Help in defending the Real Presense; linguistics

On another online forum I’ve been involved in a discussion about the Real Presense, in that it is one of the best scripturaly-supported “Catholic” doctrines as well as the unanimous support of the ECFs whenever the topic comes up.
However this sub-forum, dedicated to the topic that LDS-Mormonism “is of Jesus Christ” has a resident apologist who seems to take refuge in linguistic gymnastics that I’m pretty sure are not supported by any actual koine greek lexicons or greek linguists. Mainly his arguments hinge on these points:

  1. The koine “estin” (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, 1 Cor 11;24) actually means “meaneth” (aka “symbolizes”, “represents”, or “stands for”). This is AFTER I had pointed out estin usualy means “IS REALLY” unless there is some clear indication it is not literal, just like the English “is”. The LDS apologist then went into some verbiage about “aorist” tense and inflections, which I do not have the background to counter.

  2. The LDS apologist also claimed that the Latin ECFs didnt undertand koine very well (I know, especialy ludicrous when he applied it to Justin Martyr!).

So what I need from the koine readers here is some information to counter these positions, such as what is the most common and direct way in koine of saying “this represents”.

Thank you all in advance.

Good question…

Forget the koine and go back to the fact that Jesus and his disciples were speaking Aramaic, not Greek. In Aramaic (and Hebrew, and Arabic, which is where my real expertise lies), this would have been a nominal sentence without any verb at all, because the Semitic languages don’t use a copula (the “is/are” verbs. So what Jesus would have said, translated directly into English, would have been "This – body-of-me . . . " This leaves no room for any imaginary “represents” signification.

In The Passion of the Christ I think there is a representation of this scene. I don’t remember what the word for “this” was, but it may have been di. I do remember that gismi (hard “g”) was “my body,” which would have made the sentence something like “Di gismi.” An Aramaic expert can correct me if my memory is faulty.

In any case, the important point is that there was no word in the Aramaic that could be twisted to mean anything other that a straight “is.”

Another key point to remember is that some of the ECF’s WERE Greek-speaking men. Further, the Church that does still use Greek (the Greek Orthodox) share an understanding in unison with Catholics regarding Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. If the LDS-apologist is going to say what “estin” is really supposed to mean, he’s going to logically have to explain why the Church the actually speaks Greek disagrees with him, as well as the Greek speaking ECF’s that were alive in close proximity to when these words were translated into Greek, AND he’ll have to explain why all of Jesus’ disciples (who spoke the same language as Christ) understood Him literally in John 6.

Are there any legitimate Greek scholars that would agree with the LDS person’s opinions on this Greek usage? If not, then why should anyone accept his opinion here?

I don’;t know if this will help, but “esti(n)” is the Koine Greek third person sigular indicative of “to be”, in short, it’s meaning is simply “he/she/it is”, nothing more, nothing less.

In the phrase “Touto estin to soma mou”, ‘touto’ can only refer to ‘soma’; touto is a demonstrative pronoun (“this”) refering to a neuter noun. ‘Soma’ is a neuter noun. "Bread’ on the other hand is a masculine noun so the phrase can’t really be translated as “this (bread/matzoh) is my body”.

The aorist tense usually represents the “perfective aspect” (I’m familiar with perfective and imperfective verbs via Russian). They can be used in the present tense, but when you do, it’s with a (completed) future meaning. The aorist generally represents a situation as an udivided whole. I don’t know enough anout this tense in Koine to make any definitive statement, but it’s really totally moot - the historic Jesus would have been speaking Aramaic, not Koine to his disciples. Truth is, there are several verbs he could have used in Aramaic had he meant the phrase to conote “signifies/represents, etc.” - we simply do not know what he actually said in Aramaic, but it appears to have been translated into Greek as ‘estin’ which would indicate what he was holding up at the time (bread/matzoh) “is”, not “represents” or “is symbolic of” .

However, it could be argued that he was using a type of metaphor known as “hypocatastasis” - if I were to show you a photo of my cat and say “this is my cat”, I obviously do not mean that the photo is litterally my cat, but rather a “representation” of my cat.

The matzoh at the sedar, so I’ve read, is used to represent the Messiah - through this metaphor spoken by Jesus, if indeed a metphor was intended, he may have simply been identifying himself as the Messiah.

Associated PressFebruary 21, 2014

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Attorneys for a Puerto Rico diocese that defrocked six priests facing sex abuse allegations said Friday in court that they oppose a criminal investigation into the cases because the majority involved consensual sex.

Diocese attorneys said the priests were defrocked for violating canon law, not criminal laws.

Consensual sex “does not constitute any type of crime,” attorney Frank Torres said.

The argument was one of several presented to a judge reviewing a lawsuit that the Diocese of Arecibo filed against the U.S. territory’s justice secretary. The names of the alleged victims have not been released to seek comment from.

In the suit, the diocese contends that it should not be forced to release their names to prosecutors in order to protect their confidentiality.

Prosecutor Claudia Juan Garcia accused the diocese of withholding information to protect the priests, not the alleged victims.

“It’s not up to the church to decide which acts constitute a crime,” she said. “It’s up to the state.”

She noted that even though the church had defrocked the priests, they could still pose a threat to society in general.

The diocese has provided the ages of the alleged victims, the names of the accused priests and the dates and description of the alleged actions, said diocese attorney Jose Andreu Fuentes. He did not publicly reveal the ages.

He said that even though the sex was consensual in the majority of cases, the alleged victims confided in church officials because “spiritually, they had to denounce this.”

Torres said the statute of limitations already expired for two of the cases, and that state prosecutors previously investigated at least one other case and nothing came of it.

In the U.S. mainland, several church leaders accused of shielding pedophile priests from prosecution have faced criminal charges.

A monsignor was convicted in Philadelphia, although a state appeals court threw out the conviction last year. Meanwhile, a Kansas City bishop was found guilty last year of failing to report child abuse to the state, but he remains head of his diocese.

And in one of the most high-profile cases, internal files released by the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese showed that Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles ordered an underling to withhold a list of altar boys from police. Authorities later found that 25 of the alleged victims of fugitive Rev. Nicolas Aguilar Rivera were altar boys.

The archdiocese also agreed to pay $720 million to victims, announcing a final $13 million settlement on Wednesday, thus avoiding a trial.

In Puerto Rico, the lawsuit hearing drew a crowd of diocese officials and their supporters, the majority of whom wore large rosaries and hugged diocese officials during courtroom breaks.

Before judge Angel Pagan announced that the hearing would be continued in early March, he told attorneys for the diocese that he would protect the confidentiality of witnesses on a case-by-case basis. Pagan also said that one of the alleged victims who recently requested that his personal information not be turned over to prosecutors would be allowed to join the lawsuit.

The ruling was celebrated by attorney Manuel Martinez, who said his 23-year-old unidentified client was working and studying and did not want to be forced into the spotlight.

“He has a peaceful life,” Martinez said. “Almost 10 years have gone by.”

Prosecutors also are investigating sex abuse allegations that recently surfaced in the Diocese of Mayaguez in Puerto Rico’s western region. The diocese said it has handled four cases of alleged sex abuse, and that the majority are being reviewed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles such accusations.

Except for Father_Son_Mary above (possible miss-post), these have been good answers–many thanks.

But still supposing the gospel writers and Paul intended in koine to say “this means/ this represents”–what would have been the common and most direct usage?

You’re not going to like hearing this, but… “is”. Take a look at Galatians 4:24-25…

“These women represent two covenants. One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar. Hagar represents Sinai, a mountain in Arabia; it corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery along with her children.”

“αὗται γάρ εἰσιν δύο διαθῆκαι, μία μὲν ἀπὸ ὄρους Σινᾶ, εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα, ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἄγαρ, τὸ δὲ Ἄγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ· συνστοιχεῖ δὲ τῇ νῦν Ἱερουσαλήμ, δουλεύει γὰρ μετὰ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς.”

However, this is a rare usage. To the best of my knowledge, we infer this meaning strictly from context, but I haven’t researched it thoroughly. So, to say that estin can take on the connotation of ‘meaning’ or ‘representation’ is true; to say that this is the common meaning of the word is ‘means’ or ‘represents’ is grossly overstating the case.

Let’s assume for a second the LDS person’s grammar is correct. How would a symbolic view of the Eucharist therefore mean there cannot also be a literal sense to the Eucharist? Does Paul not still say one must “discern Christ’s body” when seeing the Eucharist at the end of Corinthians 11? Does the Greek also not still say we must “gnaw" or "chew” his body in John 6? Does a symbolic-only view withstand the test of typology that the NT manna must surpass in glory the OT manna? No, a symbolic-only view is untenable.

I have to agree with Gorgias on this - one would most probably use the verb “is”, just as you would in English (if I understand your last question correctly).

The actual meaning must be gleaned from context like my analogy above about the photo of my cat.
Unfortunately, I don’t think we have the luxury of being able to discern from context in this example. From a linguistic point of view, either translation would be acceptable; “this is (i.e. physically is)” or “this is (i.e. represents)”.

Without knowing the context it really kind of amounts to argueing semantics on a moot point; there’s really no way to know what was actually meant - I guess it really depends on your own personal belief on how you want to interpret the phrase.

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