From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Sep 24 1996 - 13:00:01 EDT

At 11:27 AM -0500 9/24/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>A literal translation of this phrase is: "The face of a person God does not
>Is PROSWPON ever used in the sense of the latin PERSONA? According to my OED,
>the Latin PERSONA means "a mask used by a player, a character or personage
>acted, one who plays or performs any part..."
>Neither BAGD nor Louw and Nida mention such a usage, but this seems to fit the
>context well for this verse. In Galations 2:6, Paul seems to be referring
>to the
>roles and reputation that "those who seemed to be important" played in the
>church. They may have been men of importance to the church in Jerusalem, but
>that doesn't impress God. This usage strikes me as similar to the Latin
>None of the translations I looked at interpret it this way. Various
>say "God does not judge according to appearances", or "God does not accept
>person" (I assume that the latter uses the term "person" as a synonym for
>"persona"), "God shows now partiality", "God shows personal favoritism to no
>man", "God does not judge by external appearances", "God recognizes no

Actually, the Latin usage derives from the Greek, and PERSONA does
originally serve as a translation of PROSWPON in that original sense of
"mask" (although the Greek word focuses on what the spectator SEES, while
the Latin word focuses on what the actor SPEAKS THROUGH. In Greek, TA TOU

There is also the NT word PROSWPOLHMPTHS somewhere, I think, meaning
"respecter of persons" in precisely the sense required here in Gal 2:6: one
who pays special attention to the appearance of an individual--or to the
ROLE he/she plays in a social context. Yes, it IS the dramatic usage of the
term PROSWPON that is involved here, I believe, although one may question
to what extent the user of the term is aware of the fact that a dramatic
term is being used here.

The other passage you asked about this morning, Jonathan, also derives from
the Greek stage: the verb hUPOKRINOMAI and the nouns hUPOKRITHS and
hUPOKRISIS originally mean "act out a role on stage" (lit. "answer"--this
is the earlier word for which APOKRINOMAI later became standard and is used
in Koine), "role-player" and "role-playing." This is really a rather
interesting culture-historical phenomenon: so powerful was drama as a
public medium of entertainment and education and so universal in the
Hellenistic world was it that the phrase SKHNH PAS hO BIOS ("All life is a
stage") reflects a common awareness of the extent to which people in
everyday life wear masks in the sense that the do not let their appearance
express their inner selves. So the word "hypocrisy" assumes its sense
originally as a dramatic metaphor, and Paul in Romans urges a neat little
maxim: AGAPH ANUPOKRITOS--"love should not be a matter of play-acting."

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

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