TGC Reviews the GAE

That’s a bit strong. It can certainly be construed that way and has been quite often. Perhaps it can be construed another way, but that’s the most you can say. I have to say that I find your reasoning on this point rather sophistic.

I should also mention that we always have to allow for the possibility of ancient idiomatic meanings which are lost to us—or even that a modern day idiom we can track to languages long after the ancient text was first written actually were rooted in an idiom which already existed at that time but without being clearly indicated by context. (That is, there are certainly ancient idioms which will never be understood by us because contexts which would unambiguously identify and explain those idioms never managed to be preserved by centuries of repeated copying.)

For example, as I’ve mentioned in these forums in the past, consider the idiom we heard often from “Baghdad Bob” during his Gulf War press conferences. He kept warning coalition forces that the Iraqi Army would soon engage the enemy in “the Mother of All Battles.” In that idiom, the mother of is a kind of superlative—as in “the greatest of all battles” or “the battle surpassing all battles.” How far back in the history of human languages—and their prior proto-languages—did that idiom exist? We don’t know.


I should also mention that HAADAM (“the man”, popularly called “Adam”) could have idiomatic meanings of its own. Even today in modern English (especially in American English) we casually and glowingly speak of some exceptional man as “the man.”

For example, the first time I encountered this idiomatic usage of “the man” was with the celebrated baseball player Stan “The Man” Musial in the 1950’s. He wasn’t just any particular man. He was an incredible athlete who consistently excelled over a very long career. He was awarded a title based on a very interesting idiom.

I find it fascinating that “the man” can be used as a term of praise or one of disparagement. It can be a recognition of great power gained by political skills and influence, such as “When it came to wielding power in Congress, House Speaker Tip O’Neill was the man for an entire decade.” Or it can be an expression of contempt and resistance: “Don’t let the man put you down!” or “Let’s stick it to the man!” (In such contexts “the man” can be a synonym for “the boss” or “the powers that be.”)

We have to make the same allowances for ancient languages as we do for our own. Obviously, the languages of the Bible—Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic—were just as rich as the languages we know today.