Saturday, May 01, 2010

Thank you Eric Svendsen for NTRMin.org

I was contacted recently by a person who couldn't access my Reformation papers on Eric Svendsen's Ntrmin.org website. It appears Ntrmin.org has vanished. Ntrmin was one of the best sites for countering Roman Catholic apologetics. Dr. Svendsen graciously hosted some of my longer papers on Martin Luther and the Reformation, as well as providing numerous helpful articles on Roman Catholicism.

The Ntrmin website was around for many years. It also hosted a discussion forum called The Areopagus. It was there I became acquainted with Dr. Svendsen's work, as well as that of Jason Engwer (now of the Triablogue clan), and Pastor David King (author of Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith volume 1). I also met a number of other people, many of which I'm still in contact with today. This was all due to the Ntrmin website.

Dr. Eric Svendsen has authored of a number of books of Roman Catholicism. I highly recommend the following:

Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2002)

Who is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2001)

Evangelical Answers: A Critique of Current Roman Catholic Apologists (Lindenhurst, NY: Reformation Press, 1999)

He's also been a guest on the Iron sharpens Iron program discussing these books (free mp3 downloads here).

I'm not sure what Eric's plans are in regard to his website. Perhaps he's decided to phase it out, or perhaps he's rebuilding it. Either way, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Svendsen for the Ntrmin.org website. I've used it often during the years, and I'm grateful for all the work he put into it. It was one of the first sites that I found directly responding to the newer breed of Roman Catholic apologists. If he's decided to take the website down, it will indeed be missed.

35 comments:

ann_in_grace said...

webarchive.org
Still available there, James.

James Swan said...

Yes, I linked to the archive copy throughout the post.

Paul said...

I too would like to thank Dr. Svendsen for all his great work. I have learned much over the years from his books, articles and interviews. I wish I could get another copy of his debate with Gerry Matatics. That debate was very good.

Nick said...

From my investigation, I've come to the following conclusion: Svendsen put all his credibility on the line with his "heos hou" thesis (which he received his doctorate over). However, Catholic apologists (such as John Pacheco from Catholic-Legate.com) solidly refuted Svendsen and exposed his work and thesis as false and a sham. Once that happened, Svendsen was a goner, and with his credibility gone (and his PhD exposed as bogus), he was forced to close up shop.

Svendsen went to various extremes (e.g. he didn't shy away from saying Nestorius was correct while Ephesus was wrong) and spent considerable time trying to salvage his position, so this didn't happen overnight. What's odd is that I almost never see Protestants discussing this event, not even to acknowledge it was a bad argument to begin with. Well, it just goes to show that Protestants will defend their own, regardless of how bad their argument is, and it's quite a double standard to close one's eyes to this while issuing numerous posts "exposing" various Catholic apologists as frauds/liars/idiots/etc (e.g. see the "The Quotable Sippo" blog series).

James Swan said...

Nick,

At this point I have only one question: have you actually read this book:

Who is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2001)

Nick said...

No, I have not read the book. But, after what I've heard of it (e.g. I have read the heos hou argument from other things Svendsen has written as well as quotes from other Catholics, especially The Catholic Legate), I wouldn't pay for such a book in the first place.

Unless you're implying Svendsen's thesis has been grossly misrepresented, I don't see the relevance of your question.

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

I've read the actual book. The study that Svendsen provides is quite compelling. I'll take a look at the rebuttal you've linked to before deciding whether Svendsen has been adequately represented in that.

Nevertheless, I think it is worth pointing out that one should be careful about concluding that something has been rebutted if they haven't read the original thing.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

Turretinfan,

Agreed. From what I've read, they claim Svendsen's thesis is built from seriously flawed (ad hoc) principles. For example, it is claimed that the term "until" carried multiple meanings until the time around the Advent of Christ (using an arbitrary 100 year window), at which point it carried only one meaning, and which reverted back to multiple meanings after this window. Also, the NT, even Matthew (e.g. 18:34), use "until" in such a way that directly disproves the thesis. (This is all demonstrated on the link I provided above.)

Now, these Catholic apologists could be wrong about their analysis or even be misrepresenting Svendsen. If so, their credibility is seriously shot in my book and they should retract and maybe even shut down. But, I've yet to find any such information that Svendsen has been misrepresented - and I have strong confidence that if these apologists were slandering Svendsen (with untrue information), the typical Protestant blogs would be trumpeting this information (e.g. the same way they trumpet the facts against the erroneous "33,000 denominations" statistic that arises every so often).

John Bugay said...

Nick, I'm working from memory here, but if you know anything about languages, you know that words change over time. In our time, think of how the words "gay" and "cool" have adopted new meanings. Svendsen's 150 year window was not an arbitrary one, but it allows for such changes in the language.

Your charge that anyone at all "solidly refuted Svendsen and exposed his work and thesis as false and a sham" is itself a boast with no solid analysis behind it whatsoever. I believe Svendsen's thesis was that no one could find a use, within his 150 year window, in which that particular construction meant "until, and continuing on" (as opposed to, "until, and stopping the activity at that point." Someone found precisely one usage, and it was outside of his period. That would be akin to finding a quote from Teddy Roosevelt (in that era) in which he said, "I'm feeling gay today," and you or your apologist friends would say, "See, Roosevelt admitted he was a homosexual!" That's how ridiculous your charge of him having been "solidly refuted" and "exposed."

That one issue aside, his one work, "Who is My Mother" addresses every single mention of Mary in the New Testament. He addresses it from a purely exegetical point of view of what each mention of Mary actually says. And I'll tell you, when you find out what it actually says, compared with the meaning that the Church adopted, there is a very huge gap.

Now, these Catholic apologists could be wrong about their analysis or even be misrepresenting Svendsen. If so, their credibility is seriously shot

That's why we think about them the way that we do.

I'd like to see what you'd say if you were actually to read the book. Bring out a point-by-point rebuttal. That's what I'm doing with Ratzinger's "Called to Communion." Why don't you give it a shot?

John Bugay said...

As for a Reformed discussion of Nestorius and the Council of Ephesus, see this, for example:

http://www.puritanboard.com/f18/nestorius-council-ephesus-53817/

Nick said...

John,

I don't think anyone denies the meaning of words change over time, but that's not what the problem is. Svendsen says the term meant multiple things up to 100BC, then from 100BC to 100AD it meant only one thing, then from 100AD to now switched back to multiple meanings. That's more nuanced and far less of a given than simply a term morphing taking on other meanings or even having certain meanings die off.

Also, the 100 year window was arbitrary, for there isn't any grounds to set such a time frame.

As for my charge that Svendesen's thesis was exposed as a sham, I've posted the relevant material, and it's pretty solid. Your analysis of the argument against him is not at all accurate. Even a Reformed Professor from University of Edinburg wrote a 2 page letter against Svendson's thesis (see previous posts where I provide the links).

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

Unless you're implying Svendsen's thesis has been grossly misrepresented, I don't see the relevance of your question.

Yes, his thesis has been grossly misrepresented:

http://web.archive.org/web/20071008230403/www.ntrmin.org/sungenis_and_heos_hou.htm

http://web.archive.org/web/20071008230729/www.ntrmin.org/sungenis_and_heos_hou_2.htm

http://web.archive.org/web/20071008230916/www.ntrmin.org/sungenis_and_heos_hou_3.htm

That's more nuanced and far less of a given than simply a term morphing taking on other meanings or even having certain meanings die off.

How is it "far less of a given"? It's really not obvious how you'd defend this statement with linguistic scholarship.

Also, the 100 year window was arbitrary, for there isn't any grounds to set such a time frame.

Really? Why not?

Even a Reformed Professor from University of Edinburg wrote a 2 page letter against Svendson's thesis (see previous posts where I provide the links).

Part of the misrepresentation of Svendsen's thesis was to bring a false/simplified version to various Protestant scholars for a critique. Of course the weak version was rejected, as it should have been. On the contrary, as far as I can tell, every Protestant scholar who has actually read the book agrees with Svendsen's conclusions.

You are, of course, welcome to produce evidence demonstrating otherwise.

John Bugay said...

Matthew, thanks for posting those links. It'll be great to work through them and trace how "badly flawed" Svendsen's arguments really are.

I can't vouch for your comment that "every Protestant scholar who has actually read the book agrees with Svendsen's conclusions." But all of the major commentators on Matthew seem to agree.

The point of Svendsen's analysis is: he begins with the idea put forth by "Roman Catholic scholars and apologists" who suggest that the "heos" construction "means only that some action did not happen up to a certain point, but does not imply that the action did happen later." That is, Catholic apologists argue that the word "until" means "up to that point, and continuing." His conclusion, after his analysis is, "If Matthew had intended for us to see in his birth narrative evidence for the perpetual virginity of Mary, we might have expected him to use a phrase that would more readily lend itself to this idea." (78)

Hagner, in the Word Biblical Commentary, says "'and he did not know her until she had given birth to a son,' i.e., Joseph did not have sexual relations with Mary before the son was born. Matthew records this obviously as a guarantee that Jesus was virgin born [and confirming the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14]. It is most natural to assume that the verse implies that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary had sexual relations as did any other husband and wife; Brown is surely correct that the later question of Mary's perpetual virginity is very far from Matthew's mind." (21)

R.T. France, in the NICNT, says "nothing in [Matthew's] text suggests that he subscribed to the later idea of Mary's 'perpetual virginity,' and indeed the 'until' most naturally indicates that after Jesus was born normal marital relations began (as indeed the straightforward sense of Jesus having 'brothers and sisters' requires, Matt 13:55-56; cf. Luke 2:7, 'her firstborn son')." (59).

(In a footnote, he notes that "the clause "knew not her until" is omitted by the Old Latin Codex Bobbiensis and the Sinaitic Syriac, probably to avoid this implication that Mary did not remain virgin." This, of course, supports my postings on "The Catholic Historical Method" and also "The Spirit of Catholicism," in which the Catholic Church seeks to change historical records to support its own "authority.")

John Nolland, in his NIGTC commentary, takes it even further, saying "heos hou is conventionally translated 'until', but because the focus is on the period prior to the birth and implies nothing about what happened afterwards, I prefer the translation 'before' here. Cf. Mt. 5:25; 16:28; 28:20) (103)


All of these writers support Svendsen's contention. It'll definitely be worth it to follow up on this and flesh it out in the near future.

Nick said...

Matthew,

I have read those links (some of them I've read in the past) and here are my thoughts:

Regarding the first article: There was some inaccurate information presented by Sungenis (e.g. miscalculating the exact number of times a term occurred), but this wasn't critical to refuting or proving the main thesis. Where the argument is won or lost really comes down to this paragraph by Svendsen:

"In the case of heos hou [where the action of the main verb is *continued*], there are approximately seven or eight instances out of eighty-five (in the LXX), zero instances out of seventeen (in the NT), and zero instances out of approximately fifty (in all non-biblical literature between 100 B.C. and A.D. 100) that conform to this usage."

Svendsen's thesis *only* has merit if he can show with total exclusivity (i.e. 100% of the time) that heos hou terminates the action of the main verb. Otherwise, if there are exceptions, he would be simply appealing to majority usage. This quote above nicely sums up Svendsen's argument.

The Catholic position (especially via Pacheco) has responded to this by noting:

(a) the 'exception' occurs in the LXX, as Svendsen even admits, which means Svendsen has the burden of somehow rendering this data irrelevant;

(b) the 'exception' does in fact occur in the NT (e.g. Lk 24:49; Acts 25:21; even in Matthew, 14:23, 18:34, 26:36), contrary to Svendsen's claim it occurs zero times;

(c) the exception does occur in non-Biblical literature between the threshold of 100BC and 100AD, again contrary to Svendsen's claim that it's never used this way in this era;

(d) two final difficulties, Svendsen's threshold is more or less ad hoc and to add to that, that he argues the exception went out out of usage and then came back into usage (as opposed to simply vanishing and never returning).

This sums up the debate; anything outside this is more polemics than anything. And as it is clear, the amount of time and energy Svendsen put into this makes it clear he's put all his credibility and credentials on the line.

Regarding the second article, it was mostly polemics over what this or that scholar said and over how to count the total number of times a term occurred. Even when Sungenis makes these errors, Svendsen plainly admits, "It's really not a showstopper on [Sungenis'] part simply to admit the counting error and go on."

The textual variant issue is interesting, and I think supports Sungenis' claim, but there's far stronger evidence out there.

Only briefly, in the final 1/3 of the second article, are relevant passages actually discussed. All in all though, the second article at most pointed out Sungenis making inconsequential errors or misunderstandings, all other comments Svendsen disputes are simply because the two disagree.

The third article is more of the same tossing around quotes from various scholars and no actual interaction with actual exceptions that occur. For example, Svendsen addresses Pacheco's Top 10 Errors of Svendsen article, but I don't even see Svendsen actually address important points like #8 (looking at one solid exception, Mat 18:34).

As far as misrepresenting the opponent, the truth is, both sides made bad arguments at times (e.g. Svendsen said: "The first observation to make about Pacheco’s list of scholars is that none of them—not one—gives any evidence he has read *my work*." As if Svendsen himself was a scholarly standard!)


I'm the type that looks for the more reasonable approaches to these types of situations, and I believe just examining how the phrase is used in the NT is sufficient enough to settle this problem. That I've yet to see Svendsen comment upon texts like Lk 24:49, Acts 25:21, Mat 18:34, 14:23, 26:36, etc, is a brick wall preventing me from attaching any merit to his thesis.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

Regarding the first article: There was some inaccurate information presented by Sungenis (e.g. miscalculating the exact number of times a term occurred), but this wasn't critical to refuting or proving the main thesis.

Apparently we didn't read the same articles. The misrepresentations were more far more substantial. For two examples:

I have to point out upfront the first indication that Pacheco has misrepresented my argument to these scholars; namely, that I “omit LXX texts from consideration.” I do nothing of the kind. Indeed, I have an entire chapter devoted to it, not to mention an appendix. If Pacheco knew anything of my views on this, he would know the point I make regarding the LXX is that the usage his denomination needs for Matt 1:25 was in use at one time, but gradually fell out of common usage, as all the evidence suggests. Even in the LXX, the phrase is used only a handful of times in the way Pacheco needs. Sadly, he demonstrates that he doesn’t understand this point, doubtless leaving the impression with these scholars that I simply ignored the LXX, didn’t do the proper research on it, and arrived at hasty conclusions. It is little wonder, then, that these scholars would caution the reader as they do. I will address this point again when interacting with Sungenis’ statements, which are just as misinformed. In the meantime, back to Paffenroth.

And:

I want to call attention to three things in this quotation. First, Beduhn’s opening statement—“In regard to the meaning of heõs hou, there is nothing in this expression itself that explicitly indicates or necessarily implies reversal of action”—demonstrates once again that these scholars were not provided with my research, but instead were shown some gross misrepresentation of it. As I have already pointed out in my prior article (http://www.ntrmin.org/where_have_all_the_critics_gone.htm), I nowhere claim that heos hou implies a reversal of action (for the details, see the article). The rest of what Beduhn states in that paragraph confirms my suspicion (particularly the citation of biblical examples where although reversal is not implied, cessation clearly is). That naturally causes me to wonder how many other misrepresentations of my thesis these scholars were provided.

http://web.archive.org/web/20071008230916/www.ntrmin.org/sungenis_and_heos_hou_3.htm

You might have noticed this if you had read Svendsen's book.

(Continued...)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Svendsen's thesis *only* has merit if he can show with total exclusivity (i.e. 100% of the time) that heos hou terminates the action of the main verb. Otherwise, if there are exceptions, he would be simply appealing to majority usage. This quote above nicely sums up Svendsen's argument.

The issue is what heos hou means in Matthew 1:25. Of the possible meanings of heos hou some will render the passage nonsensical if applied. It doesn't make sense to frame the issue as you have.

By the way, Svendsen addresses this in his book.

(b) the 'exception' does in fact occur in the NT (e.g. Lk 24:49; Acts 25:21; even in Matthew, 14:23, 18:34, 26:36), contrary to Svendsen's claim it occurs zero times;

Do you mean Matthew 14:22?

How are these relevant exceptions?

I'd also be interested in your supposed extra-Biblical exceptions.

(d) two final difficulties, Svendsen's threshold is more or less ad hoc and to add to that, that he argues the exception went out out of usage and then came back into usage (as opposed to simply vanishing and never returning).

I asked you about this earlier. Why you think you can just repeat this objection without furnishing proof for it is a mystery.

As far as misrepresenting the opponent, the truth is, both sides made bad arguments at times (e.g. Svendsen said: "The first observation to make about Pacheco’s list of scholars is that none of them—not one—gives any evidence he has read *my work*." As if Svendsen himself was a scholarly standard!)

Svendsen was speaking of how his thesis was misrepresented to these scholars. How did you interpret that as Svendsen thinking he is the "scholarly standard"? Did you read the sentences following that statement?

I'm the type that looks for the more reasonable approaches to these types of situations, and I believe just examining how the phrase is used in the NT is sufficient enough to settle this problem. That I've yet to see Svendsen comment upon texts like Lk 24:49, Acts 25:21, Mat 18:34, 14:23, 26:36, etc, is a brick wall preventing me from attaching any merit to his thesis.

Reasonable indeed! You don't even want to read his work! Sounds like your "brick wall" is just pure prejudice.

Nick said...

Matthew,

You're getting ahead of yourself. I was commenting on each article in the order that you linked them (which appeared to be chronological to me).

Your first quote comes from the *third* article, when I was only commenting on the *first* article.

That said, one has to be careful in such quotes because a person can always claim misrepresentation but that doesn't mean that actually took place.

The first example you gave is a good example of my point. Svendsen was not misrepresented. The point was the scholars were objecting to Svendsen's ad hoc discounting of the LXX data in his overall analysis. In other words, Svendsen concedes the LXX demonstrates heos heu, but he says this doesn't have any bearing on how the NT uses the term. The scholars are crying foul here.

A similar note can be said for the second example you gave. Svendsen is getting hung up on a non-issue and claiming 'misrepresentation' on it. In the midst of everyday discourse, there is no significant difference in saying an action "ceased" or an action was "reversed". The scholar wasn't confusing the two but rather was using them synonymously. Further, Svendsen's 'distinction' (which he claims people misrepresented him about) between how heos hou is *translated* as 'until' versus 'while' is also largely bogus for the point should be how heos hou is used in the context of a given passage, and not so much what English word was chosen for it. The scholar points to Mat 14:22 and 26:36 as examples where heos heu doesn't cease the main action, though Svendsen never addressed this. In fact, I hardly ever saw Svendsen actually address the NT evidence against him.

(cont, 1 of 2)

Nick said...

Matthew,

Now I'll address your second post:

You said: "The issue is what heos hou means in Matthew 1:25. Of the possible meanings of heos hou some will render the passage nonsensical if applied. It doesn't make sense to frame the issue as you have."

I framed the issue exactly how the thesis does: under the NT period, the term heos hou *always* terminates the action of the main verb. If sometimes it does not terminate the action of the main verb, then the thesis is debunked. The Catholic assertion for Mt 1:25 doesn't render the passage 'nonsensical', in fact Svendsen *admits* that it would - the *catch* is that Svendsen doesn't believe in the NT dispensation heos hou carries that meaning.

When commenting on my NT evidence, you said:
"Do you mean Matthew 14:22?
How are these relevant exceptions?"

Yes, I meant 14:22, and they are relevant exceptions because they (a) occur in the NT, and (b) contradict his thesis. I'd like to see Svendsen or someone around here address them, else they're ignoring the counter evidence.

As for the extra-Biblical exceptions, see Pachecos article for a few of them. The leading example is the Assumption of Moses, which Svendsen quotes *in his book* as falling between 100BC/AD, but which the context clearly shows the main action *continued* after heos hou.

Next, you said: "I asked you about this earlier. Why you think you can just repeat this objection without furnishing proof for it is a mystery."
I repeat the objection because the methodology behind it is hogwash and no scholar endorses it. Svendsen has no grounds to set up artificial parameters and has even less grounds to say a word carried one meaning one time, lost that meaning, and then went back to carrying the original meaning. Svendsen can't even give a solid example of a word doing such a flip flop.

You said: "Svendsen was speaking of how his thesis was misrepresented to these scholars."
His 'definition' of 'misrepresented' is that the scholar didn't read *his work* on heos hou - as if the scholar can't make a judgement on what heos hou means apart from "Svendsen's Rule".

Lastly, you said: "You don't even want to read his work! Sounds like your "brick wall" is just pure prejudice."

I do want to read his work, and have read his online material (which should largely reflect his argument in the book). What I've *yet* to see is Svendsen addressing the NT texts Catholics have brought up.

If you or anyone else knows where Svendsen addresses those NT texts online, or if you own his book and can address them, by all means do so. Otherwise, I have no reason to close my eyes to the NT evidence.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

You're getting ahead of yourself. I was commenting on each article in the order that you linked them (which appeared to be chronological to me).

I realize that. The problem was you reduced the misrepresentations of the entire series of articles to just those numerical errors.

The first example you gave is a good example of my point. Svendsen was not misrepresented. The point was the scholars were objecting to Svendsen's ad hoc discounting of the LXX data in his overall analysis. In other words, Svendsen concedes the LXX demonstrates heos heu, but he says this doesn't have any bearing on how the NT uses the term. The scholars are crying foul here.


The claim was that Svendsen "omits LXX texts from consideration." He does consider them and explains why they are not relevant to the usage in the NT. The scholar quoted against Svendsen in that section suggests that Svendsen's thesis was presented to him as something in which the LXX was completely ignored. So, yes, that's still a misrepresentation.

As for the extra-Biblical exceptions, see Pachecos article for a few of them.

I'm aware of this material. I don't see how it's reasonable to have me defend Svensden's written or online material in this thread when you won't defend Pachecos' examples right here in this combox. You need to explain how these are relevant exceptions.

The leading example is the Assumption of Moses, which Svendsen quotes *in his book* as falling between 100BC/AD, but which the context clearly shows the main action *continued* after heos hou.

And since Svendsen addresses this extra-Biblical source, you need to demonstrate that his analysis is false. You don't just get to say it's "clearly" against his thesis. Interact with his reasoning on the issue. Demonstrate why this example is so "clear."

I repeat the objection because the methodology behind it is hogwash and no scholar endorses it.

I repeat the counter-objection because your response still has no substance to it. What scholars do you have in mind? What sources? What methodology?

Svendsen can't even give a solid example of a word doing such a flip flop.

Based on what? Your reading of a few online articles? Are you basing your objection on your substantial knowledge of linguistics?

But, yes, words have changed like that:

In traditional usage, disinterested can only mean "having no stake in an outcome," as in Since the judge stands to profit from the sale of the company, she cannot be considered a disinterested party in the dispute. This usage was acceptable to 97 percent of the Usage Panel in our 2001 survey. But despite critical disapproval, disinterested has come to be widely used by many educated writers to mean "uninterested" or "having lost interest," as in Since she discovered skiing, she is disinterested in her schoolwork. Oddly enough, "not interested" is the oldest sense of the word, going back to the 17th century. This sense became outmoded in the 18th century but underwent a revival in the first quarter of the early 20th. Despite its resuscitation, this usage is widely considered an error. In our 2001 survey, 88 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the sentence It is difficult to imagine an approach better designed to prevent disinterested students from developing any intellectual maturity. This is not a significantly different proportion from the 89 percent who disapproved of a similar usage in 1988.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/disinterested

(Continued)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

As for the second example, I'll let readers read the record and decide for themselves. There is only so much time I should put into responding to these kinds of reading comprehension errors.

I framed the issue exactly how the thesis does: under the NT period, the term heos hou *always* terminates the action of the main verb. If sometimes it does not terminate the action of the main verb, then the thesis is debunked.

Which is a fine way of repeating yourself.

By the way, here's Svendsen's actual thesis:

This construction [heos hou] is used in Matt. 1:25 and so is of special interest here. It occurs only seventeen times in the NT, and all are temporal. Two of these have the meaning "while" (Matt. 14:22; 26:36), whereas the other fifteen occurrences are instances in which the action of the main clause is limited by the action of the subordinate clause and require the meaning "until a specified time (but not after)" (Who Is My Mother? [Calvary Press, 2001] p. 52).

And look at that! He does address passages like Matthew 12:44 and 26:36!

And he also seems to address your other examples as well:

Other instances carry the same meaning. The disciples were to stay in Jerusalem after Christ's ascension "until [they had] been clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:29), but then were expected to leave Jerusalem and take the gospel into all the world. The rooster would not crow until Peter disowned Christ three times (John 13:38); but then it is clear that the rooster did crow. The days of the purification rite which Paul observed (Acts 21:16) lasted only until a sacrifice was offered. Paul's Jewish adversaries vowed not to eat or drink anything until they had killed Paul (Acts 23:12, 23:14, 23:21); clearly they intended to eat afterwards. Likewise, Festus ordered Paul to be "kept" (...i.e., in Caesarea, as opposed to Jerusalem where the Jews wanted him tried, and in anticipation of his imminent journey to Rome where Paul wished to be tried) until he could send him to Rome (Acts 25:21); once he left for Rome he was no longer kept in Caesarea. Finally, Peter entreats us to pay attention to the word of the prophets "as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises" (2 Pet. 1:19)--doubtless a reference to the parousia, after which it will no longer be necessary to turn to the word of the prophets as a guide which navigates us through a dark place; Christ himself will supersede any such need.

But you'd know this already if you had read his work.

His 'definition' of 'misrepresented' is that the scholar didn't read *his work* on heos hou - as if the scholar can't make a judgement on what heos hou means apart from "Svendsen's Rule".

No, his definition of "misrepresentation" is that his work was not accurately presented to those scholars. This renders the judgments of those scholars on Svendsen meaningless, a classic and repeated burning of the strawman which gives no evidence of Svendsen thinking his thesis has to be evaluated under the assumption that his "rule" (whatever you really mean by that) is true.

What I've *yet* to see is Svendsen addressing the NT texts Catholics have brought up.

That's because you've yet to actually read his work.

Nick said...

Matthew,

You said: "The claim was that Svendsen "omits LXX texts from consideration." He does consider them and explains why they are not relevant to the usage in the NT. The scholar quoted against Svendsen in that section suggests that Svendsen's thesis was presented to him as something in which the LXX was completely ignored. So, yes, that's still a misrepresentation."

This is making a mountain out of a molehill. It is *akin* to saying someone studying the Epistle to the Romans "takes into consideration Paul's other Epistles," but considers Paul's other Epistles to have no bearing or influence on how Romans is studied. And when a scholar objects and says "you cannot ignore Epistles like Galatians when studying Romans," he is met with "BUT I didn't ignore them, I just consider them irrelevant to studying Romans." See the problem?

Regarding the Assumption of Moses (i.e. not having Adam's body touched by family *until* God decides how to proceed), I wont flood this combox with what was already presented by the Catholic side (see the link I provided). All I will say is that the next chapter from the quote Svendsen gives plainly says the body (*after* the 'until') was not be touched by human hands ever.

I originally said: "Svendsen can't even give a solid example of a word doing such a flip flop."
To which you replied: "Based on what? Your reading of a few online articles?"

You must not be aware of the fact Svendsen was presented with these very objections, and gave his unsubstantiated or bogus answers (e.g. saying adelphos was an example), so this is based on his own testimony.

Now, addressing your dictionary link itself:

The first entry says: "Disinterested and Uninterested share a confused and confusing history.
Disinterested was originally used to mean “not interested, indifferent”;
Uninterested in its earliest use meant “impartial.”
By various developmental twists, Disinterested is now used in both senses."

Regarding the next entry (which you quote), paraphrased:
In traditional usage, disinterested can only mean [impartial].
But despite critical disapproval, disinterested has come to be widely used to mean "uninterested".
Oddly enough, "not interested" is the oldest sense of the word.
This sense became outmoded in the 18th century but underwent a revival in the first quarter of the early 20th.
Despite its resuscitation, this usage is widely considered an error.

Summary conclusion: there is confusion behind how disinterested took on both meanings, and many 'authorities' don't consider the 'original' meaning to be a valid meaning today. It's unclear whether it ever lost it's first meaning or simply lost fashion, the two options are not the same. This is hardly reasonable proof to build from.

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Nick said...

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As for your second post, I thank you for those quotes from his book. However, I still see significant problems with his analysis (at least what you've presented).

For starters, I see he mentioned Mat 14:22 and 26:36, but he apparently is not taking this into consideration because he claims it means "while" here rather than "until." I consider this invalid, for how it's translated into English* is of secondary importance to what the Greek says. If heos hou is used there, then those passages must be addressed. The fact is, in Mat 14:22, there is no indication the Apostles were to stop sailing, and the next two verses indicated they did not stop. The same sort of thing can be said for Mat 26:36, in which no indication that the apostles got up and moved around after Jesus went to pray.

(*NB: just looking at an array of translations this shows Mat 14:22 is sometimes translated "until", while looking up the other text, this shows a similar trend for rendering Mat 26:36 as "until" as well. I'd bet using 'while' instead of 'until' is largely due to how it reads in modern day English.)

Quote: "The disciples were to stay in Jerusalem after Christ's ascension "until [they had] been clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49), but then were expected to leave Jerusalem and take the gospel into all the world."

This is inaccurate. This is speaking of "until the day of Pentecost," and the fact is, there is no indication they left Jerusalem that day or any time in the near future, quite the opposite.

Quote: "Likewise, Festus ordered Paul to be "kept" (...i.e., in Caesarea, as opposed to Jerusalem where the Jews wanted him tried, and in anticipation of his imminent journey to Rome where Paul wished to be tried) until he could send him to Rome (Acts 25:21); once he left for Rome he was no longer kept in Caesarea."

This, likewise, is inaccurate. It is speaking specifically of Paul being held it custody, not about being held in Caesarea. And Paul was in fact kept in custody long after being sent to Rome, not released.

These are four examples (of the 17 total verses) which directly refute his thesis, even though only one was necessary. I don't see anything wrong, unfair, or disingenuous about my approach here. If I have, I invite anyone here to show otherwise.

All I can say now is, if *that* is the extent of Svendsen's analysis of the NT evidence, that's a long cry from thorough and scholarly research.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

This is making a mountain out of a molehill. It is *akin* to saying someone studying the Epistle to the Romans "takes into consideration Paul's other Epistles," but considers Paul's other Epistles to have no bearing or influence on how Romans is studied. And when a scholar objects and says "you cannot ignore Epistles like Galatians when studying Romans," he is met with "BUT I didn't ignore them, I just consider them irrelevant to studying Romans." See the problem?

No, because that's not how he approaches those texts in his work. He doesn't say they don't have any bearing or influence on his work. He analyzes them and explains why, after analysis, they don't refute his thesis.

But you'd know that if you bothered to read the book and his reasoning on the issue. Your characterization is based on your continued and willful ignorance, an ignorance that could easily be relieved by reading Svendsen's book.

I don't really have a lot of patience for that kind of ignorance, and I suspect the only people who find it convincing are those who, like you, were predisposed never to read the work in the first place.

You must not be aware of the fact Svendsen was presented with these very objections, and gave his unsubstantiated or bogus answers (e.g. saying adelphos was an example), so this is based on his own testimony.

In other words, he did give examples; you just didn't agree with them. You're being disingenuous.

Summary conclusion: there is confusion behind how disinterested took on both meanings, and many 'authorities' don't consider the 'original' meaning to be a valid meaning today. It's unclear whether it ever lost it's first meaning or simply lost fashion, the two options are not the same. This is hardly reasonable proof to build from.

Safe to say you won't find me vouching for your reading comprehension skills.

By the way, when are you going to defend your statements that "no scholar" endorses Svendsen's linguistic methodology? I have yet to see you cite a linguistic scholar, let alone a series of top linguistic scholars to establish the predominant methodology used to analyze the semantic range of words within certain time frames.

I consider this invalid, for how it's translated into English* is of secondary importance to what the Greek says.

As if Svendsen, steeped as he is in knowledge of Greek, was going by what the English translation said!

(Continued)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

If heos hou is used there, then those passages must be addressed.

They were and the issue of "while" is addressed in more detail in his book. Are you going to get it yet? Or are you going to have me quote even more from it?

The fact is, in Mat 14:22, there is no indication the Apostles were to stop sailing, and the next two verses indicated they did not stop.

Which is the meaning of while. And?

The same sort of thing can be said for Mat 26:36, in which no indication that the apostles got up and moved around after Jesus went to pray.

Which is the meaning of while. And?

The only way this refutes Svendsen's thesis is if he either: a) didn't admit this alternate meaning (which he does) or b) this serves as a reasonable alternative meaning in Matthew 1:25 (which it doesn't).

This is inaccurate. This is speaking of "until the day of Pentecost," and the fact is, there is no indication they left Jerusalem that day or any time in the near future, quite the opposite.

There's no indication that Svendsen's thesis requires immediate temporal negation in this sense; the disciples did go out into the whole world sometime after this event.

This, likewise, is inaccurate. It is speaking specifically of Paul being held it custody, not about being held in Caesarea. And Paul was in fact kept in custody long after being sent to Rome, not released.

Svendsen's reading is natural given the text of Acts 25:21:

But when Paul appealed to be held in custody for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him to be kept in custody until I send him to Caesar.

It's not clear how you'd defend your position here.

These are four examples (of the 17 total verses) which directly refute his thesis, even though only one was necessary. I don't see anything wrong, unfair, or disingenuous about my approach here. If I have, I invite anyone here to show otherwise.

I don't think you fool anyone with your mock humility.

All I can say now is, if *that* is the extent of Svendsen's analysis of the NT evidence, that's a long cry from thorough and scholarly research.

It's not the extent of his research. I could quote more pages relevant to this analysis of heos hou. But I don't see the point. Your mind is already made up.

Nick said...

Matthew,

You said: "He doesn't say they don't have any bearing or influence on his work. He analyzes them and explains why, after analysis, they don't refute his thesis."

They don't refute his thesis *precisely* because his thesis is framed to exclude them from having any influence on Mat 1:25. It would be like a Catholic writing a doctrinal dissertation on justification and limiting his sources to James 2:24, while "considering" Paul's Epistles but not including them in his dissertation because they fall outside certain parameters.

While I would like to get a copy of his book, I'm in no rush to do so after what I've seen. Plus, I believe when it comes to apologetics issues, information and good arguments should be freely available online (which it largely is on both Protestant and Catholic sites). There is no worse feeling than buying a book (even Catholic) and finding out it wasn't what it was hyped up to be.

You said: "In other words, he did give examples; you just didn't agree with them. You're being disingenuous."

He merely claimed, he didn't prove by any means.

You asked me: "By the way, when are you going to defend your statements that "no scholar" endorses Svendsen's linguistic methodology?"

I appeal to the fact he hasn't produced any scholar to endorse it, and this book was written at least 10 years ago. On the flip side, Pacheco and others produced quotes from scholars who rule out many of Svendsen's unique claims.

You said: "As if Svendsen, steeped as he is in knowledge of Greek, was going by what the English translation said!"

I *wouldn't* expect him to do that either.

You said: "They were and the issue of "while" is addressed in more detail in his book. Are you going to get it yet? Or are you going to have me quote even more from it?"

The very idea there is a 'while' versus 'until' distinction is simply unnecessary in my opinion - it's the same word, and on top of that sometimes even translated as "until." If you want to quote the relevant sections where he discusses Mat 14:22, 26:36, be my guest, but if you're going to respond to my claims on these passages with "Which is the meaning of while," I'm not inclined to think there is that sufficient of a response in the book to be worth rushing to get.

When you respond to my analysis and say "Which is the meaning of while. And?" This is essentially conceding my point, that heos hou doesn't necessarily cease the action. This has nothing to do with the English word "while," which is simply turning into an added layer of confusion.

You said: "The only way this refutes Svendsen's thesis is if he either: a) didn't admit this alternate meaning (which he does) or b) this serves as a reasonable alternative meaning in Matthew 1:25 (which it doesn't)."

I'm not sure what you mean with "admit this alternate meaning." That heos hou can continue the action?
As for (b), if you're saying inserting the term "while" into Mat 1:25 doesn't work, the defect in that approach is confusing the English term with the possible meanings of heos hou (i.e. that it can either cease or continue the action).

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Nick said...

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You said: "There's no indication that Svendsen's thesis requires immediate temporal negation in this sense; the disciples did go out into the whole world sometime after this event."

True, but apart from an immediate temporal negation, one is assuming too much. The passage is phrased in such a way that the Holy Spirit would descend in a matter of days, but after The Spirit did, they remained in Jerusalem for quite some time after - and even then they were mostly forced out by persecution rather than leaving to evangelize (cf Acts 8:1b-c). Thus, we don't see a cessation of the action in any direct relation to this "until" of Lk 24:49.

You said: "Svendsen's reading is natural given the text of Acts 25:21:
.. It's not clear how you'd defend your position here."

I don't understand your response. The text is speaking of held in custody (i.e. held under guard), not about (held in) a geographical location. And nobody denies Paul was *not* released even after being taken (by guard) to Rome. Svendsen is saying "held" here applies to "held in Caesarea," which isn't what's being said nor what 'until' applies to.

You said: "I don't think you fool anyone with your mock humility."

Call it what you will, I see nothing outside the boundaries of fairness in my examination of those 4 texts. (People are free to examine my work elsewhere to see if I make unreasonable demands or claims.) I'd bet that if you proposed these 4 verses to an array of Scholars, asking them if heos hou continued or terminated the action, you'd not get any of them saying it terminates in all four cases, as Svendsen does. This is really where the apologetics case should focus.

theruteger said...

maybe if people actually read his books he'd still be in business :P

Steve said...

Bravo Nick! You've made a convincing defense of your position and nobody has been able to refute it. Quite the contrary, Matthew has inadvertently confirmed your argument!

God bless!

PeaceByJesus said...

I just came across this somewhat old post, being interested in where Svendsen's site went to (or Engwer's (i do not think the wayback has them all), but find the argument on “till” (heōs) in Mt. 25 as allowing the perpetual virginity of Mary to be strained, which is nothing new in seeking to support teaching as dogma doctrines which are really based on a mere tradition of men.

Remaining virgin after marriage while young and able to have relations would be a solitary exception in Scripture from what i see, with leaving but no cleaving being contrary to the description of marriage, (Gn. 2:24; Mt. 19:5) and in which virginity was confirmed on the wedding night, (Dt. 22:13-21) and “went in unto her” is sometimes used in describing one becoming a wife, (Gn. 24:67; 29:23; Ruth 4:13) and to argue from silence is to argue against the standard of Scripture in which notable exceptions of subjects are made manifest, from old age (Gn. 5:27) to more than 10 toes (2Sam. 21:20) to height (Dt. 3:10,11) and more, to sinlessness, and thus Christ is affirmed at least thrice to be so. (Jn. 8:46; 2Cor. 5:21; Heb. 1Pt. 2:22; 7:26)

And to be honest, if Mary remained a virgin, i think Joseph deserves more esteem!

In addition is the need to render “brethren” contrary to its most natural denotation, as well as the Messianic “my mother's children” in Ps. 69:8.

As for the attempts to disallow the verses at issue in the above exchange from denoting a terminus indicating a change, or otherwise than “while, if i may give my unlearned exegesis (and i have never read “Who is my mother?”),

Luke 24:49 (KJV 1900)
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Nick: The passage is phrased in such a way that the Holy Spirit would descend in a matter of days, but after The Spirit did, they remained in Jerusalem for quite some time after

Rather, the emphasis is on “tarry,” that of waiting for something to occur, and which tarrying in prayer and supplication ended when they realized what they were seeking, and thus would be witnesses to Jesus in Jerusalem, and the uttermost parts of the earth.

Acts 25:21 (KJV 1900)
21 But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.

Nick: The text is speaking of held in custody (i.e. held under guard), not about (held in) a geographical location. And nobody denies Paul was *not* released even after being taken (by guard) to Rome. Svendsen is saying "held" here applies to "held in Caesarea," which isn't what's being said nor what 'until' applies to.

And why is this disallowed? The text at issue is preceded by “I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters,” the context being that of Paul being a prisoner of Festus and kept at Cæsarea, and who offered to send Paul to Jerusalem, but who appealed to Caesar, and thus Festus declared, “Hast thou appealed unto Cæsar? unto Cæsar shalt thou go." (Acts 25:12)

But Festus wanted Agrippa to hear him, and thus he commanded him to be kept till he might send him to Rome where he “determined to send him. (v. 25) Thus the subject to which “till” pertains is not simply about being kept in custody, but about Paul being kept in custody in a certain place until Festus might send him to Rome. Nick is forcing “till” to mean something indeterminate, against the context.

PeaceByJesus said...

Matthew 18:34 (KJV 1900)
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him

I suppose this is understood as Hell, but as it is often invoked as purgatory (cf. Lk. 12:58,59) i do not see why Roman Catholics would object to it denoting a terminus and change in status. The fact is that we can be chastised by various means of torments for holding a grudge in this life, until we drop the charges.

Matthew 26:36 (KJV 1900)
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

The same sort of thing can be said for Mat 26:36, in which no indication that the apostles got up and moved around after Jesus went to pray.

See below, as this is correctly rendered as “while,” and here the disciples were to tarry (Mk. 14:34) there with the Lord as He prayed, and this does not mean a continued state of tarrying in prayer after that “hour,” but that it had a terminus, and thus "Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me." (Matthew 26:46)

Matthew 14:22 (KJV 1900)
22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
there is no indication the Apostles were to stop sailing, and the next two verses indicated they did not stop.

That is because it refers to two ongoing concomitant actions, and thus “while,” but this does not say they kept rowing forever after a completed action, that of after Jesus had sent the multitudes away, but infers waiting until Jesus was finished on that side, while Mt. 1:25 refers to a continued inaction (celibacy) being maintained until a completed action took place (the opening of the matrix by God, not man), not that Joseph knew her not while she brought forth her firstborn child, nor maintaining that state after that, but that this celibate condition has the completed action in view as its terminus.
I did not see any more listed in this thread, and while I do not see this as a salvific issue itself, the forcing to texts against the most warranted meaning in order to support an extra Biblical tradition that is part of the pagan elevation of a virgin to a demigodness with almost unlimited power and Divine attributes and little restraint on extreme claims), is part of a gospel which elevates man above that which is written, to the demeaning of God and the damnation of man. And how often to i demean Him in different ways, and have need to walk in deep reverential fear of the Lord all my days in all my ways, as in our flesh dwelleth no good thing.

James Swan said...

PBJ,

If possible, try and track down Eric's book, Who is My Mother?

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Svendsen&sts=t&tn=Who+is+my+mother&x=0&y=0

good stuff.

PeaceByJesus said...

Thanks. That's a low price

Scott said...

So is Eric Svendsen still around? Seems like he just disappeared. Very odd.

Ken said...

Last I heard he was pastoring a church in Colorado.

Simon Finley said...

Nick - Svendsen's argument puts it beyond reason to doubt that Protestants have been right about the very clear context of particular passages all along, that Mary was actually godly in fulfilling her marital vows to Joseph (cf. 1Cor. 7:3-5). There is just no longer any evidence to say the Mary remained a virgin. All the evidence now suggests otherwise. It takes a presupposed believe in the authority of the Catholic Church to think otherwise. And that's where the debate lies. If Catholics want to convince Protestants, they must first convince them that they have authority to over-rule what appears to be the clear suggestion of particular texts.