Monthly Archives: January 2014
The last half of this chapter contained a lot of concepts that required a lot of comment. I was very surprised at how long I went on during the commentary on individual verses. Not that I’m spare in my words; rather; it was the text that had ideas and thoughts that had far-reaching implications that really required discussion.
The first half of the chapter seems to be mostly about things of the world, and only indirectly about spiritual matters. The topics fell into two main themes. The first involved a discussion that indicates that there were serious divisions among the community in Corinth. The divisions were such that it appears legal actions were involved, and Paul, rather delicately, suggests ways around this. His idea is to have disputes judged by other members of the community as a means of avoiding the law courts. Writing this, it just now occurred to me how delicately Paul was treating all of this. No names are mentioned. He does not reprimand, or scold as he does about other matters like sexual morality. Paul has no problem deploring the latter, but is surprisingly reticent about the lawsuits. This makes me wonder if perhaps some of the parties involved in these legal actions were not, perhaps, some of the more substantial (read: wealthy) members of the assembly. As such, perhaps Paul felt constrained about giving it to them with both barrels. Perhaps? I can’t prove this, but think about it.
And this segues neatly into the second theme of the first half. Once again, we’re back to sexual morality. It’s buried within a list of other sins, but he still singles it out. And, in particular, he manages to single out homosexual behaviour for particular scorn. The John Dominic Crossan book I just read had an interesting take on why the Church became especially opposed to sexual incontinence, as opposed to something like greed. The latter, he suggests, is a sin of lean times, when people don’t have enough to eat. At those times, greed and hoarding become especially heinous crimes. In good times, when people have enough to eat, and they have some leisure–and some boredom–sexual licence becomes an issue. So, since the Patristic thinkers were largely men from good families, for whom hunger was not a problem, and who chose chastity as the preferred lifestyle, sexual mores took precedence over other matters. Presumably, Paul, who was well-educated, which back then meant well-off, would have been in a similar position. An interesting theory.
In the second half of the chapter, things got interesting. We started with a bit of a foray into the linguistic realm. It turns out that the same Greek word is behind the English words “justify” & “righteousness”; the base meaning of the Greek term is something like “set right”. If you think of ‘justified’ margins in a document, you can see some how the words/terms overlap.
Then we moved onto dietary laws and the question of whether Apollos was a Jew or Gentile. It doesn’t particularly matter; but John Dominic Crossan made this assertion. I have seen no evidence one way or the other. The influence of Jewish followers would explain why this controversy arose here. Then we got another one of those “hanging implications” as I termed them back in Chapter 2. And, like those earlier ones, this one put forth the implication that, for Paul, there was a definite difference between God the Father and Jesus the Christ. This is not the first time that Paul has implied this distinction; at this point, I think it is very, very clear that Paul would not have agreed with the opening chapter of John’s gospel, or the eventual development of the doctrine of the Trinity as it came to be formulated in the 3/4 Century.
The biggest discussion came from the statement that God raised up Jesus, and will raise us up, too. This is interesting, and good information, but, as of yet, we really have not been told exactly what will happen when we have been ‘raised up’. Now, we (or at least I) tend to assume ‘raise up’ means ‘from the dead’. But there was the passage in 1 Thessalonians in which we’re told we will be ‘raised up’ into the air to meet the Lord as he descends. That is an interesting thought because, at this point, we are not really talking about an afterlife. The description in 1 Thessalonians 4 describes what will happen to living persons. Granted, those who have euphemistically ‘fallen asleep’ will precede the living, but those who are alive–and Paul expects to be one–will follow directly. As such, this is not a ‘resurrection’ of the body, but a ‘raising up’ of the body. The analogy seems to be the Catholic doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (celebrated 8/15; a holy day of obligation, meaning one must go to mass or commit a mortal sin); in this doctrine, Mary was taken bodily up to heaven, before she actually died (IIRC about the ‘before she died’ part).
Even the euphemism of ‘falling asleep’ indicates that Paul believes that this raising up will take place prior to actual physical death. This, despite the fact that some brothers and sisters had died. Or, seemingly so. Again, the point here is that Paul’s version of ‘inheriting the kingdom’ seems to be very, very different from what became orthodox doctrine, and the belief held by most Christians today. Think about that for a moment. Or even two. That bears some serious thought. Of course, your conclusion may be that I’m flat-wrong about this inference, but it seems to be there pretty plainly. Interesting how inconvenient issues got overlooked when they got in the way of doctrinal development. This sort of jarring contradiction is a big part of the reason that, for a millennium, The Church actively discouraged lay persons from reading the Bible. (Of course, this wasn’t hard when pretty much the only people who could read were churchmen.) But, even so, even with the Reformation, and the Protestant emphasis on reading the Bible, this has never really been brought up–as far as I know. Even the Protestants sort of skimmed over this because, by that point, the notions of the afterlife and Heaven and Hell were so firmly entrenched that they were part of the wallpaper: and they could not be removed without removing the wallpaper.
In addition, Paul makes a couple of interelatedpoints. The first is Paul’s fairly definitive refusal to step fully into a dualist theology. Despite his continued distinction between spirit and flesh–and to the detriment of the latter–he refused to become a full-blown dualist and proclaim that the flesh was inherently evil and a bad thing. Rather, the body is a temple of the sacred breath, and should be treated as such. The other is that sin not only harms the body, but the spirit as well. This is a significant step on the road towards the internalization of guilt, rather than the externalized existence of shame.
The last point is also a big one. It also goes completely unanswered. We were purchased, we are told. But from whom? This strikes at the heart of the idea of our salvation. Did the death of Jesus represent a ransom paid? That is sort of what this statement implies. Or, was Jesus a sacrifice of redemption? The latter obviously won out, but it took a couple of centuries for this doctrinal dispute to be settled. It was not hugely divisive, like Arianism, Pelagianism, or the Iconoclast controversy that nearly tore the Greek Eastern empire apart in the centuries immediately following the rise of Islam. However, this dispute has to serve as a reminder that “what everyone knows” about Christianity is not cut as clearly as people suppose.
One last thing. I mentioned Arianism in the last paragraph. This struck the West very hard. At base, it’s sort of the step between Adoptionism and John’s “in the beginning was the Logos…” We mentioned Adoptionism in reading Mark, especially with respect to Mark’s story of Jesus’ baptism. Recall that Mark was not at all convincing that Jesus was a divine figure from the start. There are points when Mark seems to state pretty clearly that he did not believe Jesus the Man was divine. Rather, he implies that Jesus was “adopted” at his baptism. (At least, this is the argument that was made.) Arianism, OTOH, admits that Jesus was a divine Son of God, but that he had a lesser status than God the Father. This is a very pagan concept, and was particularly popular among a number of the German tribes that later converted. In fact, the Visigoths, who ruled Spain for about 300 years, until the conquest of the peninsula by the Muslims, were Arians. If you read Gregory of Tours History Of The Franks (title of the Penguin translation), Gregory regards the Visigoths as almost worse than the still-pagan German tribes to the East of the Frankish kingdom (basically, modern-day France and a bit more around the perimeter). And the thing was, statements of Paul that implied that he saw a distinction between God and the Christ, helped the Arians make their case. So, Paul and Mark were not wholly orthodox–or at least could be seen as suspect–by later standards of the term. Think about that.
Chapter 6 continues; we were discussing the catalog of sins that must be avoided to inherit the kingdom before the (rather artificial) break.
11 καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε: ἀλλὰ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλὰ ἡγιάσθητε, ἀλλὰ ἐδικαιώθητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν.
And these things some of you were; but you were washed, but you were made holy (sanctified), but you were justified in the name of the lord Jesus Christ, and in the spirit of our God.
First, let’s go back to the word << ἐδικαιώθητε >>, which almost always gets translated as ‘justified’. A large part of the reason for this is the Latin translation is <<iustificari>>; change the initial ‘i’ to a ‘j’ and you get ‘justificari’, and hence you see the short step into English. But a word of reminder: the Latin word is based on ‘ius’, which is the word for ‘law’. The Greek is based on << δικη >>, which means something closer to ‘proper order’ in the sense of ‘what is right’. The two concepts overlap, certainly, but the point is that the Greek term completely lacks the whole legalistic concept of ‘ius‘. One can ‘make it right’ without getting into legalities. So I suppose I could/should be translating this as ‘made right’, or ‘set right’ rather than take the lazy way out and use ‘justify’.
OTOH, the noun form of the word is often translated as ‘righteousness’. For example, in Matthew 3:15, after John demurs from baptizing Jesus, the latter tells John to go ahead and do it, so that all ‘righteousness’ may be fulfilled. What Jesus is saying is that ‘all should be done according to right order’, or something along those lines. So the Greek term can encompass both ‘justification’ and ‘righteousness’; the two terms are not unrelated, but they do both cover some disparate ground between them. The linking concept is ‘putting right’, which for which both ‘justification’ and ‘righteousness’ may, by themselves, be inadequate.
Second, we get another of those unconscious slips that sometimes betray more than the words that are chosen consciously. Some of the Corinthians were ‘set right’ in the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and in the spirit of God. Once more, as was the case back in our discussion of 1 Cor 2:16, we get what is, in terms of the underlying logic of the assertion, a real distinction between Jesus the Christ and God. Now, this could just be a rhetorical flourish on Paul’s part; sort of like saying: the honor due to the president, and the respect due to the leader of the country. Obviously, these words from an American would refer to the same individual (although the same may not be true for a parliamentary democracy that has a PM as well as a President). But I don’t take this as rhetoric. One reason, of course, is that we ran into this same sort of distinction in 2:16.
To this point, we have come across literally nothing in Paul that would indicate that he would express a thought like the opening of the gospel of John: where the Christ was pre-existing with the Father. So this is just one more bit of evidence that the conflation of the person of the Christ and the person of the Father had not even been conceived, let alone that theologians were making any attempt to come to grips with the implications of this duality of the Divine Principal. Any distinction almost necessarily requires the precedence of one over the other, which means that strict Jewish monotheistic belief is being contravened. Given this, is it any wonder that Jews took exception to some of the teachings and beliefs of the followers of Jesus?
11 Et haec quidam fuistis. Sed abluti estis, sed sanctificati estis, sed iustificati estis in nomine Domini Iesu Christi et in Spiritu Dei nostri!
12 Πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν, ἀλλ’ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει. πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐγὼ ἐξουσιασθήσομαι ὑπό τινος.
All things for me are allowed, but not all things are profitable. All things for me are allowed, but I will not be under the authority of these things.
12 “ Omnia mihi licent! ”. Sed non omnia expediunt. “ Omnia mihi licent! ”. Sed ego sub nullius redigar potestate.
13 τὰ βρώματα τῇ κοιλίᾳ, καὶ ἡ κοιλία τοῖς βρώμασιν: ὁ δὲ θεὸς καὶ ταύτην καὶ ταῦτα καταργήσει. τὸ δὲ σῶμα οὐ τῇ πορνείᾳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κυρίῳ, καὶ ὁ κύριος τῷ σώματι:
The meats to the belly, and the belly for the meats; but God will destroy this one and those (the belly and meats). But the body is not for debauchery, but belongs to the lord, and the lord belongs to the body.
I mixed up the way I translated the datives in the last half of the verse. The body is not ‘for’ debauchery is a pretty standard use of the dative: the indirect object. But it ‘belongs to’ the lord. This is the dative of possession, which is “c’est a moi” in French. We could say the body is for the lord, but I think this works better. But that is my opinion. Feel free to disagree. Note: I checked, and all four of my crib texts choose to render this as ‘the body is for the lord, and the lord is for the body.’ So I’m the minority.
What these two verses seem to be talking about is Jewish dietary restrictions, which is why I’m commenting on both together. I have to admit that “all things are allowed to me” raised my eyebrows on first reading. However, the thought is completed here, when he specifies that all meats are for the belly; that is, no reason to exclude pig, or whatever else the dietary laws forbid. We talked about this in Galatians: it seems obvious to me that Jesus really said nothing about the dietary restrictions; given that, I believe that, in this case, silence implies consent. Jesus said nothing because it never occurred to him to question, let alone nullify, the dietary restrictions. Had he done so, Paul would not have gotten into the brouhaha with James over this subject.
Regarding this, when we were talking about Apollos, I wondered whether he was a Greek or a Jew. John Dominic Crossan–who is far, far more knowledgeable about this than I am–says that Apollos was a Jew from the city of Alexandria. JDC does not cite his source, or go into the argument to demonstrate how he knows this. As such, I have to reserve judgement until the proof, or the argument, is forthcoming. Now, being from Alexandria, Apollos was likely highly educated, which means a pagan/classical education in the Greek literary canon and rhetoric. As such, the reasons for Paul’s jealousy would not be affected in any way. In many ways, culturally, as an Alexandrian Jew, Apollos would have been indistinguishable from a Greek. The exception may have been dietary practice. So, if Apollos was a Jew, were he and Paul wrangling over the dietary restrictions? Possibly. And, honestly, the dietary issues could easily have been a problem for a Gentile community as well as a Jewish community as long as there was a preacher of Jewish background advocating adherence to the dietary restrictions.
13 “ Esca ventri, et venter escis! ”. Deus autem et hunc et has destruet. Corpus autem non fornicationi sed Domino, et Dominus corpori;
14 ὁ δὲ θεὸς καὶ τὸν κύριον ἤγειρεν καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐξεγερεῖ διὰ τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ.
But God also raised the lord, and he will raise us up through his power.
“God raised the lord” in previous usages of this phrase has had the phrase “from the dead” attached. We were just told that God would destroy the belly, which could plausibly be taken to mean ‘the body’ as a whole. Given this, if we are ‘destroyed’, does that mean we’ve died? And if we’ve died, does that mean we’ll be raised, as in, ‘from the dead’. This is all about the equivalency principle: if a=b, and b=c, then a=c. Words, however, are not exact identities the way mathematical or logical expressions can be. Still, I believe that my formulation is at least possible, if not necessary.
But all these logical niceties aside, what does this say about the final goal here? What happens when we are raised? What is the message here? Any Christian from the Fifth Century on would have understood this in terms of our eternal salvation. But can we talk about salvation? If so, just barely. The word ‘salvation’ occurs twice in Philippians, the only epistle of Paul likely written prior to 1 Corinthians to use the term. Nor did it catch on for some time. Mark didn’t use it at all; it shows up a few times in Luke, but not in full force until the later epistles, the deutero-Pauline and those of Peter & the rest. So I think that term might be anachronistic.
Perhaps this is a reference to ‘the life’, a term that cropped up in Mark. The problem is, this term hasn’t shown up in the Pauline corpus yet (in the sense of, in the letters written prior to 1 Corinthians). So then again, maybe Paul is not talking about ‘the life’. We were told in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 that those who died before the return of the Christ would rise up, and precede the living as all rise up into the sky to meet the Lord as he descended from the heavens. Is that what ‘being raised’ means? Sort of an anticipation of the idea of the Rapture, when the blessed would be taken up into heaven? I think we have to consider that possibility. This would explain where the idea of the Ascension originated. That is actually kind of a big deal, because nowhere does Paul talk about what happened
And then…what? That we are told here that we will be raised is a reference to that idea, I believe. And I further suspect that both here and in 1 Thessalonians that Paul is is more or less equating this idea of being raised, or rising into the air with ‘inheriting the kingdom of God’ that he mentioned a few verses back. The thing to note is how sketchy the idea is; and how unlike what we have come to think of as ‘heaven’. First, I have the distinct impression that Paul is talking about a corporeal–not a disembodied spiritual–resurrection. That is, I would suggest, what is implied in being raised by God: that it’s a resurrection of the body.
This is important because, to this point, there is no idea of a spiritual-only heaven. Mainline Christian belief is that our souls survive and go to reward or punishment, and then, on the last day, Judgement Day, the bodies rise from the tombs and we are all judged on our merits and our souls are reunited with our bodies. We don’t have that part about just the soul surviving here, and I think that is significant, in that it shows how the concept of ‘the afterlife’ hadn’t really taken shape yet. Paul is not, truly, describing an ‘afterlife’, but something more like a continued life, in which our corporeal existence is extended–but for how long isn’t really specified. Maybe it’s eternal, or maybe we’re just reading that back from later developments.
This is also has implications about the divinity of Jesus. We talked about this at the beginning of 1 Thessalonians, how God raised Jesus. Paul is consistent about this.
14 Deus vero et Dominum suscitavit et nos suscitabit per virtutem suam.
15 οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν μέλη Χριστοῦ ἐστιν; ἄρας οὖν τὰ μέλητοῦ Χριστοῦ ποιήσω πόρνης μέλη; μὴ γένοιτο.
Do you not know that your bodies are rather for the Christ? In this way, taking up one intended for Christ, will I rather make you for a harlot?Let it not be so!
I’ve mentioned the possibly Gnostic, or quasi-Gnostic implications in a few of the things that Paul has said. This would include both secret knowledge, but especially the flesh=bad, spirit=good dichotomy that was so prevalent among a lot of dualistic believers. Here, OTOH, these two verses show us that show us pretty clearly that Paul did not take that last step into a full-blown dualism. The spirit was, in the best traditions of Greek philosophy, the ‘higher’, or the more ‘pure’, but here he shows the value he still put on the human body. Some dualists–supposedly–believed that, since the body was inherently corrupt, and since the real person was the spirit, there was no harm in indulging in physical pleasures. Paul is adamantly not in that camp. The body is not meant for debauchery, and one reason for this may be that the body will be physically assumed into the kingdom when the lord returns.
15 Nescitis quoniam corpora vesta membra Christi sunt? Tollens ergo membra Christi faciam membra meretricis? Absit!*
16 [ἢ] οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ὁ κολλώμενος τῇ πόρνῃ ἓν σῶμά ἐστιν; Ἔσονται γάρ, φησίν, οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν.
[ Or ] do you not know that the one joining with the harlot is one body with her? “For they will be”, it is said, “the two will be one flesh”.
The two being one flesh is a cite of Genesis 2:24. And perhaps this is why Paul does not disparage the physical world, the human body: because it’s still a creation of God. This is what prevented the later Christian Church from embracing a full-blown dualism; God made the material world, so it had to have value. And it’s also a neat piece of logic; the principle of a=b, and b=c, so a=c.
16 An nescitis quoniam, qui adhaeret meretrici, unum corpus est? “ Erunt enim, inquit, duo in carne una ”.
17 ὁ δὲ κολλώμενος τῷ κυρίῳ ἓν πνεῦμά ἐστιν.
For the one joining the lord is one in the spirit.
But here we swing back to the superiority of the spirit over the physical. And let’s notice something else: the word I’ve translated as ‘joining’ is the same word used for ‘joining’ with a harlot; IOW, entering into (obviously) sexual union. Now, it strikes me as…well, it just strikes me that Paul would use the same word, with–in some sense, anyway–the same implication for both of these unions. This is not the last time there will be an overlap of the imagery of sexual union and the imagery of divine union. There is a famous statue called “The Ecstasy of St Theresa”. The statue represents a moment when the saint entered into a mystical union with God. But Lord Kenneth Clark referred to the woman in the statue as a ‘swooning beauty’, thereby pointing out how the artist had used sexual imagery as a representation of divine ecstasy.
17 Qui autem adhaeret Domino, unus Spiritus est.
18 φεύγετε τὴν πορνείαν: πᾶν ἁμάρτημα ὃἐ ὰν ποιήσῃ ἄνθρωπος ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν, ὁ δὲ πορνεύων εἰς τὸ ἴδιον σῶμα ἁμαρτάνει.
Flee the debauchery; all sin that a human may make is outside the body, the one debauching sins within his own body.
Here’s another instance in which Paul distinguishes between flesh and spirit, to the detriment of the former. The defilement of the body is bad; but what really matters is the way the sin is internalized. To some degree, IMO, this is something of a reaction to Jewish practice of ritual lustration: the requirement to cleanse oneself if one has been in contact with a dead body, or a menstruating woman, or other such persons. And there’s the bit in Josephus where he tells us that John’s baptizing was the end, not the beginning the process. One was baptized after one had repented one’s sins. It was an outward act, not a spiritual act as Christians understand it. To some degree, this distinction that Paul posits is the difference between the shame culture and the guilt culture. In the former, it was the outward act that mattered; in the latter, it’s what’s inside that counts. The Greeks of Homer’s day followed a shame culture; one of the minor characters in The Iliad went into exile from his home city because he killed his father. What’s interesting is that he doesn’t seem to be all that remorseful; rather, he’s annoyed because the action–intentional or not–was what mattered, and he could not live with that shame in his home city.
18 Fugite fornicationem! Omne peccatum, quodcumque fecerit homo, extra corpus est; qui autem fornicatur, in corpus suum peccat.
19 ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι τὸ σῶμα ὑμῶν ναὸς τοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν ἁγίου πνεύματός ἐστιν, οὗ ἔχετε ἀπὸ θεοῦ, καὶ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἑαυτῶν;
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the sacred breath that is in you, do you not have this from God, and are you not his own?
First, the Latin uses “qui = who” rather than “that”. Technically, the Greek doesn’t use either, but I believe this means that it would or should default to “that” as a result. The Latin translation was done several hundred years after Paul wrote the letter, during which time the idea of the Trinity had been developed and had taken root. As such, we get “…the Holy Spirit who…” rather than “…the sacred breath that…” I hope the distinction here is clear, and that it’s clear why I say this, and why this matters, and why it’s not necessary that this be taken in the sense of “Holy Spirit”.
And I’m not sure if this is where the idea of the ‘body as temple’ motif, or analogy came from. Paul may have been tapping into an older tradition; however, in Judaism there was one Temple, and I don’t recall having encountered this concept in pagan thought. But, I don’t claim that my knowledge is comprehensive, so I may easily have missed this. More importantly than who coined what phrase are the implications this brings up about attitudes towards the body. Once again, this goes in the opposite direction of the way Gnosticism and the dualists would go: such groups would never suggest that the body was a temple. Rather, they would say that the body was a prison, something putrescent to be scorned. So, again, while Paul has his moments of brushing up against what sound like they could be Gnostic beliefs about ‘secret knowledge’, here he is clearly on the side of what would become orthodox Christian doctrine.
19 An nescitis quoniam corpus vestrum templum est Spiritus Sancti, qui in vobis est, quem habetis a Deo, et non estis vestri?
20 ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ τιμῆς: δοξάσατεδὴ τὸν θεὸν ἐν τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν.
For you were purchased for a price; so glorify God in (with) your body.
20 Empti enim estis pretio! Glorificate ergo Deum in corpore vestro.
Purchased. That is a very significant word. Paul is stating that Jesus, by dying, paid our purchase price to…or is it for?…Jesus purchased us, but from whom? And for what purpose? I am trying to look at this as if I do not know the past 2,000 years of Christian thought; of course, the problem is that I am reasonably familiar with what the Church ended up teaching. But this is the first use of this term in proto-Christian writing, so we have no context for it, nor any preliminary thought. It does not occur in Mark. In fact, this usage, and another in the next chapter are the only times this thought is expressed in the entire NT, with the exception of a couple of uses in Revelation.
So again, purchased from whom, and for what purpose? At this point, there are no answers to these questions. Perhaps the next time we run across this in Chapter 7 we may get some more clues. Let’s wait and see.
Unable as I am to know when to stop, I just want to throw this out for the time being: this idea of us being bought obviously occurred fairly early on in the development of proto-Christian thought. However, it’s something that the QHJ people tend to ignore in their discussions of Jesus’ actual message. I will leave it there for the moment, but this needs to be borne in mind as we go forward, and especially when we try to figure out what it was that Jesus–as opposed to all his followers–said during his ministry.
So we begin Chapter 6.
1 Τολμᾷ τις ὑμῶν πρᾶγμα ἔχων πρὸς τὸν ἕτερον κρίνεσθαι ἐπὶ τῶν ἀδίκων, καὶ οὐχὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἁγίων;
Should one of you should having a legal dispute against another (of you) be judged among the unjust, or among the holy?
IOW, he’s telling his audience to stop and think about what they’re doing. Why are they engaged in legal or business wrangles with other members of the community? How do they suppose that is being helpful? How can they not see the contradiction in this? Love one another.
1 Audet aliquis vestrum habens negotium adversus alterum iudicari apud iniquos et non apud sanctos?
2 ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ ἅγιοι τὸν κόσμον κρινοῦσιν; καὶ εἰ ἐν ὑμῖν κρίνεται ὁ κόσμος, ἀνάξιοί ἐστε κριτηρίων ἐλαχίστων;
Or do you not know that the holy (ones) will judge the world? And, if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy of the smallest judgements?
First, I translated << ἅγιοι >> as ‘holy ones’ rather than the more common ‘saints’ because this is another situation where ‘saint’ has accumulated too much baggage. Like “Holy Spirit”.
Second, I’m not in the least sure that I follow this. I guess judging the world makes them too big for their britches? I’ve looked at all four of my crib translations, and none of them help. So, it appears that we have a consensus translation.
2 An nescitis quoniam sancti de mundo iudicabunt? Et si in vobis iudicabitur mundus, indigni estis minimis iudiciis?
3 οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἀγγέλους κρινοῦμεν, μήτι γε βιωτικά;
Or do you not know that we judge the angels, and no less so the things of life.
OK, we sort of have a theme here, about judging. Are we coming up to the Greek idea that “man is the measure of all things”? For it seems like the assembly is to judge the world, and the angels, and all else that pertains to this world. Because the members of the assembly are the holy ones, that this does not refer to some other group of saints that is off in the clouds somewhere, which is what ‘saints’ would connote for me at first read. But this is an intriguing line of thinking, and I’m curious to see where it leads. Why do the holy ones of the community judge the world and the angels?
3 Nescitis quoniam angelos iudicabimus, quanto magis saecularia?
4 βιωτικὰ μὲν οὖν κριτήρια ἐὰν ἔχητε, τοὺς ἐξουθενημένους ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τούτους καθίζετε;
For if in this way you may have the things of life judged, do you set them before those despised in the assembly?
“Things of this life” would be regarding The question is, who are those that are despised, and why? Are they lesser in social stature, which is one way Greeks would consider someone despised, or contemptible. A similar thought in English is the word ‘mean’, as in, ‘you are so mean’. This originally meant low-born, not someone with an antisocial attitude. But why would you ask persons of low social stature to be judges of anything? In most cases, in the ancient world, you would not.
Or are these people contemptible because they lead lives that are less than exemplary, or virtuous? Again, this is a legitimate question that we hope will be answered.
4 Saecularia igitur iudicia si habueritis, contemptibiles, qui sunt in ecclesia, illos constituite ad iudicandum?
5 πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν λέγω. οὕτως οὐκ ἔνι ἐν ὑμῖν οὐδεὶς σοφὸς ὃς δυνήσεται διακρῖναι ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ;
I speak to your shame. So is not one among you someone wise, who is the one who is able to judge among his brothers?
I had to sort of juggle tense, number, and positive/negative. It doesn’t really change anything; it’s just that the rules in Greek are often very different than the rules in English.
As for content, this continues the verse before. I have to say, this is another of those times when I just have a really hard time following Paul’s line of thinking. Each word makes sense, the words form into legitimate sentences, but the thoughts expressed just don’t seem to work as a whole. But, I guess if no one among them is a suitable judge, that means they’re letting those not worthy be judges. Right?
5 Ad verecundiam vestram dico! Sic non est inter vos sapiens quisquam, qui possit iudicare inter fratrem suum?
6 ἀλλὰ ἀδελφὸς μετὰ ἀδελφοῦ κρίνεται, καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ ἀπίστων;
But a brother judges with a brother, and this (is how it is) among those without faith.
Here, ‘judges’, as in ‘brother judging a brother’ has a different sense than what we would say in English. Here, ‘judge’ means to ‘go to court’. So we have a brother suing another brother, just as if they were people without faith. Which, here, I think, would be well-translated as ‘godless’. As in, ‘you act just like godless heathens’. There is nothing explicitly to tie this to the complaint in Chapter 1 about the divisions among the members of the assembly, but this sort of litigiousness against another member of the community certainly is evidence that some serious rifts do exist.
6 Sed frater cum fratre iudicio contendit, et hoc apud infideles?
7 ἤδη μὲν[οὖν] ὅλως ἥττημα ὑμῖν ἐστιν ὅτι κρίματα ἔχετε μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν: διὰ τί οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἀδικεῖσθε; διὰ τί οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἀποστερεῖσθε;
Now on the one hand, y0ur whole problem is that you have lawsuits with each other. Because of this are you being more wronged? Because of this are you not being more defrauded?
OK, this makes a bit more sense. In V-5, when he asks about there being no one to judge, he’s saying that the way to handle disputes between members of the assembly is to have another member, someone wise, settle the dispute. Instead, they actually go to court and go through the whole legal apparatus, and this, naturally, creates ill-will and division among the members of the community.
7 Iam quidem omnino defectio est vobis, quod iudicia habetis inter vosmetipsos! Quare non magis iniuriam accipitis, quare non magis fraudem patimini?
8 ἀλλὰ ὑμεῖς ἀδικεῖτε καὶ ἀποστερεῖτε, καὶ τοῦτο ἀδελφούς.
But you wrong and defraud, and (you do) this to brothers.
8 Sed vos iniuriam facitis et fraudatis, et hoc fratribus!
9 ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἄδικοι θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν; μὴ πλανᾶσθε: οὔτε πόρνοι οὔτε εἰδωλολάτραι οὔτε μοιχοὶ οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται
Or don’t you know that the iniquitous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not wander/err. Do not (be) debauchers nor idol worshipper nor adulterers, nor softies, nor homosexuals.
Note that the last word does not exactly mean ‘homosexual’, but more like ‘one who commits homosexual acts’. Also note that this word occurs twice in the NT; once here, and another time in Titus. So the concept is something uniquely of interest to Paul. Why? This goes back to my thoughts on Chapter 5, I believe, that sexual morality is one of Paul’s particular themes, and I believe homosexuality in particular was something that he abhorred. And note, what I have translated as ‘softies’ is usually rendered as ‘effeminate’. My rendering is, technically, more accurate, since the word is especially used to describe soft clothing. So, for Paul, even non-masculine behaviour is a sin worth condemning. This is part of the basis of the belief of some Christians that homosexual acts are a sin.
Now, we need to take note that here Paul explicitly connects sin with not inheriting the kingdom of God. This idea and message, and the form in which they are delivered are replicated from Galatians 5:21. There, we were given a somewhat different list of sins, and told that those committing the sins enumerated would not inherit the kingdom of heaven, either. There, sexual immorality was emphasized beyond the other vices, but Paul did not single out homosexuality there as he does here. 1 Thessalonians 4 also enjoins against fornication; reading these passages backwards, it’s fairly clear, I think, that Paul’s attitude towards sexual immorality is growing more censorious as time passes.
Mark also warned that sinners would not inherit or enter the kingdom of God as well. Notice, though, that it is not specifically stated that this entrance, or inheritance, would only take place in the afterlife. I think this is very important. The implication, I believe, is that the kingdom is near, and that most believers would enter as living persons. Recall the passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 in which he assures his listeners that those who are alive will have no advantage over those who have died; the latter, in fact, will enter the kingdom first. Given this, the reward for a holy life will, for the most part, be bestowed to us in this life. I believe, then, that the idea of the afterlife was a response to the passage of more time in which the Parousia still had not happened. Mark is still rather vague about when or how the blessed ones will enter or inherit; it will be interesting to see what Matthew has to say about this. It’s a theme to watch.
9 An nescitis quia iniqui regnum Dei non possidebunt? Nolite errare: neque fornicarii neque idolis servientes neque adulteri neque molles neque masculorum concubitores
10 οὔτε κλέπται οὔτε πλεονέκται, οὐ μέθυσοι, οὐ λοίδοροι, οὐχ ἅρπαγες βασιλείαν θεοῦ κληρονομήσουσιν.
(continuing from the previous verse) nor thieves, nor greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
And so the list concludes.
10 neque fures neque avari, non ebriosi, non maledici, non rapaces regnum Dei possidebunt.
Time for a confession. One of the reasons I started to read the NT in earnest was to see what Jesus actually said about sexual morality. I had a pretty good idea what Paul’s attitude was, but so I wanted to compare Paul to Jesus. This interest came about because the topic of sexual morality is a big political topic in the US at the moment. So here we certainly get Paul’s opinion. He’s against immorality, especially of the sexual kind. Even in the other two letters, his condemnation of sexual immorality always seemed to generate a lot of passion from Paul. We get the same thing here.
Contrast this with Mark; there was nothing even remotely like this in Mark’s gospel. There were injunctions and exhortations, yes, but nothing sustained, and certainly nothing sustained like this. And yet, Paul was written earlier than Mark. Did the topic of sexual morality become less…pressing in the intervening generations? Was it because Mark was writing more for gentiles, for whom the idea of sexual continence wasn’t that big a deal?
Just a word of background. The Hebrews, traditionally, held themselves to be herders, rather than agriculturalists. Cain was a farmer. The ancient Hebrews held the cities of Canaan in abhorrence; this was the disdain of the herder for the agriculturalist. Traditionally, according to Joseph Campbell, the herdsmen favored the Sky Father, while the agriculturalists tended towards the Earth Mother. The latter placed fertility rites in a central position of their worship, and this meant, often, sexual licence. The herding Hebrews reacted to this. Then, Christianity was born in the heart of Roman decadence. The reigns of Gaius (Caligula) and Nero bracketed Paul’s missionary efforts. So Christianity reacted to Roman licentiousness as well. In short, Paul got a double dose of anti-sexual attitude. It shows. I put no value judgement on this, but it’s what the texts tell us. This mattered to him to a degree that it did not matter to Mark.
Now, how much of Paul’s attitude comes from Jesus? If I had to guess, I would probably say very little, if any, of it. Nowhere in anything we’ve read does Paul say that we are enjoined to this belief by the Christ, let alone Jesus the man. If you look again at the story of his conversion that he relates in Galatians, and then think of the story of the Road to Damascus as a metaphor, and then think about his approach to his preaching, I think it’s easy to believe that Paul’s conversion came upon him in a thunderbolt; but a metaphorical one, rather than the light on the Road to Damascus. The conversion was complete, if not entirely–in a literal sense–instantaneous. I think it left Paul absolutely certain that he was preaching God’s Truth, as revealed by the Christ. This is why he insists that he did not learn the gospel from any man, but directly as a revelation from Jesus the Christ (Gal 1:12). This is why he preaches with power. This is why his message is superior–in his opinion–to that of James, or Apollos.
None of this has anything directly to do with sexual morality and Chapter 5 as a whole. But Paul does not give reasons. He makes statements and issues injunctions, if not commands. These are the words of someone who has very little self-doubt, even if he has a sense of inferiority when he is compared to others. What does matter is that these words are Paul’s words; they do not show up, except in a very attenuated form, in Mark. A list of sins to be avoided, similar to the list of Mark does show up in the Didache. Paul really has no counterpart on this issue. Again, yes there are injunctions, but they are neither as specific nor as extensive as what we find in Paul.
Now the Essenes were ascetics; they practiced a life of celibacy and prayer probably not dissimilar to the more rigorous strains of Medieavel monks. So Paul was not sui generis, perhaps, in his beliefs. Perhaps celibacy was in the air, as it were. Crossan talks about apocalyptic celibacy, a withdrawal from the world, to purify themselves for the coming of…whatever was coming. I think there may have been some of this in Paul’s attitude. After all, he was expecting the return of the Christ, more or less at any moment.
And Paul’s attitude was definitely picked up by what became the Church. Of course, we have not read all of the gospels, nor all of the Pauline corpus, whether genuine or secondary. But I do believe that we will not find anything that will compel me to re-think my position here. When it comes to sexual morality, the subsequent church was Paulian, rather than Christian. That may sound extreme, but I am hardly the first to suggest that Paul was the real founder of Christianity. I’m not going that far, but he was the cornerstone for certain aspects of later Christian belief and practice.
Chapter 5 is fairly short, and it’s one of the few (the only?) that we’ve encountered that has a single theme. It’s devoted to sexual immorality. As such, I think it might be best just to do a straight translation, and save the comment for the summary. I have made some individual points along the way, but, as far as the overall message, that will come in the Summary to Chapter 5. Hope this works for everyone.
1 Ολως ἀκούεται ἐν ὑμῖν πορνεία, καὶ τοιαύτη πορνεία ἥτις οὐδὲ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, ὥστε γυναῖκά τινα τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχειν.
It is heard from all that among you is debauchery, and such debauchery that even the gentiles don’t do it, so that someone has the wife of his (lit= ‘the’) father.
1 Omnino auditur inter vos for nicatio, et talis fornicatio qualis nec inter gentes, ita ut uxorem patris aliquis habeat.
2 καὶ ὑμεῖς πεφυσιωμένοι ἐστέ, καὶ οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἐπενθήσατε, ἵνα ἀρθῇ ἐκ μέσου ὑμῶν ὁ τὸ ἔργον τοῦτο πράξας;
And you are inflated (with pride), and you have not even mourned (this), so that the one having done this deed has not been taken from the midst of you.
About the Greek: the tense of ‘has not been taken’ is difficult to render. It’s both a past tense and a subjunctive; it’s meant to connote an unreal condition, that something that should (subjunctive) have happened has not.
2 Et vos inflati estis et non magis luctum habuistis, ut tollatur de medio vestrum, qui hoc opus fecit?
3 ἐγὼ μὲν γάρ, ἀπὼν τῷ σώματι παρὼν δὲ τῷ πνεύματι, ἤδη κέκρικα ὡς παρὼν τὸν οὕτως τοῦτο κατεργασάμενον.
For I, while absent in body, but present in spirit, now have judged the one having done this as if being present (as if I were present).
Lovely example of the μὲν…δὲ construction.
3 Ego quidem absens corpore, praesens autem spiritu, iam iudicavi ut praesens eum, qui sic operatus est,
4 ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου [ἡμῶν] Ἰησοῦ, συναχθέντων ὑμῶν καὶ τοῦ ἐμοῦ πνεύματος σὺν τῇ δυνάμει τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ,
In the name of the (our) lord Jesus, you, and my spirit, having been gathered together, with the power of our lord Jesus,
4 in nomine Domini nostri Iesu, congregatis vobis et meo spiritu cum virtute Domini nostri Iesu,
5 παραδοῦναι τὸν τοιοῦτον τῷ Σατανᾷ εἰς ὄλεθρον τῆς σαρκός, ἵνα τὸ πνεῦμασωθῇ ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου.
to give over this one to Satan to the destruction of the flesh, so that you have become spiritual on the day of the lord.
I have to interpose here, largely because this point is off the track from what the general summary will discuss. First, we get the part about gathering in the name of Jesus–who is not called ‘the Christ’ in either of these references. This is significant.
But what is truly significant is the idea of handing the sinner over to Satan. At first read I understood this in the same way that Dante did: that the devils were the tormentors of the damned in Hell. However, after another iteration, I understood it differently. The idea is that such a one is too depraved, and must be ‘given over’ by cutting him off from the assembly. This has an entirely difference set of implications.
Where is the idea of forgiveness? To commit such an act as sleeping with your father’s wife puts you beyond the pale? You have become irredeemable? Is this a sin against the Holy Spirit/sacred breath? For Jesus said, in Mark 3:29, that the only irredeemable sin is to blaspheme against the holy spirit. I don’t think this qualifies as a sin against the sacred breath.
There is also the idea that not engaging in debauchery will stand you well when Jesus returns. But the details on how this works are not at all explicit.
5 tradere huiusmodi Satanae in interitum carnis, ut spiritus salvus sit in die Domini.
6 Οὐ καλὸν τὸ καύχημα ὑμῶν. οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι μικρὰ ζύμη ὅλον τὸ φύραμα ζυμοῖ;
Your boasting is not a good (lit= ‘beautiful’) thing. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole kneaded lump (as in, dough)?
Sounds a bit like Jesus warning about the ‘leaven of the pharisees’ in Mark 8:15. Did Mark get the metaphor from Paul? Or was this just a common expression? In English (by now pretty much archaic) the term is ‘one bad apple can spoil the whole bushel’.
6 Non bona gloriatio vestra. Nescitis quia modicum fermentum totam massam corrumpit?
7 ἐκκαθάρατε τὴν παλαιὰν ζύμην, ἵνα ἦτε νέον φύραμα, καθώς ἐστε ἄζυμοι. καὶ γὰρ τὸ πάσχα ἡμῶν ἐτύθη Χριστός:
Cleanse the old leaven, so that you become a new lump of dough, in such a way that you are unleavened. For our Passover Christ will be killed.
Our Passover? Were the members of the Corinthian assembly Jews? I did not have that impression, but this reference may not be meaningful to them if they weren’t Jewish.
7 Expurgate vetus fermentum, ut sitis nova consparsio, sicut estis azymi. Etenim Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus!
8 ὥστε ἑορτάζωμεν, μὴ ἐν ζύμῃ παλαιᾷ μηδὲ ἐν ζύμῃ κακίας καὶ πονηρίας, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀζύμοις εἰλικρινείας καὶ ἀληθείας.
In this way, let us celebrate the festival, but in in the old leaven, not in the leaven that is bad and debauched, but in the unleavened (i.e., unleavened state), with sincerity and truth.
8 Itaque festa celebremus, non in fermento veteri neque in fermento malitiae et nequitiae, sed in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis.
9 Ἔγραψα ὑμῖν ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι πόρνοις,
I write you in this letter, do not gather together with fornicators,
9 Scripsi vobis in epistula: Ne commisceamini fornicariis.
10 οὐ πάντως τοῖς πόρνοις τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἢ τοῖς πλεονέκταις καὶ ἅρπαξιν ἢ εἰδωλολάτραις, ἐπεὶ ὠφείλετε ἄρα ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελθεῖν.
(still working from: do not gather together with) never with the fornicators of this world, nor the greedy, nor the extortionists, nor the idolaters, because one ought to come out from the altar of the world.
10 Non utique fornicariis huius mundi aut avaris aut rapacibus aut idolis servientibus, alioquin debueratis de hoc mundo exisse!
11 νῦν δὲ ἔγραψα ὑμῖν μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι ἐάν τις ἀδελφὸς ὀνομαζόμενος ᾖ πόρνος ἢ πλεονέκτης ἢ εἰδωλολάτρης ἢ λοίδορος ἢ μέθυσος ἢ ἅρπαξ, τῷ τοιούτῳ μηδὲ συνεσθίειν.
Now I have written to you not to keep company with someone being named brother, (if he is) a fornicator, nor avaricious, nor an idolater, nor who who is abusive, nor a drunkard, nor an extortionist, do not eat with this sort.
In case you missed the part about fornicators, extortionists, and idolaters, we’ll repeat it.
11 Nunc autem scripsi vobis non commisceri, si is, qui frater nominatur, est fornicator aut avarus aut idolis serviens aut maledicus aut ebriosus aut rapax; cum eiusmodi nec cibum sumere.
12 τί γάρ μοι τοὺς ἔξω κρίνειν; οὐχὶ τοὺς ἔσω ὑμεῖς κρίνετε;
For what is it to me to judge those outside? Do you not judge those within?
Presumably, those outside the assembly, vs. those inside the assembly.
12 Quid enim mihi de his, qui foris sunt, iudicare? Nonne de his, qui intus sunt, vos iudicatis?
13 τοὺς δὲ ἔξω ὁ θεὸς κρινεῖ. ἐξάρατε τὸν πονηρὸν ἐξ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν.
For God judges those outside. Take away the fornicator from among you.
13 Nam eos, qui foris sunt, Deus iudicabit. Auferte malum ex vobis ipsis!