Re: One happy Barnabas

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Feb 23 2000 - 08:33:09 EST

At 8:06 AM -0500 2/23/00, Bart Ehrman wrote:
> The body of the letter of Barnabas begins:
>2 The righteous acts of God toward you are so great, so rich, that I am
>exceedingly overjoyed -- beyond measure -- by your most fortunate and
>glorious spirits; for such a firmly implanted grace have you received --
>the gift that comes from the Spirit! 3 DIO KAI MALLON SUGXARIZW EMAUTWi
>ELPIZWN SWQHNAI; for truly I see in you the Spirit that has been poured
>out upon you from the riches of the Lord's fountain. It is the sight of
>your face, which I have so long desired, that has so amazed me about you
> What to do with this beginning to v. 3? SUGXARIZEIN with the dative
>can mean to "congratulate," and so it's usually translated here. But it's
>hard to see how what he has just said in v. 2, or what he says here in v.
>3, that would make him want to congratulate himself (these are not his
>converts and he regularly claims, somewhat disingenuously, not to be their
>teacher, just one of the hoi polloi). So does it mean that he's rejoicing
>together with the recipients? That might make better sense, but then what
>to do with the EMAUTWi? Could it be going with ELPIXWN ("hoping in
>myself"/"hoping deep down"?)? Seems unlikely. But then it must be going
>with SUXARIZEIN, and so we're back to "congratulate myself."

Actually, I think this is barely a penny's'orth. The ending of the passage
you've cited makes clear, doesn't it, that the author (Barnabas or
quicumque) does feel intense satisfaction in his relationship with the
addressee--this opening reads almost like a love letter!--isn't he saying
that he feels personally blessed in his relationship with the addressee
because of the grace that has come upon the addressee and through him back
to "Barnabas"--so why shouldn't he "congratulate" himself. I suppoe that
SUGCAIRW or SUGCARIZW is somewhat like SUNOIDA used with a reflexive
dative. So to me at least this doesn't seem so unnatural: the author does
feel extraordinarily graced by what he perceives and appreciates in the
friend's appearance--and feels, evidently, that the relationship is one
that contributes even to his own salvation (SWQHNAI ELPIZWN). At any rate,

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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