Re: PNEUMATIKA as used Paul

Stephen C. Carlson (
Wed, 28 Aug 1996 02:34:13 -0400

At 01:22 8/28/96 EDT, KULIKOVSKY, Andrew wrote:
>Recently I studied the use of PNEUMATIKA by Paul.
>This word is generally rendered as spiritual.
>However, in most English translations of 1 Cor. 12:1,
>14:1 and 14:37 it is rendered as "spiritual gifts"
>Again, the only places it is rendered "spiritual gifts" is
>in 1 Cor 12:1, 14:1 and 14:37 and note that 1 Cor 12-14
>is one large complete discourse. [...]
> Whenever Paul directly speaks of spritual gifts he uses
>XARISMA - except for the verses in 1 Cor.
>Now the question I have is WHY? And my answer at the moment
>is that I don't believe Paul was talking directly about spiritual
>gifts but about using gifts in a spiritual way with a spiritual attitude.

I would suggest that Paul is departing somewhat from his usual
terminology to reflect that of the Corinthians. This letter was
written to respond to a series of questions asked by the Corinthians.
We can generally see where Paul answers a specific question by the
phrase PERI DE (7:1 25 8:1 12:1 16:1 12). One of those places is
12:1 (PERI DE TWN PNEUMATIKWN, ADELFOI, ...). Since Paul seems to
be directly responding to a specific question here, it would be
reasonable to think that he is echoing the terminology which the
Corinthians used in their letter.

The meaning of "spiritual gifts" in 12:1 seems to be confirmed by the
context. Paul immediately discusses glossolalia (vv2-3), and then all
the various kinds of gifts (vv4-11). Furthermore, the rest of the
questions the Corinthians posed seem to be quite practical: marriage
(7:1), virgins (7:25), food sacrificed to idols (8:1), the collection
for the saints in Jerusalem (16:1), and about Apollos (16:12). Thus,
I doubt that they would be asking about such an open-ended topic as
spirituality but rather something more concrete like the flashier gifts.

Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson                   : Poetry speaks of aspirations,              : and songs chant the words. :               -- Shujing 2.35