Re: EN + dative in Eph 5:18

From: kdlitwak (
Date: Wed May 07 1997 - 23:02:33 EDT

Andrew Kulikovsky wrote:
> Ken wrote:
> > ----------
> > From: kdlitwak
> > Sent: Thursday, 8 May 1997 12:16 AM
> > To: Carl W. Conrad
> > Cc: Andrew Kulikovsky; 'Edgar Krentz'; ''
> > Subject: Re: EN + dative in Eph 5:18
> >
> > Hmmm. I think I have some difficlty with arguing that an othewise
> > unknown construction clearly has the force of X, particularly when it
> > seems to me to break the context.
> >
> Does it really? I think you need to read the whole book of Ephesians
> more closely.

I'm afraid I find this a troubling argument. It says basically, "I'm a
better reader than you are." The last thing you want to do is open the
door to reader-response questions, or fight over who's a more competent
reader. that's a lose-lose situation for all participants.

> > That is, Paul has said to not be
> > drunk with wine. Certainly one can argue that OINWi has an
> > instrumental
> > force, but the parallel with the Spirit begs for what the drunk person
> > is filled with. If OINWi is an instrument, with what is the drunk
> > person full?
> >
> The verb here is MEQUSKESQE (be drunk) - it is not PLHROUSQE (be
> filled/fulfilled) so the parallel (really its a contrast) is NOT between
> being filled with wine and being filled with the Holy Spirit - that is
> not what Paul is saying.

   Uh, let's see, just how does one get drunk with wine? By being
filled with it, or at least consuming too much. Yes, it's a contrast,
bu5t it's a contrast between similar processes: being filled with
something which leads to something else.
> > If one is filled by means of the Holy Spirit, with what is
> > one filled? The implied reader is surely to undestand "Don't be
> > filled
> > with wine. Instead be filled with an unknown by means of the Holy
> > Spirit." I'm afraid that doesn't make much sense contextually and I
> > think it is necessary to see grammar inthe service of meaning, and NOT
> > the other way around. There needs to be something the believer is
> > filled with. The obvious choice is the Holy Spirit (barring that, it
> > could be virtually anything, since it's unstated), and if that's
> > expressed with an otherwise unknown construction, I have a hard time
> > thinking that it's not grammatically possible, based on analogies
> > which
> > may not apply. Not to be flippant, but after a semester of
> > Thucydides,
> > Lucain, Eupolemos and other classical writers, I'minclined to the
> > opinion (for which I claim no expertise) that Greek writers, much as
> > English writes, felt free to do pretty much what they wanted
> > grammatically in the search for "a well-seasoned soup (Lucian)."
> >
> As I said before, you really have to read the whole of Ephesians.
> Because you have started by drawing the wrong parallel you end in
> problematic interpretation like the above.
> I believe the parallel (or rather, contrast) is between the apparent
> effects and results of drunkuness (ie. being under the influence of
> alcahol) and the apparent effects and results of being filled full BY
> the Holy Spirit (ie. under the influence of the Holy Spirit). Being
> drunk leads to debauchery but being filled full by the Spirit leads to
> the joy and ecstacy of being one in Christ.

   You are arguing for an instrumental sense to the dative. Therefore,
being "under the influence of the Holy Spirit" is not allowed
grammatically because it's not instrumental. Instrumental means that
the Holy Spirit is the jar that contains whatever we're supposed to be
filled with, period. That's shat an instrumental is. You want it to do
multiple duty, while denying that it does so.

> IN answer to the question, with what are we filled? We are filled with
> the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and the experience of Christ
> (which is well discussed in Ephesian 3). It is by means of the Spirit
> that Christ dwells in our hearts (Ephesians 3:16-19).

   You're interpreting Ephesians 5 from other texts that you do not have
any basis for connecting to them, especially Gal. 5. You have to find
the "content" of the filling in Eph 5. Otherwise, you are engaging in
pure sepculation. It is reasonabvle to expect the "content" to be
defined in the context. Your view disallows that, so you have to reach
way outside the context to a distant cotext to explain an apparent gap
in Paul's exhortation. Since you're a software engineer as I am, you
probably know that what you do in function foo() has little relevance,
if your code is correct, for what you do in another function. You still
haven't pointed to anyting in Ephesians that says what Paul's readers
are to be filled with. They didn't have Galatians to read, hence they
would know nothing of Gal. 5. Why is it such a problem to think that
Paul is speaking of the content of filling. If we're going to appeal to
other letters, Paul does say "Be filled with the Spirit and you will not
fulfill the lusts of the flesh."
> ps. In regard to Edgars comment about the Dionysiac background of this
> text, I noted that Gordon Fee in his book God's Empowering Presence
> (under Eph. 5:18) indicates that this is inappropriate since they used
> more than just wine for their ecstacy because wine is a depressant, and
> doesn't produce ecstatic effects, therefore they must have used some
> form of stimulating drug as well.

   I don't know what this has to do with how we understand the grammar.
Whether a possible parallel may be drawn, and whether that parallel was
in Paul's mind are both difficult questions to answer. The possible
existence of something that sounds kinda like something in another text,
may or may not be relevant. It depends, in part, upon whether you share
Kristeva's notion of intertextuality.

Ken Litwak

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