Re: Re. Spiritual vs Reasonable (Rom. 12:1)

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Sep 24 1996 - 11:40:10 EDT

At 4:30 AM -0500 9/24/96, wrote:
>I believe our problem is a modern understanding of the term
>reasonable which misses the point Paul is making, which is with "one's
>entire being..," and not reasonable in the sense of what is balanced
>and sensible.
>LOGIKHN-Becomes "spiritual" because of the extension of the idea
>intrinsic to LEGW where it has to do with what lays behind mere
>speech in the mind, soul, and spirit. Thus is must refer to a
>sacrifice of our bodies to God which involves service from the whole
>being, sacrifice expressed in service through the physical body but
>involving the commitment of the mind, soul and spirit. If LOGIKHN
>does in fact imply the entire being which underlies mere speech and
>gives rise to it, then "spiritual" is simply a more descriptive way
>of saying this in unique terms that are applicble to what we
>understand as discipleship of Jesus Christ, rather than in terms
>which imply simply the involvement of the mind, or mere mental

I think Paul Evans is right on target here, certainly in the interpretation
with which he concludes, namely, that it is the total commitment Paul (the
apostle, that is) emphasizes here (TA SWMATA means "selves" rather than
physical bodies) and what the apostle seems to have in mind is precisely
that Sh'ma passage from Deuteronomy with all of its overtones of being
comformed to the will of God rather than being "like the nations." The
worship sought is the worship of heart, mind, and soul. And I think
"spiritual" is right here, less in terms of any literal translation, than
in terms of implicit sense--it is an offering of one's spirit rather than
an offering of one's physical body that is urged by the apostle.

Stephen Carlson had a nice extended note on LOGIKOS,-H,-ON and on the rich
history of the word LOGOS; actually it is older than Aristotle, first
appearing in Heraclitus in a cosmological sense and then looming large in
the philosophy of the Stoics, etc.; Philo's LOGOS is aking, though not
quite the same as the Stoic LOGOS. Although I think there's plenty of
evidence (particularly in Romans 1 and 2) that Paul was familiar with the
Stoic notion of the LOGOS, I'm not convinced that LOGIKOS here bears any
relationship to any doctrine of LOGOS. In fact, I'm really puzzled as to
what the apostle may have had in mind as the sense of the word LOGIKOS in
using it. I've just read carefully through the new LSJ article on the
adjective, and I really can't find a single item there that illuminates the
usage of the adjective in Romans 12:1-3. For that reason I am toying with a
very vague sort of suspicion that he may mean LOGIKOS= "non-literal"--your
QUSIAN which is )not actually an offering of a sacrificial victim, as QUSIA
is usually understood to imply--but rather) "figurative sacrifice." If
this is right--and mind you, it's no more than a conjecture--then it's the
sort of thing that Plato would have glossed parenthetically with something
like hWS EPOS EIPEIN ("to coin a phrase," "so to speak"). So I suggest
"your sacrifice in a non-literal sense."

"Reasonable" fails primarily because it means something different in
English from anything LOGIKOS can properly mean in Greek, which would have
to be some form of "concerned with reasoning," "having to do with
reasoning," "rational"--whereas the normal English sense of "reasonable" is
"with all due consideration" (a "reasonable" response) or "rational" of a
PERSON (a "reasonable" fellow, one you can argue with)--but "reasonable" as
a normal English adjective won't do for "sacrifice" in the late 20th

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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:52 EDT