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

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Oct 07 1997 - 12:25:51 EDT

At 11:05 AM -0500 10/7/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 10:37 AM 10/7/97 -0500, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>>Jonathan Robie wrote:
>>>...but I still don't understand the interpretation "who have
>>>fallen asleep in Jesus"
>>I'm not sure what it is that you don't understand here, Jonathan.
>I may well be missing something obvious here, but I just don't understand
>how TOUS KOIMHQENTAS DIA TOU IHSOU can be interpreted as "those who have
>fallen asleep in Jesus". What would be the sense of DIA that can lead to
>that interpretation, which is used in these translations?
>KJV: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also
>which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
>NIV: We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God
>will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

Aha! Now I see, and now I remember that this is exactly what the KJV says:
"those who have fallen asleep in Jesus." And I really don't see how the
Greek text can possibly yield that meaning, which is why I said that I
think DIA IHSOU must construe rather with AXEI in the other clause. If DIA
IHSOU must construe with TOUS KOIMHQENTAS, perhaps the explanation offered
for this translation is that the fact that the dead are ONLY sleeping is
accounted for by the agency of Jesus. On the other hand, I've read
(somewhere or other) that standard rabbinical doctrine was that ALL the
dead "sleep" until the day of resurrection and judgment--and only AFTER
judgment do those condemned in judgment go to their everlasting doom. I
don't want to get into eschatological doctrine itself here; but the
fundamental question of what DIA IHSOU can mean here does seem to me to
depend on the sense in which DIA IHSOU could possibly modify TOUS
KOIMHQENTAS--and that may just possibly depend on the eschatological
assumptions underlying what Paul is here saying.

I can only repeat, however, that I really don't see how DIA TOU IHSOU with
KOIMHQENTAS can mean what either KJV or NIV conveys it to mean. I'm not
saying that KJV and NIV are wrong, only that I don't understand how they
can construe the Greek to mean that.

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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