Re: 1 Cor 14:27--number agreement

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Tue Jun 23 1998 - 22:24:53 EDT

At 05:37 PM 6/23/98 -0400, you wrote:
>Since this has sat in my BG In-box for a week with no answer, I'll venture
>a response as something (as Jonathan puts it) "for the rest to shoot down."
>At 11:37 AM -0400 6/16/98, Trevor M Peterson wrote:
>>I've come out of lurking once again with more of a question than an
>>answer. In dialogue about 1 Corinthians 14, an acquaintance raised a
>>view I had never heard before, that he claims came from a Classics
>>scholar (so I'd be especially interested in comments from any of similar
>>TREIS refer to LOGOI (from v. 19) or to speakers (as most of the versions
>>seem to render it)? His arguments for LOGOI were as follows:
>Let me say at the outset that I think the DUO and TREIS refer to persons,
>not LOGOI. I'll respond to the specifics below, but let me say that my
>basic reason for this is that DUO and TREIS are identical in the nominative
>and [acusative], LOGOUS really ought to be spelled out if it were intended
>to be understood with DUO H TREIS. I would translate the whole verse
>LOOSELY as "And if there's to be any speaking in tongues, then it should be
>by pair or group of three persons, each speaking in turn, and a single
>person should interpret."
>>1) The singular TIS requires that only one person be in view as a
>>speaker, which rules out the possibility of two or three speakers.
>I think that's treating the logic too strictly; I rather suppose that EITE
>TIS LALEI GLWSSHI means, "If anyone (at all) speaks in a tongue ...," and
>then we must suppose Paul is willing to accept this possibility that
>SOMEONE may do it, but that he wants to LIMIT the extent of this activity
>in public worship, and so he says, "If anyone does it at all, then no more
>than two or three should do it at a time, and they should do it in turn,
>and there should always be a single interpreter." That's how I'd understand
>it. I will admit, however, and perhaps it is important that I state this
>clearly, that I understand Paul in this chapter to be urging that what is
>done in worship should be primarily in terms of shared intelligible
>experience rather than in the private mystical expression of individual

        Since one of Paul's major concerns in this section is for an orderly
worship service, we should understand KATA DUO H TO PLEISTON TREIS not as
of groups of two or three speaking at once but as two or three (at most)
messages in tongues in any single meeting. Note hOTAN SUNERCHSQE in v. 26
with the following enumeration of possible contributions to the worship.
The specifics on tongues in v. 27 come as a further explanation of what may
take place in the meeting with special reference to this gift and should be
understood with the context of v. 26. The KAI ANA MEROS which follows
KATA...TREIS also instructs along these lines calling for an orderly
presentation of any messages. The hEIS of KAI hEIS DIERMHNEUETO is most
probably the indefinite "someone" rather than instructions that there be
only one interpreter.

        I realize that my experience of worship services which contain elements
corresponding to the ones named here probably influence my understanding of
this passage, but I offer my observations on the text for whatever help
they may be.

David Moore

David L. Moore
Miami, Florida, USA
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