Col 2:18 and asceticism

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by jonathan.borland, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    [ESV] Col. 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,

    I'm reading the ESV through this year and was curious about its rendering of the Greek word for humility as "asceticism" in Col 2:18. If the translators are accurate here and people demanding ascetic fasting were troubling the early church, it would not be surprising if in some places orthodox leaders took steps to remove proof texts for these ascetic "cults," such as all of Matt 17:21, and the fasting words in Mark 9:29, Acts 10:30, 1 Cor 7:5.
     
  2. John of Japan

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    It's a good theory. BAGD has "of the humility that expresses itself in fasting." I'd have to see more evidence, though. Maybe there are documents somewhere describing those ascetic practices more in detail. And one question is, how early did asceticism take hold in the churches.
     
  3. jonathan.borland

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    Thanks for the BAGD reference, John! Hermas is early and Paul is even earlier, that is if he indeed meant "humble ascetic fasting," lol.
     
  4. John of Japan

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    Hadn't thought of Hermes, but I'm not suprised there was something that early (though I've wondered if Hermes was mainstream, or some odd cultic group). A History of the Christian Church by Lars Qualben puts monasticism as starting with the Egyptian ascetic Antoinius, St. Anthony, born around 250 (p. 109). So that would be the right time frame for your theory, thinking of the history of textual criticism.
     
  5. Deacon

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    If you have access to it, the TDOT provides extensive extra-biblical sources which more than adequately support the translation used in the ESV.

    Rob
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    TDOT is out of favor among Greek scholars nowadays after the debunking work of Barr and Silva. Kittel commits many linguistic no-nos. That doesn't mean I wouldn't love to have it or have access to it. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  7. Deacon

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    Bit of an err on my part, of course I meant TDNT

    A continuing strength of the work lies in the identification of ancient works that researchers can use to see a word in context and work out its meaning for themselves.

    Rob
     
  8. jonathan.borland

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    Thanks for the reference to TDNT, Rob!
     
  9. Van

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    Perhaps we are looking at the wrong word? What if the problem is not humbleness of mind, but in the willingness or delight of its display. Like the guy who says I am but a humble servant of God, but meaning I speak with the authority of God and you shall heed my direction.

    The word seems to mean "humbleness of mind" an attitude that can be genuine and pleasing to God or false and a tool of manipulators. If you look at Acts 20:19, Ephesians 4:2, Philippians 2:3, Colossians 3:12, and 1 Peter 5:5, the attribute is genuine and pleasing to God.

    Thus, in the context of Colossians 2:18 and 2:23, the idea the person working against us exhibits delight in humbleness of mind, the old "look at me, see how humble I am" joke.

    Bottom line, I think the ESV and HCSB missed the idea completely.
     
  10. rsr

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    Maybe.

    The Common English Bible goes the same direction as the ESV, as does the Apostolic Bible Polyglot interlinear. Adam Clark agrees, but he goes on to recast the rest of the passage with a unique twist:

     
  11. Deacon

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    So Bart.... getting to the assertion that 'orthodox leaders took steps to remove proof texts for these ascetic "cults,"', one way to study this would be to make a comparison of some of the earliest NT manuscripts.
    This would establish an early text.

    The question then becomes: Would these ascetic tendencies have asserted a strong enough negative influence upon the early church to have caused translators to change the text before the time that these early manuscripts were written.

    Rob
     
  12. Van

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    By looking at how the word is used elsewhere, we find strong evidence for humbleness of mind as how Paul used the word. If we change it to mean ascetic practices, then Paul stutters in verse 23, saying the same thing twice. And since Paul includes unambiguous condemnation of treating the body poorly, it is mind boggling to claim he intended to endorse it in those other verses.

    In Ephesians 4:2 we have Paul saying instead of with humbleness of mind, we have ascetic practices. How does that fit with showing forbearance to one another? It doesn't play in Peoria.

    Bottom line, the whole premise is flawed.
     
    #12 Van, Oct 15, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 15, 2012
  13. jonathan.borland

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    Hey Rob,

    Last time I checked, false leaders urging asceticism in Paul's day were around long before the earliest extant (i.e. Egyptian) mss were created. Therefore the answer to your question, or at least a modification of it, is that the motive for tampering with the ascetic fasting passages would have been present, and maybe even justified with the words of Paul himself! Of course you may prefer that the followers of the false leaders alluded to in Col 2:18 were successful in overturning 99 percent plus of the ms tradition in various places. Of course my paper is arguing against this probability. :)

    Sincerely,

    Jonathan
     
  14. Deacon

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    I'm not entirely sure I follow you; could you expand your last post?

    Rob
     
  15. Van

    Van
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    In other words, Rob, the whole premise is flawed. :)
     
  16. jonathan.borland

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    In Col 2:18 it appears that some were insisting (among other things) that believers participate in ascetic fasting. Paul refuted them. Later on, as these ascetic cults grew stronger, some othodox leaders minimized the cultic influence by altering or taking away passages that could be used to promote the opposing viewpoint of prescriptive fasting. But their efforts were largely unsuccessful, as one can see from the manuscript evidence in Matt 17:21, Mark 9:29, Acts 10:30, 1 Cor 7:5. Some of the biggest and best orthodox voices also tried to alter Matt 1:25, 4:10, 5:22, 24:36, but failed miserably. The only flawed premise J see is the one that assumes that the orthodox could and in fact did effect an overthrow of the canonical text being preserved in the constantly multiplying copies in every area of the early church.
     
  17. jonathan.borland

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    I think 1 Tim 4:1-3 may be considered along the same lines as Col 2:18 in this thread.
     
  18. John of Japan

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    Nestle's and Pierpont-Robinson are the same in Timothy. Are there mss of this passage that show tinkering?
     
  19. jonathan.borland

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    Hey John,

    I was just noticing the struggles the church had with ascetic cults in the 1st century (!), and thus why an early motive would have been present for the orthodox to remove certain passages from copies that could have been used to push cultic fasting ideas on true believers (such as prescriptive fasting). But these orthodox attempts at pruning the text were quite unsuccessful. And, when one considers the complexities and immediately ubiqitousness of the NT manuscript tradition, how could the orthodox, or anyone for that matter, have been successful at overturning what was handed down to the rapidly spreading early churches.
     
  20. John of Japan

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    :thumbs: Especially in the Eastern churches whose first language was Greek.
     

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