PAS in 2 Tim 3:16

From: Carl William Conrad (
Date: Mon Aug 19 1996 - 10:20:28 EDT

At 2:04 AM -0500 8/20/96, Scott Anthony McKellar wrote:
>I have been attempting to sort out if _pasa_ in 2 Tim 3:16 means "every"
>or "all"?
>The predicative use of _pas_ (without the article) according to the
>grammars is normally translated "every" or in this case "every inspired
>Scripture" [BDF # 275.3; Turner, Syntax, p.199; Moule _Idiom-Book_, p.
>94-95--though he favors breaking the normal rule with 2 Tim 3:16;
>Robertson, Grammar, 771-73--exceptions noted with names and abstract
>Zerwick _Biblical Greek_ # 188; Porter, Idioms, p. 119-120]. Is 2 Tim
>3:16 an exception? BAGD is says that the meaning "every" is scarcely
>different form the plural "all." I take this to mean that that "every"
>approaches the meaning of "all" *plural* rather than simply that they
>the same thing. [but when I thing about it, what is the plural *all*
>this bad translation from German?] Nigel Turner points out; "_Pas_ before
>an anarthrous noun means _every_ in the sense of _any_; not every
>individual, like _hekastos_, but any you please. In other words *any*
>all those] Scripture[s] you are pleased to single out. Turner suggests
>translation "whatever is Scripture" for 2 Tim 3:16.[p. 199] Is it in
>sense that it *might* be translated "the whole of Scripture" (following
>Moule, and Porter?). Zerwick, argues that the anarthrous use of _pas_ in
>Tim 3:16 establishes the principle of Scriptures inspiration rather than
>the fact that the existing Scripture was inspired.
>My question is this: Does the adoption of the translation "Every
>Scripture is also useful . . ." require grammatically that the author is
>implying some _graphE_ exist which are not inspired. Turner's comment
>would seem to me to imply that not every individual Scripture is in view,
>and, therefore, it would *not* necessarily imply that some non-inspired
>Scripture exist. It would seem to me that this reference in v. 16 is
>directed back to _hiera grammata_ of v. 15. Verse 15 assumes the _hiera_
>character of the _grammata_ and predicates of them that they are able to
>make Timothy wise unto salvation. Similarly the inspired nature of every
>Scripture is assume while it is affirmed that it is useful for the ends
>mentioned. The focus of the argument would appear to me to be on the
>achieved and not on inspiration per se. If it wasn't for concerns some
>might have about defending the inspiration of Scripture and creating a
>convenient proof text for that, would not "Every inspired Scripture is
>useful . . ." be the more natural translation?

While I fear that part of your question may be unanswerable without resort
to the presuppositions one brings to the reading of this text, I will
suggest the following:

(1) PAS is _normally_ predicative; very rarely would one find hH PASA
GRAFH, but if one did, that would mean "the whole of scripture."

(2) PASA GRAFH might be translated "every scripture" or "all
scripture"--but either version would really mean simply every _single_
scripture and thus "all" texts that may be termed "scripture."

(3) I think that QEOPNEUSTOS in this text really must be understood as
predicate to an implicit ESTI(N): "Every/all scripture is inspired and
useful for ..."

(4) The big question that cannot be decided solely on the basis of the
meaning of the text is that of WHICH texts the writer deemed to be
scripture. It depends at least in part upon the authorship and dating of 2
Timothy; it then depends upon whether ANY PART of what later became the
canonical NT was deemed "scripture" at any of the times when 2 Tim 3:16
might have been written (I have my doubts about this, but that is a matter
of historical criticism, not of what the Greek text itself may possibly
mean); I think that if one attributes 2 Timothy to Paul and therefore
dates it in the middle of the first century, it is highly questionable
whether anything beyond Torah and Prophets is being referred to. I would
reiterate, however, that this question is one the answer to which depends
very much upon the assumptions that the reader/critic brings to bear upon
the Greek text, and NOT upon the meaning of the Greek text itself.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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