From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Jan 07 1997 - 10:41:18 EST

At 7:42 AM -0600 1/7/97, James H. Vellenga wrote:
>From Ellen Adams:
>> Well, parsing ZHLOUTE as indicative makes an easy interpretation for 12:31.
>> Unfortunaely, there is a parallel sentence at the beginning of Chapter 14:
>> there is a natural tendency in most of us to want to interpret something
>> which occurs in one place the same way as we do when it occurs elsewhere in
>> a similar setting. Friberg parses DIWKETE as imperartive; also, according
>> to my ancient but better than nothing Wigrams it is imperative. There is no
>> 2nd plural indicative listed to compare it to. Even if it might be parsed
>> as indicative (which is looks very much like it might be), the context here
>> seems to dicate an imperative. Thus the ZHLOUTE in 14:1 should also be seen
>> as imperative.
>> (Perhaps this occurance in 14:1 is what has compelled translators to view
>> 12:31 to also be imperative. Of course such speculation is far beyond our
>> scope.)
>> So would the simple fact that 12:31 would make more sense as an indicative
>> than imperative bear sufficient weight to interpret it that way despite the
>> fact that 14:1 is imperative and that most translations render 12:31 as
>> imperative?
>I think we sometimes demand more from an analysis of the
>Greek syntax than we expect of our own mother tongues. In
>English, we can sometimes use what appears to be present
>indicative or future indicative as a form of imperative:
> "OK, Bugsy, you wait five minutes, and then you come
> bustin' in the back door."
> "OK, Bugsy, you'll wait five minutes, and then you'll
> come bustin' in the back door."
>We the listeners (or readers) add from our own experience
>and the context the implication that the speaker is giving
>directions to Bugsy and telling him to do something. So
>syntactically these sentences are not imperatives, but
>practically they are.
>I'm not sure that that applies to 1 Cor 14.1, but the context
>there seems to demand an imperative interpretation, in that
>Paul goes on to encourage prophesy rather than tongues
>(primarily) in public meetings.
>What puzzles me more in 14.1, however, is the significance
>of the first DE. If I try to recast the verse in English,
>I get something like
> Keep pursuing the love, yet keep "obsessing over the
> spiritual [stuff]," but especially so that you can
> keep prophesying.
>The DE, rendered here as "yet", seems (to me) to put the
>emphasis on ZHLOUTE TA PNEUMATIKA, where I would expect
>it to be on DIWKETE THN AGAPHN.
>I'm wondering if one shouldn't break the sentence and the
>paragraph otherwise, so as to get something like
> ...Keep pursuing the love!
> Now do keep "obsessing over the spiritual [stuff]," but
> especially so that you can keep prophesying....
>On 12.31, I find myself (reluctantly) disagreeing with Carl.
>I here (as above) give ZHLOUTE a negative sense -- in general
>ZHLOUW seems to indicate passionate feeling, whether good or
>bad. My choice to do so is that after Paul's arguments about
>the necessity in balance among the gifts, it "feels" better
>to interpret the sentence as
> Yet you keep obsessing over the "greater gifts"!
>than as
> Now/yet keep being passionate about the greater gifts.
>The latter would make more sense as an introduction to chapter
>14, whereas the former seems to make a better segue to the
>arguments of chapter 13.

I am glad to see further discussion of these questions, the more so as I
think this is a weightier question than the etymology of MONOGENHS! In an
offline communication to Ellen last night that she has shared with me,
Edward Hobbs referred to a footnote in Conzelmann's HERMENEIA Commentary on
1 Cor arguing in favor of understanding ZHLOUTE in 12:31 as indicative with
the same understanding presented by James above; I like his way of
emphasizing the present tense, although I think rephrasing it would make
for more natural English: "But you continue to be obsessed with the
'greater' gifts." I think this is very plausible and quite possibly right,
but I'm not totally convinced. For one thing I don't think that ZHLOW needs
to have the negative sense here (and James notes that it is a verb of
passionate feeling that can both a positive and a negative sense). LSJ say
that it is most often in a positive sense, which is why I think it may more
likely have that here; again, however, on the other side, it is true also
that ZHLOW does generally have a close association with intense rivalry and
that kind of (very Greek) competitive individualism is the recurrent
keynote characterizing the Corinthian congregation throughout the entire
letter. I don't know ...

My other reason for continuing to think that ZHLOUTE in 12:31 is indicative
is that I think MEIZONA looks forward to faith, hope, and love in the last
verses of chapter 13; these would be more significant than any of the
XARISMATA dealt with in chapter 12, precisely because they MENEI--they
continue on into the Age-to-Come while the others perish with the old Age.
And if chapter 12 refuses to rank some XARISMATA as higher than others,
chapter 13 certainly does relativize all of those others as inferior to
AGAPH, and concludes ultimately that AGAPH is MEIZWN than faith and hope.
Moreover, the chapter and verse divisions in this and all NT documents are
later editorial insertions, and I don't think we should be influenced by
any notion that there's a gap between chapters 12 and 13.

A very interesting question indeed!

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 - 15:38:01 EDT