Is κατ’ ὄνομα in 3 John 1:14/15 an idiom?

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Bill Ross
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Is κατ’ ὄνομα in 3 John 1:14/15 an idiom?

Post by Bill Ross » November 10th, 2018, 12:26 pm

mGNT 3 John 1:14: εἰρήνη σοι ἀσπάζονταί σε οἱ φίλοι ἀσπάζου τοὺς φίλους κατ’ ὄνομα

Here's a typical translation:

CSB 3 John 1:14: Peace to you. The friends send you greetings. Greet the friends by name.

Is it an idiom? If so, what is the idiom?

Thanks,

Bill Ross
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Is κατ’ ὄνομα in 3 John 1:14/15 an idiom?

Post by Jonathan Robie » November 10th, 2018, 7:32 pm

I think this is the distributive sense of κατά - each one, one at a time. In context, greet each one individually.

It's like κατὰ πόλιν, which is used to mean "from one town to another". There's a really interesting example of this in 1 Cor 14:27: εἴτε γλώσσῃ τις λαλεῖ, κατὰ δύο ἢ τὸ πλεῖστον τρεῖς.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Tony Pope
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Re: Is κατ’ ὄνομα in 3 John 1:14/15 an idiom?

Post by Tony Pope » November 12th, 2018, 4:45 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
November 10th, 2018, 7:32 pm
I think this is the distributive sense of κατά - each one, one at a time. In context, greet each one individually.
Indeed. The typical English translation "by name" may be a little misleading. It works all right in John 10.3 where it is a case of calling sheep, but not in every context.

It seems to me we have here not the primary sense of ὄνομα "name" but a secondary sense "person, individual", as in Acts 1.15.

Here are two of the occurrences that are cited in BAGD:
Josephus Life 86 πρὸς δὲ καὶ τοῖς τῆς Τιβεριάδος τὴν διοίκησιν ὑπ᾽ ἐμοῦ πεπιστευμένοις κατ᾽ ὄνομα γράφω
[Whiston: I wrote to those to whom I had committed the affairs of Tiberias by name (Mason: each by name)]

Common sense tells us that Josephus could not have written to people without addressing them by name, so something else must be meant.

Diodorus Siculus 16.44.2 στρατηγὸν δὲ αὐτοὶ μὲν οὐχ εἵλαντο, τοῦ δὲ βασιλέως κατ᾽ ὄνομα τὸν Νικόστρατον στρατηγὸν αἰτησαμένου
συνεχώρησαν
[Loeb ed.: they did not, however, choose a general themselves, but when the King requested Nicostratus specifically as general, they concurred]

Thus, "personally" (as in some English translations), or "individually" seems to be what is meant.
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Bill Ross
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Re: Is κατ’ ὄνομα in 3 John 1:14/15 an idiom?

Post by Bill Ross » November 12th, 2018, 6:52 am

"personally" indicates to me that he wants Gaius to do the greeting himself so I don't think that works unless that is the point of the idiom.

I went to one of my son's award ceremonies (military) and despite the inefficiency they took the time to repeat the same procedure of identifying the person's accomplishments, indicated how important it was to the team's success, thanked them and presented the certificate and emblem.

"individually" brings that scenario to mind which seems very nice but sort of over the top for a greeting:

"Joel, the elder sends his greetings"
"Abe, the elder sends his greetings"
"Micah, ..."

In practical terms it seems identical to the distributive sense and hard to picture.

Might "greet the friends by name" suggest that what he has in mind is for Gaius to give a "shout out" in the context of the gathering, mentioning each of "the friends" ala Romans 16 etc.?:
KJV Romans 16:23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth (ἀσπάζομαι) you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth (ἀσπάζομαι) you, and Quartus a brother.

Alternatively, since ἀσπάζομαι can also mean "welcome" and since "the friends" appear to be itinerants might it mean "welcome the friends by reputation" or "...as befits [the Lord's] name".

(grasping at straws...)
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Is κατ’ ὄνομα in 3 John 1:14/15 an idiom?

Post by Jonathan Robie » November 12th, 2018, 10:53 am

Bill Ross wrote:
November 12th, 2018, 6:52 am
"individually" brings that scenario to mind which seems very nice but sort of over the top for a greeting:

"Joel, the elder sends his greetings"
"Abe, the elder sends his greetings"
"Micah, ..."
I don't know how large the group was or what the custom was. I had pictured this not as a formal announcement to a group, but as a request to forward his greetings to the saints individually, one at a time. I don't know if this is to be interpreted as a formal responsibility to make sure that each and every one is greeted or not, it might be like "send everyone my greetings" or "send everyone my love" in English, where the person saying it is not tremendously put out if one or two people from a large group did not get explicitly greeted and no audit is likely to be conducted.

I think you would have to know more about the customs and the actual setting than I do to fully interpret this.
Bill Ross wrote:
November 12th, 2018, 6:52 am
Might "greet the friends by name" suggest that what he has in mind is for Gaius to give a "shout out" in the context of the gathering, mentioning each of "the friends" ala Romans 16 etc.?:
KJV Romans 16:23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth (ἀσπάζομαι) you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth (ἀσπάζομαι) you, and Quartus a brother.
That's a little odd, though. When you send greetings, naming the people who send greetings by name is required. If you call out people in the assembly by name, it makes little sense because (1) they already know their names, and (2) if you leave someone out, they are likely to be offended.
Bill Ross wrote:
November 12th, 2018, 6:52 am
Alternatively, since ἀσπάζομαι can also mean "welcome" and since "the friends" appear to be itinerants might it mean "welcome the friends by reputation" or "...as befits [the Lord's] name".

(grasping at straws...)
Indeed. To me, that seems to be grasping at straws ...
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Bill Ross
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Joined: August 12th, 2012, 6:26 pm

Re: Is κατ’ ὄνομα in 3 John 1:14/15 an idiom?

Post by Bill Ross » November 12th, 2018, 11:39 am

Indeed, so far this seems the most credible explanation, thanks:
...it might be like "send everyone my greetings" or "send everyone my love" in English, where the person saying it is not tremendously put out if one or two people from a large group did not get explicitly greeted and no audit is likely to be conducted.
The main objection to that in my mind is that it then seems like mindless words.
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