Archive for the ‘Adam Blauser’ Category

Supplement Response to Chris Date on Result Nouns

June 20, 2012

This post is heavily reliant (to the point that it would be plagiarism if I did not give full credit) on Adam Blauser’s comment in the previous post. 

First, he provided an article that states:

Deverbal nouns that allow a result interpretation often allow an event interpretation too.
In order to separate the different meanings of a deverbal noun, one usually employs distributional
tests. If we assume result objects to be concrete entities then result object nouns
should be usable in complement positions of verbs which require concrete objects:

(1) a. Die F¨alschung wurde der Polzei ¨ubergeben.
‘The forgery was handed over to the police.’

b. Er ber¨uhrte versehentlich seine Verletzung.
‘He inadvertently touched his injury.’

c. Er verbarg seine neuste Erfindung im Keller.
‘He hid his newest invention in the basement.’

d. Die Beurteilung wurde ihm gestern zugesandt.
‘The assessment was sent to him yesterday.’

He points out that words like “injury” and “forgery” are deverbal result nouns, yet one can easily think of contexts in which the focus is not on the result, but upon the action. Consider:

His back was injured during the first quarter of last night’s game. During the injury, he also hurt his left forearm.

Likewise:

He could have honestly worked for the money necessary to buy a house in the time the forgery took.

Notice how, in each of those instances, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to say that the only or primarily result is in view. While one might think that we are talking about the results of the act of injuring occurring, it is much more rational to assume that we are talking about when the act of injuring itself took place, especially since it is connected temporally with another event, namely, the “hurting” of his forearm. The same thing can be said of the second example. “The forgery” clearly refers to the making of the false document, with no focus on the result, especially when it is coupled with a parallel reference to a process verb (“worked”) and a reference to time.

His point (he used different but similar illustrations) that, even if Date were correct that “punishment” were a deverbal result noun, he would have to argue that the context favors a result interpretation, not an event/process/manner interpretation.

He goes on to state:

However, it gets even worse when he deals with the Greek and the Hebrew. From a historical linguistics perspective, the Greek term κολασις has the ending -σις, which is typical of words that are nominalized forms of actions. Consider the following:

ερημοω-to lay waste [to a city] ερημωσις-destruction, depopulation

κρινω-to judge κρισις-judgment

ζητεω-I seek ζητησις-investigation

ελευσομαι-I will come ελευσις-coming

πιπτω-I fall πτωσις-a fall

As can be readily seen, the meaning “the action itself as a noun” is typical of Greek nouns formed by adding the ending in -σις to the root. However, this is why historical linguistics can never settle these issues. The reason is that some of these nouns would go on to develop resultant meanings, for example, ποιησις comes from the Greek verb ποιεω which means “to do.” While ποιησις *can* mean “the act of doing something” [James 1:25], most of the time, it means the result of doing something, namely, “a work.”

However, in Matthew 25:46, the “result” meaning very clearly cannot be sustained, as it is put in parallel with “eternal life.” Living is something that will be done eternally, and thus, why would anyone think that punishment is something that will not be done for all of eternity? Even though this is my final point, I think it is what I would want to emphasize. Meaning in language cannot be taken from historical linguistics or semantic categories. Semantic classification is, itself, subject to change by multiple factors, including context, background assumptions, etc. Thus, when we discuss the deverbal character of nouns, how they morphologically came into existence, or their meaning, we cannot simply give universal labels, but must consider how this particular term is understood in the light of the communal and authorial context of our target text. If we don’t do that, we can fall badly into the fallacy of defining words by roots, and thus, a person who is feeling “awful” is “full of awe!”

I want to underscore what I see as his most crucial point. Words can have a range of meanings, known as the “semantic range” of the word. When there is a question about which meaning of the range of meanings applies, the very best clue to that meaning is the immediate context.

Recall that, above, “injury” and “forgery” are deverbal result nouns (generally speaking), yet clues from the sentence allowed us to recognize that they were being used in a “event” or “manner” sense. Likewise, when “eternal punishment” is placed in parallel with “eternal life,” we are given an unmistakable clue that the “event” or “manner” sense is intended.

Thus, while my previous post sinks Mr. Date’s argument, even if Mr. Date were correct about punishment being (generally speaking) a result noun, Mr. Date’s argument is still sunk.

-TurretinFan

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Post-Modern Roman Catholicism – Guest Post by Adam Blauser

May 25, 2012

Recently, in the comment box on this blog, a member of the Roman communion provided the following comment:

Again and again. Who has the authority in Protestantism to determine the correct interpretation of the Bible?. No one.

Adam Blauser has provided a thorough response, namely:

Again and again, why does Roman Catholicism pull out the arguments of Jacques Derrida and Stanley Fish, when postmodernism destroys Roman Catholicism too? What is the assumption behind this statement: that the only thing that factors into the interpretation of a text is the interpreter. If I allow for the author and his intention to play a role in interpretation, then it is easy to see who has the authority to determine the correct interpretation of the Bible-the authors of the Bible. Correct interpretation, then, is more of an ethical issue. The interpreter has an obligation to “not bear false witness” against the author of the text, and accurately represent what he is saying. If that is the case, then the issue of interpretation is actually an argument against Roman Catholicism, because, once you impose traditions upon the text, you are changing the world of the author, and thus, not accurately representing the world he has constructed accurately.

More than that, destroying the author as a reference point leads to total and complete postmodernism. For example, why do you accept Rome as the infallible interpreter of scripture and history? Eastern Orthodoxy also makes the same claim, as does Syrian Orthodoxy. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses make the same claim. Before you go running off to history, let us also remember that these groups claim the right to infallibly interpret history too, just like Rome does. So, who has the authority to decide which group has the authority to infallibly interpret history and scripture? It becomes totally dependent upon which group you are a part of as to what the correct interpretation of both history and scripture is. Hence, it is relative to community. That is utter and complete postmodernism.

Not only that, but if you need an “infallible interpreter” to know which interpretations of a text are correct, then how do we know what the correct interpretations of the Egyptian Book of the Dead are? Scholars disagree. How do we know what the correct interpretation of the Baal epic is? Scholars disagree. How do we know what the correct interpretation of the Epic of Gilgamesh is? Scholars disagree. The point is, there is no text upon which there is not disagreement as to the correct interpretation. However, where is the infallible magisterium of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Apparently, because it doesn’t exist, that must mean we cannot correctly interpret what the Book of the Dead says. Where is the infallible magisterium of the Baal epic? Apparently, because it doesn’t exist, that must mean we cannot correctly interpret what the Baal epic says. Where is the infallible magisterium of the Gilgamesh Epic? Apparently, because it doesn’t exist, that must mean we cannot correctly interpret what the Epic of Gilgamesh says. Such results in utter destruction of all of our knowledge of what written texts say.

The real problem here is that the church is finite. Not only can other groups claim the authority to infallibly interpret both history and tradition, but, because of the finitude of all of these groups including Rome, the issue can never be settled. Not only that, Rome cannot explain why, in the instance of other texts, we can come to the correct interpretation despite differences of opinion. All of these things relate to the limited and finite nature of the church. I really wish Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would consider these things before they go making this argument again and again. A limited, finite church is a poor base for meaning in language.


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