PISTIS, KTL. (was "Re: Rom 12 19")

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Sun May 07 2000 - 07:38:16 EDT

At 3:02 PM -0600 5/6/00, Wayne Leman wrote:
>Carl reparteed:
>>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.
>True, my empiricist friend, but if you want to be one of the blessed:
>and PISTIS, well, you know that it's:
>who also finds it very hard to believe in what he hasn't seen

I think that Wayne understood my response to his suggestion of the term
"divine omission" to fall into two parts: one half that was altogether
serious (ORGH [hH TOU QEOU] as an instance of "hypostatization"; and
another half that was purely facetious in intent (about the difficulty of
coming up with an appropriate descriptive term for that sort of abbreviated

So far as the serious part is concerned, just a comment on subsequent input
on the matter after that message of mine: I applaud Steven LoVullo's longer
note as well as his response to Clay Bartholomew (re: 'Cabelese'). I think
Steven has hit the nail on the head with respect to the sense required in
the larger context within which Rom 12:19 is set. On the other hand, I am
still inclined to think that hH ORGH is an instance of "hypostatization"
rather than a deliberate abbreviation.

On the facetious part, I want to respond to Wayne's remarks; he did, I
think, understand my point well enough, but as others may possibly have
misunderstood our facetious exchange, let me indulge in a little off-topic
self-clarification: I am not an empiricist, although I have much more
respect for empiricists than I did when I was young and in terms of method,
I certainly think one ought to make the most of the evidence before
speculating (advice I readily give perhaps more often than I take it?); I
am really more of a skeptical believer attempting to distinguish as clearly
as I can (a) that about which I think I have informed opinion but not
knowledge and (b) that which I accept and act upon by faith, even though I
cannot prove it. I offer that statement about my own attitude strictly as a
personal declaration; it is NOT an appropriate subject for list discussion
although I might be willing to engage those who want to talk about it

On the other matters, briefly; first a couple of footnotes:

(1) Parmenides was certainly no empiricist--he's usually deemed the founder
of metaphysics and the discoverer of the law of contradiction. He noted how
people attempt to perform magic tricks with the existential ESTI and did
insist that you can only talk intelligently about What IS without
contradiction; he was generally thought to be denying that one could talk
intelligently about the world we apprehend by sense-experience.

(2) I don't have a big problem with believing what I haven't seen with my
eyes. Most of what I think of as probably true in terms of events happened
before I was born, and I don't think that the explanations themselves of
things I've seen are derived directly from things I've seen. I guess I'm a
Kantian to that extent.

And then something more weighty:

(3) The more interesting passage to which Wayne pointed was Hebrews 11:1
This is really a splendid text and we've had interesting threads on B-Greek
over how these phrases are best understood and most intelligibly conveyed
into English or whatever other target language. There's our word hUPOSTASIS
in the Greek--the source of the "hypostasis" I argued was the better way to
explain ORGH [hH TOU QEOU]--but in this instance it has to mean something
like "the basis for what we look forward to"--I really like that, as well
as the implicit metaphor of something on which to take a stand. The second
phrase, PRAGMATWN ELEGCOS OU BLEPOMENWN, is more difficult; I make is
something like, "the criterion by which we evaluate what we cannot see."
There might be better alternative versions of Hebrews 11:1, but if this
version be taken as an expression of what PISTIS means, then I have to say
that it's one that I can and do live with (i.e. en hHi).


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: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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