Re: 1Thess. 4:14, what about dia?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Oct 07 1997 - 11:37:51 EDT

At 9:12 AM -0500 10/7/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 08:59 AM 10/7/97 -0500, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>>At 7:58 AM -0500 10/7/97, wrote:
>>>Is it possible or likely that dia is used to show purpose in 1 Thess. 4:14?
>>> This much debated passage would be easy to understand if we could say "even
>>>so those who died for the sake of Jesus God will bring with Him."
>>What we have is DIA TOU IHSOU--a genitive case. I really think that if the
>>sense were "for the sake of Jesus" we'd have to have hUPER TOU IHSOU or, if
>>DIA is used, DIA with the accusative: DIA TON IHSOUN.
>Oops! I missed that! So disregard half of my earlier response, which was a
>sloppy mistake...but I still don't understand the interpretation "who have
>fallen asleep in Jesus", and it still makes sense to interpret DIA TOU IHSOU
>as "through the agency of Jesus". This is the interpretation of NAB, NRSV,
>Luther, and RSV:
>1The 4:14 (RSV) For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even
>so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Yes, it could be agency, DIA TOU IHSOU, but I'd construe the prepositional
phrase rather with the main verb AXEI than with TOUS KOIMHQENTAS.

I'm not sure what it is that you don't understand here, Jonathan. It is not
those who died for the sake of Jesus, but those who "sleep." In traditional
terms KOIMAOMAI is called a "passive deponent" but there's not really
anything at all passive about KOIMHQEIS; it means "having fallen asleep"
and is a standard rabbinical term for the dead who will be raised. But I
don't think hOI KOIMHQENTES would under any normal circumstances refer to
martyrs--to those who have died FOR THE SAKE OF Jesus. My understanding of
the context in 1 Thess is that these are members of the congregation who
have died natural deaths--but before the Parousia that they had been led by
Paul, when he founded the church, to expect very soon.

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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