Re: Some Light Upon Galatians

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Mar 06 2000 - 08:18:46 EST

At 9:00 PM +1100 3/4/00, Ward Powers wrote:
>B-Greekers all,
>My weekly Bible Study Group on the Greek NT is currently travelling through
>At the commencement we noted the two views about the chronological
>provenance and destination of this Epistle (the South Galatian and North
>Galatian hypotheses), and the difference that is involved in regard to the
>dating of this Epistle, both absolutely and also in relation to the Council
>of Jerusalem, and Paul's participation therein.
>Part of this total question is whether the three years and fourteen years
>of Galatians 1:18 and 2:1 respectively are concurrent or consecutive. And
>this is where the Greek comes in. And it is the Greek I am raising for
>discussionm, not other factors outside the ambit of b-greek.
>We noted that 1:18 read EPEITA META TRIA ETH, which is what we would have
>expected for "then after three years". But 2:1 is differently worded:
>EPEITA DIA DEKATESSARWN ETWN, which looks rather like "then through
>fourteen years".
>My Bauer does list a meaning of DIA plus genitive as "to denote an interval
>after" (Meaning II,2), and this is where it includes Gal 2:1. But it also
>notes the meaning of DIA plus genitive, in relation to time, thus: "to
>denote extent-a. in the case of extension over a whole period of time, to
>its very end, through, during"; and gives examples which mean "through
>the whole period as stated".
>Now here is my question: is this expression in 2:1 synomymous with the META
>expression in 1:18, so that they are alternative ways of saying exactly the
>same thing (differing only in the period of time to which they refer); or,
>is the change of expression to convey a difference of meaning, so that the
>fourteen years goes "through" the period which includes the three years?
>That is, in this latter case, the fourteen years having the same starting
>point as the threee years?
>I incline towards the latter. That is, I tend to the view that the change
>from META to DIA is deliberate and significant, and DIA plus genitive is
>not just being used as an alternative with identical meaning; and that the
>point of the use of DIA is that this latter period of time (the fourteen
>years) runs "through" the previously mentioned period of three years, so
>that they are concurrent.
>B-greekers, what say you upon this point of Greek usage? Can you throw some
>light upon this section of Galatians?

For my part, I must say that I really think the two constructions ARE
pretty much synonymous. Here are a couple pretty good instances where DIA +
genitive refers to the end of an interval of time:

OIKWi ESTIN (I think this means something like "and after his return to
Capernaum a report went out after a few days that he was at home (or in a
house)" I suppose it could be argued that DI' hHMERWN means "over the
course of several days" but I don't think that's the sense.


Of course there are examples also of DIA + genitive of time where the
entire interval of time is being referred to, but the sense "after an
interval of x days/months/years" doesn't seem unusual. Although the
phrasing is different, the same idiomatic reference to a point in time
following an interval seems involved in German "heute in acht Tagen" = "a
week from today."


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 WWW:

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