Not getting caught up in "words", "names", "genealogies"

Salvete, omnes!

In one of Paul’s letters, the Apostle rebukes his flock for getting involved/caught up/speculating about “words”, “names”, “genealogies”. As I recall, he calls such discussions “vain” or “futile”.

Is Paul casting in this aspersions on all who would examine issues in very great detail, down, as it were, to the “nitty gritty”? Indeed, I believe that, sometimes (maybe more often than not), such “deep digging” is necessary or at least very helpful in understanding issues, theological, philosophical, historical, linguistic, or otherwise, either church-related or in “secular” subjects. Am I wrong to believe this?

Or, rather, is Paul, in a sense, rebuking us for looking into/studying topics that might, by many, be considered too “esoteric” or even a “waste of time” such as, for instance, Art History or even Classical Studies (my own field)? To some of us, however, there are varying degrees of value in these pursuits. Of course, such are not objectively (arguably?) as important as, say, in the secular world, firefighting or being a doctor, in that the latter saves lives while the former can be very limited. Still, again, I don’t see why studying such things would be objectively wrong, even if the value is less than perhaps the more “noble” profession. But, then, again, is Paul saying that these kinds of fields are “vanity” because of their limited if non-importance and shouldn’t be studied?

Is he perhaps implying both situations are true?

If neither, than, what is Paul advising against here?


You “recall”. This is the PROBLEM!!

If you want to engage in discussion of scripture, an exact quote would be the best place to start.

And how’s it going on getting those references that 1ke keeps talking about?

You say you want a “Catholic” understanding", yet you seem to not want to to the work involved.

It seems to me that you don’t want understanding at all, you want to be told that you are correct in your assumptions. If that’s what you want, I fear you are in the wrong place.

As to citation, I would expect you already to be familiar with the verses I cite, so I thought there would be no need.

As to the rest, as I say, think what you will. It really doesn’t phase me. In any case, I await the sincere and genuine and respectful responses to my questions here, as always.

Also, looking at the verses in question, I am wondering whether speculation of any kind is prohibited. I mean, really, I see no harm in it, so long as you don’t think more highly of it than you should and so long as it doesn’t cause undue controversy. Yet, here, Paul seems to speak negatively of speculation, pure and simple.

BTW, for those who need citations, my main passage in question is 1 Timothy 1:4 with another verse from Titus (Titus 3:9) which could be seen to be saying something very similar.

Thanks again to all who are sincerely considering my questions and who do not engage in needless controversy with me and harassment. If the folks I have in mind in saying this do not cease from their ways, I have a mind to block them from responding to my posts.

You are right about him calling it vain or futile. Some translations use the word “stupid”. But you are wrong with regard to whom Paul is speaking, and about what he is speaking.

Since you did not provide a citation or a reference, I am going to go out on a limb here and assume you meant Titus 3:9, which says:

“But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”

And, as has been pointed out in every other post you’ve made about what a particular passage means [that I have seen, anyway], the REST of the passage may be helpful in determining what it’s actually about.

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ…to Titus, my loyal child in the faith we share…” (Titus chapter 1)

“…teach what is consistent with sound doctrine…” (Titus chapter 2)

"…Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water[a] of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is sure.

I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone. 9 **But avoid stupid **controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, 11 since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned…" (Titus Chapter 3)

Does that help?

Believe it or not, not everyone who reads the Bible has it memorized or can recall chapter and verse of a familiar passage. I read the Bible EVERY SINGLE DAY, and I could not have told you what passage this was about without doing a word-search.

If you have a question about what a particular passage means, it is up to you to cite the passage. You cannot go through life expecting people to do your homework for you.

I do not read minds. If you have a question about a specific quote from scripture, you need to cite it, not something you “recall”.

I have tried to be kind. Yet you continue to see any question of you/your posts to be “harassment”.

I was interested in helping you, I am no longer.

You can go ahead and put me on your ignore list, that is fine with me.

Good luck in your discernment in becoming Catholic.

The same can be said for 1Tim 1:4. Read the REST of the passage. It begins:

" Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

2 To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Warning against False Teachers]

3 I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, 4 and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training[a] that is known by faith…" (1Tim Chapter 1)

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If that is the way you wish to react, that is your decision, I suppose.

I will say that I would respectfully ask for some mercy on your part in these situations as I am coming at this from a lifelong Protestant perspective and my methods of analysis may not always be the Catholic ones. So, please take them as you will and correct, but with love, I entreat you…

So, what do you make of Posts 5 and 8?

(The Catholic perspective for analysis, so far in all the passages that you’ve questioned, is simply to read the rest of the passage.)

I find it helpful to start with a look at the context. Paul is writing to Timothy giving him advice on how to be a good bishop in his particular area.

Look at the verses around this verse (emphasis added):

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies† which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith; 5 whereas the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith. 6 Certain persons by swerving from these have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

Paul is not giving some general advice on intellectual pursuits that are “wasting time.” He is warning Timothy about a specific group of false teachers who can’t see the forest for the trees. They are getting bogged down in discussions on minutiae without understanding the big picture—and thus they aren’t very good teachers of the faith.

It has nothing to do with whether or not art history is an acceptable major for a college student. :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

Paul may be admonishing against the normal quarrels and discussions over pilpuls, genealogies and the oral traditions of the Talmud that made up the Rabbinical framework that distracted against the growth of Christianity amongst the Gentiles.
Tearing short tracts from the Biblical context does us little value in Catholic exegesis. Rather context is all important in Scriptural interpretation.
Citation of the proposed text for study is the very basis of intelligent forum discussion. Presumption of the learning levels of others has no advantage.
Extrapolation from the specific to the general has serious limitations in dealing with the working letters of Paul who wrote to specific people for specific reasons.

  1. You are an art history student. Would you look at just one-sixth of the Mona Lisa and then argue that this painting is not a portrait but a landscape? No, you would *look at the whole picture, *which is what Catholics do when they read the Bible.

  2. The Catholic Church does not base its teachings on the Bible; the Bible’s books were chosen by people who knew Catholic teaching. Thus, while Catholics understand the Bible to be very important and useful in a variety of ways, we do not pick verses in isolation and create teachings out of them.

  3. Ever since you first started posting, we have asked you for citations. Hey, have mercy on us! When you ask a question, make it easy on us by providing a citation: we are “volunteers” whom you are asking for help, not teachers being paid to instruct you.

So, from your time here so far, you can learn 2 lessons: 1. provide citations; and 2. Catholics look at the *context *of a verse. There are many more lessons to learn… but I think these are your first two!

YOU as the OP must quote the specific part of scripture. Its quite rude what you said.

Close, but not precisely correct.

The Catholic Church does base its teachings on the Bible! Oh, not solely on the Bible; it use both the Bible and Apostolic Teaching as the bases of the Deposit of Faith (cf the CCC, #80-84).

the Bible’s books were chosen by people who knew Catholic teaching.

The books of the Bible weren’t “chosen by people”; they were inspired by God. The contents of the canon of Scripture proceed from Apostolic Teaching, having been discerned by the magisterium in their Spirit-aided role of teaching the truth.

So… you’re close, but not quite spot on. :thumbsup:

120 It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books.

126 We can distinguish three stages in the formation of the Gospels:

  1. The life and teaching of Jesus. The Church holds firmly that the four Gospels, "whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when he was taken up."99
  1. The oral tradition. "For, after the ascension of the Lord, the apostles handed on to their hearers what he had said and done, but with that fuller understanding which they, instructed by the glorious events of Christ and enlightened by the Spirit of truth, now enjoyed."100
  1. The written Gospels. "The sacred authors, in writing the four Gospels, selected certain of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form; others they synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches, the while sustaining the form of preaching, but always in such a fashion that they have told us the honest truth about Jesus."101
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