Re: 1 Cor 12:1-11

From: Maurice A. O'Sullivan (
Date: Fri Nov 06 1998 - 08:31:39 EST

At 04:12 06/11/98 -0000, you wrote:

This is my first attempt to post to the B-Greek list. I'm quite sure that
I'm not going about it in the right way. Please forgive me. Concerning the
significance of ALLWi and hETERWi in 1 Cor 12: The interchanging of
synonyms is most likely just an effort to avoid excessive repetition, as
several other B-Greeks have already opined. The pattern, however, is almost
certainly not an accident. The stylistic pattern ABAA AABA, or in its more
common form AB BA is a figure of speech common in Greek and Latin prose and
poetry. It's called a chiasm or chiasmus because of its resemblance to the
shape of the letter chi (cf. Odit...privatam luxuriam, publicam
magnificentiam diligit. 'They hate private extravagance, public
magnificence they love.') t.

You are quite right, IMHO, about the chiastic structure.

But I think, when you say:
>>This chiasm probably serves no purpose other than to give a pleasing
structure to the enumeration of the gifts. <<.
 you seriously underestimate the importance of chiasm in the oral
reception/transmission of the texts.

I know that this whole transmission question is a highly controverted one,
and I have no desire to open that particular can here <vbg> but in support
of your point that:

>>> Perhaps it even served as a mnemonic device for those who might have
cared to memorize the list << [ I would delete 'perhap' ]

 I cannot resist pointing out that Martin Hengel in his " Studies in the
Gospel of Mark ( London: SCM 1985 ) on p. 109: reports an interesting
example of the persistence of the memorized in the first few centuries of
our era:
We have a similar example from the early Christian communities ( it may be
that here things were fixed in writing but in that case the word handed
down by written tradition stuck as firmly in their heads as if it were oral
tradition ). A sermon was preached on the story of the paralysed man who
was let down through the roof on a bed or a couch. Jesus healed him and
said Take up your bed and walk (Mark 2:4-9) Instead of using the word
KRABATTOSj for bed or couch, the preacher chose a more refined one (
SKIMPOUS ). One of his congregation immediately called out Are you better
than the one who said KRABATTOS ? [ Sozomen I 11 PG LXVII col. 889 ]
Sozomen's History dates from c. 435, and the story concerns St. Spyridon,
bishop of Tremithus in Cyprus in the first half of the fourth century.
Spyridon was a peasant by birth --- as Sozomen revealingly remarks:
"He was a peasant, was married, and had children; yet was not, on this
account, deficient in spiritual attainments."
I _do_ like hat little word "yet", don't you? <g>

Spyridon, as bishop, attended the Council of Nicaea, though the incident
did not happen at that Council.


Maurice A. O'Sullivan
[ Bray, Ireland ]

" Blessed he that neither tastes
bitter wisdom from the Greeks,
nor spits out the simple words
of the men of Galilee!"

-------- St. Ephraim the Syrian

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:06 EDT