Re: 1 Corinthians 7.26

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Jan 08 2000 - 10:15:28 EST

At 7:14 PM -0800 1/7/00, wrote:
> I am working on a sermon for the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany. The
>Epistle reading is 1 Cor. 7.29-31, but I have picked up at 7.25. In verse 26
>there is a double KALON and I am not sure how to handle the translation,
>since RSV only uses well once, and so do Robertson and Plummer, and Gordon
>Fee. Any suggestions?


Your question concerns repetitive phraseology in one of those Pauline texts
which I would personally prefer to explain in terms of loose,
conversational ("colloquial" if you prefer) style. The second clause (hOTI
KALON ANQRWPWi TO hOUTWS EINAI) conveys the substance of Paul's judgment
(NOMIZW), but the first one, which is expressed in acc. + inf.
construction, carries the essential reasoning explaining Paul's judgment.
Most translations quite simply compress the two clauses of the Greek into a
single clause conveying the sense of Paul's phrasing in neater phraseology.

More literally: "I think then that this is good in view of the imminent
crisis: that it is good for a person to be just as he/she is."

More freely: "It is my opinion then, in view of the imminent crisis, that
it is good for a person to continue existing in his or her current status."

There are of course other significant questions here that you haven't
asked; I do think that the compression of TO hOUTWS EINAI is
extraordinary--here EINAI has to be understood in its durative aspect--not
merely existence but continuing, ongoing existence--and hOUTWS appears to
be shorthand for all the different kinds of conditions that could define a
person's existence: marital status, citizenship, servitude/freedom, etc.,
but I don't know that anyone would guess this without the larger context
wherein Paul makes clear what he means by TO hOUTWS EINAI. I'm reminded of
Shakespeare's Macbeth: is it Macbeth or Lady MacBeth who says, "To be thus
is nothing, but to be safely thus ..."?

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

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