not sure I'm up for such a debate.

About the Gregory of Nyssa quote -- I'm not sure whether he is referring to that Corinthians passage (although he probably is). But even if it's a misunderstanding I think it still is evidence of what kind of meaning aionios had for him.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby LMD » Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:00 am

First I want to say that one thing I have learned about word definitions is that they rely largely on a preponderance of evidence, and a decision of belief, regarding what they mean. Christians in particular believe that translation is a cold science, because it helps them to believe that the KJV is infallible. But, actually, translation is interpretive. And, there really is no final authority on it. There is no Websters Dictionary to tell us what aionios means as an evolved word from its parts. Even if there was, Webster would be viable only if we all agreed on it.

If I say that movie was "bad" I could mean "good" or "bad" based on many factors, like how I say the word, the environment that I am in. Then to interpret my meaning 2000 years later, someone would have to look at common usage and acknowledge the possibility for both interpretations. For example, an urbanite from present day would insist I meant "good" but a briton might say I meant "bad" and they would both have evidence of each usage being common in my day. So while I believe that the common usage of aionios is important and so is the etymology, I must ultimately consider both, but defer to the source (the usage in the Bible) and derive clues from there. Certainly, aionios as a time-frame was in wide enough use for Justinian, as an example, to qualify it with an extra word to push it into the endless meaning, and the etymology is clear that it means "of aion" and aion is generally regarded in the NT to be age in many many, if not all usages. When you add to the fact that "aionios life" is never defined as infinite existence but is in fact distinguished from imperishability in the Bible, it convinces me.

Note: there are many more theological reasons that I believe in universal salvation, not just this word. This is only one reason.

Regarding the incorruptibility question. A telling sign of how the apostle writers viewed the word is in Rom 1:23 where it says "(they) changed the glory of the uncorruptible (aphthartos) God into an image made like to corruptible (phthartos) man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." God, being Spirit and not physical flesh, is not subject to decay based on His very nature, so I think the usage here is that of a much stronger implication than simply "not to get sick" but of that which is "not able to be perishable." It is this imperishable state that is distinguished from "zoe" - particularly "aionios zoe" in Romans 2:7 "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality (aphthartos), eternal life (aionios zoe)." Again, this is the Bible's usage, not necessarily ALL usage in all cases in all places. However, given the usage of aphthartos specifically in the NT, in relation to God, and future resurrection to incorruptibility, I think one would have to split hairs pretty fine to deny that the NT writers did not intend physical and conscious "immortality" when they used the word. IMHO

Being that the Bible is very clear about its definition of aionios life, I think the distinction being made in the NT is between the future gift of imperishability and the "life of the aion" which is the internalized knowledge of God through Christ now. That evidence is striking enough for me to believe the intent of the writers meant imperishability rather than simply sick-proof.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:19 pm

Why the emphasis on the KJV? Most Christians couldn't care less whether it's infallible or not.

--

I looked into the Justinian quote about “The Holy Church of Christ teaches an endless aionian life to the righteous and endless punishment to the wicked.” Unless I'm looking at the wrong quote, that's not what the Greek says:

ἡ ἁγία γὰρ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐκκλησία ὥσπερ τοῖς δικαίοις ἀτελεύτητον κηρύσσει τὴν αἰώνιον ζωήν, οὕτω καὶ τοῖς ἀσεβέσιν ἀτελεύτητον κόλασιν παραδίδωσι.
For the holy church of God, just as it proclaims that the aionios life is endless for the just, so does it teach an endless punishment for the impious.

ateleutetos is not modifying aionios and is certainly not prefixed to it, like your source claims. It doesn't really say anything on the meaning of aionios.

And I also tracked down the quote from Olympiadorus. I don't have a problem with the translation but it leaves out the part from before, which is

εἰς οὓς ἐμβάλλονται αἱ ψυχαὶ κατὰ τὰς διαφορὰς τῶν ἁμαρτάδων, αἱ μὲν ἀιδίως κολασθησόμεναι διὰ τὸ ἀνίατα ἡμαρτηκέναι ἐν τῷ Ταρτάρῳ. πλὴν εἰ καὶ λέγω ἀιδίως, μὴ δὴ νομίσῃς, ὅτι εἰς ἀπείρους αἰῶνας κολάζεται ἡ ψυχὴ ἐν τῷ Ταρτάρῳ (εὖ γε οὐ διὰ μῆνιν τοῦ θείου κολάζεται ἡ ψυχή, ἀλλ’ ἰατρείας χάριν), ἀλλ’ αἰωνίως φαμὲν κολάζεσθαι τὴν ψυχὴν αἰῶνα καλοῦντες τὸν αὐτῆς βίον καὶ τὴν μερικὴν αὐτῆς περίοδον.

It says the souls will be punished aidios and despite the fact that he says that, he says don't think the soul is punished for endless ages. Aidios, though, means "everlasting", and here we seem him equate aionios with aidios, so I don't see how this passage can be used to show that ainios doesn't mean eternal -- in fact I think it's evidence that it does. He's just interpreting what "eternal" means, just as you could in English.

--

God is not subject to death by nature either, and in the end, Paul could have always used athanatos and thnetos if he wanted to, but I guess we'll just disagree on this.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby LMD » Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:01 pm

Protestant Christians do think the KJV is infallible. They are the ones who will insist that aionios means eternal of its own merit, and in all cases.

The Justinian quote does show that he is equating a sense of endlessness to aionios life, and endlessness to punishment to reinforce aionios as endless. So also with Olympiadorus. And it is especially interesting that Justinian says that in opposition/contrast to Origin (who used the same word) who taught remedial aionios kolasin. I don't see why aionios must mean eternal in either case.

Yes, God is not subject to death by nature, or decay. However, I see no reason why either one could not be used to communicate a sense of conscious immortality. In the case of the NT they use both synonymously. But that does mean that you don't have to wonder why the translaters associated "non perishable" with God; it's because the Greek writers do it. BTW, just as a side note it is very interesting that the Bible contrasts "aionios kolasin" with "aionios zoe" rather than contrasting it with "anathasia zoe" (not a biblical term) or "apharthsia zoe" (not a biblical term). I just think that's interesting.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:33 pm

LMD wrote:Protestant Christians do think the KJV is infallible. They are the ones who will insist that aionios means eternal of its own merit, and in all cases.

Alright. It came straight out of left field for me but now I guess I see why you brought it up.

The Justinian quote does show that he is equating a sense of endlessness to aionios life, and endlessness to punishment to reinforce aionios as endless. So also with Olympiadorus. And it is especially interesting that Justinian says that in opposition/contrast to Origin (who used the same word) who taught remedial aionios kolasin. I don't see why aionios must mean eternal in either case.

My point was that it doesn't show that aionios required any qualifications to mean endlessness, as you claimed. If you look at Justinian's argument he see "aionios" as itself implying endlessness, as he quotes 2 Thess 1:9, where his only point could be the use of aionios. With Olympiadorus, the interesting thing is that he also says the punishment is aidios, but that's a word that simply means "everlasting." If he thinks an everlasting punishment can come to an end, then his use of aionios can't imply anything about whether the word meant "eternal" or not. Or to put in another way, it's not evidence that he thought aionios didn't mean everlasting because he didn't think everlasting meant everlasting.

Yes, God is not subject to death by nature, or decay. However, I see no reason why either one could not be used to communicate a sense of conscious immortality. In the case of the NT they use both synonymously. But that does mean that you don't have to wonder why the translaters associated "non perishable" with God; it's because the Greek writers do it. BTW, just as a side note it is very interesting that the Bible contrasts "aionios kolasin" with "aionios zoe" rather than contrasting it with "anathasia zoe" (not a biblical term) or "apharthsia zoe" (not a biblical term). I just think that's interesting.

How do you know they're used synonymously? I read something like 1 Cor. 15:53-54 and see them as clearly having different meanings, and I don't see why that should be any different in the other contexts.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:12 pm

About Olympiadorus, I'm now sure I misunderstood him. (The Greek passage is available online at http://www.toxolyros.gr/index.php?optio ... Itemid=857 if anybody's interested.) I stopped reading but in what comes after, he explicitly makes a distinction between aidios and aionios, so I don't understand why he seems to mix the two in the passage I quoted. But the distinction he makes is interesting, he takes aionios to mean being all in the now (he says we call god aionios because his existence is not in time but all time, present, past and future, is like now to him) while aidios means existing for all time (we don't call god aidios because his existence is not in time).

I'm still confused by the passage -- he says some sins are incurable and says the punishments are everlasting, and yet it's not to be understood as meaning for all ages. The only thing I can think of is that what he has in mind is a series of ages (or perhaps a cycle of ages), within which time exists and within which the punishment is everlasting, but the age might come to an end and the punishments with it. But you can ignore my comments on that passage now, since I'm not quite sure what to conclude from it.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby LMD » Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:46 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:About Olympiadorus, I'm now sure I misunderstood him. (The Greek passage is available online at http://www.toxolyros.gr/index.php?optio ... Itemid=857 if anybody's interested.) I stopped reading but in what comes after, he explicitly makes a distinction between aidios and aionios, so I don't understand why he seems to mix the two in the passage I quoted. But the distinction he makes is interesting, he takes aionios to mean being all in the now (he says we call god aionios because his existence is not in time but all time, present, past and future, is like now to him) while aidios means existing for all time (we don't call god aidios because his existence is not in time).

I'm still confused by the passage -- he says some sins are incurable and says the punishments are everlasting, and yet it's not to be understood as meaning for all ages. The only thing I can think of is that what he has in mind is a series of ages (or perhaps a cycle of ages), within which time exists and within which the punishment is everlasting, but the age might come to an end and the punishments with it. But you can ignore my comments on that passage now, since I'm not quite sure what to conclude from it.


I do ok with the transliteration of the Greek words, or the English association of the ancient characters - like αἰώνιον (aionios?) - but not when it is just the original characters. Interesting note though. The Bible does refer to God as aidos:

Romans 1:20
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal (aidos) power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse


There is a clue though, but it is a vast thing to go into. But the Septuagint (1-3 AD) renders the Hebrew olam as aionios. Olam means imperceptible, or hidden, time in the horizon: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_eternity.html. The translators of the Septuagint saw a relation to aionios, not as being without time because I could be wrong but the Hebrews did not carry a belief of lacking time (which is a pretty abstract notion). The relationship between olam and aionios, at least to those translators, was that it was relatable to time itself. So even as early as the first and third centuries, aionios was being associated with time-interval.

modus.irrealis wrote:My point was that it doesn't show that aionios required any qualifications to mean endlessness, as you claimed. If you look at Justinian's argument he see "aionios" as itself implying endlessness, as he quotes 2 Thess 1:9, where his only point could be the use of aionios.


But whether or not Justinian believed aionios meant eternity is beside the point. You could be right, maybe he did think that, or maybe he did not. Let's say Justinian did honsestly believe aionios means eternal. The very fact that he was there to contradict a contemporary of his who who taught at the Alexandria school, who taught remedial punishment from the same scriptures, caused Justinian to be in a position to reinforce aionios as endless to whomever was judging his position. Today, we don't need to say eternally eternal. We just take the word to be eternal and enough on its own terms to communicate endlessness. But Justinian's strategy reveals that not to be as widely acceptable in his time, among his detractors.So he reinforced aionios with endlessness to try to clarify what he meant by "aionios." It was an argument he had to make to prove his doctrine, which others obviously did not believe based on the same scriptures.

Otherwise, he could say "these universalists are idiots, it says aionios kolasin. Period, end of story." But he couldn't do that because not everyone would agree with that view of aionios kolasin. And what is worse, is that he says that the Bible teaches endless ateleutetos punishment (kolasin?) to the wicked. It's just worth noting that the Bible never associates "ateleutetos" with "kolasin."

modus.irrealis wrote:How do you know they're used synonymously? I read something like 1 Cor. 15:53-54 and see them as clearly having different meanings, and I don't see why that should be any different in the other contexts.


We see different things. When I read that passage, I see the two being used synonymously. What I mean is that when they brought up the point about incorruptibility, especially in relation to God, immortality is bound up together with incorruption. To my knowledge, there is no passage that uses the word in the Bible that uses the word wherein immortality is not inextricably linked. It's an implied meaning.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby Damoetas » Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:39 pm

αἰώνιος means "eternal, endless;" everyone in the ancient world knew that. If you want to argue against the existence of hell, it would be simpler just to argue that the Bible is wrong.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Sat Jun 06, 2009 7:34 pm

Damoetas wrote:αἰώνιος means "eternal, endless;" everyone in the ancient world knew that. If you want to argue against the existence of hell, it would be simpler just to argue that the Bible is wrong.


''...as was Jonathon condemned to perpetual (aionios) imprisonment (for three years). And now the Romans set fire to the extreme parts of the city, and burnt them down, and entirely demolished its walls.''- From Flavius Josephus, 'The Wars of the Jews, Book 6, Section 434', trans. William Whiston.

I haven't been able to confirm if this quote is correct. I'm sure someone here will have a copy of The Wars of the Jews, and can confirm if Josephus used 'aionios' to denote a term of imprisonment that certainly wasn't endless, if indeed the quote is correct???

I've also found this quote: ''hoti elpizousi zêsai zoên aionion, kai hoti zêsetai hekastos auton etê pentakosia, : For they hope to live an eonian life, and that each one of them will live five hundred years." 1 Enoch 10:10. :?:
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby Damoetas » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:07 pm

Josephus says:

ἐφυλάχθη δ᾽ ὁ μὲν [i.e. Simon] τῷ θριάμβῳ σφάγιον, ὁ δ᾽ Ἰωάννης δεσμοῖς αἰωνίοις.

"... the latter [i.e. Simon] was reserved for execution at the triumph, while John was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment." (Tr. by Thackeray, 1926.)

This is talking about the capture of Jerusalem by Titus, and the sentencing of John and Simon, the leaders of the revolt. In the next book (7.118), Josephus tells how both John and Simon are taken to Italy for the triumph; he describes the execution of Simon, but as far as I can tell from a quick overview, he doesn't say what happens to John.

In any case, the source of your quote is a bit misleading. "(for three years)" is an explanatory gloss that your source has added; it's not part of Josephus' text. From other documentation, it may be true that John's imprisonment turned out to last only three years. But as Josephus presents it, at the time of sentencing it was intended to be αἰώνιος, "perpetual."
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:09 pm

Thanks for your help Damoetas. Did you see my Enoch quote?
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby Damoetas » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:46 pm

Ah yes, I saw your Enoch quote after posting my first reply.... I happen to be sitting in a good reference library at the moment, so I will continue procrastinating from what I'm supposed to be doing, and give you a bit of info! This is from Hermeneia - A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, the volume on 1 Enoch by George Nickelsburg, 2001.

Enoch is a problematic source for textual/linguistic evidence, because "the language of their composition was Aramaic, but the collection as a whole has been preserved only in a fifth- to sixth-century C.E. Ethiopic (Ge'ez) translation of an intermediate Greek translation" (1) "Approximately 28 percent of 1 Enoch has been preserved in fragmentary texts of a Greek translation of the Aramaic original" (12).

That being the case, the Greek quotation you cited seems to be correct. Nickelsburg translates that sentence as follows (I've given a bit of the preceding context): "And to Gabriel he said, 'Go, Gabriel, to the bastards, to the half-breeds, to the sons of miscegenation; and destroy the sons of the watchers from among the sons of men; send them against one another in a war of destruction. And length of days they shall not have; and no petition will be (granted) to their fathers in their behalf, that they should expect to live an eternal life, nor even that each of them should live five hundred years.'"

In his discussion he says, "The motif of curtailing the giants' life span relates to Gen 6.3. The (very understandable) idea of the fathers' petitioning for their sons is greatly expanded in chaps. 12-16, where it becomes a formal element in the narrative.... 'Length of days' (μακρότης ἡμέρων) is synonymous with 'eternal life' (ζωὴν αἰώνιον), which is then modified in v 10b to five hundred years."

So, one can make of that what one will.... It looks to me that Nickelsburg is right in taking the "aionios zoe" and the "five hundred years" as referring to two different things. It's like a sort of parallelism, where it's first stated as eternal life, and then restated as a very long but finite lifespan; but the point of the text is that they will get neither, because the angel Gabriel is going to come and kill them.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:19 pm

Many thanks again Damoetas. I appreciate you guys checking these things.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:34 pm

Is it possible to search for the occurrence of 'aionios' in ALL Greek manuscripts in order to check the context of its usage? Does such a catalogue exist?
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby Damoetas » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:25 am

The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG - http://www.tlg.uci.edu/) is probably the most comprehensive database, but it requires a subscription. If you are connected with a university that subscribes, or if live near one, that's probably your best bet. There's also Diogenes, which runs on free software, but you have to pay to download the database. Perseus is free (and hosted on various sites: http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/efts/PERSEUS/ or here http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/) and contains a huge number of Greek texts, although probably not as many as the TLG. Perhaps other Textkit users have other suggests, but I hope those are a good start!
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby CoxRox » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:40 pm

εὐχαριστῶ σοι (hope that's right!!) :)
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby Damoetas » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:12 pm

CoxRox wrote:εὐχαριστῶ σοι (hope that's right!!) :)


μάλιστα! καλῶς ἔγραψας.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby Bert » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:15 pm

I just want to caution against using etymology to determine the meaning of words;
If 'aion' means 'age', then why does 'aionios' not mean 'pertaining to an age'?
In Dutch the exact same thing happens. The word eeuw means age. Age as in a long time but also a 100 year period. The adjective eeuwig means eternal and the noun eeuwigheid means eternity. In certain contexts this eternity is not literal of course; sometimes it can mean a period that appears to be without end.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby LMD » Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:04 pm

Bert wrote:I just want to caution against using etymology to determine the meaning of words;


Bert, This is true. But it has been addressed. Aionios does mean "pertianing to aion." It doesn't mean that the meaning would not evolve from that. But the importance in seeing the etymology is to show that aionios does not mean eternal of it's own merit. To mean eternal it MUST evolve. y From understanding the etymology, you can then look at how the writer uses the word and see if it is being used closer to its original meaning or its evolved meaning, and also understand how much it has evolved at the point of authorship, and whether everyone always uses the evolved meaning. Obviously Christians would adhere to the evolved meaning. At the time of the NT writing, they referred to "hades" which means "unseen." In that day Hades was also known as a pagan underworld. The question is, did the Bible refer to the pagan Hades, or the pure meaning of "unseen" which was another way of implying "grave." It is pretty clear that "hades" is used as the equivalent of the Hebrew "sheol" which in itself greatly differs from the pagan Greek concept of otherworld Hades, within the Bible. In fact the Bible referrences "pro kronos aionios" when speaking about the promise of aionios zoe, that it was promised before "the time aionios" which requires no twisting or stretching to say "before the time of the ages."

By the way, it's there, as one instance in a few, that the King James translators abandoned "eternal" or "forevermore" and translated "pro chronos aionios" as "before the world began."

As I said before the Septuagint was a translation of the Hebrew Bible created within a few hundred years of Christ, just before he was born. This is before Christian doctrine came about, before the NT writers wrote the NT. The translators in that time, used "aionios" as a translation of Hebrew "olam." The translators could have used any Greek word at their disposal, but they chose aionios to translate a word that refers to ages, hidden ages, or a hidden time. Scholars tend to agree, and usage in the text bears it out, that "olam" is a referrence to hidden time, not eternity as Christians know it.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:33 pm

LMD wrote:But whether or not Justinian believed aionios meant eternity is beside the point. You could be right, maybe he did think that, or maybe he did not. Let's say Justinian did honsestly believe aionios means eternal. The very fact that he was there to contradict a contemporary of his who who taught at the Alexandria school, who taught remedial punishment from the same scriptures, caused Justinian to be in a position to reinforce aionios as endless to whomever was judging his position. Today, we don't need to say eternally eternal. We just take the word to be eternal and enough on its own terms to communicate endlessness. But Justinian's strategy reveals that not to be as widely acceptable in his time, among his detractors.So he reinforced aionios with endlessness to try to clarify what he meant by "aionios." It was an argument he had to make to prove his doctrine, which others obviously did not believe based on the same scriptures.

But he doesn't say "eternally endless" -- he uses the fact that the word aionios is used to prove that it means "endless", which you could certainly do with the English word "eternal." The things is, you could just as easily say that certain authors began using arguments based on the word's morphological makeup and so people had to respond that what the word means is "eternal."

Otherwise, he could say "these universalists are idiots, it says aionios kolasin. Period, end of story." But he couldn't do that because not everyone would agree with that view of aionios kolasin. And what is worse, is that he says that the Bible teaches endless ateleutetos punishment (kolasin?) to the wicked. It's just worth noting that the Bible never associates "ateleutetos" with "kolasin."

That is pretty much what he does say. He says that Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers clearly teach that the punishment has no end, and asks what sort of restoration (apokatastasis) do those who side with Origen imagine. (And technically, he says the Church teaches an ateleutetos punishment).
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:35 pm

Damoetas wrote:The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG - http://www.tlg.uci.edu/) is probably the most comprehensive database, but it requires a subscription. If you are connected with a university that subscribes, or if live near one, that's probably your best bet. There's also Diogenes, which runs on free software, but you have to pay to download the database. Perseus is free (and hosted on various sites: http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/efts/PERSEUS/ or here http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/) and contains a huge number of Greek texts, although probably not as many as the TLG. Perhaps other Textkit users have other suggests, but I hope those are a good start!

I've also been using the TLG, that I have access to through a university library. But there's a lot of stuff out there and you can google your way to some good stuff, but it can be tedious to look through results and to individually search each word form. If you limit yourself to certain sites (el.wikisource.org has a bunch of texts as well), it's a bit better.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:43 pm

LMD wrote:At the time of the NT writing, they referred to "hades" which means "unseen." In that day Hades was also known as a pagan underworld. The question is, did the Bible refer to the pagan Hades, or the pure meaning of "unseen" which was another way of implying "grave." It is pretty clear that "hades" is used as the equivalent of the Hebrew "sheol" which in itself greatly differs from the pagan Greek concept of otherworld Hades, within the Bible.

You're on shakier ground here -- it's a conjecture that Hades etymologically means "unseen". The word, as far as I can see, is never attested with that meaning, and so it's an extraordinary claim that the NT writers would have used it in that sense. But the word did also simply mean "place where the souls of the dead go". There was no "the" pagan Hades, but a variety of beliefs, so it's not surprising that Jews felt comfortable using the word for their own concept.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby LMD » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:44 am

modus.irrealis wrote:ut he doesn't say "eternally endless" -- he uses the fact that the word aionios is used to prove that it means "endless", which you could certainly do with the English word "eternal." The things is, you could just as easily say that certain authors began using arguments based on the word's morphological makeup and so people had to respond that what the word means is "eternal."


But the argument is not that he said "eternally endless." The argument is that he said "aionios life which IS endless." He was saying that it was endless life, but not based on aionios ALONE.

modus.irrealis wrote:That is pretty much what he does say. He says that Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers clearly teach that the punishment has no end, and asks what sort of restoration (apokatastasis) do those who side with Origen imagine. (And technically, he says the Church teaches an ateleutetos punishment).


No he doesn't say that at all. He doesn't say "it says aionios kolasin. Period, end of story." His opposition taught the same thing. He has to elaborate on what "aionios zoe" means by emphasizing it with ateleutetos, and then he says something revealing: He says that the CHURCH teaches "ateleutetos" condemnation. He does not say "they teach aionios kolasin." Why would he do that? His opposition said the same thing! So Justinian said that aionios kolasin would be ateleutetos. The NT writers must have glossed over that, because ateleutetos does not appear anywhere in the NT especially associated with aionios kolasin. Dubious.

modus.irrealis wrote:You're on shakier ground here -- it's a conjecture that Hades etymologically means "unseen". The word, as far as I can see, is never attested with that meaning, and so it's an extraordinary claim that the NT writers would have used it in that sense.


Etymology is not what I was referring to regarding the NT writers association with "the unseen." While the Strong's Dictionary says that it is derived from "a" (not or negative) and "eidos" (know or percieve), I don't hold that as the final authority. The association that I am talking about is not etymological, but through it's connection with the ancient Hebrew scriptures. You cannot talk about word usage in the NT without talking about Hebrew word usage, since the NT is inextribly linked to the ancient Hebrew manuscripts and taught from them. The NT writers would have deferred word usage to the meaning of scriptures they were trying to teach and expound upon, which they do frequently. The Septuagint renders the Hebrew sheol as hades. James Tabor wrote:

"The ancient Hebrews had no idea of an immortal soul living a full and vital life beyond death, nor of any resurrection or return from death. Human beings, like the beasts of the field, are made of "dust of the earth," and at death they return to that dust (Gen. 2:7; 3:19). The Hebrew word nephesh, traditionally translated "living soul" but more properly understood as "living creature," is the same word used for all breathing creatures and refers to nothing immortal...All the dead go down to Sheol, and there they lie in sleep together — whether good or evil, rich or poor, slave or free (Job 3:11-19). It is described as a region "dark and deep," "the Pit," and "the land of forgetfulness," cut off from both God and human life above (Pss. 6:5; 88:3-12). Though in some texts Yahweh's power can reach down to Sheol (Ps. 139:8), the dominant idea is that the dead are abandoned forever. This idea of Sheol is negative in contrast to the world of life and light above, but there is no idea of judgment or of reward and punishment. If one faces extreme circumstances of suffering in the realm of the living above, as did Job, it can even be seen as a welcome relief from pain–see the third chapter of Job. But basically it is a kind of "nothingness," an existence that is barely existence at all, in which a "shadow" or "shade" of the former self survives (Ps. 88:10)."

Sheol was not the same as the Hades of a living underworld. In fact the King James renders it equally "hell" and "grave," whereas modern Bibles revert from the King James and render it as "grave" in all cases. So when the NT writers referred to hades, they were not teaching the same doctrines as in the living underworld Hades of the Gentiles.

modus.irrealis wrote:so it's not surprising that Jews felt comfortable using the word for their own concept.

Thank you! Tell that to the many Christians I have spoken to who say that Paul was "obviously" referring to a living underworld because the modern view of Hades is all they know about. The NT writers would indeed feel comfortable using hades for a different concept than popularly associated with that word, namely the association to their very own scriptures. That would go for aionios as well. The Septuagint translators agreed too.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby Nooj » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:20 am

Protestant Christians do think the KJV is infallible.
Only a minority, more like a fringe minority of Protestants believe that.
You cannot talk about word usage in the NT without talking about Hebrew word usage, since the NT is inextribly linked to the ancient Hebrew manuscripts and taught from them. The NT writers would have deferred word usage to the meaning of scriptures they were trying to teach and expound upon, which they do frequently. The Septuagint renders the Hebrew sheol as hades. James Tabor wrote:

"The ancient Hebrews had no idea of an immortal soul living a full and vital life beyond death, nor of any resurrection or return from death. Human beings, like the beasts of the field, are made of "dust of the earth," and at death they return to that dust (Gen. 2:7; 3:19). The Hebrew word nephesh, traditionally translated "living soul" but more properly understood as "living creature," is the same word used for all breathing creatures and refers to nothing immortal...All the dead go down to Sheol, and there they lie in sleep together — whether good or evil, rich or poor, slave or free (Job 3:11-19). It is described as a region "dark and deep," "the Pit," and "the land of forgetfulness," cut off from both God and human life above (Pss. 6:5; 88:3-12). Though in some texts Yahweh's power can reach down to Sheol (Ps. 139:8), the dominant idea is that the dead are abandoned forever. This idea of Sheol is negative in contrast to the world of life and light above, but there is no idea of judgment or of reward and punishment. If one faces extreme circumstances of suffering in the realm of the living above, as did Job, it can even be seen as a welcome relief from pain–see the third chapter of Job. But basically it is a kind of "nothingness," an existence that is barely existence at all, in which a "shadow" or "shade" of the former self survives (Ps. 88:10)."

Sheol was not the same as the Hades of a living underworld. In fact the King James renders it equally "hell" and "grave," whereas modern Bibles revert from the King James and render it as "grave" in all cases. So when the NT writers referred to hades, they were not teaching the same doctrines as in the living underworld Hades of the Gentiles.


The early Israelites believed in some sort of shadowy underworld where everyone, good and the bad, went. But Jewish eschatology changed significantly over the centuries. The Hebrew Bible itself gives different (some would say contradicting) accounts e.g. Daniel 12:1. Scholars have good reason to think that the NT writers were influenced in some way by the Hellenistic context in which they lived. I think that you're assuming too much if you think that the NT writers believed as the early Israelites did.
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Re: Help urgently needed! (aion, aionios??)

Postby LMD » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:44 pm

Nooj wrote:Only a minority, more like a fringe minority of Protestants believe that.


That is an erroneous statement. I assume you are referring to Fundamentalism. It isn't just the fundamentalists who believe that. I know that from experience across a wide range of denominations. Most Protestant Christians will say that the Bible is a protected writing, and that God would not allow error into it. They don't think of the KJV as a translation, but as the inspired word of God, and it generally takes a shift in reasoning for most Christians to concede that it is a translation in which error could possibly be introduced.

Nooj wrote:The early Israelites believed in some sort of shadowy underworld where everyone, good and the bad, went.


They believed in a much different idea than what Hades came to be. While scholarly opinion always varies depending on many factors (you can find a scholar to verify just about anything), Scholars will pretty much admit to a big difference between sheol and the modern concept of hell and of the Hellenistic concept of Hades. More specifically, the KJV translators (at least half the time), and all modern scholarly adaptations of the Hebrew bible agree that sheol was the equivalent to "grave." In fact the KJV translators render "hades" as "grave" in 1 Corinthians 15:55, whereas in all other NT instances of hades, they render hell. However, in the more modern NIV, they only render hades as hell once. Obviously among modern Christian scholarship, there is a shift in belief as to what the NT writers were influenced by.

Nooj wrote: I think that you're assuming too much if you think that the NT writers believed as the early Israelites did.


Nooj, it's no surprise that the Jewish belief system experienced changes. In fact even in the NT is says to "beware of Jewish myths." Obviously some Jewish shifts in beliefs had "crept in" and scholars point to being influenced by their captivity over the centuries.

There is no way to say that NT writers "believed as all the early Isrealites did." You'd have to ask "which early Isrealites." The question here is word usage. How were these words in the NT connected to the earliest Jewish manuscripts when they referenced them? The earliest Hebrew to Greek translation of the OT that we have shows that these words in the NT were not connected to Hellenistic beliefs, but of early Jewish beliefs. It would be highly suspect to say that the NT writers taught the Hebrew Bible, said it was "Spirit breathed" then went ahead and incorporated Hellenistic influence into their interpretation of it.

I know that the following is a more theological statement, where this is not really a theology board, but Christians, including me, say that the NT writers would have stayed close to the meaning of the early Jewish manuscripts, since they believed that those words were God inspired, and that any doctrine divergent to those words were manmade.

Nooj wrote:Scholars have good reason to think that the NT writers were influenced in some way by the Hellenistic context in which they lived.


The actual writing of the NT would contradict that.

2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness


Notice, he does not say, "don't rely too much on early Jewish writings, but incorporate Hellenistic influence, when teaching doctrine." Quite the opposite.
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