[b-greek] Re: 1 Cor. 14:28

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Fri Sep 15 2000 - 12:10:55 EDT

At 5:06 PM +0300 9/14/00, Tom Belt wrote:
>In 1 Cor. 14:28, Paul directs EAN DE MH hH DIERMHNEUTHS ("If there is no
>interpreter, let him keep quite"). Most seem to translate this: "If there
>is no interpreter." It is ambiguous, however (so claim a couple of
>commentators I've run across), and could be understood to mean "If he [the
>tongue-speaker of v. 27] is not an interpreter..." Exactly why
>(grammatically speaking) is it ambiguous, and just how ambiguous is it?


I really don't think there IS any ambiguity in this Greek text (and note
that what follows the MH is a present 3d sg. subjunctive, not a feminine
article). I think that the Hi following immediately upon the EAN MH must be
an existential "be" by virtue of its initial position; I think that if "If
he is not an interpreter" were intended, the word-order would be different,
the predicate word would precede the Hi; in my opinion, it would be EAN DE
MH DIERMHNEUTHS Hi, ... I guess it's not absolutely impossible for the Hi
to be a copula and a subject "he" identical with that of the foregoing, I
think it is rather unlikely.

>Secondly, in the event there is no interpreter (or the tongue-speaker is
>not an interpreter), the speaker is to keep silent in the church and speak
>hEAUTW KAI TW QEW ("to himself and to God"). In English this appears to be
>straightforward enough, but in Greek the two datives are different. Purely
>a matter of style? Or are we to understand the first dative heEAUTW as a
>dative of advantage and understand Paul to be saying, "...let him speak to
>God for his own benefit." I'm having trouble picturing how one would
>meaningfully "speak to himself" (i.e. "address himself") in a tongue. The
>dative of advantage explains this.

I don't see why it should be thought that the two datives are different;
the presence of the article in TWi QEWi doesn't make it other that a dative
of the person spoken to, as hEAUTWi appears also to be a dative of the
person spoken to. While I can appreciate the thought that a person really
can't talk to himself, I rather think it is a common enough phenomenon
(even without the speaking being in tongues!); I've even heard it said, "If
you want to get the right answers, you almost HAVE to talk to yourself!"
Then there's the Pharisee in the Temple in Luke's parable (18:10): hO
addressed both to God and to himself (I think it's pretty well acknowledged
that PROS hEAUTON and hEAUTWi are equivalent expressions).

>I was a member of B-Greek for a while several years ago but withdrew
>because I simply had not the time to follow up on the posts. It's good to
>be back, and I look forward to learning again.

Welcome back, Tom.


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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