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Scrambled McSkeptic X with Sausage

The Hurricane Blows Skeptic X into a Frenzy

James Patrick Holding

Greetings, earthlings! Skeptic X has offered part 1 of a response to our item here (an item so obscure and difficult to find that his webmaster had to ask for help to find it) and the following is all that part 1 is in reply to: Our first three paragraphs.

Yes, that's it. Skeptic X gets nowhere near any of the actual issues in that round; instead he devotes several loving hours to trying to avoid getting to the issues (with one exception), which is par for the course of making every effort to daze and keep happy the gullible Skeppie crowd with bread and circuses, so they won't notice they're living in cardboard shacks and have pigs flying around outside. And being that's the case, all we'll be doing here is grinding a little sausage from Skeptic X's squealings, adding some sage, and making some stuffing for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. If/when something substantive comes down the pike, we'll bring it on for meatloaf, and as per our usual method these days, we'll put the diversions in another place.


  • For now, just general diversions -- we may categorize later, but so far Skeptic X uses a minimum of them

The one trickle of substance from Skeptic X this round comes from responding to where I said:

To begin, he describes preterism as the belief that "Jesus returned rather inconspicuously in 70 AD..." Inconspicuously? Skeptic X must miss it when that phalanx of Hell's Angels drives through his living room every morning. The 70 "return" ("advent" would be a better word) was vastly conspicuous, involving the destruction of a people (nearly) and a nation, the end of the "age of the law" by Christian understanding, and the ushering in of the age of the Messiah. Skeptic X must be some kind of anti-Semite if he brays off the events of 70 as "inconspicuous".

Skeptic X babbles back that the "preterist claim that AD 70 marked the 'end of the age of law' is completely contrary to New Testament teachings that are clear enough to understand by anyone who doesn't have a pet theory to defend." The "pet" here is named Fido and it just bit Skeptic X on the rear end. In response he quotes back passages that he thinks prove "that the 'age of the law' ended well before AD 70":

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Ephesians 2:11 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

Nice try, Skeptic X, but you're hauling the wrong bale of hay. Col. 2 says nothing about an age or time period of the law; it speaks of individuals ("YOU") who have been released from the requirements. Eph. 2:14-16 (Skeptic X mistypes 11 -- oops, Mr. Perfecto "I proofread at least 7,843,857 times" gargles again) refers likewise to individuals ("OUR peace") under the new covenant. So does Romans 7 ("YOU also have"), which Skeptic X also cites. None speaks of the law or the old covenant as ineffectual or dead, or the old covenant as gone, or the age of the law as over. Indeed, the Galatian Judaizing controversy over circumcision would hardly have been possible had that been the case, or Paul would have not said, "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law," but rather, "For I testify to you that the age of the law is ended," and there would never have been any temptation for the Galatians to receive circumcision, for they would have already been taught of the end of the age of the law. The age of the law couldn't end until two things happened: 1) The Messiah came; 2) people were unable to enter into the covenant of the law legitimately, and that part didn't happen until 70 when the Temple and the related cultus went kaput. (As a side funny note, Skeptic X makes the same bonehead error as Hyam Maccoby in interpreting Rom. 7.)

Next Skeptic X tries to yank in Heb. 8:7, which he says means "that a second covenant had replaced a flawed first covenant":

Hebrew 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.

Funny, though, how Skeptic X misses 8:13, which says, "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." Not "has vanished" but "is ready to." This is the only clear statement about the state of the old covenant, and funny, it says that it is about to vanish, not that it had vanished. In other words, it was hanging in there, by the skin of it's teeth, but somehow Skeptic X misses that one. (He could also stand to look at 1 Cor. 10:11, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." "World" is aion or age, and Paul is therefore saying the end of the age is happening while the people he is speaking to are around -- and this is 25 or so years after the death of Jesus.) For a change of subject to distract the gullible Skeppies, Skeptic X blatters about how difficult he finds it to understand "how the first covenant could have been flawed if Yahweh, the perfect one, had given it to the Hebrews," making the same mistake James Buckner did; and then he offers Heb. 9:11-15 (and later goes all the way to 23):

Hebrew 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Funny thing, again, but while this does say that there is a new covenant to replace the old, it still doesn't say that the age of the law is over. Indeed, we have noted elsewhere that Heb. 1:2 speaks of the "last days" and that this corresponds to the last days of the age of the law, which was still being observed in Jerusalem at the time Hebrews was written, which is also in agreement with 8:13. To be sure, preterism acknowledges a programmatic 40-year period which marked the end of the age of the law and inaugurated what Jews would have called the age of the Messiah, and envisions the age of the Messiah as having begun with the Resurrection. There was a 40 year overlap, as we may speak of various "ages" overlapping. But it boils down to that Skeptic X isn't finding anything here that says that the age of the law is over, period, and nothing that speaks of that age itself "ending". All he has is passages that speak of and to individuals upon whom the law was no longer binding, because of their trust in Christ. Skeptic X barks, "the apostle Paul said in the passages previously quoted [that] the death of Jesus ended the era of the law of Moses" -- Paul, sorry, nowhere uses the word "era" or "age" or any such time marker. He speaks to individuals released from the law, which is still an effectual covenant, though on the way out. Hebrews 9 does the same, and Skeptic X is merely committing the category fallacy of assuming that the inauguration of the new covenant means the old one just immediately vanished.

Skeptic X's next cite is another exegetical Laugh-In; he calls it "Galatians 23-25" (there's Mr. "I Proofread 56,932,344 times" at work again), but it is actually 3:23-25:

But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Skeptic X barks, "Did 'faith' come before AD 70? If so, then according to the apostle Paul, 'we' were not under the law at the time that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem." "We" -- exactly. Who is Paul speaking to? The Galatians. He doesn't say zip about an age passing away; he doesn't mention timeframes, and as noted above, if the age of the law was over, why didn't he use that as a pointer against the Judaizers demanding circumcision? If anything his comments suggest that a person could very easily enter the covenant of law in its full measure. Clearly Paul does think the Messiah is here, and that by extension, his age has started -- but he also just as clearly does not think the age of the law has ended. Gal. 4:21-26 (Paul's "Hagar and Sarah" analogy) does the same; in fact, it even implies that the age of the law is still hanging in there, for it speaks of Jerusalem, "which now is, and is in bondage with her children."

To his credit, Skeptic X went and educated himself on the difference between full and partial preterism, but not enough. He wants to know why it is heretical, and sorry, it's not because I say it is. Full preterism denies the resurrection; it follows the idea of a spiritual rez (something Skeptic X still hasn't figured out); it is the error of Hymenaeus which sees the resurrection as having already happened. Either way Skeptic X refuses to admit his confusion, which is the usual dodge from his quarter and refusal to take responsibility for his own gaffes.

And now we come to parts 2 and 3 of Skeptic X's frustrated bang-your-head-against-the-preterist-wall, and the main focus this time is on oikoumene and Skeptic X's constipated-elephant strainings to make it mean the whole danged earth from North to South Pole, from Tunguska, Siberia to Tierra del Fuego. The elephant, as it happens, is still straining, and though he will point us to tears coming out of his bulging eyes as evidence of progress, actually ends up admitting we were right and running for the Ex-Lax cabinet. Readers will want to be alert for two games that Skeptic X purchased from Milton-Bradley and brought to fool the gullible Skeppies. They run like this:

Round and Round the Merry Go Round, or the Old Bait and Switch. Keep in mind that we have actually dealt with three definitions of oik as we have proceeded:

  1. The Roman Empire. I noted in my first article that oik was "a word used to express only the Roman Empire" and gave Acts 11:28, Luke 2:1 as cites. It remains true that oik often refers only to the Empire, within the contexts given as even Skeptic X admits, but further digging yielded definition 2:
  2. The civilized world known to the Romans. In other words, oik sometimes meant lands extending as far as India, where Alexander had trod and spread his Hellenistic wares. As I noted last round, I have no problem accepting this definition, even if oik always meant this (which it doesn't). I can live with it, and so can preterism. Skeptic X can't. What he wants it to mean -- what it HAS to mean for him to get anywhere -- is:
  3. The whole danged globe. We'll see some of Skeptic X's tortured attempts to get a globe out of oik shortly. However, keep this third definition in mind:

...for what we will see is that Skeptic X will play one of his typical "merry go round" games in which he will burp and screech through the following process more than once:

  1. He will find places where definition 2 is in order.
  2. He will toot back that this refutes our use of definition 1 in interpreting Matthew (which it does not always)...
  3. ...while ignoring the fact that it also kills any attempt to substantiate definition 3 (his).

In other words, Skeptic X hopes that no one will notice, as he tries to throw definition 2 in our face, that he hasn't provided any hope for his definition 3, and has in fact shot it dead in the process of hoisting cites that mean definition 2. He'll end up admitting that 1 is often valid, and pretending that 2 is a problem for us, and quietly dodging the fact that no secular linguistic expert (more on this below) thinks 3 is warranted. This is your typical Skeptic X manipulation tactic. Now for the second game:

Definition Run by Exegesis. Exegetically the meaning of a word tells us what it means in a context. Skeptic X, we will see, offers several cites from the LXX using oik, and claims that they mean the entire globe. But not one of the cites, we will see, lays out any geographic strictures. Instead, Skeptic X's reasoning runs like this:

  1. This says the oik experiences X.
  2. X is something that must be a simultaneously worldwide phenomenon.
  3. Therefore oik must mean the whole globe.

Running further with this, Skeptic X thinks if he finds pre-Roman Empire uses of oik, this defuses definition 1 above, but it doesn't. Within the NT context oik would of course mean Rome at least, the Parthians to India at most, since that was the extent of the oik at the time. But pre-NT of course the oik's borders may have been different -- for example, Alexander would have referred to his own empire as the oik. As I said quite clearly, oik is a "fluid little booger" and can be extended -- but it was never extended to include the whole globe, and Skeptic X cannot find a single, solitary cite or expert who agrees other than problematic interpretations from lexicons (more on this below). Hence we shall see him strain, distract, and fudge to accomplish what he hopes will be a definitional enema, but despite the efforts with the Ex Lax, we still have nothing but tears from the elephant's eyes to look at.

Hereafter my first responses will be in italics and bold; Skeptic X's response will be in italics, and my second reply will be in normal letters.

Gasping for some air, Skeptic X says meekly, "Most of the Roman empire lay to the west of this region, so if Jesus was able to see all the kingdoms of the world, how likely is it that Luke meant that the devil had shown to Jesus only the kingdoms that lay to the west of his mountain but not those to the east of it?" How likely? With the oik- word, 100% likely, Skeptic X.

So, folks, you have another example of debating [Holding] style. He presented no proof at all that Luke's version of the temptation of Jesus meant that the devil showed Jesus only the kingdoms that lay west of this high mountain and, consequently, within the Roman Empire; he simply asserted that it was 100% likely that this was the intended meaning.

I presented reams of proof thereafter that oik meant a far more limited area of land than the whole globe, as Skeptic X wants it: my view can live with it being the Roman Empire (hereafter RE) OR the extended part as far as India (hereafter ERE). Conversely Skeptic X presented no proof that the devil was pointing in all directions as far as he could, so he's as dead as the doornail he thinks we are. No, oik defines what was seen; we do not say what Jesus was shown and make oik fit into it (Game 2). I showed that oik meant RE or at best ERE. The former is more likely, given Luke's use of oik elsewhere to clearly mean RE (Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28, 17:6, 19:27, 24:5) and not ERE. Skeptic X provides zero in response -- now and later -- other than blatant attempts to mash oik by playing Games 1 and 2 above.

But now Skeptic X thinks he has a game to play with the Matthean parallel. He notes that I said:

The word for "world" is not a reference to the physical world, but is the Greek aion, or "age." The question is about the end of the age a time period, not the end of the world. Had that been the intent, the Greek word kosmos would have been used ("Come Again?" The Skeptical Review, September/October 2002, p. 3, emphasis added).

And then barks:

Do you see it, folks? In the article that precipitated this whole debate, [Holding] said that if Matthew had intended to mean "the world" [in 24:4], he would have used the word kosmos. Lest he try to quibble here that he was making a point relative to age [aion] as opposed to the physical "world," he should read his own article again, because later on, he said this in trying to weasel out of the obvious meaning of a parable in Matthew 13:36ff.

No commentator would disagree that upon death the wicked, and the justfied [sic] in Christ, are encountering their final judgment (Heb. 9:27)--and the "field" here is the "world" (kosmos), the entire world. The seed sown by Jesus is sown over the entire kosmos (Ibid. p. 3, emphasis added).

So we have it straight from none other than [Holding] himself that when New Testament writers used the word kosmos, they meant the "entire world," but he even said more about this while expounding on the "real" meaning of another verse in Jesus's Olivet speech.

Unfortunately for Skeptic X, he's got apples stuck in his mouth and oranges stuck in his ears. He goes on to finish with this strain:

We have [Holding]'s word here that kosmos is a word that "indicates the broadest possible connotations." He cannot now deny that he has said that the word kosmos in the New Testament was meant to indicate the whole world, so when Matthew recorded his version of the temptation of Jesus, he said that the devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms in ton kosmon [the world]. If the devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms in the whole world [according to Matthew], and if the New Testament is indeed the "inspired, inerrant word of God," then Luke's usage of oikoumene where Matthew used kosmos would likely be 100% proof that oikoumene and kosmos were at times used interchangeably in the New Testament.

This farce of logic is one of the dumbest examples of blatant fundaliteralism we have seen yet from Skeptic X's inkwell. "If not, why not?" he asks as usual when he can't thinki of a more creative riposte. Let's play that logic to the full extent, shall we? Skeptic X wants to convince us, on this parallel, that oik and kosmos were "interchangeable" and therefore presumably meant the same thing. (Skeptic X thinks that most of the words in Greek and Hebrew were "homographs," you see, so that if the Greeks had truly been Skeptic X-efficient, their language would have only had 36 words.) This despite the experts in secular linguistics that say otherwise, and despite their different definitions even in every lexicon and concordance, but to that in a moment. It is quite obvious that if the devil showed off the kosmos, then of course if the oik is part of the kosmos without exhausting it, Luke is more narrow in focus, while Matthew is broader. This would match the linguistic data: Luke shows a preference for focus on the oikoumene throughout his work; he uses kosmos but 4 times out of the 188 times it is in the NT, while he uses oik 8 of the 15 times it is in the NT; the 4 times he uses kosmos, one obviously would not make sense if oik were used [Luke 9:25]; one carries more of a sense of "moral order" as is more often found in John's Gospel [Luke 12:30], and one [Acts 17:24] quotes Paul! This is the proper understanding if indeed kosmos and oik have different meanings -- which they do. Skeptic X is trying to make his exegesis force the definition, when in fact he should be doing the opposite (Game #2).

(Exegetically I also have two other options: Matt uses kosmos hyperbolically (see below); or else, it's one of those things Skeptic X the fundaliteralist won't "get" about inerrancy doctrine, namely, the Greek translation from Matthew's hypothetically inerrant Aramaic original is flawed on this point. But I consider the above the most likely given the tallies of the linguistic data.)

Skeptic X therefore must run head-on into the definitions provided by the sources, and this is where he runs head-on into the wall and sustains serious injury:

not some cornpone ex-Church of Christ preacher with a heavy book in his hand, to find out how the ancients used the oik- word. Skeptic X's band likes encyclopedias, so let's start with The Encyclopedia of World History at Bartleby.com:

The ancient Roman view was of a spherical world, the inhabited region of which (the oikoumene) was surrounded by oceans, and this world centered around the Mediterranean. It was bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the mouth of the Ganges River. The southern extent of the African continent and the northern expanses of the land masses of Europe and Asia were vastly underestimated.

So a heavy book in the hand isn't nearly as reliable as an internet website? Is that what [Holding] is saying?

No, we're saying that an ex CoC preacher with a heavy book isn't reliable, because the book is only useful for doing injury when he drops it on his own foot as he sticks the other foot in his mouth. The page, though, is an online version of a book entry, The Encyclopedia of World History 2001, which Skeptic X apparently failed to notice.

If the "ancient Roman view" was that the oikoumene extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the mouth of the Ganges River on the east, then they did not consider the oikoumene to be just the Roman empire, because the Roman empire did not extend that far to the east. Anyway, just where did this quotation say that oikoumene meant only the Roman Empire? [Holding] apparently can't see that his own sources are not saying what he claims about the meaning of oikoumene. [Holding]'s claim was that oikoumene in Matthew's reference to preaching the gospel "in all of the world" (24:14) meant only the Roman Empire, so where did the quotation above say that this word meant that in [Holding]'s proof text? The "expert" that [Holding] quoted above didn't even say that the Roman empire was referred to as the "oikoumen," but identified a border that was well beyond the eastern limit of the Roman empire.

Is it [Holding]'s position that oikoumene always meant "the Roman empire"? If so, when he presents proof that this was the only meaning of the word, then he will have made his case. Until then, he must prove that oikoumene meant only the Roman empire in Matthew 24:14, and he has not proven that. He has simply asserted it.

And there, folks, is the first example of Game #1. Skeptic X wants to focus gullible readers' attention on what he thinks is my error (though I have actually said, already, that for me oik can mean ERE, and it won't damage my position, and my statement that oik was used to designate only the RE is not a statement that it was used exclusively to designate the RE) so that they won't see that it doesn't support his position at all. In fact I go on to say, "Oops! It seems these guys don't know about oikoumene meaning the whole danged planet," and Skeptic X, no doubt sweating bullets by this time, throws this plate of fudge:

Is it [Holding]'s position that oikoumene never conveyed the sense of "the whole danged planet"? Let him clarify this for us. I hope he does take that position, because it will be as easy as Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall to prove that he is wrong. In fact, I proved him wrong on this in my first reply to him, but he just won't admit it. As I proceed through this section of his "reply," I will bury him with evidence that oikoumene could convey the sense of the whole world.

So says C. Farris "Scrambled Eggs Exegesis" Skeptic X as he tries to evade the eggbeater. I made it clear, but for the attention-impaired like Skeptic X: YES, I am saying oik did not convey the sense of the whole danged planet; NO, Skeptic X did not and will not prove it wrong except by playing Game #2 above. Bartleby, as I noted, said, "They say it means the inhabited region, and only goes as far as the Ganges -- which is as far as Alex the Great went. Forget China and the Congo." Still buried under a pile of duh-huhs, Skeptic X replies:

In this reply, [Holding] has played his usual "smorgasbord" game in which he carefully picks what arguments he wants to answer and leaves the others unanswered. Along the way, he throws in a lot of derogatory and insulting comments as if he expects readers to think that they constitute answering arguments. I will have more to say later about what [Holding] left unanswered, but for now, I want to point out that it was never my position that oikoumene was never used in the sense of the Roman empire but that it wasn't always so used.

Oh! Oh! So now Skeptic X wants to tell us (covered with distractions) that, oh, OK, oik MAY be used in the sense of the RE, he doesn't mind that at all! But not always! But how do we know when? Well, then, what of me saying oik means the RE in Matthew? How do we know I'm wrong, then? Skeptic X is busy stuffing his feet in his mouth and gauging the need to cut his toenails with his tongue, and that's why he needs to offer this distraction -- so no one will hear the sound of his drooling, and of his bicycle pedaling backwards. Bartleby says oik means the ERE. Not the whole world as we know it. Skeptic X has no answer to that, period, other than Game 2 -- which he now proceeds with, with passion, by dragging in what he calls a "ton of bricks," not his head this time, but the Septuagint (LXX), where OT verses used the oik-word. Skeptic X points out, rather dully, that obviously this could not mean the RE, since the LXX was translated before Rome had gotten itself Empired. Well, duh. We've been discussing oik in the context of the NT period this entire time and clearly said it was flexible. As noted above, the word obviously had different limits prior to the RE; now Skeptic X needs to ask himself the question: "Goldurn (hiccup), if oik meant the RE or ERE at the time of Rome, what could it mean before Rome?" The whole globe? That would be an incredible linguistic evolution. But at any rate, Skeptic X proceeds as though I have been arguing "oik = Roman Empire" always and forever amen and blats out several citations from the LXX accompanied by Stupid Skeptic Questions:

2 Samuel (Kings) 22:16 And the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world [oikoumenes] were discovered at the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his anger.
Did oikoumenes refer to an empire that didn't exist at the time this part of the Septuagint was translated?

No, it referred rather to the Greek sphere of influence established by Alexander (hereafter GSE). Of course Skeptic X might want to barf out the idea that maybe there guys meant the whole globe, but may I ask a question? Didn't Skeptics tell us that the Jews thought the earth was flat and limited in scope? Oh. So even IF oik here means what the LXX translators THOUGHT was the whole world, Skeptic X is still in his bind unless he shows that they knew of the extent of the globe; and in fact he'll trip on this little problem later on. Not that it matters. This cite contains no geographic delimitations and tells us zero, then, about what oik means geographically. Skeptic X is doing nothing to help his case. (The Hebrew here, incidentally, is tebel which means, Strong's [not me] says, the earth [as moist and therefore inhabited]; by extens. the globe; by impl. its inhabitants; spec. a partic. land, as Babylonia, Pal.:--habitable part, world. The stress is on habitation, just as it is with the oik- word; and Strong's here makes the same exegetical assumption about modern knowledge of the globe that dispensationalists, and now Skeptic X, have made in their erroneous explanations. More on this as we proceed.)

Psalm 9:8 And he [Yahweh] will judge the world [oikoumenen] in righteousness....

Did the writer mean that Yahweh would judge just the Roman empire, which didn't yet exist at this time?

No, it meant he would judge the GSE, specifically the people of course, not the land itself. This is also tebel, by the way. Of course if Ps. 9:8 predicts the judgment of the oik at a future date, the oik here may be the RE/ERE, or it may even be some future area that the ancients would call the oik. If Alexander were alive today, what would he call the oik?

Psalm 18:15 And the springs of water appeared, and the foundations of the world [oikoumenes] were exposed, at thy rebuke, O Lord....

Did the Septuagint translators think that "the Lord" had laid only the foundations of the Roman empire?

No, they thought he had laid the foundations of the GSE, which was what was then the oik. Not that this says "only" either, but that's another matter.

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord's and the fulness [sic] thereof; the world [oikoumene] and all that dwell in it.

Did the Septuagint translators think that only those who dwelled in the not-yet-existent Roman empire were the Lord's?

No, they thought that those who lived (not "only") in the GSE were the Lord's. Tebel again, BTW. After this Skeptic X plops a few more cites from his bulging eyes, but aside from raising a stink, he accomplishes zero. Not one of the following gives a geographic reference for the oik-word, and all but one are tebel; hence Skeptic X merely plays the same song and dances the same dance, Game #2, each time:

Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth hear the Lord; and let all that dwell in the world [oikoumenen] be moved because of him.

By way of example, then, Game #2 as played:

  1. This says that all people in the oik should be moved by the Lord.
  2. Being moved by the Lord is something that must be a simultaneous worldwide phenomenon.
  3. Therefore oik must mean the whole globe.

What's missing? That weasel-word Skeptic X sneaks in above, ONLY -- based on nothing but his assumed hermeneutic. No geographic limits specified. No definitions given. No word study. Why can't people in Nigeria be moved of the Lord while people in Japan aren't? Must every move of the Lord be worldwide in effect and response? The same each time:

Psalm 77:18 The voice of thy thunder was abroad, and around thy lightnings appeared to the world [oikoumene]....

Psalm 89:11 The heavens are thine, and the earth is thine: thou has founded the world [oikoumenen] and the fulness [sic] of it.

Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains existed, and before the earth and the world [oikoumenen] formed, even from age to age, Thou art.

As a side note, "earth" ('erets) connotes physical land; tebel connotes people. Now under my rubric, when Adam and Eve were alone, the Garden of Eden would have been reckoned the entirety of the oikoumene if one chose to define it at all. As noted in the definition reported below, the oik was expandable and flexible.

Psalm 93:1 (F)or he [the Lord] has established the world [oikoumenen], which shall not be moved.

Psalm 96:10 Say among the heathen, The Lord reigns: for he has established the world [oikoumenen] so that it shall not be moved.

Psalm 96:13 (F)or he [the Lord] comes to judge the earth; he shall judge the world [oikoumenen] in righteousness, and the people in truth.

Psalm 97:4 His lightnings appeared to the world [oikoumene]; the earth saw, and trembled.

Psalm 98:7 Let the sea be moved, and the fulness [sic] of it; the world [oikoumene], and they that dwell in it.

Psalm 98:9 For he [the Lord] is come to judge the earth; he shall judge the world [oikoumenen] in righteousness, and the nations in uprightness.

Proverbs 8:26 The Lord made countries and uninhabited tracts, and the highest inhabited parts of the world [oikoumena].

A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down Skeptic X's pants. We still haven't found one that gives actual borders for the oik. Note though that this last indicates that uninhabited tracts are not part of the oik.

Isaiah 13:11 And I will command evils for the whole world [oikoumene], and will visit their sins on the ungodly.

Isaiah 23:17 And it shall come to pass after the seventy years, that God will visit Tyre, and she shall be again restored to her primitive state, and she shall be a mart for all the kingdoms of the world [oikoumenes] on the face of the earth.

This is one exception to the tebel rule. "World" here was actually 'erets, and we might ask Skeptic X when he supposes Isaiah envisioned Tyre trading with the Aztecs.

Jeremiah 10:12 It is the Lord that made the earth by his strength, who set up the world [oikoumenen] by his wisdom....

Jeremiah 51:15 (Sept. 28:15) The Lord made the earth by his power, preparing the world [oikoumenen] by his wisdom....

"There are others," Skeptic X pontificates, "but this is enough overkill to show that oikoumene was frequently used to convey the sense of the entire world." No, actually, it isn't, if by "entire world" we mean what WE call the entire world. It may have been the entire known world to the LXX translators, but if that is so, Skeptic X's global designs are down the toilet worse than Hector Con Carne's. In each of these cites, no geographic limitations are given; no borders are specified. "That is readily apparent from the many passages above where emphasis by parallelism (as in the last verse quoted) used earth and world interchangeably." Whoa, there's that same begged question again that we ran into with ge. No: "earth" is just as much flexible as ge and what it means is determined by context. Here again, Skeptic X tries to force a context by playing Game #2, allowing his exegetical assumptions to govern the definition, when the opposite is the correct methodology. Skeptic X is chasing himself around in circles trying to make these geo-words mean what he wants them to mean, and never gets around to providing an equal to my definitional cites like those from Bartleby, which lay out specific geographic limits to what the oik constituted within a given context (here, the NT era). I don't care, Skeptic X, if they are from the "uninspired" LXX (the definition of "inspiration" is not that narrow anyway); and as back when I had to practically break his ears off to get him to define "house" objectively rather than by convenience of interpretation, we have another situation in which Skeptic X ends with his definition rather than beginning with one. It is even illicit to assume that the parallelism equates with an exact definition, actually -- why is it not a progression, for example, from broader to narrower? To say the parallelism indicates synonymous meaning is to beg the question. The parallelism is but one piece of data, not all of it. Skeptic X needs objective definitions like what I have from Bartleby, and he has none that support him. Zip. And that he is helpless in the face of the data, straining and struggling to keep afloat, shows in how he responds to the Bryn Mawr definition:

Among the older geographical tradition, D. stresses the role that periploi played as source material for Strabo and discusses the meaning the word oikoumene had in this tradition (pp. 43-45): while in Homer, the idea of the whole oikoumene being one island in the Ocean prevailed, to Strabo as to earlier geographers the term applies only to the known world. Thus, not only can there be peoples living outside the oikoumene, but the oikoumene itself can be extended--a merit attributed to Alexander and, most of all, to the Roman empire.

This should tell Skeptic X that it's quite possible that even if the LXX translators did mean "all the world" they may well have had an erroneous sense of how big the world was, though I do not see it necessary to think so; it may refer only to the part they knew and cared about. However, looking to distract as much as he can from the issue, Skeptic X whines that I "gave no background information about this internet source he quoted" (gee, it's so hard to click that link, and what is "Bryn Mawr Classical Review" as I specified -- not background info? Maybe Skeptic X thinks "Bryn Mawr" is a school for cats and "Classical Review" means they tell about the latest Mozart albums), notes the source, complains it is "secondary and not primary" (as if that made a difference at all in this context -- "he cited it on New Years' Day!"), whines that I didn't "give us any information about Dueck [the writer of the review] to establish her credentials as an authority in Greek" (why, when all Skeptic X will say is, "Oh my G___, if Dueck says X, it must be true" -- and as if Bryn Mawr CR lets just any bum write on any subject for them), but admits, "She is a professor of classical languages at Bar Ilan University in Israel. That doesn't necessarily make her an expert, but for the sake of argument, I'll concede that she is a competent expert on Greek." Yeah, Skeptic X had better do that after getting sandblasted twice now being nailed on matters of questioning experts -- here and here. Anyways, following his usual tradition of contacting such experts in hopes of making them say something different than they clearly said already, Skeptic X wrote a harassing letter to Dueck trying to get her to change her mind and say oik really meant the entire globe, but no, he first loaded the question by writing to her thusly:

Although I have not read your book Strabo of Amaseia. A Greek Man of Letters in Augustan Rome, I have read Ralf Behrwald's review of it. Something he said in the review made me wonder if oikoumene was a Greek word that meant just the Roman Empire and not other parts of the world. Was the word used exclusively to denote the Roman empire, or was it sometimes used in reference to the entire world?

Oopsy poopsy! Note that this question loads the barf bag from the get go. As noted 6,574 times now, I can take an oik that is either RE or ERE. Skeptic X can't. He needs it to mean the whole enchilada from Perth to Perth-Amboy. Dueck responded (and will probably want to wash her hands now):

Regarding your question: the Greek word oikoumene is an adjective in the feminine form derived from the verb "oikeo" which means "to inhabit, to occupy". It is in the feminine form because it defines the land or the earth (ge). Therefore it literally means "the inhabited land", thus pointing out the Greek concept of what was considered their world: as far as lands were inhabited and thus known to them -- they formed the extent of the known world. What was beyond that was unknown and therefore uninhabited and so outside the framework of their world. This means that oikoumene does not necessarily correspond with the Roman Empire, although according to Strabo's Geography, for instance, there are parts in the world where the two do correspond: the boundaries of the Roman Empire meet the limits of the oikoumene because the Romans reached regions as far as they were geographically and culturally known at the time.

Skeptic X bubbles as quick as he can, "Her reply agrees with what I have said about the meaning of oikoumene." Uh, no, Skeptic X, it doesn't agree with what you want to be true about oik; it agrees with what *I* say is the meanings I can live with. The Romans didn't know about Macchu Picchu, or the Amerinds, or the Japanese. Hence oik can't mean the whole globe in Matthew 24 as far as Matthew's contemporaries are concerned. Skeptic X hopes no one will notice that he is flattening his own case and tries to hide it by pretending I can't accept any meaning but the RE. Skeptic X even admits what I say in my last, in essence: "It meant the inhabited world but was sometimes used in reference to the Roman empire." Bingo. But NOT the entire globe. In fact, by Dueck's words, it could not possibly ever mean the whole globe unless and until Rome (or whoever) got to know the entire globe, at least; otherwise they have no idea it is inhabited. Skeptic X tries to cover this burr in his saddle with a large "butt" by barking, "Since the word did not always mean the Roman empire, it is [Holding]'s responsibility to prove that it did mean this in Matthew 24:14, but he has not done this. He hasn't even attempted to do it. He has simply asserted it." The definitions are all the assertion that is needed. To Matthew's readers, oik means either the RE or the ERE, as Skeptic X admits. I can live with either definition in Matt. 24:14 and all I have left to be responsible for is a reasonable case that the described prophecies were fulfilled in the pre-70 timeframe. Skeptic X needs the larger one and can't get Dueck to support it, and is left trying to discredit an expert writing for a peer-reviewed journal as providing "secondhand testimony." (Pfft! -- wonder if he'll write to Dueck and whine and pitch a fit about that! Maybe I should write to Dueck too and show her what Skeptic X said about her.) So bottom line, I can deal easily with Matt. 24:14 meaning the ERE. I don't care if it does. I can emend my points about the Gospel reaching Britain and also include as far as India, the limits of the ERE. My position is flexible; Skeptic X's position -- which he now seems to hope everyone will forget -- isn't. When it comes to defending preterism, my oik can grow to that size. Skeptic X's can't shrink. RIP, argument of C. Farris Skeptic X.

But for more distraction, Skeptic X breaks midway through my 4 cites of secular references to oik to examine 13 of the other 14 uses in the NT which he thinks will prove that it "sometimes denoted the Roman empire, but it also was used to indicate the whole world or at least the 'inhabited world.'" See Skeptic X Fudge. Fudge, Skeptic X, Fudge. Remember that to Rome the ERE was the most that was reckoned the "inhabited earth" -- they had no idea of Eskimos living in Greenland. Skeptic X nervily mumbles that "meanings of words must always be determined by context" and we'll see Game 2 put into action shortly as he tries to make oik mean anything he wants it to mean like he's pulling Silly Putty out of a plastic egg. Just like "house" in the Jehu-2 Kings debate, he doesn't define it first, but makes it up as he goes along to crutch his argument. Now for those cites, and we'll follow Skeptic X in highlighting where oik is used (psst -- does that mean, as Skeptic X said of me doing the same in the Land Promise debate, that he's just showing off and saying, "Hey, look at me, I know Greek"? Oh, well, so much for consistency....)

Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Context here indicates that "world" [oikoumene] meant the Roman empire, because a Roman emperor [Caesar Augustus] could not have decreed a taxation or census outside of his empire.

Correctamundo. We agree. This in fact gives a very specific geographic designation for oik. It is a primary passage for deciding how Luke used this word and corollary evidence for how his contemporaries used it. Skeptic X therefore will need some good reasons for expanding oik globally elsewhere (not just the ERE) like he needs it to be. He notes Luke 4:5 again and that is addressed above (though he doesn't puzzle, as he needs to, over Luke using allegedly widely varying meanings for the same word in just a few sentences); we move then to:

Luke 21:26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Skeptic X barks that the "broader context" makes it unlikely oik means just the RE (we can again live with ERE) but his argument for "context" amounts to chasing himself in a circle and never fixing a stake in the ground at the center to keep himself from spinning off into the outer darkness. He first cites his argument about the use of ge without qualifiers, an argument we refuted in the further course of our article but which he didn't reach yet. Luke 21:25 says, "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth [ge] distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring..." No delimiter, Skeptic X bubbles, so it means the whole earth. No, Skeptic X, oikoumene IS the delimiter, the "qualifier" you say isn't there, and you're working bath-ackwards yet again. Skeptic X then somehow gets the idea that I think the distress will only be on "the region around Jerusalem" and where he gets that weirdo idea I can only guess. He is mixing two of my arguments together. Finally he also wants to trail back to that same fundaliteralist notion that Luke meant the LITERAL sun, moon, and stars, and burps that "the sun, moon, and stars aren't visible just in one isolated region like Judah; they are visible at least hemispherically." No, those are not the literal S M and S, and we get to that idea later on. (He also thinks the sea is referred to literally -- apparently unaware that seas were figuratively used to refer to or compare to crowds of people; cf. Ezek. 26:3, Ps. 65:7.) In any event Skeptic X is so mixed up with some idea that I think this whole thing just means a region around Jerusalem that his commentary is worthless and doesn't even address anything I argue. I say it is most likely the RE or the ERE at most.

Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

The reference to the emperor Claudius Caesar would give a contextual reason to think that oikoumene was here used to mean the Roman empire, but it would not have been at all impossible that the writer meant that the famine [dearth] had come over the entire world.

Yeah, right! It's also not impossible he meant the moon as well. Skeptic X is just making excuses to save his oversalted bacon from being fried. Game 2, IOW.

Acts 17:31 Because he [God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

It will be interesting to see [Holding]'s reaction to this example, if he even bothers to comment on it, because unless he is willing to admit now that oikoumene was sometimes used to mean the entire world, he will have to argue that God has appointed a judgment day but only those who lived in the Roman empire will be judged. The apostle Paul, however, said in Romans 3:6 that God would judge the world [kosmos], and we have it from [Holding] himself that kosmos was a word that signified the entire world. Here, then, is conclusive proof that the word oikoumene was sometimes used to mean the whole world. If [Holding] is going to stone wall this issue, he should tell us if he also thinks that the "assurance" that God gave to "all men," stated in the text above, was just an assurance given to all men within the Roman empire.

I'll bother, though it's as useful as a hearing aid at a pantomime show. I do argue that God appointed a day to judge the Roman Empire, and that day can, or need not be, the same day everyone else will be judged as well. Skeptic X is playing the same dum-dum game of assuming parallel phraseology means equivalent meaning of every word. It doesn't. This harbors no proof at all that oik means the whole globe except by Skeptic X Game #2, letting exegesis run the definition when definitive definition should run the exegesis. By the same means Skeptic X inserts an "ONLY" equivalent by supposing that this must therefore mean the assurance was "just" to those in the RE. No, Paul is speaking to cultured Greeks whose primary concern is the oik. It's no different than a preacher today saying "God will judge this city" and thereby not meaning God won't judge others cities, at the same time or at different times. Nice try, but Skeptic X still hasn't broken off the leash and out of the circle.

Acts 19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

Asia was a Roman province in Asia Minor, so it is possible that the writer here meant for the word to denote only the Roman empire, but that isn't necessarily so. Worship of Diana (Artemis) extended outside the borders of the Roman empire, especially into remote regions of Europe, so Demetris the coppersmith, who was upset about the damage that Paul was doing to his commerce in silver shines of Diana, could have been aware of this. His argument against allowing Paul to continue his work in Asia would have carried more force to his audience if they had understood him to mean that Diana was worshiped throughout the world. Anway, I want to give [Holding] as much advantage as possible, so I will let this one stand as a probable reference to just the Roman empire.

Skeptic X doesn't tell us where he gets this factoid about Diana, and what "remote regions of Europe" he means, and at what time period this happened, or any reason to suppose an Asian-Minor silversmith knew or cared what was going in Norway or wherever (maybe he subscribed to out of town newspapers?), but he gives his concession and we'll take what we can get in between his banging his head on the wall.

Acts 24:5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

There were Jews living outside the Roman empire at this time. Acts 2 refers to Jews present at Pentecost who were Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and Mesopotamians (v:9), who would have lived east of the borders of the Roman empire. However, it is possible that the accusers of Paul on this occasion wanted to convince a Roman procurator that Paul was causing sedition only among Jews living in the Roman empire, so we will give this one to [Holding].

I can take the Jews in Parthia, etc as well, actually, as the ERE, so if anything this only supports my view. I think Skeptic X wants to keep it under his hat that he isn't finding a majority of verses that give him a globular statement so far.

Hebrews 1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

We will see later that [Holding] actually claimed that the Hebrew writer was saying that God brought his first begotten son into the Roman empire. God so loved the world [kosmos] that he gave his only begotten son, but the Hebrew writer, apparently unaware of this, thought that God had sent his son just into the Roman empire. Lazarus' sister Martha understood that Jesus was "the son of God... he who comes into the world [kosmos]," but, of course, the "inspired" writer of Hebrews didn't know this. He thought that he had come into just the Roman empire.

Excuse me? John 3:16 is a soteriological passage; Hebrews 1:6 is not, it merely says where God "introduced" or brought in his Son, and that was indeed in a part of RE/ERE, the oik, and it also uses an entirely different Greek word than John 3:16, as does John 11:27. Here again Skeptic X is playing the same Game 2 as above and inserting a "JUST" to try and force-fit the words into meaning the same thing. No dice. He also tries to blather out that the context of Heb. 1:6 demands a "whole world" interpretation but where the Son was introduced or entered has zero to do with his domain, no more so than being born in a manger meant that was the extent of Jesus' rule. This is Skeptic X's usual shebang of CoC exegetical flubbering. Finally Skeptic X thinks he has another parallelism on his hook because Hebrews 10:5 speaks of the Son "coming into the world [kosmos]" and from this he concludes that kosmos and oikoumene must have the same meaning. No, sorry, it's Game 2 again, and what I say above -- about oik being narrow, and kosmos being wider -- provides the same answer. Obviously to come into the oik IS to come into the kosmos, and that does not require that the former exhaust the meaning of the latter. Whether that is so must be determined external to such attempted and forced parallels as these, by, for example, specifications of geography in more precise definitions. So far Skeptic X's only cites with geography in them he has been forced to admit don't help his case. Nor will this next one:

Hebrews 2:5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.

Was this "world to come" the Roman empire, which had already come at the time this was written? How likely would that meaning be within this context. I won't quote them, but the verses following this show the same thing as the context quoted above. The writer saw the "son's" dominion extending far beyond the Roman empire. This is a verse that [Holding] cannot claim as proof that oikoumene meant just the Roman empire [sic].

I won't, and don't; Skeptic X is still confused in thinking I am locked into RE when I can take ERE and the idea that the oik expands as needed. In fact Hebrews hardly problematically refers to the (perhaps expanded) oik of the years to come in which he foresees the Gospel message being spread and affecting events. Once again we lack geographic limiters and Skeptic X fills in his own meaning contrary to more specific contemporary parallels. Game 2. And Skeptic X hopes by now you've forgotten what the experts say.

Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Here is another passage that used both earth [ges] and world [oikoumene]. Ges was not restricted by anything in this context to give it the meaning of "the land [ges] of Judah" or the "land [ges] of Jerusalem," so unless there is some compelling reason within the context--and there isn't--to assign the secondary meaning of "land" to this word, a basic principle of literary interpretation requires readers to assign the primary meaning, i. e., earth, to this word. Hence, the writer was saying that an "hour of temptation" was coming upon the "world" to try those who "dwell on the earth." Using earth interchangeably with world indicates that both words were to be understood as synonyms.

Same game, different field. Oik DOES define the ge in this case; it is more specific and defines the less specific, and Skeptic X is again walking bath-ackwards and running into a sharp point as a result.

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Surely, [Holding] isn't going to argue that Satan deceived just those who lived in the Roman empire. This verse also said that Satan was "cast out into the earth," which was gen with no qualifier to indicate that he meant a land area less than the entire earth. Then two verses later, the writer pronounced a woe "for the earth and the sea, because the devil is gone down to you" (v:12). Again, the word for "earth" was gen, without any qualifier to indicate that it meant a restricted area of land. Using earth and sea together would indicate to all but those with some pet theory to defend that the writer was speaking of the entire world, which consists of land and sea. [emphasis added]

Game #2, played to the same tune. Skeptic X needs to insert a "JUST" without JUSTification, and bath-ackwardsly lets the general define the specific. The readers of Rev. didn't know or care if Satan was deceiving Farmer Ukosaki in ancient Edo. Earth and sea fits just fine with the lands of Rome and the Mediterranean, thank you. Skeptic X is committing the usual dispensational error of reading the text through modern eyes rather than the eyes of a first-century reader. He can't help himself, it's addictive. Note BTW that John's phrase is that Satan deceives the "holos oikoumene" [whole world, or perhaps throughout the world]. Keep it in mind.

[Holding] cannot reasonably claim this verse as a text where oikoumene meant just the Roman empire. Besides, what would he gain by contending this, because his preterist position is that the "woes" that came upon the "earth" came only upon the limited area around Jerusalem when the Romans destroyed it.

No, there were ample woes all over the Empire, as I noted in my original article but which Skeptic X passed over in silence. He's still confusing two of my ideas somehow.

Revelation 16:14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

"The kings of the earth and of the whole world"--how could oikoumene here mean just the Roman empire [sic]? How could earth be just a limited land area?

By being defined by oik, of course, as Skeptic X would know if he weren't exegeting bath-ackwards. As those who have read my item on Rev. know, I take this as a signal of the Roman Empire with its constituent armies from people from all over the Empire tackling Jerusalem. Skeptic X is still confusing me for saying I read oik as only around Jerusalem: "A limited land area, such as the region around Jerusalem, would not have had kings in it, who could have gathered armies together to go to battle against the forces of God." I still don't know where he gets that confusion, but he needs to go back and read again. Maybe the same place he got confused into thinking I wanted him to pay for 90% of my website. He must go into a closet to get specially confused for occasions like this.

Now of course Skeptic X skipped Rom. 10:18, and we both have a special section on that below, but having now made his gullible readers forget the embarrassment of the scholars not supporting him, he returns to my quote of Dueck where I say:

This in turn springs from a slightly changed concept of barbarism: while the barbarians' inferior way of life is determined by conditions of their environment--conditions that they cannot escape--education according to Strabo can bring former barbarians to (almost) the same cultural level as the Greeks. This is, of course, the case of the Romans: and while Strabo does not try to construct a Greek ancestry for Rome, as Dionysius did, he concedes to them a central place in the oikoumene because through learning they have arrived at an almost Greek status (p. 79).

In response to this Skeptic X shows that he still hasn't figured out that I can live with the oik being the ERE and not just the RE, and goes on to fuddle that "the 'scholar' he is so proud of hasn't said anything yet to support his position that oikoumene meant only the Roman empire. In fact, the quotation above indicates that Strabo saw the oikoumene not as the Roman empire but as all regions that had acquired the 'same cultural level as the Greeks.' If Behrwald was correctly representing Strabo's position, then Strabo thought that the Romans had acquired a place in the oikoumene because they had almost arrived at Greek status in their culture." Wha ha! As if Skeptic X supposes Behrwald's peer-reviewed work would make bogus errors like he does. The point is, again, Macchu Picchu and Tierra del Fuego weren't in this oik, and Skeptic X is covering his butt. I noted: "Dang. We're still not globular. In fact we're explicitly NOT globular." Skeptic X plays the hayseed and tries to wiffle his readers away from this solid definition by a scholar of classics, and offers a pre-empt on his upcoming mangling of Rom. 10:18, which we haven't yet got to (same post-shifting game he's doing on a larger scale with the land promise) and his LXX citations we just proved bogus. Same Game 2, nevertheless: The exegesis runs the definition rather than vice versa as it should be. That's only potentially excusable in cases like ge where a word has a broader meaning. Oikoumene, sorry, does not.

We'll note in advance, however, that Ps. 19:1-4 does use tebel; given that, the reply on Ps. 19:1-4 is the same as for previous citations, and much simpler than the reply I gave before needed, implied. Now we'll continue to take on Skeptic X's answer to this anyway, because it involves watching him bumble and stumble over 1st century Jewish exegetical methods, and watching that is worth ten tubs of hot buttered popcorn. That said, if Ps. 19:1-4 in the LXX refers to the oik, as it indeed does, it's no better than the LXX cites Skeptic X has already used, and he is falling to the same fallacies we have noted above.

But for now, back to the experts who know their business. We get to the xrefer item on Strabo which said:

...Strabo accepted the traditional description of the Earth as divided into five zones with the oikoumene, or inhabited part, represented as a parallelogram spread over eight lines of latitude and seven meridians of longitude.

That's a tar-nation shame, ain't it? I checked a print [sic] copy of Strabo, and what do you know, it had a map showing that the "inhabited earth" according to the S-man was just from Spain to India.

On this Skeptic X hoists the old beef of "selectively quoting" and quotes a paragraph after which says:

Although the historical writings of Strabo, including his Historical Sketches, in 47 books, have been almost entirely lost, his Geography, in 17 books, has survived virtually intact. This major geographical work is an important source of information on the ancient world. In it Strabo accepted the traditional description of the Earth as divided into five zones with the oikoumene, or inhabited part, represented as a parallelogram spread over eight lines of latitude and seven meridians of longitude. Where he excelled, however, was in the field of historical and cultural geography and he gave a detailed account of the history and culture of the lands and people of the Roman Empire and of such areas as India, which lay beyond the dominion of Augustus. In this he quoted much from the earlier Greeks, including Eratosthenes, and Artemidorus.

And so Skeptic X proudly barfs, "[Holding] claims that oikoumene meant the Roman Empire, but he has been quoting material about a first-century BC geographer who recognized that the inhabited part of the world extended to 'such areas as India, which lay beyond the dominion of Augustus.'" Which, Skeptic X, I have already said I can live with. And you can't. No globe. Game 1 yet again. Skeptic X wheedles about this for a few more lines, but it comes down to that he can't make oik mean all the way to Bolivia no matter how far he stretches his waistband, and he hopes his gullible readers will be so enthralled by the whines that they won't notice.

Finally, from Roman Empire Net. Skeptic X begins by beefing that he thinks I have a poor idea of scholarship because this site "solicits articles from people on different subjects." No, actually, it is a site with papers from students of history, whose work has been reviewed by professors of history, so Skeptic X's implication that any sanitation engineer could get on here and write about Cleopatra's bunions is a bunch of malarkey. He also whines that of the author of the cite, Andrew Mason, "nothing at all was said about his background or qualifications to write on the subject." Skeptic X may have wished to note the name of a professor at the University of Toronto to whom the paper was submitted; presumably (though Skeptic X might desperately argue otherwise) Mason wasn't submitting a paper he got an F on for including a bad definition of oik. Anyway, when it gets to actual facts beyond attempted slurs of people like Mason and those on RENet that Skeptic X has less sense and knowledge than, it amounts to Skeptic X once again pointing to the regions of Parthia, India etc. which I have already said are fine with me being in the oik while oopsy poopsy, trying to evade that we still have a long way to go before the oik equals Skeptic X's global community. Game 1, send Skeptic X to the sidelines for an injury. And he wants to evade that problem he has just like last year's hemorrhoids:

That sure as hoo-neck don't [sic] sound like the whole globe to me.

No, it doesn't, so what is [Holding]'s point? His claim is that oikoumene meant only the Roman empire, and he has been trying to prove that by quoting alleged experts who have used oikoumene in reference to (1) just an island, (2) the inhabited world, (3) the Roman empire sometimes, and (4) regions beyond the Roman empire. I guess I should thank him for taking the time to post quotations from articles that support my position on the meaning of oikoumene, which is that its primary meaning was "the inhabited world" but was secondarily used to refer to the Roman empire.

Our POINT, Skeptic X, is that your "global" meaning of oik is pitifully without substantiation. But now get this! I always suspected Skeptic X never actually read through my material before he answered it, and didn't edit for consistency afterwards. Bah! Says he edits, does he? If he does, he does a piddly-poor job. It was at this point that I said outright that I can live with the oik meaning the ERE if it had to, and that preterism didn't suffer as a result. After noting my point about Thomas preaching in India, Skeptic X barks:

I'm not surprised that [Holding] would quickly backpedal on a claim about traditions that had Thomas preaching in India, because I don't think even he is dumb enough to try to defend all of the conflicting traditions about where the apostles went after the death of Jesus. For the sake of argument, let's just assume that Thomas was an actual historical person and that he did go to India as a missionary. How would that help [Holding]'s case? He has claimed that oikoumene meant only the Roman empire, and now he is admitting that oikoumene was sometimes used in reference to India but that the Roman empire never reached as far as India. Below, we will see him admitting that oikoumene didn't always mean just the Roman empire. He is so mixed up that I sometimes wonder if he even knows what he believes. He is a classic example of an apologist who takes a position without being properly informed and then tries to stutter and stammer his way out of corners that he gets backed into by making claims that are contrary to known facts.

See how Skeptic X evades? He says I am backpedalling, but since the circle is big enough for such a tight maneuver, I can afford to be generous. He can't. Adding Parthia, Iraq, and India doesn't save his bacon. I may have had to pedal a wider circle -- not into a corner as Skeptic X thinks, and I am not required to do so -- but Skeptic X still hasn't fixed the flat tire on his bicycle, and never will. Mixed up? No, it is called "progression in knowledge." I'm sure Skeptic X can't say he's never learned anything in his life, though he projects the attitude that he hasn't, and since he seems to think it impossible for US to learn anything new about dead languages, maybe he thinks there is no such thing. Meanwhile we're still waiting for Skeptic X to escape from that glass globe he can't seem to break out of. My defense of preterism is just as solid of we make the oik the RE or the ERE. As I stated clearly:

Skeptic X is still on the rocks, though, because it's still a lot less real estate than Skeptic X needs it to be. LOTS less.

In response to this, Skeptic X plays dumb and harps back to those same LXX quotes and the Matthew 4:4 and Hebrews 10 points, still making the exegesis define the word rather than the word defining the exegesis. Skeptic X keeps bouncing back and forth from corner to corner, getting his lights punched out each time he emerges, and sorry, distracting with verses like Matthew 28:19 that refer to the "nations" (not a geographical or cultural limiter) are not an answer, nor is confusing the issue thus:

....why was Jesus willing to let the "end" come after the gospel had been preached only throughout the Roman empire? Why was preaching the gospel within just the Roman empire, which despite its size was really just a small part of the whole world, a requisite that had to be met before the "end" could come?

As Skeptic X forgets, the "end" isn't the end of everything, it's the end of the age of the law, so there's no big fat worry about how far the Gospel was preached by this point. We've answered all of Skeptic X's Stupid Skeptic Questions by now, and after making "space" excuses for not citing the clear RE passages like Luke 2:1 and alluding back to his previous arguments, as well as definitions from Thayer's that simply make the same false exegetical assumptions he does (i.e., it must mean the whole world; though even Thayer's gives as the primary meaning, "the portion of the earth inhabited by the Greeks, in distinction from the lands of the barbarians" and "the Roman empire, all the subjects of the empire" -- the "world" as he wants it rates only third). Let's make a point here that Skeptic X the Fundamentalist will reject: As noted for example, the Context Group tells us that the majority of Biblical scholars are anachronizing when they interpret the Bible in modern, individualistic terms. Skeptic X learned his lesson about being contrary here and he has been given lessons time and again that merely slapping open a lexicon or concordance is not always enough. Certain biases go into such products, as Skeptic X can't disagree since he tells us so often that he can't accept what a writer says if they teach at a fundy Bible college. He needs to be consistent and recognize that the concordances, lexicons, and translations are often written with a certain POV in mind. He'd surely say that the Living Bible is a translation that sometimes mangles text to suit doctrine, and the same may be said here of translators, etc. who assumed oik- had to mean the whole world at times, because they could not conceive of a limited judgment, having been infected by the likes of Schweizter on eschatology. Skeptic X blabbers: "If you say that the word was never used in the New Testament in any of these sentences, does that mean you are saying that you know more about Greek than the scholars who compiled these lexicons?" Why sure, Skeptic X, just as you know more about NT anthropology than the Context Group. This kind of blatherskeit is Skeptic X's stock in trade as a substitute for actually dealing with hard data. Do I know more about Greek? No, but the secular scholars do, and Skeptic X has no answer to them other than evasions. To wit:

More, though. The thing that really upsets Skeptic X's apple cart amd [sic] even takes his lexicon and translations from his poor, trembling hands, is seen in the entry about Strabo.

How does the entry about Strabo take my lexicon and translations from my poor, trembling hands? I analyzed the quotations about Strabo and even obtained e-mail clarification from the author of the book that oikoumene did at times extend beyond the Roman empire.

Because, Skeptic X, the entry about Strabo and the clarification doesn't agree with the lexicons that the whole globe -- not "beyond the Roman Empire" to the ERE -- can be meant by oik. The funny thing is that Skeptic X even admits that the NT writers could not have meant Australia and America and even says, "I think that when they said the 'whole world,' they meant what they thought was the whole world." Well, hot doggie. Now then: Where does that leave all these quotes of the LXX for example? Skeptic X is forced to whine that the Holy Spirit should have informed his own ignorance better and made them use some other word, but that won't cut the mustard. The word oik meant a specific thing to these people and it is not our place to force our own definitions onto them. When they said the whole oik, and they meant the whole oik, not "the whole oik plus the whole whatever else we missed." If they wanted to say that and refer to things unspecified, they could say, if they wanted, "whole kosmos" and they did -- in some cases meaning "the world system" however. Skeptic X may as well expect the Spirit to have inspired the NT writers to speak of "nuclear reactors" or "brain surgery with lasers". In essence, however, he as much now as admits that the whole globe is not intended, just the limited area that oik specified, and hence, though he apparently doesn't get it, has conceded to my argument! It can't mean the whole world as we know it in the context of Matt. 24; hence he contradicts by this very statement the lexicons that speak of this as the whole world. Game, set, and match. The secular experts are right. The lexicons, if that is indeed what they imply, have overstated their case based on theological premises rather than parallel meanings of the word in secular literature.

Skeptic X repeats for the 6,837th time some of his old arguments, but notes as well a point I made that I "can say that Matthew was using the world kosmos 'hyperbolically,' as he said in his 'Olivet Discourse' that the apostle Paul had done in Colossians 1:6 when he said that the gospel was bearing fruit in 'all the world [kosmos]'." Yes, I can say that, and it is an option, but what do you think Skeptic X is the answer? You guessed it, diseased fundaliteralism. He tells us it is merely arbitrary to declare the Col. 1:6 use hyperbolic. Sure, Skeptic X, and we have no reason to think that there aren't really ants in your pants when you say there are. Grab the Raid and start spraying, he won't mind. "I suppose that [Holding] would also say that Paul was speaking 'hyperbolically' 17 verses later when he said that the gospel had been 'preached to every creature under heaven' (v:23). 'Every creature,' of course, didn't really mean every creature, and 'under heaven' didn't really mean under heaven. How can we know this?" Duh huh, well, what record do we have of the Gospel being preached to lizards? How do we know Skeptic X doesn't really have ants in his pants? This is pedantic fundaliteralism. I in turn challenge Skeptic X to prove to me that he doesn't REALLY have ants in his pants when he says he does.

Skeptic X next wastes a great deal of space with cites of kosmos from John, in service apparently of his attempted Game 2 Hebrews parallel above. None of this makes any difference to us, and Skeptic X just wastes space to impress his gullible readers. He lies to his readers saying I haven't yet addressed his analysis of ge: I have; he just had not reached it yet, and is therefore engaged in yet more pre-emptive butt-covering, so we will skip all of the repeated blather he uses to keep the Skeppies from thinking for themselves (as noted, we pointed out that "tribes" in "tribes of the earth" clearly limits the land intended to Jewish lands) and get to the next section, on Ps. 19:1-4//Romans 10:18.

A reader recently (7/2/03) gave us this note from Paul Johnson, writing about empires and globalization:

The Greeks called it oikumene , an area of civilization where Greek norms were paramount, and this ecumenical empire was contrasted with what they called ³chaos² was inherited by the Romans and became the basis of their enormous Empire, though the Romans, with their passion for uniform law, insisted on transforming the colonia into provinces and thus put together an old-style territorial empire, with all its strengths and weaknesses.

In my section on Ps. 19:1-4 and Rom. 10:18 I noted that "If Ps. 19 did have a global aspirations in view, it makes no difference." (Emphasis added.) I am of the opinion now that Ps. 19 did NOT indeed have global aspirations, based on the uses of tebel which, as noted above, offer no such geographic limitations, and one can only make it global by inserting a descriptor of exclusion (i.e., it therefore means that "just" or "only" this limited area experienced X) which is an unwarranted leap. Given this, much of what follows where Skeptic X deals with what I say about these cites will be wasted space in context, but because it deals with a highly relevant topic in other venues -- that of Jewish exegetical methods in the time of the NT, which have been an "oof" effort for Skeptics since the ignoramus Thomas Paine first commented on them -- we will address it with full force anyway.

Skeptic X has of course no sense of these differing contexts of exegeting Scripture; to him and the CoC, one method -- straightforward literalism -- is all that is allowed, except when your bacon needs saving, in which case you may sometimes allow figurative meanings to keep from looking obviously foolish. Skeptic X not surprisingly approaches the text from this same anachronistic, juice-harp-playing perspective: "When New Testament writers appealed to Old Testament scriptures, their obvious intention was to show that the weight of Old Testament authority was on their side, but this tactic would make no sense unless the scriptures they quoted had originally conveyed whatever position they were supporting." No, that's an error of the assumptive modern fundaliteralist in Skeptic X. We have referred to and quoted from Miller's item here which shows that Jewish exegesis was much more flexible than Skeptic X and CoC's "fundaliteralist" method, and recognizing where this was done by the NT, by rabbis, or by the Qumranites is not a matter of hey ho and open the text as an undisciplined and uneducated rogue like Skeptic X would suppose.

Skeptic X foolishly offers to debate this issue, and we have already given him one such thing to debate in one of our other articles, so that offer has already been accepted; he just hasn't gotten back to it yet. But the main issue is what Skeptic X makes of the whole complex of ideas of Jewish exegetical methods in the first century, and do we think he came up with a real answer? I.e.: "Jewish exegetical methods of the first century are not applicable here, because...?" Get real! Nah, what Skeptic X did was what he is best at -- spitting hayseed all over the place. Here's what Skeptic X's answers amount to:

  • All I'm doing in citing Miller, etc. is "finding someone who agrees with [my] religious position". "I could fill this page with URLs that blast preterism to pieces--and do a fairly good job of doing it--but that would prove nothing except that I can find writers who side with me on this issue." No, Skeptic X, all that would prove is that you know how to hurl elephants without critical evaluation; I will take on and slam any site you find that "blasts" preterism, and all you will do is call it "evasion" because you're an exegetical ignoramus. This is Skeptic X's substitute for actually addressing data -- pretending it is just a matter of "my expert vs. yours" with no critical comparison, as though his own citation would immediately bring all debate to a standstill and leave us with no ability to achieve further resolution. Hello, is Dennis McKinsey there?
  • Insulting Glenn Miller by accusing him of being biased ("...Glenn Miller is a Mississippi-based biblical inerrantist, who maintains a website that undertakes to prove that the Bible is inerrant. Readers should therefore have no trouble guessing what his position will be in any matter pertaining to biblical inerrancy." -- Gee, so can I say, "...Skeptic X is an Illinois-based biblical errantist, who maintains a newsletter/website that undertakes to prove that the Bible is errant. Readers should therefore have no trouble guessing what his position will be in any matter pertaining to biblical errancy," and have that constitute an actual argument?); by generalizing away his material ("No matter what the textual problem may be, Miller's position will always be that the problem is not an actual discrepancy. He will always have some kind of explanation for it." -- BTW, on the subject of biblical errancy, Skeptic X has about as much objectivity as the pope would have on the issue of papal infallibility...send him home now, he's refuted.)
  • By being an unobservant reader:

    Jewish exegesis of this period had four general methods: literalist, midrashic, pesher, and allegorical. Skeptic X and the Church of Christ only recognize one -- the first, and Skeptic X will allow the fourth to keep from looking foolish when it suits his purposes. It is the second that has relevance here, as Miller notes, quoting Longenecker:

    Which Longenecker? There are several. Didn't [Holding] once make a snide comment about my failure to identify what edition of Arndt & Gingrich's Greek lexicon I had quoted?

    No, it as more like a snide remark for Skeptic X hiding his use of outdated sources. As if Skeptic X would have rushed out and found Longenecker's book anyway. That La-Z-Boy is too comfortable, and he still has half a can of Pringles left to eat.

  • By hanging straw men of his own ignorance all around the room:
    • "[Holding], through Miller, has made an appeal to authority without even attempting to show that Longenecker's claims about 'Jewish exegetical procedures' are valid methods of literary interpretation." Get that! Skeptic X wants to pretend that he has some kind of hayseed authority himself to insult Longenecker, who he wants to imply may just be the town garbageman, to wit:
    • "[Holding] said nothing about Longenecker's qualifications to speak on the subject of 'Jewish exegetical procedures.'" Why bother when all Skeptic X says is, "Oh my G___, if Longenecker says so, it must be true?"
    • By denying specific applicability: "The quotation from Longenecker said nothing at all about Romans 10:14-18, so we have no way of knowing if Longenecker would even consider it an example of "midrashic exegesis…[Holding] himself made no attempt at all to explicate Romans 10:14-18 to show that the principles that Longenecker stated above are applicable to this passage." Like bleck I didn't; Skeptic X is just too dumb stupid to know better. The case of Romans 10:18 matches Moore's description, and that is all that is needed to make a case. Psalms spoke of the tebel of its time; Paul spoke of the oikoumene of his time, which was a different geographic entity. Hence he did exactly as we described and made Ps. 19 relevant for the situation in his own day.

    "In other words," Skeptic X toots, "[Holding] is at it again. He quotes an author and declares that the author's opinion settles whatever the issue in dispute is." And IOW as well, Skeptic X is up to his usual response, and that is, a non-response. He wouldn't know a midrash from a marshmallow, or a pesher from a pisher, so his only resort is to play games of "how do we know" while ignoring addressing the actual argument. Know that game? Yes, we do:

    TILL: I went to the dentist today and had a tooth pulled.

    MCKINSEY: I don't believe it. I think you had that tooth knocked out in a fight.

    T: WHAT! Where do you get off with that?

    M: I think you're just covering up something and don't want to admit you got bested in a fight.

    T: Baloney! Do you see any other bruises on me? How could I have been in a fight?

    M: You probably lost after one punch, ya wimp!

    T: OH YEAH! Well, here's a card from my dentist showing I had an appointment today, plus the lollipop he gave me for being good. So what do you say to that?

    M: Big deal. You can get a lolly from any candy store and say it came from a dentist. And you could swipe a card from his desk and write your own appointment in it.

    T: Well, this is his handwriting! I can prove it! Here's a letter from him with the same handwriting.

    M: You probably paid him off to make that stuff, to get out of the embarrassment of being bested in a fight. Or maybe you're a good forger. Or you hired one. Heck, you probably even paid your dentist to say you were there today. You'll do anything to get out of jams like this, just like you did with Ezion-geber.

    T: &%$#*#!

    If Skeptic X had any goods at all in the intellectual quarter, he wouldn't pull nonsense like this. He would say, i.e., "Rom. 10:18 can't be an example of such exegesis because..." But no, he thinks all he has to do is throw hayseed around, and suggest that he could find an author that said Paul meant the whole world, it would mean a draw (not unless that author had additional data proving oik meant the whole globe, sorry -- Skeptic X's simple-mindedness notwithstanding, the issue is more complex than that). Well, then Skeptic X needs to get up and do some legwork rather than sitting in the La-Z-Boy burping out a stream of "how do you knows" like McKinsey does above. That's a feat that can be accomplished by any person with an IQ of 32 and Skeptic X has yet to raise himself above that level. Skeptic X is right on one thing only: Where he says he "must have banged [his] head pretty well."

    Gee! Now it's time to watch as Skeptic X tries to whine and strain for the word ge. To be sure he gets the gullible Skeppies nice and confused, he starts thusly:

    Skeptic X thinks he has found the magic poof for this one in that "qualifiers were almost always used with ge to indicate when it was being used in its limited sense of land within a region" (i.e., "land of Egypt").

    Does [Holding] deny that such qualifiers were almost always used when the limited meaning was intended? If so, why didn't he favor us with some examples where limited meaning was unequivocally intended without qualifiers or some other contextual clue to the limited meaning in the contexts where the word was used?

    No, Skeptic X, I DIDN'T deny that "such qualifiers were almost always used when the limited meaning was intended," but notice how Skeptic X goes on to pose a Stupid Skeptic Question anyway as though I had. This is a pile of manipulative malarkey Skeptic X uses to lull his gullible readers into pep rally mode. Anyways, after confirming in great and boring detail he thinks that the lack of a delimiter means we can assume ge means the whole globe, and after playing more lull-the-reader games with respect to where he barked out Luke 23:44 (meaning, he quoted and abused it); after he re-re-re-re-peats his abuse of the verse for snoozing effect and reminds the reader of the issue with Matthew 24:30; after he reminisces about life in France a bit (hoping by now the reader is dazed to sleep -- snooooooorrrre -- someone get that man a rocking chair and a corncob pipe!); after forgetting that Paul used ge in Romans 10:18 so that this is not a shift to a separate issue as he claims when I note the delimit of oik in that verse, and requoting ALL of his material on Rom. 10:14-18 and issuing a reminder of the 15 NT examples and his hayseed reply on Longenecker -- just in case you forgot to read what he already said -- we get to where I noted that the "darkness, whatever it was, was an airborne phenomenon." After blattering that we're just assuming it happened (which sorry, isn't the issue at hand, but is a distraction for Skeptical cheer -- whether it did happen is another debate subject that has nothing to do with the topic of what the NT says was the extent of the darkness), Skeptic X says he doesn't know where I get the idea that the darkness was airborne. He thinks I mean it originated in the air; no, I mean that is where the effect took place, which leads to my next point that it "was unlikely to have been constrained by geographical considerations." On this point Skeptic X says he agrees, and then goes off on some silly tangent about how if it "suddenly went dark at Jerusalem at midday, because the sun's light had failed, then it would have become dark in Egypt, Syria, Babylon, and the rest of the hemisphere." Oh, really. So if a cloud over Jerusalem goes over the sun, then it goes dark in Hong Kong, too? Wow, that was a big cloud, wasn't it? After distracting a bit more with comments about miracles, and making the same bonehead error in assumption we tagged him for here, we get to my main point where I note the big problem:

    It could hardly have been whipping a map out to say, "I only want to be over Judea, so I have to stop at this border." So excuse me, Skeptic X, but how on ge is Luke going to be able to say "over the land of..." anything?

    Skeptic X says "that's easy" and it is -- by evading and playing dumb:

    If he meant that darkness fell over only the region in and around Jerusalem, as some people think he meant, then he could have said, "Darkness came over all the land [ge] of Judah." After all, isn't this what the writer of Exodus did in recording the plague of darkness? Didn't he say that "there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt" (Ex. 10:22)? Did he not use a "delimiter" to indicate exactly where the darkness was?

    Hello? Hello? That's not an answer to my question. Skeptic X has snake oil in his ears and flies in his eyes, like Appleby. Skeptic X hasn't actually got to my point on this yet, which proves that he just carelessly weasels his way through these responses with no other editing or reverse-engineering than a spell-checker. Now watch what Skeptic X does when we get to that point:

    Unless the darkness matched or had a reasonably close match to a specific socio-political border, and/or unless Luke was able to hire a satellite to check it out or go around asking everyone in the Empire, "Hey, psst, did you see it that day and did it match your borders?"

    If it had happened, no one at that time would have had to ask, "Did you see it that day?" Millions would have seen it and left records of the phenomenon all over the hemisphere. As it is, no verifiable records of such an event exist. Why, not even the apostle John, who presumably was present in Jerusalem that day to witness everything that happened mentioned it in his gospel. He said nary a word about it. Just think about it. A phenomenal three-hour period of darkness fell at midday, the apostle John was right in the thick of it, but he didn't even mention it when he wrote his account of that day. This would be somewhat like a person who was at ground zero in New York on September 11, 2001, who would later write an account of that day but wouldn't even mention the airliners crashing into the World Trade Center.

    Skeptic X whizzes right by the whole point, which is that there is NO WAY if this darkness was over a limited sector that Luke could have figured out whether the phenomenon matched political borders allowing him to say the darkness was over the "whole land of X" specifically. At best he could easily discern whether it was over the whole land of Judaea; if it peeked out over the borders of Samaria, what then? Is he going to waste space delineating how it covered also 5.4% of Samaria, 1.2% of Edom, 7.1% of Nabatea? Skeptic X misses this point and instead evades with a distraction that John doesn't mention it (which ignores factors we have noted here as well as the point that John wrote specifically to supplement Mark -- the ancients did not share Skeptic X's goofy gee-whiz mentality) and then evades further by chasing himself in a circle:

    As for matching borders, no one would have asked about that either, because if the sun's light had failed, borders wouldn't have been involved, because darkness would have covered the entire hemisphere. I'll give [Holding] a quick science lesson. We have daylight because of the sun's light. If there is no light from the sun, because the sun's light failed, then there would be no daylight anywhere.

    In other words, Skeptic X merely begs back with his original argument and doesn't even answer the point that no delimit was possible or practicable for Luke to lay out for a phenomenon he could hardly get out and measure from a pilot's seat or a satellite hookup. Skeptic X tries to foist a comparison to Egypt and the plague of darkness, but that, sorry, is a no-go: the judgments of the Plagues targeted Egypt (the crucifixion darkness had no specified judgment-target, though Judaea, if anyplace, would have been one) and in that case as well, Israel could testify to having light in their neck of the woods. Luke would have had to survey the entire world (including the parts he didn't know existed!) to know who did or did not see darkness at that time, and that is simply impracticable; hence there is absolutely every reason to see "the whole land" in view as that of Judaea, with the premise in mind that the phenomenon probably did not stick to political borders and may have extended somewhat over adjacent territories. Skeptic X avoids answering this point because he knows he can't. In contrast, since Jesus was condemned via the specific actions of the Jewish leadership, using Rome as their do-boy, and since no Gentile had rejected his message and he had never gone beyond the area of Palestine, a darkness limited to the general environs of Judaea is a prima facie likelihood.

    But now to ge on Matthew 24:29-30. Skeptic X spends the next several years wasting time giving examples of ge with and without delimiters, and repeating his entire article on the subject, which the above already answers where he likes it or not, and which only his followers will be fooled into thinking has direct relevance here. We get to:

    The delimiter is given by the use of the word tribes, which we showed to be a reference to Israel's tribes. We said of this: ...Matthew uses "tribes" elsewhere only of Israel [19:18], and the word is used in the Septuagint to refer to them; and "earth" is ge, or land, can mean a limited area or the entire globe; in context, and in the light of the use of "tribes," as well as the allusion to Zech 12:10 ["And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him"] it most likely means Jerusalem or Judaea only...

    Skeptic X tries to pull a CoC undershirt grab by complaining that, dang it, it just doesn't say "tribes of Israel" in 24:30. "...we come back to a simple principle of literary interpretation that, to borrow an expression from [Holding], seems not to have seeped into that brick that he calls a head: the meaning of words must be determined from the contexts in which they are used." Uh, yeah, Skeptic X, and 19:28 is in Matthew's Gospel and is therefore part of the context of 24:30. Is that a hard enough brick to chew on? We also have the context of the LXX, the rest of the NT, and Zech. 12:10. That's not enough for a fundaliteralist in a jam? Skeptic X tootles:

    If he can hold that thought long enough, I would now like for him to answer a question about Matthew 19:28. If Jesus had said to his disciples, "You who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging all the tribes of the earth [ge]," would tribes have then meant just the tribes of Israel? If so, how would he know this?

    Well ah, simple, Skeptic X, who do we know who has a land with "tribes" using a specific word for that which is elsewhere used of the people of the same land, by numerous writers? I thought so. We also have here the add-on of "twelve thrones" which points right in Israel's face, but even without that, we have more than enough to exegetically determine that the tribes of Israel are enough, and it is only by manufacturing bacon-saving excuses devoid of context that Skeptic X can get out of that.

    Here's another question. Let's suppose that Jesus had said, "You who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging every tribe and tongue and people and nation in all the earth." If he had said this, would "every tribe" have meant just all the tribes of Israel? If so, how would he know?

    Depends on what word was used for "nation" and "people". If "tribe" is phule that would cover the Jews. Skeptic X thinks he's pulling a fast one here, but it took all of .02 seconds to realize that he's alluding here to Rev. 14:6, which, sorry, won't help his lame cause one bit. We'll get to that when he finishes putting his suspenders on.

    Skeptic X next pulls out his water pistol on the use of phule in the LXX. He admits I am right that it was used to refer to the tribes of Israel, but then pulls a dum dum by saying I "didn't bother to mention that the Septuagint also used phule in reference to non-Hebraic tribes and nations." Unfortunately for Skeptic X all he's doing is pointing out the deficiencies of his own research and showing that he is patently unaware of important facts about the LXX that emasculate his point. I was aware of this usage; an Adventist reader pointed out some of the very verses Skeptic X does. But there's a wee problem here from Skeptic X. In the OT the Hebrew word consistently used to refer to the 12 tribes of Israel is shebet. But:

    Genesis 12:3 And I will bless those that bless thee [Abraham], and curse those that curse thee, and in thee shall all the tribes of the earth [phulai tes ges] be blessed.

    The word here is not shebet; it is mishpachah. Same in Gen. 28:14, Ezekiel 20:32, Amos 3:2, and Zech. 14:17-18, which Skeptic X also cites. If, as Skeptic X's cites insinuate, the LXX used phule for both of these words, they erased a clear distinction in the OT. In contrast, the NT retains the distinction, so that ethnos is used of the Gentiles (Gal. 3:8), or patria (Acts 3:5), when quoting or alluding to the passage from Genesis about Abraham's blessing -- perhaps understandable in light of growing Jewish separatism and nationalism in the NT era and resistance to Hellenizing thought and influence, which was not present at the time of the LXX, a translation which, actually, eased a transition for Jews into Greek culture. So what it boils down to is, while I can use phule in the LXX as support, Skeptic X cannot use phule in verses like these as a reply. That's what a larger amount of contextual study, rather than "reading the Bible like a newspaper, McKinsey style", will do for you. It gets you out of simple-minded analysis like Skeptic X's and into understanding of why the texts were written the way they were written. Better luck next time, Skeptic X.

    Next up, the allusion (Skeptic X typed "illusion" -- so much for Mr. Perfecto in editing) to Zech. 12:10. Skeptic X begins by whining that I "made no attempt at all to explain [my]self," having apparently forgotten that this was explained in the original olivet01 article, so that the fault is his for forgetting to address it in the first place. He then tries in his forgetfulness to "step in and explain what [Holding] meant" but then winds out with a spiel on a parallel to Rev. 1:7 that has zero to do in this context with what I was referring to and isn't at all what I "meant". He then toots out a spiel against a preterist interpretation of Zechariah, which does not address a word I have written, so we'll let Skeptic X gnaw in embarrassment for a while and let him see if he can go back and figure out what I really "meant" by an "illusion" (ha ha!) to Zech. 12:10.

    In regards to Rev. 1:7 next, Skeptic X dusts off his aged AG lexicon and notes that they say Matt. 24:30 and Rev. 1:7 are examples of phule in a broader sense. Well, sorry, if that game is valid then Skeptic X needs to concede on the meaning of epi for Mark 2:26 that he is now avoiding. After all, BAGD says so, right? If Skeptic X is consistent, he'll give in, but he isn't, so he won't. Actually AG is here falling under the same exegetical-bias rubric we noted above, where they simply couldn't imagine a local "end of the world".

    After a passover in which, for now the third straight time, he "doesn't get" the "90% of my website" error he made, and a whine in which he says he can't resist mentioning typos because "they demonstrate how little time he puts into editing and revising" (sorta like that "illusion" bit above proves Skeptic X has quantity rather than quality as his goal, eh? -- BTW, Skeptic X, is it possible to seek quality in one area by giving less attention to another? Hmmm? No, we wouldn't want to stop burning that straw man, now would we?), and an admonition to make sure we check back on what he says (um, like Skeptic X did on the Zechariah allusion, er, illusion above?), we get to where Skeptic X tries to weasel around the use of phule on no less than 17 out of 31 occasions, that refers ONLY to the tribes of Israel but NEVER to any other peoples clearly (i.e., the people of Samaria are called an ethnos [Acts 8:9]) by insisting that no, if we don't have a delimiter, the overwhelming use of phule by individual NT writers to mean the "tribes" of Israel means we are allowed to say it means tribes all over the danged planet. That gives him full leave to assume the whole enchilada. Skeptic X wants contextual reasons? He HAS them; we cited them; he just doesn't like them and has to spray weasel odor around to evade them. So now apparently stung by Hyper the Literalist once too often, Skeptic X returns to his childhood and effects the manner of a teacher, going over verses with phule and insisting that the delimiters are what make the day; otherwise "tribes" must mean all of them. Oh and indeed? Let's play the same game:

    Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

    Okay, little X, you are now in detention for pulling on Sunny's pigtails and dipping your nose in the inkwell. Time for some remedial lessons. Now how do we know that Matthew uses phule to mean the tribes of Israel here? Yes? You don't know? How about you, Dontavian? Why yes, that's right. He uses it to describe the tribes of Israel in 19;28, but uses ethnos, never phule to refer to the Gentiles. At least 12 times, in fact. Bonus answer? Yes, the Zech. 12:10 allusion. In fact, why don't we go over that now, since little X forgot his last lesson? Yes, Dontavian, you are right, Matt. 24:30 does contain allusions to Zechariah and a specific prophecy against Israel. "…then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn…" Where does that refer to, Dontavian? Yes, it is a composite midrash of Zech. 11:6 and 12:10: "For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them." "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Very good, Dontavian. Your knowledge of first century Jewish exegetical methods is much better than little X's. I'm sorry, little X, you weren't paying attention in class and that's why you're here. That and demanding that Mr. Cosentino pay for 90% of your lunch. Dontavian, do you think you could drop an H-bomb on Canton, Illinois and wake little X up for us? Thank you.

    Rev. 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

    Little X, can you explain to us how we can tell John here means the tribes of Israel, as well as in 5:9, 11:9, 13:7, 14:6? You don't care? Of course you don't. Priscilla? Very good! He uses it a whopping 16 times that way. That's a very good indication. And, bonus? Yes, he too alludes to Zech. 12:10 here. Very good. Priscilla, do you suppose you could slap little X with a wet mackerel to see if you can get his attention? Thank you. Don't forget to slap him for hacking out the word "illusion" above. I'll bet he meant "allusion" but who knows given the state of his scholarship. At only six years of age little X hasn't done a lot of studying. Why he even doesn't get that "every tribe and tongue and people and nation" is a phrase that is inclusive of Israel and their neighbors and specifies each by their normal designation. What a silly little boy.

    Yes, Bubbalou, you had something to add? Why yes, that was a very good idea to check the citations that BAGD made in secular literature. Which one do you have? Dionysus of Halicarnassus from Roman Antiquities! Very good! Yes, Bubbalou, please do let me see that.

    Hmm. It seems to be a story of how Romulus founded Rome. It says he was chosen king and Dionysus praises his military and governing expertise. Now he says Romulus took all his men and divided them into three groups, and each of these three groups into ten groups each. My goodness! It seems that he called those three groups "tribes" - and Dionysus renders this into phule in Greek! How interesting! So unlike the Jewish usage to refer to an ancestral group, it seems here phule is used to refer to a random division of men with no biological connection to each other. My goodness, that certainly doesn't help little X, does it? You don't suppose Matthew 24:30 and Rev. 1:7 had such a thing in mind, do you? No, I didn't think so either. Maybe little X will have better luck somewhere else.

    So what can we conclude, class? Yes, the NT clearly uses ethnos over and over to refer to non-Jews. It clearly uses phule over and over, though not as many times, to refer to the Jews. Now given this, what can we conclude? Yes, Alfonso? That is correct. The evidence all points to these words when alone and without a delimiter meaning non-Jews and Jews respectively, and it is up to the respondent to shoulder the burden of proving otherwise. Thank you, class, you may all go except little X. He has to write I will not repeat my Deuteronomy 9 argument 865,837,382 times, once for each time he repeated it.

    Well, at least now we know why Skeptic X's exegetical skills are so elementary -- he uses 10-12 year olds to interpret the text for him!

  • For the material continuing on preterism, see here.
  • For the material on Jer. 7:22, see here.
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