Re: Romans 8 and FRONHMA

Date: Mon Aug 11 1997 - 16:01:52 EDT

From: "Carl W. Conrad" <>

> In the NT FRONEW more or less consistently means "to think" in
> the sense of "focus one's thinking." FRONHMA is fundamentally a "mind-set."
> In my view all the genitives that Eric has asked about are subjective
> genitives. It should not be so puzzling that SARX has a FRONHMA, if one
> considers that SARX is not itself the "material" aspect of selfhood so much
> as it is the MENTALITY of a selfhood alienated from one's PNEUMA as a
> consequence of sin.

TO FRONHMA THS SARKOS corresponds to the ancient "blood-soul" (THUMOS),
TO FRONHMA TOU PNEUMATOS, the "breath-soul" (PSYCHE). In Homer, a dead
man splits into a psyche--a fluttering, insubstantial shade or image sent
to Hades (Iliad I,3)-- and a corpse (SWMA) (Iliad VII,19). Thus, the end of
the "blood-soul" is death and corruption while that of the "breath-soul" is
"life" (not much of one in Homer). Homer's *psyche* is active in sleep and
death. Thus, both the "blood-soul" and "breath-soul" could be thought to
have FRONHMA, Carl's "mentality", perhaps.

In Homer, the function of psyche is to animate the body. It is located in the
lungs--the center of consciousness, emotion, feeling, understanding. NOOS,
agent of reasoned thought also dwells there. By the time of Heraclitus,
PSYCHE has usurped many of THUMOS' functions by becoming the throne
of feeling and moral intellectual qualities while THUMOS becomes the
throne of strong, irrational impulses. Thus, the flesh becomes an instinctual,
impulsive brute and the spirit, a thinking, moral entity.

I prefer "purpose", "intention", or "will" (fainment?) for FRONHMA, because
we have in view a natural end or result of natural volitional tendencies
inherent in the various *substances*. FRONHMA is the path (as in
PERIPATOUSIN) of volition leading inevitably to a particular destination.
Thus, path and destination are one: The flesh *will* die, and the spirit
*will* be with God. Thus, the talk later of predestination. So, I would

        Rm 8:6: For the will (FRONHMA) of the flesh [is] death,
                but the will of the spirit life and peace.

        Rm 8:27 And the [one] searching the hearts knows
                what [is] the will [FRONHMA] of the spirit ...
                according to [the will of] God.

The implied God's "will" in most translations supports this notion.

The cosmological model of Empedocles is helpful here, flesh (matter)
returning to Strife (chaos) and spirit to Love (order). Spirit and
flesh in one body is a temporary, unstable condition--sinful. Their natural
ends or domains are life and death, respectively. Flesh actually longs for
death, just as spirit desires reunion with God.

The question is--Where *will* "you" be? Under which set of laws will you
be judged? Which vehicle will you ride into eternity? Interesting idea.
I'll have to read further to determine who and what the "you" is.

Boy, this is quite a passage. There's enough here to spawn a hundred sects
and to justify any course of action. There's also a great deal of food for
Gnostics. It would take a lot of study before I'd go too far out on
a limb, but it seems to me that there is no notion here of the volition of
the human individual as Eric assumes ("the [human] mind set on the
Spirit"). Rather, the inevitable "wills" involved are those of the Flesh,
Spirit, and God.

Will Wagers "Reality is the best metaphor."

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