A Final Note in Response to Brother Barnett

Jeff Smelser

      The one new idea that brother Barnett introduces in his latest article has to do with the Hebrew preposition used in Jer. 5:8. In examining that word, he supposes he finds "a foundation for Turnerís contention on that passage and on Mark 10:11." As you may recall, Turner's endeavor was to show that epi with accusative could mean with, and he offered as evidence the Greek text of Jeremiah 5:8. It's a long way from the Hebrew preposition in Jer. 5:8 to the meaning of Jesus' words in Mk. 10:11, a distance not even Turner tried to traverse.

      But let's look at it, keeping in mind that I know significantly more about Hebrew than does my dog, and she could even be Jewish, having shown up here as a stray from who knows where. In any event, venturing warily into the world of Hebrew with my meager skills, as best I can tell, the preposition in Jer. 5:8 is a word that generally means to or toward. The rendering found in the KJV, is "everyone neighed after his neighbor's wife." Most translations describe them as neighing after or for their neighbors' wives. After, for, to - each of these words is used to bring to mind the stallion that neighs to get the attention of a mare. He calls to her, not with her. I don't know of a translation rendering it so that the neighing is with a neighbor's wife. Regardless of what Brother Barnett may learn about the range of meanings encompassed by this Hebrew word in various passages, an argument from the Hebrew aimed at establishing with as a meaning of epi at Jer. 5:8 in the Septuagint would have to be based on the use of the Hebrew word in Jer. 5:8. And in Jeremiah 5:8, in Hebrew as in Greek, the text speaks of men as horses neighing to, not  with, the wives of their neighbors. I'll invite someone who knows more about Hebrew than my dog and I do to comment more definitively on the Hebrew word. But whatever may be said about the Hebrew preposition as used in Old Testament passages other than Jer. 5:8, it's not going to change the meaning of the Greek text of Mk. 10:11.

      Aside from this Hebrew argument, Brother Barnett breaks no new ground. He argues against a figurative adultery idea, but I have not and do not advocate such in Mk. 10:11, and I think anyone who reads what I have written will be able to see that. He again hammers home an understanding of the function of a preposition, a point that is not in dispute.

      He tries to salvage the relevance of his referenced 19th century lexicographers, and simultaneously mocks the best of them. If an early edition supported his theory, he is confident it was superior to the revised edition that did not. And what of 20th century works? He faults the two editions that have been the standard of New Testament Greek lexicography for the past twenty-five years, saying, "somebody goofed," because they do not support his theory.

      He also endeavors to shore up his arguments from 1 Cor. 7:5 and Hebrews 8:8. Regarding these particular passages, I am content to leave what I have written and what he has written before the readers. But regarding the notion that we can expect to readily find passages in the New Testament supporting brother Barnett's proposal for the meaning of epi in Mk. 10:11, consider this: Nigel Turner's effort to make the case involved a convoluted argument from Jeremiah 5:8 comparing the phrasing there with that found in Ps. of Solomon 8:10 and based on speculation that "some in the early Christian period regarded the verbs moicaomai and cremetizw (= neigh, js) as practically synonymous." Wouldn't it have been far easier to point to one of the passages brother Barnett cites? The point is, they don't show what brother Barnett thinks they show.

      Brother Barnett refers to the Greek dictionary in the New Strong's Concordance published by Nelson. A careful reading of the entry for epi will show that, contrary to brother Barnett's assertion, Strong does not include with among the meanings of epi with accusative, or for that matter, among the meanings of epi at all. By convention, Strong listed in italics the meanings for each Greek word, using a colon to mark the end of the listing of meanings. Thereafter he cited all the different English renderings found in the KJV, whether or not the English and Greek were similar in meaning. These are not in italics. For example, for legw, Strong cited "shew" as a rendering because in 1 Cor. 15:51, the KJV has "I shew you a mystery." Of course, legw does not mean "shew." Regarding epi with the accusative case, Strong offered only toward and upon as meanings, while indicating there are other nuances by means of "etc." Then comes the colon, and thereafter the section Brother Barnett cites. Brother Barnett is referring to the section that is not intended to be a listing of case specific meanings, but of KJV renderings.

      Brother Barnett wants me to answer two questions. He writes:

I want brother Smelser to remember the two questions I asked him to answer. (1) Is it your position that after a manís unlawful remarriage that his divorced wife can then "put him away" and remarry with Godís approval?
My response: No.
(2) Are the last twelve verses of Mark 16, including verses 15-16, along with numerous other words, verses and phrases, a part of the New Testament or must they be deleted as uninspired? Donít forget. We want to know.
My response: I hate to disappoint brother Barnett, but I really am not sure what to make of Mk. 16:9-20. However, there is nothing I teach that is established only by means of Mk. 16:9-20, and therefore, while brother Barnett's question is one I would like to be able to answer definitively, the uncertainty of the text there does not present a practical problem for me. What that has to do with the topic at hand, the reader may guess.

      Brother Barnett's latest article did enlighten me on one point - the captain of Pharaoh's bodyguard was "Potiphar," rather than "Potipher" as I had spelled it. I would also like to note that in my second article, there is an omission in the list of passages where we find the expression epi to auto. All the chapters and verses are cited, but the last two (11:20, 14:23) should be designated as being in 1 Corinthians.

      I am satisfied with the exchange at this point and intend to allow this brief response to serve as the conclusion to the exchange for my part. I thank brother Barnett for his responses to the remarks I have made.