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Context (05/09/2010)
From: Bill Steidtmann

Adam: Whadaya know for sure?

Bob: It’s all Greek to me.

Adam: Some of it’s Hebrew.

Bob: I just got a set of Greek flashcards to help me. They’re the “Basics of Biblical Greek Vocabulary Cards”, by William D. Mounce, and Zondervan.

Adam: Oh, I can hardly wait to look up my favorite words. Does it have a card for “aion”?

Bob: Yes, it does... Card #128. And on the back there’s a translation, and a number of occurrences.

Adam: Nice. How many times does the word “aion” occur?

Bob: Zero.

Adam: What?!

Bob: Apparently “aion” isn’t in the Bible.

Adam: Then why is there a flashcard for it?

Bob: HA! Just kidding! I can’t believe how easy it is to deceive you, I wasn’t even trying that hard.

Adam: I’m glad to hear that you can’t.

Bob: Okay, it says “aion” occurs one hundred twenty-two times in the New Testament.

Adam: And pray tell, what does Dr. Mounce say that it means?

Bob: On the back it reads: “age, eternity”.

Adam: So, according to the good doctor, some words have two meanings.

Bob: Yup, I guess that settles it. I mean, he’s a Greek expert, and you’re not.

Adam: Or maybe you’ve made an Appeal to Biased Authority.

Bob: How so?

Adam: He does stand to gain financially by defining it that way.

Bob: He probably just wants respect.

Adam: Exactly. Because if you believe what I do, religious people will hate you, sinners will love you, and you won’t make any money at it. Just like Jesus.

Bob: What is that to me? You’re the heretic here.

Adam: Yeah, me and Paul. So, tell me, when encountering the word “aion” in a Bible passage, how does the non-heretic decide whether to translate it as “age” or “eternity”?

Bob: Context.

Adam: What in the context determines it?

Bob: If I get to live forever, then it means “eternity”, otherwise not so much.

Adam: Even if someone else has to burn for that same eternity?

Bob: That’s just the way it goes. They had their chance and they blew it. I can’t help them.

Adam: You could if you gave up eternal life in exchange for aionian life.

Bob: That’s stupid. Why would I do that?

Adam: Maybe by losing your life you’ll gain it.

Bob: Not a chance. Now you tell me, how would you decide which way to translate it?

Adam: I would probably take out a black marker and draw a line through the word “eternity” on the back of that flashcard.

Bob: And your decision is based on what?

Adam: Context.

Bob: Context? You don’t even have a context. What Bible passage are you talking about?

Adam: All of them. That way, when I consider a statement like “If the wages of sin is eternal Hell, then Jesus has not paid the wage.”, I won’t have to embarrass myself by inadvertently implying the conclusion.

 

 

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