[b-greek] Re: question about James 4:1-2

From: Steven R. Lo Vullo (doulos@chorus.net)
Date: Thu Nov 23 2000 - 20:41:31 EST

On 11/23/00 5:56 PM, Rob Somers wrote:

> Firstly, in James 4:1...

> I am assuming that James is addressing a sort of a general audience (or
> at least more than one person) because of EN hUMIN --- but what about
> at the end of the verse -- EN TOIS MELESIN hUMWN --- is this
> referring to members of the church (as a general statement), or does it mean
> members of the body (more specific) where the pleasures wage war?

Hi Rob,

If the other uses of MELOS in James are any indication of the meaning in
James 4.1, then the parts of the body of are in view. Note the following:

James 3.5 So the tongue is a little member [MELOS] and boasts of great
things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!
James 3.6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among
our members [EN TOIS MELESIN UMWN], staining the whole body, setting on fire
the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.

This last example seems to be significant, since it is exactly the same
prepositional phrase as we find in 4.1 (EN TOIS MELESIN hHMWN), except that
we have hHMWN (1st person) instead of hUMWN (2nd person), and clearly
equates "the members" with "the whole body."

In addition, we do have the examples in Paul of the same prepositional
phrase (with differences only in the person of the pronoun) clearly used of
the parts of the body in similar contexts as that of James' discussion:

Rom. 7.5 While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by
the law, were at work in our members [EN TOIS MELESIN hHMWN] to bear fruit
for death.

Rom. 7.23 but I see in my members [EN TOIS MELESIN MOU] another law at war
with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells
in my members.

Especially significant is the metaphor of "war" that James 4.1 and Rom 7.23
share in common (STRATEUOMENWN, James 4.1; ANTISTRATEUOMENON, Rom 7.23.

> Secondly, in James 4:2

> The question here is one of punctuation. Robertson, in his "word Pictures
> in the New Testament" likes to translate the first portion something like
> this (at least this is my understanding)
> "You lust, and you do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot
> obtain, and (as a result) you fight and war."

For the life of me, I cannot see how an indicative verb following another
indicative verb, with no marker of result whatsoever, can be viewed as a
result clause, unless this is a very strange and awkward case of asyndeton.
If FONEUW were a participle, we could understand it as a participle of
result. Or if it were an articular infinitive governed by, say, EIS, we
could conclude result also. At the very least, we would expect an indicative
expressing result to be preceded by the conjunction hWSTE. Also, the KAI
between FONEUETE and ZHLOUTE seems very awkward if we follow Robertson's
suggestion, marking a much harder break than would be expected from the
context. I think the UBS punctuation is correct, as are the translations
that follow such punctuation, whatever textual tradition they may follow

Steve Lo Vullo

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