Re: ALLON & hETERON Luke 7:19,20 (Gal.1:6-7)

From: Mark D. Nanos (
Date: Thu Apr 01 1999 - 08:53:02 EST

> At 11:25 AM -0800 3/31/99, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>>In Luke 7:19,20 the manuscript evidence can be used in the service of
>>NT lexical semantics. The distinction between ALLON (another of the same
>>kind) and hETERON (another of a different kind) seems to have faded by
>>the NT period.
> I know that usage in the case of these is not the same in Koine as in
> Classical Attic, but there the difference is not what you've cited, Clay.
> Rather, the -TER- element in hETEROS means that hETEROS can only refer to a
> second of two items, whereas ALLOS means more generally "different."
> Carl W. Conrad


>The distinction between ALLON (another of the same kind) and hETERON
>(another of a different kind) is from Fitzmyer (Luke AB, p667) who may
>have borrowed it from Plummer (Luke ICC, page 202). Plummer accepts the
>reading hETERON in verse 19 supported by Aleph B L R X against ALLON
>supported by A B f1 f13 Maj.)

Ben Wrote:
> It doesn't seem to have faded away when Paul was writing to the Galatians:
> I remember as a schoolboy asking our Divinity teacher what that could
> possibly mean! I was doing Latin then, but not yet Greek; but even Latin
> didn't help. " aliud evangelium quod non est aliud..." (Vulgate).


>Plummer seems to agree with you on this and he cites Gal 1:5-6 in his
>comments on Luke 7:19. However, Fitzmyer says "In this period of Greek
>the two words were often used indiscriminately (see BDF #306)."


The appeal to Galatians (1:6-7) brings up the interesting issue of usage,
as Paul is involved here (I believe) in an ironic inversion of meaning. He
seems to be saying that this other message is not as good for yourselves as
you Galatians are mistakenly taking it to be: things are "in reality" not
what they "seem."

". . . to a different [hETERON] good news, which is not another [ALLO],
except [in the sense] that. . . ."

What those influencing the Galatians may proclaim as a message of good news
for the Galatian gentiles in their situation, even if (although not
necessarily) by expression of the very term EUAGGELION, Paul denounces as
incomparable to the good news of Christ. Even if a "different [hETERON]
good news," it is, in a word "not another [ALLO]," and those who intimidate
the Galatian addressees with this message are worthy of being cursed.

The uniform consensus among interpreters is that Paul's explicit
declaration of the hETERON EUAGGELION (other/ different/ another good news)
guarantees that the influencers proclaim a message of Jesus Christ
differently (e.g., faith plus circumcision) and that they call it as such a
good news of Christ, and thus that the Galatians addressed understand it to
be a good news of Christ. I am not convinced by this opinion limiting the
usage of EUAGGELION to the message of Christ, but that is not the topic
herein addressed. Nevertheless, the interpretive freight this contrast of
hETERON and ALLON are here asked to carry is interesting to note (I am not
suggesting that this is implied by the comments to which I now respond).
For example, Burton (Galatians, p. 22) notes:

"That Paul calls the teaching of his opponents in Galatia a different
'gospel' doubtless reflects the fact that they claimed for it the name
'gospel,' 'good tidings'; they may even have described it in contrast with
Paul's preaching, as a different gospel, hETERON EUAGGELION."

Likewise, when James Dunn discusses this issue he notes that the word
"'Gospel' is a still clearer example of how the infant Christian movement
was developing its own technical vocabulary to express the wonderful new
thing that had come to them," then stating:

"The fact that Paul uses the Christian technical term for "the gospel" also
is clear indication that those whom he was about to attack were also
Christian missionaries. He calls their message "another gospel" because it
was significantly different from his own; but he calls it "gospel" because
that was the term they no doubt also used in their capacity as missionaries
like Paul." (Galatians, pp. 41-42)

An examination of the lexical definitions undermines such certainty. The
adjective or substantive ALLOS is common in literature of the period for
"other" or "another," as in" different" from that to which it is compared,
though no value judgment is necessarily implied. There is this one or that
other one; one or another. It is used even to distinguish or enumerate a
list (e.g., 1 Cor. 12:10; 15:39, 41): another one is red, another one blue,
another green, and so on, and scribes when copying sometimes simply
substituted numbering for clarification. The adjective or substantive
hETERON also means "other" or "another," indicating a difference or
contrast, or, as for ALLOS, it can merely indicate reference to the next
item in a list (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:40).

When used together in the same sentence or thought pattern, as here in Gal.
1:6-7, their use may be entirely synonymous and interchangeable, often
providing color to an otherwise redundant use of either one (BGD). This is
the case, for example, in Aristotle (Politics 4.1291b19ff.; 1300b20ff.),
and for Paul in 1 Cor. 10:29; 12:8-10; 15:39-41.

Aristotle, Politics 4.1300b20ff., offers an interesting example which
combines both these terms, enumeration, and other conjunctions in setting
out a list. In this case he begins a list of eight items by enumerating
"one," then uses "another [ALLO]" instead of two, followed by "another
[hETERON]" for three, he enumerates items four and five, and then for six
through eight he changes again: "and beside these" for six; "and" for
seven; "and beside all of these" for eight.

The use by Paul of the two synonymously in 1 Cor. 10:29 to refer to the
other person's conscience is telling: "I mean not your own conscience, but
the other ones [hETEROU]; for why is my freedom judged by another's [ALLHS]
conscience?" The word order is even the same as in Gal. 1:6-7, which may
indicate a common idiomatic order or Paul's preferred idiom (cf. 1 Cor.
14:17-19; Lk. 22:58-59; but opposite order in Matt. 16:14; Acts 14:12; Heb.
11:35-36), however, against this is possibly is the order in 2 Cor. 11:4,
although three items are listed there. Paul's interchangeable usage
provides an important example, as the various gifts ( 1 Cor. 12:8-10) or
kinds of bodies (15:39-41) are being listed with no discrimination of
priority intended in his variation from ALLOS to hETEROS; in fact, in
12:8-10 it is the equal value of the different gifts that are clearly in
view, for if the use of ALLOS for some and hETEROS for others was
considered of lexical significance here, then Paul's entire point would

Of course the same kind of variety is noted in translations when only one
of these is used, because such variety is similarly common in English to
break up what would otherwise be too repetitious or just awkward, though
with no value judgment necessarily intended between the items; for example,
John 4:37, where ALLOS. . . ALLOS is rendered not "another sows, another
reaps" but "one sows, another reaps," or Acts 2:12: ALLOS PROS ALLOS,
"another to another," translated rather as "one to another."

In spite of their interchangeable nature, much has been made of these two
words in the interpretation of this passage. Ramsay maintained in reaction
to Lightfoot and the Revised Version translators that the gospel of the
influencers is essentially different in the sense that it is "not a second
example of the genus gospel":

"when the two words are pointedly contrasted with one another, hETEROS
means "a second," "another of the same kind," "new" . . . while ALLOS
implies difference of kind." (Galatians, p. 262)

        Burton demonstrates that the citations which form the basis for
Ramsay's distinction between these terms is insufficient for the case. He
admits that while ALLOS "may be used to express not simply non-identity but
qualitative difference" in Plato, to which Ramsay had appealed,
nevertheless, Burton (p. 421) points out that it is just as true for Plato
that these two terms when "standing in close connection may be synonymous."
Burton further demonstrates the synonymous quality by reference to the
parallel pairs or otherwise practically identical use throughout the
Scriptures (Gen. 8:10 and 41:3; Ex. 8:10 and 20:3; 1 Sam. 10:9 and Ezek.
11:19; Deut. 24:2 and 1 Sam. 10:6; Lev. 6:11 and 1 Sam. 28:8, Gen. 19:12
and Judg. 11:34; Matt. 16:14; 1 Cor. 12:10; Matt. 13:5-8 and Mk. 4:5-9
compared with Lk. 8:6-8).

However, on the basis of the use of ALLOS in Job 37:22; Dan. 4:7, 10; and
the regular use of THEOI hETEROI for "strange gods" whose worship is
forbidden, "which excludes the thought that they were conceived of as other
gods of the same class as Yahweh," Burton's conclusion moves away from
synonymity to emphasize the exact opposite reading from Ramsay:

"in so far as there is a distinction between the two words ALLOS is
enumerative and hETEROS differentiative." (p. 421)

Coupled with consideration of 1 Cor. 15:39-41, where Burton argues that
"ALLOS is used in the subject when simply enumerating the various kinds of
flesh; hETEROS in the predicate to affirm that they are different," he
concludes that Paul intended in our passage to distinguish the terms:

"for Paul hETEROS suggested difference of kind more distinctly than did
ALLOS and that the latter, in contrast with hETEROS, signified simply
numerical non-identity." (pp. 421-22)

G. W. Hanson has succinctly rephrased this influential conclusion:

"There is a hETEROS gospel (another gospel of a different kind), but not an
ALLOS gospel (another gospel of the same kind [1.6, 7])." (Abraham in
Galatians, p. 235 n 51)

This reading is now widely followed, but it seems too much for the evidence
to bear with respect to our passage in Galatians. Later in chapter 1, in
fact, Paul chooses hETEROS when he notes that on his Jerusalem trip to
visit Cephas he saw also James but none of the other apostles:

"But I saw none of the other [hETERON] apostles except James the Lord's
brother (v. 19)."

Burton himself notes that Paul's use here of hETEROS is "in the additional
or enumerative sense"; one wonders then why Paul did not employ ALLOS,
since Paul doesn't mean to imply any difference of kind between Peter or
James and the rest of the apostles. Combined with the investigation of
synonymous usage shown above, discrimination here is unlikely. I think it
is beyond the evidence and unnecessary when other rhetorical features are
considered which will provide the force for Paul's ironical play on these
symmetrical words.

Lexically, hETEROS and ALLOS simply do not seem able to carry the
interpretive weight they are asked to bear. I suggest that they need not.
They are present to play their inexplicable, semantically different yet
synonymous part in the delivery of Paul's ironic rebuke.

Mark D. Nanos

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