Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Picture Does Theopneustos "God-breathed" Reference?

Many errantists try to argue against the clear understanding of theopneustos in 2 Timothy 3:15 as "God-breathed" in the sense that God has spoken by speculating (without much evidence btw) that maybe it means "God breathed into" like He breathed into Adam or that God blows people over with His Word. Hence, one can just conclude with the errantist that maybe not all Scripture is actually God's direct words, but instead are just dead texts, some accurate and some inaccurate, that are used by God for pedagogical purposes.

Of course, the text doesn't say "God breathed into," which is kind of obvious; but I thought this following article was very good in bringing out the background of this type of speech. I saw this comment on James McGrath's blog where he posited the former idea (an idea posited by Rogers and McKim long ago and even by Thom Stark in his book---did McGrath not read Thom's book?). In any case, the comment drew my attention as being far more studied and accurate than the other suggestions.

Outside of Christian literature, θεόπνευστος is used in the Moralia of pseudo-Plutarch (12.61) – the author of which relates the opinion of the 4th century BCE physician Herophilos, who contrasts dreams that are θεοπνεύστους with dreams δὲ φυσικούς ('of natural causes').
The association of breath and the spoken word is natural - cf. Psalm 33.6, in which God makes the heavens by his 'word' (דבר/λόγος), and its host from his breath (רוח/πνεῦμα). In the ancient Near East (esp. the Amarna letters), there was the idiom of the "(sweet) breath" (šaru ṭabtu) of the king. This was also something that could be _heard_ (EA 297).
In a blog post - http://semitica.wordpress.com/... - I wrote about the very early precedents of textual 'inerrancy'...which really go back to the earliest ANE literature. The _word_ of the king/god/prophet is important here – "You shall neither change nor alter the word of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria" (cf. also Deut. 13.1 [=12.32]; Revelation 22.19, “if anyone takes away from the words…”).
Of course, this doesn't conclusively show that that's what the author of 2 Timothy had in mind here. But I don't think it precludes it, either.

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