Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 6 Jan 1997 19:04:54 -0600

At 3:12 PM -0600 1/6/97, Mike Adams wrote:
>Well, parsing ZHLOUTE as indicative makes an easy interpretation for 12:31.
>Unfortunaely, there is a parallel sentence at the beginning of Chapter 14:
>there is a natural tendency in most of us to want to interpret something
>which occurs in one place the same way as we do when it occurs elsewhere in
>a similar setting. Friberg parses DIWKETE as imperartive; also, according
>to my ancient but better than nothing Wigrams it is imperative. There is no
>2nd plural indicative listed to compare it to. Even if it might be parsed
>as indicative (which is looks very much like it might be), the context here
>seems to dicate an imperative. Thus the ZHLOUTE in 14:1 should also be seen
>as imperative.
>(Perhaps this occurance in 14:1 is what has compelled translators to view
>12:31 to also be imperative. Of course such speculation is far beyond our
>So would the simple fact that 12:31 would make more sense as an indicative
>than imperative bear sufficient weight to interpret it that way despite the
>fact that 14:1 is imperative and that most translations render 12:31 as
>I certainly would like to an excuse to be bold here. Any further insights,

I don't really think so. It is a fact that present imperatives in the 2nd
plural are identical in every respect with the present indicatives, both in
the active and in the middle-passive voices, and this is no less true in
contract verbs like ZHLOW, because it is exactly the same vowels that are
contracted in both the indicative and imperative forms. I personally think
that the logic of 12:30-31 calls for an imperative to follow the rhetorical
questions: "It's not the case, is it, that everybody has the gift of
healing? or that everybody speaks in tongues, or everybody interprets
(tongues)? As for you, however, seek earnestly the greater gifts!"

Of course, it should be added that there are divergent interpretations of
this chapter; some hold that Paul is not really putting "tongues" in a
lower status but simply denying them superior status. Personally I've
always thought that the delicate irony of 13:1 makes pretty clear what Paul
means by "the greater gifts" and that is why I think the adversative DE in
12:31 is important: not everyone can heal, not everyone can speak in
tongues or interpret them, but everybody can show Christ's love, and that
is a considerably greater, more valuable gift, the absence of which can
nullify any value to healing, tongue-speaking, or interpretation.

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