Re: Rom 1:17 (etymological musings)

Carl W. Conrad (
Fri, 31 May 1996 08:25:29 -0500

At 9:43 AM -0500 5/31/96, Denny A Diehl wrote:
> On Fri, 31 May 1996 06:13:08 -0500 "Carl W. Conrad"
><> writes:
> >> I think if it were offered today it would be called
> >> eisegesis.
> Considering the discussion on EIS meaning "with a view to" or
> something of the nature, does eisegesis mean "with a view to
> reading?" Just a thought.

Yes, and a nice thought, too!

Exercising my etymological bent I cannot help but note that EIS was
originally a form of EN with attached -S, just as PROS is a form of PRO
with attached -S. So originally it meant "into" or "onto." It may not be
strictly kosher, but my first instructor in Greek (Billy McMinn, as Carlton
will recall) liked to draw diagrams for prepositions; for EIS he would draw
an arrow moving from outside the circumference of a circle into its
enclosed area.

What has seemed to me to be a distinctive Hellenistic development of EIS,
even if it occurred earlier, is the proliferation of usage in contexts of
purpose as well as result (much as hINA subjunctive clauses and hWSTE +
infinitive seem to expand their application to cover both purpose and
result). So we see EIS used with an accusative of a noun to indicate
purpose for which and we also see EIS used frequently with the articular
infinitive in both purpose and result constructions. For what it's worth, I
vote with those who understand EIS AFESIN TWN hAMARTIWN as indicating
purpose--but I'd also vote with those who say you can't draw a negative
inference about those who aren't baptized. Theology, I suppose, inevitably
rears its head in a matter like this and bears upon how one interprets the
passage. As a liberal Presbyterian I'd have to argue that baptism has no
magic power for salvation and that the EIS AFESIN construction here will
have to be a shorthand construction meaning something like "in order to
acknowledge repentance and forgiveness of sins."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR