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

From: Frank Gee (frankrgee@outpost.net.au)
Date: Wed Oct 10 2001 - 13:50:40 EDT

Salutations, b-greekers TE KAI Iver Larsen,

I want to thank Iver for the gracious response he promptly gave to my
of 10/10/01 12.09am.

Iver, before I launch my next assault as promised, I want to make some
answer to your comments,
as part of our discussion on I Cor 12: 1-7.

In your posting of 10.10.01 6.31am (Do you ever sleep?), in comment upon
the analysis
I had offered of verses 4 to 6, you said:

>Briefly, in the beginning of a discourse section, there is often a setting
>introducing time, location, participants and theme. In narratives you
>normally have both time, place and people, and usually also a theme. In
>expository text, you often have only a theme. The theme is often only
>at and the reader is expected to be patient and wait for the details to be
>explained more fully later. This is a common Hebrew literaray strategy.

Yes. This a verity on which we are in full agreement. It seems, though,
that you
have not grasped the point I made, about your method of analysis. You
to be applying a strategy more appropriate for following the thread of what
have earlier called Western/"linear" thematic development, whereas you keep
telling us
that Paul is employing a Hebrew/"circular" pattern in unfolding his
argument here. I like
your idea about the author's (possible) developmental strategy! So I'm
asking us to
be serious about its implications for interpretation. Let's use an
analytical approach
which treats this as what you say it is, and not analyse it as if it were
(just) a bit of Greek linear
rhetoric. For the latter, it's fine to look at the seams of the small text
looking for anaphoric verbal linkages and so on. But for following a Hebrew
I have suggested a different strategy will be appropriate. "Horses for
courses" is my
methodological cry. If our contexts (your equivalent for what I have
elsewhere called
co-texts, a useful piece of DA terminology) are to be seen as a series of
circles of
different sizes or scopes, then let us carefully look for the semantic
centre of each.

>I am not sure what you mean by semantic centre. One of the types of Hebrew
>chiasms do have the key point in the middle, but that is only one and a
>special form.

Okay, so let me explain. By semantic centre I mean the central (or main)
IDEA in the particular
quite small text segment we are examining. (Here I'm speaking
just as your words "circular" and "circles" are not geometric shapes we are
to look for in
the written words upon the page, but metaphors for the shaping of ideas and
relationships.) So I am not talking about a physical LOCATION in
the text-segment; semantic centre does not mean the MIDDLE of the unit.
What I have pointed out is that, far from being focused in only one phrase
of this unit, the main idea is distributed throughout (or, if you like,
expressed by) the whole
unit (4-6). It comprises at least the ideas expressed in DIAIRESEIS

You go on:
<The more common form is to have the theme hinted at in the
>very beginning and then developed through the body of the section with a
>final climax (for narratives) or a summary (for expositions.)

Of course - and people like Robert Longacre have done a lot of work on such
However, the comment does not help us here, because these are patterns which
are to
be found at DISCOURSE level in the genres you have referred to (narrative,
They may or may not be relevant for analysing much smaller text units, such
as the
three verses we are talking about. In this case, I suggest my structural
analysis of
4-6 shows that they are not. A different shaping-strategy is used by the
writer here,
expressed in the parallelisms and coordinating structure reflected in the

(By the way, I appreciated your comments in another posting on the
functional differences
between KAI and English "and". That may complicate life a little for us as
exegetes, though
as you've said, can help us to make sense of some otherwise awkward Greek
We haven't so far done any close examination of KAI in verses 4 to 6, but
I suspect further
examination of that would not make much difference for the structural
analysis I've put forward
for them.)

>The way I look at it, the word in v. 1 PNEUMATIKWN hints at the theme to be
>developed in the whole chapter and even to the end of chapter 14. Verses
>are somewhat of an aside.

That's the way I see it too.

>Then 4-6 introduce three related topics which might all be subsumed under
>PNEUMATIKA. All of these are being developed further in v. 7 onwards. So, I
>see 4-6 as theme statements about what is to be discussed in more detail
>later. However, Paul is responding to a specific misuse of one of the
>spiritual gifts, the tongues, and it is therefore understandable if the
>topic will be spiritual gifts, even if they are put into a wider setting of
>diversity and unity as well as building up the body of Christ in love. That
>wider setting is needed for perspective.
>The three themes are

Yes!!! Yes!!! Yes!!! On this it seems we now agree!!
Provided we again take your own language seriously and consistently! In the
paragraph above
you say: "it is understandable if the main topic will be spiritual gifts".
Now in a LATER segment
of the argument, perhaps it "WILL" be given some particular focus. That
will be something
for us to examine as objectively as possible when we get to other topic
circles further on. (I am
increasingly doubtful if indeed it IS the case, even in chapter 14. Perhaps
we'll see.)

But the point at issue between us is, whether CARISMATWN is the "main topic"
in THIS context (ie verses 4-7). And to that question, the answer is NO.

BTW, have you noticed what I am asking us to do? I am asking us to take
the principle of
context REALLY seriously, by looking at each co-text one by one, giving it
full and proper weight
in our analysis, and not smuggling in supposed data from other places or
or imposing some general grid of presuppositions upon any particular segment
which it is our task
to examine.
Later, when we have painstakingly given ourselves to real linguistic work on
each small section, we
shall still have opportunity to look at the RELATIONSHIPS between all the
smaller sections we have examined, including the dynamics of interactions
they may have upon each other, and the bearing of
nuances which we may discover in one section upon the meaning of another.
This is what I believe true "contextual" exegesis is all about. It's hard
work, requiring patience
and humility before the linguistic detail of the text. It's one thing to
proclaim the importance of
the principle of context for exegesis and translation. It's quite another
to put it into practice with
rigorously disciplined procedures. My observation is, that we need much
more of the latter.

Could I draw your attention to an important word in the first sentence of
your comment above:
it is the word "all".
Yes! ALL THREE topics are indeed to be subsumed under TWN PNEUMATIKWN.
That is precisely why I say it is arbitrary and inappropriate to seize on
only ONE of those three
themes in verses 4 to 6 (ie CARISMATA in verse 4), and treat it as if it
were by itself
the comprehensive equivalent of the major theme introduced in verse 1.
You might just as well leave out verses 5 and 6 altogether! But I don't
believe the Apostle
Paul would think you've improved the clarity of his argument by making that
Yet this is the effect of what you and others have done by simply equating
the content of

You go on to say:
>The following section from 7-31 do not separate these three into neat

Agreed!! Which goes to show something of the subtlety of the
interrelationship of the
three themes as joint components in TWN PNEUMATIKWN.

>The first one CARISMATA seems to be the main focus of 7-11 which starts out
>a concept that is common to all of these socalled CARISMATA PNEUMATIKA,
>namely that they deal with FANERWSIS TOU PNEUMATOS.

I hope you will now see why I cannot agree with this claim, for which you
have shown no grounds
within THIS context (verses 4-6), except to say that it "seems" to you that
I believe I have demonstrated the contrary, through closer analysis of these
verses, their
structure and its implications. I really want to see some empirical
analysis of the way the
language is actually working here, not just subjective guesses about what
it seems to be
about. To recap in another way, CARISMATA here SHARES the "main focus" in
7-11 with

Before I leave this quote from your post, we should not perhaps pass over
the interesting
and tell-tale phrase "these so-called CARISMATA PNEUMATIKA". The words are
apposite. "So called", indeed. In other words, most dubiously so called.
The question is are WE to call them so, in our translations or our exegesis?
And so far, no evidence whatsoever of a truly empirical kind has been given
for the use of
such a phrase as a translation for anything in this context. Particularly,
12:1-7, but also
probably the contexts constituted by 7 to 11, and then the bigger circle of
7 to 31.

I believe it would be appropriate for people interested in this thread to go
back and have a
close look at what Ward Powers has said in his two Responses of 4/10/01
(at 9.57pm and
9.53pm). So far, no one has attempted to answer point by point the details
of the argument
he puts forward. Certainly no one has come anywhere near refuting it.
It's a
sufficiently important and interesting issue to merit closer attention. He
does the job a good
linguist should: challenge us to re-think some things we thought so
BTW, Doctor Powers is my Supervisor for my research, but he and I have had
no collusion
off-list on the matter under discussion. In no sense do I feel any need to
act as apologist for
him. I simply observe that his comments on this list have raised issues
worthy of closer

Let's look now at the next part of your posting:
>The second word
>ENERGHMATA only occurs twice in the NT, and the second time is in 12:10:
>ENERGHMATA DUNAMEWN "workings of miracles" in the NRSV. Because of this
>it seems reasonable to understand ENERGHMATA in v. 6 in the context of the
>fuller expression ENERGHMATA DUNAMEWN in v. 10. In 12:29 - which is in the
>summary section - the word DUNAMEIS occurs alone, referring to the same
>concept: Do all work miracles? (NRSV)
>Is it a concept that needs two words to be fully expressed?:


I do not know how we could ever go about answering such a speculative
especially when we have only two occurrences of the word in the whole GNT!
If we look in the close context of its occurrence in 12:10, however,
interesting pops up. You have said somewhere that there is no particular
order in the items mentioned in verses 8 to 11 which would show how they
might each fit in
to the three different topics in verses 4 to 6. However that may be, I
think it can be said
at least that there are some items which seem to be grouped in pairs, most
obviously in verse 8,
and quite probably in verse 9 (if we give weight, as I think is not
unreasonable, to the
parallelism of the two accompanying phrases, EN TWi AUTWi / hENI
in that verse.
What would be interesting to wonder is whether we might similarly group the
next two items,
the first two in verse 10. If so, that would suggest some particular
commonality between
ENERGHMATA and PROFHTEIA. An unexpected result, no doubt, and one that
I do not think that you are likely to welcome. (My guess is, that you would
like much more
to put prophecy in the basket of the "gifts" - ??) But still, I
follow where the structural
clues in the text may lead. And it raises an interesting question for the
open-minded. And
shouldn't that be all of us?
Please understand that I don't intend to put too much weight on this last
idea: it's too speculative
for that. And I really believe that speculation should be kept firmly in

But your question has drawn my attention to another way of answering it,
I had never noticed before. (And for that, I thank you!) This time, the
linguistic evidence is
far stronger than for the last possibility I just pointed to.
Let me begin by recalling a bit of lore you mentioned earlier about
discourse analysis. You
said that in the expository genre the theme will [often] be brought to a
conclusion with a summary,
pretty much as a narrative comes to its climax near the end.
Let's try applying this observation here, drawing a contextual circle big
enough to make it a workable
and responsible exercise. I propose 12:1-11 for our circle. (I hope you'll
be happy with that.)
Let's briefly prepare by reviewing some things we've looked at and agreed
upon so far:

Verse 1 states the overall theme controlling this section, and probably to
the end of chapter 14.
Verses 2 and 3 are a small sub-theme which may for our present purposes be
regarded as a
digresssion (as you said above).
Verses 4 to 11 constitute a segment which falls into three subsections:
 ................(i)....verses 4 to 6, which provide us with three "topics"
or "theme statements"
 .........................................as you have called them above.
May I for the moment call them
.........................................."topical baskets", in the light of
what happens in verses 8 to 10?
................(ii) verse 7, which serves as bridge between 4 to 6 and
8 to 11;
...............(iii) verses 8 to 11, which provide instances of the
"topics" in 4 to 6 (most probably).

Verse 11 may be seen as providing a summary for verses 4 to 11.
Taking the idea of thematic or contextual circles which begin from verse 1,
we may note in
passing that verse 11 may possibly function also as thematic recapitulation
for verse 7 and verse 1.

So let us see what happens when we unpack the verse to which our structural
observations have
led us.
Let us also keep in mind the question you have raised about the scope of
reference of
ENERGHMATA. From your comments round that question, you may well expect
that its scope
is very limited: I noticed you counting the number of times the word is
used. In which case, I think
you may be in for a surprise.
(By way of forewarning: Have you tried counting how many times the word
is used as an abstract substantive, throughout chapters 12 to 14, not
counting the obvious reference to
persons in 14:37?) Despite its thematic importance in that large
OCCURRENCES! And the first of those is grammatically ambiguous as to it
gender (and therefore
ambiguous as to its reference, until we get into some serious contextual
And may we also keep in mind a question I am interested to explore: How
are we to divide up the
various spiritual "eggs", if I may call them that for a moment, which you
reckoned were scattered
randomly through verses 8 to 10? Which topical baskets might we gather
them into?

Let's see how this verse stacks up as a summary of what we've seen to this
point, and (hopefully)
follow undaunted wherever the linguistic clues may lead us.

Let's start with the least alarming features first. TO hEN KAI TO AUTO
PNEUMA. This is not
surprising: it has clear lexical echoes from verses 4 to 6, then 7, 8
and 9. Very strong evidence
of cohesion so far. We can be encouraged in our tentative decision to
treat this verse as a summary
of what precedes it. Let us note also the word PNEUMA itself, as an
anaphoric cognate of the puzzling
(to some of us) noun phrase TWN PNEUMATIKWN in verse 1. I think it would be
reasonable to see it as at
least in some measure epexegetic of that phrase. Though not, perhaps, in
the way so many assume.

hEKASTWi, in the second colon of verse 11, recalls its own use in verse 7,
and its many functional
ALLWmorphs (pardon the Greek pun) in verses 8, 9 and 10.
And now things start to get really interesting.
DIAIROUN is the verb-cognate of the DIAIRESEIS which occurs three times in
verses 4 to 6. More
evidence of strong thematic cohesion.
But there is more. ("If you have tears, prepare to shed them now!")
Have you noticed what I have, in the middle of the first colon of verse 11?
There's a verb. Once again,
it's the cognate form of something quite significant that we have seen
earlier in this segment. But, oh dear!
IT'S THE WRONG VERB!! Not at all what your theories would lead me to
In this key verse, summarising so much of all that has gone before, we
have the key verb lobbing us right
into the topical basket we never would have believed we could find ourselves
in. (I'm not mocking you here;
I'm just as surprised by this discovery as I hope you are.)
It's looking as if (to answer your speculative question about ENERGHMATA),
the Greek words themselves
have now given us their answer (or most of it). To your question "Is
[ENERGHMATA] a concept that
needs two words to be fully expressed, the answer is No. Not two. The
number needed, by Paul, at any
rate, is however many words there are in verses 7 to 10!
If you raise your voice in protest, have a look at the phrase in verse 11 we
haven't thought about yet.
Do you see the one I mean?
Oh, dear! (again) - PANTA DE TAUTA is what remains.

Now PANTA is a word that old preachers like me love, as you can imagine.
But I surmise that it can
give a certain professional translator no comfort whatsoever in this
context. And linked up like this with
TAUTA, it's disastrous.
TAUTA: This word, the grammatical object of the verb ENERGEI, could be
anaphoric or cataphoric according to the context in which it occurs. Here
there is no way out for you: it obviously does not point
forward across the chasm between verse 11 and the next pericope. It clearly
points back to what is found
in the immediately preceding verses: those spiritual eggs. This is why
that word PANTA is so alarming

Now we are ready to answer the question I find interesting and asked us to
How many of those spiritual eggs (verses 8 to 10) should we put in the three
topical baskets we (both) found in verses 4 to 6?
And the answer of verse 11 is: ENERGEI (along with its cognate, DIAIRESEIS
laying claim to all of them! That seems almost unfair, doesn't it?

At least we need not feel too sad for the DIAIRESEIS DIAKONIWN basket.
You've suggested your answer already for that one. We should just wander
off somewhere else than chapter 12 to gather our spiritual eggs: places
like Ephesians 4:11-12 and Romans 12.
Paul's just not interested in DIAKONIA in this chapter, so it seems.
So let's act consistently with this theory of yours. On the basis that the
words express the thought, we should
tidy things up a bit. Logically, it makes best sense to cut out verse 5
altogether. It introduces us to a category with nothing in it (you reckon),
it has no connection with verse 7, and doesn't tell us anything at all about
whatever TWN PNEUMATIKWN in verse 1 is all about. (You said it, not me.)
(Cutting out this useless verse has a further merit, other than being the
logical conclusion of your theories. It will make the job less burdensome
for translators. One less verse to have to translate into all those
foreign languages. :-)

The only trouble I see about this suggestion is: What would the Apostle
think? Would he be impressed?
Or is it that your theory has led us all astray? You can see I'm not really
convinced, even about the picture you paint of the role of DIAKONIWN for
verses 8 to 10.

But it seems we've forgotten our favourite topical basket, DIAIRESEIS

Actually , I've not forgotten it. But it's nowhere to be found in that key
verse 11. Not a CARIS in sight, let alone a CARISMA or a CARISMATA.
How strange. Even more disturbingly, consider this:
We've found a couple of cognate verbs for the other two topical baskets
prowling around in verse 11.
But not a cognate verb in sight to lend a hand for poor old CARISMATA.
It's not as if there's nothing available that would do the job. There's a
perfectly respectable verbal cognate
for CARISMATA that Paul used elsewhere in this same epistle (back in 2:12).

Now what I think you'll have to do is take flight immediately back to verses
4 to 6, to mount a rescue operation
for this poor topical basket that's been suddenly robbed of all its
spiritual eggs by the dreadful verse 11.
But there's more bad news I'm afraid. I must now deliver the unkindest cut
of all (at least for this time).
I'm going to ask that once again we employ the principle you recommended
from the field of discourse genre
structure: looking for the summary at the end of an expository section.
So here we go. Verses 4 to 6 are not a very big segment. But as we've
seen, they do stand as a discrete
context circle for us to examine. And though small, the segment is quite
densely packed with thematic material:
all our topical baskets are there, along with quite a bit besides. All
beautifully arranged with parallelisms,
a three-fold symmetry and even a quasi-trinitarian set of complementary
elliptical clauses (as I have expounded
in an earlier posting to this List).
But there is one more thing, sitting by itself like a protective outrider.
(Or you may prefer to view it as a dangerous virus of some sort, it has such
menace for your theory.)
It's another of those items that I'd never really noticed until your
speculative question about ENERGHMATWN
drew it to my attention. (Thank you once again, Iver.)
Please note its position. There it is in last place, providing a
mini-summary of this segment, before Paul moves on to the bridge of verse 7.
Referring back to QEOS, and possibly also to its structural equivalents
KURIOS and PNEUMA, that final
summarising phrase reads: hO ENERGWN TA PANTA EN PASIN.
It's almost unbelievable isn't it! How unkind can the Apostle be to this
poor theory of yours? And let's not
forget, the only way we can know his intentions is through the words he has
It's almost as if the damaging verse 11 has launched a preemptive strike
against your place of refuge in 4 to 6,
this time moving backwards!! (How Hebrew can you get?)
Here's ENERGEI all over again, brandishing TA PANTA as its all-inclusive

So what can Paul have been thinking of? Apparently not what so many of
us have expected up till now.
And what can we find to put in the CARISMATA topical basket, which was
making such big claims just a little while ago? How can there be anything
left to put in it? Hasn't ENERGHMATWN swallowed up everything in sight?

The first word of comfort is, I don't really believe it has. The attibutive
participial clause at the end of verse 6 does have some summarising
function, but it need not do so comprehensively for the first two cola
(verses 4 and 5). In other words, there is still some thematic space for
the first two topics.
And it's not quite the case that there are no spiritual eggs at all left for
CARISMATA's basket. I haven't forgotten the phrase CARISMATA IAMATWN in
verse 9. I'm not at all sure I want to assume that the standard translation
for it is correct. It would be interesting to consider a translation such
as "to another is graciously given experiences of being
healed", for instance. It may look mind-boggling at first sight, but may be
possible linguistically. (If so, all that would prevent us from considering
it would be a fixation with or assumption in favour of "spiritual gifts" - a
translation for which
it is increasingly clear that there is really no warrant in these verses. I
think your Danish version for CARISMATA is much better: "grace-gifts". But
then why not try an even more neutral (and defensible) translation for it,
such as"manifestations of grace". It would then fit beautifully with verse
And there is another possible referent for CARISMATA, which is quite
different from what most commentators mean
by "spiritual gifts". The clue is in verse 31. But I'm too tired to
explain that now, and maybe I'd be reinventing the wheel anyway. Maybe
another time.

So what are we to conclude, so far?

The main effect of my analysis has been to show that:
1. Whatever DIAIRESEIS CARISMATWN may mean, it does not have the thematic
scope or prominence which
        you and many others have claimed for it.
2. It does have a place alongside the other two topics in verses 4 to 6,
and it can be shown to be expounded
        linguistically by ONE item in the list of what I have here called
the "spiritual eggs" in verses 8 to 10. In terms
        of what is provable linguistically, it thus has no more claim to
primacy as a comprehensive "basket" topic than
        the quite humble role you have identified for DIAKONIWN in those
3. The big surprise is how big a field thematically is controlled by the
category of ENERGHMATWN. I was not
        joking in what I said about verse 11, even though you will have
noticed the enjoyment I gained from examining it.
        If we take the language seriously, it appears that CARISMATA has a
somehow hyponymous relationship with
        ENERGHMATWN, in the sense that the latter is the thematic field
within which CARISMATA functions, even
        though the two terms appear to be coordinated in verses 4 and 6.
This may be worth some further study.
4. (In consequence of the above): There are no linguistic grounds in
chapter 12: 1-11 (our first four contextual
        circles) to treat CARISMATA as the full equivalent of what is
signified by TWN PNEUMATIKWN.
        Nor is there any sound reason provided in these four contextual
circles for translating either Greek expression as
        "spiritual gifts".

I'm far too tired to offer any more just now.
I do have a comment about the amazing thing you have done in positing
but it will have to wait til tomorrow.

After that, I can hopefully get round to answer your charge of heresy
concerning the meaning of 14:1

And so to bed.


Frank Gee

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