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Why Simmons Is Wrong: A Tour de Force Written During le Tour de France

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By Sam - Posted on 11 July 2007

by Samuel Frost
My first argument is the easiest to reveal the incompetence of Simmons. I had a good laugh over this one. Simmons wants his readers to think that the Greek article is of no real importance. Yet, anyone can read any grammar (I have about seven of them) to see that this is false. He notes that the Greek article appears before names, like, "the Jesus said..." Why the article? Simple. It is specific. Names are very limited and specific, and thus the article often accompanies them. It's just the Greek way.My first argument is the easiest to reveal the incompetence of Simmons. I had a good laugh over this one. Simmons wants his readers to think that the Greek article is of no real importance. Yet, anyone can read any grammar (I have about seven of them) to see that this is false. He notes that the Greek article appears before names, like, "the Jesus said..." Why the article? Simple. It is specific. Names are very limited and specific, and thus the article often accompanies them. It's just the Greek way.His second clumsy mistake was to note that "not one" (italics his) translation agrees with my translation. All I have to do here is produce one translation to prove Simmons false. Young's Literal Translation: "because of this, even as through one man the sin did enter into the world, and through the sin the death; and thus to all men the death did pass through, for that all did sin." Notice the articles. Romans 5.14 shows that Young translates, "the death." I could go on, but if you happen to have a Young's, read Romans 5.12-21. Score one for Frost, 0 for Simmons.

His next very bad comparison is to make me sound like I am inventing a translation akin the New World Translation (NWT) of the Jehovah's Witnesses. False. Since Simmons has not been schooled in Greek, and since he does not teach Greek, his "knowledge" here is deficient. The NWT makes a case that "a" god in John 1.1 is a legitimate grammatical point. Fact of the matter is Greek has no indefinite article (no "a"). The second fact of the matter is that my translation is a literal rendering of the Greek. Why, then, does English not bring out "the"? Simple. When we learned translation under the rigors of seminary training (which Kurt has none), we heard the concept of "smoothing out" the Greek to make it readable in English. To the Greek, "the death" was perfectly readable because it's Greek to the Greek! To the English reader, "the Jesus said" is not "smooth English." But, amazingly, Simmons is trying to make the point that since "the" is not in most of our English translations, then it is not really there, and of not much importance to exegetical considerations! If Simmons tried to sell this line of garbage to any Greek professor, they would laugh him out of the class and tell him to continue pursuing law. Score: Frost, 2; Simmons, 0.

Finally, I'll leave the reader with a quote from someone who actually knows Greek, wrote a well-received textbook on the subject, and should put this baby to rest. "There is no more important aspect of Greek grammar than the article to help shape our understanding of the thought and theology of the NT writers." And, "...[T]he article is able to turn just about any part of speech into a noun and, therefore, a concept. For example, "poor" expresses a quality, but the addition of an article turns it into an entity, "the poor." It is this ability to conceptualize that seems to be the basic force of the article" (Greek Grammar Beyond The Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Daniel B. Wallace, Zondervan, 1996, pp. 208,209). Now, Paul consistently used "the death" and "the sin." "Sin" is just a quality. "The Sin" is an entity, a concept. Paul is not, then, talking about individual sins, but the very concept and definition of the Sin. If Simmons would actually read technical commentaries that deal with the Greek text, he would see that they talk about the article and the concept of "death." Frost, 3; Simmons 0.

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Malachi's picture

Sam et al,

Virgil is tardy in posting my final contribution in this debate. I sent it to him Friday morning, but he has not got around to posting it yet. I will post it at my website this morning.

chrisliv's picture

Well,

I'm not picking sides here, but I will mention a middle way on a main point Sam uses for his argument.

The "the" isn't really helpful in English, in my opinion, and is obviously why virtually all English translations don't include it.

I mean, "the death" and just "death" are not an elegant solution at Romans 5:14-21. Same thing with "the sin" and "sin".

Even using capitals on both "the" and "sin" or "death" ("The Sin" or "The Death") don't work well as that implies one supreme or particular type.

What I think works best, in English, is just the capital "S" or "D", without the "the" or the "The", rather than just "death" or "the death" to demonstrate the condition or personification of Sin and Death.

So, even in English, however inelegantly, we can easily see from the context that a "Reign of Sin and Death" is contrasted with a "Reign of Grace" at Romans 5:21.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Sam's picture

CL,

That would work, too. Adding just a capital Sin would get the specificity without the cumbersome "the". The main idea here is that "sin" is not known apart from "the law" defining it. Adam "transgressed" a specific sin as outlined in the law or commandment given to him. Had it not been given in the law, Adam would "not have known" what "sin" was. Law give "sin" its power. It is Law that makes an act a criminal thing. If there was no "law" against eating of the specific tree, then Adam was "free" to eat. It was the Law that made it "sin." Thus, all three are bound together: law gives "sin" its power, and "death" is the penalty the Law prescribes. Without law, neither sin nor death has any power. Thus, Paul:
"The sting of the death is the sin, and the power of the death is the law." Go backwards: "the Law gives the sin its constitutional power, and when this law is broken (sin), the law gives the death its rightful jursidiction." Remove the law, and you have nothing. "For where there is no law, there is no Sin."

Sam

tom-g's picture

Hey Sam,

I'm sorry but in my old age my mind doesn't grasp things as easily or as quickly as it once did. I now understand the power of the KISS principle.

So, let me try. Are you saying that sin is the genus and the Law of "The Sin and The Death" is just one of the species of the genus of sin, with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life etc. as individual differentia of the species of the law of The Sin and The Death?

If this is true then the logical law of a genus being abstracted into at least two species, and the law of "Dictum De Omni" would be satisfied, arguing from the universal to the particular.

It would also make it logically possible for this one species of the genus, "The law of the sin and the death", to be destroyed without negating the whole, or the genus. Then other species of the genus of sin would still be extant along with their differentia after the destruction of the one species of the law of the sin and the death. Thus making it logically possible for man to still be condemned today for the other species of the genus sin, the law that is not subject to the law of God or the law of the sin and the death, the law that is contained in our members, that is the flesh.

So, now that I have clearly and simply explained that for even a child to understand (?) What do you think?

Regards,
Tom

Believability's picture

Tom

The Law served the purpose of becoming the inbodiment of all that could not be accomplished through human ability to save oneself and be restored to the presence of God.

Although I do not deny the historicity of the the Old Testament, we should look at the pagentry from the standpoint of it being a dramatic presentation of what sin is and that to which the harmful effects of sin lead, i.e. death (separation from God).

Although some do not see how the ritual law given to the Jewish nation is relevant, the point being made is that even in covenant with God, a system based upon works of human effort and the offering up of animal sacrifices could not bring us back to where we belong.

Sin continued "from Adam to Moses" unabated although the "seed" promise remained in tact. God took up the plight of humanity in the Mosaic covenant to further confirm the reality that apart from the coming of Messiah into the world to die as an atoning sacrifice, the "power" and "strength" of sin could not be stopped.

Larry Siegle
Walnut Creek, CA

tom-g's picture

Thank you Larry,

Although that was not the subject I was addressing.

I was under the impression that the Law did in fact restore those under the Law to the presence of God. That is why God gave the means of repentence and animal sacrifice for the individual and the High Priest repentence and annual sacrifice in the Holy of Holies for the nation .

Regards,
tom

Believability's picture

The sacrifices under that system was equal to paying only the "interest" on a load without ever touching the principle. Year by year the account of transgressions was pushed forward until the time of the Cross when the actual atonement process was set into motion. Those "saved" under that system were saved on the basis of faith in the eventual coming of Messiah to take away their sins, not because of the blood associated with the offerings prior to that time.

Larry Siegle
Walnut Creek, CA

tom-g's picture

Thank you Larry,

Could you supply me with the chapter and verses to substantiate your comments? I will study them at home to see if what you say is true.

Regards,
Tom

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

I think Paul must have been speaking in a narrow scope.

My experience and sensibility tells me that "sin" (in some sense) is known apart from "the law" defining it, even today.

As an example, when I was a child of about four years old, I used to climb onto the mailbox and watch the cars go by on the street as I raised and lowered the outgoing-mail flag as if it were a gearshift, or something. One day, as I was rocking back and forth on the mailbox, it broke off the post as I fell to the ground unharmed. So what do you think I did next? Well, I hid the mailbox in the bushes, of course. And it took about a day for my "sin" to be uncovered, apart from any law about not be allowed to play on the mailbox or any other prohibition regarding it, me, the timing, or the area itself.

Maybe you'll agree with me that when Christ blesses those "who keep my commandments" (John 14:15, 14:21, & 15:10), He's not talking about The Law of Moses. I mean, a quick look at the Sermon on the Mount shows that Christ's commands exceed that of the Moasic.

The way I see it, from a judicial point of view, the Mosaic Law had implications for the Jews alone, e.g. the ritual Sabbath was meaningless to others.

God judged Humanity with a Flood and a global death toll (save Noah's family) for their wickedness before "The Law" was codified by Moses. And Humanity was further confounded by God shortly after the Flood for their arrogance at the Tower of Babel on the Plain of Shinar.

When Cain killed his brother Abel, he displayed an obvious intrinsic sense of guilt for his deed. It seems nobody ever had to teach him that. Remember, when God asked Cain where his brother was (as if God didn't know), he said, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Of course, Cain was not his brother's keeper in that sense, but we see the defensive rhetoric.

So, did Cain "sin" apart from the "Law" by killing his brother?

Yes, of course he did.

And he knew it.

To say, in an overly general sense, Sin only exists as an administrative reality in those places or at those times that there is "Law" somewhere really makes the innate sense of Justice within Humanity seem meaningless, logically speaking.

That kind of rationale makes guys like Adolf Hitler and Henry Kissinger just exciting actors on the World's Stage, rather than an offense to both God and Humanity for their atrocities. You see, what they did was not against the Law of their State, yet we know their actions are worthy of condemnation.

The knowledge of Good and Evil that came with Adam's transgression seems to have dragged Sin in with it.

Did God know Adam would transgress the solitary command in the Garden before He expressed it to Adam?

Of course.

So, why do God put that tree there and give that command?

Why did God allow Eve's talking pet (it was something that was previously upright in its form) to beguile (possibly because it became possessed by a superior intellect) her in the Garden, which caused Adam to choose between Eve and God. Of course, Adam could have instead asked God for help with the problem as soon as he encountered Eve in her state of confusion and technical transgression.

Was God tempting Adam?

Well there were about three forces at work, besides Adam, that I can see.

And God did set the whole thing up.

So, God seemed to want to deal with all the messy forces that would influence and manipulate Humanity right at the outset, in an effort to bring about an Enhanced Humanity (Christ and His Offspring, not Superman), instead of being over-protective and keeping all negative influences away, which would ensure a Retarded Humanity.

I mean, Redemption was obviously contemplated even before Creation, as we see early in Genesis Chapter 3, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy Seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

So, is all of Humanity in the New Heaven and New Earth, without Sin or Death?

I think only some are.

Did the Old Earth, Sin, and Death evaporate?

Obviously not. Most of Humanity is mindlessly involved in the greatest Century of Carnage in Human History.

Besides, I think everyone knows when they're naked.

But we can all have the Blessing and the Promise (Life in the Holy Spirit), which even Abraham longed for:

"But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the General Assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." Heb. 12:22-24

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" Eph. 1:3

So, there it is, Paradise Restored, for those who can appreciate it.

I don't know if I'm arguing against what you and Paul are saying, Sam, or if I'm just arguing against your being overly simplistic on this point.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

SuperSoulFighter's picture

"There is no more important aspect of Greek grammar than the article to help shape our understanding of the thought and theology of the NT writers." And, "...[T]he article is able to turn just about any part of speech into a noun and, therefore, a concept. For example, "poor" expresses a quality, but the addition of an article turns it into an entity, "the poor." It is this ability to conceptualize that seems to be the basic force of the article" (Greek Grammar Beyond The Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Daniel B. Wallace, Zondervan, 1996, pp. 208,209).

Good quote and insights, Sam! I'm reminded of the obscurity of Irenaeus' statement concerning the date of the Book of Revelation's composition - OR the date of the author's having been seen publicly. The Greek article is the point of contention in Irenaeus' statement and is, indeed, a matter of great importance in evaluating the original text. Good points.

JM

Starlight's picture

Nice response, Sam. There's lots of helpful information in there. Thanks!

OSTRALOA's picture

Sam,

Great response and reply. I feel though after seeing Jeremy Lile's theories coming up again, Davos' along with Virgil and Ed's ideas your next step would logically to be to debate these universalist "comprehensive grace" people and add a rebuttal to the Arnobian error of Annihilationalism as well. Just a thought. Again, you and Kurt are both solid and had great points from both sides.

Blessings from Brazil

For Christ & Kingdom,

Paul Anderson
Planalmira, Brazil

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