Re: Php 2:6

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Wed Jun 26 1996 - 00:41:33 EDT

Al Kidd wrote:
> Blass-Debrunner-Funk (BDF) in sec. 399 (pp. 205-6) points out the
> semantic effect of anaphora for the articular infinitive at Php 2:6:
> 399. The nominative and accusative of the
> substantivized infinitive (without preposition)
> . . . In general the anaphoric significance of
> the article, i.e., its reference to something
> previously mentioned or otherwise well known, is
> more or less evident. Without this anaphoric
> reference, an infinitive as subject or object is
> usually anarthrous.... [F]or concepts already
> discussed[, see] . . . Ph 2:6."
> BDF does not present us with Php 2:6 as an example of where we have a
> certain kind of pairing of accusatives that does often occur elsewhere,
> however, and which pairing we may refer to as '(1) an infinitive's
> accusative of the subject and (2) its accusative of the object/predicate.'
> Neither does Jeffrey T. Reed in his detailed analysis of 'infinitives with
> two substantival accusatives' (see below).
> At Php 2:6, do we not find a syntax that matches the syntax in the Greek
> that matches Paul's own at Ro 14:13? At Ro 4:13 we read:
> this judge you the not to be putting
> striking to the brother
> We may render this as follows: " . . . make this your decision, not to put
> before a brother a stumbling block . . . " Thus we see the anaphoric
> (epexegetic) significance of the articulated infinitive (TO ME TITHENAI)
> in the following rendering:
> ". . . , [namely,] not to put before a brother a stumbling block."
> Php 2:6 is syntactically like Ro 14:13, is it not? Its syntax is not
> like that informing 1 Ti 6:5--
> inferring a means of gain to be the
> revering well
> This we may render as ". . . thinking that godly devotion is a means of
> gain" (NWT), this so that the rendering reflects the double accusatives
> of the anarthrous, copulative infinitive. But we see that the first-
> occurring accusative is not the subject; therefore, we have at 1 Ti 6:5
> a marked word-order for the double accusative construction. What does
> that mean? It is the unmarked word-order for double accusatives that
> has the subject occurring before the accusative of the object/predicate.
> The accusative of the predicate, however, occurring at 1 Ti 6:5 occurs
> ahead of the accusative of the subject. Linguists call such a word-
> order marked.
> In analyzing the marked word-order for an infinitive having two
> accusatives, Jeffrey T. Reed, "The Infinitive With Two Substantival
> Accusatives," Novum Testamentum (vol. 33, 1; Leiden, The Netherlands:
> E.J. Brill, 1991) 17 affirms the finding of Lane McGaughy's work (Toward
> a Descriptive Analysis of EINAI), and he quotes McGaughy's finding
> pertinent to the marked word-order for the kind of syntax under
> consideration--that which we have at 1 Ti 6:5: ""The word or word cluster
> determined by an article is the subject . . . If both words or word
> clusters are determined by an article [or not determined by an article],
> the first one is the subject.""
> At 1 Ti 6:5, the subject is articulated so as to give indication that
> it is the subject, that there is no ambiguity as to which accusative is the
> subject and which accusative is the predicate. Should not the majority
> of translators for Php 2:6 (those who see in it a double accusative
> construction) have expected to find a syntax at Php 2:6 like that of 1
> Ti 6:5?
> So, concerning the predicate adverb ISA at Php 2:6, does it not tell us
> that if it were true that we should consider that "on an equality with
> God" is the subject and HARPAGMON the predicate, then we should have had
> indication for a marked word-order? And would not such a marked word-order
> have meant an absence of articulation for the infinitive EINAI but an
> articulation of >>ISA THEOi<< instead?
> Then why does Paul articulate it (EINAI) in Php 2:6? Does it not allow
> us to see in its articulation an indication that the infinitive clause
> refers back to HARPAGMON as a definition of the contents of the
> HARPAGMON (seizure)?
> Really, ought we not to conclude that analysis of the grammar at Php
> 2:6 rules out a double accusative construction of the sort that would give
> us "an equality with God" as the accusative of the subject? Again, does
> not such a rendering expose the author of that rendering to the criticism
> that he has ignored the fact that we find articulation of the infinitive
> instead of a syntax for Paul's vocabulary which we should have found were
> Paul employing >>ISA THEOi<< for the thought that Jesus was equal to God--
> that we should have found Paul's articulation of >>ISA THEOi<< were he
> intending us to see in it an accusative of the subject for the infinitive
> EINAI? (Such articulation of the word cluster would have given us a
> marked word-order for indication that >>TA ISA THEOi<< was the subject--
> had Paul actually made it the subject, right?) So, are we not safe in
> saying that 'equality with God' is not the subject of the articulated,
> 'preposition-less' copulative infinitive TO EINAI at Php 2:6? (As the
> anarthrous phrase >>ISA THEOi<< stands in the text, it functions as the
> infinitive's predicate adjective.)
> Considering all the above, may we not translate Php 2:6 something like
> the following: "he gave thought to no usurpation, namely that he should be
> equal to God"?
> N.B. Please overlook the possibility that in your bringing my file over
> from b-greek it may no longer align in good order underneath my
> transliteration of
> the Greek.

        Al Kidd has obviously given considerable thought to his proposed
interpretation of Php. 2:6.

        It seems difficult to me, however, to take hHGEOMAI in such an absolute
sense. What is being proposed, if I've understood the explanation correctly, is, "He
did not consider usurpation." The verb hHGEOMAI in the sense of "consider" is
practically always used by Paul in constructions with a double accusative or with
adjectives or infinitives that serve an accusative function. So we have ANAGKAION
hUPEREXONTAS hEAUTWN (Php. 2:3). Other examples of similar constructions are
Php. 2:25; 3:7, 8; 2Ths. 3:15 (where AUTON is understood from the context); 1Tim.
1:12; 6:1. Only in 1Thes. 5:13 is there a somewhat different construction, but, in
this case, a phrase that functions adverbially fills out the thought in place of the
second accusative.

        I would suggest that the "anaphoric significance of the article," mentioned
in Blass-DeBrunner as cited above, is applicable in the case of Php. 2:6. But it
does not refer back to hARPAGMON as Al Kidd has suggested. Rather, the referent is
EN MORFH QEOU UPARXWN. Taking it thus would give the sense "Who, being in the
likeness of God, did not consider that equality with God something to be taken
advantage of..."

        A fine article which goes over the history of the interpretation of this
passage is "hARPAGMOS and the Meaning of Philippians 2:5-11," by N. T. Wright,
_Journal of Theological Studies_ 37 (Oct. 1986): 321-52.

David L. Moore                             Director
Miami, Florida, USA                        Department of Education                     Southeastern Spanish District            of the Assemblies of God

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