From: Mark D. Nanos (nanos@gvi.net)
Date: Mon Jan 24 2000 - 09:59:13 EST

<x-rich><fontfamily><param>Geneva</param><bigger>Dear List,

I am seeking help for how to translate and understand hOI
PERITEMNOMENOI, by which Paul identifies those who are advocating the
addressees' circumcision in 6:13.

A list of the prevailing views found in commentaries with a few of my
own additional suggestions for possibilities (#'s 3-5):

1 Present middle causative, thus emphasis on the influencers' advocacy
of circumcision of addressees is the focus: "those who cause to be
circumcised," or "the ones causing receipt of circumcision," or simply,
"the advocates of circumcision."

2 Present middle permissive, which highlights the present sense of the
action with a passive twist, thus it could be translated as "those who
receive circumcision," "those presently getting circumcised
themselves," or "those who let themselves be circumcised."

3 Present middle habitual would signify a temporal habitual force at
work, "those who customarily circumcise," or "those who are customarily

4 Present middle concessive would focus upon the connection by
accentuating the exception that it involves, bringing to bear the
opening OUDE: "even the ones who are circumcised," or "even the ones
who circumcise."

5 Present middle circumstances attendant brings out the action of the
main verb, in this case, the accusation following that focuses upon the
connection between their identity by way of this substantive participle
and the undermining "revelation" that these ones do not themselves
"keep/guard" the Law, thus: "the ones who are circumcising," or simply
"the ones circumcising" do not "keep/guard" that which they would be
expected to thus hold most dear.

6 Present passive, thus emphasizing the influencers own receipt of
circumcision. This may be translated as "the ones who receive

7 Perfect passive, or hOI PERITETMNHMENOI, a variant construction
actually attested in a few important manuscripts (including [P46),
focuses on the condition which results from a previous action, and
would translate "those who have been circumcised," or "those in the
state of circumcision.

Are the above options the only ones that should be sorted through? And
following Carl's observation that passive is a form of middle, so
passive-middle perhaps, what difference might this make?

In this case it does seem that the active middle choice is redundant,
Paul has already said clearly that they "would compel you to be
circumcised," so why the substantive participle here in the next
verse," or is that just why, because it is the already defined

On the other hand, might not their own identity as circumcised, perhaps
even by choice (i.e., that they are themselves proselytes who now seek
the proselyte conversion of the addressees), be implied in this
participle, so that it is not a restatement of their advocacy as much
as of their culpability, which is what the rest of the verbal phrase
undermines. That is, that in spite of their indebtedness as circumcised
ones to observe the whole Law (5:3), which is living with the interests
of one's neighbor in view (5:14), that their advocacy of circumcision
of the addressees is a violation of this principle, since it is, in
Paul's view, a violation of what is in the best interests of these
gentiles, because it for them render's meaningless the death of Christ
for them as gentiles, representatives of the Nations. I mean to express
no judgement of whether Paul's judgement of these people or groups is
correct or not; I take his interest here to be a part of a larger
rhetorical discussion that would have to be considered.

Any feedback would be appreciated.


Mark D. Nanos

Kansas City


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