Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
On Roger Perkins' Lexical Fallacies in his Oneness Debate with James White
12/20/2011 - Alan KurschnerMy aim here is not to explain so much the significance of his fallacies, since Dr. White bring that out in the debate. Instead, I will list the fallacies themselves.
Perkins claims that in the original language of the Bible there are no terms that distinguishes "being" and "person."
Contra, Paul makes this distinction, “For in him (autos, denoting a person all the fullness of deity (theotēs, "being God" lives in bodily form,” (Col 2:9 NET)
Perkins claims a particular distinction between the meaning of two Greek words for "to know," oida and ginosko. His first problem is that he cites for his authority Vines Dictionary, a source that is deficient for lexical information because of its shallowness in treating lexical analysis. Second, Perkins, citing Vines, says that ginosko frequently means "progress in knowledge" and oida suggest "fullness of knowledge." These general definitions are patently fallacious and every scholarly Greek lexicon refutes such as notion. BDAG, the most scholarly Greek lexicon, lists their semantic range showing that the two terms overlap in meaning, and that context must determine the specific meaning:
1. to arrive at a knowledge of someone or someth., know, know about, make acquaintance of
2. to acquire information through some means, learn (of), ascertain, find out
3. to grasp the significance or meaning of someth., understand, comprehend
4. to be aware of someth., perceive, notice, realize
5. to have sexual intercourse with, have sex/marital relations with,
6. to have come to the knowledge of, have come to know, know
7. to indicate that one does know, acknowledge, recognize
1. to have information about, know
2. be intimately acquainted with or stand in a close relation to, know
3. to know/understand how, can, be able
4. to grasp the meaning of someth., understand, recognize, come to know, experience
5. to remember, recollect, recall, be aware of
6. to recognize merit, respect, honor
Perkins claims that the Greek word heis rendered "one" requires unitarianism when it is applied to God. But he failed in providing a single biblical example of the being of God being shared only by one person. Further, the Greek term heis has a semantic range and context can only determine the meaning. BDAG says:
1. a single pers. or thing, with focus on quantitative aspect, one
2. a single entity, with focus on uniformity or quality, one
3. an unspecified entity, some/one=τὶς,
4. marker of someth. that is first, the first
I found it ironic that the one verse that Perkins cites for heis actually demonstrates a multiplicity within heis. He cites, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female–for all of you (multiplicity) are one heis in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28; cf. John 10:30). Perkins want to focus on the fact that only the person of Christ is mentioned here. But the point is that in this case heis contains a multiplicity, in this case, persons. So this refutes Perkin's claim that heis cannot contain multiplicity of persons.
In addition, Perkins is making a category error. He is confusing being with person because of his presupposition of unitarianism. It is a non sequitur to state that because heis can refer to God it must mean "one person." Perkins cannot prove that heis contains the meaning of "personhood."
In conclusion, Roger Perkins is blusterous in his use of Greek sources. He cannot read Greek, for he would not be using "English-help" Greek sources and very dated Greek sources from a hundred years ago. This does not mean that if someone knows Greek they will not commit lexical fallacies. And it does not mean that if someone who does not know Greek cannot perform competent word studies. But Perkins should not be so confident in his lexical claims because of his lack of Greek knowledge and his dependence on secondary English sources. He may fool those who do not know Greek, but he cannot fool those who do know Greek.