Re: 1 Peter 1:2

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Aug 21 1997 - 07:45:47 EDT

At 7:03 PM -0400 8/20/97, Jim Beale wrote:
>At 6:46 AM -0500 8/19/97, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>[my poorly-phrased question and Carl's analysis of it *mercifully* cut]
>>I think that the problem, Jim, may lie in the construction of hAGIASMWi
>Hi Carl,
>That's one problem. I'm still struggling with the relation of
>EKLEKTOIS and the prepositional phrase beginning with KATA. It
>just seems pretty awkward to me to connect the preposition KATA
>with the dative EKLEKTOIS. I can't see connecting it with
>APOSTOLOS, so I guess there is no other choice. But, but, but...

I wouldn't understand it with EKLEKTOIS as dative but with EKLEKTOIS as
having (as Jim Vellenga noted) a quasi-participial, strongly verbal force:
"chosen in accordance with the foreknowledge of God the father ..." It is
true, of course, that APOSTOLOS also has this quasi-participial verbal
force, but it does seem that in the salutation EKLEKTOIS marks the
transition from sender to addressee, and that, however awkward the
word-order, everything from EKLEKTOIS on through IHSOU CRISTOU hangs on
that designation of the addressee.

>It also seems strange to me that all the substantives in these
>two verses are anarthrous. That lends the passage an airy feel,
>as if there is nothing definite or solid to hang on to. Odd!

It is a strange verbal economy that we find in these two verses, no
question: very stiff and formal it does seem. There are probably studies of
NT epistolary salutations that are worth consulting here, but I don't know
the bibliography. I was struck, as I noted in my response a couple days
ago, by the optative PLHQUNQEIH. I see that we have the same fundamental
elements of the predicate to the salutation in 2 Peter: CARIS hUMIN KAI
EIRHNH PLHQUNQEIH. That optative PLHQUNQEIH is not found elsewhere in NT
epistles in the salutation.

As I think further about this, I'm reminded of having read somewhere the
view that Paul used CARIS as a new and distinctly Christian reformulation
of the more traditional Greek greeting CAIRE(TE) and its salutatory form
CAIREIN KELEUEI. If that is a valid observation (it is at least an
interesting idea), it would appear that these "Petrine" epistles carry that
innovation yet further. My curiosity has been aroused, but it appears to me
there's a whole complex of problems of literary and epistolary models and
provenance that must have been subjected to study hitherto and that far
exceed the legitimate scope of B-Greek. but I agree with you, Jim, that
there's an almost Laconic economy of wording in this salutation: one might
expect articles with those nouns, particularly, I would think, in one who
knows and uses the optative! But those few words, KATA PROGNWSIN QEOU
CRISTOU are positively crammed with the sort of complex conception of
foreknowledge, election, and the process of salvation that we find
expressed much more expansively in Ephesians and Colossians. It really is
remarkable how much is being stated in this relatively brief and, I would
still say, "laconic" salutation.

>>(1) I think it would be best to understand this with the verbal notions in
>>hUPAKOHN and hRANTISMON. That is: the addresses have been chosen in
>>accordance with the foreknowledge of God the father for the purpose of
>>(EIS) obedience (hUPAKOHN) and purification (hRANTISMON) by means of (EN
>>with instrumental force) the sanctification of the Spirit. That is to say:
>>I'd take KATA PROGNWSIN with EKLEKTOIS, but I'd take EN hAGIASMWi with EIS
>>hUPAKOHN KAI hRANTISMON. That's one alternative.
>I'm sure you mean 'addressees'. I tried to make sense of 'addresses'
>for a while until it dawned on me that it just didn't make sense. I
>must be really tired! I think I'm working way too hard these days...

A typo indeed, misleading in much the same way as your own reference to the
"antecedents" of the preposition. As someone noted in one of the list
messages a few days ago, there's a truth about linguistics or communication
to be noted in the fact that we tend to understand what the other means
even when the other mis-states it.

>I like this alternative the best; it seems the most natural to me.
>Still, it seems clumsy. What is the connection of EN to the preceding?
>It seems to hang out in the middle of nowhere, waiting for a purpose
>clause to begin so that its instrumental force can have something to
>apply to. This, too, seems awkward to me.

Clumsy it does indeed seem, albeit fascinating in terms of content. I still
marvel at the awkwardness of the word-order in a writer who is familiar
with the optative enough to use it correctly. But as for EN, I don't see it
linked so closely with what precedes as with what follows, namely, the
prepositional phrase EIS hUPAKOHN KAI hRANTISMON ... Nevertheless, we do
seem to have a compressed notion here of a providential purpose of god to
choose and to transform and cleanse those whom he chooses and to effect
this purpose by means of the Spirit. I think that the ideas involved are
reasonably clear, but the formulation is leand and--LACONIC. I'm reminded
of the Latin of Seneca and Tacitus.

>>(2) A second alternative would be to understand hAGIASMOS PNEUMATOS as a
>>periphrasis for hAGION PNEUMA; if that should be the case, then there's no
>>problem seeing the phrase EN hAGIASMWi PNEUMATOS as instrumental with
>>EKLEKTOIS. I don't really like this as well as the first alternative,
>Is there any reason to think that the author might have employed

Not really; what I was thinking of was such "Semitizing" expressions as
PNEUMA hAGIWSUNHS (e.g. Rom 1:1), where the genitive might as well be an
adjective. But this is really quite different, as hAGIASMOS is a process of
hAGIAZEIN, not an abstract noun for "holiness."

>And I still don't understand how that might alleviate the problem
>of construing EN hAGIASMWi PNEUMATOS with EKLEKTOIS. Are you
>suggesting that this might be interepreted such that the Holy Spirit
>is the agent who elects according to the foreknowledge of the Father?

The Spirit "listeth" where it will. I think I suggested above that we do
have here a condensed formulation of a pretty complex notion of divine
providence in the process of salvation. One might even argue here (although
I'm not going to do so) that there's a neat trinitarian implication here of
roles of Father, Son, and Spirit.

>>(3) A third alternative would be to take EN hAGIASMWi PNEUMATOS with the
>>main clause of this salutation, CARIS hUMIN KAI EIRHNH PLHQUNQEIH. Although
>>the arrangement of elements in vss. 1-2 is already somewhat awkward, this
>>construction seems to me extremely unlikely.
>I agree with your conclusion wholeheartedly. Truthfully, the
>possibility hadn't even occurred to me.

Thanks to you, Jim, for raising some very interesting and provocative
questions about an interesting passage. Now, I'm going to have to go learn
more about salutations!

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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