Robert Sungenis' Third Response to Eric Svendsen Regarding the Matatics Debate and the Heos Hou phrase

Robert's current comments are preceded by "R. Sungenis." Previous comments are preceded by "RS"

Svendsen: Reports of the Witch's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

1. For those of you who have no idea what this title is all about, it is a spoof on the title of a recent article by Robert Sungenis, "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead." As one of my colleagues has pointed out, Sungenis has a fondness for cheesiness, and this one takes the cake. Of course, the reference is clear enough; but how it relates to my thesis on heos hou is unclear. The only way I can make sense of the phrase is that my heos hou thesis terrorized the Roman Catholic community in the same way that the Wicked Witch terrorized the Munchkins in the land of Oz, who then rejoiced with dancing on discovering she was dead. I suppose that is a backhanded compliment of sorts—I just had no idea my thesis had such an impact on the fears of Roman Catholic apologists. For those of you in the Roman Catholic community who were finally able to catch up on long-lost sleep, I'm afraid I don't have good news for you. In the words of Mark Twain, "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." The witch isn't dead after all.

R. Sungenis: Actually, the title was chosen because, like the wicked witch of the west who went around boasting of her powers but was quickly destroyed by mere water, so Svendsen was traveling the Internet with his heos hou broomstick boasting about his powers, yet John Pacheco and his little dog Aseneth, with just a little douse of heos hou water, was able to watch Svendsen melt before our very eyes.

Svendsen: Apologetics is exhausting and time-consuming work. Five percent of your time is spent propagating the truth, and the other 95% is spent defending your work and correcting the errors, misrepresentations, mischaracterizations—and, yes, lies—of those who seemingly have dedicated their very lives to distorting the truth and deceiving the uninformed. They always seem to come up with an “answer” to any truth statement issued from the Evangelical side. As I’ve indicated in previous articles, however, “answers” are not to be equated with meaningful and substantive responses. The former flows like water over the Niagara in the Roman Catholic apologetic world, while the latter always seems to be conspicuously absent. I have to admit frankly, I do not relish this part of my ministry. It is tedious, time-consuming, and, more often than not, results in even more distortions from the Roman Catholic camp that must be corrected.

R. Sungenis: Funny. I was thinking the same thing about Svendsen.

Svendsen: The latest illustration of this comes to us in the form of a plethora of articles written by Roman Catholic epologists responding to my thesis regarding the phrase heos hou in Matthew 1:25. Most of these articles have come from Robert Sungenis, and a few others from one of his sidekick spin-offs, John Pacheco. 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.

R. Sungenis: Tripe? We’ll see. Read on my dear audience.

Svendsen: 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.

R. Sungenis: Of course, Svendsen continues the same disrespect toward Pacheco. Unfortunately for Svendsen, Pacheco has been a thorn in his side that simply won’t go away, and Svendsen is very disturbed by it. As for Greek, whenever Pacheco had to know the Greek, he would ask someone who knew Greek, so Svendsen’s accusation has no merit whatsoever.

Svendsen: I will, however, interact with his so-called “survey of scholars,” and provide one or two examples of just why his writings are unworthy of lengthy comment. These should sufficiently illustrate his ineptness not only with the Greek language but also with understanding the comments of Greek scholars whom he thinks support his contention. Below are a few excerpts from Pacheco’s articles, followed by my comments:

In doing research on this question, including the academic and scholar survey which I conducted, without prejudice I came across no source (other than Svendsen's book endorsements and his doctoral committee) which lent the least bit of support to his thesis. Not one.

Of course we can take Pacheco’s statement “without prejudice” with a grain of salt. I think we all know that anyone who assigns a “Project Patroness” to his book—namely, “Mary under her title as Mother of God”—can hardly be accused of impartiality. Be that as it may, let’s look at the quotes from these scholars, as well as the misguided inquiry that gathered them.

R. Sungenis: As if Svendsen doesn’t have the same impartiality on his side of the fence? To Svendsen everyone else is partial, but he is impartial.

Svendsen: 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.

R. Sungenis: Reason this out for yourselves. Don’t you think that if Svendsen’s thesis had even the remotest amount of scholarly credibility that these scholars would be touting his “discovery” from the housetops? As it stands, it hasn’t made the impact that Svendsen thinks it should have made simply because no one is buying his argument about heos hou.

Svendsen: Nor is there any evidence that Pacheco represented my arguments and evidence fairly—in fact, I will show that the evidence points otherwise. Why is this significant? Simply stated, apart from the opportunity to examine the evidence regarding any Greek construction, all scholars—without exception—will naturally default to the simplest explanation; namely, what that construction should mean based solely on what they’ve always understood that part of speech to mean. Before Granville Sharp discovered the pattern regarding the construction of two nouns governed by a single article and separated by kai, no scholars, if asked, would have seen special significance in that construction. Before McGaughy discovered the pattern regarding the construction of einai connecting two substantives, no scholars, if asked, would have seen special significance in that construction. Before Porter discovered the idea that the relative “baggage” of a word determines whether it is being emphasized by the writer or placed in the background, no scholars, if asked, would have seen special significance in that theory. Before Moeller/Kramer discovered the pattern regarding consecutive accusative substantives, no scholars, if asked, would have seen special significance in that construction.

R. Sungenis: Unfortunately for Svendsen, none of these discoveries have anything to do with heos hou. They are all grammatical and syntactical issues, not philological issues. Svendsen’s thesis is that heos hou ceased functioning with two possibilities, to one possibility, back to two possibilities. No one in the course of Greek linguistic studies has ever proposed such a thesis for a Greek word. And I can tell you this: no one ever will.

Svendsen: But that’s the whole point of Greek studies. If all the rules for Greek grammar had already been discovered and neatly laid out, there would be absolutely no need for anyone to pursue Greek studies any further. We should simply be able to turn to one source to answer any and every question regarding the Greek language. Such a source, of course, does not exist, and never will. The fact is, these kinds of observations about patterns in the Greek language are being made daily—and no one scholar can possibly know apart from looking at the primary research whether his preconceived notions regarding a specific Greek construction is all there is to say about it. Hence, it cannot be emphasized enough that for Pacheco, Sungenis, Matatics—or any other Roman Catholic epologist for that matter (David Palm has apparently thrown his hat into the ring on this one as well)—to pose these kinds of questions to Greek scholars, without providing them a copy of the primary research, is laughable and simply serves further to illustrate how little these men know about how New Testament exegesis is done.

R. Sungenis: No, the only thing that is “laughable” is that Svendsen thinks a word can be used in two ways, change to one way, and then go back to the original two meanings. I would be embarrassed to show that kind of research to a true Greek scholar. The fact is that Pacheco and Matatics HAVE presented Svendsen’s heos hou thesis to various Greek scholars. Matatics even mentioned one on the radio debate with Svendsen. But none of them accepted Svendsen’s thesis.

Svendsen: Having said that, there is another notable error in Pacheco’s inquiry; namely, in the majority of instances, he seeks counsel from (1) those who are scholars, but are neither Greek scholars nor New Testament scholars, (2) those who have a reputation even within Roman Catholic scholarship as being a combination of Roman Catholic scholar/apologist, or (3) those whose credentials for speaking on these issues is suspect at best. As an example of (1) and (2) is Francis J. Moloney, who is not a Greek scholar, but who is in fact a dyed-in-the-wool Roman Catholic apologist within Roman Catholic scholarly circles. I interact with Moloney’s views at length in my book, and it is clear that he is more interested in proof-texting his position than engaging in exegesis. For instance, he champions the idea that Mary’s response to the angel in Luke 1 constitutes a redemptive fiat on Mary’s part, on which the entire world hangs. And his treatment of the word adelphos is standard Roman Catholic fare. On whether adelphos in the New Testament means sibling only or close relative, he writes:

The New Testament text itself is open to either interpretation. The Church’s traditional teaching on the perpetual virginity of Mary must guide both the faithful and the exegete in their interpretation of these passages” (Mary: Woman and Mother [Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1988], 7 n. 10).

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 excludes the Roman Catholic interpretation of the “brothers” and “sisters” of Jesus. This has implications as well for the claim by Roman Catholic apologists (including Sungenis) who think that we must rely on the LXX to ascertain the meaning of heos hou for the New Testament era. We will return to this point later. Suffice it to say that I take Moloney to task on a number of issues like this in my book.

R. Sungenis: As he usually does, Svendsen ignores the difference between conservative Romans Catholic scholars and liberal Roman Catholic scholars, of which Fitzmyer, McKenzie and Meier are the latter. They believe there are mistakes in Scripture. Does Svendsen believe there are mistakes in Scripture? I don’t think so. Thus, to cite them as authorities does not put Svendsen in very good company. Moreover, Svendsen has the same problem with liberals in his Protestant religion. Svendsen cannot pretend that they wouldn’t disagree with many of the basic Protestant beliefs he holds dear. The real problem here is that people like Fitzmyer, McKenzie and Meier have gotten their false information about Greek and New Testament theology from the very Protestant liberals that Svendsen abhors. Yet, Svendsen finds it so convenient to quote these Catholic liberals when it is to his advantage, and no one in his Protestant following is the wiser.

Svendsen: Also in the categories of (1) and (2) falls Edward L. Bode. The most a Google search yields about him is found in this link, which indicates he is a Roman Catholic “book specialist.” He also comes up as a contributor to articles on various religious themes; but absolutely nothing leads us to consider him an expert on Greek in general or on this issue in particular. Certainly, he is not among those New Testament scholars who are embroiled in the Marian debate. Yet, Pacheco quotes him as saying:

In Matthew 1:25, the meaning must take into account the context. Here the evangelist is emphasizing that Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus; this meaning does not imply or suggest that sexual activity took place after the birth of Jesus.

But this is flatly contradicted by the opinions of known New Testament scholars who have publicly weighed in on the meaning of Matt 1:25 as it pertains to the extent of Mary’s virginity, such as F. D. Brunner, R. T. France, A. H. M’Neile, and, to some extent, Craig Blomberg (who prefers to state that the phrase “strongly suggests” an end to Mary’s virginity). Hence, Bode’s assessment of this phrase is uninformed, even if we were to exclude any consideration of my research. Beyond that, we just do not know who Bode is, or why Pacheco thinks his opinion on this issue matters.

R. Sungenis: Interesting. Svendsen thinks he actually did an exhaustive search for information on Bode!. Perhaps you can now tell where Svendsen gets most of his scholarly information – from Google searches. As for the other issue, either Svendsen is naive or he is pretending to be. There are a whole slough of Roman Catholic scholars who don’t accept Brunner, France and M’Neile’s interpretation of Mt 1:25. Neither did the Greek fathers of the patristic age who actually spoke the Greek language. Svendsen thinks that just dropping a few names here and there of people who interpret Mt 1:25 to his liking should settle the case for the curious.

Svendsen: The next citation is from Robert Hull, who candidly admits: “I have not done the necessary research to align myself with one or the other side in this debate.” He goes on to state:

In general, I am very wary of arguments that depend heavily or exclusively on linguistic or syntactical uses to prove a point. Context is so heavily involved in making meaning that we would be ill-advised to try to establish an ironclad rule for the use of particles--at least unless we had a staggering number of examples." - Dr. Robert F. Hull Jr., M.Div, Ph.D, Professor of New Testament, Emmanuel School of Religion

I am sympathetic to Hull’s position on this. Without having seen the research itself, or the commendations of the research of the type issued by the endorsers of my work, I too would be wary of claims regarding what the Greek text implies. Indeed, I can see myself echoing Hull’s caveat verbatim on a number of claims I’ve seen regarding the Greek text. Context is heavily involved in making these decisions, which is why I thoroughly examined the context of each passage in question. 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). Hull is simply exercising the prudence with which any scholar should approach these things.

R. Sungenis: “Thoroughly examined the context of each passage in question”? Here’s a guy who has a whole ministry dedicated to bringing down the Catholic Church, and he expects us to believe that his “contextual” research is sufficient. Frankly, I have never met a person with more bias in his opinion than Svendsen, although White takes a close second. Anyone who posits that heos hou can change from two possibilities, to one possibility, and then back to two possibilities, let alone Svendsen’s total ignoring of the Joseph and Aseneth story in his research, wouldn’t even register in Hull’s book of reputable scholars.

Svendsen: What is striking, however, is that Hull dismisses neither the possibility of my thesis nor the legitimacy of my approach. In other words, he recognizes there is nothing inherently peculiar about the methodology I used, and his sole caveat is that he would like to examine the research for himself before deciding—not an unreasonable request for a scholar. This quotation not only provides null support for Pacheco’s view, but it actually assumes the validity of the methodology I used—which is really what is at issue in the Roman Catholic objection, not so much the results of that methodology; that is, the hard evidence itself, which is both undeniable and decidedly against the Roman Catholic position.

R. Sungenis: Talk about twisting someone’s words! Hull mentioned nothing about agreeing with Svendsen’s “methodology” (whatever that is). Svendsen tries to twist this by saying Hull does not dismiss his thesis. But the only thing Hull said is that it wouldn’t even be worth investigating Svendsen’s work “unless we had a staggering number of examples.” (Translation: Eric Svendsen doesn’t have a “staggering number of examples”). And without that “staggering number of examples” Svendsen’s thesis, in the words of Hull, is “not an ironclad rule for the use of particles.” Not only does Svendsen NOT have a “staggering number of examples,” but if Hull were posed with the real thesis of Svendsen, that is, that a word is used one way, changes that usage, and then goes back to the former meaning, he would affirm his negative assessment.

Svendsen: Pacheco’s next citation is from Kim Paffenroth, a Roman Catholic who teaches at Iona College (and formerly at Villanova University

One should always be suspicious of a linguistic argument that is coincidentally being used to further a sectarian position. Omitting LXX texts from consideration is especially arbitrary. It seems an enormously fine distinction to distinguish different ways a preposition is used to connect two clauses, then count the number of occurrences to draw a conclusion about its meaning in one particular instance - prepositions are the most notoriously ambiguous and flexible words in any language. This makes it doubly seem ideologically and not exegetically driven." - Dr. Kim Paffenroth, M.T.S., Ph.D.

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.

R. Sungenis: Svendsen forgot one thing – that the word then goes back to its original meaning after the first century, which is, of course, absurd.

Svendsen: Even in the LXX, the phrase is used only a handful of times in the way Pacheco needs.

R. Sungenis: That helps Pacheco, not Svendsen. The less uses of heos hou continuing the action of a main clause the more liklihood that we would not see many, or perhaps none, in Greek literature in the time period under discussion (100 BC to 100 AD), but that doesn’t mean that the meaning of heos hou was now lessened to only one possibility rather than the previous two! That would be a highly presumptuous conclusion.

Does Svendsen have any example of words in the Greek language that have changed their meaning so abruptly, that is, from two possible usages one possible usage, let alone going back to two possible usages? No. He has given no such evidence. He claims that heos hou, ONLY, does this weird linguistic dance.

Svendsen: 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. It is little wonder, then, that these scholars would caution the reader as they do. I will address this point again when interacting with Sungenis’ statements, which are just as misinformed. In the meantime, back to Paffenroth.

Paffenroth is a “Fellow in Core Humanities,” and his expertise in New Testament studies seems to be limited to teaching first-year students a “Core Humanities Seminar,” and helping to write the New Testament part of the faculty manual. We’re left wondering just why Pacheco thinks this scholar’s opinion of this issue should be given great weight. In addition, in conducting a search on Paffenroth credentials, I came across his homepage, which confirms that he is certainly an interesting fellow.

On his web site he promotes and expresses his obsession for Judas Priest, Van Halen, Iron Maiden (hard-rock bands all three—he has a separate “heavy metal” page and announces that he is “committed” to this music), Wrestlemania and the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), and his fondness of Xena the Warrior Princess (complete with skin pics of Xena and her assistant!). It is instructive to see the kind of “scholar” from whom Pacheco has decided to seek counsel. Be that as it may, Paffenroth’s advice—“one should always be suspicious of a linguistic argument that is coincidentally being used to further a sectarian position”—is only partially right inasmuch as it ignores the development of other established rules of Greek grammar. Both Granville Sharp’s rule and Colwell’s rule (to name only two) were established from a “sectarian” polemic to advance biblical support for the deity of Christ. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this approach if the starting belief is correct. 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. Hence, Paffenroth’s advice is more appropriately stated in the converse; one should always be suspicious of resistance against a linguistic argument if that resistance is coincidentally being used to uphold a sectarian position.

R. Sungenis: No argument from me.

Svendsen: Pacheco’s next quotation comes from James. P.M. Walsh:

It's essentially a non-problem. I assume the latter (or substitutes, e.g., heõs hotou) prevails in NT Koine and presumably what is missing in such expressions is a noun like chronou, ‘until such time as . . .’. The real issue, as I see it, has nothing to do with the alleged fine distinctions between heõs and heõs hou, but with the verb tenses and/or moods used in the various heõs hou clauses. It is these that may shift the meaning of heõs hou, which is simply (after all) an expansion of heõs which would have been adequate in and of itself in any of these expressions. - Rev. James. P.M. Walsh, S.J., B.D., Ph.L., Ph.D., NAB OT Rev. Comm.

Walsh, another Roman Catholic (this time also a Jesuit priest), is Associate Professor of Theology at Georgetown University (a Jesuit school); once again, a theologian—and a Jesuit at that—not a New Testament or Greek scholar. Again, we must ask just why Pacheco thinks the opinion of someone who is neither a Greek scholar nor a New Testament exegete—nor even involved in the finer points of this debate—should be given a weight equal to those who are involved in this. The greater question for Pacheco regarding all these scholars, however, is why Pacheco thinks they would be able to answer this question without evaluating the research for themselves, as Dr. Hull admitted above that we would need to do before issuing a judgment?

R. Sungenis: Svendsen is up to the same old tricks – trying to discredit the statement of the scholar rather than dealing with the statement itself. You’ll notice above that Svendsen totally avoids Walsh’s argument, and it is a rather good one. In fact, it is very similar to the “contextual” argument that Hull gave, since Walsh speaks of the “tenses” or “moods” surrounding heos hou which will have a decisive factor in determining its variance in meaning. Svendsen said he was “sympathetic” to Hull’s contextual argument, yet here we have Walsh using a contextual argument and Svendsen does his best to dismiss it. Go figure.

But before we go on, let’s ask a very important question: Since Svendsen is so good at trying to discredit his critics because they are “not a New Testament or Greek scholar,” is Eric Svendsen recognized by the scholarly world as a “New Testament or Greek scholar”? I don’t know anyone who has given him such a title, except himself. Eric Svendsen doesn’t teach Greek at a university, or write books on Greek grammar, or do a lecture circuit on the nuances of linguistics. He runs a secular business most of the day, helping people to in a Dale Carnegie type of institute.

Svendsen: Pacheco’s next quote comes from Robert North:

"As in English, the Greek (or any other) word for 'until' (or 'while' or 'as long as') may imply either 'and then it stopped' or 'whether or not it continued after that', depending to some extent on the context. [It depends], inevitably, to some extent on the expectations or convictions of the reader, especially if of profound religious importance. Hence, I would have to give you two warnings: (1) no statistic or tabulation will ever succeed in eliminating completely the innate ambiguity in relation to the reader's Vorverstaendnis or expectations; (2) You must be intensely on guard against being influenced in any conclusions from your statistic which are frankly or subconsciously anticipated or hoped." - Rev. Robert North, S.J., M.A., S.S.D., Editor, Elenchus of Biblica.

We’re treated here to the opinion of an OT scholar who wrote the commentaries on 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary. This time Pacheco has at least landed someone who is an expert in biblical exegesis, even if he is still not a New Testament scholar. What is striking, however, is that once again (as was the case with Hull above) we are not told that the methodology I used (not really mine, but in actuality the methodology of New Testament exegesis) is somehow invalid. Rather, we are cautioned with the same kinds of caveats that Hull provided. One suspects that these scholars, if given the opportunity to see the actual research, would both see the strength of the thesis and be reassured that proper caution has been diligently exercised throughout.

R. Sungenis: What does it take to get through to Svendsen? Here North accuses Svendsen of coming to the issue with a strong bias, and yet Svendsen convinces himself that North is “not questioning my methodology”!! Does Svendsen live in a dreamworld? Does he think that North is somehow separating Svendsen’s strong bias from Svendsen’s methodology? Only Svendsen would say yes to that question.

Svendsen: I freely concede in my book (all the misrepresentations of my views by Pacheco and Sungenis notwithstanding) that 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. But even then, the Roman Catholic interpretation would simply move from the realm of exceedingly improbable to the realm of highly improbable. It would be a remarkable admission, indeed, for someone candidly to assert that his dogmatic belief is based on improbabilities regarding the Greek language. Yet, that is the most the discovery of one contrary instance of this phrase will yield the Roman Catholic position. Unfortunately for the Roman Catholic apologist, we still have found no such instance (not withstanding the recent assertions by this group to the contrary, for which see below). Hence, so far as the philological evidence suggests, the Roman Catholic position remains beyond the realm of high improbabilities.

R. Sungenis: You must understand, dear reader, that Svendsen sets up the rules of whether he passes or fails. Since they are Svendsen’s rules, then he makes sure that he can’t fail, no matter what evidence you find to the contrary. You see, Svendsen has made his own rule that if the meaning of heos hou continuing the action of the main clause is not used (or even used only once) in a certain time period (e.g., 100 BC to 100 AD), then this means, so he claims, that heos hou has changed its usage from two possibilities to only one possibility. But has he ever proved that? No, not once. Has he ever proved that heos hou actually changed its usage, as opposed to one of its usages just being dormant for a period of time since no one had the opportunity to use it? No, he’s never proved that. But he wants you to think he has. He wants you to think that there is only one reason why heos hou is not used to continue the action of the main clause, that is, because it dropped out of the vocabulary and thus no longer continued the action of the main clause. That, my friends, is a pure, unadulterated, presumption. And if this logic was presented to the various scholars Svendsen calls to his side, I dare say that they would reconsider their previous endorsement. I think he ought to read Carson’s book again. There he’ll find that he has committed one of the grandest fallacies in biblical exegesis, if not in all of logic, that is, using as proof the very thing one is trying to prove.

Svendsen: Pacheco’s next scholar is Dennis Hamm, yet another Roman Catholic and Jesuit priest:

The context of Matthew 1:25 implies the author is interested in asserting the virginal conception of Jesus, not in asserting anything about what happened after his birth. - Fr. Dennis Hamm, S.J., M.A., Ph.L., Ph.D., Professor of Theology, Creighton University

Context (not grammatical usage) is the sole criterion considered by this scholar, when the question is specifically about the use of the Greek construction. Of course the context is that Matthew wants us to know that Mary and Joseph refrained from engaging in sexual relations before the birth of Jesus; that goes without saying. My thesis is that the grammatical construction itself tells us a bit more. Unfortunately, this scholar doesn’t comment on that part of it, and so provides no support for Pacheco’s view. And, once again, we are treated to the opinion of a professor of theology; not one of a New Testament exegete.

Pacheco’s next scholar is Dennis Hukel.

Heõs is a preposition meaning 'until', 'up to', 'as far as'. Heõs hou is a prepositional phrase. Since the context indicates this phrase is temporal, the usual meaning is 'until which time'. It is my opinion that his phrase does not relay any information about what happens after the termination of the contextual event (giving birth). It does not say how long Mary remained a virgin after that event. We only know through other passages that Mary did not remain a virgin for a long time because she had at least 4 other sons and 2 daughters. According to custom, there would be a brief waiting period after Jesus' birth, and one would expect Mary and Joseph to consummate their marriage soon after that; but I believe this phrase does not specify that in any grammatical or syntactical way--it is out of view." - Dennis Hukel, Critical Consultant/Translator, Lockman Foundation.

Finally, a Greek scholar and New Testament exegete. Since James White is also a Critical Consultant for the Lockman Foundation he wrote to Dr. Hukel to ask him directly whether he had read my work. Dr. Hukel indicated he had not. He further indicated that he has too much on his plate at the moment to give my work a thorough review. As a relevant side point, Dr. Hukel gives indication in this quote that he dismisses the Roman Catholic view that adelphos/e, in the context of Jesus’ “brothers and sisters,” can mean other than biological siblings. The question is, now that we have the comments of a Greek scholar confirming my thesis on adelphos (that we must take it in the strict sense of biological siblings of Jesus), can we now expect Pacheco, Sungenis, Matatics and company to give up the struggle and accept once and for all that James, Joseph, Simon and Judas were in fact the biological brothers of Jesus? Or, are they simply using these scholars in dishonest ways in an attempt to “win an argument” regarding heos hou, but having absolutely no intention of following through with the implications of these comments on their own position? I think we all know what the answer to that is.

R. Sungenis: We’ll “follow through” with them as soon as Svendsen follows through with the theology of the Catholic scholars Fitzmyer, McKenzie and Meier that he quoted in support of his own work. Be that as it may, notice again that Svendsen doesn’t deal with Hukel’s technical argument, rather, he tries to dismiss Hukel’s contribution by saying that Hukel “did not read my work,” as if scholars can’t make judgments on heos hou without consulting Svendsen, who no one recognizes either as a New Testament scholar or a Greek expert. Has any of Svendsen’s supporters read the critiques Catholic apologists have offered? I’m sure they haven’t. All they have is Svendsen’s side of the story.

As he does throughout this piece, Svendsen continues to esteem himself much too highly. The fact is that Hukel has made a very good technical point about heos hou, similar to the one I made in my recent essay. Heos hou is merely a prepositional phrase that most likely means “until which time,” and gives no indication, in itself, whether it is continuing the action of the main clause or ceasing its action. Instead of giving Hukel credit for this, Svendsen tries to change the subject to Hukel’s view of the brothers and sisters of Jesus!

Svendsen: Note well the true ramifications of this scholar’s comments. In an attempt to show that I have no right to “exclude the LXX from consideration” (something I have not done by the way—I have considered all the instance from the LXX, and have shown even there that the usage of heos hou to support the Roman Catholic sense of Matt 1:25 was already rare and giving way to its other meanings that were eventually firmed up by New Testament times),

R. Sungenis: In case you didn’t see it, Svendsen is employing the same false logic of using as proof that which he hasn’t proven yet. Svendsen hasn’t proven that “the usage of heos hou to support the Roman Catholic sense of Matt 1:25 was already rare and giving way to its other meanings...” The only thing he purports in his research is that in one period of time (100 BC to 100 AD) there may be no usages of heos hou that continue the action of the main clause, but he hasn’t proven WHY this is the case. He, of course, would like you to believe that it is because heos hou which continued the action of the main clause no longer existed, but he doesn’t know that, and certainly hasn’t even come close to proving it. This, my friends, is all this discussion is about. If you can get this one concept understood, then indeed you will know that the wicked witch of Colorado has died, a very painful and embarrassing death.

Svendsen: Pacheco has cited someone who has, in essence, “excluded” the LXX use of adelphos from consideration in his view of Jesus’ “brothers.” The irony is rich.

But, as I’ve already pointed out, this scholar has not seen my work. Hence, the most we can say about this quote so far as heos hou is concerned is that we have roughly the same kind of answer one would have received from an eighteenth-century scholar regarding the use of the definite article when governing nouns separated by kai. Unless that scholar had read Granville Sharp’s monograph (“Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament: Containing many New Proofs of the Divinity of Christ, from Passages which are wrongly Translated in the Common English Version”), he would very likely have answered along the same lines as Hull, Hukel and North above, relying on prior conventional knowledge to render an ad hoc judgment on the construction, and warning the inquirer to exercise caution in making too much of these kinds of grammatical relationships. In no case has any of the scholars Pacheco cited read the primary research. On the other hand, every single scholar that has read the research (and commented on it) has been convinced by it ( The sole exception to this is Robert Thomas, Professor of New Testament at The Master’s Seminary, who took exception to my non-dispensational exegesis of Revelation 12, and (solely on that basis) opted out of endorsing the work as a whole.

R. Sungenis: “In no case has any of the scholars Pacheco cited read the primary research”? Svendsen is trying to make his thesis sound like it’s really long, complicated and demands months of study. The fact is, he thesis is very simple. Does heos hou change from two usages prior to 100 BC down to one possibility after 100 BC, and then back to two possibilities after 100 AD? You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know what he is saying and whether he has enough evidence to prove his point. Pacheco need only mention this point to his list of scholars and they would have known right away what Svendsen was proposing, and whether he passed the sniff test.

Svendsen: Pacheco’s next scholar is Jason Beduhn:

"In regard to the meaning of heõs hou, there is nothing in this expression itself that explicitly indicates or necessarily implies reversal of action. It simply indicates that something is the case up to a certain point, or 'until' whatever temporal marker is stated following heõs hou. A reversal can be involved, such as in Mt. 17:9 or Mt. 18:34. But heõs hou can also be used to indicate action up to a point of completion, as in Mt. 13:33, or something done by some 'until' others can join in, as in Mt. 14:22, or even something done by some 'while' others do something else, as in Mt. 26:36. In Mt. 1:25, heõs hou is properly translated 'until' because the dependent verb tikto refers to a specific momentary event that marks the end point of the time period under consideration. Joseph refrained from 'knowing' Mary up to the point of her giving birth. What happened after that point is not explicitly addressed in this passage. Nor would I say that what happened afterwards is in any way obviously implied. Rather, the author simply is not concerned with it. He only wants to maintain that there was no sexual intercourse prior to the birth of Jesus, because his concern is solely with addressing questions about Jesus' parentage. Whether or not Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after the birth of Jesus is beyond the scope of interest for the author, and in fact is never addressed in the New Testament. Any argument or claim about this issue is necessarily speculative. We simply do not have the information to state anything conclusively about it.

On this question of the distinction in meaning between heõs hou and heõs alone, we can only talk about tendencies of meaning, not any hard and fast distinction. Heõs alone tends to be used more often for indefinite expressions of time, up to, including, and through the event mentioned following heõs. Heõs hou tends to be used more often of expressions of time up to a specific point, and not including or through that point. But, having said that, we can see examples of heõs 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, heõs hou is used interchangeably with heõs (Mt. 18:30, 34). Heõs 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 heõs hou. The larger context of the expression heõs 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." - Dr. Jason Beduhn, M.A., Ph.D., Associate Professor Biblical Studies, Northern Arizona University

I want to call attention to three things in this quotation. First, Beduhn’s opening statement—“In regard to the meaning of heõs 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. As I have already pointed out in my prior article (, I nowhere claim that heos hou implies a reversal of action (for the details, see the article). The rest of what Beduhn states in that paragraph confirms my suspicion (particularly the citation of biblical examples where although reversal is not implied, cessation clearly is). That naturally causes me to wonder how many other misrepresentations of my thesis these scholars were provided.

R. Sungenis: Funny, Svendsen’s crying foul “causes me to wonder” what his point is. There is no practical difference between “reversal of action” and “cessation of action” in this arena, since both are the opposite of continuing the action. Thus, Pacheco has not “misrepresented” Svendsen to Beduhn. Beduhn is smart enough to know what Svendsen’s thesis is, and whether, in fact, he has proven it. The only one who is “misrepresenting” anything here is Svendsen, since he is implying that Pacheco is “misrepresenting” him.

Svendsen: Second, paragraph #2 from the above quote could have been lifted directly from my research, in which I acknowledge each of the points above, though (perhaps due to having conducted the primary research myself) with finer detail and a greater degree of confidence in the categories mentioned. Here, as before, is the case of the scholar who has not been given the opportunity to see the research for himself. Instead, he has been handed mischaracterizations of it by Roman Catholic defenders. As a result, he would quite naturally fall back on general principles regarding particles and conjunctions. It is Granville Sharp all over again.

R. Sungenis: No, its Granstanding Svendsen all over again. Svendsen is trying to get you to believe that Beduhn can’t make an intelligent decision whether heos hou continues the action of the main clause unless he has Svendsen’s dissertation. Let me tell you this. If Beduhn was given Svendsen’s dissertation on heos hou, he would be shaking his head in disbelief, since no scholar in their right mind would ever say that heos hou changed from two usages to one usage and back to two again.

Svendsen: Third, exceedingly instructive is the fact that Beduhn acknowledges these categories and nuances of heos and heos 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? Beduhn thinks they are (as do I), though he hasn’t cited a lexicon or grammar for support (something we’re told by Gerry Matatics and Robert Sungenis is absolutely essential for positing these categories). Again, the question remains, Will Pacheco, Sungenis and Matatics now allow these categories—the very ones I have been insisting are there all along—particularly now that they have a “Greek scholar” to tell them they are legitimate? Or, are they just using these scholars in an attempt to lessen the impact of this construction against their own view, having absolutely no intention of following through with the implications of these comments on their own position? Once again, I think we all know the answer.

R. Sungenis: Svendsen is a master at misdirection. When, for heaven’s sake, did I ever deny the categories Beduhn is citing above? I listed several of them myself in the exchanges I have had with Svendsen. Regardless, the question is not what I have done with Beduhn’s categories, but what Svendsen has done with them. Do you see a category in Beduhn’s list that says heos hou changed its usage from two possibilities to one possibility and back to two possibilities all in the course of 200 years? No, not only does Beduhn not list that as a category, NO ONE IN ALL THE WORLD does.

Svendsen: Pacheco’s final scholar is Dale C. Allison:

I'm writing a commentary on the Testament of Abraham and looking at all the textual variants regularly. It's absolutely amazing how many times someone thinks a noun should be dative, someone else accusative, how often someone changes a verb ending, etc. The scribes are constantly changing and correcting the grammar of other scribes; that is, these native Greek speakers aren't all following the same rules; what sounds best to one doesn’t sound best to the other. No one was reading Blass Debrunner Funk. It's no different today. Some writers think you can now use a plural verb with a singular noun; others of us think this terrible. Some never end with an infinitive, others don’t care. The rules are artificial secondary constructs that describe, but always imperfectly. Language is always flexible. - Dr. Dale C. Allison, Past Editor, Journal of Biblical Literature.

I have no idea why Pacheco included this quote, since if it destroys the basis for my rule then it also destroys the basis for all rules of Greek grammar. Pacheco has misunderstood Allison’s intent; and if anyone were to ask Allison whether we should now throw out our copy of Blass, Debrunner and Funk, he would be the first to say no. Pacheco seems to think that Allison is suggesting we do away with lexicons, grammars and Greek studies altogether. One can almost hear Pacheco desperately screaming, “Yes! At last, we’ll just chuck all Greek rules and then we won’t have to deal with that nasty Svendsen rule anymore!”

R. Sungenis: We can just hear Svendsen now: “Gosh darn it. Someone finally put a clamp on my Greek muscle so that I can’t bop John Pacehco over the head with it anymore.”

Svendsen: My only response to Allison’s words—Allison’s words rightly understood, that is—is, Amen! I would never claim otherwise for my rule regarding heos hou, nor for the rules of Granville Sharp, Colwell, or Porter. All rules of Greek grammar are established after the fact, and are based on observable and discernable patterns in the language. It’s all fluid, and I don’t claim any more “concreteness” for my rule than there is for any other rule. On the other hand, nothing that Allison has stated here implies that my rule is to be thrown out while all others are left standing. Hence, Allison’s quote does nothing to advance Pacheco’s cause.

R. Sungenis: “Svendsen’s rule”? Is this what this is all about? Is this what Svendsen is hankering for? Is this why he keeps mentioning Granville, Sharp, Colwell, et al, because he wants to get his name in lights so that people refer to it as “Svendsen’s Rule”? I surely hope not, for this would be the height of arrogance. And what is “Svendsen’s Rule”? Only that a word can change from two usages, to one usage, and back to two again, all in the course of 200 years. Some “rule.”

Svendsen: Now for a few brief examples of the types of glaring misunderstandings to which Pacheco falls prey. In his “Top 10 Errors” (an article that supposedly exposes errors in my thesis) he has this to say:

In the "Acknowledgements" to his book, Svendsen describes D.A. Carson as "my former mentor, whose excellence in scholarship and style of writing continue to inspire me." Yet, curiously Eric does not seem to share Dr. Carson's view of what constitutes "semantic obsolence". Indeed, Carson readily admits that the Septuagint had a "profound influence" (Exegetical Fallacies, p. 63) on the writing of the New Testament.

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.

R. Sungenis: Oh really? Is that what Carson actually told Svendsen, that is, that he wasn’t including “conjunctions and particles” in the list of possible obsolescence? Hardly.

Svendsen: Here’s another of Pacheco’s errors:

In 1999, Svendsen debated Gerry Matatics on Our Lady's perpetual virginity in 1999. In this debate, Svendsen actually addressed the use of achri and achri hou. However, his conclusions were curiously the opposite of what the New Testament has yielded.

First of all, the phrase in question is achri vs. achri hou in the subjunctive, not merely achri hou by itself. Second, if Pacheco were steeped in New Testament scholarship on the Lord’s Supper he would know that the distinctions between these phrases is widely accepted by New Testament scholars who are embroiled in this issue, from Bruce to Marshall, to Jeremias, to Wainwright, to the majority of New Testament scholars that have looked at this. I did my Masters work on this very topic, and have written a book on it—again, much more qualified to speak on this than Pacheco will likely ever be. But, instead of doing the hard work and finding these things out for himself, Pacheco would rather get the argument wrong and then call it an “error” when he can’t find the same thing.

Pacheco continues by quoting Raymond Brown:

In English when something is negated until a particular time, occurrence after that time is usually assumed. However, in discussing the Greek heõs hou after a negative...K. Beyer . . . points out that in Greek and Semitic such a negation often has no implication at all about what happened after the limit of the "until" was reached."?

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 heos 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).

R. Sungenis: That’s funny. Didn’t Svendsen, just a few paragraphs ago, agree with the categories of Beduhn?? Here is part of what Beduhn said:

We even have a case where, in the same passage, heõs hou is used interchangeably with heõs (Mt. 18:30, 34). Heõs 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 heõs hou. The larger context of the expression heõs 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."

So here Beduhn admits that Mt 14:22 (“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while [until] He sent the crowds away”) and Mt 26:36 (“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while [until] I go over there and pray") both continue the action of the main verb. In Mt 14:22, the apostles did not stop rowing to the other side once the crowd was dismissed, rather, they kept rowing to the other side even after the crowd was dismissed. In Mt 26:36 the apostles didn’t stop sitting once Jesus went to pray, rather, they continued sitting after Jesus went into prayer. We just translate this action with “while” because it is convenient, but the fact remains that the action of the main clause in continuing.

So, when Beyer makes his point, supposedly about classical Greek, yet Svendsen claims that classical Greek and Koine Greek are different in this very instance, this contradicts Svendsen’s support of Beduhn’s categories, one of which showed that heos hou in Koine Greek continues the action of the main clause, not reverse it or cease it.

Svendsen: Next, Pacheco refers to something I said in my debate with Gerry Matatics: “Well, that’s not surprising since lexicons do not handle grammatical constructions. They handle words. You’ll find heõs. You’ll find hou. You won’t find heõs hou or any other grammatical construction.” Pacheco then comments: It is truly puzzling how someone who has completed a doctoral dissertation on this subject, and who has studied this issue as intensely as Eric Svendsen has done, can turn around and make such an amateurish blunder.

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. Heos hou can, of course, be found in lexicons under general headings of heos (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.

R. Sungenis: Lexicons may not carry complicated Greek constructions, but they do carry prepositional phrases, and heos hou is one of them. As it stands, there is no lexicon in the world that supports Svendsen’s claim about heos hou. All the lexicons include heos hou as a category under heos, but NONE see any difference in meaning, NONE.

Svendsen: One more example will suffice:Pacheco decides to quote Burton in defense of his position on heos hou:

"In the New Testament heõs is sometimes followed by hou or otou. Heõs is then a preposition governing the genitive of the relative pronoun, but the phrase heõs hou or heõs otou is in effect a compound conjunction having the same force as the simple heõs. The construction following it is also the same, except that [the Greek word] an never occurs after heõs hou or heõs otou." (emphasis added)

The problem with the “emphasis added” part is that Pacheco clearly misreads and misunderstands Burton’s meaning in the same way Sungenis has done. I have already shown in my response to Sungenis that the phrase “the same force,” in context, refers only to how heos is used as a preposition governing the genitive of the relative pronoun. Burton never intended this phrase to be taken as that heos hou has the very same meaning and usage as heos by itself (see my response to Sungenis on this point: Indeed, in Pacheco’s “survey of scholars,” one or two of them in fact say there is a difference in usage; and so, on Pacheco’s misinterpretation of Burton, either these scholars are wrong or Burton is wrong. I wonder which one he will decide is wrong, and whether he will have the integrity to delete that quotation? I somehow doubt it.

R. Sungenis: Well, if they disagree that means we have the same problem Dale Allison was complaining about, don’t we? This is often not as precise as Svendsen claims it is. As for the Burton issue on “same force,” since when does “force” not include the meaning of a word? What else do words do besides give meanings? In fact, even if we took Svendsen’s argument, Burton puts the clamps on Svendsen that much more, since Burton would be saying that even the grammatical referent of heos hou or heos cannot be used to distinguish the two in meaning. There is no escape for Svendsen. He is trapped by the meanings of the words, as well as their grammatical likeness.

Svendsen: 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. On to Sungenis.

R. Sungenis: The only one in “over his head” is Svendsen, since he has put so much at stake in trying to prove his heos hou thesis. Nothing short of his whole reputation rides on this one phrase, since he has made such a big issue about it, and has used it as a bull whip against unsuspecting and uneducated Catholics. I said it once, and I’ll say it again: Svendsen’s thesis is nothing but a pseudo-intellectual sham.

Svendsen: Robert Sungenis I will begin my response of Sungenis’ articles with this quote from him:

RS:If there is anyone saying that the “heos hou” issue is the most important matter in his research on the perpetual virginity of Mary, it is Svendsen himself.

And where do I say this? I have an entire 334-page book on Mary, fifty-one pages of which are devoted to this issue. I think the status of Mary is by far the bigger issue; and that is what I have focused on in my book.

R. Sungenis: Do we really have to dig up the boastful emails that Svendsen sent far and wide on the Internet just days before the Matatics debate? In those emails Svendsen was boasting about his heos hou issue, and wondering why no Catholics were coming forward to battle with him. He mentioned Fr. Tecelli, myself, and a few other individuals who he claimed were “not dealing with” his challenges. So he has no recourse to retreat to his “334-page book on Mary” as the issue, because it’s not, and he knows it.

RS: Despite all your colorful analogies to the Phoenix Cardinal’s hapless season, those, like me, who know you quite well, realize that your above rant is tantamount to admitting that Svendsen’s case concerning “heos hou” has been put into the dust bin of history, never to rise again.

Svendsen:“Never to rise again.” Let’s see, where have we heard this phrase before? Oh yes, it was used in relation to Sungenis’ evidence from “Mr. X” that earlier this year was supposed to have “buried” White, Svendsen, King and Webster, whose ideas were “never to rise again.”

R. Sungenis: No, you got it wrong, again, Svendsen. It wasn’t Mr. X that was going to bury you, but the information about how King and Webster distorted the citations of the Church Fathers. That issue is still on the table, and when I get time to publish it, it will indeed expose King and Webster for the falsifiers that they are.

RS: Now, of course, we would also expect Eric Svendsen to get in on the act of trying to discredit the Aseneth story. Hence, he wasted no time in trying to confuse the issue by citing other scholars who question Burchard’s dating of the story.

Svendsen: Actually, no one is trying to “discredit” the Aseneth story—nor is there a need to. I’m merely pointing out that there is absolutely no consensus today on just when it was composed, and current estimates range widely from the second-century BC (which places it neatly in a timeframe that I have already conceded uses heos hou in the way needed by Roman Catholic apologists) to the fifth-century AD. And why exactly would citing scholars who challenge Burchard’s date of the story be “confusing the issue”—unless, of course, the “issue” is that Sungenis and Matatics are pinning their only hope on the extremely precarious date of this particular document? Then, of course, it understandably would be “confusing” to those looking desperately for some sort of exception to the heos hou rule. The fact is, the very first date proposed for this story was estimated to be AD fourth-fifth century by Battifol, who produced the first critical edition of Joseph and Aseneth. I suppose we could claim with even greater justification that Sungenis’ limited dating of Joseph and Aseneth “confuses the issue” even more.

R. Sungenis: As you will see, none of the various dates that Svendsen proposes help his thesis, but actually destroy it. The fact also remains that Svendsen mentioned none of this information in his supposed “exhaustive research” on heos hou.

RS: Here is the email that Svendsen sent to White (which I obtained from one of my colleagues):

Svendsen: It should be noted here that I freely posted this email I sent to James White in the Areopagus of this web site—Sungenis did not get a hold of some “secret” and “diabolical” email as he here intimates.

R. Sungenis: I didn’t “intimate” anything. Svendsen is reading into my sentence what he wants to see, as he invariably does in most of his “research.”

Svendsen: In any case, the sheer number of errors Sungenis makes in his comments regarding his reading of this simple email is absolutely staggering. I will point them out along the way. The reader may want to open the original post containing that email from this link ( so that he can do a side-by-side comparison to see how prone to error Sungenis really is.

RS: The other three AD dates won’t help Svendsen either. For if the story of Aseneth was written in the 2nd to 5th centuries, this would mean, according to Svendsen’s thesis about the usage of “heos hou” (i.e., the meaning of “heos hou” which continues the action of a Greek main clause, which, you remember, means that a “heos hou” which continues the action means that Joseph and Mary did not have sexual relations even after Jesus was born) was present in Greek literature before Matthew wrote his gospel, then suddenly disappeared from Greek literature when Matthew wrote his gospel, and then suddenly reappeared in the 2nd to 5th centuries in Greek literature!! If you believe that, my uncle has some swamp land in Florida he would love to sell you. I don’t know of ANY linguistic or philological studies that have claimed that a word can mean one thing, then change its meaning, and then go back to the original meaning. If Svendsen knows of any such studies, his novel research requires that he cite such evidence. Without it, Svendsen’s thesis about “heos hou” is a total pseudo-intellectual sham.

Svendsen: The word adelphos is one example. We know that in the LXX it can be used to denote kinsmen. We also know that that particular meaning fell out of usage in the New Testament period (as is confirmed even by Roman Catholic scholars, such as J. A. Fitzmyer and J. P. Meier), and was reintroduced by Christian writers in later centuries.

R. Sungenis: I want you all to pay close attention. Svendsen sees the merit of my argument, otherwise he would not try to discount it by trying to cite evidence I demanded. This means that Svendsen must also know how strange it is for a word to mean one thing, change its usage, and then revert back to the original usage.

Second, observe the example Svendsen tries to use to provide evidence – the word adelphos – a word that is probably more controversial than heos hou!! Also note that Svendsen picks adelphos because it is a word that is directly related to his thesis! How convenient. This is a real howler. What scholar do you think is going to accept evidence for an apparently dubious thesis by citing the history of a controversial and even more dubious word?! No one.

Third, let’s just accept Svendsen’s argumentation for the sake of argument. In that case, however, Svendsen doesn’t claim that adelphos CHANGED its usage (as he does for heos hou). He claims only that one meaning of adelphos “fell out of usage in the New Testament period.” If a word “falls out of usage” that does not mean that the word changed its meaning, but only that the meaning that wasn’t used laid dormant until someone at a later time decided to use it again. The two are completely different scenarios, and Svendsen apparently isn’t smart enough to know the difference.

This is precisely the problem I showed earlier. Svendsen can only claim, from his research, that heos hou was used to cease the action of the main clause. In other words, if there were only, say, 100 uses of heos hou in the period of 100 BC to 100 AD, and let’s say all of them (just for the sake of argument) ceased the action of the main clause, does that prove that heos hou changed its meaning from two possibilities to only one? Possibly, but it could also mean that heos hou never ceased having two meanings, but no one in between 100 BC and 100 AD had a reason or opportunity to use it that way! This is certainly a better explanation for why a heos hou phrase continuing the action of the main clause appeared later, since that meaning never disappeared! It is certainly better than suggesting that heos hou suddenly changed its uagee and then magically reversed itself and went back to the original usage.

Svendsen: But the question itself is simply wrongheaded and completely anachronistic. Whatever happens to a word in later centuries has absolutely no bearing on what happened to it in prior centuries. That's a word study fallacy known as "Semantic Anachronism." It’s much like claiming that if in 200 years the word “let” once again begins to mean “to hinder/forbid” (as it surely did in the KJV of the seventeenth century), that somehow will prove that that meaning never fell out of usage to begin with. Such a statement betrays desperation as the motive.

R. Sungenis: Notice again that Svendsen says “fell out of usage” not “change its meaning.” Also, we’re not interested in hypothetical cases that Svendsen dreams up (e.g., his use of “let”). The fact remains, there is NO CASE in history, unless Svendsen has solid evidence to the contrary (and adelphos ain’t going to cut it) that a word meant or was used as one thing, changed its meaning or usage, and then went back to the first meaning or usage.

RS: Now let’s look at the BC dates Svendsen brings forth. First, the entry by Bohak obviously doesn’t help his case at all, simply because Bohak’s “1st Century BC” dating agrees with Burchard's parameters of 100 BC to 117 AD! (I wonder why Svendsen didn’t mention that fact in his email to White?).

Svendsen: This is humorous. I, in fact, did include Bohak in my email. That is obviously where Sungenis got the reference to begin with. Why didn’t I mention that “Bohak’s ‘1st century BC’ dating agrees with Burchard's parameters of 100 BC to 117 AD”? Well, I suppose the main reason would be that Bohak doesn’t date the document in the first-century BC; he dates the document in the second-century BC—clearly outside of the parameters of my investigation, and clearly outside of Burchard's parameters.

R. Sungenis: Yes, indeed it is humorous. Pay close attention, folks. You’re going to see a most astounding contradiction from Eric Svendsen. What’s even better is you can check it out for yourself. Here is exactly what he said in his email to White: “One recent commentator, Gideon Bohak, even dates it in the First Century B.C.” You can see for yourself at Just do a word search on Bohak. I’m sure John Pacheco has the original of Svendsen’s email. The discrepancy lies in the fact that Svendsen has Bohak giving dates in the First Century B.C. in one paragraph, and then in the next paragraph, Svendsen refers to Goodacre as saying that Aseneth is in the Second Century BC with “Gideon Bohak” in parentheses. Thus, Svendsen has two different datings from Bohak.

Svendsen: But, rest assured, I would have included a reference to Bohak’s work even if he did date the document in the first-century BC. Why? Because I’m not interested in suppressing the evidence as Sungenis apparently is, and my mention of it would be to show that a first-century dating is just one of many possibilities.

R. Sungenis: I am suppressing what evidence? That Bohak cites Aseneth in the first century? Perhaps you may want to check the prescription on your glasses, Eric.

Svendsen: But that’s just the point. There is no consensus. There is no certainty. And because there is no consensus or certainty, the passage itself cannot be submitted as evidence either way.

R. Sungenis: Another diversion tactic, since Svendsen knows that NONE of the dates will help his case. Most important, Aseneth is merely icing on the cake, as far as I’m concerned, simply because Svendsen hasn’t proven, and never will, that heos hou changed from two possibilities to one, as opposed to having one meaning lay dormant. Moreover, Svendsen’s research into classical Greek as evidence is undercut by his own argument against Beyer, cited earlier, that depended on the difference between classical and Koine Greek. Svendsen wrote: “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.” As it stands, Koine Greek does indeed contain instances in which heos hou continues the action of the main clause. Beduhn cited both Mt 14:22 and 26:36. I can also add 2Peter 1:19 and Rev. 6:11 (Majority Text).

Svendsen: I know that Sungenis desperately wants to be able to view this as an exception; but in doing so, he once again demonstrates why he is unfit to comment on these sorts of things. He is far too partisan, far too agenda driven, far too committed to his own cause, and far too unable to see his own partisanship to contribute meaningfully to the discussion.

R. Sungenis: If there ever was a case of the psychological defense mechanism of “projection” at work, the above paragraph is it. Svendsen is writing his own biography when it comes to someone “far too partisan, far too agenda driven, far too committed to his own cause, and far too unable to see his own partisanship to contribute meaningfully to the discussion.” Can you imagine this? Here is a fellow that can’t even get the dates of his own reference correct (i.e., Bohak) and yet he has the gall to level such acrimonious statements against someone else.

RS: So that leaves Svendsen with the “2nd Century BC” date from Goodacre on which his theory sinks or swims, so let’s look closely at this.

Svendsen: This, again, is laughable. My thesis does not “sink or swim” on the dating of Joseph and Aseneth. Quite the contrary; since we cannot know with certainty when the document was composed, we must necessarily exclude it from consideration. Indeed, the situation is just the converse of how Sungenis characterizes it. It is safe to say that it is Sungenis’ contention that sinks or swims on the dating of this document. If the date of the document doesn’t happen to pan out to be within the parameters of first-century usage, then Sungenis’ entire objection is rendered moot. Sungenis has much more at stake with the dating of this document than I do.

R. Sungenis: This is really amazing. Since none of the dates from 200 BC to 500 AD could possibly help Svendsen, with the possible exception of 200 BC, he has the gall to say that Aseneth doesn’t do anything to destroy his thesis?! This is incredible.

RS: First, Goodacre himself admits, according to Svendsen’s quote, that he is the odd man out, since “20th century scholarship” agrees that the story of Aseneth was written between “100BC and AD135”! In fact, of all the scholars Svendsen lists, Goodacre is the only one to posit a 2nd century BC date. Moreover, his novel date comes from his 1994 dissertation. In fact, of all the scholars Svendsen lists, Goodacre is the only one to posit a 2nd century BC date. Svendsen: Amazing—three errors in one point. (1) Goodacre does not admit he is the odd man out, and he is not the only one to posit a second-century BC date (Error # 1).

R. Sungenis: Oh really? Is Bohak the other second century BC date? :) . Obviously, Svendsen hasn’t caught his own error that placed Bohak in the FIRST century BC in his email to White. So naturally, if he still thinks Bohak is in the second century BC, then Svendsen thinks he has found company for Goodacre. As you can see though, folks, Goodacre is indeed the odd man out, and I’m afraid Eric Svendsen is also the odd man out as well.

Svendsen: Proponents of varying dates include Battifol (4th-5th cent. AD), Kraemer (4th-5th cent. AD), Bohak (2nd cent. BC), Pietersma (intrigued by 2nd cent. BC date; obviously sees no problem prima facie with the date), and Oxford University’s write up of Kraemer’s work states, “[Joseph and Aseneth] has traditionally been viewed as an early 2nd-century C.E. conversion story of Jewish provenance (2nd cent. AD)." All of these estimates fall outside of the time era of my thesis.

R. Sungenis: Svendsen calls this scholarship? The fact is that he left out the dates of those who go against his thesis, namely, Goodacre’s comment that “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.” Notice the word “MOST.” That means of all the scholars working on this, MOST of them date Aseneth at or very near the crucial time period for Svendsen’s arbitrary time period. That means that all the other dates Svendsen cites above (e.g., Battifol, Kraemer, Peirersma) are EXCEPTIONS to the general consensus, not the consensus. Funny that Eric doesn’t point that out to his reader. I dare say it is because he is “far too partisan, far too agenda driven, far too committed to his own cause, and far too unable to see his own partisanship to contribute meaningfully to the discussion.”

Svendsen: (2) The view of 20th cent. scholarship on this point is far from firm. Goodacre states explicitly “there is no consensus about when Joseph and Aseneth was written. The reason there is no consensus is because, on this particular document, there is no way to be certain of authorship, provenance, geographic origin or textual relationships (Error # 2).

R. Sungenis: Then why does Goodacre contradict himself and say that “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.” Unfortunately, Goodacre, like Svendsen, thinks his young untested thesis is going to knock “MOST” other scholars out of the picture, but he is as unsure of that as he is of the dating of Aseneth.

Svendsen: (3) Goodacre did not write his dissertation on this issue (he refers instead to Ross Kraemer’s monograph) (Error # 3).

R. Sungenis: Well, if Svendsen had known how to punctuate, reference and block off a change in speaker, then we wouldn’t have this problem, would we? But whether it’s Goodacre or Kraemer it makes no difference. The fact remains that “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.,” and Kraemer is now the odd man out with an untested thesis and a premature conclusion.

RS: Moreover, his novel date comes from his 1994 dissertation. In scholarly circles, a dissertation written less than 10 years ago hardly qualifies as definitive evidence, since such recent ideas have yet to pass through the scrutiny of peer review, especially since Goodacre is the only one of all the scholars opting for a 2nd century date.

Svendsen: Again, a plethora of errors. The reader need only check the original email to see that (1) the 2nd cent. BC date (not the 5th cent. AD date) comes from Bohak’s (not Goodacre’s) 1994 dissertation.

R. Sungenis: Even if it did, why does Svendsen say “One recent commentator, Gideon Bohak, even dates it in the First Century B.C.”?

Svendsen: And the 5th cent BC date is anything but “novel.” Novel means “new.” But as I’ve already pointed out, the 5th cent. AD date was the very first—the original—date Battifol gave for Joseph and Aseneth in the first critical edition of this work. If anything is “novel,” it is the 100 BC to AD 135 date of the 20th century, which is now being overturned in favor of other dates.

R. Sungenis: Overturned?? By whom, Kraemer? One person, in contrast to ““MOST twentieth century scholarship”?? Perhaps Svendsen ought to go ask “MOST twentieth century scholarship” their opinion about whether their dating of Aseneth has been “overturned” before he starts speaking for them.

Svendsen: The very fact that some scholars can postulate a 2nd cent. BC date and others can postulate a 5th cent. AD for the very same document, should give anyone pause for including it in the evidence of the usage of a Greek phrase during a specific time period. All careful scholars would simply refuse to use it due to the precarious nature of its dating. Yet, that doesn’t seem stop Gerry Matatics and Robert “I-must-have-this-date-at-any-cost” Sungenis.

R. Sungenis: Too bad Svendsen can’t count. “MOST twentieth century scholarship” far outweighs the two people (Battifol and Kraemer) Svendsen cites as contrary evidence. This is an old ploy. Svendsen cites one or two anomalies and then tries to make a grandiose claim that those two anomalies somehow upset “Most twentieth century scholarship.” Dating is not an exact science as it is, yet Svendsen is trying to hang his hat on the anomalies, not on the consensus. That is poor scholarship.

RS: But let’s assume for the sake of argument that the story of Aseneth is a 2nd century document. That means that it was written between 199 BC and 100 BC. Now, does common sense allow you to believe that the use of “heos hou” in the story of Aseneth (which continues the action of the verb in a Greek sentence and thus supports that Joseph and Mary had no sexual relations), suddenly would change its meaning from say, 150 BC (which is the average between 199 and 100) to 100 BC (which is the beginning date of Svendsen’s arbitrary parameters)? No, common sense tells you that this is not likely at all. If Svendsen contends otherwise, what evidence does he have to prove his case?

Svendsen: From an exegetical standpoint, Sungenis’ analysis is simply pathetic. Of course words and phrases can and do change that quickly. That’s the whole point of D. A. Carson’s principles of semantic obsolescence and semantic anachronism. The example Carson gives is the Greek word martys, which underwent no fewer than five semantic range changes by the second century AD!

R. Sungenis: We are not talking about “semantic range changes.” We are talking about the total change in meaning of a word wherein the previous usage no longer exists (because the definition of that word does not exist any longer), and then suddenly reappears with the original definition centuries later. THAT IS NOT what Carson is referring to when he remarks about semantic obsolescence and anachronism. Furthermore, Carson is dealing with nouns, not prepositions or prepositional phrases. Nouns can take on any number of meanings as they are passed down from generation to generation. There are hundreds of such cases. And that is also why Svendsen’s previous appeal to adelphos is not going to prove anything for him. Conversely, I don’t know of one such case for a preposition, and heos hou is a prepositional phrase.

Svendsen: There is little need to examine the Joseph and Aseneth document specifically since I have already illustrated in my book that this same phenomenon occurred with the phrase heos hou. There are a few instances of in the LXX (written roughly during the same time period as the 2nd cent. BC date proposed for Joseph and Aseneth) where it carries meanings that simply don’t exist in the 1st cent. BC. What Sungenis has posited above as an “unlikely” scenario that defies “common sense” is in fact what all linguists recognize does happen in the etymology of most words. Obviously, there was a last time that the word “let” was found in a written document with the meaning “to hinder/forbid,” so that a mere “50 years later” it would have been seen “suddenly to change its meaning.” We know for a fact that the very thing at which Sungenis marvels did happen. Again, desperation to find just one exception to the heos hou rule is the motivating factor of Sungenis’ rather silly principle of “common sense.”

R. Sungenis: You know, if I could just get Svendsen to stop telling half truths, perhaps we wouldn’t have to write 50 pages of dialogue. The fact is that “let” has never come back to mean “forbid”!! In other words, “let” will not mean one thing, change to another, and then go back to the original, as Svendsen is claiming for heos hou. Granted, “let” changed from “forbid” to “allow,” but it never went back to “forbid.” I don’t know ANY word that changed its meaning and then went back to the original meaning centuries later. How does Svendsen deal with this? Earlier he tried to use the hypothetical argument that had “let” coming back to mean “forbid.” Unfortunately, we’re not interested in hypothetical arguments. Just the facts, ma’am.

RS: Svendsen has no direct testimony from any Greek author or witness who say, specifically, that “heos hou” changed its meaning in the period under discussion (100 BC to 100 AD).

Svendsen: Again, pathetic. But these are just the kinds of questions posed by someone who is desperately attempting to sidestep the evidence as it is normally adduced. Where is the “Greek author or witness” who says, specifically, that martys changed its meaning in the period under discussion? Indeed, where is the “Greek author or witness” who says, specifically, that any word changed its meaning during the period of time that author lived? These are things that are observed after the fact; and on Sungenis’ criteria, we could never allow that any word underwent an etymological change. This is the same kind of ridiculous criteria that Gerry Matatics offers us when he demands that we cite a verse from Scripture that specifically states “Mary had other children.” It’s simply the act of a desperate man to make such meaningless demands when all the evidence points against his own views.

R. Sungenis: Where is the Greek author or witness? I don’t know. Has Svendsen made an exhaustive search for any such witnesses? I don’t think so. He’s just assuming that there are no such witnesses, and then he is presenting it to you as fact. I’m sure if he looked hard enough he could find some smart Greek author who noticed, for example, that a word Euripedes used is different in meaning than a word that Pathagoras used, or any Greek authors who are separated by several centuries.

RS: This is pure poppycock. No scholar in their [sic] right mind would ever sanction such an unsupported scenario. The most they would ever give Svendsen is to say that the meaning of “heos hou” that continues the action of the verb doesn’t appear, but they would never say that “heos hou” changed its meaning from two possibilities to one possibility.

Svendsen: That’s simply ludicrous. Sungenis keeps betraying the fact that he has not read my work. If he had, he would know that I identify many different meanings of heos hou in the literature under consideration. It can carry connotations of cessation, contemporaneous action, extent, or result—just as it can (among other connotations) in the LXX. The fact is, the usage found in the LXX is broader than what we find in later centuries. And so, Sungenis’ simplistic understanding of my research is deficient from the start.

R. Sungenis: Obviously, Svendsen doesn’t understand my objection, so he went off and answered something totally different. The fact remains that Svendsen has not proven that heos hou dropped one of its meanings. The most he has proved (even if we were to accept his thesis that heos hou continuing the action of the main clause does not appear between 100 BC and 100 AD), is that heos hou continuing the action of the main clause was dormant in classical literature and then came out of dormancy in following centuries. That’s all. As I said earlier, no scholar in his right mind would ever posit that a word can mean one thing in one century, another in a following century, and then go back to the original meaning. The obvious explanation is the heos hou NEVER changed to only one usage, and that is why it can reappear in the second to fifth centuries AD with the same exact meaning it had in the second century BC, with merely a brief interlude when few, if any, writers between 100 BC and 100 AD had the opportunity to use it in the sense of continuing the action of the main clause.

RS: Okay, now let’s analyze what Svendsen is claiming. First, since Svendsen claims to have examined “every reference” in the arbitrary era he chose (100 BC to 100 AD), and thus he should have known that there were some scholars who were giving a date of 100 BC - 117 AD to the Aseneth story, then why didn’t Svendsen mention this fact in either his dissertation or his book? Obviously the answer is that either Svendsen was not aware of Burchard’s evidence (and thus Svendsen’s study is not the exhaustive one he purports it to be) or because Burchard’s dating does not agree with Svendsen’s arbitrary thesis.

Svendsen: 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.

R. Sungenis: Really? Are Goodacre and Kraemer “most 20th century scholars” too? Is that why Svndsen mentioned them? Who is Svendsen trying to kid? Goodacre and Kraemer are also out of the loop as far as “most 20th century scholars” go, yet it is obvious why Svendsen cites them and not Burchard, because Burchard doesn’t agree with Svendsen’s thesis! In fact, I didn’t even know that Svendsen didn’t include Burchard in his research, I just took a guess. Lo and behold, I was right, by Svendsen’s own admission! How in the world can he claim to be a competent scholar when, in fact, he doesn’t have one of the most provocative references to his thesis in his research?! Then he wonders why I call his work a pseudo-intellectual sham.

Moreover, is that why Goodacre said that “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.”? Note the words “First to Second Centuries,” not “mid-second century.” Obviously, either Svendsen is being deceptive, or his scholarly eyes aren’t keen enough to catch that a “First to Second Century” dating falls right within the parameters of his arbitrary “100 BC to 100 AD” dating.

Svendsen: Hence, this reference, even if it is to be dated as a second-century document, has no bearing on how exhaustive my work is. Since it shows up as a second-century document, it is not very well going to come up in a search of first-century documents. This is all moot, of course, since no one knows whether this document is second-century BC or fifth-century AD.

RS: Second, let’s take a close look at the contrary evidence Svendsen brings forth. Here is the breakdown of when these scholars say Aseneth was written:

A.D. Battifol.............................4-5th century AD

20th century scholarship..................2nd-3rd century AD

20th century scholarship (accd Goodacre)..100 BC to 135 AD

R. Kraemer................................4-5th century AD

G. Bohak..................................1st century BC

M. Goodacre...............................2nd century BC

Does this information really help Svendsen? No, not at all. Svendsen’s only escape is to try to make this evidence a confusing assortment of guesses so that he can claim that an unsettled date of Aseneth does no harm to his thesis.

Svendsen: Sungenis is once again wrong on which scholars hold which dates. It is an amazing and instructive thing to note how little attention Sungenis gives to careful scholarship when he is hastily throwing up public articles on his web site. That in itself should be enough to alert the reader that you’ll need to check every single “fact” Sungenis asserts before accepting it. Once again, Goodacre agrees with Battifol and Kraemer (4-5th cent. BC) and Bohak holds to a second-cent. BC date, not first-cent. BC.

R. Sungenis: Once again, Svendsen still hasn’t caught his double dating for Bohak. And if Svendsen had written the information properly, we could know whether Goodacre is siding with Battifol and Kraemer. In any case, it remains a fact that “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.”

Svendsen: Sungenis thinks that my “only escape” (life seems to be one big suspenseful movie for Sungenis) is to make this evidence “a confusing assortment of guesses” so that I can claim that an unsettled date of J&A has no impact on my thesis. But the fact is, the evidence is just that; a confusing assortment of guesses. Hence there is really no need for me to plan my “escape” as though in some cliff-hanger.

R. Sungenis: Is that why “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.”? Sounds like Goodacre, Battifol and Kraemer are merely a upstart pilot program that hasn’t passed over to regular programming yet.

RS: But, in fact, [sic] the dates expose Svendsen’s chosen pararmeter [sic] (100 BC to 100 AD) for the arbitrary opinion that it really is. Here’s how:

R. Sungenis: What suspense Svendsen adds to the drama by putting little “sic” in conspicuous places. I think we are all getting a little sick of his obnoxious sics.

RS: You will notice that of the six entries above, four of them assume an AD date, while two assume a BC date. Of the four AD dates, the “20th century scholarship accd to Goodacre” concurs with C. Burchard’s date of 100 BC to 117 AD, and thus that doesn’t help Svendsen, in fact, it thoroughly works against him. (I wonder why Svendsen didn’t mention that fact in his email to White?) What Sungenis fails to mention is that all the dates above fall outside the parameters of the study. And, according to Sungenis table above, the consensus of 20th-cent. scholarship is 2nd-3rd cent AD, not the Goodacre estimate of 100 BC to 135 AD, placing it well outside those parameters.

R. Sungenis: Then why does Svendsen say in his email to White: “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. One recent commentator, Gideon Bohak, even dates it in the First Century B.C.”

Svendsen: Does Sungenis wish to correct his figure above? If not, then there is no cliff hanger. If so, there still is no cliff hanger since, once again, Sungenis must first assume the rightness of the 100 BC to 135 AD scenario to level his criticism in the first place. Since not only is there no certainty on the date, but also that that particular scenario is falling out of favor with 21-cent scholarship, Sungenis’ “gotcha” is rendered completely moot.

R. Sungenis: As you can see, the one who needs to do the correcting is Svendsen, both on his twentieth century scholars and on Bohak. As for “that particular scenario is falling out of favor with 21-cent scholarship,” we’re not interested in three scholars who question a date that “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.” Even if we had to, Svendsen still hasn’t proven how heos hou suddenly reappeared with a meaning that it had as long ago as six centuries prior! The only thing that is “moot” are Svendsen’s claim of a 4-5th century AD date for Aseneth, for it only requires him to show how a word can go back to its original uage after being absent for six centuries!

RS: The other three AD dates won’t help Svendsen either. For if the story of Aseneth was written in the 2nd to 5th centuries, this would mean, according to Svendsen’s thesis about the usage of “heos hou” (i.e., the meaning of “heos hou” which continues the action of a Greek main clause, which, you remember, means that a “heos hou” which continues the action means that Joseph and Mary did not have sexual relations even after Jesus was born) was present in Greek literature before Matthew wrote his gospel, then suddenly disappeared from Greek literature when Matthew wrote his gospel, and then suddenly reappeared in the 2nd to 5th centuries in Greek literature!! If you believe that, my uncle has some swamp land in Florida he would love to sell you. I don’t know of ANY linguistic or philological studies that have claimed that a word can mean one thing, then change its meaning, and then go back to the original meaning. If Svendsen knows of any such studies, his novel research requires that he cite such evidence. Without it, Svendsen’s thesis about “heos hou” is a total pseudo-intellectual sham.

Svendsen: I’ve already addressed the folly of this “challenge” above.

R. Sungenis: No, if you read carefully, Svendsen hasn’t addressed it at all. The only thing he addressed (with his example of the word “let”) is that a word can change its meaning in the course of history. He has not shown any word that went back to its original meaning after it had changed from its original meaning. As it stands, Svendsen does not have one historical example to support his thesis. Svendsen also tried to use the word “adelphos,” but not only is his claim about adelphos provable, Svendsen hasn’t shown adelphos changing its meaning back to “kinsmen.”

Svendsen: And, contrary to Sungenis’ suggestion above, I’m quite comfortable with a 100 BC dating of J&A, a 50 BC dating, or even a 1 BC dating, not to mention an AD 100 dating—dates all within the parameters of the now-challenged 20th-cent. scholarship.

R. Sungenis: The problem here, of course, is that Svendsen thinks that three people who have “challenged” the “20th century scholarship” have indeed changed the mind of the 20th century scholars. Challenges are just that – challenges. Challenges don’t mean too much, unless they can be proven. This is especially the case in the relatively young challenge of Kraemer (1994).

Svendsen: Just because that particular reference might be dated during this time frame (even though it doesn’t happen to show up in a search of the literature of that time frame), does not thereby imply some staggering epiphany. The plain fact of the matter is, even if it were composed within the time parameters estimated by 20th-century scholarship it has very little bearing on the conclusions of my thesis. If we see the phrase appearing in 100 BC, all that proves is that it is the final instance of a usage for the phrase that I readily concede in my book it once had. If we find it in 50 BC, all that proves is that it is the sole instance of that usage—a late carryover, as it were—in the first-century BC. If we find it in 1 BC, all that proves is that it represents the sole instance of that usage as a very late carryover in the first-century BC. What cannot be denied in any of these scenarios is that heos hou (when it means until) never means in any undisputed instance what the Roman Catholic needs it to mean in Matt 1:25. That fact stands no matter what. The issue is not so much a grammatical “rule” as it is “common usage” of the day.

R. Sungenis: I was wondering when Svendsen was going to get to this excuse. Notice, after all the verbiage he put forth previously, he now decides to answer the question of what kind of apologetic he is going to bring forth if, indeed, Joseph and Aseneth was written in the arbitrary years he has established of 100BC to 100AD. Notice that he tries to dismiss it by saying it is “the sole instance of that usage as a very late carryover.” How convenient. Previously Svendsen claimed there were no such “instances,” and he didn’t even bother to tell his dissertation reader about the story of Joseph and Aseneth. Nevertheless, here is the problem for Svendsen. His solution is only one possibility. Even if we were to grant that it was a “carryover,” still, Svendsen has to leave open the possibility that it is not a “carryover,” and thus the “rule” of the use of heos hou that he was so anxious to establish cannot be a “rule.” Also, remember that Svendsen has not proven WHY heos hou continuing the action of the main clause is not seen in classical literature between 100BC - 100AD. He has only shown that it doesn’t appear. But that doesn’t mean that heos hou changed its meaning or that one meaning dropped from the vocabulary. It just means that Svendsen can’t find anyone in that time period who was using it to continue the action of the main clause. This is not that surprising, if one considers that the instances of heos hou continuing the action of the main clause is rather rare when compared to its instances of ceasing the action of the main verb. In other words, Svendsen has no proof for his contention. At most, he has only possibilities. But “possibilities” don’t dethrone Catholic doctrine.

As for his comment that: “What cannot be denied in any of these scenarios is that heos hou (when it means until) never means in any undisputed instance what the Roman Catholic needs it to mean in Matt 1:25. That fact stands no matter what. The issue is not so much a grammatical “rule” as it is “common usage” of the day,” I don’t know where he is getting this conclusion, since it doesn’t follow from the admission that Aseneth could have been written between 100BC and 100AD. We’ve already admitted that heos hou continuing the action of the main clause is “not as common” as heos hou ceasing the action, but this debate is not about “commonality,” but about whether heos hou can continue the action of the main verb or not. If it can, then regardless of its “non-common” meaning, it can’t be used to deny the Catholic doctrine, especially since there are four instances in the NT (as I pointed out earlier) which show heos hou continuing the action of the main clause (Mt 14:22; 26:36; 2Pt 1:19; Rev 6:11 variant).

Svendsen: 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. It would still be an exceedingly uncommon usage—equivalent to using the archaic behold, lo, wherefore, thee, thou, and the like in place of modern colloquial English.

R. Sungenis: Let Catholics worry about whether the doctrine is extremely unlikely or extremely likely. Either heos hou can continue the action or not. That is all this debate is about. In other words, Svendsen has to prove that there is “no likelihood.”

Svendsen: Indeed, since the document purports to be an account of when the Patriarch Joseph met his wife Aseneth (Genesis 41:45), the author of J&A may very well have purposefully adopted archaic phrases to give it the appearance of age (much the same way Joseph Smith used archaic KJV English when he composed the book of Mormon to make it appear to be an older work than it actually is). If this is the case, then quite obviously such a document cannot be used to establish common usage of language for the day.

R. Sungenis: Perhaps he didn’t see it coming, but all the above explanation does for Svendsen is open up the possibility that when Matthew wrote Matthew 1:25 he was using a then “archaic” meaning of heos hou that was not common in the parlance of his day. As such, Svendsen has just pounded the nail into his coffin that much further, since now we have a good reason WHY Matthew might have adopted such a usage.

Svendsen: Now, keep in mind that this is the best-case scenario for Sungenis. It is by no means the most likely scenario. Can you imagine anyone else but Sungenis, Matatics and company making such a big issue of—indeed, literally rejoicing over—a possible sole exception based on an unlikely scenario? “Hurray! Our sacred dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity now falls in the category of highly unlikely! Hurray!”

R. Sungenis: Rather, we are rejoicing because the only doctoral dissertation which says there is no possibility, now admits, or must admit, that there is a possibility, and as a result, it can’t prove its thesis.

Svendsen: Yet Sungenis presses on:

RS: The only thing Svendsen has is that there are two possible meanings to “heos hou,” and he is trying to convince the uneducated public that if the frequency of “heos hou” which continues the action of the main verb is less than what it was previously, then this means that “heos hou” has changed its meaning!

Svendsen: First, as I have already indicated above, the phrase heos hou has many possible meanings in the common usage of the first century; but what Sungenis needs it to mean in Matt 1:25 is not one of them.

R. Sungenis: Svendsen hasn’t proved that at all. As I said before, the only thing he has purported to show is that no one in classical literature between 100BC - 100AD had the opportunity to use heos hou in a continuing action of the main clause. That’s not surprising, since it was rare to begin with. But this doesn’t mean that the meaning of heos hou continuing the action of the main verb was no longer in the vocabulary. If, for example, we didn’t see the word “pshaw” in English for a number of years (which we haven’t), this doesn’t mean that pshaw has gone out of existence or changed its meaning. It only means that no one is using the word. Someone today could use pshaw, and those of us reading it would have to go back to previous usages of the word to find out what it meant. The same with heos hou. Every time the reader sees the word he has to go back to previous usages. The only exception to this would be if there were absolute proof that heos hou had changed from two usages to one usage, forever. But that is certainly not the case, since Svendsen admits that a heos hou which continues the action of the main clause appears in post-100AD literature.

As for “many possible meanings” that is certainly not the case. At most there were three: ceasing the action, reversing the action or continuing the action. But the first two are on the same side of the fence when compared to the last, so we really only have two.

Svendsen: It is not that the usage which continues the action of the main verb is less than what it was previously. It is that it doesn’t occur in the first centuries BC and AD., even though it did in previous eras. And no one is positing that the phrase “changed its meaning” (another example of Sungenis’ lack of familiarity with my work); rather, some of the nuances of usage ceased while others became prominent in the common lingua of the New Testament world.

R. Sungenis: There is little difference between saying heos hou “changed its meaning” from saying that one meaning ceased being used. Svendsen knows what I am saying. Still, he hasn’t proven that heos hou continuing the action was no longer in the vocabulary. All he has purported to show is that heos hou continuing the action wasn’t used in classical for a brief period. His problem remains, however, in trying to show how heos hou could suddenly come back into usage as a preposition continuing the action of the main clause after 100 AD. These things just don’t happen, and Svendsen has yet to give us an example of a word in all of history that has done so. Again, the likely scenario is that the word reappeared because it had never gone out of the vocabulary. This, of course, is not even counting the evidence in the NT in which heos hou continues the action of the main clause (Mt 14:23; 26:36; 2Pt 1:19; Rev 6:11 variant).

RS: This is pure poppycock. No scholar in their right mind would ever sanction such an unsupported scenario.

Svendsen: What is “poppycock” is Sungenis’ pretense to know what scholars do or say—he is, quite simply, clueless in this field of study. There is nothing “unsupported” about my thesis. All the evidence for common usage is there for anyone to see.

R. Sungenis: Correction. I know of no scholar who has ever claimed that a word can be used one way, cease that usage, and then regain that usage at a later time. When words or their meaning cease, they cease for good. And again, this argument is not about “common” usage, but about “usage,” period.

RS: The most they would ever give Svendsen is to say that the meaning of “heos hou” that continues the action of the verb doesn’t appear, but they would never say that “heos hou” changed its meaning from two possibilities to one possibility.

Svendsen: How does Sungenis think common usage is established by any scholar? To acknowledge that the phrase heos hou appears in several dozen instances in this literature, and then candidly to admit that not even one of these instances shows continuation of the action of the main clause, is to establish the case for common usage. This is how New Testament Greek exegesis is done. Scholars examine the usage of a Greek word or phrase to see if any patterns emerge. Apart from observing the pattern of the relationship between multiple nouns governed by a single article as opposed to each noun governed by its own article, there is no Granville Sharp rule. Apart from observing the pattern of the Greek word einai connecting two substantives, there is no McGaughy rule. Apart from observing the pattern regarding consecutive accusative substantives, there is no Moeller/Kramer rule. That is the methodology. That is how Greek rules are discovered and established, whether Sungenis, Pacheco or Matatics happens to like it or not. If they don't happen to like it, they need to take it up with New Testament Greek scholarship. Hence, when we examine the phrase heos hou, and we find that there is a pattern of usage when it means "until," the methodology used in establishing the consequent rule is unimpeachable since it is identical to the methodology used in establishing consequent rules from other observable patterns of usage.

R. Sungenis: No rule of Greek grammar or linguistics says a word will cease its original usage and then readopt that usage at a later time. There is no such rule because no one has seen this happen, not even once. Rules are established on a preponderance of the evidence, but Svendsen doesn’t have that. Granted, Svendsen could possibly make a case if the usage of heos hou continuing the action of the main clause never appeared again after 100BC, since he could posit that that meaning of heos hou no longer existed. But this is not the evidence he brings forth.

Svendsen: I mentioned earlier that I would return to the topic of the relevance of the LXX in establishing the usage of words and phrases for the New Testament. I noted there that Sungenis, Pacheco and Matatics each misunderstands how the LXX is used in this regard. When I set out to do this research for my Ph.D. dissertation, I knew from my preliminary research that the majority of instance I found would likely fall into the categories I had found in the New Testament itself, and that the rest would fall into the categories that I had found in the LXX. I was fairly convinced I would find at least a few instances of the phrase that would lend credence to the Roman Catholic interpretation of Matt 1:25, and I was prepared to publish those findings no matter where they led—even if they didn’t make the point one way or the other. I remember sitting in D.A. Carson’s Advanced Greek Grammar class and continually hearing him emphasize the point that tedious, dull and boring grammatical research that yields no firm conclusion is actually of greater value to the scholarly community than is grammatical research that suppresses evidence and skips points along the way. Of course, if the dull and boring research actually turns up a pattern, all the better. Hence, I fully expected to encounter evidence that supports the Roman Catholic position, and fully intended to publish that evidence. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would find no evidence for the Roman Catholic view of this phrase in the literature contemporary to Matthew’s gospel.

R. Sungenis: This is an interesting claim, since Svendsen has already admitted that he did not include Burchard’s dating of the Joseph and Aseneth story, and I don’t think Svendsen even made reference to the Jospeh and Aseneth story at all.

Svendsen: One question that continually seems to come up on the Roman Catholic side in discussions of this issue is, Why the time frame of 100 BC and AD 100? 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. When I took Doug Moo’s New Testament and LXX class, I was required (along with all the other students) to purchase a copy of the lexicon of Liddell and Scott, even though I already owned a copy of BAGD. I soon discovered just why this was required, as many of the words in passages we were required to translate simply could not be found in BAGD. And even those words that were common to the New Testament were often found in the LXX bearing forms outside of common New Testament usage. The way Roman Catholic apologists make their points on this issue, one would think that Classical Greek usage came to a screeching halt on Jan 1, 300 BC., at which time Koine Greek suddenly began being used, and continued to be used in its unadulterated, unchanged form until Jan 1, AD 300—so that any and every occurrence of any given word or phrase, whether in the LXX or the New Testament, was completely intact for the entire 600-year period. Quite the contrary. Classical Greek evolved into Koine Greek over time. And, just in case Roman Catholic apologists are unaware of this, I’ll let them in on a little secret—it continued to evolve even within the Koine period. That is how language works, period. And any suggestion to the contrary (“how dare you exclude the instances found in the LXX when establishing the meaning of this phrase in Matthew’s day!”) simply betrays an uninformed opinion. 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. At one time, the Greek article operated as a personal pronoun. That usage dropped out of existence. At one time the Greek word martys 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. That is why we cannot simply ignore the fact that heos 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 then 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.

R. Sungenis: The fatal flaw of Svendsen’s above explanation is the following sentences: “At one time, the Greek article operated as a personal pronoun. That usage dropped out of existence. At one time the Greek word martys 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!”

Note the words “dropped out of existence” and “finally rested on.” This means these words no longer meant what they previously meant, and the previous meanings NEVER CAME BACK INTO EXISTENCE. But Svendsen doesn’t claim this for heos hou. He only claims that the meaning which continues the action of the main very was not used in 100BC to 100AD, and he admits that it came back into existence after 100AD. Thus, Svendsen’s whole above paragraph is off the mark, speaking about a phenomenon that is totally different than what his dissertation claims.

Svendsen: Then what is the study of LXX words good for? The LXX is valuable in establishing the meaning of theological terms that might influence the New Testament writers. The New Testament writers speak an awful lot about justification, redemption, salvation, and the like; concepts all of which have their genesis in the Old Testament. Some of these words are considered Hebraisms—that is to say, words that have meaning only in an OT context, and sometimes lack any first-century equivalent. It is here that the study of the LXX casts light on New Testament terms. But, note well; this influence is limited to theological terms and concepts, and it does not hold sway over common prepositions and conjunctions that have absolutely no theological significance. Such is the case with a phrase like heos hou. Matthew is not using a Hebraism (as has been suggested by both Sungenis and Matatics in the past), since there is absolutely no theological significance to the phrase.

R. Sungenis: My argument never rested on the idea that Matthew was using a Hebraism. I don’t know where Svendsen is getting that idea. Nevertheless, as it stands, Svendsen has already admitted earlier that a writer may reach back and use the meaning of a word that was common in another day, but that was archaic in his own day.

Svendsen: Sungenis has also weighed in on attempting to explain the Greek word sunerchomai in Matt 1:18 (translated “came together”) on which Gerry Matatics fumbled so badly in the Svendsen-White/Matatics debate that aired recently on the Dividing Line program. Those of you who listened to the show saw how Roman Catholic apologists are forced to dance around the specific heading under which BDAG places this verse in its entry for the word: “To unite in an intimate relationship, come together in a sexual context.” Matatics attempted to make a distinction between the word when it carries a sexual connotation and when it carries only a legal connotation, as in a marriage contract—even though BDAG places every instance he cited under the same broader heading of sexual relations. Matatics’ dance around this word illustrated a contention I have long held; namely, that Roman Catholic apologists simply do not know how to read Greek reference works. Sungenis treats us to another example of this in his analysis of Xenophon, Memorabilia, 2.2.4, a passage BDAG places under the same general heading for the meaning of this word, The passage reads: Moreover, surely you don’t suppose that human beings beget children on account of sex, since the streets as well as the houses are full of those who will release one from this. And it is visible that we examine also from what sort of women we might get the best offspring, and it is with these we come together to produce offspring.

The phrase in question is this one: “and it is with these we come together to produce offspring." Sungenis explains:

The citation could easily be interpreted to mean that the men first congregate with the women, that is, “come together” (Greek: sunerchomai), and of these women they meet, each of them will eventually choose which woman he wants to mate and produce offspring. We know this is a viable interpretation, since the passage speaks in the plural (“with these we come together”) not the singular. Obviously, coitus does not take place in a plurality, only the meeting together with the women takes place in a plurality.

Svendsen: The utter ridiculousness of Sungenis’ interpretation of this passage becomes apparent when we substitute the phrase “come together” with the phrase “have sexual relations” (which, according to BDAG itself, is what sunerchomai means in this passage), producing the following statement: “and it is with these we have sexual relations to produce offspring." Would Sungenis likewise spin a statement like this, claiming, “well, since it’s in the plural, it can’t really mean sexual relations since, obviously, coitus does not take place in a plurality”? Sungenis’ interpretation is no more “viable” than is a reading of Col 3:19 (“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them”) that posits since the words “husbands” and “wives” are in the plural, then a “viable” interpretation is that Paul is here commanding that all married men love all married women.

R. Sungenis: Svendsen says: “when we substitute the phrase “come together” with the phrase “have sexual relations” which admits by the words “we substitute” that Svendsen MUST make that substitution in order for the word to have that exact technical meaning. Sunerchomai is a euphemism, not a technical word for copulation. Granted, it COULD refer to copulation, but it doesn’t have to. Svendsen’s task is to show that sunerchomai can ONLY mean copulation when it is used in Matthew 1:18. That, he has not done, and it is impossible for him to do so.

It is also apparent that Svendsen has decided not to answer the remaining arguments concerning the meaning of sunerchomai that I listed in my rebuttal, including the difference between a euphemism and a technical meaning. That, of course, is his choice, but the arguments are still there.

Svendsen: Regarding Sungenis’ latest article in which he supposedly responds to my article addressing his incompetence in the Greek, Sungenis has this to say:

RS: I am answering Svendsen’s rebuttal rather late because when he wrote his rebuttal in August 2002, he did not alert me to that fact, and thus I didn’t know it existed until today, November 17, 2003, when one of my colleagues told me. Perhaps if Svendsen wants me to answer him, in the future he can send his rebuttal to me directly.

Svendsen: I’m sorry, but I just cannot let this one stand. I didn’t inform Sungenis about my first article; and yet he had no problem finding it. I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that Sungenis suddenly had no informants to alert him to my response. The vultures are out there daily—I know, because they write me personally to air their views anytime I post a new article. I simply do not believe Sungenis when he says that he was unaware of this article for over an entire year. I think the real reason he hasn’t responded is because he has no meaningful response—and the present article that he calls a “response” is no exception. It does not address even half the points I made in my prior article.

R. Sungenis: Svendsen can believe anything he wants. The truth is that he is wrong, dead wrong. I don’t lie. I may be mistaken at times, but I don’t lie. Svendsen only puts his foot in his mouth that much further when he accuses someone without having proof. Leave it to Svendsen to turn this issue into one of having his opponent without an answer. It is obvious that since I wrote a dozen pages responding to Svendsen, both about heos hou and sunerchomai, that I, indeed, had a response to give. The facts prove themselves.

Svendsen: Be that as it may, here is Sungenis “response”: RS: Svendsen’s explanation does not explain anything, except to give various possibilities why there are so many Greek textual variants, but he has no proof of WHY a certain scribe wrote a certain way in a specific instance. Nevertheless, notice that Svendsen dismisses the one possibility that hurts his position.

Svendsen: I dismiss it not because it hurts my position, but because it’s not a possibility. Instead, it’s a baseless speculation that has no support in the field of text criticism.

R. Sungenis: Says who? Eric Svendsen? Since when did he become a recognized authority on the meaning and usage of textual variants in the New Testament? The fact remains that, if, as Svendsen claims, there was such a great difference between heos and heos hou in the NT, then surely we would find evidence of that among those copying the NT. As it stands, they see no difference, as is evidenced by their constant interchanging of the two. But of course, Svendsen might still claim that this non-difference between heos and heos hou is only AFTER 100AD. But then he has to explain how the usage of heos hou continuing the action of the main verb suddenly popped back into existence after 100AD, especially since he hasn’t cited one word in all of history that has done so.

RS: Unfortunately, this is one of Eric’s misdirection attempts. The examples he offers have little to do with the relationship between “heos” and “heos hou,” and he knows it. We are not talking about noun and pronoun differences (which can change the whole meaning of a phrase or sentence), but simply two different ways of writing a prepositional phrase that everyone up until the advent of Eric Svendsen has understood as meaning the same thing

Svendsen: And that’s the whole point. If a scribe can error in the major things, how much more likely is he to error in the minor things?

R. Sungenis: Svensden seems to have lost his train of thought. We are not talking about a scribe being in error, but about the normal change in meaning words go through. Nouns go through an inordinate amount of change, but I’ve never heard that to be the case for prepositions or conjunctions, of which heos hou fills the category.

RS: In fact, I’m sorry for the audience’s sake that I didn’t say this before, since it may have dispensed with a lot of esoteric “Greek-talk” going back and forth between Svendsen and I, but the difference between “heos” and “heos hou” is as simple as, for example, whether we decide to use the word “that” in a sentence in English. If, for example, we write: “I told John that the time had come for him to read,” this means the same as “I told John the time had come for him to read.” Notice that the first sentence uses “that,” where as the second does not, but both sentences mean precisely the same thing.

Svendsen: Another mere assertion on Sungenis’ part regarding the very issue under debate. Sungenis apparently thinks it’s more profitable to assert than to demonstrate—the latter, he cannot do.

R. Sungenis: Assertion? Here are the facts: Heos is a preposition that means “until.” Hou can be a relative part of speech that means “which” or “that.”

ES/RS: Now the question is: why would the Greek have a relative pronomial [sic] or pronoun, or a relative adjective, following a preposition?

R. Sungenis: [sic]? Perhaps Svendsen needs to check Baker’s Analytical Greek New Testament, since the same words are used there. But perhaps Eric lost his coding card, because that is where the words are used.

RS: Actually, this shouldn’t surprise us, since we sometimes do a similar thing in English. For example, instead of saying: “Do you remember the story I told you about?” a more proper way to say this in English is: “Do you remember the story about which I told you?” The phrase “about which” includes the preposition “about” followed by the relative pronoun “which.” This sounds a little awkward even in English. In fact, people will usually use “about which” in their writing, but not speak that way, since it sounds so formal to the ear.

Svendsen: Sungenian ramblings, nothing more. What is gratuitously asserted may be gratuitously denied.

R. Sungenis: And gratuitously reasserted, since Svendsen provides no proof to the contrary.

RS: Unfortunately, Eric Svendsen is getting all tangled up by looking at “heos hou” as a separate and distinct phrase in Greek. In fact, his whole research is biased toward that conclusion. Not once does he consider the argument I gave above, which argument is as common in linguistic analysis as vowels and consonants.

Svendsen: And why would I give any weight to this? What evidence does Sungenis offer us other than his mere assertions that this is the relationship between heos and heos hou? Absolutely nothing. Believe it or not, that’s the entirety of Sungenis’ response to this article: Anyone who has the temerity to read a lot of technical stuff is welcome to read this article, compare it to Sungenis’ “response,” and judge for himself whether Sungenis has really addressed the issue.

Eric Svendsen, Ph.D.

R. Sungenis: Unfortunately for you, dear audience, Svendsen has chosen to ignore the proof of my above example regarding heos hou. In that example I showed where even the King James Bible translates heos hou as a preposition and a relative pronoun, that is, “until that,” in Acts 21:26: “Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, UNTIL THAT an offering should be offered for every one of them.”

Why doesn’t Eric Svendsen, Ph.D. mention this fact? Obviously, because it would show to you, dear audience, that hou is nothing more than an idiosyncratic addition to heos, much like the word “that” is an idiosyncratic addition in English. That’s not hard to understand, is it?

I rest my case.

Robert Sungenis
Catholic Apologetics International 12-08-03

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of The Blessed Virgin Mary (Hooray!)

End of Dialogue