Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Files: Edgar's The Meaning of Proginwskw (Foreknowledge)

Thomas R. Edgar's THE MEANING OF PROGINWSKW (“FOREKNOWLEDGE”) is a word study on 'foreknow' and 'foreknowledge'. Edgar first notes that "In secular Greek, proginwskw meant “to foreknow, to know beforehand.” Scholars do not seriously dispute this definition." He then contends that "due to strong evidence for the meaning “know beforehand,” those who argue otherwise face the burden of proof for establishing the exegetical necessity for their proposed meaning. The theoretical possibility or the interpreter’s theological propensity is not sufficient. If “to know beforehand” fits the meaning in a New Testament passage, then this must be the preferred interpretation."

Edgar then discusss all the passages with foreknow (Acts 26:5; Romans 8:29; 11:2; 1 Peter 1:20; and 2 Peter 3:17) and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23 , 1 Peter 1:2.) and explains with "to know beforehand" works in each case. Edgar deals with the two main Calvinist objections: (1) The meaning of proginwskw in this passage is to be derived from the use of ginwskw, “know,” in the LXX, and yâdau in the MT (Hebrew Old Testament) rather than from proginwskw, and (2) the personal object, “whom,” requires the meaning of “intimate relationship,” or “electing choice,” for proginwskw. Edgar points out that appealing to ginwskw and yâdau is an overt admission that the deterministic meaning desired by many interpreters cannot be derived from proginwskw itself. He contends “Neither does the prefix simply give a temporal thrust to this verb. It also narrows its semantic range, in this case to knowing beforehand. The entire semantic range of the root verb ginwskw is not carried over to the compounded form. For example, even though ginwskw, on occasion refers to sexual relations, proginwskw does not mean “to have sexual relations beforehand.” Edgar cites Acts 26:5 as a counter example of the "personal object" argument where foreknow is used personally, but implies foreknowing the person’s actions.


natamllc said...

I am assuming this article is to justify your beliefs for or against Calvin's or Calvinists belief in predestination?

I don't know nor do I make such an assumption by asking. I would like to know in any event the purpose for the article?

Having asked I would point to a couple of things that come to my mind after reading it.

First, the "foreknow/knew" approach is clearly seen by what we read here that Paul "foreknew" before praying for "mature" Saints, qualifying which Saints he was praying for and "why":::>

Eph 1:15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,....".

What is the reason Paul is praying for those "Saints" in particular? What was it about them manifesting in them that causes Paul to pray for them?

Paul says the reason is because of two things, one, their faithfulness to Christ and two, their obvious manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit, Love, for "all" the Saints. I note he could have said, "love" for "all" humankind. He does not. And I believe the reason is clear.

Now, as for the Greek word "foreknowledge", the subject of this article.

I would observe an interesting "use" of two Greek Words Peter used here:

2Pe 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

and here:

2Pe 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
2Pe 1:6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
2Pe 1:7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

and finally here:

2Pe 1:8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2Pe 1:9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
2Pe 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

The two Greek words Peter uses in the citations above are:

From G1921; recognition, that is, (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: - (ac-) knowledge (-ing, -ment).

This Greek word is found in verses 2,3 and 8.

While this Greek word is found used in verses 5 and 6:::>

From G1097; knowing (the act), that is, (by implication) knowledge: - knowledge, science.

What I gain from this is Peter understands both kinds of knowledge. One kind of knowledge, epignōsis, can only be gained by God's impartation Himself and that according to the Council of His Will.

The other knowledge, gnōsis, can be gained by going to school and learning something by others about the laws of nature, science, math, literature and so on.

I also would note that both Peter and Paul place a heavy emphasis on gaining a sure grip on "eternal life"!

Peter in his admonition there at 2 Peter 1:10 and Paul at 1 Timothy 6:12

bossmanham said...

And yet 1 John 2:2 says, "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."

And Hebrews 2:9 says, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."

But let's obfuscate so as to match scripture to your system of theology shall we?

Good post, Dan.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

I've also pointed out that the 'yada = sexual relationship = special love' line of reasoning is quite a ridiculous stretch; Judges 19:22 for instance employs yada to describe sexuality, but in no way implies any special form of love.