Re: Eph 4:20 EMAQETE TON CRISTON - why accusative?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Feb 14 1997 - 09:45:06 EST

At 7:50 AM -0600 2/14/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>Ephe 4:20 (GNT) humeis de ouc houtws emaqete ton Criston
>Why is TON CRISTON accusative here?
>Isn't the direct object of MANQANW the thing which is learned? Consider this:
>1Cor 14:35 (GNT) ei de ti maqein qelousin, en oikw tous idious andras
>eperwtatwsan: aiscron gar estin gunaiki lalein en ekklhsia.

I think the problem is the limited application of MANQANW here; one of the
most common senses (LSJ, sv.IV) is "grasp," "come to understand,"
"understand." I think the sense of the above is indeed: "This is not the
way you came to understand Christ ... " (i.e. "or else you wouldn't be
behaving as you do").

>If TON CRISTON refers to something which is learned in 4:20, could the
>phrase mean "learn about Christ", "learn the things of Christ", or
>"Christian teaching (as BAGD suggests)? Is it a synonym for M. TON TOU
>CRISTIASMOU LOGON (M Pol 10:1, cited in BAGD)?
>Weymouth translates this "learned from Christ". ICB translates it "learned
>in Christ". Can these translations be justified?
>HKOUSATE is also used with the accusative in 4:21:
>Ephe 4:21 (GNT) ei ge auton hkousate kai en autw edidacqhte, kaqws estin
>alhqeia en tw Ihsou
>Does this mean "heard of him"? This seems parallel to Philemon 1:5, where
>AKOUW + acc is used to say "heard of your love and your faith/fulnes":
>Phle 1:5 (GNT) akouwn sou thn agaphn kai thn pistin, hn eceis pros ton
>kurion Ihsoun kai eis pantas tous agious
>P.S., the KJV translates 4:21 "But ye have not so learned Christ". A nice,
>literal translation of the words which I don't know how to read. In my
>dialect, if I say "I learned him", that means that I taught him, so I found
>this amusing.

Is this going to be a simple matter? or is it going to be a can of worms,
again? I have a sense that the author of Ephesians has thrown another low
curve, and we are in peril of striking out (You see I'm thinking spring,
even as the snow flurries continue to fly outside; I can't wait for spring
training and a new baseball season to begin!).

Perhaps it's a mistake to rely so much on "learn" for MANQANW. And perhaps
the questions imply an overly-intellectualized notion of what it is to
"know Christ." There are a couple possible alternative ways to understand

(1) The author of Ephesians seems to suggest almost a proto-Gnostic
conception of a cosmic Christ to whose full stature one grows as one
apprehends Christ. What does Paul mean in Phil 3:10 ... GNWNAI AUTON KAI
SUMMORFIZOMENOS TWi QANATWi AUTOU ... ? Whatever the experience here
described may be, it is not a matter of intellectual apprehension but of
spiritual communion/participation. And I think that GNWNAI as it is used in
Phil 3:10 may be one dimension of MANQANEIN CRISTON in Eph 4:20.

(2) On the other hand, perhaps more in keeping with HKOUSATE AUTON in Eph
4:21 is an understanding of MANQANEIN in terms of "come to know a person"
and enter into an authentic relationship with that person--as in John 14:9
just that expression in idiomatic English, "If that's what you think, you
don't really know me." And perhaps this idiomatic usage could be carried a
bit farther into the consequences of knowing Christ authentically,
(CONNAI=TRE, not SAVOIR): "hearing" becomes "heeding"--the Latin word play:
AUDIRE becomes OBOEDIRE, or the same relationship is actually present in
the Koine too: AKOUEIN becomes hUPAKOUEIN. Which is to say, I do NOT think
that AKOUEIN in Eph 4:21 means "hear about."

Predisposed as I am to want to interpret things in a Socratic sense, I
think that the intellectualist approach is way off base in this section of
ethical exhortation in Ephesians; so, if "virtue is knowledge," it is so
not in a Socratic sense but in the sense of authentic apprehension of WHO
Christ is and what it means to heed him.

Does that make any sense?

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

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