From: Ben Crick (
Date: Wed Nov 25 1998 - 01:04:16 EST

On Tue 24 Nov 98 (10:25:13), wrote:
> I am a timid new user and a relative neophyte in the language. My
> question relates to the use of CEIROGRAYON in Colossians 2:14. Some
> sources state categorically that this refers to the Mosaic Law.
> Others indicate that it suggests some sort of bond signed by the hand
> of a debtor. The context seems to support the former, but I have the
> unpleasant sensation that I am missing something.

 Dear Bob

 You are evidently familiar with the discussion in Lightfoot's /Colossians
 and Philemon/. The problem seems to me to be the case of TOIS DOGMASIN.
 One might expect the genitive here, the "handwriting of the ordinances
 against us"; but the GEGRAMMENON implicit in CEIROGRAFON attracts the
 dative (of agent?).

 CEIROGRAFON indicates an autograph; a signature on a bond or a promissory
 note; or the signature on a receipt to a bill. This agrees with Philemon

 But it appears that the "autograph" is not Christ's underwritten signature,
 but the handwritten teachings of the Mosaic Law, which are "against us":
 compare the Decalogue, engraved by the finger of God (Deuteronomy 9:10).
 Alternatively, the reference may be to the title which Pontius Pilate wrote
 on the cross (which had been prepared for Barabbas); the handwriting hO
 GEGRAFA GEGRAFA was Pilate's statement of the capital offence of Christ:
 hO BASILEUS TWN IOUDAIWN (treason against Rome). This "crime" of Jesus was
 expunged by the shedding of his blood as he died upon the cross, PROSHLWSAS

 Early Greek commentators agreed that TOIS DOGMASIN (or EN DOGMASIN,
 Ephesians 2:15) refers to the doctrines of the Gospel as the /means by
 which/ (instrumental dative) the release from the bond was achieved. But
 the syntax is against this view. Jerome translates /delens quod adversum
 nos erat chirografum decretis quod erat contrarium nobis et ipsum tulit de
 medio adfigens illud cruci, etc/. /Chirografum/ is a Greek loan-word
 transcribed into Latin, and used as a legal term for any written contract
 or bond in Roman law; not just the autographed signature on it. So the
 Mosaic Law gets my vote, FWIW. It was the Mosaic Law that defined sin and
 disclosed offences (Romans 7:7-11); and it was the death penalty for our
 offences, thus disclosed, which Christ expunged with his blood on the Cross.

 Just my $0.02


 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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