A quick look at my front pages shows me that I haven’t posted here in over a month. Inspired by the infallible Nick Norelli (or am I confusing him with Moises Silva?), I’ve decided to post again. Hopefully I can get back to the rhythm of regular posts. For the moment, I’ll skim over what I’ve been studying over since school started.

My one religion class this fall is on the “Life and Letters of the Apostle Paul.” Naturally I love the class, all the more so since I have an excellent professor. We’re working through Romans now, and then we’ll move on to the disputed letters. I’ve written several shorter papers for the class:

  • Paul and the Greco-Roman World: Basically an examination of Acts 17. (I largely assumed that Luke gives us an accurate picture of Paul, since the question of Paul in his own letters and Paul in Acts was out of scope for that topic).
  • A letter as one of Paul’s opponents in Galatia: This was quite a bit of fun. Based on my reading of Galatians, I had to write a response (or a pre-emptive) letter to the Galatian churches expounding a Lawful Gospel. I even translated some of it into Greek. Writing letters in an ancient style is fun!
  • Marriage and Celibacy in 1 Corinthians: This was another fun paper (and apropos considering the period of my life). We had to analyze Paul’s teaching on marriage and sex, and also compare Paul’s teaching with Jesus’ teaching. Looking at the difference between the divorce passages in Mark and Matthew (Mk 10, Mt 19) makes me excited for my Gospel’s class this Spring.
  • “Sin” in Romans 1-8: Here I traced out the argument of Romans 1-8, with a particular focus on how Paul uses the word “sin,” (or more precisely, ἁμαρτία and its cognates). This was difficult (Romans is deep, especially in Greek!), but very rewarding.

I have one more short paper to write on the authorship of the Pastoral Epistles, and then a long paper (upper limit 20 pages) that we get to choose. I’ve been thinking about doing something like suffering in Paul or Pauline eschatology more broadly (I argued, for instance, that the backdrop for 1 Cor 7 was a famine and not the impending return of the Messiah). Right now I’m leaning toward examining unity in Paul’s letters (or a specific letter), though I’m tempted to do something more connected with the Fathers, like Chrysostom’s exegesis of Paul.

I’ve also been part of a Greek reading group. We’ve read through Ignatius’ letters to the Romans and Philadelphians so far, and are now into his letter to the Ephesians. This has been fantastic Greek practice, and it’s also helped me see Ignatius more clearly. I’m still pondering if it’s worth reworking the paper I wrote in the Spring into a potential journal article. I would probably argue (contra Theodor Preiss), that Ignatian participatory theology lines up with Paul instead of missing him completely. Preiss’s article is old (1938), but I give the man credit: he wrote a fantastic and thorough piece on Ignatius. I have a much more favorable opinion on Ignatius than he does, but one can’t write off Preiss willy-nilly.

Finally, I’m going to get to work on a book project with Dr Adler (who teaches my Paul class). It will just be indexing work (citation and general) for a book he’s editing, but I’ll get paid for it and I know that I’ll learn quite a bit. ευχαριστω σοι, κυριε μου!

Greek Memorization/Translation: 1 Cor 7:9-16

The text:
9.) ει δε ουκ ενκρατευονται, γαμησατωσαν. χρειττον γαρ εστιν γαμησαι η πορυσθαι.
10.) τοις δε γεγαμηκουσιν παραγγελω, ουκ εγω αλλα ὸ κυριος. γυναικα απο ανδρος μη χωριςθηναι.
11.) εαν δε και κωρισθῃ, μενετω αγαμος η τῳ ανδρι καταλλαγετω, και ανδρα γυναικα μη αφιεναι.
12.) τοις δε λοιποις λεγω, εγω ουχ ὸ κυριος. ει τις αδελφος γυναικα εχει απιςτον και αυτη συνευδοκει οικειν μετ᾽ αυτου, μη αφιετω αυτην.
13.) και γυνη, ει τις εχει ανδρα απιστον, και ὃυτος συνευδοκει οικειν μετ᾽ αυτης, με αφιετω τον ανδρα.
14.) ἣγιασται ὁ ανερ ὁ απιστον εν τῃ γυναικι και ἡγιασται ἡ γυνη ἡ απιστον εν τῃ αδελφῳ. επει αρα τα τεκνα υμων ακαθαρτα εστιν, νυν δε ἁγια εστιν.
15.) ει δε ὁ απιστος κορισθῃ, κοριζεσθω. ου δεδολωται ὁ αδελφος η ἡ αδελφη εν τοις τοιουτοις. εν δε ειρηνῃ κεκλεκεν υμας ὁ θεος.
16.) τι γαρ οιδας γυναι, ει τον ανδρα σοσεις; η τι οιδας ανερ, ει την γυναικα σοσεις;

The Translation:
9.) But if they can’t control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10.) To the married I give this command, not I, but the Lord. A woman must not separate from her husband.
11.) But if she separates, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a man must not divorce his wife.
12.) To the rest I say, I not the Lord, If a brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he should not divorce her.
13.) And if a woman has an unbelieving husband, and he is willing to live with her, she should not divorce the husband.
14.) For the unbelieving man is sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving woman is sanctified by the believing husband.
15.) But if the unbeliever leaves, let them be separated. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances, as God has called you to peace.
16.) Who knows, woman, if you’ll save your husband? Who knows, man, if you’ll save your wife?

Some Notes:
The big translation issue here it how to render αδελφος. Literally, it means “brother” or “sister.” Paul is using it figuratively here to mean “fellow Christian.” In fact, this is his favorite word for “Christian” (he actually never uses the Greek word for Christian). Keeping it as brother (or sister) helps communicate the familial nature of the Church. However, it’s also going to confuse those who don’t understand the language. Christians were accused of incest for a long time because they referred to one another as “brother” and “sister.” For instance, in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul writes that he has the right to take a “sister” as a wife. He means a female Christian, but it does sound funny ;-) Pagans made a natural inference when hearing stuff like this, though an incorrect one.

Theologically, I love v. 14. In some way, having a single Christian in a home “makes holy” the rest of the home. The participatory aspects (being in Christ) of 14 and 16 are quite interesting, as I noted here. I also love Paul’s practicality here. As I delve into theology, history, and biblical studies, I hope I can maintain the deep practicality of all of it.

 εν αυτῳ,

Greek Translation: 1 Cor 7:6-8

The text:

6.) τουτο δε λεγω κατα συγγνωμεν ου κατ῾ επιταγην.
7.) θελω δε παντας ανθρωπους ειναι ὡς και εμαυτον. αλλα παντα εχει ιδιον χαρισμα εκ θεου. ὁ μεν ουτως, ὁ δε ουτως.
8.) λεγω δε τοις αγαμοις και ταις χηραις, καλον αυτοις εαν μεινωσιν ως καγω.

A rough translation:
6.) I’m saying this as a concession, and not as a command.
7.) I’d like for all to be as I am. However, all have their own gift from God. One has this gift, another that.
8.) To the widows and widowers I say: it is good for them to remain as I am.

Some notes:
6.) I’m thinking τουτο (this) refers to the instruction in 2/3-5, though I’m not sure.
7.) I’ve translated θελω very lightly as “I would like.” I think Paul is speaking rather lightly here, on the level of wish or preference. He’s quick to point out that not everyone has the gift that he does.
8.) The question here is precisely the meaning of αγαμοις. Most literally, it means unmarried. But in light of the rest of the passage, I think he’s speaking specifically to widowers, especially since χηρα seems to refer only to women. If that’s the case, then it might support the hypothesis that Paul himself was a widower, though pushing beyond singleness as the meaning of the “as I am” statements needs to be done carefully.

Meditating on the “gift of celibacy” is something that we Protestants should probably do more of. What does Paul mean when he speaks of singleness as a gift? What does it mean for a wife or husband to a gift? It’s a worthy line of thought methinks.


Participation in Paul: 1 Cor 6 and 7

As I’m thinking more about suffering in Paul’s thought and Ignatius’ thought, I’ve realized that I’m going to have to defend a “partcipationist” reading of Paul. Typically, this is done by arguing the “in Christ” notion of Paul as being more fundamental or important than his justification/legal language. I’m not terribly interested in attacking justification, but I do want the participation language to take its proper place. The early fathers read Paul almost exclusively on these terms, where as Protestants have done the complete opposite: we have read Paul exclusively from justification/legal terms. We need to understand both! As I’ve been working through 1 Corinthians and memorizing, I’ve been surprised by the participatory language that is present. It’s couched in very practical sections, but it’s there nonetheless.

The first thing I noticed was 1 Cor 6:17, “But the one who joins himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” The contrast here is with the prior verse, and the one “who joins himself with a prostitute.” Here, our union with Christ is compared to sexual union. If that’s not participatory language, I don’t know what is! Of course, as I’ve noted somewhere prior, I don’t want to run off to strange places with this metaphor. But what remains is that there is something “mystical” (for lack of a better word) going on here. There’s is more to conversion than simply what Christ accomplished on the cross (magnificent though it was!). In baptism, we die and rise with Christ. We become a part of his body. We participate in his suffering and in his glorification.

We see similar things a chapter later. After instructing believers married to unbelievers not to leave their spouses, Paul offers this little statement:
For the unbelieving man is sanctified by the [believing] wife, and the unbelieving woman is sanctified by the [believing] husband. If this were not so, your children would be unclean. As it is, though, they are holy”
and, after another verse:
how do you know, wife, that you won’t save your husband? how do you know, husband, that you won’t save your wife?”
1 Cor 7:14,16

What’s strange here is the “high view of the believer” for lack of a better term. Paul states that an unbelieving spouse is made holy by a believing spouse. He also states that a believing spouse may save an unbelieving spouse. I think this is difficult to make sense of in a traditional, justification-driven framework.

For example, if I lead a friend to Christ tomorrow, and then introduce to my pastor as “my friend who I just saved,” I’m probably gonna get a rebuke about how it’s only Jesus who saves people, not me. Likewise, If I pray for a sick person and they become well, it’ll sound strange if I say, “I just healed someone!” I’ve been corrected along those lines before, in my more youthful and zealous days. But whereas that kind of language makes us uncomfortable, it doesn’t seem to phase Paul here (though he does have problems when he’s mistaken for a Greek deity ;-) ). The New Testament occasionally will name an apostle as healing someone without making explicit reference to God, like in Acts 28:8: “Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him. “

I think this make much more sense if we take Paul’s participation language into account. How on earth can a believer make an unbeliever holy? How on earth can a believer make their children holy? And how on earth can a believer sanctify an unbeliever? Well, if we’re “one with the Lord in Spirit” then it makes sense. If we’re participating with Jesus in the power of resurrection and the fellowship of sufferings (Philippians 3:10) then we can talk like this. It’s not me κατα σαρκα (according to the flesh) that saves or sanctifies someone, it’s me κατα πνευμα (according to the Spirit). It’s the me that has joined itself with the Lord, and become one with him in Spirit.

A high view of the believer (contra Luther, perhaps?) makes plenty of sense when we consider that we are μελη χριστου, members of Christ’s body. In some way we take part in the suffering and the glory of the risen Messiah. From this standpoint, I think we can begin to understand what’s going on here in 1 Corinthians regarding “saving” and “sanctifying.” The people correcting me were right to an extent, it is only the triune God that saves and heals. The funny thing is, we’re called into that triune fellowship, that communion, in Christ and by the Spirit. I don’t know what that means exactly, but it’s tremendously exciting. I’m looking forward to discovering more!


Greek Study: 1 Cor 6:12-16

Today, we’ve several more verses:

12) Παντα μοι εξεστιν, αλλα παντα ου συμφερει. Παντα μοι εξεστιν, αλλα ουκ εγω εξουσιασθησομαι υπο τινος.
13) τα βρωματα τῃ κοιλιᾳ και ἡ κοιλια τοις βρωμοσιν. ὁ δε θεος και ταυτην και ταυτα καταργεσει. το δε σωμα ου τῃ πορνεια αλλα τῳ κυριῳ, και ὁ κυριος τῳ σωματι.
14) ὁ δε θεος τον κυριον ἣγειρεν και ὐμας εξεγερεῖ δια της δυναμεως αυτου.
15) ουκ οιδατε οτι τα σωμα ὑμων μελη Χριστου εστιν; αρας οὗν τα μελη Χριστου ποιεσω πορνης μελη; μη γενοιτο.
16) η ουκ οιδατε οτι ὁ καλλωμενος τῃ πορνῃ ἓν σωμα; Εσονται, γαρ φησιν, ὁι δυο εις σαρκα μιαν.

Now, for a rough translation:
12) “All things are permissible,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are permissible,” but I myself will not be mastered by anything!
13) “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food.” But God will destroy both of these! The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
14) God raised the Lord, and he will raise us also through his power.
15) Don’t you know that your bodies are members of Christ’s body? Should I then take the members of Christ’s body and join them to the body of a prostitute? Absolutely not!
16) Or don’t you now that the one who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her body? For it says, “the two will become one flesh.”

Some notes
12-13a) I love Paul’s quotations of the Corinthians slogans, and the force with which he corrects their thinking. The second correction in verse 12 is particularly forceful, where Paul uses the pronoun εγω when it’s not necessary. It’s for that reason I added the kinda awkward “myself.” Paul certainly wants the Corinthians to follow his example and not the example of those flaunting their “freedom in Christ.” Paul correction goes so far in verse 13 that he calls for God’s judgment.

13b) This is a puzzling piece to me, and I’m not quite sure how to interpret the datives. It’s not uncommon in Greek to leave the verb implicit, and Paul does it here. Usually the verb ειμι (to be) is implicit. Apparently the food saying had wider implication than simply justifying gluttony. It seems the Corinthians were using it in a general sense: my desire for an object justifies me fulfilling that desire. Thus, if I want sex, it’s okay for me to engage in temple prostitution (this is a common argument today, even if it’s left implicit). Paul can’t stand this, which is probably why he makes such a strong statement about “God destroying both of these.” Paul’s corrective here is that our bodies are not for πορνεια (same root word as prostitute, something like sexual immorality) but for Christ. He then throws in the extra little bit that I can’t completely wrap my head around: “και ὁ κυριος τῳ σοματι,” “and the Lord for the body.” Paul undoubtedly has his “church as the body of Christ” metaphor in mind here, and I think Paul is saying that Jesus’ intention is toward his Church. I’m not really sure how to unpack this further though. How exactly is the “Lord for the body” or “intended for the body?”

14) Paul links proper behavior with resurrection. Basically, our physical bodies matter for two reasons. One, the Lord was raised in a physical body. Two, God will raise us in physical bodies like he did for the Lord. Thus, what we do in our physical bodies now is extremely important, as they are part of God’s good creation.

15) The body metaphor comes out very clearly in this verse. I wasn’t really sure how to translate μελη.  Literally, it refers to a part of the body. I don’t like the word member since we don’t really use that to refer to a part of the body, but part didn’t sound right either. In characteristic fashion, Paul uses some argumentum ad absurdum. He makes a ridiculous deduction (we should join Christ with a prostitute!) to show the absurdity of the Corinthian behavior.

16) Paul continues his scolding of Corinthian sexual behavior, this time with a scriptural quotation. In Greek, the verb εσονται (will become) is split off from the rest of the quotation by the linking words γαρ φησιν (for it is said). By doing this, I believe Paul is emphasizing even more the ramifications of sexual immorality, the “oneness” of the two participants. In engaging with a prostitute, you are assuming her identity.

Next up are verses 17-20. I may do a summary of the whole chapter afterwards as well.


P.S. This passage does not serve to condemn the many who are tragically trapped and exploited in the sex trade every year. Paul makes it clear in verse 11 that some of the Corinthians had indeed come out of prostitution. The prostitution going on in this city was likely temple prostitution, which had a cultic, pagan quality to it. The end of sexual exploitation is something Christians are called to work for in the present, even if it won’t be ended entirely until the Lord returns.

Greek Study: 1 Cor 6:9-11

Since I’m currently going with 4 verses a day, I actually got through verse 12, but I’ll delay that verse since it starts a new section.

9.) ἧ ουκ οιδατε ὃτι αδικοι θεου βασιλεαν ου κληρονομησουσιν; μη ανασθε, ουτε πορνοι ουτε ειδωλολατραι ουτε μοικοι ουτε μαλακοι ουτε αρσενοκοιται
10.) ουτε κλεπται ουτε πλεονεκται ου μεθευσοι ου λοιδοροι ουκ αρπαγες βασιλεαν θεου κληρονομησουσιν.
11.) και ταυτα τινες ἧτε, αλλα απελουσασθε, αλλα ἣγιασθητε, αλλα εδικαιωθητε εν τῳ οναματι του κυριου Ιεσου Χριστου, και εν τῳ πνευματι του θεου ἡμων.

Now for a rough translation:
9) Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived! Neither those who practice sexual immorality, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders,
10) Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanders, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11) And you were some of these things, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God!

In verse 9, I’m curious about the significance of the word order for θεου βασιλεαν versus βασιλεαν θεου. Both mean kingdom of God, and word order is much freer in Greek than in English. However, Paul inverts the normal word order with θεου βασιλεαν in verse 9 and then reverts back to the normal order in verse 10. Is Paul bringing special emphasis to God in bringing the word θεου forward in the sentence? I’ve asked the B-Greek mailing list and I’ll update later with some of their thoughts.

In verse 10, I’m puzzled as to why Paul reverts to ου… ου… ουκ for the last few items instead of keeping up the ουτε. Again, no difference in meaning, but it seems peculiar to someone new to Greek.

Verse 11 is my favorite of the group. The verse doesn’t exactly play nice with what I was taught concerning salvation and sanctification. I was always taught that sanctification followed salvation, and was an ongoing process through the believers life. Here, Paul says very clearly “you all were sanctified,” or “You all were made holy.” Sanctification does have an ongoing aspect, but Paul chooses here to focus on sanctification as an act which took place in the past. After all, how can you be a saint (which in the New Testament is synonymous with believer) if you have been made into one (sanctified). Απελουσασθε (you all were washed) probably refers to baptism, and one could argue on the basis of 1 Cor 12 that that is what Paul has in mind here.

The repetition of αλλα is also interesting. I don’t *think* that it’s grammatically necessary for Paul to repeat the αλλα, though I don’t know enough to say for sure. If my hunch is correct, then the repetition of αλλα serves to drive home the correction even harder. From what I’ve read from Steve Runge and Rick Brannan, αλλα is generally used as a corrective ‘but.’ It thus serves to say, it’s not this but that! Here, I think it’s serving to forcefully remind the Corinthians of both their previous way of life, and their baptism, sanctification, and justification, mostly so that they’ll start acting like appropriately. Repeating the ‘but’ would be awkward in English, but you get a similar effect by repeating the “you were,” which could be dropped.

Finally, I’m curious about the  εν τῳ …. εν τῳ … phrase at the end of verse 11. As is usually the case in Greek, εν is a remarkably flexible preposition. It often means ‘in’ with the sense of location. It can also mean ‘by.’ I was surprised to come across two εν’s because I was familiar with the NIV’s “in the name… by the Spirit of …” This verse definitely parallels with 1 Cor 12 where Paul speaks of being baptized “by (εν) one spirit into (εις) one body.” Once Accordance arrives, I’ll look for some more examples where εν and εις are used together to better understand what’s going on there.

Next up, verses 12-16!


Update: My post to the B-Greek board garnered several responses. It was agreed that this was a “marked” word order, which means that since the word order is unusual there’s some meaning to it. What it actually means is not that easy. Another interesting idea mentioned was that θεου modified αδικοι instead of βασιλεαν. This means that instead of:

“Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom?”

it would be translated something like this:

“Don’t you know that the unrighteous with respect to God will not inherit the kingdom?”

It’s a bit awkward to me to see it that way, but I guess it’s grammatically possible. The Greek genitive is extremely flexible in how you interpret it, so there’s probably other ways to understand the construction as well.

Memorization in Greek: 1 Cor 6:1-8

1.) τολμᾳ τις ὐμων πραγμα εχων προς τον ἒτερον κρινεσθαι επι των αδικων και ουκι επι των ἁγιων:
2.) η ουκ οιδατε ὃτι οἱ αγιοι τον κοσμον κεροῦμεν; και ει εν υμιν ὁ κοσμος κρινεται, αξιοι εστε κριτεριων ελαχιστων;
3.) ουκ οιδατε ὃτι αγγελους κρινοῦμεν; μετιγη βιοτικα.
4.) βιοτικα μεν ουν κριτερια εαν εχετε, τους εξοθενημενους εν τῃ εκκλεσια, τουτους καθιζετε.
5.) προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω. τουτῶς ουκ ενι εν υμιν ουδεις σοφος, ὃς δυνησεται διακριναι ανα μεσον του αδελφου αυτου;
6.) αλλα αδελφος μετα αδελφου κρινεται, και τουτο επι απιστων.
7.) ἣδη μεν ουν ὁλως ἡμμητα υμιν εστιν ὃτι κριματα εχετε μεθ᾽ ἑαυτων. δια τί μαλλον αδικεισθε; δια τί μαλλον αποστερεισθε;
8.) αλλα υμεις αδικειτε και αποστερειτε, και τουτο αδελφους.

Please forgive the many mistakes and sporadic accents, it was mostly from memory. One thing which immediately popped out even more clearly in Greek (not in the Greek!) was the κρινω words (judgement/law words). Apparently Greek gets quite a lot of mileage out of this one verb:

  • κρινεσθαι- go the law (the passive form)
  • κεροῦμεν- we will judge
  • κριτεριων- to preside over, sit as judges
  • κριτερια- lawsuits, disputes
  • κριματα- lawsuits

The κρινω words are everywhere in this passage! In fact, I suspect I’d find the same thing throughout the letter. I had considered doing a study on judgment in 1 Corinthians, and this just makes me want to do it even more! I probably won’t get to it anytime soon however.

And now, for a rather rough translation-
1.) Dare any of you who have a dispute with another, dare you take it before the unjust for judgment instead of before the saints?
2.) Or don’t you know that the saints will judge the world? And if by you the world is judged, are worthy to judge trivial matters?
3.) Don’t you know that we will judge angels? How much more trivial things!
4.)If you have disputes about trivial things, appoint even those who are of little account in the Church!
5.) I say this to your shame. Can it truly be that there is no one among you who is wise? Who is able to judge a dispute between one brother and another?
6.) But one brother goes to law with another, and this in front of unbelievers!
7.) This is already a complete defeat for you, because you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be unjustly treated? Why not rather be cheated?
8.) Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and do this to your brothers!

This is horribly awkward and inconsistent as it stands, but I’ll leave it without editing it. Some particularly difficult places:
1.) The verb τολμᾳ (dare you) at the beginning is very hard maintain when translating into English. I like it at the beginning because it sets the tone up for the rest of the passage, so I chose to just insert it again later in the verse.
2.) I’m wondering how many different ways the phrase και ει εν υμιν ο κοσμος κρινεται can be taken. The supplied “and if by you the world is judged” is pretty literal, but I also have the image of the world going to law against the saints. The first rendering is preferred, most likely, since Paul does later highlight the saints’ role in the final judgment.
3-4.) I wasn’t quite sure how to render βιωτικα. The UBS dictionary has “things pertaining to everyday life,” so trivial things may have been too strong a word. Things pertaining to everyday life was way too long though, so I went with “trivial things” to try and capture the contrast with judging angels. The NIV’s “things of this life” is probably better!
5.) Just awkward ;-)
7-8.) I wanted to keep the “just” root in αδικεισθε, which I why I used “unjustly treated.” The NIV’s cheated is nicer though, particularly for brevity’s sake.

Oh, and for 1-8, I often wanted to use a ‘!’? as punctuation since the questions are mostly of the biting, rhetorical kind. It looked too awkward though.

When I do this in the future, I’ll probably copy and paste the Greek text (or just eschew accents altogether when typing) It was great practice to type it out, but it took forever!


P.S. You can find my many mistakes by comparing me with this site.