RE: TO TELION 1Cor. 13:10

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri May 29 1998 - 19:38:41 EDT

At 6:38 PM -0400 5/29/98, Stevens, Charles C wrote:
>On 29 May 1998 at 3:01PM, Bill Strasshofer queries:
><<Since it is in the neuter, must it then refer to a perfect "thing"?
>Rather than a person (ie, Christ), group of people (ie, his church), or
>a concept (ie, love)? >>
>>From a very "little Greek":
>The KJV has "But when that which is perfect is come, than that which is
>in part shall be done away", which I think does a better job than the
>literal "the perfect" in the NASB you quote as well as in the old NAB
>I've got available. Given that he's talking in abstracts in these
>verses, I for one am not convinced that Paul can be demonstrated to have
>intended TO TELION to be interpreted as a person or as any one thing.
>Another way of saying what he seems to me to be getting at in this
>context is "When the perfect *anything* appears, the less-than-perfect
>equivalents or versions of that thing will fade away". Note that I'm
>not proposing that as a *translation*, but as my *interpretation* of
>this passage in this particular context.
>While a personification or a concretization of TO TELION here is a
>possibility, I wonder as to its likelihood.

For the record, it is TELEION, not TELION (although those who use a modern
pronunciation may feel that these are equivalent).

I'm inclined to understand this in eschatological terms of the distinction
between that which is "incomplete" and that which is "complete." The whole
section from 8-13 seems to me to be a set of contrasts between items or
qualities that are characteristic of this world-age and therefore
temporary, or transient, or partial (EK MEROUS). Moreover, one of the
Pauline themes of Christian growth is that it is a maturing process that
does not culminate until the Parousia. Those things that PIPTEI are not
going to carry over into the age to come; things that certainly will are
PISTIS, ELPIS, AGAPH; otherwise we are to look for transformations from
what is incomplete/imperfect to what is complete/perfect.

Needless to say (which is why I say it, of course), there's more than one
way to look at this question.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243 OR

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