From: Carl W. Conrad (email@example.com)
Date: Fri May 26 2000 - 07:59:52 EDT
At 8:06 PM +0000 5/25/00, B.J. Williamson wrote:
>Passage: Hebrews 7:23
>Issue: use of Present tense
>KAI hOI MEN PLEIONES EISIN GEGONOTES hIEREIS,
>DIA TO QANATWi KWLUESQAI PARAMENEIN
>This verse has remained a bit curious to me.
>I wonder if others might share their insights concerning the use of the
>with emphasis on DIA TO KWLUESQAI.
The difficulty here is lessened if one bears in mind that the author of
Hebrews is currently contrasting the status of earthly priests and
high-priests with the heavenly high-priest, Jesus Christ. It would help,
therefore, to see the above verse in context with its continuation and
DE-clause in verse 24:
23 KAI hOI MEN PLEIONES EISIN GEGONOTES hIEREIS,
DIA TO QANATWi KWLUESQAI PARAMENEIN;
24 hO DE DIA TO MENEIN AUTON EIS TON AIWNA
APARABATON ECEI THN hIERWSUNHN.
There is the contrast therefore of hOI MEN and hO DE: the earthly priests
and the heavenly priests; then there is the parallel predicate:
--the priests PLEIONES EISIN GEGONOTES: "have been (very) numerous"
--Christ APARABATON ECEI THN hIERWSUNHN "retains his consecration
forever as one that cannot be altered"
and then finally there are parallel explanations of these predicates:
--the priests: DIA TO QANATWi KWLUESQAI PARAMENEIN: "because of their
being prevented by death from continuing (in their priesthood)"
--Christ: DIA TO MENEIN AUTON EIS TON AIWNA: "because he himself
The articular infinitives may seem awkward, but PARAMENEIN must be
construed with KWLUESQAI which is here passive; you might supply an
implicit subject of KWLUESQAI as AUTOUS (them = the priests).
The other interesting element here is the periphrastic perfect EISIN
GEGONOTES, where GINOMAI is the equivalent of EIMI, which has no perfect
tense form. Why not GEGONASI instead of EISIN GEGONOTES? Perhaps for a
rhetorical reason: with PLEIONES the plural participle GEOGONOTES suggests
the plurality of the priests in their priestly status generation after
generation, dying and being replaced by new priests--in contrast to Christ,
who retains his priesthood without change.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
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