Re: 1 Cor 14:31

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Oct 15 1997 - 19:10:12 EDT

At 5:09 PM -0500 10/15/97, Andrew Bromage wrote:
>G'day all.
>I'm interested in 1 Cor 14:31. This always used to look like a
>commandment to me:
>However it seems to syntactically imply that DUNASQE PROFHTEUEIN even
>though it pragmatically doesn't (because of, for example, 1 Cor 12:29).
>My problem is that the the lexicon definition of DUNAMAI is about
>_ability_ rather than permission. I also looked up the NIDNTT and it
>didn't seem to shed any light on the problem.
>Looking through English versions, modern translations invariably
>translate DUNASQE as "you can", which doesn't really help since the
>distinction between "can" and "may" is blurred in modern English
>idiom. The KJV uses "ye may" (which what I read it as meaning in
>context) and Young's uses "ye are able", unsurprisingly using the more
>literal definition.
>I assume that there is a Greek idiom at work here. Can anyone help
>me out with it? Can it be characterised succinctly? Does it appear
>elsewhere in the NT?

I don't think that "you can" is WRONG for DUNASQE; it's just that "you can"
in colloquial English tends to mean "you may." I think the ambiguity would
be removed altogether if DUNASQE were to be conveyed as "you have the power

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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