Wednesday, April 22, 2009

McCarthy vs Wallace 2

I am continuing this series. I hope it will contain some new information. I also want to make it comprehensible to at least a few readers. In his post on Adrian's site on Wallace and Burer's article on Junia, Grudem wrote,
    4. Bible Works parses episemos in Psalms of Solomon 2:6 as an adjective, which makes most sense in the context. This gives Burer and Wallace's meaning, that the Jewish captives were "a spectacle visible among the gentiles." This argues that McCarthy is wrong to say "they mistook a noun for an adjective." Did Bible Works also mistake a noun for an adjective?
Let me elaborate. There is no translation which says "a spectacle visible among the gentiles." This is a conglomeration of two other translations, which I will provide later.

I did say that Wallace and Burer "mistook a noun for an adjective." Episemos can be either a noun or an adjective. The form is identical, but it depends on the rest of the sentence. I did think that it was a noun.

However, even if episemos were an adjective - which is technically possible - in Pss. of Solomon 2:6, it is in the dative singular case and cannot possibly refer to the Jewish captives, which are in the nominative plural. The cases do not match.

What it says is that "The sons and daughters are in evil captivity, their necks in a seal, en episemo among the nations."

If episemos is an adjective then it qualifies a noun topos (meaning "place") which has been omitted. It would mean that they were in captivity in a prominent [place] among the nations.

And yet, when W & B, in their article, provided "a spectacle among the gentiles" giving no reference for this translation, I assumed that it was their own literal translation, and that they were indicating that "spectacle" was a literal translation for

In that case, from what Wallace and Burer said, it seems that they were describing it as an adjective in the dative singular refering to the Jewish captives, which are in the nominative plural. This is impossible. So, I thought, perhaps with the preposition en followed by the noun episemo one can loosely translate - they are "in view"among the nations. And, in that case, episemo is a noun. Oh, I thought, they have mistakenly said adjective, when they meant noun, that is "spectacle."

In fact, "spectacle" is an idiomatic translation for a Greek idiom en episemo (with topos elided). This translation was done by R. B. Wright, 1985, but this was not cited in W & B's original article. Also Wallace and Burer did not supply the preposition en in their article. They simply said epismo en tois ethnesin. Nor did they refer to the idiomatic nature of the translation they offered, since this would make it entirely obvious that there was no parallel with Junia in Romans 16:7. It is obvious that Romans 16:7 does not contain the Greek idiom en episemo.

So, of course, I should never have second-guessed what Wallace and Burer were thinking when they wrote their article on Junia. They provided no references for their translation of Pss. of Solomon. They did not mention the idiom en episemo. They did not give any valid explanation for finding Pss. of Solomon 2:6 to be a parallel to Romans 16:7. They made no grammatical connection between episemo and the captives.

I have no idea what they mistook for what. My apologies. I officially take back my statement that "they mistook a noun for an adjective."


Mike Aubrey said...

You may have misspoken, but the spirit of your words still rings true. Wallace & Burer's discussion is highly questionable.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I think you can see that what I am working on is not the conclusion but the process that Wallace and Burer used. Their process is highly questionable. This affects all exegesis that these two men (and Grudem) produce. Reading this article was a loss of innocence for me.

Gem said...

Sounds like someone is nit picking on you, Suzanne. You overlooked one word in your sentence. If you had said "they apparently mistook a noun for an adjective" would that satisfy them?

I'm sure glad no one does word for word exegesis upon things I say and write! Sad to have one's point so totally lost on them because they are so focused upon each little word that they miss the forest for the trees! I suppose the good fruit from it is that in trying to reach an impossible "communication bar" they have set for you, you are exceptionally clear in expressing these truths in language we laypeople can grasp. I extend my gratitude to them for that :)