[b-greek] Re: What To Do With PNEUMATIKOS

From: Frank Gee (frankrgee@outpost.net.au)
Date: Tue Oct 09 2001 - 09:10:40 EDT

Dear List members,

I hope that the topic which I now again address is not passe; I note it has
not yet been closed.
I raise it again for three reasons: some thanks; then an answer for David
Thiele, and a comment for Iver Larsen

First, to thank those who responded so positively to my first excursion onto
the List, including Carl Conrad, who graciously refrained from identifying
the culprit of my orthographic solecism (a term which avoids the
embarrassment of having to admit I got the spelling of PNEUMATOS wrong!)

Secondly, to comment on a question raised by David Thiele (5/10/01 8.21am),
to which I can find no response so far on this List.
 In response to a posting from Ward Powers, David wrote:
>The context as you have outlined contains references to "working" and
"ministries", etc.
>However, of the words you highlight in I Cor 12:1-7 only one is a
>neuter plural. Why is it necessary to by-pass a perfectly suitable
specific neuter plural noun
>in the context in favour of something more general? That strikes me as the
wrong approach.
>Seeing as this form of PNEUMATICOS can qualify any neuter plural noun
>(providing sense results) why go past CARISMATA--especially seeing as using
>these two words does provided for a plausible exegesis of
>the entire chapter?

I hope that others more learned than I may give some attention to this.

In the meantime, a couple of comments for David, FWTW:

I think it's true to say that identity of GRAMMATICAL gender should not be
be confused with the indication of
co-reference. (By co-reference I mean having two words or phrases
referring to the same entity or idea.)
In other words, while it's true that adjectives should AGREE in
(grammatical) number and gender
with the nouns they qualify, and relative pronouns behave similarly,
grammatical gender is quite irrelevant for ANAPHORA (ie referring back to a
previously mentioned referent, or item), at least where the co-referring is
by items of the same grammatical category. (In the example under
discussion, we have a noun or nouns possibly referring back to another
noun-equivalent, TWN PNEUMATIKWN.)
Consider the following sentence as an example demonstrating this principle:
      What is important to note is that the noun PAIDIOU and the anaphoric
pronoun AUTHi both refer to the same person, namely the girl raised from
death by Jesus; but the grammatical gender of PAIDION (-OU)
is neuter, whereas the pronoun pointing back to the same referent (the girl)
is grammatically feminine. (In other words, grammatical gender is
irrelevant for determining anaphora.)

Incidentally, CARISMATWN is NOT the only neuter plural in I Corinthians
12:4-7! Another is found in verse 6: ENERGHMATWN. If we want recognition
for a "perfectly specific neuter plural noun", why pass over this one?

Now as I have demonstrated, the working principle you have sought to use is
unsound. What is important in determining co-reference is not the
accidental features of grammatical gender; instead, we must look to the
semantic function of words we're examining. In this example, what we must
look for is words which fulfil the same semantic Case-function (or "slot")
as the phrase TWN PNEUMATIKWN. We could call this an [Abstract
Substantive]. Where else do we find words or phrases which fill similar
functional slots as that phrase?
There are FOUR candidates, found in verses 4, 5, 6 and 7: DIAIRESEIS
their summarising equivalent in verse 7, ie hH FANERWSIS.

I'm intrigued with your desire to find "a perfectly SPECIFIC neuter plural
noun", and your dislike for "something more general". I wonder what
presuppositions may inform that preference?
Paradoxically, perhaps, that word "specific" may point us in a useful
direction for understanding these verses.
Here's a simple (but I believe arguable) way of outlining the flow of
        Verse 1: The general topic is introduced - PERI TWN
        Verses 4,5,6: Specific categories within the general topic are
                                DIAIRESEIS CARISMATWN; DIAIRESEIS
        Verse 7: Summary of the three categories above: hH FANERWSIS
                             This verse acts as "bridge" to the following
verses which spell out more specific instantiations
                            of those three categories mentioned earlier,
and in the process develop the topic introduced in
verse 1.

David, I hope this may be of some help to you. If you haven't yet had a
close look at my posting on 3/10/01 8.06pm,
it examines in some detail the relationships among the various significant
noun phrases in these verses, from a Discourse Analysis point of view,
seeking to give reasonably close attention to matters of structuring and
No one has so far suggested any linguistic detail in attempted refutation of
it, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
(As we're all supposed to refrain from theological admonitions in this
language-study forum, I may be safe in making that last dexterous comment.)

My third purpose in writing is to scratch a couple of itches induced by
Iver Larsen's interesting response to my posting of 3.10.2001, which he made
in his posting of 4/10/01 6.59am:

Thank you for your intriguing comments about Hebrew circular patterning. I
want to ask you more about that, but off-list, because it would probably
take us beyond the boundaries of this forum.
One part of your otherwise very helpful message left me a little troubled,
though, about how we are to make proper use of such an understanding: I
have a concern about methodology here, lest we fall into the wrong kind of
"circularity", which in some of its forms can amount to eisegesis. (MH
GENOITO, as our beloved Apostle would say!)

Referring to I Corinthians 12: 1-7, you wrote:
>Below I shall suggest a circular structure which relates the first item in
>each circle, so that the following three words are structurally linked

What principle of linguistic analysis could offer us grounds for giving
special preference to any word, just because it happens to occur FIRST in
some unit we have isolated for attention? This seems to me quite arbitrary.
Now if we were following what I think you have called a "Western, linear"
thread of text patterning, it's just possible that such an approach might
have validity. We'd still be obliged to demonstrate by close analysis of
textual features within the various units that the chosen words do indeed
have thematic prominence, indicating our working principles as we did so.
But this is not what you claim to be doing. If we want to analyse what I
think you have called a Hebrew-style, circular development of the argument,
then I believe what we should look for in each unit (or circle of context?),
such as verses 2 to 3 and then 4 to 6, and so on, is the semantic CENTRE
of that unit, with proper attention to its structural exposition via
observable syntactic patterning.

In this case as it happens, when one displays the relevant substantive
PHRASES IN FULL, in verses 4 to 6, (as I have done above in my answer to
David Thiele - qv), rather than isolating a single word, the coordinating
function of the parallelism in those verses just about leaps off the page
to show how strongly Paul's language is grouping these three items together,
and giving them similar focal status.
(I'm referring to the three noun-phrases each beginning with the word

Applying your own worthwhile axiom that "the closer the context, the more
significant for exegesis", I hope it may be increasingly clear that only by
doing real violence to the logic of the structuring of these verses could we
single out just one word (CARISMATA??, DIKONIAI??, ENERGHMATA??) as
the focus of reference back to verse 1.
The smallest/nearest context for the word CARISMATA is the noun phrase in
which it occurs. But the first word of that phrase (DIAIRESEIS)
inextricably binds CARISMATA into the next-nearest context, namely the unit
bound together by the coordinating structure of the three parallel phrases
to which I have drawn attention. So if we follow the linguistic clues
empirically, we must give full weight to the integrity (or totality) of
verses 4 to 6 as the second contextual circle. The shaping of the unit
tells us that its semantic centre is in fact distributed throughout a
quasi-trinitarian framework. There is no principled basis for extracting
just one word as the focus of this particular whole.
Instead, could I point you to the simple structural schema I proposed for
12:1-7 in my comments to David, taking up the idea of movement through those
verses, from "general" to "specific" and back again (and so on, actually).

My dear new friend (as I hope I may call you), Iver,
if we really apply the desirable principle of attention to context with any
genuine rigour, we may find some results which are surprising. (I've
certainly been surprised!) What I don't any longer think we shall find is
encouragement from the text itself to hold onto some sort of equation of
TA PNEUMATIKA with CARISMATA alone. Nor, I suspect, will we find any
substantial support for "spiritual gifts" as a translation even for
CARISMATA in verse 4, let alone for PNEUMATIKA/OI(?) in 12:1.
(I'm aware that I haven't argued through the matter of the TRANSLATION of
CARISMATA as such. My concern has been with our methodology for linguistic
analysis/exegesis. For the translation issue I'm content to point to Ward
Powers' comment on it in his two Responses of 4/10/01, at 9.53pm and

May I say that I have been very impressed to see the way that you and others
in this forum are prepared to modify your ideas as new viewpoints are put
forward. I have the greatest regard for those engaged in the exacting work
of Bible translation. Indeed, their efforts and those of SIL are what
inspired me to start the postgrad research project I am at present working
on (about Text Linguistics/DA, and in particular the potential of
Tagmemics as a set of tools for exegesis). This emboldens me not only
to draw upon your help via questions, but also in a friendly way to cross
mental swords with you, as above. I hope this process may sharpen the
somewhat rusty linguistic skills I seem to remember I once may have had, and
help me in that research project I am working on.
Thanks for your willingness for such engagement. If ever I should cause
offence through my re-awakening enthusiasm in this field, I hope that you
and others will understand I would not want it so.

NUNI DE PERI TWN PNEUMATIKWN, ADELFE, - this time in 14:1! May I
shake my little sword once more in your direction?
As this posting is already approaching the over-long, I only here issue
notice of combat, challenging you to defend your disinclination to
reconsider the interpretation/translation of TA PNEUMATIKA in 14:1. The
battle itself will be joined in another missive, if you are willing to do
me the honour.

Frank Gee
Old minister at Jamberoo, NSW, Australia
Fledgling research student with the Australian College of Theology


----- Original Message -----
From: Iver Larsen <iver_larsen@sil.org>
To: Frank Gee <frankrgee@outpost.net.au>; Biblical Greek
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2001 6:49 AM
Subject: RE: [b-greek] Re: What To Do With PNEUMATIKOS

> Frank Gee said:
> <snip>
> > B. A text-linguistic approach to this question will encourage
> > us to weigh
> > the co-text(s) of this phrase, from close at hand to the wider-ranging
> > co-texts in this epistle. For example:
> > CO-TEXT 1: Verses 2 and 3.
> > It seems to me that Peterson's version (together with others suggesting
> > wider semantic field for TWN PNEUMATIKWN) provides a smoother
> > transition to
> > the statements in verses 2 and 3, which otherwise would seem to
> > constitute a
> > rather jarring interruption to the flow of thought, especially the first
> > part of verse 3. A "wider" understanding of TA PNEUMATIKA
> > might provide a
> > referential context able to accommodate the curse-utterance there
> > to, which despite all the ingenuity of commentators I find hard
> > to reconcile
> > with or conceptualise within the practice of any Christian
> > actual exercising of "spiritual gifts".
> > CO-TEXT 2: Verses 4 to 7.
> > I haven't had the time to look at commentaries on this, but my tentative
> > observation goes like this:
> > Structurally verses 4 to 6 consist of three adversative "sentences"
> > coordinated by the conjunction KAI. The second clause in each of
> > these both
> > contrast with the preceding concept of variations and provides
> > the unifying
> > theme of the working of the (same) Spirit/Lord/God (a great Trinitarian
> > formula??).
> > What is interesting to me is that the surface-structure coordinating of
> > (the first parts of) these sentences suggests that Paul presents their
> > subject noun-phrases as disrete entities, rather than variant
> > expressions of
> > the same concept. I base this on the observation that asyndetic
> > collocation
> > of noun-phrases (apposition) tends to encode equivalence, whereas a
> > stringing of noun-phrases with KAI normally indicates composition (ie
> > different conceptual entities).
> > What is of interest in this analysis is that the CARISMATA of verse 4
> > apparently constitute only one of three different groupings of items
> > means in verse 1, if it is (as I believe) expounded in verses 4 to 7
> > beyond), it seems unlikely that its reference is exhaused by equation
> > CARISMATWN alone.
> >
> > This surmise is strengthened by analysis of what follows these
> > three verses.
> > Verse 7 acts as a bridge between verses 4 to 6 and what follows.
> > functions anaphorically, with reference both to the theme of
> > [DIAIRESEIS] and probably to the persons-as-recipients implicit
> > in EN PASIN.
> > The singular passive verb DIDOTAI with its subject noun phrase
> > TOU PNEUMATOU is expounded in its repetitions (mostly elliptical) in
> > following verses, which enumerate different spiritual activities
> > manifested
> > in the congregation. But this is not its only function. It also, as is
> > shown by its collocation with its own indirect object hEKASTWi, serves
> > summarise the three verses which precede it.
> > For our purposes what is significant about this is that hH FANERWSIS TOU
> > PNEUMATOU is the summarising re-expression of (the ideas referred to
> > all three noun phrases which are the subjects in the first
> > clauses of verses
> > 4, 5 and 6.
> >
> > Summary of tentative conclusions:
> > a. Structurally, the most likely direct equivalent (if any) of TWN
> > PNEUMATIKWN in verse 1, is hH FANERWSIS TOU PNEUMATOU (found in the
> > developmental bridge-verse 7);
> > b. This subject phrase of verse 7 has a wider reference than
> > any of the
> > individual subject phrases beginning verses 4, 5 and 6.
> > c. (In other words) the subject phrase of verse 4 [DIAI...
> > is narrower in its reference than the subject of
> > verse 7.
> > d. (Therefore) CARISMATWN has a narrower reference than whatever
> > meant by TWN PNEUMATIKWN in verse 1.
> > e. (And so) "spiritual gifts" is not an adequate or appropriate
> > translation for the phrase TWN PNEUMATIKWN in that verse (1).
> Thanks, Frank, for these insights. I like your suggestion that the
> underlying concept for TWN PNEUMATIKWN may well be related to FANERWSIS.
> Below I shall suggest a circular structure which relates the first item in
> each circle, so that the following three words are structurally linked
> My problem with "spiritual things" is that it is too broad. But I can see
> that "spiritual gifts" may be too narrow, at least as the phrase is
> used and understood in English. I also like the suggestion by Russell that
> it refers to "the Spirit's work". I would be happy with something like
> the Spirit operates". On the other hand, Paul is correcting the misuse of
> spiritual gifts among the Corinthians more so than he seems to correct any
> misuse of ministry or powerful deeds. So, if I had to choose only between
> "spiritual gifts" and "spiritual matters" I would go for the first. But
> maybe there is a middle position that is better.
> When we talk about context, we should keep in mind that the immediate
> context carries more weight than the wider context. Therefore, 12:2-11
> more weight than chapter 13 which is an important side issue about
> underlying motivation for spiritual ministry and the mature use of the
> spiritual gifts. You have kept this in mind, but not everyone does.
> Another thing we need to keep in mind is that Paul often uses Hebrew
> rhetorical structure which is circular. Verses 1-3 is the first circle,
> is the second circle, (note the DE in v. 1, 4 and 7) and the third, large
> circle is probably 12:7-14:40. It is normal for the first circle to
> introduce one or more topics that will be dealt with in later circles in
> more detail.
> V. 2 compares their former state as pagans, when they were carried away to
> worship idols that could not speak. This may contrast to the fact that the
> spirits of prophets are subject to prophets (14:32). It is one of the
> differences between pagan spiritual frenzy and true prophetic inspiration,
> that prophetic inspiration from the Holy Spirit is a gentle voice. It
> carries me away against my will. It has absolutely nothing to do with
> ecstasy. I need to decide in my Spirit whether what I sense is truly the
> voice of God and then I need to decide how and when to bring that
> inspiration out in words. And I can stop at any time when I speak a word
> prophecy. (I use "I" because I speak from experience here, not theory.)
> There may also be a contrast between the mute idols and a God who speaks
> the Spirit. So v. 2 is a contrastive background for much of what is being
> said later.
> V. 3 contrasts and describes a message that is claimed to come from God as
> either positive or negative, for or against. It is probably a typical
> exaggeration. "Cursing Jesus" stands for words that condemn and tear down
> the body of Christ. "Acknowledging Jesus as Lord" stands for words that
> build up the body of Christ, based on a servant attitude. Much of chapter
> talks about the purpose of spiritual gifts, which is to build up and not
> tear down. One of the main problems Paul is addressing in chap. 14 is that
> improper use of tongues does not build up the body of Christ.
> The second circle of 4-6 takes up the concept of how the spirit works in
> three different, but closely related areas.
> There is first the area of spiritual gifts - CARISMATA, and this is taken
> in 7-11 which starts out with FANERWSIS - together with the undercurrent
> theme of unity in diversity and the purpose of building up the other
> of the body.
> Second, there is the area of spiritual ministries - DIAKONIAI. This is
> up in 12-31, because ministry must be for all members of the body. Each
> has a role to play, but there are different roles.
> Third, there is the area of spiritual manifestations of power - ENERGHMATA
> (e.g. special powers of healing and faith).
> In the summary verses of 27-31 all these three areas are dealt with
> simultaneously from the perspective of unity in diversity.
> Thanks for the discussion, I'll consider seriously the option of "how the
> Spirit operates" for v. 12:1, but probably maintain "spiritual gifts" for
> 14:1.
> Iver Larsen
> In 28-31 Paul does not distinguish clearly between ministry gifts
> prophet, teacher, evangelist, shepherd, administration), speaking gifts
> (tongues, prophecy) and power gifts (

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