Our Blessed Mother & The Saints


The Revenge of the Munchkin

As many of you know from recent events in the apologetics world, Eric Svendsen appeared on James' White's Dividing Line program with Catholic Apologist, Gerry Matatics on November 18. As Gerry was blasting Svendsen's deficient thesis on hes hou to "smitherenes", I was concurrently posting my watershed article of the same on my website. Those interested in my discussion of the issue, my review of the webcast debate, or other highlights of events can go to the general hes hou index page located here.

After completing a major refutation of an opponent's work, there is always a time of mild anxiety. After all, one never knows if one blundered something badly. Needless to say, after reading Eric's rebuttal to my critique, I was shocked and buoyed - not so much on what it said - but really on what it did not say.

In his rebuttal, Svendsen spends most of the time interacting with an Appendix to my paper. The Appendix in question surveys various academics who are all competent in Koine Greek, some of whom are experts in the language. Despite Svendsen's dismissive and, in some cases, scurrilous attempts to dismiss their opinions, however, all of their comments are indeed valid in a similar way that lexical evidence is on this question. That was all they were there for - as support. They were not central to my paper. That's why they were in an "appendix".

Suffice it to say that Svendsen's focus on this part of my essay nakedly demonstrates just how thorough a victory the piece has scored. He failed miserably to interact with the most important points of my essay. Then again, if you have essentially lost the debate precisely because of those points, you really don't want your peanut gallery to concern themselves with the brute facts of the situation.

When your back is against the wall as an apologist and your opponent has basically floored you, you don't have many options. One of the few available is to resort to diversion. If you can divert the argument away from the more important points that your opponent has advanced and onto secondary issues instead, you have a reasonable chance, depending on how slick you are, at confusing and deflecting what would otherwise be the "end of the (yellow brick) road" for your position. Unfortunately for Eric, not only does he find himself in the position described above, but he's not very slick at diversion either. Mind you, the success of diversion, regardless of raw apologetic talent, is inversely proportional to the strength of the blows levied against you. As such, we cannot expect the impossible from Eric. The crushing weight placed on his thesis was so enormous that not even Atlas could hold it up. Hence the diversion. Totally understandable.

We should not be surprised that Svendsen will not submit to the evidence arrayed against him. After all, he has invested considerable time and money in his doctorate. Apart from the obvious doctrinal ramifications of his thesis and the so-called contribution to scholarship which he claims to have advanced, Svendsen's doctorate and credibility is hanging on the line with his position on hes hou. All of these factors suggest that he would not easily retract his position. But regardless if he retracts his position or not, the final verdict rests with you, dear reader - not with what Eric Svendsen thinks.

Let's get on with it.

Svendsen's comments are in red. My rebuttal is in blue.


I will be responding to Sungenis’ latest tripe (sorry, there’s just no other, more appropriate word to describe his ramblings) while largely ignoring the writings of his spin-off—since I do not consider his spin-off even remotely qualified to address issues regarding the Greek text, I won’t be responding to his articles in full. His name came up in a recent discussion James White and I had with Gerry Matatics on the Dividing Line program, in which Gerry Matatics touted a recent article that John Pacheco, a man who has absolutely no knowledge of the Greek language, wrote in response to my thesis. I don’t wish to dignify the work of someone who is simply way in over his head on this issue by issuing a full response. It would be a huge waste of my time—of which I have precious little—to answer every hothead with an AOL account and a keyboard who happens to take issue with my work.

The translation for those of you who do not understand Svendsenese? "Pacheco's critique decimated my thesis so I will attack his lack of credentials instead of engaging his points." And as for not "wasting his time" with me, he sure does write quite a bit in his rebuttal. Of course, as I explained above, what Eric chooses to address is the name of this game. And, by the way, for those of you who are uninformed, it was this "sidekick" who fed Matatics (and by extension, Robert Sungenis) his most damaging indictments against Svendsen's thesis during the Dividing Line program. Gerry was prepared for this topic because of my work and willingness to share it at an opportune time. And boy, was it ever an opportune time! Not, of course, that this is a big deal. Svendsen knows that it was this "sidekick" who gave him the biggest boot in his fall from self-acclaimed apologetic grace. Right now, Eric is tasting some leather with a decidedly Canadian flavour.

Eric Svendsen can pretend to be just "above it all" as far as I'm concerned. It matters not. When all of the vitriol and ad hominem is cleared away, the only thing that matters is the evidence. Just the facts, Eric! We're not interested in your pomposity.

The first observation to make about Pacheco’s list of scholars is that none of them—not one—gives any evidence he has read my work. Nor is there any evidence that Pacheco represented my arguments and evidence fairly—in fact, I will show that the evidence points otherwise.

No, the evidence actually refutes him quite handily. That is why Svendsen will address the points that he wants to address, not the ones that he should address. Moreover, no scholar is required to have read his work to form a judgment on the matter when they grant his argument on evidential grounds, for the sake of argument. I communicated his claims of hes hou usage in the NT corpus as well as his thesis range of 100 B.C.-100 A.D. That's all that they need to know. Not one of them endorsed his views EVEN granting his claims of discontinuation (which now we know to be clearly false) within his tendentious range of research. So the point, here, is that even granting him his thesis on presumed evidential grounds does not exempt critique on methodological or grammatical grounds. His work on this question comprises of 30 pages which are mostly devoted to going over every instance in his manufactured range - except, of course, the oneS that I found which destroy his thesis. He has few insights - if any - which would cause anyone to alter their opinion of the question at hand. Trust me. White, myself, and maybe 3 other internet jocks have sacrificed our precious time in reading Svendsen's book. No one can therefore hold bona fide scholars to a standard that even the apologetic world is generally contemptuous of. Unless Svendsen resurrects this topic from time to time on his website, it would die an ignominious death. After the consequent tit-for-tat that my piece will have produced over the next few weeks, hes hou will float into oblivion. Mission accomplished.

Yet, he is contradicted by his Roman Catholic betters, including J.A. Fitzmyer, John McKenzie and J. P. Meier, all of whom recognize that the New Testament usage of aldelphos [sic] excludes the Roman Catholic interpretation of the “brothers” and “sisters” of Jesus.

Then why doesn't Eric use the same standard when it applies to hes hou? Under that rubric, Svendsen's thesis would be completely debunked as Brown, Fitzmeyer, Meier, and a host of Protestant bona fide scholars reject his thesis (Cf. Mary in the New Testament, p. 86-87; Meier A Marginal Jew, Vol. 1, p. 320-324). Are they too unversed in the Greek?

And I also agree that it is difficult to label these kinds of Greek rules “iron clad” without a significant number of examples (which I happen to have for the construction under consideration).

Is this a joke? There are 15 instances in the New Testament which denote either a continuation or discontinuation meaning. Is this Svendsen's idea of a significant number of examples? He found a total of 39 instances in non-biblical literature within his range and 52 instances in the Septuagint, of which 5 denoted continuation. Extrapolated that would mean finding 1.44 instances of continuation in the New Testament! Eric needs to go back to school, enroll in "Statistics 101", and then learn the phrase "statistically irrelevant" - because that is what his thesis is.

I have to point out upfront the first indication that Pacheco has misrepresented my argument to these scholars; namely, that I omit LXX texts from consideration.” I do nothing of the kind. Indeed, I have an entire chapter devoted to it, not to mention an appendix. If Pacheco knew anything of my views on this, he would know the point I make regarding the LXX is that the usage his denomination needs for Matt 1:25 was in use at one time, but gradually fell out of common usage, as all the evidence suggests. Even in the LXX, the phrase is used only a handful of times in the way Pacheco needs. Sadly, he demonstrates that he doesn’t understand this point, doubtless leaving the impression with these scholars that I simply ignored the LXX, didn’t do the proper research on it, and arrived at hasty conclusions

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. Let's take this one tear drop at a time. First of all, Svendsen's thesis is not JUST about hes hou "gradually [falling] out of common usage as all of the evidence suggests". It is about holding to the absurd proposition that hes hou denotes a continuation of the main clause before 100 B.C. and after 100 A.D. but not in between. This is the implication of Svendsen's thesis, and that's why it is a sham-thesis. It is a vain attempt at special pleading.

Svendsen also claims that I misrepresented his thesis. I did nothing of the kind. Of course he covers the Septuagint in his book. I know that. I read the book! That is hardly in dispute. WHAT IS IN DISPUTE is Svendsen's absurd exclusion of the Septuagint as a grammatically relevant corpus on his thesis. In other words, according to every source that I have seen and heard from, Svendsen has no right to exclude the impact of the Septuagint's evidence on hes hou in the New Testament. I challenge him to cite one New Testament Scholar from any source which holds this view. Eric's thesis, while conceding the LXX usage, considers the LXX SEMANTICALLY OBSOLETE (his words, mark them) when considering the issue of his thesis. AND IT IS TO THAT ASSERTION, that so many people gave a contemptuous backhand. Even Svendsen's hero, D.A. Carson, treats the GRAMMAR of the Septuagint and New Testament as one corpus:

"So also in the biblical languages: Homeric words no longer found in the Septuagint or the New Testament are of relatively little interest to the biblical specialist...It follows, then, that we should be a trifle suspicious when any piece of exegesis tries to establish the meaning of a word by appealing first of all to its usage in classical Greek rather than its usage in Hellenistic Greek." (Exegetical Fallacies, p.34,36)

And if it’s not correct, it will be demonstrated as such by the research. Indeed, that is what the research is for—to test sectarian truth claims against the observable usage of grammar.

Precisely, Eric. And now that you have been shown the evidential contradictions to your thesis, both in the New Testament as well as in the non-biblical literature of YOUR OWN range - methodological criticisms aside - when precisely will you be retracting your thesis?

...if a clear example of this usage can be found in the literature of Matthew’s own day, then Roman Catholics may have a case for their understanding of Matt 1:25.

Tell us your opinion of Matthew 18:34, Eric. DESPITE an IMPLIED cessation, the author has used hes hou in such a way that DESPITE its IMPLICATION, the OPPOSITE result WAS ULTIMATELY intended!!!! What this does is blast any definitive ruling on hes hou (or hes alone, for that matter) out of the water. Using hes alone or hes hou EVEN to imply cessation does not, by itself, guarantee the INTENDED FINAL result!

I want to call attention to three things in this quotation. First, Beduhn’s opening statement—“In regard to the meaning of hes hou, there is nothing in this expression itself that explicitly indicates or necessarily implies reversal of action”—demonstrates once again that these scholars were not provided with my research, but instead were shown some gross misrepresentation of it.

There is no misrepresentation of the thesis. Everyone knows what Eric is trying to say. He is simply using the fact that some people like to use the word "reverse" for "discontinue". Svendsen tried the same tactic with Gerry during the webcast interview, and Gerry would have nothing of his puerile sidesteps. In the context of Matt 1:25, reversal and discontinuation mean the same thing. Eric's attempt to divert the argument, yet again, is simply another instance of a man whose desperation demands that he cling to anything except interacting with his real problems. He thinks his pet thesis has so many nuances that no one can possibly understand it unless expressed with the same jargon he uses. Give me a break.

Third, exceedingly instructive is the fact that Beduhn acknowledges these categories and nuances of hes and hes hou at all. After all, these nuances are not found in a lexicon or grammar, and they come very close to the same distinctions in usage that I personally have observed in my own research. Yet, these are the very distinctions that Pacheco, Sungenis, Matatics and company deny are there. Well, are they there or not?

Eric, pay attention. While Beduhn may admit a tendency of hes hou, he qualifies that by saying: "But, having said that, we can see examples of hes used alone that has that same latter function ('until'), as in Mt. 2:15, Mt. 11:13, Mt. 24:39, Mt. 26:29. We even have a case where, in the same passage, hes hou is used interchangeably with hes (Mt. 18:30, 34). hes hou is sometimes used with the looser meaning 'while' or 'in the meantime' (Mt. 14:22, Mt. 26:36). So the particle hou does not, in itself, determine the meaning of the expression hes hou. The larger context of the expression hes hou has that determining function. The expression had a range of usage, and while the inclusion of hou tends towards more specificity of a point of time (as the literal translation 'until when' suggests), it does not always or necessarily have that meaning."

What part of "So the particle hou does not, in itself, determine the meaning of the expression hes hou" don't you understand, Eric?

Since Pacheco has never sat at the feet of D.A. Carson, I think I’m in just a tad better position to know what Carson intends by this—and I address this in detail toward the close of this article. Suffice it here to say that when Carson speaks of a “profound influence” of the LXX, he has in mind theological terms, not the use of conjunctions and particles.

No he doesn't. He is speaking about grammar and not theology. That's why he says "...any piece of exegesis [which] tries to establish the meaning of a word by appealing first of all to its usage in classical Greek rather than its usage in Hellenistic Greek." There would be no point in referring to CLASSICAL Greek if Carson meant theology because - clearly - classical Greek has nothing to do with Christian theology! The sentence would make absolutely no sense. As is more than apparent from the context of his statement, Carson is simply trying to remind his students that Classical Greek grammar has its limitations on the Septuagint and New Testament Greek grammar. That's the same point Svendsen HIMSELF likes to beat his opponents over the head with - over and over again! Eric must have gotten too many boots to the head from Carson while sitting at his feet beforehand to have missed this point.

First of all, the phrase in question is achri vs. achri hou in the subjunctive, not merely achri hou by itself.

Yes, and did you restrict hes hou to any mood or tense in your thesis? No you did not! Your thesis, Eric, does not include any restriction on the basis of moods. So in my Appendix, I kept my analysis of achri hou on the same GENERAL plane (by ignoring moods) as your analysis of hes hou did which also ignored moods. For lack of a better expression, I compared my apples to your apples, and did not venture into moods because you, yourself, did not do so! You cannot claim achri hou helps your cause unless you want to change your thesis on hes hou to include a particular mood or tense. Feeling lucky? Go for it. But remember, unlike your current sham thesis, you will STILL have to provide EVIDENCE and a VALID METHODOLOGY on how your NEW thesis APPLIES to Matthew 1:25’s mood or tense! Let’s see how many examples you can find in order for your thesis to make it on to the radar screen. You’re already dealing with a starved population. This should be amusing to watch.

As a side note, Svendsen actually DID NOT make the subjunctive mood distinction regarding achri hou during his 1999 debate with Gerry Matatics (Cf. 58:20-58:39). That is why there is no mention of this subjunctive qualification in my "Eric's Top 10 Errors" page (Error #6). He did make the qualification during the recent pow-wow with Matatics on White's Nov. 18 Dividing Line webast, but this was obviously long after I wrote my observation (based on the 1999 debate). I guess the "rapid pace" of the 1999 debate caused Eric to forget (yet again) to mention this qualification. You have to wonder whether the man should be doing any oral debate given his penchant for forgetting to mention rather important points.

And Beyer is demonstrably wrong. He gets this from Smyth’s grammar (a Classical, not a Koine grammar), and it does not apply to Koine Greek. Indeed, the case is the precise opposite. All one need do is look at every instance of hes hou with the negative to see that I’m right on this. Every instance with the negative implies reversal of the action of the main verb (not simply cessation in this case).

Oh I get it. I am supposed to believe that a real scholar relied solely on Classical Greek to draw such a conclusion? I doubt that. At the very least, his professional, scholarly, and - note this well - UNBIASED opinion on a grammatical question determined that there was no substantial difference between classical Greek and Koine Greek on this particular issue. What is the alternative? Taking Svendsen's word over an impartial and extremely technical source like Beyer's work, "Semitishce Syntax im Neuen Testament" - a work that was cited by Brown in his own book Birth of the Messiah and then later in the ecumenical work, Mary in the New Testament? Oh please, stop it, Eric. You're thesis is dead. You're just embarrassing yourself now. Before I was angry. Now, I have been reduced to pitying you.

Actually, it’s not amateurish at all if one understands my intent and the context in which it is stated. Gerry Matatics insisted we limit ourselves to lexicons to exhaust the meaning of a Greek construction. Lexicons are focused on words, not on grammatical constructions. They are simply not intended to exhaust the usage of a Greek construction. That’s why grammars exist. hes hou can, of course, be found in lexicons under general headings of hes (as can other grammatical constructions). But a lexicon is not where one goes to determine usage of that Greek construction. That was my point. Unfortunately, in a fast-paced debate, you don’t always have time to clarify your meaning just the way you’d like.

Anyone remotely familiar with Svendsen's writings knows that he does not let the slightest error or misrepresentation pass - at least as understood in his own mind. These "errors" on his opponents' part are typically over tangential issues with very little consequence to the central issue being debated. Now, when I pull out a "whopper" of a statement by Svendsen which he used for his maximum advantage during the 1999 debate, I'm supposed to give him a pass because he didn't have time to "clarify" his meaning? I don't think so.

If Svendsen MEANT to say what he did above (we really will never know), then he should have simply stated it in his rebuttal to Matatics. Instead he makes a very specific, confident, and bold statement. He says unequivocally:

"You’ll find hes. You’ll find hou. You won’t find hes hou or any other grammatical construction."

In fact, I think we should listen to it again. Click here to listen to Eric's 33 seconds of infamy for yourself! [57:39-58:12]

This particular statement goes well beyond merely maintaining a confusion between grammars and lexicons. Svendsen knew of the EXISTENCE of hes hou in the lexicons, but he still said that no instance of hes hou was to be found in them. And not only did he say that hes hou did not appear in the lexicons, he also said that you won't find "any other grammatical construction"!!! My goodness, Eric. The comments you made before this matter-of-fact statement might fit quite nicely into your excuse above, but the "you won't find hes hou in lexicons or any other grammatical construction" should lead many to question your sincerity.

In any case, this amply illustrates why I cannot waste my time responding at length to Pacheco. He simply is in way over his head on this issue, and he demonstrates that with every new article he writes.

That's right, Eric, RUUUUUNNNN away from the truth as fast as you can. Have you never read how God raises up the lowly to crush the proud? You'd think that after studying Our Lady for some time, some of this instruction would seep into your heart, or, at the very least, your brain. Obviously, both are impregnable.


The reason it wasn’t included in my work is quite simple; most scholars—even most 20th-century scholars—place it outside the specific time frame in question, estimating it to be closer to a mid-second century AD document. Hence, this reference, even if it is to be dated as a second-century document, has no bearing on how exhaustive my work is.

This is becoming so much fun. Stop it, Eric. My supporters will soon demand that I pay you for the price of admission to the entertainment value you’re giving us!

First of all, "most scholars" do not, in fact, support Svendsen's position. In fact, Svendsen's OWN citations which he himself posted on his message board refute him:

Most twentieth century scholarship has tended to treat it as a Jewish work of much earlier origin, probably in the First to Second Centuries A.D....” Mark Goodacre, Univ of Birmingham) www.bham.ac.uk/theology/g.../intro.htm

“In my seminar paper on Joseph and Aseneth I will discuss the most common issues regarding the book which scholars throughout the centuries have looked at. My starting point will be the views held by twentieth century scholars, as they generally tend to agree regarding the text's date (between 100BC and AD 135), provenace (Egypt, probably Alexandria), and authorship (Jewish, possibly of Essene or Therapeutae origins).” www.st-andrews.ac.uk/%7Ew...sasen.html

My goodness, Eric, you even supplied the evidence contradicting your own claim above about "most twentieth century scholars". Are you losing it?

By the way, the Charlesworth collection WHICH I CITE is absolutely standard as a reference work. It is unconscionable that Svendsen didn't even examine the TLG entries on either side of his range to see if any of them potentially intruded on to his thesis.

As David Palm remarked to me: "Svendsen has now publicly conceded that he was not even aware of the Joseph and Aseneth text before the radio 'debate'. How did he manage to write a 'doctoral dissertation' on this topic without being aware of a text which the **consensus** of 20th century scholarship places right smack in the middle of his range? How is it that it took the 'Jack Chick' of Catholic apologetics to bring it to his attention? And oh, by the way, in a real doctoral dissertation a scholar actually interacts with the scholarly consensus, rather than simply dismissing it as too inconvenient to be bothered with. If Svendsen had been vigilant enough to find the J&A reference in the first place, then it would have been incumbent on him then to demonstrate with **solid arguments** why the 20th century scholarly consensus is wrong and this text does not belong inside his temporal boundaries. But Svendsen neither found the reference by himself nor did he interact with the scholars arrayed against him. He simply dismisses it all as irrelevant. Let the reader decide whether it's truly irrelevant."

And as far as Svendsen's claim of his work being "exhaustive" goes, I beg to differ with such a characterization of his book. How could it be? My little 30 page piece was hardly "exhaustive", yet it brought up blunder after blunder in his "exhaustive" work. If Svendsen's work is so exhaustive as being worthy of a doctorate, what do I get? A nobel prize in religion?

Even if we were to grant that J&A dates at AD 50 (the approximate dating of Matthew and a best-case scenario for Sungenis), and thereby represents the sole undisputed exception to the common usage of the day, all that would prove is that the Roman Catholic reading of Matt 1:25 moves from the status of extremely unlikely to the status of highly unlikely.

Folks, this as a close as anyone will ever come in getting Svendsen to conceding anything about anything. And that, my dear reader, is a huge victory for this munchkin. To budge him one inch on his pet thesis is a Herculean task.

That is why we cannot simply ignore the fact that hes hou never bears the meaning “until, and continuing” in any of the literature of Matthew’s day, or in the period leading up to Matthew’s day, reach back to the second or third century BC, find a handful of instances where it bears this meaning, and exclaim AHA!, foist that meaning upon the New Testament period (where it never occurs), and somehow claim that we’ve exercised due diligence in firmly establishing the grammatical evidence in support of our dogmatic beliefs.

Talk to us about Matthew 18:34, Eric. We'll be waiting...

Also, you seem to be ignoring another important point. J&A was not the only reference. In fact, in my opinion, J&A is good, but it is not the best bullet that takes down Eric's thesis. The "silver bullet" is my citation from about Adam in The Apocalypse of Moses. Why is this the "silver bullet? Because Eric cites this passage in his book. He therefore cannot claim that it is outside of his range. I have reproduced the observation from my piece below:

And not only do we find the aforementioned evidence (i.e. the Joseph and Aseneth text) disregarded from Svendsen's research, but even in his own book, we find evidence that contradicts his thesis! Svendsen's writes:

"All five instances of hes hou in the pseudepigraphical book The Apocalypse of Moses have this meaning….

"But when I die, leave me alone and let no one touch me until the angel of the Lord shall say something about me; for God will not forget me, but will seek his own vessel which he has formed. But rather rise to pray to God until I shall give back my spirit into the hands of the one who has given it (31:3-4)."

Here it seems reasonable to suppose that in both instances the action in the main clause would cease after the action in the subordinate clause, so that in both cases, the meaning is only 'until [but not after]’."26

In the first instance of until, it is quite debatable indeed whether the action in the main clause ceases once "until" is reached. On the contrary, as the evidence will show, the action (i.e. "not touching him") actually continues into the subordinate clause. There is no hint at all to suggest that after the angel "says something about him", that his audience would be allowed to touch him. In fact, the presumption should really be that no one should touch him ever again, because, in the next part of the sentence Adam says that God will "seek his own vessel" as if to suggest that his body is God's alone. Although he talks about his spirit in the next sentence, a vessel is normally associated with a body. If it is his body he is talking about, then the action in the main clause does continue.

And this is precisely the most cogent understanding if we were to keep reading for the next several chapters:

But after all this, the archangel asked concerning the laying out of the remains. And God commanded that all the angels should assemble in His presence, each in his order, and all the angels assembled, some having censers in their hands, and others trumpets. And lo ! the 'Lord of Hosts' came on and four winds drew Him and cherubim mounted on the winds and the angels from heaven escorting Him and they came on the earth, where was the body of Adam. And they came to paradise and all the leaves of paradise were stirred so that all men begotten of Adam slept from the fragrance save Seth alone, because he was born 'according to the appointment of God '. Then Adam's body lay there in paradise on the earth and Seth grieved exceedingly over him. (38:1-5)...Then God spake to the archangel(s) Michael, (Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael): 'Go away to Paradise in the third heaven, and strew linen clothes and cover the body of Adam and bring oil of the 'oil of fragrance' and pour it over him. And they acted thus did the three great angels and they prepared him for burial. And God said: 'Let the body of Abel also be brought.' And they brought other linen clothes and prepared his (body) also. For he was unburied since the day when Cain his brother slew him; for wicked Cain took great pains to conceal (him) but could not, for the earth would not receive him for the body sprang up from the earth and a voice went out of the earth saying: 'I will not receive a companion body, till the earth which was taken and fashioned in me cometh to me.' At that time, the angels took it and placed it on a rock, till Adam his father was buried. And both were buried, according to the commandment of God, in the spot where God found the dust, and He caused the place to be dug for two. And God sent seven angels to paradise and they brought many fragrant spices and placed them in the earth, and they took the two bodies and placed them in the spot which they had digged and builded. (38:1-40:7)

As the bolded text above clearly indicates, God sent his angels to recover Adam's body and to bury it. This means that, in the preceding chapter referred to by Svendsen, Adam did indeed expect his body to be retrieved by God, and instructed his followers therefore NOT to touch him - either before his death or after it. As such, the main action of "not touching" continues through hes hou.

And before I let this slip by, let me mention it one more time. Not only is Svendsen's 200 year range completely arbitrary and funny, but he even bungled that badly! Here is a little diagram that I put together on the matter:

The time frame for Svendsen's thesis is depicted in Exhibit A. Since he chose 100 years before and after the birth of Christ instead of 100 years before and after the writing of the Gospel i.e. 50 A.D. (Exhibit B), his whole approach is skewed and compromised. Why? Because the "center point" should be on Matthew's gospel and not on the Birth of Christ! Moreover, if we were to widen the period of search (and there would be no substantial reasons for rejecting this widening) to 200 years before and after Matthew's gospel, a few things are noticeable. First, Svendsen cannot complain of the Septuagint's influence because under this proposed model (Exhibit C), the Septuagint is still excluded (only for the sake of argument). However, by extending this range to 250 A.D., all of the references contradicting Svendsen's generic claim over hes hou, which David and I found in our piece between 180 - 250 A.D., come into play. And Eric's thesis is even further eroded, presuming, of course, there was any substance left to erode.

Why not include the LXX in the consideration of usage for the New Testament period? This is not, as is imagined by Roman Catholic apologists, some arbitrary parameter. The fact is, the Greek of the LXX is different from the Greek of the New Testament and papyri.

Papyri? Papyri? Did someone say papyri? Yeah, I covered that deficiency in Svendsen's work as well...

Moreover, Svendsen appears to have used only the The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae66 database on CD-ROM to conduct his research52, which, although housing virtually all ancient Greek texts from the 8th century B.C. to 600 A.D, does not take into account the epigraphic and papyrus data. One scholar put his reservations this way: "I am familiar with the TLG CD-ROM disk E; the only problem with it is that it includes only literary texts, and I think it likely (a) that literary texts after 100 A.D. might well show the impact of the Atticist archaizing tendencies of reversion to 'purist' grammar of an earlier era; but the epigraphic evidence and especially the papyri…are much more likely to show evidence of variation from some 'normal' usage taught by schoolmasters. This is a well-known fact, so I would be wary of an argument based solely upon the literary texts included in the TLG database. As for inscriptions, they too ought to be checked, although I think any official inscriptions are more likely to reflect official grammatical usage."53

The LXX was composed over the course of a century beginning roughly in 250 BC.—that is directly on the heels of the Classical period. Obviously, it should come as no surprise that we would find words and phrases shifting in nuance, expanding or contracting in their semantic range, or even dropping certain connotations altogether.

So what Eric is saying is that the LXX should not intrude on to his thesis, despite

1. What virtually all and (possibly every) scholarly source says;

2. That the Apostles and New Testament writers used the Septuagint as their "working bible", and, of all of the Old Testament citations in the New Testament, over two-thirds come from the Septuagint.

Yeah, you da' scholar now, Eric!

At one time, the Greek article operated as a personal pronoun. That usage dropped out of existence. At one time the Greek word martys [sic] meant “one who gives testimony in or out of court.” That meaning changed five times and finally rested on “one who dies for a cause”—all within the same Koine Greek period! But that’s just not supposed to happen, according to Roman Catholic apologists! Yet, happen it did—and still does; which is why none of us speaks Elizabethan English these days, even though many of us are highly influenced by the language of the KJV.

Svendsen's thesis is not merely about usage "dropping out of existence". It is more precisely about a particular usage occurring before his thesis range, disappearing within his thesis range, and then mysteriously re-appearing again after his thesis range. There's a word for that: it's called "gratuity". Eric must have been a waiter in his former profession.

The Revenge of the Munchkin

Once upon a time, a certain munchkin was listening to a 1993 (or 1995?) debate between White and Matatics on the four Marian dogmas. It was during this debate that White first broached the hes hou argument. And for the last 10 years and a few debates White and Svendsen had with Matatics in between, this munchkin had to sit and listen to the screeches of joy from Eric Svendsen and James White as they tried to sell the Munchkins the hes hou beanstalk. They did so with virtual impunity in cyberspace and, more recently, in print with Svendsen's book which was released in 2001. While they've been wowing the munchkins with their magic powers over Greek and this hes hou beanstalk, they were also secretly hoping that no Munckin would notice that the beanstalk wouldn't stand up to much scrutiny. Mistaking us munchkins for scarecrows - we're all the same to them, after all - they didn't expect that munchkins actually had brains. In fact, this one certain munchkin got a good look at that beanstalk, gave it a shrug of contempt, waved his little finger, and said ala Arnie: "I'll be back". And off he went to dutifully sharpen his axe for a fateful day.

Now it turns out that this particular munchkin is generally a nice guy and doesn't hold grudges, but he got his knickers in a knot over Svendsen's silly claims of scholarly pretensions and he resolved to do something about it. So, against his nature, he promised himself that he would be patient for years if necessary to find just the right moment - the "Kodak moment" as they used to say. He would wait for that one day when Svendsen least expected it and wasn't looking. Then when that day came...chop chop chop...the beanstalk would fall.

It turns out that Tuesday November 18, 2003 was that day, and for a brief moment of glory as Gerry was laying out the munchkin's case in cyberworld, Mr. Svendsen went silent for a good long time. He was watching his very large beanstalk fall to the ground. Poor Mr. Svendsen. He shouldn't have bought those beans. I do hope he can get a refund. THE END.

John Pacheco
The Catholic Legate
December 8, 2003
Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception



Back to
Hes Hou
Index Page