Msg#: 63                                           Date: 05-22-93  10:55

From: James White                                  Read: No     Replied: No

To: All                                          Mark:

Subj: Nibley Article #1

 

——————————————————————————–

To All Participants:

Since Elden Watson wishes to dispute some of my statements in an

article that appeared in Pros Apologian, our theological journal, I

am here providing the text of the article in question.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be the

only true Church on earth today.  All other churches are apostate,

and do not have the proper “authority” to do the works of

God.  Obviously, such a belief necessitates some explanation of how

the Christian Church ceased to exist, why, and how it was re-established

under Joseph Smith 1700 years after it supposedly vanished.  Furthermore,

the LDS belief requires some very heavy re-interpretation of key biblical

texts that plainly declare the continuation of the Christian Church

until the second coming of Christ.

The Mormon belief lays heavy emphasis upon the doctrine of the

priesthood.  According to Mormonism, Jesus Christ ordained His

apostles to the Melchizedek priesthood, and this priesthood was lost

to the Church by the end of the second century.  Supposedly, this

priesthood was restored to the earth in 1829 when Peter, James, and

John gave it to Joseph Smith.  We cannot here address the highly

anti-biblical nature of this teaching regarding the Melchizedek

priesthood (we invite our readers to write and request our tract,

What is Your Authority? for further information).   Instead, we wish

to focus upon how the LDS Church has undertaken to defend this belief

regarding a vanishing and then reappearing Christian Church. When

faced with the concept of a universal apostacy, Christians often

quote relevant passages of Scripture that would contradict the LDS

position.  For example, Paul wrote to the Ephesians and spoke much

about the Church.(1)  In the third chapter he wrote:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we

ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within

us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus

throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.(2)

It seems quite plain that Paul believed that the Father would be

glorified “in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all

generations.”  If the Church failed in its mission, and ceased to

exist for 1700 years, it is difficult to understand how the Father

would be glorified in the church throughout all generations. But the

passage that probably comes to mind first for most believers is

Matthew 16:18:

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will

build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Surely if the Church ceased to exist for 1700 years, it could be said

with truthfulness that the “gates of Hades” did indeed overcome the

Church.

Recently, when speaking with some LDS individuals on a national

computer conference,(3)  the subject of Matthew 16:18 came up.  One

participant, who has served as a “doctrinal specialist” for the LDS

Church, Elden Watson, in responding to my citation of the passage,

asserted that the passage did not say that the gates of hell (the

King James rendering) would not overcome the church, for the Greek

indicated that that which is not to be overcome is something other

than the Church.  I found Mr. Watson’s claim to be in error, and

stated so.  A few days later I received a message from the Moderator

of the echo, Malin Jacobs, that the interpretation put forward by Mr.

Watson was actually that of Dr. Hugh Nibley, Mormonism’s leading

scholar, as first published in a series of articles on baptism for

the dead in The Improvement Era beginning in 1948, and now to be

found in the book _Mormonism and Early Christianity_.(4)  While great

benefit could be derived from an in-depth critique of this

article(5), we must limit our attention to the following section,

entitled “The Gates of Hell”:

To the Jews “the gates of hell” meant something very

specific.  Both Jews and Christians thought of the world of

the dead as a prison– carcer, phylake, phroura–in which the

dead were detained but not necessarily made to suffer any

other discomfort.  In the Jewish tradition the righteous dead

are described as sitting impatiently in their place of

detention awaiting their final release and reunion with their

resurrected bodies and asking, “How much longer must we stay

here?”  The Christians talked of “the prison of death” to

which baptism held the key of release–a significant

thought, as we shall see.(6)

It is the proper function of a gate to shut creatures in or

out of a place; when a gate “prevails,” it succeeds in this

purpose; when it does not “prevail,” someone succeeds in

getting past it.  But prevail is a rather free English

rendering of the far more specific Greek katischyo, meaning

to overpower in the sense of holding back, holding down,

detaining, suppressing, etc.  Moreover, the things which is

held back, is not the church, for the object is not in the

accusative but in the partitive genitive: it is “hers,” part

of her, that which belongs to her, that the gates will not be

able to contain.  Since all have fallen, all are confined in

death which it is the Savior’s mission to overcome; their

release is to be accomplished through the work of the church,

to which the Lord promises at some future time he will give

the apostles the keys.(7)

Nibley goes on to say that the key to open this prison is baptism for

the dead, which no church claimed to hold until the Mormon Church in

the nineteenth century.

It is plain to see that Nibley’s primary purpose is to make Matthew

16:18 and the discussion of the “keys” found in this passage relevant

to the Mormon concept of priesthood authority, which is absolutely

necessary for the performance of ordinances for the dead.  Yet, it is

being used by those LDS who attempt to defend their faith as a means

of removing Matthew 16:18 from the discussion of the perpetuity of

the Church.  And the means by which this is done is by asserting that

the phrase “and the gates of Hades shall not overcome it” is not

referring to the Church, but to something else.  It is this claim,

and the means that Dr. Nibley uses to present it, that we wish to

examine.

It must first be noted that Nibley’s interpretation of the passage is

not to be found in any stream of scholarly interpretation, whether

Protestant, or Catholic.  We are not aware of a single scholar who

attempts to say that the final phrase of Matthew 16:18 is referring

to anything other than the Church; that is, that the “it” found in

the phrase does not refer back to the term “church” mentioned

immediately before.  If Nibley is correct, it is amazing that

exegetes over the centuries have missed what only he has discovered.

Mormons are, by and large, in awe of Hugh Nibley’s linguistic

abilities.  When Dr. Nibley says that the term “it” in Matthew 16:18

is “in the partitive genitive,” that must be the case.  Yet, is it?

And why would literally thousands of scholars of the Greek language

have missed such a simple thing, leaving Dr. Nibley to discover it?

And what of all those translations of the Bible that do not catch

this, seemingly, basic thing?

The reason is very obvious to the person who has studied the Greek of

the New Testament, but it may not be as clear to those who have not

had that opportunity.  To explain this, we provide the following

information.

[Please note: I have kept the ascii transliterations in this text, so

that if anyone wishes to use a word-processor that can display in

Greek, they may do so in reading this text]

The Greek language is highly expressive.  Greek nouns can be found in

any one of eight(8) cases: nominative (subject), genitive

(description), ablative (separation), locative (location),

instrumental (means), dative (indirect object), accusative (direct

object), and vocative (direct address).  Dr. Nibley mentions two of

these, the accusative case, which is the normal case of the direct

object, and the genitive, which is normally the case of description

or ownership.  The accusative and genitive forms in the Greek

language differ from one another.  For example, the term “man” in

Greek, in the nominative, is “anqrwpoV” (anthropos).  In the

genitive, it is “anqrwpou” (anthropou), and in the accusative it is

“anqrwpon” (anthropon).  The -ou ending indicates the genitive, the

-on ending the accusative.

The next relevant piece of information has to do with pronouns.  The

pronouns in Greek also take the case forms mentioned above.  It is

always important to be able to determine a pronoun’s antecedent, that

to which it refers.  Greek pronouns agree with their antecedents in

gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter) and number (singular or

plural).  _A pronoun does not have to agree with its antecedent in

case._  In other words, a pronoun may take a different case than its

antecedent due to how it is used in a clause.  As this is important

to Dr. Nibley’s comments, we provide the following from _The

Beginner’s Grammar of the Greek New Testament_ by William Hersey

Davis:

_146._  1.  The substantive to which a pronoun refers is

called its antecedent:

“ginwskomen ton didaskalon kai legomen autw”, we know

the teacher and speak to him.

A pronoun agrees with its antecedent in gender and number.

Cf. “didaskalon” (masc. gender, sing. number) and “autw”

(masc. gender, sing. number).(9)

How to identify an antecedent is one of the first skills required in

reading the Greek of the New Testament. Let us now look at Matthew

16:18 and see if we can understand Dr. Nibley’s claim in light of the

preceding information.  Matthew 16:18 reads as follows:

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this

rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not

prevail against it.  (KJV)

According to Dr. Nibley, the “it” of the final clause (the gates of

hell shall not prevail against _it_) cannot be referring to the

Church that Jesus promised to build in the previous clause.  And why

is this?  Dr. Nibley says, “Moreover, the things which is held back,

is not the church, for the object is not in the accusative but in the

partitive genitive: it is `hers,’ part of her, that which belongs to

her, that the gates will not be able to contain.”  The only way we

can understand this is that Dr. Nibley is asserting that since

“church” (“ekklesian”) is in the accusative case, and the term “it”

(“authV”) is in the genitive, that “it” cannot be referring to

“church.”  Further, Dr. Nibley asserts that the term “it” is in the

“partitive genitive,” and as a result produces the unusual

interpretation that it is “hers, part of her, that which belongs to

her, that the gates will not be able to contain.”  From this he

deduces a passage referring to baptism for the dead.

What can be said about Dr. Nibley’s comments?  First, it is apparent

that Dr. Nibley is in error regarding how the antecedent of a Greek

pronoun is determined.(10)  He says that “it” cannot refer to

“church” because there is a difference in cases, “church” being in

the accusative, and “it” being in the genitive.  Yet, as we saw

before, pronouns agree with their antecedents in gender and number,

not necessarily in case.  The term “church” is feminine in gender and

singular in number; the term “it” is feminine in gender and singular

in number.  Hence, Dr. Nibley’s case is built upon a misunderstanding

of a rule that is introduced in the first semester of a beginning

Greek course.  The “it” of the final clause can indeed refer to

“church” as all translations and commentaries indicate.

Can more be said about Dr. Nibley’s claims?  Most certainly.  Dr.

Nibley asserts that “it” is in the “partitive genitive.”  What is

this?  First, we note that there is no specific “partitive genitive”

form in the Greek language.  The term “partitive” refers to a

syntactical category not to a specific grammatical form.  The term is

merely in the genitive; whether it is a partitive genitive,

attributive genitive, possessive genitive, or any of the 12 or more

categories of “kinds” of genitives that grammarians have identified

is an interpretive call.  Such is not determined by the actual form

of the text.

Syntactical categories are determined by the context in which a term

is found.  For example, when a genitive is used simply to describe

something it is “syntaxed” as an attributive genitive.  For example:

“John came preaching a baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4).  The term

“repentance” (“metanoiaV”) is in the genitive; it is describing the

term “baptism,” and hence would be “syntaxed” as an attributive (or

descriptive) genitive.

Dr. Nibley claims that the use of the genitive we have at Matthew

16:18 is the “partitive genitive.”  What does this mean?  We provide

the following definition from the grammar of Dana and Mantey:

The Partitive Genitive  A noun may be defined by indicating

in the genitive the whole of which it is a part.  The sense

of attribution is remote here, but nevertheless present.  If

it is said, “o PetroV hn eiV twn apostolwn”, Peter was one of

the apostles, Peter is thereby defined by attributing to him

a relation to a group.  Hence we have in this construction

the typical genitive function.(11)

Vaughn and Gideon elaborate:

Partitive.–A word in the genitive sometimes indicates the

whole of which the word modified is a part.  This is

ordinarily called a partitive genitive, though some

grammarians speak of it as the “genitive of the whole.”

Examples:  “ekastw *hmwn* edoqh h cariV,” “To each of us

grace was given” (Eph. 4:7)  “oude Solomwn…periebaleto wV

en *toutwn*,” “Not even Solomon…clothed himself as one of

these” (Matt. 6:29).  “eteron twn *apostolwn* ouk eidon”,

“Other of the apostles I saw not” (Gal. 1:19).(12)

Most often, a number of different categories are possible in

determining the syntactical usage of a term in the Greek language.

However, one of the uses, normally, suggests itself as superior to

the others. One other use of the genitive is the “genitive of direct

object.”  Most of the time the Greek language uses the accusative as

the case for the direct object of a verb.  However, other cases may

be used, depending upon the verb itself.  Vaughn and Gideon note:

Direct object.–Some verbs–those, for example, which express

sensation or perception (“akouw”, hear; “geuomai”, taste;

“aptomai”, touch; etc.); emotion and concern

(“splaggnizomai”, pity; “epiqumew”, desire; “katafronew”,

despise; etc.); ruling (“arcw”, rule; “kurieuw”, be master

of, etc.); and so on–have a meaning which is related to the

root idea of the genitive case.  Such verbs may take their

direct object in the genitive rather than the accusative

case.  Example:  “thV *ekklhsiaV* tou qeou katafroneite”; “Do

you despise the church of God?” (I Cor. 11:22).(13)

With this information at hand, can any conclusions be drawn

concerning Dr. Nibley’s claim that we are working with a partitive

genitive in Matthew 16:18?  Most certainly.  First, we note that the

passage bears none of the marks of a partitive genitive.  There is no

idea of “it” being the whole of which some assumed “thing” or

“things” is a part.(14)  The “it” is obviously referring back to the

Church, as we have already seen.  Why, then, is the term “it” in the

genitive?

It seems that Dr. Nibley simply did not do his homework in

identifying this as a partitive genitive.  Why do we say this?  A

quick glance at any decent lexicon of the Greek language would have

provided him with the answer to the question, “What is the

syntactical function of “authV” at Matthew 16:18?”  The verb (which

Nibley specifically mentioned), “katiscuw” (katischuo) is the key to

the problem.  The following is the definition provided by Bauer,

Arndt, Gingrich and Danker:

“katiscuw”…1. abs. be dominant, prevail (Polyb. 11, 13, 3;

Ex 17; 11l En. 104, 6) “katiscuon ai fwnai autwn” their

voices prevailed Lk 23:23 (Antig. Car. 152 “katiscuken h

fhmh”). W. inf. foll. be able, be in a position 21:36.

2.  used w. gen win a victory over (Dio Chrys. 12[13], 4 al.;

Aelian, H.A. 5, 19; Wsd 7:30; Jer 15:18; Jos., Bell. 2, 464

“katiscusaV pleionwn”=`conqueror of a superior force’; Test.

Reub. 4:11) “pulai adou ou katiscusousin authV” (i.e., “thV

ekklesiaV”) Mt 16:18 (s. on “pulh” 1) “pashV ponhriaV” Hv 2,

3, 2, “k. twn ergwn tou diabolou” win the victory over the

works of the devil Hm 12, 6, 4.(15)

While the above may look like some secret code to most, to the

scholar (which Dr. Nibley claims to be), the above is quite

significant.  First, note that the lexicon specifically identifies a

use of the verb with the genitive, and places Matthew 16:18 in this

category.  If Dr. Nibley had taken the time to examine the lexical

sources, he would have discovered that “katiscuw” takes its direct

object in the genitive!  And this is exactly what we have at Matthew

16:18: the gates of Hades will not overcome (“katiscuw”) it (“authV”,

genitive singular, referring back to “church”).  Hence, we clearly

have here the proper syntactical category for “it” at Matthew 16:18:

genitive of direct object.

When this author first translated, and then syntaxed, this passage,

he identified the use of “authV” as the genitive of direct object in

opposition to Dr. Nibley’s claim.  In the writing of this article,

this identification was confirmed from the writings of the greatest

Greek scholar America has ever produced, Dr. A. T. Robertson.  In his

mammoth work, _A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of

Historical Research_, under the topic of the genitive used with

verbs, section 6, “Verbs of Ruling,”(16) we read,

These verbs all have a distinct substantive-affinity like `be

ruler of,’ etc.  See further Lu. 22:25 for “kuriew” and

“exousiazw”, Mt. 16:18 for “katiscuw”.

Here Robertson identifies the use of “katiscuw” at Matthew 16:18

under the heading of the genitive with verbs (i.e., genitive of

direct object), confirming our own identification provided above.

The preceding discussion may seem very complex to those who have not

had the opportunity to learn the Greek language themselves.  And

surely even the best scholar will make an occasional mistake now and

then.  Indeed, we could hope that Dr. Nibley would admit this error

and instruct that changes be made in future editions of his works to

reflect a proper understanding of the passage.  Until that time,

those LDS who trust in his scholarship, and on the basis of this have

dismissed Matthew 16:18 from their thinking regarding the nature of

the Church, should be encouraged to re-think the wonderful promise

that Christ’s Church would not cease to exist, but would enjoy His

presence throughout all ages (Matthew 28:20).

James White, B.A., M.A.

Notes:

1) Indeed, LDS often cite passages from Ephesians 2:20 regarding the

necessity of apostles in the Church, not realizing, it seems, that

the passage says that the Apostles are part of the foundation of the

Church, and one lays a foundation only once, and then begins to build

the house upon it.  The Apostles continue to function today, through

their witness in Scripture, in a foundational way.

2)All quotations are taken from the New International Version, unless

otherwise noted.

3) The National MORMON Echo, moderated by Malin Jacobs, is gated into

the FidoNet Network.  Those who access FidoNet can request that this

echo be brought into their BBS, or you can read the echo by

requesting access on Pros Apologian, 1:114/105, (602) 973-3739,

14,400/9600/2400 BAUD.

4) _The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley: Volume 4.  Mormonism and

Early Christianity_ edited by Todd Compton and Stephen Ricks (Salt

Lake City: Deseret Book Company and Foundation for Ancient Research

and Mormon Studies, 1987).

5)  Nibley’s ability to turn the early Fathers into proto-Mormons, if

it were not used to maintain the errors of Mormonism, would be an

enlightening, and at times humorous, lesson in anachronistic

interpretation.

6) At this point Nibley provides a footnote which reads, “Tertullian,

On the Soul 55, in PL 2:790: `From the prison of death, thy blood is

the key of admission to all paradise.’  He is speaking of the blood

of the martyrs, with which they are baptized.  It has been common at

all periods of the church to speak of baptism as `the gate.'”  Migne

is giving the Latin; we can only assume that Nibley is translating

it.  Yet Peter Holmes’ translation, found in volume III of the

_Ante-Nicene Fathers_ (Eerdman’s edition), page 231, says, “Observe,

then, the difference between a heathen and a Christian in their

death: if you have to lay down your life for God, as the Comforter

counsels, it is not in gentle fevers and on soft beds, but in the

sharp pains of martyrdom: you must take up the cross and bear it

after your Master, as He has Himself instructed you.  The sole key to

unlock Paradise is your own life’s blood.  You have a treatise by us,

(on Paradise), in which we have established the position that every

soul is detained in safe keeping in Hades until the day of the Lord.”

The way in which Nibley is able to take this statement, wherein

Tertullian indicates that martyrs are taken directly into Paradise,

and turn it into a reference to the necessity of baptism, connecting

this into his entire concept of baptism for the dead, is highly

instructive.  We are reminded of a recent incident in which a

Christian man, Lonnie Sparks, contacted Nibley regarding his

quotation of another scholar, Dr. Dietrich Wildung.  Mr. Sparks had

contacted Dr. Wildung, and discovered that Nibley’s comments

regarding a particular aspect of Egyptian religion, based upon

Wildung, were completely out of context.  When Mr. Sparks asked Dr.

Nibley about this, the reply he received was quite interesting.

Quoting a letter written by Dr. Nibley to Mr. Sparks, dated March 25,

1991:  “I have not corresponded with Dr. Wildung.  Egyptologists are

the most frankly speculative of people, and everyone is free to go

his way.  My only concern is to have quoted him correctly–any reader

is free to interpret the quotations as he pleases.  I quote literally

thousands of sources, not considering myself an authority on

anything, and see no need to consult with the writers.”  Such a

cavalier attitude toward the original context of the sources Dr.

Nibley cites should be a red flag to anyone using his materials as a

guide to religious study.

7) Nibley, _Mormonism and Early Christianity_ pp. 105-106.

8) Some grammars use a five-case system, others an eight-case system.

There are only five different forms in the language.

9) p. 67.

10) Given that Dr. Nibley is not extremely clear at this point, we

note the possibility that he is simply asserting that authV”

is functioning in a different syntactical arrangment rather than

making an error about how to identify the antecedent.  However, Dr.

Nibley’s specific comments seem to indicate otherwise.

11) H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, _A Manual Grammar of the Greek

New Testament_ (New York: The Macmillan Company), 1927, p. 79.

12) Curtis Vaughn and Virtus Gideon, _A Greek Grammar of the New

Testament_ (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1979), p. 33).

13) Ibid., p. 36.

14) Remember Nibley’s attempted translation as “part of her” and

“that which belongs to her.”  There is no “that which” in the text.

15) Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, _A Greek-English Lexicon of the New

Testament and Other Early Christian Literature_ (University of

Chicago Press, 1979), p. 424.

16) p. 510.

 

——————————————————————————–

Area: Mormon

Msg#: 853                                          Date: 06-08-93  13:12

From: James White                                  Read: No     Replied: No

To: All                                          Mark:

Subj: Article Review #1

 

——————————————————————————–

A Reply to Elden Watson’s Review of

“Hugh Nibley, the Universal Apostasy, and the Gates of Hades”

as it appeared in the Spring, 1993 issue of

Pros Apologian

It seems some people take things personally, especially when

one’s heros or idols are under discussion.  Right now in Phoenix, for

example, on the eve of the beginning of the NBA Finals, it would not

be good to speak out against Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, or the

Phoenix Suns in general.  Even folks in my own tradition, the

Reformed, sometimes lose their cool when someone attacks, normally

out of ignorance, John Calvin, or Jonathan Edwards.  Such is the

human nature.

We can see this quite clearly in the review of my article

refuting Dr. Hugh Nibley’s comments on Matthew 16.19 that was posted

on the National Mormon Echo by Elden Watson.  It seems Mr. Watson

has an inordinately high regard for the redoubtable Dr. Nibley, and

his review of my article seems based more upon indignation that

anyone would dare disagree with Nibley as it is upon any factual

evidence.  Mr. Watson’s normally clear thinking has been severely

muddled by this emotional attachment to Dr. Nibley, as we shall see.

Before getting to the review itself, I feel it is *vitally*

important to remind the reader of what the original article was

about.  It was not about the LDS doctrine that there was a

*universal* apostasy in the Christian Church, though it mentions that

as part of its background.  It was not about the subject of the

priesthood, though again, it mentions this in providing background

for the reader.  It was about one thing: Hugh Nibley’s comments on

Matthew 16.19, specifically regarding the genitive “autes” that

functions as the direct object of the Greek verb “katischuo,” i.e.,

“the gates of hades will not overcome (katischuo) it (autes).”  That

is what the article was about.  That was its thrust.  I alleged that

Dr. Nibley was simply in error to syntax the genitive autes as a

partitive genitive, and demonstrated that the proper syntactical

identification would be the genitive of direct object.  I supported

this from scholarly sources.  For Mr. Watson’s review to be relevant,

it would have to provide argumentation against the main point of the

article.  As anyone can see by reading the review, it utterly fails

to do that very thing, preferring instead to attack anything and

everything *around* the central thesis, while leaving the true error

of Dr. Nibley unrefuted.

Mr. Watson seemingly felt it was necessary to “take the

gloves off” so to speak in his review.  He was none to kind in many

of his remarks, preferring, it seems, the ad hominem method of

argumentation to a scholarly one.  It is possible, of course, that

since Mr. Watson has no graduate training in Greek (to my knowledge),

he had to resort to this argumentation, as he is unequipped to engage

the finer points of the argument.  Sadly, this inability shows up

often in his review, normally couched in an attack upon *my*

abilities at things that he himself has not studied.

One final thing before we begin.  There are many ways of

defending a lost position.  Our current political administration in

Washington is very good at this very thing.  One means is to fill

pages and pages with written text, citations, etc., none of which is

actually relevant to the question at hand.  Indeed, Dr. Salmon put it

quite well in his book, _The Infallibility of the Church_:

It is a common rhetorical artifice with a man who has to

commend a false conclusion deduced from a syllogism of which

one premiss is true, and the other false, to spend an

immensity of time in proving the premise which nobody denies.

If he devotes a sufficient amount of argument and declamation

to this topic, the chances are that his hearers will never

ask for the proof of the other premiss (p. 63).

Such a mechanism is, I honestly feel, responsible for the immense

amount of writing that has issued from Hugh Nibley’s pen regarding

the Book of Abraham, that still leaves the reader, if he survived the

labyrinth of rabbit-trails created by Nibley’s books, to ask, “But,

did Joseph translate the papyri correctly?”  It is sufficient for

many to simply know that “Dr. Nibley addressed that in a book…I

didn’t understand it at all…but as long as he wrote on it, there

must be an answer to the question.”  Such use of scholarship is

certainly not limited to the LDS Church, but it is offensive wherever

it might be found.  Mr. Watson, I feel, has learned well at the feet

of Dr. Nibley, and has filled his review with a great deal of fluff,

but tremendously little substance.  Having made such a statement, I

will proceed, unlike Mr. Watson, to demonstrate my point.

Half of Mr. Watson’s review is taken up with issues *other

than* the point of my article.  I hesitated even to reply to these

sections, as I have found that normally the side-issues end up

obscuring the main point to such an extent as to accomplish that

which the reviewer wishes.  However, I knew that if I did not reply

to those sections, I would be accused of ducking substantive

criticisms, so I shall do that very thing.  However, rather than

replying to Mr. Watson’s posts in consecutive order, I will instead

bring the main issues back to the fore, and reply to them first, and

then “wrap up” the later accusations and charges.  In fact, I wish to

begin with a very pleasant surprise, that being Dr. Nibley’s short

note to Mr. Watson.

The Letter from Dr. Nibley

EW> When this topic first arose, I wrote to Dr. Nibley and asked

EW> whether he felt the translation of autes in Mt 16:18 as “hers” in the

EW> partative genitive was a viable interpretation, or whether he could

EW> have made an error.   I received the following reply:

I am very thankful that Mr. Watson wrote to Dr. Nibley, as I do not

have any idea if I would have been able to get as quick a response,

and I certainly doubt it would have been as revealing!  Here is the

text of the letter:

Dear Brother Watson,

When ministers start making Greek the argument, it is time to

adjourn.  I have always found their training to be extremely

superficial, usually applying to one book only in the most massive

of ancient literatures, and read with a translation and dictionary

at the student’s elbow.  There is no scarcity of instances in

which the genitive is used in the same sense given in Matthew

16:18.  _Katechousi_, used with gates cannot possibly mean

anything but “hold back.”  Hold back what?  Again the object

cannot possibly be anything but an accusative.  Yet for some

strange reason here in all manuscripts, it is in the genitive or

possessive.  Why?  Smythe’s Grammar, Sects. 1341, 1345, 1352 gives

a number of examples in which a genitive is so used as an object

to indicate things belonging to a larger category or body.

Is there anything more fantastic than pinning one’s salvation

on pedantic interpretations of an ancient language which has

always given rise to endless hair-splitting and controversy?

Yours truly,

(Signed)  Hugh Nibley

Anyone who has read much of Dr. Nibley’s books surely recognizes the

inimitable style found here as well.  Dr. Nibley surely views himself

highly, that is for certain, and his superiority comes across clearly

in the words he writes.  Let’s look closely at what he says:

When ministers start making Greek the argument, it is time to

adjourn.  I have always found their training to be extremely

superficial, usually applying to one book only in the most massive

of ancient literatures, and read with a translation and dictionary

at the student’s elbow.

One is very tempted to comment upon why Dr. Nibley would have such a

pedantic view of Christian ministers, but such topics are not for our

present review.  Suffice it to say that obviously Mr. Watson provided

Dr. Nibley with more than just a question, but also the background of

the question as well (how else would he have known a “minister” had

provided the challenge?).  We recognize that Dr. Nibley does not feel

that anyone outside of Zion is nearly as capable as himself (surely

that is what the above suggests to me), but I would like to suggest

that it would be far better to let the facts speak for themselves.

If it is found that Dr. Nibley can defend his position, that will

speak well for his scholarship.  If we find him avoiding the duty of

defending his position, we can decide that his comments are without

merit.

There is no scarcity of instances in which the genitive is used in

the same sense given in Matthew 16:18.

As I pointed out, when faced with a difficulty, affirm that about

which there is no doubt.  The issue is not “can the genitive be used

in a partitive sense?”  No one has denied such a statement.  The

question is, “Is `autes’ at Matthew 16.19 functioning as a

partitive?”

_Katechousi_, used with gates cannot possibly mean anything

but “hold back.”

I believe it is VERY important to note this statement on Nibley’s

part.  Unlike Mr. Watson’s far less strident statements in his

review, Nibley is straightforward in asserting that “katechousi”

“cannot possibly mean anything but `hold back.'”  Even Mr. Watson

noted that when the term is used intransitively it means “be strong,

powerful, gain the ascendancy,” and that “when used with the object

in the genitive, the meaning shifts slightly to “win a victory over.”

Mr. Watson was commenting on the definition in Bauer.  Yet, here Dr.

Nibley states that it CANNOT POSSIBLY MEAN ANYTHING BUT HOLD BACK.

Yet, this is obviously untrue, as all lexical sources show.  Thayer’s

(p. 341) does not support Nibley, nor does Bauer.  Moulton gives

“prevail, gain mastery over” (p. 338).  Abbott-Smith gives “to

overpower, prevail against, prevail” (p. 241).  The new Louw-Nida

lexicon says:

to prevail over something or some person so as to be able to

defeat, with the implication that the successful participant

has greater strength — `to defeat, to prevail over’…`on

this rock I will build my church and not even death will be

able to defeat it’ Mt 16.18 (p. 501).

Why does Nibley assert that it MUST mean “hold back”?  Because his

entire interpretation is based upon it, that’s why.  He is ignoring,

for theological, not linguistic or textual reasons, the fact that

“gates of hades” is not referring to a particular place, or even the

entrance and exit of hades itself.  Mr. Watson also ignores a large

part of the scholarly material on this subject as well, despite the

fact that he has often cited from Kittel’s TDNT, and yet it is the

TDNT that does such a good job summarizing the information on this

very topic!  But I am getting ahead of myself, as I shall demonstrate

this fully when replying to Mr. Watson’s specific charges.

Hold back what?  Again the object cannot possibly be anything but

an accusative.  Yet for some strange reason here in all manuscripts,

it is in the genitive or possessive.  Why?

We here again see how much error can be created by producing an

interpretation, and then forcing that interpretation upon the text!

First he begins by insisting that the term must mean “hold back,”

when the lexical sources indicate that it means to “overcome” or

“prevail against.”  And why does it mean this?  Because of the use of

the genitive direct object!  Rather than being taught by the text,

Dr. Nibley has a goal, and is now working through the text backwards

to arrive at his goal!  By ignoring the use of the genitive with

“katischuo,” and insisting upon another meaning for the word, he now

goes back to ask why “autes” is in the genitive.  And his answer?

Smythe’s Grammar, Sects. 1341, 1345, 1352 gives

a number of examples in which a genitive is so used as an object

to indicate things belonging to a larger category or body.

Yes, so?  Again, by providing a statement that no one has denied, Dr.

Nibley thinks to have answered the question.  Yet, it is

transparently obvious that he has not answered anything at all!  Of

course the genitive can be used as an object to indicate things

belonging to a larger category or body.  That is not the issue!  Does

Smythe’s Grammar list Matthew 16.19 as an example of this?  Does it

address the use of “katischuo” with the genitive of direct object?

Dr. Nibley does not say.

I honestly feel that Dr. Nibley’s response is a tacit admission of

his own unwillingness to admit error.  Nowhere in this material does

he provide a single piece of information that is supportive of his

thesis!  He does not address the fact that “katischuo” can take its

object in the genitive, and in fact regularly does.  He does not

support his unwarranted assertion that the term MUST mean “hold back”

rather than “overcome” as the sources indicate when used with the

genitive.  He does not support his identification of “autes” as a

partitive by merely mentioning that partitives exist–everyone knows

that.  Such argumentation is indicative of a person who is not able

to substantiate a long leap in exegesis, which is exactly what we

have in his comments on Matthew 16.19.

Is there anything more fantastic than pinning one’s salvation

on pedantic interpretations of an ancient language which has

always given rise to endless hair-splitting and controversy?

Such a question is more properly addressed to he who pins his

salvation upon the truthfulness of one Joseph Smith Jr., and *his*

“pedantic interpretations.”

With Dr. Nibley’s remarks clear in our thinking, let us go to Mr.

Watson’s actual comments on Matthew 16.19 and my refutation of

Nibley’s error.

EW> As I see it, and as I believe Dr. Nibley intended, the proper

EW> interpretation of Matthew 16:18 is that the trailing “it” would be

EW> more properly translated “hers,” and refers to a portion of the members

EW> of the church of Christ.  They are hers, because as members of the

EW> church, they belong to her (the church).  Those referenced here

EW> constitute only a portion of the members of the church of Christ

EW> because not all of the members of the church of Christ are in Hades.

As we shall see later, NONE of the Church of Christ is in hades, nor

is that the point of the discussion at all.  But Mr. Watson’s

interpretation of Nibley is correct, and is in fact what I myself had

indicated in my article.

EW> In order to properly understand the connotation, it must be realized

EW> that gates are not an offensive weapon.  A fierce warrior does not ride

EW> out on a white horse brandishing a gate and proceed to hit someone over

EW> the head with it.

And just here enters the problem, both for Nibley as well as Watson.

By taking “gates of hades” as literally referring to gates, he misses

the entire point, a point made in one of his own favorite sources,

the TDNT:

With this concept “pulai hadou” is a pars-pro-toto term…for

the ungodly powers of the underworld which assail the rock.

This interpretation is supported by the linguistic

consideration that “katischuein” when followed by a genitive

is always active (“to vanquish”) in Jewish Greek.  Hence the

“pulai hadou” are the agressors.

The gates of hades, then, refer to the powers of death itself.  This

is very consistent with Biblical usage.  Note Isaiah 38:10:

Is 38.10 I said, “In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of

death (pulais hadou) and be robbed of the rest of my years?”

Extra-Biblical Jewish sources use the term in the same way, as

Jeremias noted in TDNT above.  Calvin correctly said:

The pronoun it (autes) may refer either to faith or to the

Church; but the latter meaning is more appropriate.  Against

all the power of Satan the firmness of the Church will prove

to be invincible, because the truth of God, on which the

faith of the Church rests, will ever remain unshaken.  And

to this statement corrsponds that saying of John, “This is

the victory which overcometh the world, your faith” (1 John

v.4).  It is a promise which eminently deserves our

observation, that all who are united to Christ, and

acknowledge him to be Christ and Mediator, will remain to the

end safe from all danger; for what is said of the body of the

Church belongs to each of its members, since they are one in

Christ.  Yet this passage also instructs us, that so long as

the Church shall continue to be a pilgrim on the earth, she

will never enjoy rest, but will be exposed to many attacks;

for, when it is declared that Satan will not conquer, this

implies that he will be her constant enemy.  While,

therefore, we rely on this promise of Christ, feel ourselves

at liberty to boast against Satan, and already triumph by

faith over all his forces; let us learn, on the other hand,

that this promise is, as it were, the sound of a trumpet,

calling us to be always ready and prepared for battle.  By

the word gates (“pulai”) is unquestionably meant every kind

of power and of weapons of war.

D.A. Carson noted:

But “gates of Hades” or very similar expressions are found in

canonical Jewish literature…and pagan literature…, and

seem to refer to death and dying.  Hence RSV: “The powers of

death shall not prevail against it.”  Because the church is

the assembly of people Jesus Messiah is building, it cannot

die.

The position taken by Nibley and Watson falls upon the simple fact of

the meaning of katischuo when taking its object in the genitive.  It

does not simply mean “hold back” as Nibley declares, and the “gates

of hades” are in fact the aggressors, for they represent the very

powers of death itself, which shall not overcome the Church founded

by the Lord Jesus Christ, Hugh Nibly, Joseph Smith, or Elden Watson,

not withstanding.

EW> Gates are a defensive weapon, and are utilized solely

EW> to either keep someone or something in a place, or to keep someone or

EW> something out of a place.  Since the place to which we are referring is

EW> Hades, I shall presume at this point that the someone or something is

EW> inside of Hades, wanting to get out.  (It seems irresponsible to

EW> consider the case in which someone or something is outside of Hades

EW> wanting to get in.)  In Dr. Nibley’s interpretation of Mt 16:18 then,

EW> some of the members of the church of Christ are in Hades, and want to

EW> get out, but the gates of Hades oppose them and try to keep them in.

EW> Christ declares that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against hers,

EW> and hence those individuals shall be freed from Hades.  In the original

EW> context, Dr. Nibley is relating this to those who become members of the

EW> church while they are in Hades, by vicarious baptism.

That is indeed Nibley’s position.  It is a position fraught with

problems, as we have seen.

EW> One additional point deserves consideration in preparation for what

EW> follows.  As we have seen above, something is in Hades and wants to

EW> get out.

Please note that Mr. Watson says, “As we have seen above.”  Actually,

all we saw “above” was his assertion, “I shall presume at this point

that the someone or something is inside of Hades, wanting to get

out.”  Mr. Watson takes an unsupported presumption, and then uses

this as the basis of his following comments.

EW> If the gates of Hades were to prevail, then that something

EW> would not be able to pass by the gates, and would be consigned to

EW> remain in Hades.  Christ has decreed that the gates of hades will not

EW> prevail, but that whatever it is that is in Hades will be able to

EW> prevail against the gates and extricate itself.

We note again that there is nothing in the text whatsoever that

speaks of people in Hades, wishes or desires to go in or out, or

extrications thereof.  This is pure eisogesis, based upon

presumption, depending upon rejection of clear grammatical and

lexical information.

EW> The something that is

EW> in Hades wanting to get out is the “it” of Matthew 16:18.  According to

EW> Mr. White’s interpretation, it is the church itself that is in Hades

EW> and wants to get out.

< chuckle >  It will be instructive to read Mr. Watson accusing *me*

of misrepresenting others, when he can come up with such a fanciful

statement as this!  The Church is not in Hades, and I have certainly

never given the slightest indication that this was my position.

EW> In Dr. Nibley’s interpretation, it is some of

EW> the members of the church who are in Hades and want to get out.  Of the

EW> two interpretations, I prefer that of Dr. Nibley, and would ask Mr.

EW> White how it is that the church finds itself in Hades in the first

EW> place.

Since the passage is not discussing where anyone is, but is instead

asserting that the gates of hades will not *overcome* the Church,

that is, defeat the Church, Mr. Watson’s question is irrelevant, and

his confusion, based upon his seeming unquestioning following of

Dr. Nibley, is understandable.  That Mr. Watson is clearly unfamiliar

with the interpretive history of this passage, and, it seems, has not

availed himself of the ready information on this topic, can be seen

from reading the following section from my article, and Mr. Watson’s

reply:

>      It must first be noted that Nibley’s interpretation of the

>   passage is not to be found in any stream of scholarly

>   interpretation, whether Protestant, or Catholic.  We are not aware

>   of a single scholar who attempts to say that the final phrase of

>   Matthew 16:18 is referring to anything other than the Church; that

>   is, that the “it” found in the phrase does not refer back to the

>   term “church” mentioned immediately before.  If Nibley is correct,

>   it is amazing that exegetes over the centuries have missed what

>   only he has discovered.

>      Mormons are, by and large, in awe of Hugh Nibley’s linguistic

>   abilities.  When Dr. Nibley says that the term “it” in Matthew

>   16:18 is “in the partitive genitive,” that _must_ be the case.

>   Yet, is it?  And why would literally thousands of scholars of the

>   Greek language have missed such a simple thing, leaving Dr. Nibley

>   to discover it?  And what of all those translations of the Bible

>   that do not catch this, seemingly, basic thing?

EW> It is indeed a little surprising that commentators have not

EW> recognized that the standard interpretation actually requires that the

EW> church of Christ be in hell.

I must conclude, then, that Mr. Watson is fully unaware of what the

“standard interpretation” is, for him to make such a statement!  Did

it not occur to him that maybe Christians over the years *have* given

serious consideration to this passage, and hence that it is rather

unlikely that one man in Utah, whose expertise seems to be

historical, rather than linguistic, would come up with a new and

startling viewpoint, unthought of before, to answer such an obvious

problem as the Church being in hades?

Now, Mr. Watson then attempts to create a problem that does not

exist.  In reviewing Nibley’s statements, I noted that he himself

said,

>      Moreover, the thing which is held back, is not

>      the church, for the object is not in the accusative but in

>      the partitive genitive: it is “hers,” part of her, that

>      which belongs to her, that the gates will not be able to

>      contain.

Mr. Watson replied:

EW> First, Dr. Nibley nowhere says that the word “it” cannot refer to

EW> the church.  It is Mr. White who makes the unwarranted claim that Dr.

EW> Nibley has said that “it” *cannot* be referring to the church.  Dr.

EW> Nibley only asserts that it does not.

I must honestly say that this is double-talk.  Nibley is not sitting

down in an ecumenical meeting with others and saying “this MIGHT be a

way to understand it.”  Indeed, his letter to Mr. Watson made it

plain that there was NO WAY to understand katischuo as meaning

anything other than “hold back,” and hence it is hardly “Niblian” to

be simply *suggesting* an “alternative” understanding.  He says that

that which is held back is not the church “for the object is not in

the accusative but in the partitive genitive.”  I think saying what I

did is perfectly understandable, and proper, in the context of

Nibley’s own statements.

EW> The genitive is the case of

EW> possession, or description.  There are a lot of ways in which things

EW> can be described, and hence there are a lot of reasons for which the

EW> genitive may be used. Understanding the reason for the use of the

EW> genitive case in particular situations can strongly influence specifics

EW> of a translation.  Scholars frequently discuss different possible

EW> meanings of a passage depending upon why the genitive was used.

EW> Sometimes the distinction in meaning is minimal, and sometimes it is

EW> significant.

This is another example of majoring on what is not at issue.  No one

has denied the function of the genitive.  I have challenged Nibley’s

use of the genitive, and his identification of “autes” as a

partitive.

EW> In this example, the Greek words do not vary, but their interpretation

EW> varies depending upon the reason the genitive was used.  Mr. White

EW> attempts to give the (incorrect) impression that there can only be one

EW> reason for the use of the genitive in Matthew 16:18, and that Dr.

EW> Nibley is wrong in offering another interpretation.

Dr. Nibley is not merely “offering another interpretation” as his

letter clearly demonstrated.  I was replying to Nibley’s assertion

that this is a partitive genitive, and demonstrating that such is not

the case, nothing more.  What Mr. Watson confuses as my attempt to

give an “impression” that there can only be one reason for the use of

the genitive is in reality my rebuttal of Dr. Nibley’s unwarranted

identification of the use of “autes.”

EW> Also, it is obvious from Mr. White’s comments in the above

EW> paragraph that despite the simplicity of Dr. Nibley’s argument, Mr.

EW> White does not understand it.

I believe any semi-unbiased reader will be able to determine the

accuracy of Mr. Watson’s statements.

EW> This will become even more apparent in

EW> his next paragraph.  Dr. Nibley is not suggesting that “church” and

EW> “it” should be in the same case at all.

I believe the logical outcome of his remarks would be that *if* Jesus

were indicating that the *church* is that which is not overcome by

the gates of hades, that it *would* have to be in the accusative.

Indeed, this is well supported by his own statement in his letter to

Mr. Watson:

Hold back what?  Again the object cannot possibly be anything

but an accusative.

Using terms like “cannot possibly be anything but” is rather clear to

me.

EW> As I understand Dr. Nibley, he

EW> is simply stating that in the phrase “the gates of hell shall not

EW> prevail against it.” the word “it” is the direct object of “prevail

EW> against,” and as such should normally be in the accusative case.  The

EW> accusative is the case of the direct object as Mr. White has pointed

EW> out above.  If one were to say “the gates of hell shall not prevail

EW> against the church,” the words “the church” should be placed in the

EW> accusative case, simply because it is the direct object.  But in

EW> Matthew 16:18, the direct object (“it”) is not in the accusative, but

EW> in the genitive case, which means that the author is trying to tell us

EW> something different.

Or, as I pointed out, that the verb “katischuo” takes its object most

often in the genitive, and hence means “overcome” rather than “hold

back,” all contra Nibley.

As Mr. Watson will accuse me of having “no idea” what Dr. Nibley is

saying, I will produce the quotation of my own article:

>      What can be said about Dr. Nibley’s comments?  First, it is

>   apparent that Dr. Nibley is in error regarding how the antecedent

>   of a Greek pronoun is determined. /Footnote 10/  He says that “it”

>   cannot refer to “church” because there is a difference in cases,

>   “church” being in the accusative, and “it” being in the genitive.

>   Yet, as we saw before, pronouns agree with their antecedents in

>   gender and number, _not necessarily in case_.  The term “church”

>   is feminine in gender and singular in number; the term; “it” is

>   feminine in gender and singular in number.  Hence, Dr. Nibley’s

>   case is built upon a misunderstanding of a rule that is introduced

>   in the first semester of a beginning Greek course.  The “it” of

>   the final clause can indeed refer to “church” as all translations

>   and commentaries indicate.

>

>   /Footnote 10/  Given that Dr. Nibley is not extremely clear at

>   this point, we note the possibility that he is simply asserting

>   that [autos] is functioning in a different syntactical arrangement

>   rather than making an error about how to identify the antecedent.

>   However, Dr. Nibley’s specific comments seem to indicate

>   otherwise.

EW> The more Mr. White discusses Dr. Nibley’s interpretation, the more

EW> clear it becomes that he has no idea what Dr. Nibley is saying.  He

EW> therefore makes a series of errors relating to Dr. Nibley’s argument.

EW> First: Dr. Nibley is not in error regarding how the antecedent of a

EW> Greek pronoun is determined, he even utilizes the fact that “it”

EW> refers indirectly to the church (i.e. members of the church).

Please note the fact that while Dr. Nibley’s comments are not clear,

I felt it fair to provide footnote 10, reproduced up above, that

admits the fact that Nibley *might* be indicating something other

than the idea that “autes” cannot be referring back to “ekklesia.”

However, I still believe that Dr. Nibley was indicating that

“ekklesia” is NOT the antecedent of “autes,” and that part of his

argument was, at the time, that there is a case difference, a

difference that is not relevant to the determination of the

antecedent.

EW> Second:  Dr. Nibley nowhere says that “it” cannot refer to the

EW> church.  That is totally Mr. White’s assertion.  Dr. Nibley states

EW> that “it” relates indirectly to the church rather than directly.

Actually, since Mr. Watson wishes to be so specific, Dr. Nibley

nowhere states that it refers “indirectly” to the church, either.

EW> Third:  Dr. Nibley’s case is not based on a misunderstanding of any

EW> Greek rule, rather Mr. White’s comment is based on a complete

EW> misunderstanding of Dr. Nibley’ case.

Again, the semi-impartial reader will be able to determine if this is

the case or not.

>      Direct object.–Some verbs–those, for example, which

>      express sensation or perception ([akouo], hear; [geuomai],

>      taste; [aptomai], touch; etc); emotion and concern

>      ([splaggnizomai], pity; [epithumeo], desire; [kataphroneo],

>      despise; etc); ruling ([archo], rule; [kurieuo], be master

>      of, etc.); and so on–have a meaning which is related to

>      the root idea of the genitive case.  Such verbs may take

>      their direct object in the genitive rather than the

>      accusative case.  Example:  [tes _ekklisias_ tou theou

>      kataphroveite]; “Do you despise the church of God?” (1Cor.

>      11:22). /Footnote 13/

>

>   /Footnote 13/  Ibid., p. 36.

EW> For a proper understanding of the subject at hand it should be

EW> pointed out here that all transitive Greek verbs, and many

EW> intransitive Greek verbs can and do take a direct object in the

EW> accusative.  Some verbs, such as the ones Mr. White has listed above,

EW> can also be used with the genitive, in which case the meaning is

EW> somewhat modified.  Mr. White’s explanation would tend to make one

EW> believe that such a verb must take a genitive object, which is

EW> incorrect.

Please note that Mr. Watson’s “feelings” about what my explanation

would “tend” to make one believe are irrelevant to the accuracy of

said explanations, which were taken from recognized scholarly

sources.

Next Mr. Watson attempts to venture into the field of syntactical

constructions of a language that, to my knowledge, he has not studied

in a professional setting.  Given that he will make comments based

upon my own, I again provide the relevant portion of my article:

>      With this information at hand, can any conclusions be drawn

>   concerning Dr. Nibley’s claim that we are working with a partitive

>   genitive in Matthew 16:18?  Most certainly.  First, we note that

>   the passage bears none of the marks of a partitive genitive.

>   There is no idea of “it” being the whole of which some assumed

>   “thing” or “things” is a part. /Footnote 14/  The “it” obviously

>   referring back to the Church, as we have already seen.  Why, then,

>   is the term “it” in the genitive?

>

>   /Footnote 14/ Remember nibley’s attempted translation as “_part_

>   of her” and “_that which_ belongs to her.”  There is no “_that

>   which_” in the text.

EW> If we now compare Dr. Nibley’s interpretation with Mr. White’s

EW> comments in the above paragraph, we find that the passage in question

EW> does in fact bear all of the marks of the partitive genitive.

I am truly forced to “call Mr. Watson’s hand,” and ask quite

honestly how we can take seriously his assertions, when we have no

reason to believe that he is trained to recognize the signs of a

partitive genitive?  Indeed, this portion of my article was discussed

at length with a professor of New Testament whose field of specialty

is New Testament Greek itself.  This was his primary criticism of

Nibley’s statement: that there is nothing in the passage that would

lead one to syntax “autes” as a partitive genitive; that is, the

“signs” of the partitive are missing.  And now Mr. Watson would like

to tell us that they are there, when I personally have no reason to

believe that he knows what to look for in the first place!

EW> “Hers”

EW> is the whole membership of the church, of which those being opposed by

EW> the gates of Hades are a part.

Excuse me?  Where is “hers” in the text?  Where is “the whole

membership of the church” in the text?  Where is a membership

mentioned at all?  This is not exegesis and scholarly syntactical

study, this is amateur theologizing at its best.  If the “it” is a

partitive genitive, there must be some way of seeing this from the

text itself.  Where is the relative pronoun “that which” in the text?

It is not there.  How can we assume it?  We can’t.  There is no

reason to.  Nothing in the text *forces* us to.  Hence, as I said,

there are no signs of a partitive genitive, and Mr. Watson’s comments

only demonstrate the truth of the old saying, especially when applied

to Greek, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

EW> As for Mr. White’s footnote,

EW> commenting that there is no “_that which_” in the text, it hardly needs

EW> comment. The word “hers” means, in English, “that which belongs to

EW> her.”  The fact that Mr. White finds nothing in the Greek text which

EW> can be translated “that which” demonstrates graphically that Mr. White

EW> is so engrossed in trapping Dr. Nibly in an error that he has neglected

EW> to consider the meaning of the very words he is translating.

An amazing statement, but one that is utterly without merit.  Mr.

Watson has failed to demonstrate any scholarship in this review, and

this is one of the plainest examples.  “Autes” does not mean “hers”

in the English sense of “that which belongs to her.”  This simple

error, made often by beginning students of languages, is glaring,

especially since Mr. Watson placed it in the context of ad hominem.

For “autes” to be translated as a possessive is the entire point: the

serious exegete must have a *reason* for such a translation, and the

lack of that reason is what is being discussed.  Mr. Watson’s

inability to follow the discussion does not amount to an error on my

part.  “Autes” is the object of “katischuo.”  “Katischuo” takes its

object in the genitive, and hence means “overcome.”  There is no

reason to take “autes” as a possessive.

>      It seems that Dr. Nibley simply did not do his homework in

>   identifying this as a partitive genitive.  Why do we say this?

>   A quick glance at any decent lexicon of the Greek language would

>   have provided him with the answer to the question, “What is the

>   syntactical function of [autes] at Matthew 16:18?”  The verb

>   (which Nibley specifically mentioned), [katischuo] (katischuo)

>   is the key to the problem.  The following is the definition

>   provided by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker:

>

>      [katischuo] … 1. abs _be dominant, prevail_ (Polyb. 11,

>      13, 3; Ex 17:11; En. 104,6) [katischuon ai phonai auton]

>      _their voices prevailed Lk 23:23 (Antig. Car. 152

>      [katischuken a pheme]).  W. inf. fol. _be able, be in a

>      position_ 21:36.

>      2. used w. gen _win a victory over_ (Dio Chrys. 12[13], 4 al.;

>      Aelian, H.A. 5, 19; Wsd 7:30; Jer 15:18; Jos., Bell. 2, 464

>      [katischusas pleionon] = ‘conqueror of a superior force’; Test.

>      Reub. 4:11) [pulai adou ou katischusousin autas] (i.e., [tes

>      ekklesias) Mt 16:18 (s. on [pule] 1) [pases ponarias] Hv 2,3,2,

>      [k. ton ergon tou diabolou] _win the victory over the works of

>      the devil_ Hm 12,6,4. /Footnote 15/

>

>   /Footnote 15/  Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, *A Greek-English Lexicon

>   of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature*

>   (University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 424.

EW> Mr White is again so concerned with the grammatical and syntactical

EW> functions of the Greek that he pays little attention to the meaning of

EW> the sentence he is translating.

Or, as we have seen, Mr. Watson is so concerned about defending Dr.

Nibley’s error, that he cannot see that the meaning of the sentence

cannot be separated from grammar and syntax.  The meaning of any

sentence is derived from grammar and syntax, and since the grammar

and syntax tells us that the passage is providing us a genitive of

direct object, hence making “katischuo” translated as “overcome,” Dr.

Nibley’s position is shown to be without foundation, and hence in

error.

EW> We call attention to the fact that

EW> the deleted portion of the definition above identifies katischuo as an

EW> intransitive verb with the basic meaning “_be strong_, _powerful_,

EW> _gain the ascendancy_”.  When used with an object in the genitive, the

EW> meaning shifts slightly to “win a victory over.”

And I call attention to the fact that Dr. Nibley contradicts this

very statement in the letter Mr. Watson provided later, though Mr.

Watson allows this contradiction to pass without comment.  We are

tempted to wonder if Mr. Watson believes Dr. Nibley a greater expert

on lexical matters than those who produced the Bauer/Arndt/Gingrich/

Danker lexicon.

>   While the above may look like some secret code to most, to the

>   scholar (which Dr. Nibley claims to be), the above is quite

>   significant.  First, note that the lexicon specifically identifies

>   a use of the verb _with the genitive_, and places Matthew 16:18

>   in this category.  If Dr. Nibley had taken the time to examine the

>   lexical sources, he would have discovered that [katischuo] takes

>   its direct object in the genitive!  And this is exactly what we

>   have at Matthew 16:18:  the gates of Hades will not overcome

>   ([katischuo]) it ([autes, genitive singular, referring back to

>   “church”).  Hence, we clearly have here the proper syntactical

>   category for “it” at Matthew 16:18: genitive of direct object.

EW> Mr. White makes it sound as though katischuo must in every instance

EW> take an object in the genitive, which is incorrect.

Please note the misrepresentation.  I said, “First, note that the

lexicon specifically identifies A USE OF THE VERB (emphasis mine)

_with the genitive_”.

EW> He also makes it

EW> sound as though there is only one possible interpretation of the

EW> genitive, which is also incorrect.

Mr. Watson’s inability to read scholarly material on the subject

should not translate into my supposedly trying to make things

“sound” this way or that.

EW> The proof of the translation is in

EW> the meaning, and I personally find little satisfaction in a

EW> translation which requires the church of Christ to be in Hades.

We note yet once again that rather than providing any linguistic

rebuttal of the information presented in the article, Mr. Watson is

forced to fall back upon a theological misunderstanding that is

purely his own to provide a basis for rejecting the clear syntactical

form of the text.  This is the mark of the untrained person venturing

into ground that is unfamiliar.  This is particularly reprehensible

in light of the arrogance displayed by Mr. Watson immediately

following:

>      When this author first translated, and then syntaxed, this

>   passage, he identified the use of [autes] as the genitive of direct

>   object in opposition to Dr. Nibley’s claim.  In the writing of this

>   article, this identification was confirmed from the writings of the

>   greatest Greek scholar America has ever produced, Dr. A. T.

>   Robertson.  In his mammoth work, *A Grammar of the Greek New

>   Testament in the Light of Historical Research*, under the topic of

>   the genitive used with verbs, section 6, “_Verbs of Ruling_,”

>   /Footnote 16/ we read,

>

>      These verbs all have a distinct substantive-affinity like ‘be

>      ruler of,’ etc.  See further Lu. 22:25 for [kurieo] and

>      [exousiazo], Mt. 16:18 for [katischuo].

>

>   Here Robertson identifies the use of [katischuo] at Matthew 16:18

>   under the heading of the genitive with verbs (i.e., genitive of

>   direct object), confirming our own identification provided above.

EW> Well done Dr. Robertson.  It’s certainly a good thing you agreed

EW> with Mr. White and didn’t try to examine any possible alternative

EW> interpretations.

I seriously doubt that Mr. Watson has read even a small portion of

Dr. Robertson’s works.  He is speaking of things about which he knows

little, and that with a *tremendous* amount of confidence.  How does

Mr. Watson know that Dr. Robertson “didn’t try to examine any

possible alternative interpretations”?  Why does Mr. Watson have so

much trouble accepting the fact that “katischuo” is used with the

genitive as a direct object to refer to overcoming and prevailing?  I

think the answer is simple: he has thrown in his lot with Dr. Nibley,

and is dedicated to defending an error, and that to the last!

EW> Mr. White disallows alternative possibilities, even

EW> when it is apparent that he has not the slightest idea what you are

EW> talking about.

When one is outside of one’s area of expertise, and totally without a

substantive reply, always accuse the other person of being clueless.

Sadly, this is all that is left to Mr. Watson.

EW> He might very likely have misquoted you and made it

EW> appear that you said that your alternative interpretation is the only

EW> possible interpretation; accused you of making a grammatical error on

EW> something so simple that it is taught in first semester Greek classes;

EW> pointed out that you had not done your homework; given you a lesson in

EW> Greek grammar; and recommended that you admit your error and make

EW> changes in your mammoth work on the New Testament.  You would be lucky

EW> if he didn’t make a few slurs (totally unrelated to the topic of

EW> discussion) at your character in a footnote or two along the way.

Further “fluff” filler, and without any relevance to the fact that it

seems Mr. Watson is hoping that no one noticed that he could not

support Nibley’s assertion from the text, or from lexical or

grammatical sources.

To conclude the central review of the debate:

Dr. Nibley erred in asserting that “autes” is a partitive genitive.

It is instead the genitive of direct object, used with “katischuo,” a

term that we have seen from many independent scholarly sources takes

a direct object in the genitive, and hence means “to overcome” or “to

prevail against.”

Dr. Nibley erred in asserting that “katischuo” MUST mean “hold back.”

The lexical sources prove this to be the case.

Dr. Nibley erred in saying that this passage, then, refers to members

of the Church who are in hades, who wish to get out, and can do so

only through baptism for the dead.

Mr. Watson erred in even attempting to engage a topic that requires

training and scholarship that he has not yet obtained.

I shall now turn to the secondary issues that Mr. Watson raised in

his review.

EW> When James White writes articles against the LDS Church, it would

EW> be easier for all concerned if he would get his definitions straight.

Here begins Mr. Watson’s ad hominem campaign.  As we shall see, it is

1) central to his attempt to save Dr. Nibley, and 2) without merit.

>      *The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints* claims to be

>   the only true Church on earth today.  All other churches are

>   apostate, and do not have the proper “authority” to do the works

>   of God.  Obviously, such a belief necessitates some explanation

>   of how the Christian Church ceased to exist, why, and how it was

>   re-established under Joseph Smith 1700 years after it supposedly

>   vanished.  Furthermore, the LDS belief requires some very heavy

>   re-interpretation of key biblical texts that plainly declare the

>   continuation of the Christian Church until the second coming of

>   Christ.

EW> I have heard the essence of Mr. White’s first sentence frequently

EW> expressed among Latter-day Saints, although the intended meaning and

EW> more accurate rendition is that The Church of Jesus Christ of

EW> Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church upon the whole

EW> earth, with which the Lord is well pleased (see D&C 1:30).

In point of fact, I had D&C 1:30 in mind when I wrote the first

sentence.  I simply did not take the time to cite the passage.

EW> After that

EW> point, Mr. White’s introductory paragraph goes to hell in a handbasket.

Hardly, as we shall see.

EW> Since he is claiming to state what the LDS Church believes, he really

EW> should use the words the way the LDS use them, or at least express the

EW> LDS ideas in his own words.  To a member of the LDS Church an apostate

EW> is an individual who has once received the true gospel through the

EW> acceptance of its ordinances, and then later rejected and turned to

EW> oppose it.  In a related sense, an apostate church is one which has

EW> been organized by apostates, falsely feigning the ordinances and the

EW> authority to perform them, as a counterfeit, for the purpose of

EW> opposing the true church and legitimate authority.  The Church of Jesus

EW> Christ of Latter-day Saints believes and teaches that there was a

EW> universal apostasy, which was complete by approximately the end of the

EW> third century A.D., in which all authority to perform ordinances in the

EW> name of God was lost.

Which, of course, is all I was saying in my opening paragraph.  I

simply wished to provide background for the non-LDS who would be

reading the article, and I reject any assertion that I was

purposefully, or accidentally, misrepresenting the LDS position.

EW> None of today’s Christian churches claim to

EW> possess apostolic authority, consequently, none of the churches which

EW> are designated mainstream Christianity today are or can be called

EW> apostate churches.

This statement is amazing for two reasons.  First, it is hard to

believe that anyone even marginally familiar with Christian Churches

could write (for public consumption no less!) the words, “None of

today’s Christian churches claim to possess apostolic authority.”  I

can only gather that Mr. Watson has not spoken with any Roman

Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, or Anglicans of late!  Indeed, even

other Protestant groups would claim apostolic authority via the

writings of the Apostles themselves.  Seemingly Mr. Watson thinks

that “apostolic authority” refers to having apostles, in which case,

he might wish to take his own advice, and “use terms” as we ourselves

use them.

Secondly, I am truly left to wonder as to why Mr. Watson would claim

that the LDS Church does not identify modern Christian churches as

“apostate.”  Bruce R. McConkie said of apostasy:

Apostasy consists in the abandonment and forsaking of these

true principles, and all those who do not believe and conform

to them are in a apostate condition, whether they are the

ones who departed from the truth or whether they inherited

their false concepts from their apostate fathers (MD, p. 43).

And Mr. Watson accuses ME of not using terms as LDS use them?

Obviously my use of “apostate” was EXACTLY as used by a Mormon

apostle above!  But that is not all.  Allow me to provide quotations

supportive of what I said from Joseph Fielding Smith (_Doctrines of

Salvation_) and the current prophet, Ezra Taft Benson:

p2 Moreover, there have been times when it has been necessary for

covenants to be withdrawn, and man has been left to grope in

spiritual darkness without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and

without the saving grace of the ordinances and covenants of the

gospel. Such was the case in Israel preceding the coming of John the

Baptist and Jesus Christ. The long dark day of apostasy, preceding

the middle ages and continuing until the restoration of the gospel

through Joseph Smith, was another benighted period of this

kind.155-11

p1 WHY THE RESTORATION. The everlasting covenant had been broken;

the correct understanding of gospel principles had disappeared

through apostasy; the right to officiate in the ordinances of the

gospel had ceased among men. It became necessary that all this might

be restored, and that faith might increase among the people through

an opening of the heavens and a restoration of the gospel.167-2

p4 WORK OF JOSEPH SMITH COMPARED TO REFORMERS. The fact, so

conclusively proved, that there has been an apostasy, shows the

necessity of a restoration of the gospel. It is a remarkable fact

that Martin Luther, John Knox, John Calvin, the Wesleys, and the

other reformers who attempted to correct the evils of the Catholic

church, did not think of this great truth. It was left for Joseph

Smith to make the wonderful discovery.

p2 CHURCH AND KINGDOM RESTORED. The Lord taught Joseph Smith and his

associates that it is due to apostasy that these officers with their

authority were taken away; and when the Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter-day Saints was restored, it was by divine command that

apostles, high priests, seventies and elders, were again ordained

and with authority sent forth to proclaim the message of salvation

to the nations of the earth.240-28

p2 At various times during the history of the world the opportunity

for mankind to receive the blessings of the gospel has been denied

them. For instance, during the time of the apostasy, following the

ministry of our Savior and his apostles down to the time of the

restoration, the opportunity for men to receive the remission of

their sins by baptism and partake of the other ordinances essential

to exaltation was impossible. The Church with its authorized

ministers was not on the earth. It is true that sim ilar conditions

have existed at other and more remote periods of time.

p4 NO MODERN AUTHORITY WITHOUT RESTORATION. Following the apostasy

from the doctrine and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of

former-day saints, it became necessary that there be an opening of

the heavens, and for the Lord to speak again, and by his own mouth

and the mouth of his ancient disciples again to restore the truth

which had been lost. In the apostasy, the authority to act in the

name of the Lord had been taken |P88away from the earth, and as John

saw in his revelation, the priesthood was ta ken back to God while

the Church of Jesus Christ had been driven into the wilderness.

p2 RESTORATION IN THE MERIDIAN OF TIME. According to this assignment

and the instructions given to Moses, the priests (i.e. sons of Aaron)

and Levites officiated from the day of their appointment to the days

of the coming of Jesus Christ. When our Savior came, he restored to

the Church all that had been taken away, and once again the fulness

of the priesthood with all of its blessings was given to men. As

Peter said, there existed again a “chosen generation, a royal

priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar p eople,” but this condition

did not continue long before apostasy once more destroyed it

all.114-39

p2 No event should have been heralded among the people with greater

effectiveness and received with greater evidence of joy and

satisfaction. The nations should have rejoiced and welcomed it with

gladness of heart, for with it came the establishment of divine truth

in the earth–the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God

unto salvation unto all who believe.255-51 The world had been

without this gospel for many hundreds of years, ever since the great

apostasy and turning away from the truth whic h had been established

by the primitive Church.

p4 Then once more came a departure from the Lord, and when the time

came for the appearance of the Son of God, they rejected him and

crucified him, but he again established his Church with a few who

were willing to follow him and sent them forth into all the world to

declare his gospel. Again, following the death of his apostles,

apostasy once more set in, and again the saving principles and

ordinances of the gospel were changed to suit the conveniences and

notions of the people. Doctrines were corrupted, authority lost, and

a false order of religion took the place of the gospel of Jesus

Christ, just as it had been the case in former dispensations, and the

people were left in spiritual darkness.266-4

P267APOSTASY FOLLOWING MERIDIAN OF TIME. It is within the power of

every intelligent man to know that following the days of the ancient

apostles there came a falling away, or an apostasy, from the

doctrines and practices in the primitive Church. History shows that

the priesthood which was organized by our Savior was corrupted, and

offices were created that were unknown in the days of the apostles

and which are foreign to the true Church of Jesus Christ.

P268UNIVERSAL NATURE OF APOSTASY. All the men holding the priesthood

should have a thorough understanding of the development of false

doctrine and the gradual change which took place, after the death of

the apostles, which transformed the Church of Jesus Christ into a

system as far removed from the primitive Church as are the poles of

our hemispheres. Nothing by way of ordinance and very little by way

of doctrine, given by revelation in the days of our Savior and during

the lives of the apostles, was left remaining. . . .

p2 SOME TRUTH IN ALL CHURCHES. All churches teach some truth,

whether they profess belief in Confucius, Buddha, the Greek and

Roman gods, or anything else; otherwise their churches would not

endure a month. The fact that they teach some truth does not make

them the Church of God. There is but one Church of God.271-17

p3 DOCTRINE OF APOSTASY PROVED BY FIRST VISION. Joseph Smith

declared that in the year 1820 the Lord revealed to him that all the

“Christian” churches were in error, teaching for commandments the

doctrines of men.283-46 The religious teachers taught that they

were in the way of light and truth, notwithstanding their many

conflicting creeds.

*****************************

From Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson:

p7 So the world entered that long night of apostasy, the Dark Ages.

The church, no longer sanctioned by God, exercised an oppressive

tyranny on the minds of men and shackled them with chains of false

traditions. Truth was turned to superstition, joy to despair, and

worship to ritual. (This Nation Shall Endure, pp. 115-16.)

p2 Not only by history, which is quite conclusive, but through

prophecy also we have been informed definitely that there was and

there would be a complete apostasy from the truth.

p6 Following the great apostasy from the principles and laws of

Christ, the world became enslaved in a cloak of darkness. This long

night of Christian apostasy placed an oppressive tyranny on |P109|p1

the minds of men, which were shackled by chains of false priestly

tradition.

P111|p1 Joseph was to learn that Christ established the Church in

former days when He was here on earth. Its members were called

Saints, but because of the wickedness of men the prophets were taken

away from the people and so revelation ceased, the scripture ended,

and the doctrines and creeds of uninspired men prevailed. As

predicted in the scriptures, there was an apostasy.

p2 Our missionaries go out into the world to proclaim that there has

been an apostasy from the truth, but that through the goodness of

God the heavens have again been opened and the gospel revealed unto

man through Joseph Smith, the Prophet.

I believe the above is plain in its import, and that what I said in

my article is perfectly in line with what was said by these leaders

of the LDS Church.

EW> Nor are they considered or thought of as apostate

EW> churches by adherents of the LDS faith.  Now, Mr. White may be able to

EW> find a few isolated instances that seem to contradict what I have said,

EW> nevertheless, the above statement is the overwhelming expression of

EW> both the church leadership and its members, both in the past and in the

EW> present.

I think the overwhelming expression of the quotations prior to this

is plain enough evidence of Mr. Watson’s error.

EW> Considering that Mr. White claims to have spoken with

EW> thousands of Mormons and to have read many LDS books by prominent and

EW> recognized LDS authors, I find it difficult to believe that he did not

EW> already understand our use of the word “apostasy” and hence I must

EW> conclude that his inaccurate description was intended to incense an

EW> ill-informed protestant public rather than to clarify the LDS viewpoint

EW> on the subject.

Such is far from the truth, as any semi-impartial reader can see.

EW> Moving right along, the rest of Mr. White’s second sentence is also

EW> an absurd mis-representation.  The LDS church does not, nor has it

EW> ever taught that authority is necessary to do the works of God.  Good

EW> works are independent of race, creed, gender, education, age or even

EW> disposition.

Please note the incredible double standard used here by Mr. Watson to

attack me.  First he says that I need to use terms as LDS use them.

Then, when I do that, he turns around and attacks me for that!  The

term “works” as I used it is PLAINLY about works that require the

authority of God!  I was speaking exactly as Joseph Fielding Smith,

quoted above:

In the apostasy, the authority to act in the name of the Lord

had been taken away from the earth,

I would think that any Mormon looking merely to understand what I am

saying would surely understand my words and not be so easily thrown

into a tizzy!

EW> We do believe that authority is necessary, but not for

EW> doing good works, which is the impression Mr. White wants to induce in

EW> his readers with the words “to do the works of God.”

I deny, plainly, that this was my intention.  Why Mr. Watson must so

badly misread my words, especially in light of the fact that we have

corresponded in the past about these same subjects, is truly beyond

me!

EW> Mr. White’s statement is therefore strongly misleading at best,

EW> and simply wrong at worst.  Again, with Mr. White’s study of the LDS

EW> church, it is inconceivable that he did not understand this concept.

It is inconceivable to me that Mr. Watson could so badly misread my

words.

EW> Having misled his readers about some of the basic teachings of the

EW> apostasy and the purpose of authority in the LDS church, Mr. White now

EW> leads them further awry by misrepresenting the basic nature of the

EW> apostasy.

Please note that Mr. Watson, having started out on the ad hominem

track, has little choice but to continue down that road.  I misled no

one to begin with; I accurately represented the LDS position.  And

now I deny having misrepresented the basic nature of the alleged

apostasy as well.

EW> He speaks of a requirement necessitated by the LDS belief,

EW> to explain how “the Christian Church ceased to exist,” knowing that in

EW> the minds of his Protestant readers this will mean the abolishment of

EW> every Christian organization, doctrine, tradition, teaching, writing,

EW> belief and even concept.

Mr. Watson’s abilities as a mind reader are no better than anyone

else’s I know.  Mormon leaders say the Christian Church ceased to

exist.  If Mr. Watson wants to expand that out to absurd lengths, and

then accuse me of something, I can’t stop him, but it is just a

little above absurd.

EW> That such did not happen is obvious to even

EW> the most casual observer.  Mr. White never bothers to inform his

EW> readers that the LDS understanding of the apostasy is based upon the

EW> loss of authority, not doctrines, teachings or beliefs.

Mr. Watson and I have discussed this in the past, so he is well aware

that I am familiar with the issue.  However, I feel a review of the

citations I provided above demonstrate that in LDS thinking, the

apostasy in doctrines, teachings, and beliefs was directly related to

the loss of authority.

EW> Once the early

EW> church lost the special authority to perform valid baptisms, then the

EW> apostasy was complete.  Mr. White does briefly address our belief in

EW> authority in his next paragraph, but he disassociates it completely

EW> from the topic of the apostasy, where it specifically belongs.

What Mr. Watson calls a “disassociation” I call a paragraph break.

I also call this entire section of his review “nit-picking.”

>      The Mormon belief lays heavy emphasis upon the doctrine of the

>   priesthood.  According to Mormonism, Jesus Christ ordained His

>   apostles to the Melchizedek priesthood, and this priesthood was

>   lost to the Church by the end of the second century.  Supposedly,

>   this priesthood was restored to the earth in 1829 when Peter,

>   James, and John gave it to Joseph Smith.  We cannot here address

>   the highly anti-biblical nature of this teaching regarding the

>   Melchizedek priesthood (we invite our readers to write and request

>   our tract, *What is Your Authority?* for further information).

>   Instead, we wish to focus upon how the LDS Church has undertaken

>   to defend this belief regarding a vanishing and then reappearing

>   Christian Church.

EW> I find it highly amusing that Mr. White has chosen to ignore the

EW> topic of the loss and restoration of priesthood authority (which

EW> constitutes the universal apostasy and subsequent restoration)

EW> preferring to focus instead upon the vanishing and then reappearing

EW> Christian Church, which, in the sense in Mr. White is using the words,

EW> has never been taught nor believed by the LDS Church.

I do not think it is particularly amusing that Mr. Watson wishes to

focus attention on non-issues.  I have not chosen to “ignore”

anything, as I have debated Mr. Watson on these issues on the MORMON

echo before, and hence his accusation has no merit, again.  I am not

sure why Mr. Watson feels he has editorial control over what I write,

and that I should somehow work outside of space constraints just to

meet his whims and desires.  But the fact remains that what I said

regarding the vanishing and re-appearing Christian Church is exactly

in line with what Joseph Fielding Smith said, for without the gospel,

you do not have the Church, and Joseph Fielding Smith said:

The world had been without this gospel for many hundreds of

years, ever since the great apostasy and turning away from

the truth which had been established

EW> Mr. White

EW> now proposes to ignore the apostasy itself and examine instead some of

EW> its results, apparently intending to show that since not all vestiges

EW> of spirituality, belief and doctrinal comprehension vanished, there was

EW> no apostasy.

It is beyond me how anyone can expect to be taken seriously when they

write such obvious foolishness as this.  Anyone who read my article

knows that this is pure rhetoric, nothing else.

EW> Mr. White expresses his opinion that the LDS doctrine of priesthood

EW> authority is anti-biblical, a point with which I most thoroughly

EW> disagree.  That discussion will of necessity wait for another time and

EW> place.  I must remark however, before continuing with the present

EW> article, that if Mr. White’s advertised tract *What is Your

EW> Authority?* (which I have never seen) is as accurate and informative as

EW> the article presently under review has been thus far, I would be very

EW> hesitant to rely upon any of it’s claims.

Given that we have found Mr. Watson to be dealing with

misrepresentation on a grand scale all through this review, I can

only conclude that “What Is Your Authority?” must be well worth the

reading.

>      When faced with the concept of a universal apostacy [sic],

>   Christians often quote relevant passages of Scripture that would

>   contradict the LDS position.  For example, Paul wrote to the

>   Ephesians and spoke much about the Church.  /Footnote 1/  In the

>   third chapter he wrote:

>

>         Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all

>      we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work

>      within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ

>      Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

>      /Footnote 2/

>

>      It seems quite plain that Paul believed that the Father would

>   be glorified “in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all

>   generations.”  If the Church failed in its mission, and ceased to

>   exist for 1700 years, it is difficult to understand how the Father

>   would be glorified in the church *throughout* all generations.

>

>   /Footnote 1/  Indeed, LDS often cite passages from Ephesians 2:20

>   regarding the necessity of apostles in the Church, not realizing it

>   seems, that the passage says that the Apostles are part of the

>   *foundation* of the Church, and one lays a foundation only once, and

>   then begins to build the house upon it.  The Apostles continue to

>   function today, through their witness in Scripture, in a

>   foundational way.

>

>   /Footnote 2/  All quotations are taken from the *New International

>   Version,* unless otherwise noted.

EW> I don’t get the same thing out of Paul’s doxology in Ephesians 3:20

EW> that Mr. White does.  The purpose of Paul’s statement is to praise

EW> God, in this instance in the form of a prayer or a blessing.  Paul is

EW> essentially saying “May God be glorified through the church and

EW> through Jesus Christ forever, Amen.”  When you tell a bride and groom

EW> “May you have a long, happy and prosperous life together,” you are not

EW> prophesying that they will never be divorced, you are expressing to

EW> them your sincere hopes that they may not.  This verse is therefore

EW> inapplicable in the sense in which Mr. White is attempting to use it.

We have here a truly great example of LDS re-interpretation of

Biblical passages.  The text is plain for all to read:

Eph 3.20-21

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or

imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all

generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This is surely a doxology….and yet some of the greatest theology in

the Word comes from just such doxologies.  This is no mere “wish” for

a bride and groom!  Here Paul speaks of the great resurrection power

of Jesus Christ that is at work in believers, and hence in the

Church!  To the Father, Paul says, be glory in the Church and in

Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Now, I

simply ask:  is the Father glorified in Jesus Christ throughout all

generations?  Of course!  Is there any possibility that the Father

would NOT be glorified in Jesus Christ throughout all generations?

OF COURSE NOT!  Therefore, will not the Father be glorified in the

Church throughout all generations?  Of course!  Is there any chance

of the Father NOT being glorified in the Church throughout all

generations?  OF COURSE NOT!  There is no need to twist the inspired

words around to attack the perpetuity of the Church.

EW> It is not a prophecy that the church will continue to exist throughout

EW> all generations.  That an apostasy of the church must occur before the

EW> second coming of the Savior is abundantly clear from several

EW> scriptures, one of the more clear being 2Thes 2:3:

EW> Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not

EW> come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin

EW> be revealed, the son of perdition;

Two things make Mr. Watson’s interpretation in error:  1) Who is the

man of sin, and when was he revealed?  2)  An apostasy does not equal

a TOTAL apostasy.  Indeed, the fact that apostasy was already a

present reality in the Church at the time of Paul shows that apostasy

can exist without it being UNIVERSAL.

EW> Mr. White brings up a by-the-way point in his first footnote which

EW> should be addressed, that of a foundation only being laid once, and

EW> then the house being built upon it.  Mr. White is stretching Paul’s

EW> metaphor beyond its applicability.

On the contrary, this is quite in line with Paul’s own use of the

term “foundation”:

1Cor 3.10-11

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert

builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be

careful how he builds.

11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid,

which is Jesus Christ. (NIV)

Obviously, the foundation of which Paul speaks has *already been

laid,* and is not going to be laid again and again and again.  Hence,

the usage I made of the passage is fully in line with Paul.

Next we see something that is so very sad.  It is a common action of

the enemies of the Christian faith, for when they are pressed about

their errors, they inevitably attack the Word of God which convicts

them of their sin.  And so Mr. Watson does the same thing.  Listen as

he describes the Scriptures:

EW> It was not built upon a few of the collected extant

EW> writings of four of the apostles, supplemented by some additional

EW> writings about them by various and sundry interested persons, as Mr.

EW> White would have us believe.

He is referring to my citation of the following passage:

Eph 2.19-20

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow

citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,

20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ

Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (NIV)

It is so sad to read someone referring to the foundation of the

apostles and prophets in the way Mr. Watson does!  And does he not

see that we are *built* (aorist passive participle) upon the

foundation of apostles and prophets?  The foundation has been laid,

and the house is now being built.  Again, perfectly consistent with

Paul’s own usage.

EW> It would have been difficult to build the

EW> church on a foundation of some documents that were not written until

EW> long after the church was already established.

Some documents?  Oh, Mr. Watson is referring to God-breathed

Scripture, which had been the possession of God’s people since the

days of Moses!  Maybe he forgot that 75% of the Bible existed when

Jesus was laid in the manger?

EW> If the foundation were

EW> to have been “only once” laid, then there would have been no reason to

EW> have replaced any of the apostles.

That is assuming, of course, that the foundation is a group, not the

truth itself of the Gospel.

EW> Again, if it were true that the

EW> foundation of the apostles and prophets must be first laid “only once”

EW> and then the church built upon it, as Mr. White’s statement would

EW> require, then I would be interested in knowing how any of the New

EW> Testament writings, which were all written long after the church was

EW> established, could be considered to contain any “foundational”

EW> material.

Mr. Watson again shows his deep ignorance of historic Christian

theology on this subject as well.

>      Surely if the Church ceased to exist for 1700 years, it could

>   be said with truthfulness that the “gates of Hades” did indeed

>   overcome the Church.

EW> But after the 1700 years Mr. White speaks of, the battle was not

EW> yet over.  That the saints were “overcome” was a planned temporary

EW> setback: planned, because it was predicted and prepared for.  In the

EW> 13th chapter of Revelation, we find the following:

EW> 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to

EW> overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and

EW> tongues, and nations.

The book of Revelation has provided fertile ground for various cult

groups throughout the ages.  Mr. Watson provides us with no

contextual reason to think that this passage has anything to do with

the destruction of the entire church, nor that this event, if it is

even a prophecy, is a past event!

EW> All kindreds, and tongues, and nations I consider to be general.

General, yes; universal, no.

EW> And

EW> then in the following chapter (chapter 14) we read how the temporary

EW> setback was to be overcome and righteousness prevail in the end:

EW> 6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the

EW> everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and

EW> to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people,

EW> Rev. 13:7 demonstrates that the apostasy was universal, and extended

EW> over every kindred, tongue and nation.

It says nothing of the kind, nor does it in fact even speak of an

apostasy at all!  Contextually, to the persecuted Church, the warfare

against the saints would more likely be external, not internal in the

loss of some supposed “authority” that the book of Revelation knows

nothing of.

EW> Rev. 14:6 demonstrates that

EW> the everlasting gospel was to be restored by an angel to every nation,

EW> kindred, tongue and people.  Why the necessity for an angel to restore

EW> the everlasting gospel to the earth if it were already here?

As if John were speaking of Moroni!  Again, I find this voyage into

wild interpretation of Revelation as interesting as the Jehovah’s

Witnesses confident assertions, and equally as compelling.

EW> Remember, “It ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings.”  It was not only

EW> prophesied that the church would fall into apostasy, it was also

EW> prophesied that there would be a restoration:

EW> And he shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto

EW> you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution

EW> of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy

EW> prophets since the world began.  (Acts 3:20-21)

Given that the holy prophets since the world began did not know of

the Church, as Paul himself taught, the supposed “restoration”

thereof certainly could not have been included in their prophecies.

Furthermore, this passage is in reference to the second coming of

Christ, which has not yet taken place.

While it would be highly instructive to point out Mr. Watson’s use of

ad hominem to avoid points (such as his “Fortunately, most people

find criticisms by someone less than a tithe of their stature hardly

worth noticing” so as to avoid a substantive criticism of Nibley’s

highly questionable historical statements) and his lightly brushing

off Nibley’s penchant for ignoring original contexts, I will close

with only this last statement on his part:

EW>  I would only point out that Dr. Nibley was publishing articles

EW>  in Greek before Mr. White cut his first tooth….

That may very well be true.  Of course, the New World Translation of

Jehovah’s Witnesses was published before I was a gleam in my daddy’s

eye, and that has absolutely positively nothing at all to do with the

fact that I am fully capable of criticizing its many errors.  Dr.

Nibley is certainly my senior.  But unlike Mr. Watson, I prefer to

allow one’s scholarship to speak for itself.  Dr. Nibley had an

opportunity to admit his error and retract it.  Instead, he has

decided to “go down with the ship” so to speak.  That’s his choice,

and it is Mr. Watson’s choice to sink with him, if he wishes.  But

claims of “seniority” have little to do with truth, as I’m sure that

Mr. Watson is aware.  Dr. Nibley erred, and no amount of insults, ad

hominems, or smokescreens can obscure that simple fact.

James White

6/8/93

 

——————————————————————————–

Area: Mormon

Msg#: 1642                                         Date: 06-25-93  07:54

From: James White                                  Read: No     Replied: No

To: Elden Watson                                 Mark:

Subj: Article Review #1

 

——————————————————————————–

-=> Elden was saying to James back on 24 Jun 93  05:45:00 -=>

JW>It [the original article] was about one thing: Hugh Nibley’s

>comments on Matthew 16.19, specifically regarding the genitive

>”autes” that functions as the direct object of the Greek verb

>”katischuo,” i.e., “the gates of hades will not overcome

>(katischuo) it (autes).”  That is what the article was about.  That

>was its thrust.  I alleged that Dr. Nibley was simply in error to

>syntax the genitive autes as a partitive genitive, and demonstrated

>that the proper syntactical identification would be the genitive of

>direct object.  I supported this from scholarly sources.

JW>  For Mr. Watson’s review to be relevant, it would have to

>provide argumentation against the main point of the article.  As

>anyone can see by reading the review, it utterly fails to do that

>very thing,

EW> As I said in a previous post, James, you have difficulty with

EW> relevancy.  You tend to treat Greek like a mathematical science.  To

EW> you a sentence can only be syntaxed in one way and can only have one

EW> meaning.

Your inability to engage the topic at a scholarly level is evident,

Elden, in your comments yet once again.  I do not treat Greek like a

mathematical science, and I have never once stated, nor intimated,

that a sentence can be syntaxed in only one way and can only have one

meaning.  Such is utter foolishness and gross misrepresentation,

nothing more.  I have stated, however, that there are correct ways of

syntaxing terms and phrases, and incorrect ways.  The partitive

genitive requires certain conditions that are not fulfilled in

Matthew 16.18; furthermore, evidence is plainly available in the

lexical sources that explain the use of the genitive as the direct

object of the verb.  Given this information, the syntaxing provided

by Dr. Nibley is incorrect, and is obviously theologically motivated.

If you have no problems translating Greek according to one’s

theology, they you’ll have no problems with Dr. Nibley’s comments.

I, personally, have problems with theological translation rather than

grammatical and syntactical translation, hence my objection.

If you would like to say that I insist that words, phrases, or

sentences, can only be syntaxed in “one way” and can only ahve “one

meaning,” please provide evidence for your statement from my

writings, for from my lectures on the Greek language delivered at

Grand Canyon University or Fuller Theological Seminary’s extension in

Phoenix.  Thank you.

EW> Fortunately, however, language (and especially Greek) is

EW> an art, and is full of nuances and variations.  The purpose of

EW> translation is to identify what the originator of a phrase intended

EW> it to convey, not what a graduate student can syntax it out to mean.

Indeed, and forcing a modern Mormon meaning on Matthew 16, when there

is no reason 1) grammatically, 2) syntactically, 3) lexically, or 4)

historically, is just the error of Nibley’s position.

EW> JW… preferring instead to attack anything and everything

>*around* the central thesis, while leaving the true error of Dr.

>Nibley unrefuted.

EW> The concept that Dr. Nibley made an error was thoroughly refuted,

EW> James.  It’s all there, in my review.  I must presume that you just

EW> havn’t been able to figure it out yet.

An empty assertion that is devoid of evidence, Elden.  My assertion

was demonstrated by my review of your comments.

JW>  Mr. Watson seemingly felt it was necessary to “take the gloves

>off” so to speak in his review.  He was none to kind in many of his

>remarks, preferring, it seems, the ad hominem method of

>argumentation to a scholarly one.  It is possible, of course, that

>since Mr. Watson has no graduate training in Greek (to my

>knowledge), he had to resort to this argumentation, as he is

>unequipped to engage the finer points of the argument.  Sadly, this

>inability shows up often in his review, normally couched in an

>attack upon *my* abilities at things that he himself has not

>studied.

EW> You accuse me of ad hominem in the same breath in which you claim I

EW> am unequipped to engage in the finer points of the argument because

EW> I have had no graduate training in Greek.

Possibly you are unaware of the nature of ad hominem, Elden?  Ad

hominem is an argument that avoids the issue by attacking the person.

Examples abound in your article.  For example, when attempting to

defend Dr. Nibley’s statements about Greek, you say that Dr. Nibley

was writing about Greek before I cut my first tooth.  The argument is

irrelevant to the facts of the matter, for while Dr. Nibley may be 50

years older than I, age is not a guarantee of correctness on any

particular issue at hand.  Hence, Dr. Nibley’s age is not relevant to

the correctness of his claims regarding the Greek language, nor is my

youth relevant, either.  This kind of argument avoids the point by

substituting an illogical statement in its place.

In distinction from this we have my statement above, that you seem

unequipped to engage in the finer points of the argument because of

your unfamiliarity with the issue.  This is not an argument, it is an

observation.  I am not attempting to deflect any assertion on your

part by pointing out your lack of training in a technical subject.  I

am simply pointing out a fact and how that fact might explain some

aspects of your attempted review of my article.  Hence, this is not

ad hominem at all, as anyone reading this can see.

EW> And you later deride me

EW> because I agree with Dr. Nibley who I would say has a fairly

EW> adequate background in Greek.  You have lit the candle at both ends,

EW> James, and are liable to get burned before you can drop it.

EW> Claiming that one needs to have had graduate studies in Greek to

EW> understand the finer points of your argument is like claiming you

EW> must have an advanced degree in auto mechanics to be able to tell

EW> the difference between a carburetor and a muffler.  I believe you

EW> will find my Greek quite adequate for the task at hand.

I have found your Greek quite inadequate for the task at hand, Elden.

I would not engage in a technical discussion of quantum mechanics

or high-level mathematics, for I am not trained to do so.  I am

trained, however, in koine Greek, and hence do not shrink from

refuting statements made by a man that are contradictory to

everything that has ever been said by any scholar on the particular

passage under discussion.  Nibley stands alone, and the facts are

plainly on my side.

JW> Mr. Watson, I feel, has learned well at the feet of Dr. Nibley,

>and has filled his review with a great deal of fluff, but

>tremendously little substance.  Having made such a statement, I

>will proceed, unlike Mr. Watson, to demonstrate my point.

EW> And as you so courteously have pointed out, your point is that Dr.

EW> Nibley supposedly made an error in his translation of Mt 16:18 in

EW> declaring autes to be in the partitive genitive.  The astute reader

EW> will note how little of your following arguments apply to your

EW> declared point.

The astute reader will note how the vast MAJORITY of my following

arguments were about just that, Elden.

JW>Anyone who has read much of Dr. Nibley’s books surely recognizes

>the inimitable style found here as well.  Dr. Nibley surely views

>himself highly, that is for certain, and his superiority comes

>across clearly in the words he writes.  Let’s look closely at what

>he says:

HN>  When ministers start making Greek the argument, it is time to

>  adjourn.  I have always found their training to be extremely

>  superficial, usually applying to one book only in the most

>  massive of ancient literatures, and read with a translation and

>  dictionary at the student’s elbow.

JW>One is very tempted to comment upon why Dr. Nibley would have

>such a pedantic view of Christian ministers, but such topics are

>not for our present review.

EW> Perhaps it is only because Christian ministers are typically so

EW> pedantic.

One is very tempted to comment upon why Elden Watson would have such

a pedantic view of Christian ministers, but such topics are not for

our present review.

EW> His description typifies you so well it is humorous.  I

EW> don’t believe you quoted from any book in your entire article which

EW> did not have an “of the New Testament” somewhere in the title.

Hmm, I do believe that we were discussing a passage from the NEW

TESTAMENT, were we not, Elden?  Citing commentaries on Plato would

not exactly address the function of the partitive genitive in koine

Greek, would it?

JW> Suffice it to say that obviously Mr. Watson provided Dr. Nibley

>with more than just a question, but also the background of the

>question as well (how else would he have known a “minister” had

>provided the challenge?).  We recognize that Dr. Nibley does not

>feel that anyone outside of Zion is nearly as capable as himself

>(surely that is what the above suggests to me), but I would like to

>suggest that it would be far better to let the facts speak for

>themselves.

EW> They do, James, quite loudly.  I have found Dr. Nibley to be quite

EW> humble about his personal accomplishments.  I have never seen him

EW> flaunt having taken graduate classes in Greek.

He doesn’t need to, as he has many followers, such as yourself, to do

that for him.

EW> He would certainly

EW> never stoop so low as to state that anyone without graduate studies

EW> in Greek would be unable to understand the finer points of his

EW> arguments.

No, he would just say that if it is a Christian minister raising the

issue, “its time to adjourn.”

JW> If it is found that Dr. Nibley can defend his position, that

>will speak well for his scholarship.  If we find him avoiding the

>duty of defending his position, we can decide that his comments

>are without merit.

EW> Dr. Nibley’s scholarship is already sufficiently established, thank

EW> you.  It is not Dr. Nibley who appears to have nothing better to do

EW> than debate the meaning of the word “it” in a particular bible

EW> verse.

< chuckle >  It was Dr. Nibley who made the false claim, and you who

introduced it on this echo, Elden.  I am simply pointing out, for

everyone’s edification, that the text does not support the assertions

made by Nibley.  The fact that you have had to go to such lengths to

defend the infallibility of your leading scholar speaks volumes to

me, and to others who are following The Saga of the Mis-syntaxed

Pronoun.

EW> As for his “duty of defending his position,” he no more has

EW> any such duty than you have of defending any particular one of the

EW> seven different meanings attributable to “I didn’t say he stole the

EW> apples.”

Of course, your statement is illogical.  Nibley has presented a

position, in a published paper, which is contrary to 99.9999% of all

scholarly writing on the subject; no known translation supports his

perspective; no commentary that I have ever seen adopts his view.

His comments strike at the perpetuity of the Christian Church, and as

such, *I* certainly feel he has a duty to defend his comments.

Anything less is irresponsible.

EW> What you want to see as avoiding his duty, I would see

EW> more as “go away little boy, you bother me.”

Thank you for clearly demonstrating your true views of scholarship,

and how you, seemingly, would think Dr. Nibley would respond to a

challenge from myself.  I could not have expressed the truthfulness

of my original sentiments about Nibley’s article any plainer than

that.  Thank you.

HN>  There is no scarcity of instances in which the genitive is used

HN> in the same sense given in Matthew 16:18.

JW>As I pointed out, when faced with a difficulty, affirm that about

>which there is no doubt.  The issue is not “can the genitive be

>used in a partitive sense?”  No one has denied such a statement.

>The question is, “Is `autes’ at Matthew 16.19 functioning as a

>partitive?”

EW> And since both constructions are grammatically permissible, it

EW> follows that the meaning must be determined by context and not by

EW> syntax.

Thank you again, Elden, for demonstrating your level of study of the

subject.  The above sentence fully vindicates my statements

concerning the wisdom of your attempting to engage this topic without

the training to do so.  In the above sentence you say, “it follows

that the meaning must be determined by context and not by syntax.”

Anyone who has done original work in syntax in the Greek New

Testament is surely chuckling at such a statement, for syntax is

fully and completely contextual in nature; syntax refers to the

function of a term or phrase IN CONTEXT.  To separate the two is to

show a deep ignorance of the entire subject at hand.

HN>   _Katechousi_, used with gates cannot possibly mean anything

>   but “hold back.”

JW>I believe it is VERY important to note this statement on Nibley’s

>part.  Unlike Mr. Watson’s far less strident statements in his

>review, Nibley is straightforward in asserting that “katechousi”

>”cannot possibly mean anything but `hold back.'”  Even Mr. Watson

>noted that when the term is used intransitively it means “be

>strong, powerful, gain the ascendancy,” and that “when used with

>the object in the genitive, the meaning shifts slightly to “win a

>victory over.” Mr. Watson was commenting on the definition in

>Bauer.  Yet, here Dr. Nibley states that it CANNOT POSSIBLY MEAN

>ANYTHING BUT HOLD BACK. Yet, this is obviously untrue, as all

>lexical sources show.

EW> Is this one of the finer points of your argument, James?  You remove

EW> Dr. Nibley’s comment from its context and then state that is

EW> obviously untrue.  Nonsense.  Look above at the sentence fragment as

EW> Dr. Nibley stated it.  You deleted “used with gates.”

No, I did not “delete” anything, Elden; in fact, I quoted Dr.

Nibley’s letter, fully, twice, without deleting anything.  I assume

the reader can remember his statements for more than 30 seconds, and

hence do not need to quote every single word over and over again when

referring to this statements.

EW> A most

EW> important omission.  None of your brilliantly quoted lexical sources

EW> have anything to say about katechousi when used in conjunction with

EW> the word “gates.”  The only way a gate can be strong, powerful, or

EW> gain the ascendancy is if it succeeds in holding someone or

EW> something back, which is precisely what Dr. Nibley stated.

Not at all, Elden, as any and all commentaries would point out, and

as one of the lexical sources I quoted DID specifically mention (Louw

and Nida).  Nibley is ignoring the meaning of “gates of Hades” in

Jewish and Christian belief, and forcing a foreign concept upon the

text.  The verb, when used with the genitive, as you yourself noted,

means “to overcome, overpower, prevail against.”  The Church is that

which the gates of Hades will not prevail.

JW>  Thayer’s (p. 341) does not support Nibley, nor does Bauer.

>Moulton gives “prevail, gain mastery over” (p. 338).  Abbott-Smith

>gives “to overpower, prevail against, prevail” (p. 241).  The new

>Louw-Nida lexicon says:

>

>      to prevail over something or some person so as to be able to

>      defeat, with the implication that the successful participant

>      has greater strength — `to defeat, to prevail over’…`on

>      this rock I will build my church and not even death will be

>      able to defeat it’ Mt 16.18 (p. 501).

EW> Quite contrary to your statement, these all support Dr. Nibley’s

EW> comment, as you might have realized had you given a moment’s thought

EW> to what he said before triumphantly (and foolishly) declaring him

EW> wrong.

< chuckle >  A moments reflection on your statement will surely make

many wonder, Elden.  Nibley says that the term CANNOT POSSIBLY MEAN

ANYTHING BUT HOLD BACK in this passage.  Yet, where is his evidence?

The lexical sources demonstrate another meaning with the genitive,

which is what we have here in Matthew 16.  Now isn’t it rather

humorous, Elden, that you started out misrepresenting me as saying

that a term or sentence can only have ONE syntactical identification,

and ONE meaning, when in fact it is your own hero, Dr. Nibley, who

has stated that in this passage the verb can mean only ONE thing,

when in fact the lexical sources indicate otherwise?  The irony is

certainly not lost on me, anyway….

JW>Why does Nibley assert that it MUST mean “hold back”?

EW> Because Dr. Nibley is looking at the meaning of the word in

EW> the context in which it appears, rather than selecting

EW> choices without context from a list of dictionary

EW> definitions. People who are fluent in Greek can do that.

< chuckle >  Nibley’s statement, as it has no lexical basis, plainly

derives from his theology, not from the text.  Can you find any

lexical sources, Elden, that support Nibley’s statement?  I have

provided many that contradict Nibley’s statement.  I can point to

dozens and dozens of translations that contradict Nibley’s statement.

Are you seriously suggesting to us all, Elden, that Hugh Nibley,

historian, is in fact the greatest expert on the Greek language that

has ever lived in the history of man, and hence can overthrow all

other scholars with a mere statement, without even having to

demonstrate the correctness of his statements from the sources

themselves?  As I pointed out, and as you yourself stated in citing

Bauer, the verb, when taking the genitive direct object, as it

does here, means “overcome, prevail against.”  That is the meaning of

the verb.  If Nibley were attempting merely to exegete the passage,

he would start here, and then look at “gates of Hades” and examine

its background and discover that it is not referring to physical, or

spiritual, “gates” at all, but to the powers of death, and would, on

that basis, see that the powers of death will not overcome the

Church.  But Nibley is not *exegeting* the passage at all, but is

simply trying to *use* the passage to support a pre-existing

theology.  Hence his false statement about the meaning of the verb

remains false.  He is not deriving his meaning from the context, as

you assert, but is forcing a foreign meaning upon it.

JW> Because his entire interpretation is based upon it, that’s why.

EW> True.  His interpretation is based upon the meaning of the

EW> word in the context in which it appears.

No, it is not.  His interpretation ignores the meaning of the word

*in context.*  The context, Elden, is that of the genitive being used

as the direct object of the verb; this verb means “overcome, prevail

against” when using the genitive direct object.  If Nibley were

dealing with context, he would say this.  He doesn’t, because he is

ignoring the meaning of the verb by insisting on only ONE possible

meaning for “gates of Hades.”  That is is ERROR as has been plainly

brought out already.

JW> He is ignoring, for theological, not linguistic or

>textual reasons, the fact that “gates of hades” is not

>referring to a particular place, or even the entrance and

>exit of hades itself.

EW> Dr. Nibley is no more ignoring the fact that the gates of

EW> hades are not real gates than Christ was ignoring the fact

EW> that Peter was not a real rock.  The phrase “gates of hades”

EW> means death, which is the entrance to hades

Then his statement about the verb HAVING to mean “hold back” is left

without the slighest foundation.

JW> But I am getting ahead of myself, as I shall demonstrate

>this fully when replying to Mr. Watson’s specific charges.

EW> I can hardly wait .

The reaction of a person not serious about the subject, Elden.  I

have received a number of posts from those watching this exchange who

have seen very clearly the lost causes that you are willing to

defend.

HN>  Hold back what?  Again the object cannot possibly be

>    anything but an accusative.  Yet for some strange

>    reason here in all manuscripts, it is in the genitive

>    or possessive.  Why?

JW> We here again see how much error can be created by

>producing an interpretation, and then forcing that

>interpretation upon the text!

EW> Let’s see if I can explain this simply, by an example,

EW> James.  When you look up the word “tree” in the dictionary,

EW> It gives a brief description of a generic tree, but does not

EW> specify a type of tree such as “apple tree.”  The word

EW> “tree” may, however be applied to an apple tree.  If someone

EW> now says a peach tree is also a tree, it is not legitimate

EW> to say “No, a peach tree cannot be a tree because an apple

EW> tree is a tree.”

Thank you for that tremendous example.  Getting back to the subject

at hand, however, I repeat the plain meaning of my statement: Dr.

Nibley, ignoring the lexical evidence and use of the verb that he is

looking at, forces a foreign meaning upon the text.  Your example, of

course, fails to even begin to address the issue at thand.

JW> First he begins by insisting that the term must mean

>”hold back,” when the lexical sources indicate that it means

>to “overcome” or “prevail against.”  And why does it mean

>this?  Because of the use of the genitive direct object!

EW> See what I mean.  Thank you for proving my point.

An irrelevant comment, Elden.  Should I take this as a confession on

your part that you are unable to defend Nibley’s statement?

JW> Rather than being taught by the text, Dr. Nibley has a

>goal, and is now working through the text backwards to

>arrive at his goal!

EW> You are suffering from your old malady, “beam in the eye”

EW> itis, James.

I know that I, and others, are really tiring of your smokescreens,

Elden.  If you are way beyond your capacity to respond, just admit it

and we can go from there.  Please don’t make such silly statements

and expect to receive a scholarly reply.

EW> It is you who has determined theologically that

EW> “autes” in Mt 16:18 must refer to the church, and you are

EW> willing to steamroll backwards over any and all other

EW> legitimate lexical and grammatical interpretations with a

EW> complete disregard for what the original author may have

EW> intended.

Given that I have provided the lexical sources supportive of my

statements regarding the meaning of the verb with the genitive direct

object, and have provided numerous other citations supportive of my

statements, and you have provided absolutely positively NOTHING other

than Nibley’s pontifications, the reality of who is translating

theologically, and who is translating the text itself, can be easily

determined by anyone who has read this correspondence.

JW> By ignoring the use of the genitive with “katischuo,”

>and insisting upon another meaning for the word, he now

>goes back to ask why “autes” is in the genitive.

EW> Dr. Nibley does not ignore the use of the genitive with

EW> katischuo, but merely recognizes that the genitive can have

EW> more than one cause.

He ignores that katischuo, when taking the genitive direct object,

does NOT mean “hold back” but rather “prevail, overcome.”

EW> Katischuo appears in ancient Greek,

EW> LXX, Egyptian papyri and modern Greek with the meaning of

EW> gaining the mastery over, but virtually always with the

EW> accusative.  Dr. Nibley is pointing out that when it appears

EW> here in the genitive, it may be because the author is trying

EW> to tell us something different.

The sources indicate the reason for the genitive direct object, and

that has to do with the meaning of katischuo when it has the genitive

direct object; Nibley ignores this, and instead comes up with a

“partitive genitive.”  His ignoring the meaning of the term with the

genitive direct object, and his identification of the genitive as a

partitive, are *both* errors.

HN>  Smythe’s Grammar, Sects. 1341, 1345, 1352 gives

>    a number of examples in which a genitive is so used as

>    an object to indicate things belonging to a larger

>    category or body.

JW> Yes, so?  Again, by providing a statement that no one has

>denied, Dr. Nibley thinks to have answered the question.

>Yet, it is transparently obvious that he has not answered

>anything at all!  Of course the genitive can be used as an

>object to indicate things belonging to a larger category or

>body.  That is not the issue!

EW> It is most certainly *an* issue, because that is the only

EW> reason you could have to reject Dr. Nibley’s translation on

EW> grammatical or lexical rather than contextual grounds.

< sigh >  No, Elden, and your ability to say that seems to indicate

that you are *completely* lost regarding the discussion.  Let’s point

it out again:  Nibley says that a genitive can be used as an object

to indicate things belonging to a larger category of body.  So?  No

one denied this…it is not an issue.  The issue, however, is whether

autes is functioning in this way at Matthew 16.18.  It is not.

JW> Does Smythe’s Grammar list Matthew 16.19 as an example

>of this? Does it address the use of “katischuo” with the

>genitive of direct object?  Dr. Nibley does not say.

EW> I can tell you, James.  It does not refer to Mt 16:18 in

EW> this context.  The reason it does not is because it is a

EW> Greek grammar, not a “New Testament” grammar.  Was your

EW> English grammar in college replete with examples from the

EW> Bible?  This again demonstrates your inadequacy at being

EW> able to deal with Greek outside the narrow confines of the

EW> New Testament.

< chuckle >  Well, Elden, we *are* talking about the NT, right?

Hence, we need to focus upon the koine of the NT.  As to my

inadequacy, I’ll take my ability at NT Greek over your inability in

all forms of Greek any day when discussing a topic such as this.

JW>I honestly feel that Dr. Nibley’s response is a tacit

>admission of his own unwillingness to admit error.

EW> Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!  Obviously a painful attack of “beam in

EW> the eye” itis.  Take two aspirin every four hours, drink lots

EW> of liquids and get plenty of bed rest.  If symptoms persist,

EW> consult your analyst.

I despair of any serious, scholarly, or meaningful dialogue from you

on this, Elden.  I have noticed that when you are defeated in a

debate, you resort to this kind of posting, which does nothing but

waste hd space.  I, personally, will be glad to reply to any

meaningful comments you might have, but to date, you have made very

few such comments.

JW> Nowhere in this material does he provide a single piece

EW> of information that is supportive of his thesis!

EW> That’s because it was intended to be a friendly letter to

EW> me, not one side of a debate.

Seems very strange that even a “friendly letter” would fail to

address any of the issue, doesn’t it, Elden?

JW> He does not address the fact that “katischuo” can take

EW> its object in the genitive, and in fact regularly does.

EW> That is because in actual fact it regularly does *not.*

Another error on your part, Elden.  In the NT, it does.

JW> He does not support his unwarranted assertion that the

>term MUST mean “hold back” rather than “overcome” as the

>sources indicate when used with the genitive.

EW> That is because gates do not overcome or gain ascendancy

EW> over; they hold back.  (Think about it).

Again you mistranslate and mis-syntax, and that all because you can’t

see “gates of Hades” as anything but literal gates, rather than the

Biblical usage, referring to the powers of death, which DO overcom

and gain ascendancy over.

JW> He does not support his identification of “autes” as a

>partitive by merely mentioning that partitives

>exist–everyone knows that.

EW> Gee, that must be because everyone except me has had graduate

EW> classes in Greek.  I had to look it up.

No doubt, but I was speaking in a scholarly setting, Elden.

JW> Such argumentation is indicative of a person who is not

>able to substantiate a long leap in exegesis, which is

>exactly what we have in his comments on Matthew 16.19.

EW> It is possible that a small enough person could perceive a

EW> single step as a long leap, but I suspect that you are

EW> overstating your inability to make the connection.  It is

EW> not that difficult.

It is quite difficult, since it has been proven impossible, and

documented to be an error.  Nibley provided no support to his

statements, and you have provided none, either.

HN> Is there anything more fantastic than pinning one’s

>   salvation on pedantic interpretations of an ancient

>   language which has always given rise to endless

>   hair-splitting and controversy?

JW> Such a question is more properly addressed to he who

>pins his salvation upon the truthfulness of one Joseph Smith

>Jr., and *his* “pedantic interpretations.”

EW> Is this the same James White who just recently complained

EW> about ad homonym attacks and irrelevant derogatory remarks

EW> which have nothing to do with the topic at hand?  James, I’m

EW> surprised that you could even say such a thing  sarcasm>.

Nibley’s statement, coming as it did after not even beginning to

substantiate his statements, was obviously pedantic.

EW> As I see it, and as I believe Dr. Nibley intended, the

>proper interpretation of Matthew 16:18 is that the trailing

>”it” would be more properly translated “hers,” and refers

>to a portion of the members of the church of Christ.  They

>are hers, because as members of the church, they belong to

>her (the church).  Those referenced here constitute only a

>portion of the members of the church of Christ because not

>all of the members of the church of Christ are in Hades.

JW>As we shall see later, NONE of the Church of Christ is in

>hades,…

EW> That should be good, since hades is the realm of the dead.

EW> Are you trying to say that none of the members of the church

EW> ever died?

The gates of Hades refer to the power of death.  The power of death

has been broken for those who are in Christ, Elden.

JW>.. nor is that the point of the discussion at all.

EW> Now let me get this straight.  The point of the discussion

EW> is to demonstrate that Dr. Nibley’s interpretation is wrong,

EW> but the contextual reason for his interpretation is not to

EW> be included?

You are engaging in little more than obfuscation, Elden.  Please

stick to the issue.

JW>But Mr. Watson’s interpretation of Nibley is correct, and

>is in fact what I myself had indicated in my article.

EW> Isn’t it amazing how someone who has never had graduate

EW> classes in Greek can arrive at the same understanding as you

EW> did?

Waste of hd space.

JW> a point made in one of his own favorite sources, the

>TDNT:

JW>  With this concept “pulai hadou” is a pars-pro-toto

>    term…for the ungodly powers of the underworld which

>    assail the rock.  This interpretation is supported by

>    the linguistic consideration that “katischuein” when

>    followed by a genitive is always active (“to vanquish”)

>    in Jewish Greek.  Hence the “pulai hadou” are the

>    agressors.

EW> You have conveniently modified your quote to make it appear

EW> to support your argument, James.  That’s not nice.  The

EW> actual quote does not say “With this concept…”  it says

EW> “Within this concept…” and the concept it is within is

EW> defined in the 2nd paragraph above as “and the gates of hell

EW> will not overcome it (the rock or the Church).” [TDNT 6:927]

No modification, Elden; simply a typo that has nothing to do with the

point at hand.  Please try to stick to the topic.  Please rebut the

assertion that pulai hadou is a pars-pro-toto term for the ungodly

powers of the underworld with ASSAIL the rock.  Also, please rebut

the statement of the TDNT that the verb, when followed by a genitive,

is ALWAYS active, meaning “to vanquish,” in Jewish Greek.  Please

rebut that this means that “pulai hadou” are the agressors.  Please

fit this in with Nibley’s statement that the verb MUST mean “hold

back.”

EW> That is to say that if we assume your interpretation as a

EW> starting point, then the conclusions we arrive at support

EW> your interpretation.  I’m really not surprised.

I note you have no substantive reply to the material I quoted, as

usual.

JW>The gates of hades, then, refer to the powers of death

>itself.

EW> Only as a forced conclusion if we begin with what you are

EW> attempting to demonstrate.

Hardly.  This is the plain meaning of Isaiah 38:10, as cited below.

It is also perfectly in line with the use of katischuo with the

genitive, meaning “overcome.”

EW> More importantly, it also

EW> requires the gates of hades to be the active aggressors

EW> against the church, which in turn forces them to have the

EW> attribute of some active force or power which they do not

EW> possess.

Surely the powers of death have active force or power, Elden.

EW> This is likely one of the factors which led Dr.

EW> Nibley to look for an alternative interpretation.  Actually

EW> the gates of hades represents death itself, which is the

EW> means through which people enter hades, and hence is

EW> compared to gates.

The gates of Hades will not overcome the Church.  Such is the plain

meaning of the text, as has been demonstrated.  Merely repeating your

already made assertions is not relevant to the topic any longer.

JW> This is very consistent with Biblical usage.  Note Isaiah 38:10:

JW>Is 38.10 I said, “In the prime of my life must I go

>through the gates of death (pulais hadou) and be robbed of

>the rest of my years?”

EW> This verse does not support your view, James.  This does not

EW> intimate that any powers of the underworld actively assail

EW> him, it just means that he must die.

You miss the point yet once again, Elden.  The gates of death (as

translated by the NIV, and hence providing another scholarly source

opposed to the Niblian viewpoint) are used in Jewish thought, not of

structures that keep people in the hold of death, but of the power

and state of death itself.  The point of the citation is that “gates

of Hades” does NOT have to have the very limited meaning that Nibley

and yourself insist upon, but in fact in Jewish thinking has a

different meaning, one that fully allows the gates of Hades to attack

the Church.  The fact that in Isaiah 38.10 there is no attack upon

the man by the powers of death is not the least bit relevant to the

context in which I cited the passage.  Again, please attempt to deal

with statements in their original context, thank you.

JW>Extra-Biblical Jewish sources use the term in the same

>way, as Jeremias noted in TDNT above.

EW> Agreed, and like Jeremiah, they use it to represent death, not “powers

EW> of death.”

The point, as I think everyone has been able to see, Elden, is that

“gates of Hades” refers to death; Nibley and yourself are putting

undue emphasis upon “gates,” even to the point of insisting that

because the term “gates” is present, that the verb MUST mean “hold

back.”  And why?  Because gates can’t be “offensive weapons” as you

have said.  However, when we see that “gates of hades” is not

referring to standing gates at all, the entire “offensive weapons”

issue disappears.  When we see that what the Lord is referring to is

death (and I do not see that there is some huge difference between

being dead, and under the power of death, hence the similarity

between those who speak of it as death, and as the powers of death),

we can understand the use of the genitive direct object, and the

proper translation of the verb as “overcome, prevail against.”  The

references I have cited have demonstrated that Nibley’s insistance

that “gates must hold back something” is incorrect.

EW> It’s true I do not have an overabundance of references,

EW> but for the seven I have, they are all simply referring to death.

EW> Define for me “powers of death,” James.  Do you mean the powers which

EW> are possessed by people after they have died, or do you mean those

EW> powers and things which can cause people to die?  Calvin seems to imply

EW> the latter, though if that’s the case I wonder why he excludes such

EW> obvious things as accidents and illnesses.

The powers of death, Elden, in this passage, would simply refer to

all those powers that would seek to overcome the Church of Jesus

Christ.  Over against the Lord of life, who gives life and light to

men, are arrayed the powers of death, which seek to keep men bound in

darkness and night.

EW> OK, James.  I admit that I have no great faith in Calvin or his

EW> teachings,

Nothing personal, Elden, but I have the strong feeling that you

probably have read more of Calvin’s own words in my posts than in any

other sources, correct?

EW> but this paragraph leaves me confused. Perhaps you could

EW> help me understand it.  Here are some of my problems:  He says that

EW> “what is said of the body of the Church belongs to each of its

EW> members,” and this seems to be in the immediate context of the gates of

EW> hades not prevailing against the church.  He therefore seems to me to

EW> be saying that the gates of hades [i.e. death] will not prevail against

EW> any of those who are “united to Christ.”  He also says they will

EW> “remain to the end safe from all danger”  obviously not referring to

EW> physical danger, because I have never heard of any protestant who

EW> anticipates that they will never die physically.  Yet the gates of

EW> hades specifically refers to physical death.  A mass of confusion to

EW> me.  I hope you can make it a little more clear.

Possibly you are not aware of the fact that Christians are not, even

at death, under the power of death itself.  Remember Paul’s words?

Romans 8:2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit

of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

1 Cor 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin

is the law.

Since we have been redeemed from sin, the sting of death is no longer

a threat to us.  So that Paul can go on to say:

1 Cor 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ.

And this is so plainly taught in Paul’s letter to Timothy:

2 Tim 1:9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life– not

because of anything we have done but because of his own

purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus

before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed

through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has

destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light

through the gospel.

The Lord Jesus “destroyed death” and has brought, in its place, life

and immortality to light through the gospel.  Hence, even when I die

physically, I do so in life, for when I am absent from the body, I am

at home with the Lord.  I die, not under the “powers of death,”

overcome and vanquished by them, but in the glorious grace of Christ.

JW>   Yet this passage also instructs us, that so long as

>      the Church shall continue to be a pilgrim on the

>      earth, she will never enjoy rest, but will be

>      exposed to many attacks; for, when it is declared

>      that Satan will not conquer, this implies that he

>      will be her constant enemy.  While, therefore, we

>      rely on this promise of Christ, feel ourselves at

>      liberty to boast against Satan, and already triumph

>      by faith over all his forces; let us learn, on the

>      other hand, that this promise is, as it were, the

>      sound of a trumpet, calling us to be always ready

>      and prepared for battle.  By the word gates

>      (“pulai”) is unquestionably meant every kind of

>      power and of weapons of war.

EW> Of the seven quotes I have examined which make use of the phrase

EW> “gates of hades” or its like, none of them discuss or mention any power

EW> or weapons of war.  They are all simply referring to death.  Calvin’s

EW> explanations give me no confidence at all in your interpretation of Mt

EW> 16:18.  And isn’t this the same fellow who said we are all following a

EW> predetermined script, from which we cannot deviate?  What does it mean

EW> then to heed the sound of the trumpet calling us to be ready and

EW> prepared for battle?

Your prejudice against Calvin, most probably based solely upon

second-hand information, has obscured the meaning of his words.  The

point is, yet once again, that the passage is referring to the powers

of death that stand in opposition to the Church of Jesus Christ.

These powers do attempt to overcome the Church, but fail in their

effort.

JW>D.A. Carson noted:

JW>But “gates of Hades” or very similar expressions are

>found in canonical Jewish literature…and pagan

>literature…, and seem to refer to death and dying…

EW> Which coincides precisely with my own observations.

If so, then I will hardly expect to see you repeating Nibley’s “the

term MUST mean `hold back,'” again due to the concept of a literal

gate, rather than the much broader concept of death and dying.

JW>Hence RSV: “The powers of death shall not prevail

>against it.”  Because the church is the assembly of people

>Jesus Messiah is building, it cannot die.

EW> Obviously a faulty statement, for two reasons:  1. Jesus Messiah was

EW> God himself, and he died.  Death did not prevail against him, but not

EW> because he never died, but because he was restored to life.

No, yours is the faulty statement, Elden, for death *never* prevailed

against the Lord Jesus.  His life was not taken away from Him, Elden,

He gave it over voluntarily.  It was His to give, and His to take

back.  Death never had authority over Him, for He did not sin:

John 10.17-18

17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life– only to

take it up again.

18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have

authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command

I received from my Father.”

EW> Is the

EW> creation of God (the church) greater than God?  We loudly proclaim

EW> No! The church he created died, and then in similitude of himself, was

EW> restored to life.

The Lord Jesus died voluntarily so as to bring about the redemption

of His people.  His Church did not die, as He promised, and there

would be no reason for such a death.  There is no parallel, and

certainly such a teaching is as far removed from Christianity as the

idea that God was once a man who lived on another planet.

EW> 2. In speaking of things which must shortly come to

EW> pass, John the Revelator saw that the horn was given power to make war

EW> with the saints “and to overcome them.”  Regardless of when the saints

EW> were to be overcome, it was after Christ organized his church.  The

EW> question then becomes not “can it die,” but “when did it (or when will

EW> it) die?”

Your interpretation of Revelation is interesting, but hardly

compelling, for it directly contradicts the plain teaching of

Ephesians 3, Elden.  How do you know that the saints referred to

means ALL saints in ALL places?

JW>The position taken by Nibley and Watson falls upon the

>simple fact of the meaning of katischuo when taking its

>object in the genitive.

EW> My position has no problem with katischuo being known to occasionally

EW> take its object in the genitive.  Your position, however, seems to

EW> require that it must, a decidedly untenable position, since it usually

EW> takes an object in the accusative.

No, again, this is untrue.  Possibly you have had trouble following

the scholarly citations I have provided?  Let me try to explain them

to you.  You referred to Bauer’s entry.  Let’s look at it again.

First the lexicon refers to an intransitive use, meaning “be strong,

powerful, gain the ascendancy.”  What does intransitive mean, Elden?

Note that no NT uses are cited, for it is not used in the NT in this

particular way.  Next we have the “absolute” usage, meaning “be

dominant, prevail,” and two NT references are given: Luke 23.23,

katischuon hai phonai autwn, “their voices prevailed,” (no accusative

direct object) and one in which the verb is followed by an infinitive

(Luke 21.36), giving the meaning “to be able, be in a position.”

Finally we have the use with the genitive, as in Matthew 16.18,

meaning “win a victory over.”  Hence, in the three instances in the

NT, once the verb is used absolutely with no direct object; once with

an infinitive, and once with the genitive direct object.  Hence,

speaking about the NT usage, the verb does not “regularly” take its

direct object in the accusative; the only time it takes a regular

direct object it does so in the genitive.

Further, by examining the extra-Biblical references, you will note

that more than ten references are given for the use of the genitive

direct object; only seven for the absolute use.

You will note further problems for Nibley’s dogmatic “MUST MEAN”

statement in Moulton-Milligan, as referred to in Bauer.  Here two

usages of the accusative are noted, yet both have the same meaning as

the use with the genitive in Matthew, NOT “hold back” but “prevail,

gain the mastery over.”

Hence, in Biblical literature, and in the time-period of the NT, the

regular usage uses the genitive.  If you wish to engage in

anachronism, Elden, and go to classical usage, feel free to do so,

for such would only point out that the primary source materials do

not support your position.

JW>  It does not simply mean “hold back” as Nibley declares, and the

>”gates of hades” are in fact the aggressors, for they represent the

>very powers of death itself, …

EW> This is a good example of what bad exegesis can get you into, James.

EW> Can you give me one example of where “gates of hades” means the

EW> “powers of death?”

Matthew 16.18, Elden, for the powers of death will not *prevail*

(meaning of katischuo with the genitive according to all scholarly

sources, such as TDNT:  “katischuein when followed by a genitive is

always active (“to vanquish”) in Jewish Greek”) against the Church.

The same can be seen in Psalm 9:

Ps 9.13-14

13 O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up

from the gates of death,

14 that I may declare your praises in the gates of the Daughter of Zion

and there rejoice in your salvation. (NIV)

Notice the persecution of the enemies resulting in the need to be

lifted up “from the gates of death.”

EW> I can give you seven, where they represent death.

Good…no more of this “MUST MEAN hold back” then.  I’m glad we are

past that hurdle.

EW> Or, can you give me any indication from the scriptures that the gates

EW> of hades are in any sense the aggressors.

Sure: katischuo means “overcome, gain the ascendancy over” when it

takes its object in the genitive, as it does in Matthew 16.18.

That’s why TDNT can refer to the pulai hadou as “the ungodly powers

of the underworld which assail the rock….Hence the pulai hadou are

the aggressors.”

EW> This is an implication

EW> derived from falsely supposing the genitive “autes” must be a genitive

EW> of direct object, which in the Greek implies that the gates of hades

EW> must be the aggressors – a supposition which falls flat on its face,

EW> because gates cannot actively attack, which all leads us back to the

EW> fact that when used with gates, katischuo means to hold back.

You are *really* stuck in a very tight circle, aren’t you, Elden?

Here we see you saying that the conclusion of every single Greek

scholar on the face of God’s green earth that has ever addressed this

issue is, in fact, in error to recognize that autes is the genitive

direct object of katischuo, and that DESPITE the fact that there are

many, many examples of just this very construction, as we have seen

from Bauer.  I’m glad you now realize that the Greek indicates that

the pulai hadou are the aggressors, and if we can just get you to

stop with this “pulai hadou means death, but it also means gates”

stuff, you’ll be on the right track.  Gates cannot actively attack.

Very true.  But we are talking here about the pulai hadou, and we had

already concluded that pulai hadou refers to death, not to gates.

Hence, you are going from one meaning to another.  Now, you say that

“katischuo means to hold back” when used with gates.  Care to provide

a usage of katischuo from this time period with the term pulai,

Elden?  I look forward to examining this (these) reference(s).

JW> which shall not overcome the Church founded by the Lord Jesus

EW> Christ, Hugh Nibly, Joseph Smith, or Elden Watson, not withstanding.

EW> And, you might as well add “the Lord Jesus Christ not withstanding,”

EW> because if a partitive genitive was the Lord’s intent here, then you

EW> are fighting the Lord.

And if, as all sources indicate, this is the genitive direct object,

then YOU are fighting against the Lord, Elden, and against His

Church, which did not disappear, and hence did not need to be

restored.

It is ironic to note, however, that you who so vociferously defended

the Aramaic theory regarding this passage, have yet to bring it up,

for it is quite obvious that there is no way to create fictional

Aramaic “originals” for this passage.  Indeed, in Hebrew, and I would

imagine in Aramaic as well, any “partitive” concept is normally

associated with a preposition, and there is no sign of such in our

passage.  (I also just noted that the LDS edition of the KJV has a

footnote on this passage indicating the play on petros and petra.

Guess those footnotes aren’t inerrant, are they?  (:  ).

EW> Grammatically, the partitive genitive is

EW> perfectly permissible in this sentence, and it does not invoke the mass

EW> of more- than-dubious implications, such as either death or the gates

EW> of hades actively attacking someone.

I honestly do not believe, Elden, that you are capable of syntaxing a

partitive genitive from a list of other kinds of genitives.  As I

have said, the identification of the genitive as a partitive requires

particular elements to be present, which are not present here;

furthermore, given the lexical information concerning the use of the

genitive direct object with the verb, the syntaxing of the genitive

is simply in error.  That you have been unable to defend that

assertion is now very, very PLAIN to anyone who has followed this

conversation.

EW> (BTW, James, Nibley is spelled with an “e”.)

Given that I have spelled the name correctly in each and every other

instance, Elden, it is obvious that I am well aware of the proper

spelling, and simply typed too quickly, nothing more.

EW>Gates are a defensive weapon, and are utilized solely to either keep

>someone or something in a place, or to keep someone or something out

>of a place.  Since the place to which we are referring is Hades, I

>shall presume at this point that the someone or something is inside of

>Hades, wanting to get out.  (It seems irresponsible to consider the

>case in which someone or something is outside of Hades wanting to get

>in.)  In Dr. Nibley’s interpretation of Mt 16:18 then, some of the

>members of the church of Christ are in Hades, and want to get out, but

>the gates of Hades oppose them and try to keep them in. Christ declares

>that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against hers, and hence those

>individuals shall be freed from Hades.  In the original context, Dr.

>Nibley is relating this to those who become members of the church while

>they are in Hades, by vicarious baptism.

JW>That is indeed Nibley’s position.  It is a position fraught with

>problems, as we have seen.

EW> I must have missed something.  I see no problems with Dr. Nibley’s

EW> interpretation except that you do not agree with it, and I can live

EW> with that.

If you can see no other problems, given the wealth of scholarly

citations and sources already provided to you, Elden, then you are

admitting a depth of blindness beyond that which I have seen in

almost anyone else with whom I have ever spoken.  You are *well*

aware of the problems, and are simply ignoring them.

EW> It is your interpretation which is fraught with problems.

A claim with no backing is little worthy of discussion, Elden.

EW> The only two points you have presented that Dr. Nibley’s interpretation

EW> could be incorrect are:  1. It disagrees with your interpretation, and

EW> 2. You claimed “there is no idea if ‘it’ being the whole of which some

EW> assumed ‘thing’ or ‘things’ is a part.”  I later explained that the

EW> membership of the church is the whole, of which those who have died,

EW> and are hence being “held back” by the gates of hades, are the part.

Your inability in the language once again keeps you from

intelligently discussing the topic, Elden.  First, you ignore the

entirety of the materials presented to you (or, possibly, are just

completely unaware of their significance, being unable to follow

their meaning), including the lexical information that has been

discussed.  Next, you insert “the membership of the church” into the

discussion.  Could you please show me the phrase “membership of the

church” in Matthew 16.18?  I see ekklesia, but I don’t see

“membership of ekklesia” in my text.  Are you using another text?

Possibly one altered by supposedly inspired prophets from upstate New

York?  If you had to do original work in the text, you would know

that you have to be able to defend your syntactical decisions, that

is, to provide reasons *from the text* (not from your theology) for

making the decisions that you do.  To defend the identification of a

partitive, you would have to provide the whole of which some assumed

thing or things is a part.  Let me give you an example from Matthew’s

gospel:

Matthew 6.29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his

splendor was dressed like one of these.

The term “these” is in the genitive case.  I would syntax it as a

partitive genitive.  The whole of which it is a part is plain from

the text:

Matthew 6.28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the

lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

The “whole” is the “lillies of the field” of verse 28, repeated by

the genitive “these” in verse 29.  The “part” is the “_one_” of these

in verse 29.  See how that works?  Here’s the definition again: A

word in the genitive sometimes indicates the whole of which the word

modified is a part.  Here’s another one:

Gal 1.19 I saw none of the other apostles– only James, the

Lord’s brother.

“Apostles” is in the genitive, modifying “heteron,” “other.”  The

whole is apostles, the part is the “other.”  Hence, the syntactical

category of the genitive “apostles” at Gal 1.19 is a partitive

genitive (Eph 4.7 provides another example).

Now, lets see what we can do with Matt. 16.18.  For “autes” to be a

partitive genitive, Elden, it must indicate the whole, of which the

word modified, is a part.  Let’s look at it (switching to “h” to

indicate the eta, rather than “e”):

kai epi tauth th petra oikodomhsw mou thn ekklhsian kai pulai hadou

ou katiscusousin auths

Hmm, what is auths modifying?  pulai hadou?  “The gates of hades of

her”?  Nope, that doesn’t work.  ekklhsian?  “the church of her”?

Nope, that doesn’t work either.  The simple fact of the matter is,

Elden, that the reason that translators for nearly two thousand years

have translated the passage in the same way is that it is plain that

auths is not modifying anything at all: it’s a genitive direct

object, as its position, and function, clearly indicates.  You can’t

provide a modified word that is a part of the whole, hence, you can’t

support the partitive genitive identification.

EW>One additional point deserves consideration in preparation for what

>follows.  As we have seen above, something is in Hades and wants to get

>out.

JW>Please note that Mr. Watson says, “As we have seen above.”  Actually,

>all we saw “above” was his assertion, “I shall presume at this point

>that the someone or something is inside of Hades, wanting to get out.”

>Mr. Watson takes an unsupported presumption, and then uses this as the

>basis of his following comments.

EW> A blatant misrepresentation of what I stated.

Not at all, Elden; I was simply pointing out that all you had

provided before was a bald assertion, and you now use that assertion

as something already proven.  Nothing misrepresentational about that

at all.

EW> The gates are to either

EW> prevent something from entering hades or to prevent something from

EW> leaving (that’s what gates do).

Yup, that’s what gates do, but that’s not relevant to pulai hadou,

since, as we have seen, they refer to something other than literal

gates.

EW>If the gates of Hades were to prevail, then that something would not

>be able to pass by the gates, and would be consigned to remain in

>Hades.  Christ has decreed that the gates of hades will not prevail,

>but that whatever it is that is in Hades will be able to prevail

>against the gates and extricate itself.

JW>We note again that there is nothing in the text whatsoever that

>speaks of people in Hades, wishes or desires to go in or out, or

>extrications thereof.  This is pure eisogesis, based upon presumption,

>depending upon rejection of clear grammatical and lexical information.

EW> This is a clear example of the difference between your usage of the

EW> word lexical, and my usage of the word context.  The words you complain

EW> are not in the text are inherent to the understanding of the whole

EW> passage.

The understanding of the whole passage must come from the meaning of

the words that make up the passage, Elden.   You have a pre-existing

understanding that you MUST find in the words; hence, you ignore the

plain lexical evidence in favor of unknown meanings and improper

translations, all for the sake of the pre-existing theological

meaning.  I think that this is now plain to anyone who has been

following this series.

EW> 1. People in hades – the text speaks of the gates of hades.  The

EW> gates represent death.  When people die, they pass the gates and enter

EW> hades, or the world of the dead.

There is no discussion of people dying, Elden.  pulai hadou is

nominative; as we have seen, the verb is active; the gates of hades

will not prevail against the Church.  There is not a single thing

about people *in* hades, for, as we had agreed at one point, the

pulai hadou refer to death, not simply to a location where dead

people are gathered.

EW> 2. Wishes or desires to go in or out – The seven passages I have on

EW> the gates of hades, gates of death etc, all give the distinct

EW> impression that people would rather not pass them (ie they don’t want

EW> to die).

That’s fine, but that has nothing to do with the pulai hadou not

overcoming the Church in Matthew 16.

EW> 3. Extrications thereof – one of the most glorious messages

EW> of the gospel is that God will not leave us in hades, but will remove

EW> us from there through the resurrection.

That’s wonderful, but it has nothing to do with what the Lord is

speaking of in this passage, the equally glorious truth that the

powers of death will never prevail against His Church.

EW> All of these are pertinent to the text we are discussing (Mt 16:18)

EW> and if you disregard any of these ideas it demonstrates loudly and

EW> clearly that you have no concept whatever of what Christ is speaking of

EW> in the verse you are supposedly trying to translate.

As we can now plainly see, Elden, it is you who have no concept

whatsoever of what Christ is speaking about, but you are very bold to

attempt to put into His mouth your completely foreign and

anti-biblical doctrines.

EW> And you claim Dr.

EW> Nibley’s interpretation is wrong .

I not only claim it, I’ve proven it.

EW> That smacks something of

EW> a foreign student getting up after a lecture and declaring to the

EW> professor “You mistaked.  You didn’t said it right.”

I realize you have little more than this kind of tactic to use,

Elden, but it truly seems demeaning to someone such as yourself.

EW>The something that is in Hades wanting to get out is the “it” of

>Matthew 16:18.  According to Mr. White’s interpretation, it is the

>church itself that is in Hades and wants to get out.

JW>< chuckle >It will be instructive to read Mr. Watson accusing *me*

>of misrepresenting others, when he can come up with such a fanciful

>statement as this!  The Church is not in Hades, and I have certainly

>never given the slightest indication that this was my position.

EW> No, James, you have never even intimated that this was your position.

EW> In reality you have never thought through your translation to see what

EW> it implies or what the consequences of such an interpretation are.

Such arrogance, and that coming from a polytheist even!  Incredible!

EW> It

EW> is sufficient for you to know that you oppose our interpretation, and

EW> you obviously don’t understand the implications behind our position

EW> any better than you do those behind your own.

Unworthy of reply.

EW> Your definition of

EW> “lexical” means that if you can’t find it specified in your lexicon, it

EW> can’t possibly exist, regardless of context.

Sir, your arrogance, fed by ignorance, is growing to monumental

proportions.  One person in this conversation has provided the

lexical information to back up his position.  One person seemingly

can’t even figure out what the lexical information indicates.  Please

keep your silly personal statements to yourself, as I have no need of

them.  You are doing nothing but clouding the scene with such

material, though that is certainly the best tactic for a defeated

army as it retreats from the field of battle.

EW> What the original author

EW> is attempting to convey has no bearing upon your translation, unless by

EW> accident it happens to correspond.

Given that I have demonstrated, over and over again, that my position

takes into consideration the text itself, and does not force a

foreign interpretation upon it, while yours is dependent completely

upon pre-existing theological considerations that utterly overthrow

the grammar and syntax of the passage, I have to dismiss your words

as those of a desperate, and badly defeated foe.

EW> And likewise I will continue my comments as I have the time.

Unless you can produce some kind of meaningful material, Mr. Watson,

I would suggest you simply engage in some small amount of damage

control and move on to other things.

 

——————————————————————————–

Area: Mormon

Msg#: 14                                           Date: 06 Jul 93  17:58:31

From: James White

To: Elden Watson

Subj: Article Review, Comm  1/2

 

——————————————————————————–

-=> Elden was saying to James back on 05 Jul 93  16:50:01 -=>

EW> James, you try my patience by complaining that I do not address the

EW> real issues, while at the same time you obfuscate all of what I

EW> consider to be the main issues.

My patience has been tried extremely of late as well, Elden, since it

seems fairly plain, now, to me, that you are not aware of what the

main issues are, though you began your attack upon my article by

saying that *I* was the one without a clue.  As you have so far said

that you did not know what a partitive genitive was until this

conversation arose, and as you will below demonstrate that you

continue to not even know what the genitive of direct object is, it

seems you have decided to engage a topic far beyond your capacity to

discuss.  This necessitates the continued correction of basic errors

that would not be necessary in a scholarly discussion of this topic.

Unfortunately, this ends up making me sound “pedantic” as I continue

to attempt to explain these matters to you in the midst of your

confident assertions.

JW>It [the article] was about one thing: Hugh Nibley’s comments on

>Matthew 16.19, specifically regarding the genitive “autes” that

>functions as the direct object of the Greek verb “katischuo,”

EW> I don’t know what your grammars say, but Smythe says “An object may be

EW> *direct* (in the accusative) or *indirect* (in the genitive or

EW> dative)” [par 919].  With all due respect to Vaughn and Gideon, none of

EW> the three grammars which I possess recognize a genitive of direct

EW> object.  I believe it would therefore be more appropriate to state that

EW> autes functions as the indirect object of katischuo.

< incredulous, frustrated stare >

Since you seem to have few resources at hand, and since you seem

completely untrained in the subject, you take it upon yourself not

only to dismiss an entire category that is fully delineated and

described in scholarly works, and that has appeared in your OWN

citations (Bauer, for example), but also to turn a clear direct object

into something that it most OBVIOUSLY is not, an indirect object!!

Elden, the dative is the normal case of the indirect object.  Are you

not familiar with what an indirect object is?  Can you not see that

the genitive autes is not functioning as an indirect, but as a

direct, object?

Please explain to us all, Elden, how Dr. Vaughn and Dr. Gideon

managed to make such a basic mistake in their grammar?  And please,

how did you, Elden Watson, discover that the greatest Greek scholar

America has ever produced, Dr. A.T. Robertson, had wasted his time on

a simple mistake in writing the entire section on “The Genitive with

Verbs” on pages 505 through 511, which even included the

identification of the verb at Matthew 16.18 on page 510?  How could

such a great scholar of the language have said that the use of the

genitive with the verb (i.e., as the direct object of said verb,

please see all the many, many examples in Robertson) was “very

common” when it doesn’t exist as a syntactical category?  Pray tell,

how did Dana and Mantey end up noting it at the end of their section

on the genitive as well?  And what of Blass and Debrunner?

177.  Genitive with verbs of ruling and surpassing.  `To

rule, govern’ usually with genitive: …katischuein Mt.

16:18…(p. 96).

And to add insult to injury, we find more wasted space in Moulton’s

_Prolegomena_ (volume 1 of the 4 volume set) page 65, where, speaking

of the NORMAL use of the genitive with certain classes of verbs, he

writes:

The third part of Krebs’ work deals with compound verbs and

their cases.  Here prosphonein c. acc may claim Lk 6.13, but

it has the dat. four times; hupotrechein has acc. in its only

occurrence; eperchesthai has only dat. or prepositional

phrase; katabarein occurs once, c. acc; katalalein takes gen.

in NT, but is once passive, as is kataponein in its two

occurrences; while katischuein shows no sign of the acc.

construction.

Katischuein shows no sign of the accusative construction?  That’s

right, not in the NT.

I think it is plain, then, that 1) your sources are not sufficient

for the task at hand, and 2) the genitive as the direct object of

verbs in the Greek language is fully attested by scholarly sources.

Further, your seeming unfamiliarity with the language, resulting in

your changing a direct object into an indirect object (a completely

different grammatical function) due to the mere mention of the

general tendencies in Greek, continues to present almost

insurmountable difficulties in attempting to explain to you the error

made by Dr. Nibley.

JW>… i.e., “the gates of hades will not overcome (katischuo) it

>(autes).”  That is what the article was about.  That was its thrust.

>I alleged that Dr. Nibley was simply in error to syntax the genitive

>autes as a partitive genitive,…

EW> With that minor correction, and terminating where I did, I believe we

EW> have accurately described the topic of discussion.  Your task,

EW> therefore, is to demonstrate that Dr. Nibley was wrong, which means to

EW> demonstrate that autes can not be a partitive genitive.

You again miss the basic elements of the issue.  Dr. Nibley is the

one suggesting a radical, new understanding of the passage.  All

translations, and all commentaries, take the genitive as a direct

object.  Hence, it is up to Dr. Nibley not only to demonstrate the

partitive, but to explain why the obvious genitive direct object must

be rejected.

EW> As I see it, there are only two ways that you could accomplish this:

EW> 1. Grammatically:  Demonstrate that Greek grammar will inherently

EW> not allow such a construction or that it results in something

EW> totally devoid of meaning.

EW> 2. Lexically (my usage please): Demonstrate that when autes is

EW> interpreted as a partitive genitive, the resultant meaning of

EW> the phrase is either incompatible with the context of the

EW> statement, or is in contradiction to known truth.

I will use scholarly language, Mr. Watson, including the term

“lexical,” in my replies.  In a recent reply I explained to you how

the partitive genitive is determined.  I *honestly* do not believe

that you understand this, so I repeat it yet once again for all who

are following this:

To defend the identification of a partitive, you would have to

provide the whole of which some assumed thing or things is a part.

Let me give you an example from Matthew’s gospel:

Matthew 6.29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his

splendor was dressed like one of these.

The term “these” is in the genitive case.  I would syntax it as a

partitive genitive.  The whole of which it is a part is plain from

the text:

Matthew 6.28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the

lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

The “whole” is the “lillies of the field” of verse 28, repeated by

the genitive “these” in verse 29.  The “part” is the “_one_” of these

in verse 29.  See how that works?  Here’s the definition again: A

word in the genitive sometimes indicates the whole of which the word

modified is a part.  Here’s another one:

Gal 1.19 I saw none of the other apostles– only James, the

Lord’s brother.

“Apostles” is in the genitive, modifying “heteron,” “other.”  The

whole is apostles, the part is the “other.”  Hence, the syntactical

category of the genitive “apostles” at Gal 1.19 is a partitive

genitive (Eph 4.7 provides another example).

Now, lets see what we can do with Matt. 16.18.  For “autes” to be a

partitive genitive, Elden, it must indicate the whole, of which the

word modified, is a part.  Let’s look at it (switching to “h” to

indicate the eta, rather than “e”):

kai epi tauth th petra oikodomhsw mou thn ekklhsian kai pulai hadou

ou katiscusousin auths

Hmm, what is auths modifying?  pulai hadou?  “The gates of hades of

her”?  Nope, that doesn’t work.  ekklhsian?  “the church of her”?

Nope, that doesn’t work either.  The simple fact of the matter is,

Elden, that the reason that translators for nearly two thousand years

have translated the passage in the same way is that it is plain that

auths is not modifying anything at all: it’s a genitive direct

object, as its position, and function, clearly indicates.  You can’t

provide a modified word that is a part of the whole, hence, you can’t

support the partitive genitive identification.

Now, Elden, could you please provide the word being modified that is

the part of the whole?  If you cannot, and if Dr. Nibley cannot, then

it follows that the pronoun *cannot* be identified as a partitive

genitive.

EW> There is a third alternative.  You also have the option of comparing

EW> the two interpretations (yours and Dr. Nibley’s) and demonstrating that

EW> your interpretation is better than his.  This will not prove Dr. Nibley

EW> wrong, but would undoubtedly give you some personal satisfaction.

That has already been done a number of times in this series, Elden.

EW> But have you done any of these?  Not at all.  You have spent your time

EW> demonstrating from all sorts of grammars and lexicons that katischuo

EW> can take a genitive object, which was never in question in the first

EW> place.

I have demonstrated, as all can now see, that katischuo takes the

genitive direct object regularly; that its meaning in such a

situation is “to overcome, to prevail against.”  I have demonstrated

that this is the usage at Matthew 16.18, and have provided lexical,

and grammatical, citations supporting my position.  To date, I have

not seen a SINGLE citation on your part of a lexicon, or a grammar,

of koine Greek, that suggests that Matthew 16.18 is presenting to us

a partitive genitive.  Can you provide *any* such support for Dr.

Nibley’s position, Mr. Watson?

EW> You then loudly proclaim that you have proven that Dr. Nibley

EW> was wrong, when all you have actually demonstrated is that you don’t

EW> believe him.

As anyone who has read this series knows, such is far from the truth.

I have demonstrated that Dr. Nibley’s reasoning was incorrect, and

remains incorrect, in every way that such a demonstration could be

made.

EW> To accomplish your stated goal, you have to demonstrate

EW> that Dr. Nibley’s interpretation is invalid, not merely that your

EW> interpretation is acceptable.  In fact, it is impossible for you to

EW> demonstrate that Dr. Nibley is wrong in his interpretation by merely

EW> extolling the virtues of your own interpretation.  To prove Dr. Nibley

EW> wrong, you have to break down and examine his interpretation.

As anyone reading this series knows, I have done just that, numerous

times.

EW> On the other side, I have a somewhat similar task.  I should first

EW> demonstrate that interpreting autes in this phrase as a partitive

EW> genitive is grammatically viable.  I would also like to be able to

EW> prove that you are wrong, but that option is denied me since we all

EW> recognize that katischuo can take an object in the genitive, and the

EW> resultant meaning of the phrase is both intelligible and somewhat

EW> reasonable.

I’m glad to hear you say that, Elden.

EW> Another observation:  You have taken the approach that the phrase we

EW> are discussing is so simple, so straightforward, so clear, that there

EW> can be no mistake.  There is simply no other way the phrase can be

EW> interpreted – no alternative possibility.  Dr. Robertson does not

EW> agree with you.  He says “*The gates of Hades (pulai haidou) shall not

EW> prevail against it (ou katischusousin autes)*.  Each word here creates

EW> difficulty.”  (Robertson, Word Pictures 1:132)  The phrase is

EW> therefore not so simple or straightforward as you would want us to

EW> believe, and difficulties in translation is what alternative

EW> interpretations are made of.

I have said that the issue at hand–the genitive direct object–is

plain and straightforward, and it is.  As anyone can note by reading

the citation you give, Robertson struggles not the least with autes;

he translates it as a plain direct object, does he not?  The

“difficulties” of which he speaks are regarding the meaning of other

terms, not autes, nor its syntactical function.  Robertson cited this

passage as one of those instances where a verb of ruling (katischuo)

takes the genitive as direct object in his grammar; hence, there is

no difficulty from his perspective on this issue.  I could easily

say, “Here we have a specific, widely recognized scholar in the Greek

language, versus Dr. Nibley, whose field of expertise is NOT the

Greek NT, nor is he widely recognized as a scholar of said field, and

that is sufficient for that.”  But I don’t need to stop there: the

facts are plain, and each passing message brings more and more

evidence to the fore to demonstrate this.

EW> kai pulai hadou ou katischusousin autes

EW> Which you interpret as “and [the] gates of hades shall not overcome it

EW> (the church),” and Dr. Nibley interprets as “and [the] gates of hades

EW> shall not restrain (hold back) hers (what belongs to the church).”  [I

EW> hope I’m not mis-representing Dr. Nibley here.]

EW> The object of katischuo in the above phrase should properly be in

EW> the accusative, and it is almost always so used (despite your comments

EW> to the contrary):

EW> “The verb *katischuo* (literally have strength against, *ischuo*

EW> from *ischus* and kat-) also appears in Luke 21:36 and 23:23.  It

EW> appears in the ancient greek, the LXX, and in the papyri with the

EW> accusative and is used in the modern Greek with the sense of gaining

EW> the mastery over.” [Robertson, Word Pictures 1:133]

EW> Perhaps part of your problem is that katischuo is only used three

EW> times in the New Testament, and only in one of these three (Mt 16:18)

EW> is it used with the Genitive.

I do hope that everyone will note your use of the data, Mr. Watson.

I have already pointed out in my replies that the only times

katischuo even TAKES an object in the NT, Matt. 16.18, it does so in

the genitive.  I hope folks will note the “and only in one of these

three…is it used with the Genitive.”  The other times it is used it

is used absolutely, and once with an infinitive.  Bauer’s citation

would have shown you that.  As to your comments about the verb taking

its object in the accusative, you are, for at least the fourth time,

in error.  In the NT it’s sole direct object is in the genitive; it

is listed as one that takes the genitive in every scholarly koine

grammar that I have access to, as cited above.

EW> If our phrase were to have an accusative object (as it normally

EW> would),

As it normally would not….

EW> it would then read:

EW> kai pulai hadou ou katischusousin auten

EW> which would translate as “and the gates of hades will not prevail

EW> against it (the church).”  Does this meaning look Familiar?  It does

EW> seem strange to me that Christ would not make use of this more

EW> normative accusative form if this were indeed the meaning he intended

EW> to convey.

Of course, the fact is that the genitive form is both normative, and

it’s meaning is obvious; to prevail against, to overcome, as all

translations, commentaries, lexicons, and grammars, indicate.

EW> Placing the word autos in the genitive of indirect object

EW> modifies the meaning of katischuo somewhat, and results in our original

EW> phrase, but with a slightly modified meaning.  When used with the

EW> genitive of indirect object,

There is no such thing, Elden.

EW> the meaning should be “and the gates of

EW> hell will not win a battle against her (the church).” (see AGB p 424)

It’s BAGD, Elden, not AGB.  Further, BAGD does not give a translation

of the passage, it specifically says that ekklesia is the referent of

autes, and gives the meaning as “win a victory over,” not “win a

battle against.”

EW> This is slightly different than the translation you have given us.

Given that it is your own translation, based upon a non-existant

syntactical category and a misreading of BAGD, I am not surprised.

EW> Use

EW> of autes as a genitive object also introduces the additional constraint

EW> that the pulai hadou (gates of hades) be “active in sense,” since “the

EW> objective genitive is passive in sense” (Smythe, par 1330, 1331) –

< sigh >  Elden, the “objective genitive” is a COMPLETELY different

syntactical category than the genitive direct object.  The objective

genitive will be found under the category of the “genitive with nouns

of action” in your grammars.  There are two kinds of such genitives,

the objective genitive, and the subjective genitive.  If the noun in

the genitive *produces* an action, it is called subjective; if it

*receives* the action, it is the objective.  Obviously, if it

receives the action, it would be called “passive” as Smythe notes.

Your confusion of two COMPLETELY different categories demonstrates,

Elden, that you are very confused about the issue.

EW> the

EW> gates of hades, suddenly become the active aggressors, not merely a

EW> passive restraint.  In my opinion this is severely detrimental to your

EW> interpretation, and must be explained away by turning the passive

EW> gates of hades into “the powers of death,” (whatever that means) which

EW> you must then claim are going to aggressively attack the church.

As we have seen, you do not know the difference between a genitive

direct object and an objective genitive; for that matter, you have

even created non-existant categories in the process.  Hence, your

objections are based merely upon your own ignorance of the subject,

not upon the scholarly information.  As for the “powers of death,”

this has been firmly established from numerous sources, not only by

me, but by others who have looked into the issue.  Your refusal to

accept plain facts, and your ability to go off on tangents based upon

faulty understandings, makes this conversation very difficult indeed.

EW> The gates of hades, however, do not represent active powers, they

EW> simply represent death, which is a passive restraint, as can be seen

EW> from the following usages of the term.

Death is not a “passive restraint.”

EW> My soul drew nigh unto death, and my life to the nethermost

EW> Sheol, and I turned about on every side, yet there was none to help

EW> me, and I looked for one to uphold, but there was none.  Then did I

EW> remember the loving kindness of Jahveh, and His mercies which have

EW> been from old.  Who delivereth them that trust in Him.  And

EW> redeemeth them from all evil.  And I lifted up my voice from the

EW> earth, and cried out for help from the gates of Sheol.  Yea I cried:

EW> O Jahweh, my father art thou, for thou art the hero of my

EW> salvation; forsake me not in the day of trouble, in the days of

EW> wasteness and desolation.  I will praise thy name continually, and

EW> will sing thy praise in prayer. [Sirach 51:6-11]

Given that this man was not as yet dead, it is obvious that the

“gates of Sheol” are metaphorical, and he is crying for release from

the powers of death.  Thank you for citing this.

EW> But thy sons not the very teeth of venomous dragons overcame,

EW> for the mercy came to their help and healed them.  for they were

EW> bitten, that they should remember thine oracles; and were quickly

EW> saved, lest, falling into deep forgetfulness, they should be

EW> irresponsive

EW> to thy beneficence:  for of a truth neither herb nor mollifying

EW> plaster restored them to health, but thy word, O Lord, which

EW> healeth all things; for thou hast power over life and death, and

EW> thou leadest down to the gates of Hades, and leadest up again.  But

EW> though a man can slay by his wickedness, yet the spirit that is gone

EW> forth he bringeth not back, neither giveth release to the soul that

EW> Hades hath received. [Wisdom 16:10-14]

Thank you again for citing this, as it again supports the common

understanding, represented by commentary after commentary, that we

are speaking here of the powers of death, from which the writer is

giving thanks for deliverance.

EW> When my soul slumbered (being afar) from the Lord, I had all but

EW> slipped down to the pit, when (I was) far from God, my soul had

EW> been will nigh poured out unto death.  (I had been) nigh unto the

EW> gates of Sheol with the sinner, when my soul departed from the Lord

EW> God of Israel – had not the Lord helped me with His everlasting

EW> mercy. He pricked me, as a horse is pricked, that I might serve Him,

EW> my savior and helper at all times saved me. [Psalm of Solomon

EW> 16:1-4]

Again we see the metaphorical use of the term, and no idea whatsoever

of “constraint” or literality to the term “gates,” something

absolutely essential to the support of Nibley’s statement that the

phrase MUST mean “hold back.”

EW> And I saw all forefathers from all time with Adam and Eva, and I

EW> sighed and broke into tears and said of the ruin of their

EW> dishonour: Woe is me for my infirmity and for that of my

EW> forefathers, and thought in my heart and said:  Blessed is the man

EW> who has not been born and shall not sin before the Lord’s face, that

EW> he come not into this place, nor bring the yoke of this place

EW> I saw the key holders and guards of the gates of hell standing

EW> like great serpents, and their faces like extinguished lamps, and

EW> their eyes of fire, their sharp teeth.  [Secrets of Enoch

EW> 41:1-42:1]

This takes us a tad far afield from the context of Matt. 16, does it

not?

EW> The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick,

EW> and was recovered of his sickness:  I said in the cutting off of my

EW> days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the

EW> residue of my years. [Isaiah 38:9-10]

EW> Have mercy upon me O Lord; consider my trouble which I suffer of

EW> them that hate me, that thou liftest me up from the gates of death.

EW> [Psalms 9:13]

Already cited.

EW> This should be sufficient to support Dr. Nibley’s views of the gates

EW> of hades which he described thus:

EW> To the Jews “the gates of hell” meant something very specific.

EW> Both Jews and Christians thought of the world of the dead as a

EW> prison -*carcer, phylake, phroura*- in which the dead were detained

EW> but not necessarily made to suffer any other discomfort.  In the

EW> Jewish tradition the righteous dead are described as sitting

EW> impatiently in their place of detention awaiting their final release

EW> and reunion with their resurrected bodies and asking “How much

EW> longer must we stay here?” [Nibley, Collected Works, 4:105-106]

The passages cited, however, do NOT provide Nibley the needed element

of meaning, that which would support his statement that katischuo

MUST mean “hold back.”

EW> To return to our thought of the meaning of our phrase, let us now

EW> place autos in the partitive genitive.  This is proper, because as

EW> Smythe says:

EW> The genitive may denote a whole, a part of which is denoted by

EW> the noun it limits.  The genitive of the divided whole may be used

EW> with any word that expresses or implies a part. [par 1306]

EW> The noun being limited is the church, and so it is that portion of men

EW> who are members of the church that will not be prevailed against by

EW> death.  The phrase may therefore be interpreted “The gates of hades

EW> will not prevail against them (of the church)” or said in another way,

EW> “against hers (ie those who belong to the church)”.  Death will not

EW> prevail against them because of the keys which Christ will give to the

EW> apostles, through the use of which, membership in the church may be

EW> obtained (see verse 19).  The context is therefore completed and hence

EW> the translation supported in the succeeding verse.

As Smythe notes, “The GENITIVE may denote a WHOLE, a part of which

is denoted by the NOUN it limits.”  That means, Elden, that the WHOLE

must be in the genitive, and the genitive must modify a noun that

indicates the *part* under discussion.  You say that “church” is the

one being “limited,” which means that “autes” is modifying “church”

according to you; in other words, it is “the church of her” or “the

church of hers.”  But then you seemingly get a bit confused, because

you say that “it is that portion of men who are members of the

church that will not be prevailed against by death.”  This would

necessitate the “whole” to be “all men,” and that this would be the

genitive.  Yet, as anyone can see, there is no mention of “all men”

in the text; the genitive is “autes,” which, for this to be a

partitive genitive, must be the WHOLE of which the Church is a PART.

Your “translation” would indicate that the Church is the WHOLE of

which “them” is a part, but, of course, as anyone can see, you have

grossly mistranslated “autes” as “them.”  Such a “translation” would

require a plural, not the singular.  Your comments are a mass of

confusion and mistranslation.

To recap:

1)  You do not understand how to syntax a genitive; you do not know

the difference between an objective genitive, a partitive genitive,

and a genitive of direct object.  You have even made up new

categories, the “genitive of indirect object,” all because you don’t

understand the genitive of direct object.

2)  You have mistranslated the phrase, and obviously misunderstood

the form and function of the partitive genitive, all in a vain

attempt to substantiate Nibley’s error.  You have, so to speak, “gone

down with the ship.”

EW> Could you converse with a child who has died when 5 years of

EW> age, and ask him if he has lost anything by his death, he would say

EW> “no.” But, little child, are you not sorry you did not live on earth

EW> longer to gain blessings you have not obtained through your early

EW> death?” “I am not sorry,” would be the reply, “because the Lord

EW> Jesus Christ has provided that for me which I could have obtained if

EW> I had lived on the earth to the full age of man.” [Brigham Young, 19

EW> Feb 1854, from Watson, Brigham Young Addresses, vol 2, 1850-1854,

EW> date]

All very interesting, but not relevant to the issue at hand.

EW> I have now demonstrated that with Dr. Nibley’s interpretation the

EW> phrase in question is grammatically acceptable,

No, you have demonstrated that you are incapable of dealing with the

grammar and syntax of koine Greek, Elden.

EW> that is has meaning,

No, you have not.

EW> that the meaning fits within the context of what Christ was speaking

EW> about,

No, you have not.

EW> and that it is and has been a doctrine of the LDS church for a

EW> long time.

You have talked about the doctrine of the LDS Church, but you have

utterly failed to make any connection between the teachings of Jesus

Christ and said doctrines.

EW> I find Dr. Nibley’s interpretation consistant, meaningful

EW> and brilliant.

Obviously you do, for you have been willing to close your eyes

tightly against the overwhelming amount of facts arrayed against his

position, Mr. Watson.  You have provided myself, and others, with

probably the single most incredible instance of self-deception that I

have ever witnessed.  Everyone who has followed this series knows

that you are an intelligent man, capable of deep thought, and that

you are a good communicator.  That you have been able to go so far

into error simply to defend a basic, fundamental mistake on the part

of Hugh Nibley speaks VOLUMES concerning the matter of

self-deception.  You have been shown, over and over again, that you

are in error on many matters regarding the grammar, lexicography, and

syntax of the Greek language.  You seem invincibly ignorant,

unwilling to be corrected, or to learn.  You have dismissed the plain

meanings of words; you have confused syntactical categories, and

misused the same.  You have even denied the existence of well

documented categories, and substituted fantasy categories, made up by

you, simply to aid Nibley’s error.  I am truly amazed at the depth of

the deception into which you have fallen, Mr. Watson.  Surely here is

plain evidence that it takes a supernatural act to free someone from

such bondage.

EW> I do hope this post will induce you to get off your soap box and show

EW> us something substantial about why you think Dr. Nibley is wrong

EW> instead of just that you disagree with him, and you think you are

EW> right. Elden

As anyone who has read this series knows, I have provided you with

more than convincing evidence of your errors.  The fact that you can

engage in the kind of smokescreen, error-filled posting as we have

just reviewed, and then say that *I* need to get off my soap box,

only shows that you have lost touch with reality, and are living in a

fantasy world, ruled by infallible LDS scholars.  I hope that those

who read these posts will pray for the deliverance of the LDS people

from such deception.

James>>>

Area Mormon, Msg#1585, Aug-07-93 09:03:02

From: Elden Watson

To: James White

Subject: Genitive Of Direct Object

James:

As you are so fond of pointing out, my command of Greek is not yet

all that I would want it to be.  Because of this circumstance I

decided that I should go to some third party in whom I had

confidence, and ask them about the possibility of autes in Mt 16:18

being a partitive genitive.  I sought out Professor Richard L.

Anderson of BYU last evening and had a somewhat lengthy discussion

with him on the circumstances of our disagreement.

I first asked about Dr. Nibley’s expertise in Greek.  Professor

Anderson said that Dr. Nibley is indeed expert in Greek.  It was in

fact Dr. Nibley who taught Professor Anderson’s first Greek class.

Dr. Nibley’s specific expertise is in classical Greek, but Greek is

Greek, and there is probably less difference between classical Greek

and Koine Greek than there is between King James English and modern

English.

When asked about autes in Mt 16:18 being in the partitive genitive,

Professor Anderson was surprised that Dr. Nibley had made the

statement.  He said that there were sufficient unusual usages of the

partitive genitive, especially in the classical Greek, that Dr.

Nibley could probably make a pretty good case for it, but Professor

Anderson said he did not see the need.  Katischuo is a verb of

power, and verbs of power, along with verbs of emotion, typically

take the genitive in such a construction.  He said that in this

instance your interpretation seemed more reasonable than Dr.

Nibley’s (and this without going into any of the arguments on either

side).

Professor Anderson indicated that since the members of the church,

as a whole, are often spoken of as the church, the resultant

difference in meaning of the two interpretations was insignificant,

and your translation was the more straightforward.  Therefore, with

his insight, I’ll have to back off the issue and say your

interpretation of autes is correct.

If you thank me for this concession, I will merely respond, “Don’t

mention it.”

By the way, I do understand precisely what a direct object is and

how it is used, and have since the 9th grade, but for some reason I

had a bad day.

I do have a question in this regard.  Why is it that (almost) none

of the experts will use the term “genitive of direct object?”  In

virtually every instance they shy away from saying it is a direct

object, and say “used with the genitive” or some similarly vague

statement.  Even Professor Anderson demonstrated this tendency until

I pinned him down and asked specifically if autes was the object of

the verb katischuo.

And now back to our regularly scheduled arguments.

Elden

©2021 Alpha and Omega Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?