I love to teach, because I love seeing minds opened to the glorious things found in the word of God. There are so many great benefits, like when you see a student make a great argument for or against something, or when they ask you for more information on a topic, and you see them really start to blossom in their knowledge and love of scripture. However, teaching requires patience. There are times when those you are teaching ask you questions that reek of incompetence. In such a situation, the goal is to explain the background issues involved, and to help the student to understand how the issue they are raising fits in. This is what I loved about studying at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The professors cared enough about their students that, even when we said stupid things, they very patiently corrected us, showing us what the issues are, and why our statements were wrong. For those who are not good teachers, the tendency is to use words like “stupid,” “ignorant,” and to, basically, tear down the student rather than teach him. Teaching requires great patience to really labor with the student, and to help them to understand.
However, when you are teaching, there comes a time when the other party simply doesn’t *want* to learn. They treat you with disrespect, and don’t listen to a word you say. You can try with all of the patience of Job to teach them, but, if they are unwilling to learn, there comes a point in time which you have to recognize that teaching that person is futile.
The problem is that the Proverbs, not only speak of this in terms of the school master, but in terms of our daily relationships with one another. For example:
Proverbs 9:8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
Proverbs 15:12 A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, He will not go to the wise.
Proverbs 13:1 A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Rebuke is a very very healthy thing, and being willing to listen to the person’s objections, and deal with their arguments really does strengthen your position. Rebuke does not have to be harsh, but listening to the person who is rebuking you is so important. Working together to at least come to an understanding is crucial to understanding why you hold the position that you hold.
Now, that does not mean that you have to agree with those who would rebuke your position. For example, I enjoy reading John Hobbins who has expertise in Hebrew Poetry. He certainly would not be considered a Presbyterian of the Machen/Van Til stripe, but listening to what he says is very helpful to me in working through the issues of liberalism and denials of inerrancy. I don’t agree with him, but I appreciate his perspective as someone who denies inerrancy, and is able to help me think through things on that level.
Now, more specifically, I would like to bring this to bear on Glenn Peoples, and our recent dialogues. As far as I know, Glenn is a Philosopher and Theologian. He is not a Hebraist nor is he a linguist. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t take the time to address what he has said. As you can see, in the previous posts, here and here, I do. Glenn has made some very basic mistakes in Hebrew grammar, and I even avoided using the word “incompetence.” I figure it is more important to explain why it is that his views are too simplistic. Nevertheless, one thing that has been an understatement is that Glenn Peoples is confident in his incompetence. So confident, in fact, that he has decided to publish an article, taking his incompetent understanding of Hebrew grammar to print, specifically addressing things I have written. He has also published a comment afterwards on my blog, trying to get around what is simple lack of understanding of the issues of advanced Hebrew grammar.
It would be helpful if you go and read my response to Glenn at this point. To put it bluntly, Glenn has confused a passive meaning with a stative meaning. They are not the same thing. Although they look the same in English, they are not the same thing. The top of the article begins as such:
Dr. Glenn Peoples responds to blogger Adam Blauser’s claim that in Isaiah 66:24, “fire shall not be quenched” must mean “fire shall not die out.” Before publishing this article, Rethinking Hell contacted two renowned Bible scholars, who confirmed Glenn’s analysis and conclusion that the form of the Hebrew kabhah in Isaiah 66:24 means “be put out,” thus supporting a conditionalist understanding.
Of course, I would like to know, “Who were these Bible scholars?” “What was the way in which the question was asked?” and “In what way did they confirm the “conditionalist understanding?” “Did they interact with my work?” “What were their main objections to my work?” Again, we are not told. The reason I ask in what way my question was asked is, as we have already seen, Glenn Peoples does not represent people well. It is not just in this post where I had to correct misrepresentation after misrepresentation. Someone pointed me to this post on Choosing Hats, where Peoples grossly misrepresented C.L. Bolt. Bolt pointed out that Paul’s words there show that Paul believed it was *possible* for a person to have these experiences out of the body. For some reason, Peoples thought that Bolt meant that Paul was *saying* that his experience happened outside the body! Again, total misreading of Bolt.
Also, this is a total misreading of me as well. Notice how I ended my article:
There is one more thing to clean up from Date’s article, and that is the objection that is summed up in this quote:
Similarly, Jeremiah 17:27 reads, “If you do not listen to me … I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour [‘akal] the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched [kabah].” God did not threaten that the buildings of Jerusalem would burn perpetually forever, but that, unable to be extinguished, his fire would reduce them to rubble. Amos 5:6 likewise says, “He will break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, and it will consume [‘akal] with none to quench it [kabah].”
In other words, Date’s objection is, if you say that “the fire/wrath will not go out” is the proper interpretation of both Jeremiah 17:27 and Isaiah 66:24, why do you say that the one verse is eternal fire and the other is not? This also relates to part 1 of Chris Date’s article in this series, and that is why I have chosen to address both part one of Date’s series as well as the above argument in the next post. In order to answer this argument from Date, we must discuss another aspect of meaning, that being pragmatics, and the notion of an intrusion of pragmatics into the semantic level of language. That will be the topic of our next post.
Notice how even I didn’t say that this text proves conditionalism or “traditionalism” one way or the other! My point was simply to correct an error in a word study which does not take stems into consideration. That is one of the first things you are taught when you do a word study of the Hebrew verb-namely, that you take into account the stem of the verb. Chris Date didn’t do this, and it is simply methodologically fallacious.
More than that, I have to ask whether they sent my work to them for comment. You see, it is very easy for a scholar to give his own opinion without dealing with the matter in an extensive fashion. I remember when Eric Svendsen did his seminal work on εως ου, Roman Catholics consulted scholars to ask about the translation of εως ου, never once sending them Eric’s work on the subject. How do I know that a similar thing didn’t happen here? Were they objecting to *my arguments* that כבה means “to go out” in the Qal stem? Or, were they simply asked what they thought the proper translation of the word was?
Furthermore, if these scholars are liberals and atheists who believe that the concept of eternal punishment was something that came due to development over time, and that the Bible has nothing to do with reality, then what would be the point of quoting them? There are lots of world renown scholars who I would have fundamental disagreements with philosophically on the nature of scripture. If they, for example, believe that the Bible contains historical errors, and is only trustworthy in “spiritual” things, what would be the point of quoting them?
Furthermore, it sounds as if Peoples wants to say, “These scholars have spoken. Shut up.” Well, I disagree with many scholars on lots of things. I remember interacting with Dr. Averbeck, someone who I highly respect, on the possibility of a pluperfect wayyiqtol in Genesis 2:19. He is strongly opposed to the idea of a pluperfect, but I am not. Also, most scholars would believe that a remnant of polytheism can be found in Deuteronomy 32:8-9. I argued against that here, and stand by what I said, even criticizing John Hobbins! Scholarship is all about argumentation, and no one should ever say “Scholar x has spoken; that is the end of it.” Now, maybe I am wrong about what I said about the relationship between the Qal and the Piel of this verb. However, at least let me argue my case! And don’t misrepresent me in the process! It is hard to believe that a philosopher would fall into the fallacy of “appeal to authority,” but he has.
The article begins:
Blauser takes issue with my article about the meaning of apollumi in the synoptic gospels. He grants the fact that the term means literally kill and destroy in the examples I discuss but insists that this does not literally inform the word’s meaning when it is used to describe final punishment, for it is wrong to assume that the word there carries the meaning that it universally carries in grammatically similar instances. This is because hell is an eternal matter and we can’t assume that words carry their normal meaning, the meaning they have in normal speech discussing natural matters, when we are speaking about the affairs of the age to come. I responded in the comments section over there and while the argument isn’t substantial enough to warrant lengthy comment here I shall describe it very briefly: Scripture speaks literally about eternal matters with the same language that we use in normal speech about natural affairs all the time. When it comes to apollumi—which, as I showed, in grammatically similar contexts always carries the strong meaning of literally kill or destroy—and the subject is final punishment, the only reason we would have for resisting a natural meaning for that word is if we began by assuming that there is something about final punishment that is not compatible with literal destruction. But how else are we to know what scripture teaches about final punishment if not by learning from the terms that it uses to do so?
Again, the patronizing and condescending attitude here is annoying, but I will try to ignore that, and respond to the substance of what is said here. The problem with the argument is that it ignores possible analogical relationships between language games. For example, do you “catch” a baseball in the same way that you “catch” a cold? Well, not exactly, but there are similarities. Is a strike in bowling bad in the same way it is in baseball? No, but there are similarities. What Glenn has done is taken the language game of the temporal state, and assumed a one to one relationship with the eternal state. Ignoring the possibility of an analogous relationship between language games is simply contrary to the way natural language operates.
Also, as I pointed out to him, it totally destroys the deity of Christ. Take the Greek term χαρακτηρ in Hebrews 1:3. Every other instance that word is used, it always involves temporal succession. The “copy” comes after the thing copied in every other instance. Therefore, that must mean that Christ came after the Father in temporal succession, and “there was a time when the Son was not.” I mean, we are just ignoring natural language otherwise, right? Or, perhaps, the hermeneutics Glenn is using are flawed from the get go. Again, Glenn can’t have it both ways. Either he gives up his argument from απολλυμι, or he gives up the deity of Christ, and goes further into heresy. Those are the only ways he can remain consistent with his hermeneutics.
So what would we learn by taking verb stems into account, such that it would override the observations which Chris made? For one, no interesting facts about verb stems can overturn the observation that the objects of divine judgement in Isaiah 66 are described as corpses or carcasses. This is because the word translated this way is not a verb and has no stems. It is the plural form of a construct noun (בְּפִגְרֵי, “the carcasses of”). Even if we were to grant everything that Blauser says about the verb for “be quenched” In Isaiah 66:24 (and we do not), the passage, if it explains the nature of final punishment at all, still clearly supports the annihilationist view because it portrays the enemies of God as having been slain in judgement. It might seem strange that the fire would keep burning forever afterwards, but we could not conclude that the subjects of divine wrath are alive in the fire. So a foray into verb stems is not “fatal” to the position that Isaiah 66 speaks of the death of God’s enemies rather than the eternal torment.
Of course, I never said that this passage alone can prove eternal punishment anyway. In fact, that is why I basically said to stay tuned for part III. Again, Glenn is very good at misrepresenting me, and, again, it makes me wonder how I was represented to these scholars. More than that, understanding how this passage relates to hell involves an understanding of the pragmatics/semantics interface, and how subsequent discourse can affect the pragmatics of a text. Glenn, not only did not quote the end of my article, but did not wait for me to explain things which I am going to explain in more detail in the next section. Yes, because of the possible conversational implicature that the fire will not go out until the corpses are burned, we must deal with how this theme is developed in the Hebrew scriptures themselves. That is the whole reason why I addressed this section first [the fallacy of ignoring stems in Hebrew word studies] before I addressed the notion of the semantics/pragmatics interface and its relationship to subsequent discourse-a concept that will take time to flesh out.
Blauser is simply incorrect to say that the Qal verb stem cannot convey a passive meaning of “to be (or become)” X (e.g., “to be put out”) and, as such, the argument fails. The truth is that some Hebrew verbs do indeed carry a passive meaning in the Qal stem, and כָּבָה is one of them. I’ll explain this below but I can see the error that Blauser is making, unintentionally conflating stem and meaning. The first argument looks like an illustration of the old saying that “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
Let’s face it. Glenn Peoples’ entire confusion of the stative and the passive is a perfect example of “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Of course, the problem with this argument is that stems have meaning too. Why would you have a passive verb in a stem that is inherently active, unless the meaning were altered in some way? Part of the problem with annihilation is that it is way too atomistic in its view of human language. For Glenn, the verb has meaning, and that determines the meaning of the verb in that stem. That is extremely simplistic. You mean to say that the stem of the verb has no relevance to its meaning at all? You mean to say that the fact that the Qal is simply not a passive stem is irrelevant to the meaning of the verb itself? Amazing. And, of course, we will deal with the confusion of the stative and the passive later on, because Glenn falls right through the trap of his own little bit of knowledge.
Here is the point of all of this, which Blauser does not seem to appreciate. Characteristically passive stems do not exist in order that passive verbs can exist. It’s not the case that, for example, if the Niphal, Pual, Hophal or Hitpael stems did not exist then no verbs with passive meanings could exist in Hebrew. Instead, the other stems modify the meaning of the Qal stem in the manner specified; for example, the Piel modifies the Qal and makes it intensive, and the Pual in turn modifies the Piel and makes it intensive passive, relative to the meaning of the Qal stem. It is certainly true that many verbs have no way of conveying a passive meaning except by being used in one of the passive stems. But if the verb in the Qal stem already has a passive meaning, then there would be no point in Hebrew speakers or writers developing a Niphal stem version of that verb in order to express a passive meaning.
This is why I said earlier that Blauser is conflating meaning and stem. He has assumed, erroneously, that if there is to be a verb with a passive meaning then it must be a verb in a characteristically passive stem, which is not the case at all. In short, he has grossly oversimplified, imagining that all verbs in the Qal must convey an active meaning, and presumably all verbs in all other stems are strictly limited to one kind of meaning. But are there any verbs in the Qal stem that convey a passive meaning, “to be X”?
Of course, all of this assumes that the Qal stem does not affect the verbal meaning in any way. Again, no Hebraist would ever accept this. The problem is that Peoples is citing a first year grammar here. It is often helpful to teach students the difference between the major stems by starting with the Qal, and then showing how the other stems derive from them. However, as one Biblical Hebrew grammar notes:
The idea that more complex stem formations are derivations of the Qal led grammarians to assume that the Qal forms also reflect the most basic meaning of a verb and that the meanings of the other stem formations could thus be derived from it. Although this is often the case, recent research has clearly indicated that this assumption is untenable. This is one of the reasons why the above system is no longer used in some more recent BH grammars. Cf. also Richter (1978: 73) [Van Der Merwe, Christo H.J. Naude, Jackie A. Kroeze, Jan H. A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar. Sheffield Academic Press. New York, NY. 2006. p.73]
It is quite common for young Hebrew students to think in the way Peoples is writing here, and the reason is that this is the way the verbal stems are learned. However, when you get into advanced Hebrew grammar, you have to recognize what the Qal itself does to verbs, and how that relates to other stems. In fact, sometimes there is some relation, and sometimes there is no relation. However, the relationship I have argued for here has become quite common in the study of the D stem in comparative Semitics. Even amongst those who have criticized Goetze and Jenni, they have recognized this relationship is quite common in Biblical Hebrew.
Finally, I don’t know if Peoples is saying this, but it seems like he is saying that “to be put out” is an inherent passive. If that is what he is saying, then he is simply wrong. Inherent passives only have internal theta roles, and “to be put out” can be altered semantically to include both internal and external theta roles. For example, Andrew Carnie in his textbook on Generative Syntax asks us to compare the following:
i. Stacy danced at the palace.
ii. Stacy arrived at the palace.
Now, Carnie inserts an internal theta role into each one:
i. Stacy danced a jig.
ii. *Stacy arrived the letter.
The second sentence is clearly ungrammatical, because it is an inherently passive verb, and will not take the external theta role “Stacy.” In other words, both of these sentences are grammatical:
The fire was put out.
John put out the fire.
Hence, the verb “to be put out” is not inherently passive, because it will take an external theta role.
(tamam). This verb in its Qal form commonly means “to be finished,” “to be completed,” “to be consumed” and the like. Brown, Driver and Briggs’ Lexicon (hereafter BDB) lists the Qal meanings for תָּמַם as follows:
vb. be complete, finished — Qal 1.be finished, completed; the writing of words; building of temple; fulfilled, ˊי’s command (by obedience); as auxil. + vb. fin. = completely, wholly, entirely, תַּמּוּ נִכְרָתוּ were wholly cut off; סָפוּ תַמּוּ entirely consumed; sq. ל inf. תַּמּוּ לעבור were finished in regard to, etc., i.e. were entirely passed over; להמּול entirely circumcised. 2.be finished, come to an end, cease: the year; the years of ˊי have no end; days of weeping. 3.be complete, of number. 4.be consumed, exhausted, spent: silver; strength; lead; bread; fruit; rust. 5.be finished, consumed, destroyed: people. 6.be complete, sound, unimpaired, ethically. 7. twice, very strangely, si vera l., trans.: תמנו we have completed.
Notice that virtually all of the meanings given here are passive in nature. The only meaning here that is clearly not passive (“we have completed”) is the one that the lexicographers regard as “very strange.”
A few examples in the Hebrew scriptures illustrate this.
Numbers 14:35, “I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed (יִתַּמּוּ, Qal imperfect), and there they shall die.”
Job 31:40b, “The words of Job are ended (תַּמּוּ, Qal perfect).”
Jeremiah 6:29, “The bellows blow fiercely; the lead is consumed (מֵאֵשׁתַּם, Qal perfect, combined with the noun for “fire,” so that the one word means “consumed by fire”) by the fire . . .”
Psalm 73:19, “How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed (תַמּוּ, Qal perfect) with terrors.”
There are plenty of other instances for this verb, but there is no need to belabor the point. For this verb, then, the Qal ordinarily takes a meaning that we would call passive, and it is actually the Hiphil that takes what we would normally call the simple meaning (to finish, to complete, to destroy, to use up, etc.) because the Hiphil is causative, and in this case it would mean “to cause to be destroyed.”
Of course, as I already pointed out to Peoples, he is confusing the stative and the passive. “To be finished” here is not the passive in the sense of, for example, the house having the action of finishing done to it. It is stative, in the sense that the house, as Dr. Averbeck likes to say, “stands as finished.” The stative, as I have already indicated, is part of the meaning of the Qal, along with the fientive. Why Peoples does not explore this possibility, I don’t know.
Also, I am somewhat amused at this use of Brown-Driver-Briggs. I will never forget when I was in Dr. VanGemeren’s class, and he told the class flat out “Don’t use BDB!” The reason is that BDB is a very old lexicon, based upon the source-critical views of the nineteenth century. In fact, my copy by Hendrickson Publishers is a reprint of an edition published in 1901. For example, Goetze’s work on the D stem in Akkadian and its relationship to Biblical Hebrew was published in 1942. Jenni’s study is from 1968. In other words, BDB is not taking any of the information in Goetze and Jenni into account. In fact, it is not taking any information from Ugaritic into account, as Ugaritic was not discovered until 1928. That is why the standard lexicon right now in the Hebrew Bible is really Koehler Baumgartner, because it incorporates all of this data.
Another example would be פָּתָה (pathah). Here, too, it is the Hiphil along with the Piel that take what would ordinarily regard as a simple meaning: to deceive or entice (e.g. Exodus 22:16 where a man entices (יְפַתֶּה, Piel) a woman who is not betrothed to sleep with him). This is because in the Qal, the verb takes a passive meaning: to be enticed, to be deceived, so the causative Hiphil would mean “to cause to be enticed,” or simply to entice. The Qal appears in Deut. 11:16, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart not be deceived (יִפְתֶּה, Qal imperfect)” or Job 31:26-27, “If I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon moving in splendor, and my heart has been secretly enticed (וַיִּפְתְּ, Qal imperfect)…”
For this verb there is very little, if any, difference in meaning between the Qal and the Niphal or the Pual, because the Qal conveys a passive meaning.
Again, all of these uses, not only fit well with the stative, but also fit well with the notion that the Piel causes the state. Therefore, our heart is not to be in a state of deception. Also, Job’s heart was in a state of being enticed by the sun and the moon, which makes sense considering the fact that Job would then be saying that he was in a state of being enticed by God’s creation rather than by the creator himself. The stative fits well in all of these passages, and why Peoples did not know this, I don’t know.
ne more example, גָּבַהּ (gabhah). Yet again in the Hebrew scriptures the closest thing we have to what would normally sound like a simple meaning for this verb is actually the Hiphil, where “cause to be exalted” means the same thing as “exalt.” (Remember the Hiphil is the causal version of the Qal.) The Qal stem here means “to be exalted,” which conveys a passive meaning. A few examples will suffice to show this.
2 Chronicles 17:6, “And his [Judah’s] heart was lifted up (וַיִּגְבַּהּ, Qal imperfect) in the ways of the LORD.”
Isaiah 5:16, “But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted (וַיִּגְבַּה, Qal imperfect) in judgment . . .”
Ezekiel 28:17, “Thine heart was lifted up (גָּבַהּ, Qal perfect) because of thy beauty.”
These are in the Qal stem and carry a passive meaning. The same is true of the other examples in the Hebrew scriptures as well. The reader is invited to check further examples of all these verbs, but those considered here are enough to make the point.
Again, all of these examples fit the stative quite well. Judah’s heart was in a state of pride in the ways of the Lord. It would then speak about the state of their heart. The Lord of hosts is merely exalted once, or he is in a state of exaltation? The heart is in a state of being lifted up makes perfect sense in the third example as well.
We can now very comfortably put to rest the claim that a verb cannot convey a passive meaning (like “to be put out”) if it is in the Qal stem. Blauser was clearly unaware that a number of verbs in the Qal can and do convey a passive meaning, in spite of the Qal stem itself not being specifically passive. If they are already passive in meaning in their Qal form, they do not need a passive stem to make them convey a passive meaning. As his first argument depended on the claim that a verb cannot have a passive meaning in the Qal form, his first argument has now been fully addressed and found to be unsound.
Well, clearly, when Peoples wrote this, he was unaware that the other common function of the Qal is the stative. The problem is, this is very basic. As you can see in my response to Glenn Peoples, I actually quoted a number of *beginning* Hebrew grammars at this point. What that says about Glenn’s incompetence in the Exegesis of the Hebrew text, is striking. This is something that every first year Hebrew student learns, and Glenn is completely oblivious to it, as we will see in our response to his comment on the post itself.
In point of fact, our lexicographers give a passive meaning as the primary one for the Qal of the very verb in question here, כָּבָה. Let us return to BDB:
[כָּבָה] vb. be quenched, extinguished, go out, of fire or lamp — Qal be quenched, extinguished (c. neg.), of lamp in sanctuary; of altar-fire; of bodies of renegade Israelites (cf. גֵּיא בֶן־הִנֹּם); subj. אֵשׂ fig. of contention; fig., subj. fire kindled by ˊי; subj. wrath under fig. of fire (אֵשׁ); so of burning land of Edom; of annihilation of Yahweh’s enemies. Pi. quench, extinguish, fig. except (of extinguishing lamps, נֵרוֹת, in temple); sq.נֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל (fig. for like of David); sq. גַּחַלְתִּי (coal = family-hope) (of killing widow’s only son); sq. פִּשְׁתָּה כֵהָה dimly- burning wick (fig. of spiritually weak); implied obj. ref. to wrath of ˊי; to people and idols; sq. love אַהֲבָה (subj. מַיִם רַבִּים).
Notice that all of the meanings for the Qal stem of this verb listed here are passive. The Qal means to be extinguished while the Piel means to extinguish, according to BDB.2 We’ll look at some examples when considering the second argument.
Again, we are going back to BDB, a very old lexicon that doesn’t take into account any of the work that I have cited thus far. Here is the much more up-to-date Koehler-Baumgartner Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament:
כבה: MHeb. to be quenched, go out, pi. and JArm.(b )pa. to extinguish; Arb. kabaw to smoulder, II to hide the fire beneath the ashes; EgArm. ? to hide (Jean-H. Dictionnaire 114); cf. כפה
qal: pf. כבו; impf. ת/יכבה to go out: אש Lv 65f Is 6624 Jr 1727 Ezk 214 Pr 2620, להבת Ezk 21
, נר, F S 33 Pr 3118 (בלילה sign of poverty) פשתה Is 4317, זפת Is 3410; metaph. God’s חמה S K 2217 Jr 720 S C 3425; meaning: to die Is 4317, cj. Ezk 327 (בכבותך, metaph.: to obliterate a people). †
pi: pf. כבו; impf. ת/יכבה ;ויכבו ;יכבנה; inf. כבות, כבותך; pt. מכבה:
—1. to extinguish: נר S C 297, S S 2117 (metaph.: of the king), פשתה Is 423, גחלת: S S 147 (metaph.);
—2. to quench metaph.: אהבה Song 87; expressions: ואין מכבה (Jenni 83) with no one to quench them Is 131 Jr 44 2112 Am 56; Ezk 327 rd. בכבותך (ï Zimmerli 764). †
Notice how, in Koehler-Baumgartner, the only definition given to the Qal is “to go out.” Not only that but, amazingly, it is applied to the very verse in question, Isaiah 66:24! Isn’t it interesting that, when you go to the more updated lexicon, it happens to say exactly what I said. Now, either Koehler-Baumgartner, Waltke/O’Conner, Jouon/Muraoka, Van Der Merewe/Naude/Kroeze, Jenni, and Goetze are all wrong, or Glenn Peoples is wrong.
The mark of really understanding your subject matter is that you can express it in everyday language if this is possible—and in spite of the concentration of terminology used here, this argument is fairly simple and can be stated in everyday terms.
Of course, not understanding arguments, and oversimplifying is something that likewise shows incompetence. Glenn continues to do this amazingly:
What Blauser is claiming is this. Since כָּבָה is in the Qal stem and so is active, when it refers to a thing being acted on (the object) it requires an agent who is performing the action (the subject). As always, the verb is performed by the subject rather than the object. (Indeed, this is precisely the distinction between subject and object.) So, Blauser claims, כָּבָה cannot be a verb that is performed by the object on which the action is performed. Since the verb must be active, and so can mean “put out” or “go out” but not “be put out” which is passive, it would not make any sense to think that the verb means “put out” in Isaiah 66:24, or else the sentence would not mean anything sensible: “Their worm does not die and their fire does not put out.” Their fire does not put out what? We could say “John will not put out the fire,” where there is a subject of the verb (John) and an object of the verb (the fire), but if there is no candidate for an object (so the verb is “monovalent,” having only a subject), then the meaning, says Blauser, will be “go out” and so Isaiah 66:24 means that the fire will never go out.
The conflating of case and theta role is annoying. Especially for someone accusing me of not knowing the subject matter. For example, is the theme always the direct object? The passive voice itself refutes that claim: “John is being sprayed with water.” John is the theme, but it is not the direct object, but the subject. So, while theta role is related to case, it is not the same thing as case. Now, Glenn picked a good verb to make a mistake on, as the agent of the verb “to put out” is always the subject, but I point this out because of the arrogance of the above statement. Theta roles are semantic categories, and cases are syntactical categories. You can’t conflate the two.
This of course is all well and good for verbs that do not have a meaning that is passive in nature, and which also do not have a passive form to make them passive in nature. It is true that in the phrase “their fire is לֹא תִכְבֶּה” there is only one entity in view, the fire, so this is indeed the subject. But the argument as a whole simply inherits the flaw of the first argument, namely, it assumes that there is no passive meaning to be found in the Qal stem so we are limited to considering how the verb works in the sentence with an active meaning. This is simply not how stems work. In fact, as we saw earlier, this verb in its Qal form has a primary meaning that is passive! In going through the examples that Blauser provides to demonstrate the truth of his second claim, we will see that they fail to do so, and they instead support the contention on all Hebrew lexicographers. We will see that the second claim is false and כָּבָה in the Qal stem, in practice, has a passive meaning.
You can see why it is hard to remain humble when you are dealing with these kinds of things. Here is a man who is utterly ignorant of the most basic meaning of the Qal stem, conflates the stative and the passive, and then has the gall to say that “all Hebrew lexicographers” agree with him, when, as we have seen, he has cited one lexicon that is badly outdated, and has completely ignored the more up-to-date lexicon that actually agrees with me! In fact, I should mention with BDB, James Barr was actually working on an update to BDB, but, as one of my professors told me, it was so badly outdated, that he ended up saying that he would have to write an entirely new lexicon, so he abandoned the project. This is “all Hebrew lexicographers?” Again, you see why it is hard to remain humble, and to continue to respond in a gracious fashion.
I will not go over the rest of Glenn’s post at this point. Glenn’s error of conflating the ingressive stative “to go out” with the passive “to be put out.” is enough to refute the entire rest of his post.
Now, just recently, Glenn has written a comment attempting to respond to his conflation of passive and stative verbs. He writes:
Adam, I won’t labour the point, which is fairly simple. Unfortunately it looks like in your response your position is ossifying and you’re resisting the evidence, which is unfortunate. I fear that by provoking you further I will only cause you to dig your heels in further, so this is my last comment on this particular blog entry.
In your original blog article you did not say that the verb in Isaiah 66:24 was a stative verb, and you had no reason to. All of your argumentation was designed to say that the Qal form of this verb means simply meant “to go out.” Now you say that it is a stative verb, which if true would mean that the meaning here is “to be in (or enter) a state of going out” (assuming you are correct about the meaning of the verb it its Qal form). But if you were correct about the meaning of the verb in its Qal stem, “to go out,” then the stative would be redundant here: To enter a state of going out, which does not modify the (alleged) original Qal meaning at all – “to go out.”
That being said: of course, redundancy occurs in Hebrew. But your new response is unsuccessful for two reasons
Of course, that was not what I said. What I said to Glenn was that this is an *ingressive stative,* that is, it refers to the entrance of something into a state, and that state is “to be out.” In other words, the meaning of the verb would then be “To enter into a state of being out.” So, my response is “unsuccessful,” even though he hasn’t understood it!
Finally, I couldn’t believe that when I read it. I didn’t *say* that the verb in Isaiah 66:24 was a stative?! I thought, since the stative form of the Qal is something every first year Hebrew student knows, I did not have to. What is so sad here is that Peoples is completely oblivious to a fact known by every single first year Hebrew student.
In the first place even if this instance of kabhah is a stative verb, nothing would change.
For the meaning of kabhah is the issue, and it means to be put out (to be quenched). Consult any reputable Hebrew Lexicon and observe what they say about the Qal form. Have you done this? If this is a stative form in Isaiah 66:24 then it would mean “to enter a state of being put out,” which agrees with what I have been saying: To be put out. So diverting attention to the question of whether or not this is a stative form does nothing to rebut the point. The stative verb can only modify the existing meaning. The point is that there are verbs that, in the Qal stem, have a passive meaning. This is not to say that they are in a specific form that indicates the passive voice, as you seem to think I have said – so your appeal to grammars that point out that Qal is active is slightly besides the point. Instead, this is to say that they do not need such a form. They carry a meaning that we would ordinarily call passive. I provided several other examples in my blog post (which you did not address), so you aren’t in a position to say that there are no such verbs in the Qal stem. We know that there are numerous (I will discuss some of those examples shortly). Whether the form is stative or not has no bearing on this.
Of course, not only did I quote the *standard* lexicon in the field, I also quoted many grammars as well. Also, I have addressed every passage now that Peoples has brought up. What we have seen is simply more incompetence. Also, again, “entering into a state of being out” says nothing about how that state was entered. Hence, Peoples’ translation is utterly and completely wrong.
And, as we saw above, the verb “to be put out” is not an inherent passive, so the notion that the meaning is inherent doesn’t work.
Although I didn’t ask them to do so, a colleague over at Rethinking Hell decided to pass your blog article, along with my article in response on to a couple of Hebrew experts (one of them being Professor Claude Mariottini, professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary) to see what they made of it. As it turns out, they fully agreed that what I was saying was well-known. You were not named in the article sent to them (you were called “Anonymous”). Upon reading my explanation, Professor M replied by saying “His argument is solid and correct. What Anonymous does not know is that many Hebrew verbs in the Qal have a passive meaning.” This is the issue – not whether or not the verb in Isaiah 66:24 is stative, but rather what the verb in the Qal form means. Some Qal verbs carry a passive meaning, and it is as simple as that.
So, now we get at least one scholar’s name. Now, does he deal with my quotation of Jenni and Goetze? Waltke/O’Connor maybe? No, he just says that I don’t realize that the Qal can have a passive meaning. Examples? No. Argument? No. Citations of grammatical sources? No. Of course, now I have Waltke/O’Connor, Jouon/Muraoka, Van Der Merwe/Naude/Kroeze, and Koehler/Baumgartner, and he has Mariottini and one other scholar. I am quite comfortable with that. And, of course, only one side is actually dealing with the arguments of the other side. Again, I am *really* comfortable with that. You see, what each scholar says is not the issue. The issue is who is right. If they were to send my paper on Polytheism and Deuteronomy 32 to scholars, I am sure the vast majority of them would send it back saying I am wrong. However, I am sure Peoples would have to say that I am right. The issue is truth, not what this or that personality happens to say.
Secondly, the form in Isaiah 66:24 is not stative after all.
Notice that תִכְבֶּה has the standard Qal imperfect form for Lamedh-he verbs (for other readers, that means the third consonant is a “he”). Check any standard introductory Hebrew textbook and check the verb paradigm for a Lamedh-he Qal verb, third person singular feminine. You will see the that form is identical to what we have here in Isaiah 66:24. And yet, as noted above, even if it was a stative verb it would make no difference, because the issue I raised with you is not over whether or not this is a stative verb, but rather over whether or not it has a meaning that we would ordinarily call passive.
Of course, again, Peoples is showing complete and total incompetence here. The reason why you have the exact same form here is because it *is* a lamed he verb. You see, gutterals force certain vowels, in this case, a seghol, in the imperfect. In fact, Jouon Muraoka writes:
The conjugation of ל”ה verbs in Hebrew is characterized by considerable uniformity. For: 1) the old ל”ו verbs have been absorbed by the ל”י verbs, as we have just stated; 2) in Qal, the distinction between action verbs and stative verbs is no longer recognisable; [§79b]
Again, this is something you learn in beginning Hebrew grammar, when you first study lamed he verbs. You can see why there are times when it is hard, with the attitude Peoples has, to take someone like this seriously. He is grossly incompetent in this field, and is relying on the fact that a couple of scholars disagree with me. Worse than that, Peoples adds to his problems by, again, conflating the stative and the passive by “what we would ordinarily call a passive.” Again, it looks like a passive in English, as it does when you translate Egyptian and Akkadian. However, as Hoch said in his Egyptian grammar, the meaning is entirely different.
Recall (I’m assuming you read my blog post, given your comment here) that I gave several other examples of Qal verbs that carry a passive meaning (they indicate that something was done to the subject). None of these examples are stative verbs either. Here’s a very brief review – I’ll use just a couple of examples (you can review the other examples I used in my blog post.
פָּתָה (pathah). The Qal form of the verb, I pointed out, means “to be deceived.” Of course, if you’re correct, then this is not compatible with the Qal stem, and it would mean something like “to deceive.” But is this what the word means? Not at all. Look at the example:
Deut. 11:16, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart not be deceived (יִפְתֶּה, Qal imperfect)…”
So on the face of it, the meaning is passive, which you say is impossible for a verb in the Qal stem. But wait, is this a stative verb? Not at all, for if you were correct about the Qal always carrying an active meaning, then the stative verb would mean “to be deceiving” or to enter a state of deceiving. And clearly that is not what it means at all, for it refers to a person being deceived by another person, which has a passive meaning. And as it turns out – as we would expect – the form is the ordinary Qal imperfect for Lamedh-he verbs. So this is a Qal verb that has a passive meaning and is not a stative verb.
One of the problems with Peoples is that he has a view of language which makes the word the most basic meaning. The problem is that words have many different meanings wrapped up in them. Consider:
Bachelor: -married +male +human
There are at least three different meanings wrapped up into this one word “Bachelor.” Also, Glenn, again, doesn’t understand what the stative is. He is now confusing the fientive [in this case, "active"] with the stative! They are not the same thing. Active and passive go with the category of fientive, not stative. The stative of “to deceive” is “to be in a state of deception.” And that meaning fits perfectly with this verse.
(gabhah). The Qal form of this verb means “to be lifted up.” If you are correct, then this is not compatible with the Qal stem, so it would mean something like “to lift up.” But is that what the verb means here? No. Observe:
And one more, Ezekiel 28:17, “Thine heart was lifted up (גָּבַהּ, Qal perfect) because of thy beauty.”
And is this a stative verb? Again, no, for if the verb carried an active meaning and was a stative verb here, then it would mean “to be lifting up” or to be in a state of lifting up. And clearly that is not what it means, because it refers to a thing that is being or has been lifted up (“your heart”), which is passive. Of course, if you were to say that it is stative (contrary to its form) and means “to enter a state of being lifted up,” then you’d be acknowledging the passive meaning.
Again, this coming from a man who used this incredible language of me. The stative and the active are two different things. I am not saying it is active *or* passive, because it is not fientive. It is stative. The stative, at this point, would be “to be in a state of exaltation.” “My heart is in a state of exaltation because of thy beauty.” It is not just a one time thing. This is an ongoing state. That makes the passage far more powerful, and is far more consistent with the context.
And, what is interesting is, I didn’t read his post until *after* I read his comment! I found out that his post over at “Rethinking Hell” was posted through my traffic feed. I knew, given the tendency to confuse the stative and the passive that I struggled with, that this is exactly where Peoples was going to go. And, lo and behold, I am a prophet.
So your assessment is mistaken. In fact these Qal verbs do carry a passive meaning, and they are not stative verbs when they express this passive meaning. Here too, as with kabhah, our lexicographers give a passive meaning for the Qal form of these verbs, and here too the translators all provide an English translation that is obviously passive.
The same is true of kabhah. It has the ordinary form of a III-he Qal verb. Remember: Even if it was a stative verb, the meaning would still be passive (to be in a state of being extinguished), but there is no reason to think that it is a stative verb at all. So you most recent argument fails in two ways:
Of course, the meaning would not be “passive.” Again, Peoples does not understand the difference between the stative and the passive! And, of course they look the same in translation. Hoch said that they would, but he also said that the meaning was not the same in Egyptian and so it is not the same in Hebrew. And, all of the sudden, it is his lexicographers, not “all lexicographers.” And, as we have already seen, in lamed-he verbs, the fientive and stative forms look identical. Amazing to me that a man can use the kind of language he has used of me, when he is basing his argument on these kinds of errors!
Firstly, your claim that the verb is stative would not diminish its passive meaning at all.
Secondly, the verb is not stative anyway.
I’ll stop commenting on this blog entry now.
[Incidentally, thank you for explaining what the stative verb is, but it wasn't really news!]
Again, all I can do is shake my head. I should be news to Glenn, because, although he thinks he knows what a stative verb is, he does not, and he demonstrates as much by trying to conflate it with the passive in the previous sentence! It is this kind of incompetence that just makes you wonder. Again, it is so hard to remain humble at this point. Glenn has way too much confidence in his own exegetical abilities. However, the scriptures point out men like Glenn Peoples very well:
2 Peter 3:15-16 just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
It is amazing to me that a heretic like Glenn Peoples, an annihilationist and a physicalist, can be so completely oblivious to his own incompetence. However, people who do this are breaking the ninth commandment against God himself, and it is easy to see why they must seek out some way to suppress the truth of eternal punishment in unrighteousness. Doing it linguistically and hermeneutically by ignoring and misrepresenting what the other side is saying is just one way to do it.
Those are hard things to say, but, the lesson we should *all* learn is that we can all fall prey to this kind of thinking. How many times has we heard “Scholar X disagrees with this argument, and so, therefore, it must be wrong.” The atheists do it all the time with Richard Elliot Freedman and Bart Ehrman. Evolutionists do it all of the time with Richard Dawkins. Also, how many of us rely on rhetoric, rather than actual argumentation? How many of us are so caught up in our interpretations, that we aren’t even willing to listen to or deal fairly with any other interpretations that are brought to us? It is a sad but true reality. We should all beware, lest we become like this.
These are hard things to deal with. It is very hard to remain humble when this kind of rhetoric is thrown your direction. There are times when you have to call someone out as incompetent, and this is one of those times. I hope I have done my best to remain humble, and to honestly present God’s truth with patience, hoping that God might grant these heretics repentance, leading to the knowledge of the truth [2 Timothy 2:25].
*As a addendum, I should make clear, I am not saying that these scholars that Peoples is citing are incompetent. I don’t know what there arguments are or would be, and would be interested in how they would argue for a passive and against a stative in these examples. However, Peoples’ arguments are clearly incompetent, and that is the main point of my post.