Re: translation of "melle"

From: Edgar M. Krentz (
Date: Wed Aug 30 1995 - 11:23:09 EDT

>Alan Feuerbacher wrote,

>"Here is a related question about Matthew 24:3, concerning the proper
>translation of "parousia". Most translations render "parousia" as "coming"
>but a small number as "presence". What's the story?"
To which Carleton Winbery responded:

>The word actually comes from the compound word PAREIMI. The word PAROUSIA is
>the feminine participle of that verb. It could be argued that the word
>simply means "to be present." But most lexicons (including Moulton & Gedden)
>give evidence that it came to mean "arrival." Of course in Christian
>theology, it became a technical term for the "second coming," though it is
>never modified to my knowledge in the NT with the word "second."

I want to add some references and a comment to Carlton Winbery's response.
There is an extended discussion of the term PAROUSIA on pp 195-280 in B.
Rigaux, O.F.M, _Saint Paul. Les Epitres aux Thessaloniciens._ Etudes
Biblique. Paris: J. Gabalda, 1956. He discusses the philological data on
the use of the term on pp. 196-201 (and adds discussions of EPIFANEIA and
APOKALYPSIS). He is very worth careful reading. There is a useful shorter
discussion in Englis in George Milligan, _St. Paul's Epistles to the
Thessalonians._ London and New York: Macmillan, 1908: 145-148.

The comment. Paul, at least, seems to use a complex of terms, including
PAROUSIA and APANTHSIS, that present Jesus as the true KYRIOS, the true
ruler of the universe, opposed to the Roman Emperor, who claims the titles

PAROUSIA came to denote the ceremonial arrival of a ruler or his delegated
emissary to a city, which had to prepare for him, welcome him, host him and
his entourage, etc. It could also denote the arrival of a god or demi-god
in Greek religion. Readers [auditors] of Paul and Matthew in the
Hellenistic world would hear parousia in such a framework and recognize the
claim implied in their words to the superiority of Jesus.

Both "presence" and "arrival" are possible translations. though I support
Prof. Winbury's preference for "arrival"--though I would not call the word
the feminine participle of PAREIMI, since that would be PAROUSIA. It is
rather a noun that is a "back-formation" from that participle. It is
possible that it comes from the verb EIMI that means "to go" or "to come,"
a word that in the 1st person singular is identical in spelling and
pronunciation with the verb meaning "I am." Its participle would also be
the same! The derivation from the verb meaning "to go" sould suport the
sense of coming or arrival (to come along side).

Terminology is really interesting; its precise meaning in a given context
important. Both its denotation and its connotation must be considered. I
stressed one possible connotation above.Peace,

Ed Krewntz

Edgar Krentz <>
New Testament, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Voice: 312-753-0752; FAX: 312-753-0782

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