Thursday, May 18, 2006

1 Cor 7:35 headache

I’ve been working on my exegesis of 1 Cor 7:32-35 for far too long now and my sanity chip is starting to melt.

A real problem has been the translation of a part of 7:35: ‘avlla. pro.j to. eu;schmon kai. euvpa,redron tw/ kuri,w avperispa,stwj’*

Now, for those of you who know your Greek, ask yourself what syntactical label you would apply to eu;schmon and euvpa,redron. OK. Decided? Now ask yourself the same about avperispa,stwj.

So far so good right? The first two are adjectives, and the last is an adverb.

Well, the only way to make an understandable English translation is to be creative! Actually, I was rather relieved to discover today that even Greek speakers had difficulty following Paul on this one (both P15 and Chrysostom made changes), so when Barrett claimed of this verse: ‘close translation is scarcely possible’, I have to vigorously agree.

A couple of modern attempts I take issue with:

Garland: ‘but [I am saying this] to promote what is seemly and constant before the Lord [that you might live] undistractedly’

Thiselton: ‘but with a view what is appropriate to undistracted devotion to the Lord’

My translation, and I really think it is better: ‘but with a view to promoting that which is appropriate and facilitates undivided devotion to the Lord’. I think the ‘and’ is very important, and makes sense of the general flow of the argument.

*(If you have the Bibleworks Greek font installed you will be able to read this – see my sidebar for a link)


At 5/18/2006 8:26 PM, Anonymous Michael Pahl said...

You have a sanity chip? :-)

At 5/18/2006 8:41 PM, Anonymous Derek Brown said...

Thanks a lot Chris! Having just taken off my exegetical hat for the day (I'm right in the thick of trans. Rom. 5), I came across your entry. So I once again took up my hat, only to be pained by the exegetical angst of its pressure.

Regarding your trans., I think your's is as good as it can get. It would be nice to maintain the double usage of 'pros' in v. 35, but alas, it seems unworkable. Perhaps rather than "with a view to promoting..." we could say "but to promote..."? This uses only a simple infinitive, instead of the extra "with a view," while keeping the telic meaning of 'pros'.

Also, what about this: "...but for the sake of your propriety (I know, not the best word) and undivided devotion to the Lord."

Lastly, I can't resist Peterson's trans. in the Message: "All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions."

At 5/19/2006 8:32 PM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...



The sytatical labels are not a problem, I believe what you are looking for is the semantic functions. OUC hINA introduces a goal which is negated and contrasted to another goal introduced by PROS. This second goal is somewhat semantically and statically complex. I would suggest that EUSCHMON KAI EUPAREDRON function as states which Paul considers desirable for the addressees. He wants them to enter into and/or remain in these states. APERISPASTWS can be an adverb modifier of these states or it can be another state. The same goes for TWi KURIWi.

An idiomatic English translation is going to nail down one and only one of the possible ways of resolving the relationships between these constituents. So to make things clear you are going to lose some of the potential in Paul's ambiguous greek. This is particularly a problem with TWi KURIWi.

At 5/19/2006 10:20 PM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Looking at this again it might be better to consider the "goal" introduced by PROS as a single complex "state of affairs" which is broken down into two parts divided by KAI. I agree with you that the KAI is significant and should be retained.

The semantic value TWi KURIWi depends on semantics of EUPAREDRON. I am not convinced that the standard translations have explored all the possibilities here. They all seem to tag KURIWi as a beneficiary. That is probably a safe reading but I don't think it is the only reading. Garland's "before the Lord" is one alternative.

At 5/19/2006 11:27 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Mike,
You have a sanity chip? :-)


Derek, many thanks for your comments after having already put up your tired exegetical feet!

As with the 'with a view to', I'm just trying to preserve the force of the PROS followed by the articular accusative TO. But you may be right.

Propriety? I hadn't even thought of that - I'll have to mull on it! Many thanks!

Hi Clay
The sytatical labels are not a problem, I believe what you are looking for is the semantic functions.

Yes, that's exactly the problem.

Actually, I have just pondered your words and found them extremely useful. Many thanks - I'll have to go back over my exegesis.


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