[b-greek] Re: Galatians 2:1

From: Steven Lo Vullo (doulos@merr.com)
Date: Thu Nov 22 2001 - 15:30:44 EST


On Thursday, November 22, 2001, at 11:42 AM, Keith Thompson wrote:

> Hi!
> I see my question has generated a bit of interest, but I'm still
> confused and left without an answer. (B-Greek has been very helpful but
> sometimes I find people answer questions I haven't asked and don't
> answer the questions I ask.)
> If Paul had wanted to say 'during/throughout fourteen years' how would
> he have written it? I would expect exactly what's written in Galatians
> 2:1. And I'm still not sure whether this form is always an idiom
> meaning 'after' or sometimes literally means 'during' or 'throughout'.


Without going into every possible semantic situation in which we find
DIA governing a genitive noun indicating time, let me make the following
observations that I think pertain to the specific semantic situation and
larger context of Gal 2.1:

First, note that "after" is a recognized sense of this construction:

Liddell-Scott A.II.2: "of the interval which has past *between* two
points of Time ... *after*."

BAGD II.2: "to denote an interval *after*." Gal 2.1 is listed here.

Louw-Nida 67.60: "DIA ETWN: (an idiom, literally ‘through years’) a
point of time subsequent to another point of time after an interval of
some years — 'some years later.'"

Friberg I.(2).(c): "of an interval of time *after*.

Second, note three features of Gal 2.1 that indicate this is the way
DIA ... ETWN should be taken here:

(1) EPEITA ("Then" or "Next") relates this visit to Jerusalem to a
series of movements after Paul's conversion. Note 1.17 (did NOT go up to
Jerusalem but went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus),
1.18 ("Then [EPEITA] three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become
acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days"), 1.21 ("Then
[EPEITA] I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia"). This brings us
to the next (and last) in the series of movements ("Then [EPEITA] after
an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with
Barnabas, taking Titus along also"). The fact that Paul is delineating a
series of movements, and that EPEITA consistently throughout this
context marks the NEXT in a series, indicates that Paul was not visiting
Jerusalem THROUGHOUT 14 years, but that his NEXT movement after he had
left Jerusalem for the regions of Syria and Cilicia (1.21) occurred 14
years AFTER that visit to Jerusalem.

In fact, positing that Paul visited Jerusalem THROUGHOUT 14 years flatly
destroys the argument that he is building, viz, that he DID NOT in his
journeys go to Jerusalem except for one short visit, and therefore DID
NOT have contact with the apostles at Jerusalem, except during the short
visit when he briefly interacted ONLY with the apostle Peter and saw
James, the Lord's brother (1.18f.). His presence was so lacking in
Jerusalem that the churches there didn't even know him by sight, only by
what they heard (vv. 22ff.). The whole point of this is that Paul was
UNACQUAINTED WITH and therefore INDEPENDENT OF the Jerusalem apostles.
His authority and doctrine did not derive from them (see the standard

(2) Note the presence of PALIN in Gal 2.1. This relates the visit of 2.1
to the previous visit of 1.18f. and means that IN ADDITION TO his first
visit he AGAIN visited Jerusalem, rather than after his first visit he
next (EPEITA) visited Jerusalem AGAIN AND AGAIN. The latter makes no
sense whatever in the context.

(3) Note also the prepositional phrase META BARNABA and the participial
phrase SUMPARALABWN KAI TITON. Did Paul repeatedly throughout a 14 year
period travel to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus, or did he go there
THIS time with them, AFTER 14 years?

Third, although I can't say with certainty that DIA ETWN cannot EVER
indicate repeated actions "throughout" the number of years indicated, I
CAN say that in the NT and LXX such a usage is not found. It is used in
the NT in Acts 24.17 and Gal 2.1, and in the LXX in Deut. 15.1; 1Kings
10.22; 2Chr. 9.21; 18.2. In every case the above definition applies.

Steven Lo Vullo
Madison, WI

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