Re: Noahic Covenant

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Thu Jul 18 2002 - 21:16:01 EDT

  • Next message: Dick Fischer: "RE: Adam from Dust"

    See my comment below Gordon's:

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "gordon brown" <>
    To: "Vernon Jenkins" <>
    Cc: <>
    Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2002 6:04 PM
    Subject: Re: Noahic Covenant

    > On Wed, 17 Jul 2002, Vernon Jenkins wrote to Dick Fischer: [snip]
    > > (3) The testimony of two NT commentators - one of whom had certainly
    > > walked with
    > > Jesus. In the Greek of
    > > Heb.11:7 and 2Pet.2:5 we find the word "kosmos" used; in the context of
    > > passages this can only be
    > > rendered _world_ . Had _land_ been intended, then the word "chora"
    > > was available
    > > and would surely have been used. The inevitable outcome of the event
    > > is confirmed
    > > by the Lord Himself in the parallel passages, Mt.24:37,38 and
    > >
    > Vernon,
    > We shouldn't allow our modern English use of the word cosmos to denote the
    > physical universe to lead us to suppose that its meaning in the Greek NT
    > must be a physical or geographical one. Its literal meaning was adornment
    > or decoration. Although I haven't looked it up, I suspect that it is the
    > root of the word cosmetic. My examination of its uses in the NT doesn't
    > find very many instances where it seems to be used in a purely
    > geographical sense. The word ge seems to be preferred for that. Chora is
    > used for a geographical region, sometimes a very small one, but it is
    > hardly just a smaller example corresponding to the larger cosmos. I don't
    > see world of the ungodly in II Pet. 2:5 as being synonymous with planet of
    > the ungodly.
    > In Heb. 11:7 Noah's condemning the world doesn't sound like a clear
    > statement about the extent of the Flood. The contexts of Matt. 24:37, 38
    > and Luke 17:26, 27 indicate that these passages are about the
    > unexpectedness of the judgment and not about the extent of the Flood. Note
    > that in the next verse in Luke (17:28) a similar statement is made about
    > Lot and the destruction of Sodom, which was certainly a local event.

    > Gordon Brown
    > Department of Mathematics
    > University of Colorado
    > Boulder, CO 80309-0395
      Bob's comment:

         To follow up on Gordon's remarks on the meaning of "cosmos": he is
    correct that the word originally meant "adornment," and is the root of our
    word "cosmetics." According to Kittel's _Theological Dictionary of the New
    Testament_ (one vol. ed.), cosmos is used to mean "adornment," and "the sum
    of all creation (the universe)." But, an important meaning, found
    frequently in the Gospel of John, is "cosmos" as the "realm of humanity" or
    the "universe of human life" or the theater of salvation history. It is
    precisely in this sense of "human world" that the author of 2 Peter 2:5 uses
    "cosmos," according to Kittel. Thus, "cosmos asebon" ("the world of the
    ungodly") does not refer to the planet physically or geographically, as
    Gordon correctly asserted. Heb. 11:7 seems, according to commentator Myles
    Bourke (_The Jerome Biblical Commentary_), to be drawing upon the same
    tradition as 2 Peter 2:5, and uses "cosmos" with the same meaning.

         I strongly endorse Gordon's caution not to assume that modern usages of
    a word mirror those of ancient peoples. I would add, equally strongly, that
    words convey various meanings, as you know from any perusal of an English
    dictionary, and not assume that the way one OT or NT writer uses a word is
    the same way other writers use it. Some Christians do read words in
    biblical texts that way (even in translation), and often misinterpret a text
    as a result. Also, never assume that a writer would have used a certain
    word (e.g.chora--which does not mean "land mass" but "a plot of land"
    "countryside": "land" in a local sense, and many other meanings, as Gordon
    noted). Look up the passage in Greek and see what word the author actually
    used. He knew what he meant; we have to try to understand what he meant and
    not assume what he meant.

         BTW, there is good internal evidence and solid inferences that 2 Peter
    could not have been written by the Apostle Peter, but is a late work, dating
    around the end of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd c. AD (assuming
    tradition is correct that Peter was martyred in Rome in 64). It is likely
    another instance of pseudonymous writing, though this does not reduce its
    canonical status in any way.

    Grace and peace,
    Bob Schneider

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jul 19 2002 - 00:12:04 EDT