[b-greek] Re: baptism for the dead - is thread needed?

From: David C. Hindley (dhindley@compuserve.com)
Date: Sat Mar 10 2001 - 08:58:38 EST

Paul Dixon responded to a message by Henryk Jedraszczak:

Henryk said: >>1 Cor. 15:29 speaks of 'hOI BAPTIZOMENOI hUPER TWN
NEKRWN'. The preposition is usually translated as 'on behalf of' or
'for the dead'. Well, I know it DOES have this meaning, too; yet I
doubt if this is the correct translation here, and the reason is that
you cannot be baptized in lieu of another person - everybody must do
it themselves<<

To which Paul replied: >>An assumption often made in this passage (1
Cor 15:29) is that Paul must be condoning baptism for the dead, since
he does not take time to condemn it. This assumption, however, falls
on its face. In this chapter Paul has already assumed several things
for the sake of argument, things which he clearly does not endorse,
even though not explicitly saying so. ... The point is the whole
context is that of argumentation by the sake of argument, or assuming
to the opponent's position to be true for the sake of argument in
order to show such leads to a contradiction.<<

This discussion does not seem to be centered on a grammatical issue
but rather the adoption of an explanatory framework upon which to base
a translation. As a result, this may be beyond the scope of this list.
I believe that there is a translation-list somewhere. Can anyone on
the list offer a lead for Henryk and Paul? I did not search the
b-Greek archives, but I believe that the URL has been mentioned here
several times.

Language wise, the pericope (passage) says what it says (well, at
least we can limit possible meanings to those that are consistent with
the range of definitions for words and grammatical constructions we
have seen used in other literature). It is part of the raw data we
work with as interpreters (or historians). But questions relating to
what the author meant by the passage, or how he wanted it to be
understood or perceived, etc., are matters of interpretation. When we
fit the passages to an interpretative framework, we are converting
data into "facts" within that framework.

Unfortunately, there are ten million possible interpretive frameworks.
One writer I have been looking at recently breaks the explanatory
process down to the levels of emplotment (a plot framework),
argumentative strategy, and ideological implication (i.e., how the
author/historian intends his literary product to be used). These
levels interact in a very creative manner. Plus, not only does the
reader/historian employ these techniques, the original author also
employed them when s/he constructed his/her narrative, requiring a bit
of deconstruction on the part of the interpreter.

No offense, but this really needs to be removed to a different forum.
The only exception I can imagine would be the presentation of evidence
of how contemporary writers used similar constructions or words, or
how later writers dealt with their grammatical/lexical interpretation
of this passage. These issues will cross over into the interpretive
sphere a bit (which is inevitable) but at least would be directly
related to the conventions of the Greek language involved in the
passage under consideration.


Dave Hindley
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

PS: Henryk, for a second language, your English is better than my
Greek will ever be! To others, sorry if I digressed too much ...

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