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Volume 17, Issue 5: Sharpening Iron

From Us:

The thing about wind is that it blows. And though from where you stand staring down at us, we may look like a brightly-colored pile of trash sprawling on the coffee table, we are far more than that. We were a kite once. We rode that wind. And when we've found the glue, we'll do it again.


From You:

Dear Editor,
Just read Nathan Wilson's "Butterfly Lies" [C/A, 17.3]. And I was blown away yet again by Mr. Wilson's incredibly beautiful prose! Thank you.

I love to read C/A—for the most part—for the fun intellectual wrangling, both when I agree and even more when I do not. But, I also read C/A because right in the midst of the big thinking, you also remind me to wonder. And for those of us who find our amusement in intellectual pursuits, this is an oft lost art. Thank you again.

Barbara Smith
San Diego, CA

Dear Editor,
I am sorry, but I am confused. Which culture war are you guys fighting? And whose side are you on? The last time I looked, Hollywood was on the other side, but your staff is funding the debris that "Hollyweird" is heaping upon us by buying tickets to this trash. . . .

Now, for "A Case of the Blues" [C/A, 17.3] . Having been a jazz/blues musician for over 30 years, I can tell you there are hundreds of great Christian blues musicians. I know, I have played with many of them. There are not "three of them" as was stated in your article. But I guess since the "mainstream press" tells you that there are only three, it must be true? There are thousands of independent artists at, I have a CD there "A Passion For Hymns." If a publication like yours won't support Christian indies then who will?
Speaking of the mainstream press, why do I want to read softball questions thrown at Peter Jennings, or Taj Mahal for that matter? I can read about them in any mainstream rag. There are great warriors on the front lines of the culture war, men you will never hear about from ABC, men like H.K. Edgerton, who your readers need to know about.

Roger Quesnell
Kennewick, WA

Editor's reply: Of course, we hope we are fighting in the right culture war, though we can't be sure. Whichever war it is, it sure isn't a cold one.

Dear Editor,
In Doug Wilson's article `The Bishop Presbyter' he makes a reference to titles for church officers that we don't use any more and among them includes `under-rower' (Acts 13:5). I am not sure this is a valid translation of the Greek hype-rete-s.

While this is the gloss suggested in a lexicon like Thayer's, some have suggested that such a meaning rests on the semantic root fallacy i.e. deriving the meaning of the word from its constituent parts, in this case hypo and erete-s. This leads to the morphology of the word determining the meaning of the word and giving us `under-rower'. The important point here is that if this is taken as the meaning then the servant we have in view will often be described as a servant of a particularly lowly kind. I can imagine the sermon and almost hear the waves crashing against the galleys in blackest darkness. Even though BDAG suggests that hype-rete-s frequently denotes a helper in a subordinate capacity we should note that a subordinate capacity is not necessarily the same as a lowly capacity, and this much at least emerges from the contextual sense of Acts 13:5.
This word as an example of the root fallacy was originally pointed out by J. P. Louw and after that by D. A. Carson. Here is the latter who quotes the former: `Yet the fact remains that with only one possible exception - and it is merely possible, not certain - hype-rete-s is never used for `rower' in classical literature, and it is certainly not used that way in the New Testament. The hype-rete-s in the New Testament is a servant, and often there is little if anything to distinguish him from a diakonos. As Louw remarks, to derive the meaning of hype-rete-s from hypo and erete-s is no more intrinsically realistic than deriving the meaning of `butterfly' from `butter' and fly', or the meaning of `pineapple' from `pine' and `apple''. (Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd edition, 29-30). If Louw and Carson are right, this kind of thinking could prevent us (in at least one instance) from thinking there are church offices we don't use anymore, particularly if we have functioning deacons.

David Gibson
Aberdeen, Scotland

Douglas Wilson replies: I quite agree that we ought not to read a servile function into this. Contexually, I would want to render hyperetes in Acts 13:5 with something like "ministerial assistant." My point was not so much to argue for the word "under-rower" as a translation, but rather to flag the point that a church office was being described by a word that was not "presbyteros," "episkopos," etc. For the rest, I happily grant Mr. Gibson's point.

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