Re: Heb 2:17 KATA PANTA

Jeffrey Gibson (
Fri, 17 Jan 1997 21:04:21 -0600 (CST)

On Sat, 18 Jan 1997, John Oaklands wrote:

> For KATA PANTA in Hebrews 2:17, repeated in 4:17, the KJV has "in all
> things", "in all points" while the NIV has "in every way". Could this be
> the wrong concept and too literal? One Greek scholar, Dr Warren
> Trenchard, thinks the expression is rather difficult to put into English.
> In Hebrews 4:17, for example, Trenchard suggests the rendering, "variously
> and intensively" to describe the way in which, according to the Greek,
> Christ was tempted. He advocates that the writer is putting emphasis on the
> rigorous and intense temptations Jesus had to endure? Is he correct?
> Trenchard suggests that Greek is studied so that it doesn't have to be
> translated into any modern language such as English and that any translation
> of KATA PANTA into English etc would only ever be approximate. Does any one
> have anything serious to offer on this? I incline to agree with the
> principle at least of what he is saying? Do others? Would you please give
> your reasons one way or the other. Thank you.
> John Oaklands
> PLease note my new email address:
Some quick musings on your questions.

It seems to me that when one asserts
that a phrase in question can only be approximated when translated and
thus does not need to be
rendered with any precision (have I understood you correctly?), one
is engaging in one of those last
ditch efforts of the desperate. It turns out to be an excuse to avoid
grappling with the text.

Be that as it may, there are two other points that IMHO strongly suggest
that Trenchard's "approximation" is way off base. First, he operates
from the premise that PEIRASMOS is equivalent to enticement, seduction,
and attaches to it moral connotations that it did not have either in
the mind of the author of Hebrews or in the ancient world. The term
means a "testing" (here, of faithfulness) not a temptation in the
modern sense of the word.

Secondly, the sense of the phrase is dictated by the author of
Hebrews' intent to hold Jesus up as a model for his readers and as the
answer to, or the way out of, the
situation they presently find themselves in. The declaration that Jesus
was "tested" at all points is, as context shows, used in the service of
exhortation, not exposition of doctrine (was the sinlessness or the
"temptability" of Jesus even a concern in the 1st cent?). And I think
there is a slight elipsis within the phrase. My understanding is that it
reads something like "Jesus was tested in exactly the same way (KATA PANTA)
as we
are being tested now". In otherwords, the author is trying to say that
the testings which his readers are presently undergoing (whatever it is
that is making them toy with apostasy) are the same testings Jesus
underwent, and it is for that reason that he can be of help.

In any case, the emphasis is not on how deep or how many the testings of
Jesus were, but on their similarities with those the readers of Hebrews
are experiencing.

Jeffrey Gibson