Re: James 2:18 WHo is the mysterious Mr. Tis?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Apr 18 1997 - 13:53:26 EDT

At 12:53 PM -0500 4/18/97, Mike A Porter wrote:
>On Fri, 18 Apr 1997 06:42:25 -0500 "Carl W. Conrad"
><> writes:
>>Are all these same questions raised about 1 Cor 15:35 about some
>>Mr. Tis?
>This is a good example. For some reason, my bible program failed to pick
>up on this in my search. Thank you.

Well, I actually didn't do a computer search, I thought I remembered
precisely this phrase being used in Paul's eschatological discussion in 1
Cor 15 and hunted it down.

>>While I confess that I have not read what may be a voluminous literature on
>>this question, I would suggest that anyone who has read a bit of ancient
>>rhetoric will have seen ALLA EREI TIS more times than he/she can
>>readily count.
>Is there, in your experience of having read the classical rhetoric a
>justification for my softening of alla? I am not experienced in the
>classics and stay pretty close to KOINE. Obviously, ALLA can be softened
>in >certain cases, rare though they are. But, what within that formula?

Actually (and again, I haven't done a search; if I didn't have such a busy
class schedule today still I'd do a search right now) I don't recall
offhand if it was ever softened.

>Also, in the pronouns following the formula, which do you identify as
>James, or do you? In other words, are you saying that TIS is in
>opposition to James position, and therefore, James is SU, or does James
>pick up
>a response in verse 20, and 18-19 is Mr. Tis?

Despite the considerable divergence of the editors and translators over the
proper punctuation and assignment of roles in this passage, I have to say
that the only way it makes sense to me is to make just the opening SU
PISTIN EXEIS? as the question hypothetically put to James, and then to make
KAGW ERGA EXW his response, followed by the additional imperatives, thus:

--But someone will say, "Do you have faith?"
--"Yes, and I also have works. You show ME YOUR faith without works and
I'll show YOU MY faith from my works."

So yes, I do think that the TIS-figure is objecting to James' stance that a
faith commitment requires demonstration in action. I think all of what
follows is addressed to the SOLA FIDE position of James' hypothetical

>>It is the standard ploy of one who argues forcefully for any
>>proposition to answer in advance all expected hypothetical objections,
>>ALLA EREI TIS is one common forumula for introducing the hypothetical
>Again, are there instances where the formula is used in a confirmatory

It might be good to run a word search, for which I don't have time at the
moment, but my hunch is that it isn't.

>I don't pit James against Paul. I don't see contradiction with the two.

Good, I don't either. I think that the hypothetical interlocutor is one who
has misunderstood Paul to mean that faith does not need to involve
behavioral consequences.

>I didn't get the sense that the purpose of this list was to debate
>theology, really. There is a list on all the SOLA's of the Reformation,
>this is not it. I understood this a forum to intelligently discuss
>grammar, syntax, and lexicography, among others. Whereas I affirm Sola
>Fide (not the antinomian version, as your sister-in-law affirms), I was
>not here trying to debate that issue. I write my posts and look at the
>reasoned responses and exegete the scriptures with any insight that I get.
>If an exchange looks to go of topic, I try to take it off list.

You're absolutely right. I misunderstood your original intent--I sort of
thought you were trying to suggest this was a debate between the Pauline
and the Jacobian stances over faith. I hope that others will offer some
suggestions regarding the vexed matter of proper punctuation of James 2:18
and proper distribution of roles, and for that reason, I'm cc'ing this
reply to you to the list. It's a fascinating question, and I think there's
quite a bit there to deal with without getting into the theological issue
of SOLA FIDE in its own right at all. As you and I clearly agree, the
problem is understanding exactly what James is intending to say and what
precisely is the point being made by his hypothetical interlocutor.

Regards, cwc

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

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