Re: Jude 1:3; KOINHS (intolerably LONG!)

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Aug 29 1998 - 08:11:36 EDT

Unless B-Greekers are particularly interested in this question, they might
do well to delete it right now; I've considered what I might delete from
the previous correspondence and I don't see how to do it.

At 8:50 PM -0500 8/28/98, Martin Gallagher wrote:
>(WARNING. This message contains mostly theology.)

Yes, and we're making an effort to keep discussion in this forum focused on
what we can reach some agreement upon regarding the sense and intent of the
Greek text; inevitably theological slants affect the way we read the Greek,
particularly where we can agree that there is some ambiguity in the Greek.
In the present instance, I really don't think there's much ambiguity in the
Greek, nor, apparently, do you, but yet we are at odds over the use of
KOINHS in Jude 1:3.

>You wrote:
>If KOINHS SWTHRIAS were to be understood as "profane
>salvation," then there would have to be some understood hIERA SWTHRIA,
>a "sacred salvation." But what would this mean?'s hard to see
>what sense "profane" would have in either place: the antithesis of
>'profane' is 'sacred'--but are we talking about a kind of
> that is profane rather than sacred?
>The 'profane' salvation or 'profane' faith is not something that is
>espoused by any teaching in scriptures, but it is clear by reading
>throughout the new testament that salvation and the 'true' faith was
>considered to be held solely by Israel, and thus a 'holy' or 'sacred'
>salvation and faith as seen from the perspective of the Israelites.
>The Gentiles had always been seen as unclean by Israel. Contact with
>Gentiles or association with them in certain circumstances made them
>ceremonially unclean, and in need of ritual 'washing' to be again
>When the concept of Gentiles being given salvation was presented to
>the Jews, they had a hard time accepting it. The council at Jerusalem
>was convened to discuss the 'new' happenings and how they fit into
>their present understandings.
>Paul speaks about this is Romans, especially in chapters 9 through 12.
>Also, the first part of his letter to the Galations addresses this
>Titus, being a Gentile, was pressured to be circumcised by the Jews,
>but did not feel compelled to do so. He was Paul's true son in the
>'profane faith', as he mentions in Titus 1:4. It was important for
>Paul to speak of this when addressing Titus, for this had been a key
>issue in their ministry.

Quite honestly, I don't understand what you're saying here. Are you
asserting that "Jewish Christianity" is "sacred faith" and "Gentile
Christianity"--that to which Titus adheres--is "profane faith"? It seems to
me that Paul has invested a fantastic amount of thought and effort to
demonstrating that any such notion is a false dichotomy--and in fact, I
don't see him ever, in any other NT passage that is deemed Pauline (whether
authentically or secondarily) where Paul talks about a "faith" being
"profane." At issue in much of the Pauline correspondence is whether real
FAITH is more or less authentic because the believer also observes the
ordinances of the Torah, and I don't see Paul ever budging to make any
concession on that point.

>Peter also spends considerable time convincing the Jews that the
>Gentiles were a part of God's salvation. This was a major disagreement
>between Peter and Paul. Peter had at one time been influenced by the
>Jews who did not want him to associate with the Gentiles, even after
>his revelation from God.
>It is conceivable that the phrase 'profane salvation' is one that the
>readers of Jude's letter are familiar. He addresses the fact that he
>was going to write to them about this salvation, and was diligent in
>his planning to do this. There was much discussion and debate among
>both the Gentiles and the Jews about what these new events meant, as
>evidenced in Paul's writings to the Romans.

It may be remotely conceivable, but I don't see any evidence for it. Where
does Jude indicate that he was planning to write about "profane salvation"?

>He decided to write to them about something different, however. He
>writes to them, and reminds them of what they have already known.
>God's plan of salvation was the same in their time as it had always
>been. The mystery of this salvation was not revealed until that time,
>but the truth of the faith had not changed. This is the same faith
>that had been given to Abel. By having this faith he was able to offer
>a sacrifice that was acceptable to God and which looked forward to the
>sacrifice of Jesus.

I don't see the relevance of this to the question of KOINH PISTIS.

>In other words, he asks them to not to fight against those that are
>teaching strange doctrine, but to fight for and align themselves to
>the faith that does not change. He urges them to remember that all of
>their knowledge of what God had revealed to Israel was still valid,
>and that any new revelations need to be interpreted on that basis.

Are you saying herewith that "Jude" is asking his readers/audience to fight
for and align themselves with a hIERA PISTIS that is essentially "Jewish
Christianity"?--i.e. a sort of Christ-centered faith that nevertheless
requires observance of the ordinances of the Torah?

>Translating KOINHS as 'shared' here does not make sense unless the
>first part of Jude 1:3 is considered to be a 'throw-away'. It is also
>difficult to understand why Paul would feel compelled to stress that
>his and Titus' faith is 'shared' between them.
>When KOINHS is translated as 'profane', these verses are shown to be
>integral to the meaning of the larger text.

I have to disagree respectfully. The text reads:


Rather freely, I make this: "Dear friends, in my intense zeal to write you
about the salvation that you share with us, I felt I must write and urge
you to contend on the side of the faith that was handed down once and for
all to the saints."

It seems to me that the two halves of verse 3 thus read are neatly
coordinated; I can't see any switch in the author's intent, as if he had
first considered writing about "OUR profane salvation" (what would that be?
a salvation that somehow is appropriate only to Gentiles?) but then decided
it was more important to exhort his audience to defend orthodoxy. Let me
try to rephrase the translation by substituting "profane" for "that you
share with us":

"Dear friends, in my intense zeal to write you about profane salvation, I
felt I must write and urge you to contend on the side of the faith that was
handed down once and for all to the saints."

To me this second reading seems as much an anacoluthon, a logical non
sequitur, as my first reading seems coherent and reasonable.

I have done an Accordance search and reviewed all the instances of
KOINOS/H/ON in the GNT. Here's what I've found:

The great majority of the instances in the GNT show KOINOS/H/ON used in a
pejorative sense, often with an associated verbal adjective AKAQARTOS/ON.
In Mark 7 Jesus denies that dietary behavior Jews deem a violation of
kashrut can defile a person (Mk 7:2, 5 show the word). In Acts 10:14 and
11:8 Peter insists that he has never eaten anything KOINON KAI/H AKAQARTON,
but in 10:28 he declares that God has made it clear to him that he must not
call any human being KOINON H AKAQARTON. In Rom 14:14 Paul prefaces his
discussion of conscientious differences between vegetarian and carnivorous
believers by saying, "I am assured in Lord Jesus that nothing is defiled by
itself, unless it is defiled in the eyes of that person who deems it to be
defiled." In Heb 10:29 the author speaks of the unspeakable behavior of one
"who has deemed defiled the blood of the covenant whereby he has been
sanctified." And finally, in Rev 21:27, we are told of the heavenly city
that "nothing defiled shall ever enter into it"

In Acts 2:44 and 4:32 hAPANTA KOINA ECEIN is the phrase indicating the
practice of communal property-holding in the Jerusalem church community.

Finally there are the two instances about which we are arguing. I frankly
do not understand how Paul can be using KOINHN in Tit 1:4 of a "profane
faith" in terms of which Titus is his "true child" (GNHSIWi TEKNWi KATA
KOINHN PISTIN). The antithesis of GNHSIOS is NOQOS, "bastard" or
"illegitimate." It doesn't make much sense to me that Paul should assert
that the KOINH PISTIS is the criterion by which he deems Titus his GNHSION
TEKNON, if KOINH here is supposed to mean "profane." The other passage is
Jude 3, about which I've already written that it seems to me that KOINH
hHMWN SWTHRIA makes sense only as "the salvation that we have in common

I've also checked the entries for KOINOS/H/ON in Louw & Nida; their
reading of the passages I've discussed above is consistent with what I've
argued above. The relevant ## are "53.39 KOINOS/H/ON; AKAQARTOS/ON::
pertaining to being ritually unacceptable, either as the result of
defilement or because of the very nature of the object itself (for example,
ritually unacceptable animals) - 'defiled, ritually unclean.'"; "57.9
KOINOS/H/ON: pertaining to sharing with someone else in a possession or a
relationship implying mutual interest - 'shared, mutual, common."; "57.99
ECW KOINOS: (an idiom, literally 'to have in common') to share with one
another equitably - 'to share, to share with one another.'"; "65.15
KOINOS/H/ON: pertaining to being of little value, in view of being ordinary
and common - 'of little value, relatively worthless.'" and "89.118
KOINOS/H/ON: pertaining to being in common between two or more persons -
'in common.' PERI THS KOINHS hHMWN SWTHRIAS 'about our common salvation'
or 'about the salvation which we have in common' Jd 3. It is also possible
to understand KOINOS in Jd 3 as KOINOS 'shared, mutual' (see 57.9)."

To any who have had the patience to read this out, I apologize for the
length, but it did seem to me that Martin was holding out for a very
strange understanding of KOINOS/H/ON in Jude 3, and the usage of this
particular word in the NT is indeed interesting to those with my kind of
philological warp.

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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