From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Apr 18 1998 - 07:13:25 EDT

At 10:08 PM -0500 4/17/98, Edgar Foster wrote:
>How should we understand EIDENAI TI HN hUMIN EI MH IHSOUN XRISTON in 1
>Cor. 2:2? Is TI used in a relative or absolute sense here?
>E. Foster

The citation threw me at first because of the HN, whereas the text actually
reads EN--EN hUMIN, "among you." The TI is, of course, indefinite and
enclitic, "anything." I'm not exactly sure what your question is aiming at,
but I'll take a guess: does Paul mean, literally, that "Jesus Christ--and
him crucified" is the only thing at all that he knew when he began to
preach to those who became the congregation at Corinth? or does Paul mean
that when he began to preach in Corinth, his message focused solely on the
gospel of the crucified Christ?

If that's the meaning of your question, then I would go with the latter of
the two views above. EIDENAI construes with EKRINA, which I take to mean
that he made a decision initially (aorist 1 sg.) when he started his
proclamation in Corinth that the only assumption or basis of his preaching
would be "Jesus Christ crucified." I would understand that further strictly
within the context of Paul's account of his understanding of the situation
in the Corinthian church in 1:10-17 and statement the remainder of chapter
1 about divine wisdom and human wisdom. What that situation in Corinth
actually is and whether Paul understands what it actually is may be two
different things, but I read Paul's understanding of the situation as the
presence of a strong tendency among the Corinthian believers toward what
might be called an incipient 'Gnosticism,' some of the dominant elements of
which are: an elitism evident among some members who believe their
understanding (GNWSIS) is superior to that of others and that entails
ethical views of license to do as they please, regardless of the
consequences of their behavior for other believers, that also entails a
conception of religious experience as essentially private rather than
shared with a worshiping community, and that also entails a sense of
spirituality having no linkage to Jesus' death and resurrection as a
historical fact of salvific importance. These at least are some of the
elements that seem to me to be linked to each other in the course of the
whole letter as governing Paul's understanding of the fundamental problem
he confronts in this congregation. While all these matters may seem to be
remote from the passage about whose meaning you are asking, I think they do
actually constitute the context for what Paul is saying in the passage
immediately in question. In that light then, I'd say that Paul does NOT
mean that "Jesus Christ crucified" is absolutely the only thing he knows,
but rather he means that "Jesus Christ crucified" is the only basis for his
preaching to the Corinthians--he made no assumptions about the Corinthians
themselves or their background, social status, education, prior religious
experience or anything else. I think he means that the only assumption he
made (that's the sense I take of EKRINA EIDENAI TI = "I deemed that I knew
anything") is the centrality of the crucifixion of Jesus to the good news
that he preached.

Now, whether or not that corresponds as an answer to the question you were
asking remains open, but if it doesn't, then I trust you will clarify your
question more precisely.

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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