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Can anyone explain the fact that James mentions (below) that gold and silver have "corroded" (rusted) when in fact gold does not ever rust or corrod?

 

 

James 5:1-3 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.D)'>

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They're amassing riches in a surely temporary world. Not only that, it could be a statement about hoarding what should be used to help others. Matt 6:30 also uses this common twist with riches rotting. So they hoard food but it rots, they hoard clothing and it becomes moth eaten, and they hoard riches that should be used but lie there growing old in a world that ends.

The irony is that as they hoard up treasure in the transitory they are actually investing in judgment eternal.
Thanks Rey. However, the words used are clear. If James (God) had of meant riches or food or any other form of welath, there are many words that could have been used. So why the need for a metaphor? There has got to be a reason for saying gold rusts.

Rey Reynoso said:
They're amassing riches in a surely temporary world. Not only that, it could be a statement about hoarding what should be used to help others. Matt 6:30 also uses this common twist with riches rotting. So they hoard food but it rots, they hoard clothing and it becomes moth eaten, and they hoard riches that should be used but lie there growing old in a world that ends.

The irony is that as they hoard up treasure in the transitory they are actually investing in judgment eternal.
I don't know about that "could've used other words bit." The better question is how do these words work as they stand. And the words he does use seems to point to what type of wealth and what's going on.

(1) They're in a tense that suggests this has already happened.
(2) Your riches have rotted instead of corroded (5:2). This seems to suggest wealth that rots--which in that day would be consumables. Surely they wouldn't have kept around rotten meats so that suggests that he's making metaphoric statements. But if they had so much meat that was just hoarded then it would be.
(3) Your clothing has become moth-eaten (5:2). This is pointing to clothing which does become moth-eaten but surely they wouldn't have been wealthy if they were walking around with moth-eaten clothing. But if they had so much clothing stuffed in their vaults it would be. This would suggest he's making metaphoric statements.
(4) Your gold and silver has corroded (5:3). Well, if they so much wealth being hoarded in vaults it would just make them richer in this world--no one expected gold and silver to corrode. But this world is fading away--or rather to end abruptly. So what's happening with the gold and silver when it's being hoarded? It winds up corroding them in later judgment since it's doing no good here.

The eschatological reasons seem fairly clear:

(1)Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. (5:1)

He then says that their corrosion will be (2) evidence and (3) will eat your flesh like fire.

He then says (in the rest of the quotation: 5:3b): (3) It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure.

So the reason for saying "gold rusts" is because the metaphor drives home the point.

Rick Knight said:
Thanks Rey. However, the words used are clear. If James (God) had of meant riches or food or any other form of welath, there are many words that could have been used. So why the need for a metaphor? There has got to be a reason for saying gold rusts.
I understand what the passage is teaching. And I think you have explained it well. But the clear words of the scripture are that gold corrodes. By forcing it to be a metaphor you deny the plain words of the scripture. Even in its context the meaning of the plain words do not change. I still believe these words mean exactly what they say. I just do not know what circumstance in nature can cause gold to rust.

Rey Reynoso said:
I don't know about that "could've used other words bit." The better question is how do these words work as they stand. And the words he does use seems to point to what type of wealth and what's going on.

(1) They're in a tense that suggests this has already happened.
(2) Your riches have rotted instead of corroded (5:2). This seems to suggest wealth that rots--which in that day would be consumables. Surely they wouldn't have kept around rotten meats so that suggests that he's making metaphoric statements. But if they had so much meat that was just hoarded then it would be.
(3) Your clothing has become moth-eaten (5:2). This is pointing to clothing which does become moth-eaten but surely they wouldn't have been wealthy if they were walking around with moth-eaten clothing. But if they had so much clothing stuffed in their vaults it would be. This would suggest he's making metaphoric statements.
(4) Your gold and silver has corroded (5:3). Well, if they so much wealth being hoarded in vaults it would just make them richer in this world--no one expected gold and silver to corrode. But this world is fading away--or rather to end abruptly. So what's happening with the gold and silver when it's being hoarded? It winds up corroding them in later judgment since it's doing no good here.

The eschatological reasons seem fairly clear:

(1)Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. (5:1)

He then says that their corrosion will be (2) evidence and (3) will eat your flesh like fire.

He then says (in the rest of the quotation: 5:3b): (3) It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure.

So the reason for saying "gold rusts" is because the metaphor drives home the point.

Rick Knight said:
Thanks Rey. However, the words used are clear. If James (God) had of meant riches or food or any other form of welath, there are many words that could have been used. So why the need for a metaphor? There has got to be a reason for saying gold rusts.
Rey notes that these verbs are in aorist, and states this "suggests this has already happened." Well, not quite, because James explicitly refers to "the miseries that are coming upon you." Either they are just beginning, or more likely, pictured as immantently about to happen.

It's a picture of frustrated hopes due to faith in the transitory. You express concern about the unreality of speaking of gold corroding, but I think the first thing to notice is that what James ostensibly says has happened, has not in actual fact happened. He is painting a picture.

He is not comforting rich people who are distressed because something bad has happened to their property. He is trying to bring DIScomfort to any rich who feel at ease by dependence on their silver and gold. He doesn't expect them to suppose that their gold will actually corrode--so they'd better take some kind of preservative measures. He is using a figure deliberately predicating corruptibility to what is considered incorruptible. No gold doesn't rust--that's the point. Even though it doesn't rust--as a point of trust it WILL be just like a rusting hunk of iron. Even more he states the rust will in turn become corrosIVE and will consume their flesh.

Anyway, if the question is "how does gold corrode," the answer is that it doesn't, and you have to understand that to understand James' point.
I agree with Rey's interpretation. We often have this in-bred POV that if it *can* be taken literally, it *must* be taken literally. But I don't think that takes into account how people regularly talk and write. We often use metephors or figures of speech. We need to take that into account as well.

Daniel

Yep, words stated figuratively mustn't be taken literally. Yet a belief in a verbal inspiration of scripture posits a view of scripture that has to have it factually accurate and infallible in it's historic and scientific claims. A situation where it is clearly proven false would destroy a theory of a plenary and verbal inspiration.

This would have indeed have disproven plenary and verbal inspiration if gold didn't corrode. Unfortunately, certain corrosives do corrode gold although i am pretty sure that was not what the writer of the passage meant. >_<
Jonathan, I'm sorry, but that just won't wash. "This would have indeed have disproven plenary and verbal inspiration if gold didn't corrode." Not at all. It is an intentional clash with perceived reality, gold corroding. It is a trope. This does not require a reference to any case or possibility of gold actually corroding.

Jonathan Perez said:
Yep, words stated figuratively mustn't be taken literally. Yet a belief in a verbal inspiration of scripture posits a view of scripture that has to have it factually accurate and infallible in it's historic and scientific claims. A situation where it is clearly proven false would destroy a theory of a plenary and verbal inspiration.

This would have indeed have disproven plenary and verbal inspiration if gold didn't corrode. Unfortunately, certain corrosives do corrode gold although i am pretty sure that was not what the writer of the passage meant. >_/div>
the belief of a verbal and plenary inspiration ofscripture does not deal with perceived reality but actual reality though.

Consider what the apostle said about the statement by Caiaphas:

"You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation - John

no matter what the perceived reality was when the statement was made, it was independent of the actual reality which is caused by the "inspiration"

as regarding "verbal, plenary inspiration", see -
http://www.xenos.org/classes/papers/vpi.htm

"Definition

Inspiration - "theopneustos" - God so moved the authors of Scripture that the resulting product was the Word of God written, totally without error in the autographs, in every area including theology, history, geography, and science." (check other websites, they pretty much say the same thing)

note:- "science" Now if for you it conflicts with how the inspiration doctrine is defined, feel free to pick another doctrine of inspiration that fits more with your understanding of how the word of God "should" be "inspired" ^_^


Marv said:
Jonathan, I'm sorry, but that just won't wash. "This would have indeed have disproven plenary and verbal inspiration if gold didn't corrode." Not at all. It is an intentional clash with perceived reality, gold corroding. It is a trope. This does not require a reference to any case or possibility of gold actually corroding.
Jonathan Perez said:
Yep, words stated figuratively mustn't be taken literally. Yet a belief in a verbal inspiration of scripture posits a view of scripture that has to have it factually accurate and infallible in it's historic and scientific claims. A situation where it is clearly proven false would destroy a theory of a plenary and verbal inspiration.

This would have indeed have disproven plenary and verbal inspiration if gold didn't corrode. Unfortunately, certain corrosives do corrode gold although i am pretty sure that was not what the writer of the passage meant. >_/div>
Rick; Since the corroded gold results results in eating your flesh like fire, I wonder if it could have been translated, or interpreted that the Gold and silver corrode and corrupt its possessor? We'll need a Greek scholar to answer this inquiry.
Jonathan,

I've let a day go by since I first started to respond to this post. Oddly, the sermon at church yesterday was on this very passage.

Ah, though, the number of witty replies that I have foregone as I make an effort to stick to the issue at hand. I suppose one can only be grateful to be the beneficiary of a theological lecture, totally free of charge. In turn, I can only offer up a gentle word of wisdom to stick to areas where one knows whereof one speaks.

The doctrine of inspiration tells us that what is written in the Scriptures has God for its author.

The related doctrine of inerrancy tells us that that which God speaks in the Scriptures is without error.

Nothing in either docrine suggests the kind of limitation to figures of speech that you are asserting. You might as well cite some scientific studies to demonstrate that trees do in fact have hands to clap. This particular figure of speech in James 5 veers from reference to actual events in a number of ways. It speaks of economic calamity that have not really happened yet as if they had happened. It refers to physical, chemical changes in material goods, when what is really in view is the failure of wealth to provide security. And it paints a picture of precious metals defying expectation by rusting out like iron despite the FACT that gold in particular is resistant to such processes. None of these are errors. None are defections from truth, because they are manifestly figurative statements. The specifics about gold need no defending from science, since the words intentionally set up a situation contrary to normal scientific expectation.

Imagine if James had said "your gold will vanish into thin air. This would make a similar point, though gold never does actually vanish into thin air. In Gen. 4:10, God says to Cain "The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground." Well, blood of course has no voice and cannot speak. But it is very clear what God means and He could hardly be charged with error here.

Jonathan Perez said:
the belief of a verbal and plenary inspiration ofscripture does not deal with perceived reality but actual reality though.

Consider what the apostle said about the statement by Caiaphas:

"You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation - John

no matter what the perceived reality was when the statement was made, it was independent of the actual reality which is caused by the "inspiration"

as regarding "verbal, plenary inspiration", see -
http://www.xenos.org/classes/papers/vpi.htm

"Definition

Inspiration - "theopneustos" - God so moved the authors of Scripture that the resulting product was the Word of God written, totally without error in the autographs, in every area including theology, history, geography, and science." (check other websites, they pretty much say the same thing)

note:- "science" Now if for you it conflicts with how the inspiration doctrine is defined, feel free to pick another doctrine of inspiration that fits more with your understanding of how the word of God "should" be "inspired" ^_^


Marv said:
Jonathan, I'm sorry, but that just won't wash. "This would have indeed have disproven plenary and verbal inspiration if gold didn't corrode." Not at all. It is an intentional clash with perceived reality, gold corroding. It is a trope. This does not require a reference to any case or possibility of gold actually corroding.
Jonathan Perez said:
Yep, words stated figuratively mustn't be taken literally. Yet a belief in a verbal inspiration of scripture posits a view of scripture that has to have it factually accurate and infallible in it's historic and scientific claims. A situation where it is clearly proven false would destroy a theory of a plenary and verbal inspiration.

This would have indeed have disproven plenary and verbal inspiration if gold didn't corrode. Unfortunately, certain corrosives do corrode gold although i am pretty sure that was not what the writer of the passage meant. >_/div>

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