Re: Muddling through the Letter to the Ephesians?

From: R. D. Dickson (
Date: Wed Feb 19 1997 - 13:01:56 EST

>This discussion is a good illustration of how different people see the
>same text differently. Bill Dickson concentrates, I think, on the thought
>of Ephesians, and sees it as grand, elevated, sublime, the apex almost of
>Paul's writing.
>Carl Conrad comes to the text with classical language and rhetoric ringing
>in his ears--and shares the opinion of Eduard Norden in his ANTIKE
>KUNSTPROSA that the opening thanksgiving in Ephesians in the "most
>monstrous conglomerate sentence in the [ancient] Greek language.
>I am one of those who hold that for the very reasons Bill cites to praise
>the language that Paul did not write it. [That is an aside.] I find its
>Greek a bit turgid, making much use of plerophoria, with long chains of
>synonyms and extended genetival constructions.
>On the other hand it has a marvellous view of the chcurch and its unity.
>the seven-fold one in 4:1-6 (with the "one Lorc, one faith, one baptism"
>at its center) still haunts the church when it insists on certain
>structures as a pre-condition for unity.
>Pardon my longer post. It does take off from the language of Ephesians,
>but goes beyond the limits, perhaps.
>Edgar Krentz, New Testament
>Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
>CHICAGO, IL 60615
>Tel: [773] 256-0752; (H) [773] 947-8105
>Reply to:


Many thanks for the opinion of Eduard Norden. I had not come across that
before. There is no question about the uniqueness of Ephesians chap. I,
rather the question is whether the author succeeds in his purposes or not.
Frederick Danker said "As a syntactical salmagundi, the marvelous spiral of
Eph. 1:3-14 is probably without rival in Greek literature." (ISBE Vol. 2)
So those reading the same text come to the wildly diverse opinions that the
text is either monstrous and turgid or instead marvelous and sublime. I do
not find the syntactical complexity of the blessing a distraction from its
perfection, but rather a formal correspondent to the rich, lavish
complexity of its thought. I think ambiguity both semantic and syntactical
when deliberate and well-done contributes to the richness of literature. I
am convinced it is intentional and exceptionally well done in Ephesians I.

Although you only mentioned the authorship question as an aside and I
carefully avoided making reference to that question initially (only Scott's
quotation made any claims on this front), I do admit to finding most
arguments against Pauline authorship unconvincing. I think the uniqueness
of the form of Eph. 1-3 is an adequate explanation of the differences in
style when compared to Paul's other letters.


The Rev. Dr. R. William Dickson
Chaplain of All Saints Episcopal School
Tyler, TX

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