Re: imagination and hendiadys

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Oct 01 1997 - 06:52:00 EDT

At 1:20 AM -0500 10/1/97, Glen Riddle wrote:
> wrote:
>> Is it my imagination or is this argument *still* going on?!!!!
>> Paul Zellmer writes on 10/1/97:
>> > Paul Dixon wrote:
>> >
>> > > I believe the archives will bear this out: 1) I was not the one who
>> > > brought up the issue of contradictions, rather, 2) two other
>> > list-members
>> > > brought it up. This is how it happened. One list-member, at least
>> > > several times, commented that 1 John has contradictions throughout.
>> > > Another list-member seemed to agree and suggested 1 Jn 2:7-8 as a good
>> > > example. That was when I responded and attempted to show
>> > > non-contradiction because of the two different ways KAINHN was being
>> > > used.
>> >
>> > All right, I confess, I will not deny, but confess that I was the
>> > offending party that caused the notorious thread to come up again. I
>> > apologized to Jonathan within a couple days when I noted that it was
>> > putting him in front of the firing line. It took a couple days because
>> > that is the delay I normally have in receiving and reading the digests.
>> >
>> > I believe that the original thread had been allowed to die down, and
>> > the statement which kicked it all off again was:
>> >
>> > > BTW, Jonathan, it appears to me that verses 7 & 8 of chapter 2
>> > support
>> > > your notes in the past concerning conflicting statements in the book.
>> >
>> > > We have to continually fight the tendency to soften these statements
>> > so
>> > > that the points that he is making can continue to have their "shock
>> > > effect." Of course, we note as you have that these statements do not
>> > > make John undecided in the points that he is making.
>> >
>> > [The "we" was referring to the translation project that I am a part of.]
>> >
>> > But, Paul, I also believe that you and the others that went after
>> > Jonathan's position were more concerned with semantics than you were in
>> > understanding what other people were actually saying. I used
>> > "conflicting statements," Jonathan [at least at times] used
>> > "contradictions," others [of which I think you were one] wanted to use
>> > "paradox." But all of us involved in the the discussion agreed with
>> > the last statement quoted above: that John was not undecided on the
>> > issues.
>> >
>> > I note that Carl does not claim that this thread was without merit,
>> > just that it got out of hand. Perhaps a better way to handle issues
>> > where we feel the need to "present the other side" is to ask the
>> > original poster for further insight in his position on that particular
>> > area that we are questioning. I realize that sometimes genuine
>> > differences do occur, but frequently we are all saying the same thing
>> > using different words.
>> >
>> > Peace,
>> >
>> > Paul
>> >
>> > Paul and Dee Zellmer, Jimmy Guingab, Geoffrey Beltran
>> > Ibanag Translation Project
>> > Cabagan, Philippines
>> >
>> >
>Yes, my dear zellmer's still going on, and on, and on. You
>see, what we have here is a figure of speech called a "sequential
>vortex". You'll have to check the great theologian, Patrick R. McManus:
>"The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw" to see this spelled out with precision.
>Of course there is the other opinion held by a few scholars: what we
>have here is a gnomic contradiction/non-contradiction; I think Rabbi
>Hithhillel called it habitual.

Regarding "imagination," I think I have discovered another pertinent
hendiadys --if we choose to call it that (it may be synonyms but at least
it's not a contradictions!)--for Jonathan. I don't have the Greek (from the
LXX, of course!) ready to hand, but it's from the beginning and end of the
Flood story in Genesis. Gen 6:5-6, "When the Lord saw that man had done
much evil on earth and that his thoughts and imaginations were always evil,
he was sorry that he had made man on earth, and he was grieved at heart."
And later, after the deluge was over and done with, Gen 8:21, "When the
Lord smelled the pleasing odor, he said within himself, "never again will I
curse the ground because of man, even though his thoughts and imaginations
are evil from his youth upwards."

I think "thoughts and imaginations" is a nice little hendiadys, or
synonymous pair, or redundant expression (you pick the right term for it).
It is not an economical expression, to be sure, but it has a nice ring to
it, seems to round out to thoroughness the simple notion that the two words
together point to. And then the context of the verses in which this
expression is found is also illuminating. I believe that the KJV of these
verses actually phrases the main clause of both verses, "God repented that
he had made man," and again, "God repented ..." I've always thought that
the inspired narrator who penned this story centuries ago as well as the
KJV translators had a wonderful sense of humor as well as a profound
insight in phrasing the story in such a way that readers might glean that
repentance for mistakes and promising not to repeat them is truly divine,
even if ERRARE HUMANUM EST, and being divine, is surely deserving of human

But mark you well, this is a literary comment appended to this thread, no
more than that, and certainly not a theological perspective, which would be
inappropriate to this forum. ;-)

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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