RE: EN + dative in Eph 5:18

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed May 07 1997 - 08:30:49 EDT

At 8:11 PM -0500 5/6/97, Andrew Kulikovsky wrote:
>Your interpretation / translation presents the idea that the Spirit is
>the *content* of the filling which is what I objected to in my original
>post on grammatical grounds.
>It is all very well and good to appeal to historical background but not
>at the expense of disregarding the semantics of the grammar. The grammar
>can tell you what the possible meanings are, and then you look at the
>historical and grammatical context to choose the most sensible meaning.
>But your interpretation is ruled out by the extreme improbability or
>impossibility of EN+dative indicating the *content* of filling.

I think you've misunderstood Edgar's post:

>> I read this in Ephesians as the alternative to MH MEQUSKESQE OINWi,
>> i.e.
>> speech that comes from spirit possession (to be ENQOUS) is not to be
>> confused with speech or action that comes from being drunk. So I
>> sometimes
>> playfully translate
>> "And don't get drunk with wine, in which there is dissoluteness, but
>> 'tank
>> up' on Spirit, as you ..." Dionysiac inspiration was a part of the
>> environment, as some of the art related to Dionysos makes clear.
>> get there name from the same stem as MANIA and MANTIKOS.
>> The inspired song of the Ephesian community must be clearly Spirit
>> inspired
>> (PNEUMATIKOS), not wine induced.

As I read it, Edgard is still understanding both OINWi and EN PNEUMATI as
instrumental datives (of means)--NOT as expressing the content. In fact,
the normal way to express CONTENT would be a partitive genitive.

>Eric Weiss posted a quote from Wallace's grammar regarding the
>interpretation of this passage. No-one has yet made any comment or
>responded at all to Wallace's comments so does anyone out there have any
>objections to his interpretation?

Eric's citation was:

> Dan Wallace p. 375 states: "...There are no other examples in biblical
> Greek in which EN + the dative after PLHROW indicates content. Further,
> the parallel with OINWi as well as the common grammatical category of
> "means" suggest that the idea intended is that believers are to be
> filled "by means of" the [Holy] Spirit. If so, there seeems to be an
> unnamed agent..." He continues with a discussion of PLHROW in Ephesians
> and concludes: "Believers are to be filled "by" Christ "by means of" the
Spirit "with" the content of the fullness of God."

Wallace too clearly regards EN PNEUMATI as instrumental, and I'd agree.
Where I'd part company with him is over reading PLHROUSQE as passive
requiring an implicit agent. If one insists that it must be passive, then
I'd agree that Paul certainly sees Christ as mediator of the HS, and indeed
indentifies the HS with the "spirit of Christ." But I'd be much more
inclined to understand PLHROUSQE as a MIDDLE imperative and EN PNEUMATI as
an instrumental dative with it.

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

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