Re: THi ELEUQERIAi in Gal 5:1 (Doch Nochmals)

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Jun 08 1999 - 09:27:16 EDT

I won't copy out Daniel's post; those who are sufficiently interested can
read it in the archives.

For my own part I want to bring closure to this discussion of Gal 5:1. I am
more grateful than I can say for the research that Daniel Ria–o has
reported demonstrating beyond doubt (beyond mine, at any rate) that a
Dative of Purpose or Dativus Finalis did indeed exist in Greek, most likely
derivative from PIE usage. He has responded to my request for evidence that
there really was such a construction in Greek and that it is found with
verbs (after I complained that I felt the adnominal instances he had cited
were less probative for Gal 5:1. To be sure the adverbal instances cited
were early or Attic (Homer, Antiphon), yet they seem indisputable. I'm
still disturbed, however, at the lack of a parallel in Paul or elsewhere in
the GNT. As an adnominal instance Daniel previously cited Lk 1:45 (from the
LELALHMENOIS AUTHi PARA KURIOU. I think that in this instance one could
well argue that TOIS LELALHMENOIS is a common dative of the possessor: "and
blessed is she who believed that the things spoken to her from the Lord
will have fulfillment." I personally think that's better than understanding
the construction as, "and blessed is she who believed that there will be
fulfilment for the things spoken to her from the Lord" (although this
second version could still be understood as dative of possession.

My problem is that, although I was once (or so I thought) happy with the
reading "For freedom Christ has set us free ...", I am no longer so,
essentially because, the longer I think about it, the less sense it makes
to me logically; can freedom itself be the PURPOSE for liberation? Perhaps
in some Hegelian conception of Geistesfreiheitsgeschichte, and yet it
strikes me as a strange sort of abstract formulation that sounds far more
convincing if phrased in the language of German Idealist metaphysics than
in the considerably less contrived (though often enough less than
transparent) Pauline theological diction.

There still remains to me one hope of making sense of the text as the
UBS4/NA27 editors have constituted it; Brian Tucker himself raised it in
his most recent (but now somewhat dated) message on this thread:

At 3:52 PM -0400 6/3/99, Joseph Brian Tucker wrote:
>. . . The possibility of the purpose use might relate to Deissmann's
>discovery that THi ELEUQERIAi was used in the sacral manumission procedures
>of the day to emphasize purpose Light from the Ancient East, 326.

I AM intrigued by this and I'd like to know more. I am not close enough to
a decent library where I could check Deissmann's celebrated book. Could
anyone who has it in a personal library tell us a little more about this,
please? I ask this because it seems quite plausible that a dative of
purpose might be used with ELEUQEROW in a formula of manumission, and it
strikes me as a (rather!) thrilling notion that Paul could be quite
deliberately emulating a formula of manumission, in which case we might
translate Gal 5:1: "Christ has set us free to be free persons ...", i.e.
formula of manumission, then we would not need to fancy abstractions of
Hegelian metaphysics.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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