Re: Phillipians 2:1 PNEUMATOS - Big S or little S?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Sep 29 1998 - 06:57:11 EDT

At 6:13 PM -0500 9/28/98, Ben Crick wrote:
>On Mon 28 Sep 98 (14:22:04 +1100), wrote:
>> Am I correct in thinking that the phrase:
>> could be translated
>> 1) "if any fellowship of spirit" (ie our own spirits)
>> OR 2) "if any fellowship (with each other) that derives from the (holy)
>> Spirit"
>> OR 3) "if any fellowship with the (Holy) Spirit"

I find myself in agreement with Ben's preference, when all is said and
down, for alternative #3 above, but I am not satisfied with some of the
reasons he cites for it.

> All the EVV have capitalised "Spirit" at Phil 2:1; but the Vulgate has
> /si qua societas spiritus/. When the Holy Spirit is meant, the Vulgate
> usually capitalises /Spiritus/.

On this point, I think the upper case Spiritus instead of the lower case
spiritus is an editor's choice--perhaps a right one--but not a clear
indication of how the one producing the version understood the construction.

> I think that a clew could be found in that Paul's native language was
> Aramaic, and his major study was in the Hebrew Scriptures. So although
> writing in Greek, he quite often uses Semitic idioms, such as the
> "Construct Relationship" which comes across in Greek as a Genitive pair.

I certainly can't claim any definitive knowledge on this matter, but I am
inclined to doubt that Paul's native language was Aramaic. I would guess
that his primary language was Koine Greek (I admit that I personally have
doubts about the account in Acts of his study with Gamaliel in
Jerusalem--simply because I have difficulty reconciling that with what he
says in Galatians--but I don't want to argue that point here). I will agree
with Ben that there are Semitisms in Paul's Greek, but I don't think they
derive so much from his use of Aramaic as a first language, but rather from
his absorption in the Semitizing Greek of the LXX.

> Hebrew is short of adjectives; so the cognate noun is used in a Construct
> Pair. Instead of saying "spiritual fellowship", it comes across as
> "fellowship-of spirit", or as here, KOINWNIA PNEUMATOS, "fellowship
> of-spirit" (note the position of the hyphen). In the Hebrew NT, Franz
> Delitzsch puts /'iM HiThChaBRuWTh HaRuWaCh/. Root Ch-B-R in Hithpa`el
> means "to be joined"; hence "if [there is] fellowship of *the* Spirit"
> where Spirit is definite (HaRuWaCh): so Delitzsch thinks KOINWNIA PNEUMATOS
> is definite, even if anarthrous; and this indicates that in his judgment,
> Spirit should have a capital S, not a small s.

This is the point I would disagree with most sharply. I don't think this is
an instance of a Semitic construction where English might prefer to use an
adjective. Rather I think that the verb KOINWNEW and the noun KOINONIA tend
both to be construed naturally with a partitive genitive--and I think that
PNEUMATOS here is indeed a partitive genitive: it is what Paul expects the
congregation to which he writes to have a share of.

Ben then goes on to cite Lightfoot and Hendriksen AD LOC, and I think those
cited notes are right on target. The main point I'm arguing here is that
the genitive, in my opinion, is not a Semitism but rather a by no means
uncommon native Greek partitive.

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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