Reply to Eric Weiss on EIS and EPI

From: Edward Hobbs (
Date: Tue Jun 04 1996 - 17:11:23 EDT

From: LUCY::EHOBBS "Edward Hobbs" 4-JUN-1996 17:10:09.28
To: IN%""
Subj: RE: eis afesin (oh, no, not again!) and EPI (new slant)

Eric Weiss wrote recently:

"Causal EIS"

I thank J. Smelser and E. Hobbs for their response re: causal EIS. Last
night I skimmed through Harris' comments on prepositions in the Appendix to
vol. 3 of NIDNTT and his discussion of this. My question (for me at least)
still remains (unless I just didn't properly understand Harris), i.e., if in
Acts 2:38 one is baptized FOR (i.e., to receive) forgiveness of sins, is one
baptized in Matthew 3:11 FOR (i.e., to receive) repentance?

Edward Hobbs responding:

        It is a fatal error to assume that a preposition means always the
same thing. That "baptize/baptism" and "EIS" and "repentance" occur in the
same sentence does not mean that the meaning of EIS is identical.
        As for these two passages, see Bauer, under BAPTIZW, 2.

        But an even more fundamental issue of method here arises:
Some members of this List assume that all passages in the NT agree with all
other passages, so that what Paul thought/taught about baptism must be the
same as what Luke/Acts thought/taught which the same as what Matthew
thought/taught. This is a theologically-based assumption, and most
professional New Testament scholars these days do not assume it. So we
cannot even argue meaningfully with each other if one of us cites (say)
Paul's usage and then claims that a passage in Matthew or Hebrews should
agree with it; many others of us will not grant that anything is proved,
since we think that the various authors held a variety of views on many
topics. Everyone would grant this point-of-view in discussing almost any
other literature; but the Bible is interpreted uniquely by some, and WE
CAN'T SETTLE THIS ISSUE BY ANY PROOFS. For the vast majority of scholars,
citing I Timothy as evidence of what Paul means in Romans would be out of
bounds; for many, citing Ephesians for that purpose would also be, and some
of us are careful to compare only those seven letters everyone agrees are
Pauline, without trying to decide on (e.g.) II Thess. or Colossians.

Within the circle of those who believe all NT writers agree, such
discussions are valid; but since this List includes scholars of all
theological points of view, I hope we can forego such grounds of argument.


Eric Weiss continues:

This may cross into the theological realm, but it seems to me that something
has been missed in this discussion of Acts 2:38 by leaving out EPI TWi
EIS AFESIN TWN hAMARTIWN hUMWN. Peter's point seems to be that it is by
being brought into relationship with God IN/UPON THE NAME OF JESUS (that is,
by believing IN HIM for the forgiveness of one's sins) that one enters into
(EIS) the forgiveness of one's sins--and by coming into relationship with God
through Jesus one then receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (the rest of Acts
2:38). Comparing Acts 2:38 with Acts 10:43-44 (Peter again) seems to support
that it is believing in Jesus that results in forgiveness of sins and receipt
of the Holy Spirit, with water baptism being ceremonially related to but not
the means of bringing about the forgiveness of sins. If these remarks
overstep the textual/grammatical discussion boundaries, I apologize--I just
thought that proper weight (if due) hadn't been given to the EPI clause.

And speaking of EPI:

In Hebrews 7:11 the Law was said to have been given ON THE BASIS OF the
Levitical priesthood (NASB, NIV, as well as BAGD). Could it be equally
translated AT THE TIME OF (EPI plus genitive having a temporal meaning), as
some translations seem to do? Is one better than the other, either
contextually or grammatically (i.e., the usual meaning of EPI plus the

Edward Hobbs responding:

There is a vast literature on "IN THE NAME OF"; Bauer's biblio's will get
you started.

And Yes, EPI with genitive often means "at the time of", including in the
Greek of the Old Roman Symbol ("Apostles' Creed") [crucified in the time of
Pontius Pilate"]. It also often means "at the passage concerning", as in
Mark 12:26, EPI TOU BATOU, "in the passage cocnerning the Bush" (used
because they did not have chapters and verses to give references). [I am
one of those who believe the same is true in Mark 2:26, EPI ABIAQAR
ARChIEREWS, "in the passage concerning Abiathar becoming High Priest," NOT
"when Abiathar was High Priest".]

EPI has a wide spread of meaning, which means that In English translation
we say that it has MANY meanings. Best is to read Bauer carefully, and try
to get the hang of its spread (which is nothing like as enormous as EN
during the Hellenistic Era).

Edward C. Hobbs

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