Re: The hUMWN variant in 2 Cor 6:11

From: Harold R. Holmyard III (
Date: Thu Apr 06 2000 - 11:36:21 EDT

Dear Paul,
    As I read your post, I am impressed by your seriousness, use of the OT,
ingenuity, attention to textual criticism, concern for context, and
diligence. However, I still find the overall proposal for 2 Cor 6:11-13

Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians! Your heart has become enlarged.
You are not being crushed by
us; you are being crushed by your inward parts, the corresponding penalty!
- I am speaking as though to
children. You yourselves must also grow larger!

First, you have the word PLATUNW ("enlarge"and "grow") mean two entirely
different things within a couple of sentences. In verse 11 you understand
the verb with reference to a pride involved with idolatry. But if the heart
of the Corinthians is enlarged for that reason, then is the solution
further enlargement (v. 13)? It would seem necessary for the apostle to
qualify this term more specifically the second time that he uses it if he
means for it to have a different sense in verse 13 than in verse 11.
Second, in the first use of the term you seem to be mixing two ideas, an
enlargement from pride and an enlargement of the stomach due to eating.
This is possible, of course, but it makes for difficulty when the term has
yet a third sense in verse 13. Third, I have not seen STEVOCWREOMAI used of
overeating. It could be, I suppose, but it would be good to see another
example. Fourth, I have not seen SPLAGCNA used of the stomach. Do you have
any examples of this usage? Fifth, the normal cure for overeating in
children would not be more physical growth; it would be less eating. This
fact lends an unreality to Paul's wordplay in verse 13 according to your
proposal. Sixth, your construct suggests a number of allusions or special
meanings for words in 6:11-13 which Paul does not clarify. The reader would
be expected to have an intuitive grasp of densely allusive material. You
find clarification in the context and in LXX word usage, but I do not
really find your interpretation self-evident from the context.
     While the effort to find a consistent sense for the textual variant is
admirable, the currently favored reading seems more appropriate and natural
given the easy interpretation that is available for it. The relationship
between Paul and the Corinthians is a big issue in the epistle. Paul has
been dealing with it in the whole first part of the letter, where the
doctrinal sections reaffirm the purpose of Paul's ministry. This issue will
dominate chapters 10-13. The warning of 6:14-18, which you rightly
associate with idolatry, also may have some connection to the false
apostles of chapter 11:13 who are pulling the Corinthians away from the
truth. They are Satan's counterfeit of Paul, and the whole letter is an
appeal to and for the heart of the Corinthians from one who has
demonstrated his love to them by bringing them the Gospel. The traditional
understanding of 6:11-13 suits this context well.

                                        Harold Holmyard

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