From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Oct 04 1996 - 09:10:45 EDT

At 5:51 AM -0500 10/4/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>I'm writing this from Hamburg, Germany, where the Little Greek has to make do
>without Big Books that are too hard to carry.

Indeed; despite the assertion of Callimachus, MEGA BIBLION MEGA KAKON,
trying to cope with questions that have been worked over for centuries
without the big books and the important ones (whichever one deems the
important ones) can get frustrating.

>Galatians 4:15 is confusing me. I don't understand what MAKARISMOS means
>in this
>context: POU OUN hO MAKARISMOS hUMWN; Without a real lexicon, I'm trying out
>terms like "blessedness", "happiness", "good fortune", etc., and not coming up
>with anything that makes sense.

I have the sense that Paul is using language in almost colloquial senses in
this passage wherein he is addressing the Galatian Christians so
intimately. Here I think the sense of hO MAKARISMOS hUMWN is "your
self-congratulation"--i.e., their warm acknowledgement of how well-off they
were when originally converted by Paul. Remember that MAKARISMOS is a
verbal noun derivative from MAKARIZW, "congratulate."

>I'm also having problems understanding what ZHLOW and EKKLEISAI mean in the

Here again, I think the language tends toward colloquialism, which often
requires one to read between the lines. ZHLOW, if I understand it rightly,
here means "treat enthusiastically," "go to great lengths to win somebody's
affection;" and in this context I think that EKKLEISAI means "exclude from
intimate relationship with Paul." Clearly the opponents of whom Paul writes
(and one has the impression that he's not absolutely clear about who they
are or precisely what they are teaching--he is so indignant in this letter
that he avails himself of pretty extreme language--like wishing the
"circumcisers" would castrate themselves!) are, so Paul thinks, endeavoring
to woo the Galatian Christians away from commitment to Paul's gospel in
order to gain the same sort of commitment to their own, and Paul implies
that they are doing so for the sake of their prestige rather than for the
sake of the gospel.

So I'd say that we have to see the language of this section is much less
formal stylistically than the argumentative and parenetic sections--and it
does seem characteristic of Paul to shift the level of discourse from the
formal and rhetorical to the colloquial and intimate and back again. But
colloquial diction is always harder to understand, precisely because it
depends upon the parties in conversation sharing experiences and viewpoints
that they feel no need to make explicit in what they say to each other. All
of which means that the reading I've suggested can only be tentative and
based upon surmises about what lies between the lines of what's openly

>P.S. Carl: das Griechlein ist noch hungrig, aber nicht mehr durstig. Ich habe
>einige Biere in deine Ehre beseitigt. Leider hat das Bier meine
>Griechischkenntnisse nicht verbessert. Allerdings bin ich weniger besorgt

What is it they used to say? "Im Wein liegt Wahrheit, im Bier die Staerke,
im Wasser die Baszillen." Die Sorge auf alle Faelle muss man wegschaffen,
die Griechischkenntnisse aber nicht.

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

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