Re: PNEUMATIKA as used Paul

29 Aug 96 12:26:39 EDT


>I think this is a bit of a leap in the logic. All I understand from
>PERI DE TWN PNEUMATIKWN is a reference to a specific query from the
>Corinthians. They were interested in the gifts, and so there is
>no reason not to understand PNEUMATIKWN as referring to that. Your
>first argument that it does not conform to Paul's terminology is as
>we agree somewhat beside the point, because he is using their terms.
>If Paul did not agree with their presupposition that one of the gifts
>is the best, it would seem to make more sense to avoid their words,
>not redefine them. It looks like Paul avoided the word "best/better"
>(except at 12:21 13:13 to explain what he believed what best) but kept
>the reference to PNEUMATIKWN as they understood it. Therefore, I see
>no reason to suspect that the standard translations of PNEUMATIKWN
>are wrong in 1Co12:1.
>> It's a bit like the way Jesus answered loaded questions
>>He didn't actually answer them but instead destroyed the question
>>by revealing the error in the presuppositions on which the question
>>is based. This is, I believe, what Paul was doing.
>Given the other questions the Corinthians asked, they seem sincere,
>unlike Jesus' opponents. I don't see how using someone's term in
>a different meaning ("spirituality" for PNEUMATIKWN -- why plural?)
>could serve to reveal rather than obscure.


I still have a problem with the use of PNEUMATIKWN.
Unfortunately, the problem with interpreting the letters is that we only
one side of the dialog. We have to make assumptions about what the
question actually was. Saying that Paul used the same terminology as
the question is at best an educated guess - since we don't have any
record of the original question.

Now, you have made me think a bit about this and I have slightly
changed my view:

I suggest the original question was:
"Which spiritual manifestation is the best?"

What do others suggest? I'd like to know.

and the following translation of 12:1:
"Now about spiritual manifestations, .........."

ie. PNEUMATIKWN is translated as "spiritual manifestations"
instead of "spirituality"

This is alluded to in v. 7 (mind you I don't have my GNT handy
so I can't check the actual wording)

You may be thinking: spiritual manifestation = spiritual gift
Its all the same thing!

That maybe true, but I think the use of "gift" is problematic because:
1) "gift" is too narrow in scope. Paul talks about alot more
than just gifts (eg. service and workings vv. 4-6), and
about unity, love, orderly worship and encouragement.
2) "gift" is loaded with conatations. I have often heard
people preaching on the kinds of spiritual gifts from
this passage - but they tend to isolate the short discussion
of the gifts (v. 8-10 and 28) from the rest of the discourse -
and essentially rip it screaming and bleeding out of its
context. I think spiritual gifts are more clearly understood as
God-given roles in the church.

The emphasis here is on stating that all manifestations of the
spirit are given by the same God for the same overall
purpose (to build up the church) and are all equally inportant.
These manifestations can and must be controlled so that
everything is done in love in an orderly way with the write
purpose and motivation.



| Andrew S. Kulikovsky B.App.Sc(Hons) MACS
| Software Engineer
| British Aerospace Australia
| Technology Park, Adelaide
| ph: +618 343 8211
| email:
| What's the point of gaining everything this world has
| to offer, if you lose your own life in the end?
| ...Look to Jesus Christ