Re: Rom 12 19

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat May 06 2000 - 16:48:50 EDT

At 1:33 PM -0600 5/6/00, Wayne Leman wrote:
>>I for one would like to know more about what you call "divine omission,"
>Ted, I just made up the term on the spot, to refer to the Jewish practice of
>not uttering the name of G_d (YHWH), out of reverence for him.

Aw shucks, Wayne--just as I was about ask Carlton and Jonathan whether they
felt that it was reasonable to have a thread on "divine omission" on
B-Greek! I mean--after all, we keep insisting that the focus of B-Greek
discussion ought to be what's IN the text (no matter whether any individual
accepts the proposition that God wrote it directly or inspired it or a
human author wrote it), we just simply cannot carry on a discussion about
what's NOT in the Greek text.

But then you go on to invite alternative suggestions, and I say, if "divine
omission" won't do, then how about "omission of the divine"? But then we
would be faced with the grammatical question: in this phrase ought we to
understand "of the divine" as a SUBJECTIVE or an OBJECTIVE GENITIVE? Well,
then, if that's too ambiguous, how about "omitting the divine"? The problem
there, I fear, is that although it's intelligible, it's not really standard
English: I don't think we much care for gerunds that take direct objects,
whether they serve as the subject of such a sentence as "Omitting the
divine is a perilous thing to do" or "Religious people are not in favor of
omitting the divine."

Actually, I think the phenomenon involved here is sometimes termed
"hypostatization," the substitution of a noun referring to a major
attribute of God for the divine name itself. Perhaps this is native to
traditional Hebrew/Aramaic idiom, I don't really know; I've always supposed
it was distinctly Hellenistic and represented Greek influence: "Wisdom" =
"God's Wisdom" and although there's a peril, I suppose, of supposing that
"Wisdom" is not really identical with God, I think that she is thought of
as identical with God in Proverbs 8 even where she is spoken of
allegorically. And the next step is hO LOGOS; we can add TOU QEOU if we
feel so inclined, but we don't really feel any necessity to make that

Perilous waters, these. Parmenides once said we can only carry on
intelligent conversation about hO TI ESTIN, that there's no talking at all
about hO TI OUK ESTIN.


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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