Re PROLAMBANW in Gal. 6:1 (again)
To David Moore
The first question to ask is not whether "pro-" means "already",
"in advance" etc. The first question is whether we read correctly the
meaning of the verb.
There is a methodological problem You did not realize. The
phrase we have to explain in Gal. 6:1 is "prolambanein *tina* (in
something, as doing something, as being something etc.)". You claim
this means "to catch up (involve) someone already...". But all the
evidence You gathered is perfectly irrelevant to our subject. To make
out Your case, You must retrieve a text where "prolambanein *tina*...
(i.e. prolambanein *someone*...)" means "to catch up (involve)
*someone*...". There is no one I know of. Did You meet any? Show
me it, please. If You cannot, then Your view has a much weaker basis.
If You cannot, then You must restate Your argument in a very
different way. You must claim that this "prolambanein *tina*" is a
semantic hapax and as such means "to catch up already someone (in
something)". Not quite an impressive argument.
The same objection one can (and has to) raise against Bauer or
Liddell-Scott. If we claim that here "prolambanein" means "to
surprise" or "to detect", then we must be aware that so we admit a
semantic hapax: to wit, that we have no evidence at all (outside this
text) to support our exegesis. No doubt, that interpretation originally
arose as a "faute de mieux": one saw no better solution than thinking
of a new, unattested, meaning for the verb. We find it already in the
Vulgata. Hieronymus translates "ean kai prolemfte" as "si
praeoccupatus fuerit" and so provides some meager basis for the
Liddell-Scott & Bauer exegesis. But it is no evidence. It is nothing but
an interpretation, a wrong interpretation.Who reads today Liddell-
Scott or Bauer should not feel so sure that this view is a well-founded
one. But not stronger is Your interpretation, because You have no
What can we do to get a sound reading of the phrase? Is there
no relevant evidence at all? No. Quite the opposite: there is. This is a
not too common but clearly attested usage of "prolambano", the one
that is connected with "prolepsis" as mainly philosophical term.
Actually, "prolambano tina (being something, or doing something,
ecc.)" means - roughly speaking - "I assume someone (being
something, or doing something, ecc.)". Any evidence? A lot. I'll just
quote a couple of passages from Plut. Moralia. 1) De Stoic. rep. 1051
E: chrestous ou pantas eikos tous theous prolambanein. 2) De comm.
not. 1075 E: ou gar (scil. the Stoics think) athanaton kai makarion
monon alla kai filanthropon kai kedemonikon kai ofelimon
prolambanesthai kai noeisthai ton theon, ktl.
Is it enough to reach a solid conclusion? Or do we need Paul to
bear his own witness? What we read in Gal. 6:1 is: "ean kai prolemfte
anthropos (scil. on/ os on) en tini paraptomati". What it means is
something like this: "Whenever someone is assumed to be at (some)
fault..." If You keep on holding Your view against these arguments,
well, I cannot do anything more. As You like...