From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Feb 01 1998 - 07:33:13 EST

At 12:58 AM -0600 2/1/98, Eric Weiss wrote:
>In English the word "sting" can mean both 1) "a pain or wound resulting
>from stinging" and 2) "a sharp-pointed organ, as in insects and plants,
>that pricks, wounds, etc." (This second thing I would tend to call a
>"stinger" to distinguish it - the weapon - from the wound - the "sting"
>- it inflicts.)
>While it seems from BAGD and LSJ (Internet Perseus) that KENTRON
>primarily means 2) above (i.e., the sharp pointed thing that causes the
>"sting"), can it also mean the resulting sting itself as it does in
>I'm doing some work with I Corinthians 15:55-56 and am trying to
>"picture" how sin, death and the law are related in Paul's colorful
>imagery here - once I know what options I have for KENTRON, I can go to
>work on deciding what kind of genitives Paul is using here with KENTRON
>TOU QANATOU and DUNAMIS THS hAMARTIAS (I could use some help with this,
>too - though their syntactical(?) relationship could suggest that Paul
>would use the same kind of genitive for both - e.g., both would be
>subjective or possessive or source, etc. - need this be the case?).
>Just offhand, the TEV seems to give a nice meaning-based translation:
>"Death gets its power to hurt from sin, and sin gets its power from the
>law." Any comments on this rendering?
>On the other (off) hand, both F.F. Bruce's paraphrase - "It is sin that
>imparts its sting to death; it is the law that gives such power to sin,"
>and Ronald Knox' translation - "It is sin that gives death its sting,
>just as it is the law that gives sin its power," use "its" somewhat
>ambiguously so that I, for one, am not quite sure if they are saying
>that sin is imparting ITS OWN sting(er) to death or is giving death what
>is now ITS (death's) sting(er). Any comments here?

What came to my mind immediately, as I'm doing the Oedipus Rex with a class
for the first time in many years, is Sophocles' description of the blow
aimed at Oedipus at the fatal "place where three roads meet" by his
unrecognized father:

                        KAI M' hO PRESBUS hWS hORAi
        "And when the old man saw me walking alongside his car, he aimed
        carefully and came down at the middle of my head with a double goad."

The "double goad" here is explained by Jebb as "a stick armed at the end
with two points, used in driving."

A few other literary allusions seem to me not out of place here, inasmuch
as the insect sting analogy is central to the simile: (1) the sting of a
wasp (SFHX) is at the heart of the metaphor governing Aristophanes' biting
satire on the Athenian jury system entitled by the name of that insect, and
Cicero too, on at least one occasion, refers to the weapon wielded by a
jury in a criminal case as "an erect sting;" (2) the OISTROS, "gadfly," is
the affliction visited upon the maiden Io, whom the goddess Hera turned
into a cow and sent roaming round the world after she discovered that Zeus
was enamoured of the girl; one interpretation of this OISTROS is that,
quite apart from the pest suffered by domestic livestock, it is a symbolic
of the pain of childbirth (for the Io myth is closely associated with the
nature of woman as sexual victim, with the month and menstrual cycle, and
with the pain of childbirth); (3) Socrates in Plato's Apology uses the
OISTROS analogy to describe his own activity in Athens as goading the
people of Athens, a noble but lazy stallion that would rather sleep than
rise to heroic action, into self-awareness and moral reconstruction.

At any rate, the KENTRON is not without a rich literary history in the
Greek tradition.

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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