b-greek-digest V1 #882
b-greek-digest Sunday, 1 October 1995 Volume 01 : Number 882
In this issue:
ego eimi (was more about mark)
Re: DIA PERITOMHS PARABATHN NOMOU
PISTIS in Romans 1, yet
Re: Classical Greek, etc. (long)
Re: DIA PERITOMHS PARABATHN NOMOU
From: Mikeal Parsons <PARSONSM@baylor.edu>
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 06:04:56 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: ego eimi (was more about mark)
before the discussion about ego eimi in mark 6 dies completely, i wanted to
voice support for hurtado et al who read mark 6 as a theophany and the
reference to ego eimi as an echo of deutero-isaiah. to support the view
further may we not appeal also to mark 13:6 where jesus says in the little
apocalypse "many will come in my name, saying 'i am (he) (ego eimi) and they
will lead many astray." one can read this as a reference not only to false
messianic pretenders (from mark's perspective) but also as a reference to
false pretenders who usurp God, falsely identifying with the ego eimi of
this passage stands, for me at least, in sharp contrast to another potential
ego eimi saying, this one in john (about which there seems to be an emerging
consensus on the list that some ego eimi sayiings, esp. 8:58 are references
to the divine name). contrary to someone's earlier posting, there is ONE
ego eimi saying in john not on the lips of jesus--john 9:9 where the man
born blind responds to the neighbors' question whether or not he was the
one who used to sit and beg, "I am (he). Here we have the absolute use of
ego eimi in the mouth of another character other than jesus. to be sure, on
the surface, it appears to be what r. brown called a "secular use" of the
phrase. but in my re-reading of the passage, i am now led to think the
text suggests a not so faint echo of the uses of the phrase in its absolute
form by jesus. i have developed these arguments in detail in an article
"a neglected ego eimi saying in the fourth gospel? another look at john 9:9"
and won't give them all here. I concluded that the man born blind functions
in john as a kind of model disciple and as such as a representative of
the community who, in the absence of jesus, becomes the manifestation
of god's presence in the world. in the story the man born blind is identified
with jesus, but in those scenes where the two are on stage at the same time
is clearly subordinate to him (as the son is to the father in john).
so taking mark 13 and john 9 together, it seems there were those who
inappropriately claimed the divine name for themselves (usurping God's
authority?) and those who used it to identify with and subordinate themselves
to the purposes of god manifested in jesus.
i apologize for this longish posting, especially if someone else has
already mentioned the mark 13 passage (i havent been following the discussion
that closely), but it's 6 a.m. on saturday morning and i couldn't sleep, so
. . . . !
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 07:15:09 -0500
Subject: Re: DIA PERITOMHS PARABATHN NOMOU
At 6:47 PM 9/29/95, Lynn Cooley wrote:
>>No, DIA GRAMMATOS KAI PERITOMHS [gen., not acc.] modifies PARABATHN NOMOU,
>>"transgressor of (the) Law"; I would understand the prepositional phrase
>>DIA GRAMMATOS KAI PERITOMHS as "in terms of the letter and of circumcision"
>>or, if you want to turn that into adjectives, "the literal and circumcised
>>transgressor of the law."
>The understanding "in terms of" doesn't seem to fit; would you say that the
>Jew, who is circumcised, is transgressing the law in terms of the
>circumcision? The DIA almost seems to have the force of meaning "in spite
>of". And "literal ... transgressor of the law" doesn't seem to be what's
>intended either. Maybe you could refine this thot a bit?
Well, I don't know about "refining"; how's about "putting it through the
I don't think I'd want to say "in spite of" for a DIA + genitive phrase,
although that certainly conveys the right sense in English. I was trying to
find something first of all that conveyed the literal sense of the
construction without putting too much strain on English usage. How about:
"the one who with the advantage of the letter (of the Law) and circumcision
violates the law"? In still better English we could use your suggestion to
advantage and say that the startling antithesis Paul wants to make is
between the person who observes the Law although uncircumcised and without
the revelation and the other person--the Jew--who breaks the Law although
he is circumcised and knows it backwards and forwards as revealed by God"
Ah, but that's a paraphrase, and goes far beyond even "dynamic
equivalence." So I guess that "in spite of" works well in the context to
express the intent of the expression; the difficulty with it is that it
doesn't do justice to the syntax of the DIA + gen. phrase. I think Paul is
intelligible here, and he is not writing the abominable Greek of Mark [let
me reiterate that I think Mark's content is profound and his writing style
profoundly artful, but his Greek is pretty awful!], but he certainly is
straining the limits of normal usage of DIA.
I'll take the liberty of sending your message and my reply back to the list
to solicit more feedback on precisely this matter: the usage of DIA +
genitive in this expression. And many thanks to Lynn Cooley for not being
satisfied with an unsatisfactory explanation!
It does seem to me that we cannot say, since Paul didn't use the accusative
case with the DIA, that he meant the letter of the Law and circumcusion
played a CAUSAL role in the Jew's violation of the Law. So what does the
DIA with a genitive intend? I think: that he takes the "high road"--he goes
BY WAY OF the letter of the Law and circumcision, and even so (hence your
"in spite of," he breaks the Law. How would others care to explain the
exact sense and usage of this DIA + genitive construction?
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 08:16:39 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: PISTIS in Romans 1, yet
Eric Weiss replied to my question about EK PISTEWS EIS PISTIN saying
that it means "by (means of) faith and faith alone" where EIS PISTIN
acts as an intensifier. It appears that this rendering modifies
Jim McGuire clarified his view saying EK PISTEWS is an ablative of source
apparently modifying APOKALUPTETAI. If I understood him correctly, he
says that God's righteousness is revealed as one believer declares the
good news to others who in turn believe.
The first view is good reformation theology. The second is consistent
with Romans 10:14-17 as well as 1:16. Which is the theme of Paul's
David R. Mills
Applied English Center
University of Kansas
From: Shaughn Daniel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 15:02:16 +0000
Subject: Re: Classical Greek, etc. (long)
Did we already mention Abraham J. Malherbe? Great stuff.
| Shaughn Daniel email@example.com |\
| Tuebingen, Germany | |
| ~~~~~ | |
| I put tape on the mirrors in my house so I don't accidentally | |
| walk through into another dimension.---Steven Wright | |
From: David Moore <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 14:01:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: DIA PERITOMHS PARABATHN NOMOU
"Carl W. Conrad" <email@example.com> wrote:
>It does seem to me that we cannot say, since Paul didn't use the accusative
>case with the DIA, that he meant the letter of the Law and circumcusion
>played a CAUSAL role in the Jew's violation of the Law. So what does the
>DIA with a genitive intend? I think: that he takes the "high road"--he goes
>BY WAY OF the letter of the Law and circumcision, and even so (hence your
>"in spite of," he breaks the Law. How would others care to explain the
>exact sense and usage of this DIA + genitive construction?
DIA with genitive to indicate cause is not usual, and in this
context (Rom. 2:27), does not seem to fit into Paul's line of reasoning.
DIA's sense here appears to indicate agency with part of the argument
understood and omitted by ellipsis.
Verses 25-27a and 28-29 discuss the matter of how one establishes
membership among the covenant people of God. The discussion of
circumcision here has to do with its purpose as a sign of membership in
the covenant people of God. Paul is saying that those who have believed
in Christ, whom Paul calls hO EN TWi KRUPTWi IOUDAIOS, KAI PERITOMH
KARDIAS EN PNEUMATI ..., are the legitimate members of this covenant
people. Their fulfilling the righteousness (DIKAIWMATA) of the Law
because of the work of Christ in their hearts is to be considered a better
sign of membership in the people of God than any literal, physical
What Paul is saying in v. 27 is that he who is physically (or: by
his birth as a Gentile) uncircumcised but fulfills the law will condemn
(by his righteous life) you who, (while seeking to establish your standing
as member of the people of God) by the letter of the law and by
circumcision, are (really) a transgressor of the law.
Cranfield (_The Epistle to the Romans_, Vol. 1, p. 174) takes the
DIA in v. 27 as of attendant circumstances (i.e. "with the Scripture and
circumcision"), but since the whole context is dealing with the means of
establishing membership in God's people, I find no compelling reason to
take it in the unusual sense for DIA of attendant circumstances.
David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God
firstname.lastname@example.org Department of Education
From: Edward Hobbs <EHOBBS@wellesley.edu>
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 16:55:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Classical Greek
Eric Weiss asked (very sensibly) about the problems raised by the comments
some of us have made about the benefits of studying classical Greek as well as
the New Testament language. Carl Conrad wrote so eloquently, and so rightly,
that I could not improve on what he said. Perhaps I can try to say (more
prosaically, I realize) a bit concerning the crucial reason for the importance
of going beyond the Greek New Testament itself.
Of course, the more one knows about Greek the better. (As Doctor Johnson said,
everyone treats Greek as one does lace: one gets as much as one can!) But this
can expand infinitely, and time is not always available to do what is ideal.
So let me be clear that there are several benefits to classical Greek which
are nonetheless not crucial for understanding the Greek of the New Testament.
To know the history of the language is a wonderful asset, and to know what the
grammar(s) of earlier stages in the language was/were can assist in many ways.
But the key thing to remember is this: The New Testament is a VERY tiny body
of literature. We cannot really construct an adequate grammar, nor adequate
principles of interpretation of the language, based on this minuscule
collection of short pieces. A single section of the Sunday New York Times
usually contains many more words than the whole New Testament. Imagine
scholars in the year 4000 having no trace of English except one section of the
TGimes, and trying to settle issues of meaning, usage, grammar, events,
intentions, etc., on the basis of this one collection of articles by a number
of different people.
The only way to treat this tiny body of Greek texts with genuine competence is
to know a great deal more literature in this general language. If one were to
read a few thousand pages of Hellenistic literature, one might well omit
learning the earlier (greater!) period of Greek literature. But people who
skip learning the older literature rarely immerse themselves in the works of
the Hellenistic era. Constantly I read postings on this List which assert that
such-and-such "always" or "never" means this or is used thus -- and yet anyone
who reads widely in ancient Greek knows it just ain't so! And constantly one
sees statements about what a certain tense means, or how a preposition is used,
or the like, which relate to very little Greek literature; these pronouncements
usually derive from some of the textbook-style "grammars" of New Testament
Greek which were written by teachers of the New Testament whose command of
wider Greek literature was virtually nil. (Some such instances are notorious,
others just funny.) The great New Testament scholars of the past had this
command of Greek. (The reason Debrunner's grammar is so difficult for many
to use is that it assumes you already know classical grammar--it merely shows
you the differences, or the oddities, in the N.T.)
My own advice, then, would be to learn what one can. If you can study a great
deal of Greek, wonderful. If you can't, then be modest! Don't assume that
quoting Julius Mantey has much to do with knowing Greek. But if you have more
than a very little time, even if not enough to study the classics, then spend
as much time as you can reading other literature of the post-classical period.
If you want easy, read Philo (you'll also find out how a great Jewish thinker
contemporary with Paul wrote theology); if you want to read Greek worse than
anything in the New Testament, you can find it in Josephus. The Apostolic
Fathers (another very tiny collection) has a range of levels of Greek, and if
you move into a later century in Patristics you will begin getting some real
"classical"-style Greek (of course it isn't, but they tried, like people today
trying to write like Shakespeare). The papyri are really fun, but one deals
mostly with bits and pieces.
READ OUTSIDE THE NEW TESTAMENT, in other words -- the more the better. Don't
try to become an expert on one section of one Sunday's New York Times.
Meanwhile, listen to scholars like Carl--he really HAS read all this stuff!
Edward C. Hobbs
Wellesley (but no longer Chicago, Berkeley, Harvard, or even young)
End of b-greek-digest V1 #882
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