Galatians 4:12-14 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ

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Gregory Hartzler-Miller
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Galatians 4:12-14 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ

Post by Gregory Hartzler-Miller » October 16th, 2019, 10:25 am

Galatians 4:12-14
The Greek text
[augmented]

Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ, ὅτι κἀγὼ [γέγονα] ὡς ὑμεῖς, ἀδελφοί, δέομαι ὑμῶν. οὐδέν με ἠδικήσατε· οἴδατε δὲ ὅτι δι’ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς [διὰ τὴν ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν] εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν τὸ πρότερον,καὶ [οἴδατε... ὅτι διὰ] τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε, ἀλλὰ ὡς ἄγγελον Θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με, ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν.

A Working Translation

Since I also [have become] as you, "brothers”, I beg of you, become as I. You did me no wrong, but you know that it was because of [your] fleshly weakness that I proclaimed the gospel to you formerly, and [you know that it was because of] your temptation [i.e. your fleshly weakness-temptation] in my flesh [i.e. since I had become as you] that you did not count as nothing or reject, but as an angel of God you received me--as Christ Jesus.

Translation Notes:
1. The prepositional phrase in Galatians 4:13 [δι’ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς], which lacks an explicit pronoun, is interpreted as an abbreviated form of the prepositional phrase from Romans 6:19a [διὰ τὴν ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν] which has an explicit pronoun. In this interpretation, the two usages differ in style only. They are identical in meaning.
2.“Your fleshly weakness” and “your temptation” are interpreted as two descriptions of one thing: something like “your fleshly weakness-temptation”.
3. One preposition, “because of”, governs multiple objects: “because of your fleshly weakness… and [because of] your temptation…”
4. The shift of pronoun--“your” to “my”--in the phrase “your temptation in my flesh” pertains to the earlier claim, “I… [became/have become] as you, brothers.” “In” his “flesh” the apostle “had become as” the “brothers” in terms of their “fleshly weakness-temptation”.

Hello again. Since my first post on B-Greek (May 24th, 2015), I have been looking at this text from various angles. This is my first post where I look at this discourse unit -- Galatians 4:12-14-- as a whole, and this is the first post were I offer what has become my interpretation of the grammar and syntax of the phrase "your temptation in my flesh" within the discourse unit as a whole. I think I may have found something rare: a New Testament exegetical stone unturned (I suppose if commentators with power to publish since the time of Jerome did turn this stone, they must have decided put the stone back and left discourse unpublished).

I discovered this interpretation by beginning where Jerome (in his Commentary on Galatians) began at three decision points:

1. At the phrase, “because I also [have become] as you, ‘brothers’…”, Jerome began by saying: “Paul is saying something like this: I became weak for you who are weak…” (Compare 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”)

2. At the phrase, “because of [my/your] fleshly weakness”, Jerome began by saying: “Paul preaches to the Galatians ‘on account of fleshly weakness’-- not his own, but his audience’s.” (Compare Romans 6:19a, “Because of your fleshly weakness I am speaking in human terms.”)

3. At the phrase, “...and your temptation in my flesh...” Jerome began by saying: “This is an obscure passage and requires closer attention.”

I was initially, tentatively convinced of 1 and 2, not because Jerome said it, but because of the strength of the Pauline parallels, and the way they seemed to come together naturally in the Galatians context as an intimation of the apostle becoming as the "brothers" in weakness like theirs. I lingered on step 3 a long time. After considering all of Jerome's interpretive options for the phrase "your temptation in my flesh", and looking at all other options I could find in the history of the tradition, I concluded that none of the ways of solving the text's grammatical and syntactical puzzle fit as well as this one.

Your thoughts?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Galatians 4:12-14 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 18th, 2019, 2:32 pm

If you want to look at "the discourse unit as a whole", I think that might mean looking at Galatians 4:8-20, looking at just two verses does not really do that.

In context, I think Romans 6:19 is talking about human limitations when it uses this phrase:
ἐλευθερωθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἐδουλώθητε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ· ἀνθρώπινον λέγω διὰ τὴν ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν· ὥσπερ γὰρ παρεστήσατε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν δοῦλα τῇ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ καὶ τῇ ἀνομίᾳ εἰς τὴν ἀνομίαν, οὕτως νῦν παραστήσατε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν δοῦλα τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ εἰς ἁγιασμόν.

Ὅτε γὰρ δοῦλοι ἦτε τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ἐλεύθεροι ἦτε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ.
In Galatians 4:12, οἴδατε δὲ ὅτι δι’ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν τὸ πρότερον, you suggest that ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς refers to the fleshly weakness of the Galatians ("but you know that it was because of [your] fleshly weakness that I proclaimed the gospel to you formerly").

I don't think that fits the context very well. As I read Galatians 4:14 καὶ τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε, ἀλλὰ ὡς ἄγγελον θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με, ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, the phrase τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου makes it clear that Paul's human limitations were a trial to the Galatians, and this was true at the time he came to preach the Gospel to them because of his ailment. Nevertheless, they received him eagerly.

There are two hints that suggest this may have been a problem with his eyes. The first is in the next verse: ποῦ οὖν ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν; μαρτυρῶ γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι εἰ δυνατὸν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν ἐξορύξαντες ἐδώκατέ μοι. They would have helped him eagerly, and this seems to have something to do with eyes.

Paul gives another hint in Galatians 6:11 Ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί. When he writes in his own hand, he does it in really big letters. Perhaps because he had problems with his eyes?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Galatians 4:12-14 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ

Post by Barry Hofstetter » October 19th, 2019, 11:11 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
October 18th, 2019, 2:32 pm

Paul gives another hint in Galatians 6:11 Ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί. When he writes in his own hand, he does it in really big letters. Perhaps because he had problems with his eyes?
Due to the discovery of manuscripts which do this, the general consensus is that it was done in order to attest to the genuineness of the text, that the person claiming to be the author really was the author, and not just the ammanuensis, e.g. P.Mich. 5.351.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Galatians 4:12-14 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 20th, 2019, 11:09 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
October 19th, 2019, 11:11 am
Jonathan Robie wrote:
October 18th, 2019, 2:32 pm

Paul gives another hint in Galatians 6:11 Ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί. When he writes in his own hand, he does it in really big letters. Perhaps because he had problems with his eyes?
Due to the discovery of manuscripts which do this, the general consensus is that it was done in order to attest to the genuineness of the text, that the person claiming to be the author really was the author, and not just the ammanuensis, e.g. P.Mich. 5.351.
Well, I learned something. There's a good article on this here:

Why Did Paul Mention His Large Handwriting In Galatians?

Still, why does he mention that his letters are large? That still seems to be an unusual thing to say in the sections in which one writes in his own hand, and the eyesight theory gives a neat explanation.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Galatians 4:12-14 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ

Post by Stephen Carlson » October 20th, 2019, 10:07 pm

The usual answer is that professional scribes can write small but less practiced people write big.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Galatians 4:12-14 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 21st, 2019, 8:51 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
October 20th, 2019, 10:07 pm
The usual answer is that professional scribes can write small but less practiced people write big.
Let me quote from the blog entry I pointed to:
Further, there is very little unusual in the fact that the writing of Paul’s autographic subscription is larger than that of the professional scribe. Larger handwriting occurs in about fifteen percent of all autographic subscriptions. Only somewhat unusual is Paul’s assertion that he is writing the autograph in his own hand. Such assertions occur in a few dozen other surviving letters from this period. The only truly unusual feature here is that Paul explicitly draws his readers’ attention to the particular style of his handwriting, a feature that appears to be unprecedented in the entire ancient epistolary tradition.
So it looks like only about 15% of authors wrote big like that. And it's really unusual to say "look how big I write when I write in my own hand", so that still seems like it might mean something. Reece doesn't really give a reason for that.

But it's interesting that there's an entire book on this subject.

Image
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Galatians 4:12-14 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ

Post by Stephen Carlson » October 21st, 2019, 9:09 am

Yeah, Paul's usage may be rare, even unparalleled on the evidence we have. (And we have but a tiny of sample of ancient letters, much less literary ones like Galatians.) Maybe Paul regularly wrote big (even though others can write smaller), and this was known to his recipients. It's all speculative. But I don't really see an eye disease like conjunctivitis as the reason for pointing out the size of the letters.
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Gregory Hartzler-Miller
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Re: Galatians 4:12-14 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ

Post by Gregory Hartzler-Miller » October 21st, 2019, 11:17 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
October 18th, 2019, 2:32 pm
In Galatians 4:12, οἴδατε δὲ ὅτι δι’ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν τὸ πρότερον, you suggest that ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς refers to the fleshly weakness of the Galatians ("but you know that it was because of [your] fleshly weakness that I proclaimed the gospel to you formerly").

I don't think that fits the context very well. As I read Galatians 4:14 καὶ τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε, ἀλλὰ ὡς ἄγγελον θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με, ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, the phrase τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου makes it clear that Paul's human limitations were a trial to the Galatians, and this was true at the time he came to preach the Gospel to them because of his ailment. Nevertheless, they received him eagerly.
I see the appeal of solving the puzzle of the missing pronoun through harmonization of the two flesh statements. However, there is another way of looking at it: In the comprehensive re-reading of the grammatical sense of the passage I am proposing, there seems to be an implied reference to a pre-gospel distinction between uncircumcised Gentile “flesh”, which is supposedly, by nature, morally weaker than circumcised Jewish “flesh”-- a distinction in keeping with Gal.2:15 (Ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί). Renunciation of supposed moral superiority of Jewish “flesh" seems to be at play in Philippines: “I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless." (ESV. Phil. 3:4-6) It is well known that Paul’s Gospel calls for his renunciation of such a distinction between Jewish and Gentile “flesh”. It is less appreciated that for such a renunciation to retain persuasive power, it has to be remembered that before the Gospel, such a distinction was taken for granted, both by Jews like Paul who were inclined to feel relatively strong, and Gentile God worshipers who felt relatively weak. The phrase "your temptation in my flesh" was powerful for the Galatians because of the implied renunciation of the commonplace presumption that his Jewish "flesh" rendered the apostle, by nature, morally superior and thus unable to sympathize with them in their weak and tempted Gentile condition.
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