Monthly Archives: April 2014
1 μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε, καθὼς κἀγὼ Χριστοῦ.
Become imitators of me, as I am of the Anointed.
This could just be translated as ‘follower’; but the Greek is our root for ‘mimic’, and the Latin is ‘imitatores’, which is the root of…well, you figure it out. So I went with the more literal sense, because a follower is, at heart, an imitator, so why not go with the base meaning?
1 Imitatores mei estote, sicut et ego Christi.
2 Ἐπαινῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς ὅτι πάντα μου μέμνησθε καὶ καθὼς παρέδωκα ὑμῖν τὰς παραδόσεις κατέχετε.
And I laud you that you all are mindful of me and in the way that I gave over to you, you have kept the traditions.
“Laud” isn’t exactly a word we use every day. I was overly influenced by the Latin. There’s a question: do Greek and Latin really have the formal tone we associate them with? Which association is largely based on the Victorian translations, that use words like “laud” and “hail”. And the dictionaries uses are, largely, Victorian-era creations. Liddell & Scott, which is still considered extremely authoritative, was compiled in the second half of the 19th Century. and it’s full of all sorts of formal-sounding words. And, truth be told, reading from L&S has certainly influenced the way I think about Greek and Latin prose. Now, whether that’s justified is another issue.
Anyway, for once Paul seems pleased with the way one of his Communities is treating him. They are following the traditions he has installed.
2 Laudo autem vos quod omnia mei memores estis et, sicut tradidi vobis, traditiones meas tenetis.
3 θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι ὅτι παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἡ κεφαλὴ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν, κεφαλὴ δὲ γυναικὸς ὁ ἀνήρ, κεφαλὴ δὲ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ὁ θεός.
For I wish you to know that the head of all men is the Anointed, and the head of women is the man (her husband), the head of the Anointed is God.
Oh dear. We seem to have a flagrant bit of sexism here. Not quite as bad as the passage of Ephesians that tells women to submit to their husbands ( I had the pleasure of reading that in church. Twice, the requisite three years apart per Episcopalian practice), but close enough. What do we make of this? This was the practice and the thought of the times. It reflects the time and place when and where it was written. Does this mean it’s to be taken literally now, 2,000 years later? Well, I think not, but we’re really drifting from the mission here. My intention is to delineate what they believed, and not to debate the degree to which we are bound to the exact words.
And, truly, more important is the last clause, anyway. In Chapter 10, we had a passage in which there was at least an implied equivalence between God and the Anointed; it was the Anointed following the Israelites in the desert as the rock that provided water. Here, though, we have what very much appears to be a hierarchical situation, with God ‘the head’ of the Anointed. This is borderline Arianism; or, perhaps, an Arian could certainly use this passage as evidence for his position.
Now recall that we discussed Adoptionism when we were reading Mark. Now we have Arianism. One of the scholarly blogs that I recommended a while back had a post about whether Mark was part of the Pauline tradition. His conclusion was no; but the evidence for the conclusion was, IMO, predominantly literary instead of thematic. I don’t put a lot of weight on how closely the wording is between two passages of different books of the NT; my main criterion for similarity is thematic: do they express the same ideas, especially ideas and interpretations of who–or what–Jesus/the Anointed was. I do not think that Mark is part of the Pauline tradition, but a good chunk of Mark follows the same tradition that Paul did. The common thread between Adoptionism and Arianism is that both reckon the Father to be, in some sense, a more elevated, or a more divine form of deity. Or, perhaps better, they recognize that the Anointed is somehow dependent on the Father.
In Adoptionism, the Father chose–adopted the human Jesus at the moment of the latter’s baptism by John. Jesus only became divine at that moment. In Arianism, the filial relationship of the Son entails the existence of the Father at a time before the Son. So, given the ambiguity of Mark and Paul about the divine nature of Jesus (not the Anointed; Paul is dead certain about him, and I believe Mark is, too). I would say that there is some kind of shared tradition, even if Mark hadn’t read Paul’s letters the way that Matthew and Luke read Mark’s gospel. so I tend to disagree with my scholarly betters.
3 Volo autem vos scire quod omnis viri caput Christus est, caput autem mulieris vir, caput vero Christi Deus.
4 πᾶς ἀνὴρ προσευχόμενος ἢ προφητεύων κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων καταισχύνει τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ:
Each man praying or prophesying having something on the head shames his head.
Took me a few minutes to figure this out; he’s talking about a man having his head covered while praying. This is a direct contravention of Jewish practice, where men keep their heads covered at all times. This, of course, is the intent of the yarmulke. Christian tradition, OTOH, says that men must remove their hats when entering a place of worship. And they’re doing it on Paul’s instructions.
Now, where in the world did this come from? Why did he make this statement? I really cannot say. I am not aware of pagan practice on this sort of thing, but I tend to believe that men did not cover their heads, but the evidence may be inconclusive.
4 Omnis vir orans aut prophetans velato capite deturpat caput suum;
5 πᾶσα δὲ γυνὴ προσευχομένη ἢ προφητεύουσα ἀκατακαλύπτῳ τῇ κεφαλῇ καταισχύνει τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτῆς: ἓν γάρ ἐστιν καὶ τὸ αὐτὸ τῇ ἐξυρημένῃ.
But all women praying or prophesying uncovering her head shames her head; for she is one and the same as her having been shaven.
I don’t get this at all. For a woman not to have her head covered is the same as a woman whose head has been shaven. I know that women had their heads shaved in Europe for collaborating with the enemy; is this the same thing? It’s an insight into an ancient practice of which I am sadly unaware. However, the practice of women covering their heads in church survived into my lifetime. In pre-Vatican II Catholicism, women were not allowed in church without something on their heads. I recall the nuns using bobby pins to pin a tissue to the head of a girl who had forgotten her chapel veil on the day we went to mass in school. Also, when the church I attended was remodeled post-Vatican II, a statue of the BVM with her head uncovered was added. I won’t say this caused a stir, but it did get commented on.
5 omnis autem mulier orans aut prophetans non velato capite deturpat caput suum; unum est enim atque si decalvetur.
6 εἰ γὰρ οὐ κατακαλύπτεται γυνή, καὶ κειράσθω: εἰ δὲ αἰσχρὸν γυναικὶ τὸ κείρασθαι ἢ ξυρᾶσθαι, κατακαλυπτέσθω.
For if the woman is not covered, also shear her! But if it shames a woman to be sheared or shaven, let her be covered.
I’m not going to say much about this to make sure I don’t say something stupid. Or at least ignorant. The point, here, I believe, is not what the practice was, but that these are apparently the traditions Paul gave to the Community, the ones he’s pleased to know are being observed.
6 Nam si non velatur mulier, et tondeatur! Si vero turpe est mulieri tonderi aut decalvari, veletur.
7 ἀνὴρ μὲν γὰρ οὐκ ὀφείλει κατακαλύπτεσθαι τὴν κεφαλήν, εἰκὼν καὶ δόξα θεοῦ ὑπάρχων: ἡ γυνὴ δὲ δόξα ἀνδρός ἐστιν.
For, on the one hand, a man is not obligated to cover his head, being the image and glory of God; the woman is the image and glory of man.
And ‘man’ means, ‘person of masculine gender’, and not human. Here, the word for ‘man’ is ‘aner‘, and not ‘anthropos‘. The latter is more generic; technically, it’s ‘man’, but it’s much more in the sense of human. This correlates to ‘homo‘ in Latin. The Greek ‘aner/andros‘ and the Latin ‘vir‘ have the sense of man, as in manly man.
Again, this is a cultural creation, and I don’t want to debate the ‘shoulds’ here.
7 Vir quidem non debet velare caput, quoniam imago et gloria est Dei; mulier autem gloria viri est.
8 οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἀνὴρ ἐκ γυναικός, ἀλλὰ γυνὴ ἐξ ἀνδρός:
For a man (aner) is not from a woman, but a woman is from a man.
Apparently, the men got pregnant in the ancient world?
Seriously, this is a reference to Genesis, with Eve being taken from one of Adam’s ribs. Still, it’s remarkable how the whole mother-thing sort of gets overlooked.
8 Non enim vir ex muliere est, sed mulier ex viro;
9 καὶ γὰρ οὐκ ἐκτίσθη ἀνὴρ διὰ τὴν γυναῖκα, ἀλλὰ γυνὴ διὰ τὸν ἄνδρα.
For the man was not placed because of a woman, but woman on account of the man.
More Genesis. Adam was created first; only after did God realize Adam needed a companion and so created Eve for Adam’s sake.
9 etenim non est creatus vir propter mulierem, sed mulier propter virum.
10 διὰ τοῦτο ὀφείλει ἡ γυνὴ ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους.
Because of this the woman is obligated to have power upon her head, because of the angels.
For the first time, we come across some borderline gibberish. The KJV renders it pretty much like I did; newer translations add ‘a symbol of power’ on her head. The head covering is a symbol of subservience. Really, though, it’s the part about the angels that really throws this out of the range of expected comprehension.
10 Ideo debet mulier potestatem habere supra caput propter angelos.
11 πλὴν οὔτε γυνὴ χωρὶς ἀνδρὸς οὔτε ἀνὴρ χωρὶς γυναικὸς ἐν κυρίῳ:
Except neither the woman is away from the man, nor the man away from the woman in the lord.
Here, it seems that they belong together according to God’s view. Now, compare this to Paul’s earlier discussion about marriage, when he was decidedly ambiguous. At best. Or, perhaps this is not a judgement, but an observation of how it is?
11 Verum tamen neque mulier sine viro, neque vir sine muliere in Domino;
12 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ γυνὴ ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρός, οὕτως καὶ ὁ ἀνὴρ διὰ τῆς γυναικός: τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ.
For if the woman is from the man, in this way also the man is from the woman; but all is from God.
This has more of an egalitarian sound to it.
12 nam sicut mulier de viro, ita et vir per mulierem, omnia autem ex Deo.
13 ἐν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς κρίνατε: πρέπον ἐστὶν γυναῖκα ἀκατακάλυπτον τῷ θεῷ προσεύχεσθαι;
Judge amongst yourselves: is it pleasurably conforming to notions of suitability, propriety or attractiveness for an unveiled woman to be in prayer to God?
The part about the pleasurably conforming, etc. is the Merriam-Webster definition of “comely”, which is one of the words Liddell & Scott use to render << πρέπον >>. The Latin is “decet“, which is related to “decent”.
13 In vobis ipsi iudicate: Decet mulierem non velatam orare Deum?
14 οὐδὲ ἡ φύσις αὐτὴ διδάσκει ὑμᾶς ὅτι ἀνὴρ μὲν ἐὰν κομᾷ ἀτιμία αὐτῷ ἐστιν,
For does not nature itself teach you that a long-haired man is a dishonour to it (referring back to ‘nature’)
I would really like to hear the logic behind that statement, or the thinking that gave birth to it. And it makes one wonder about all those representations of Jesus and the Apostles with long hair, doesn’t it? For me, the whole long-hair thing hearkens back to the days of my youth when the length of a man’s hair was a political statement.
14 Nec ipsa natura docet vos quod vir quidem, si comam nutriat, ignominia est illi;
15 γυνὴ δὲ ἐὰν κομᾷ δόξα αὐτῇ ἐστιν; ὅτι ἡκόμη ἀντὶ περιβολαίου δέδοται [αὐτῇ].
but if the woman (has) long hair, she glorifies it (nature again)? That being long-haired is given (to her) as a covering.
Paul certainly has some interesting ideas about biology, here. He is, like so many before him, and so many more after him, mistaking cultural norms for biological, or divine intent.
A word about << κομᾷ >> in its various forms. It means ‘long-haired’. At the beginning of the Century BCE, the Romans had divided Gaul into two provinces. One was essentially Northern Italy, on the south side of the Alps. This was generally known as Cisalpine Gaul, (Gallia Cisaplina). The other half, which comprised a good chunk of France, This was known as Transalpine Gaul, or “Gallia Comata”. Literally, “Long-haired Gaul” because of the native hair style of the men.
15 mulier vero, si comam nutriat, gloria est illi? Quoniam coma pro velamine ei data est.
16 Εἰ δέ τις δοκεῖ φιλόνεικος εἶναι, ἡμεῖς τοιαύτην συνήθειαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, οὐδὲ αἱ ἐκκλησίαι τοῦ θεοῦ.
16 Si quis autem videtur contentiosus esse, nos talem consuetudinem non habemus, neque ecclesiae Dei.
But if someone appears to be contentious, we do not have such a custom, nor (does) the Community of God.
OK. Who is being contentious? And about what?
I guess he’s saying that the Community is not, or ought not to be contentious about…long hair on a man? Sorry, I don’t follow this completely. But that seems to be the most likely explanation: that while we don’t have the custom of men with long hair, the Community should not make a fuss?
Regardless, the point is that we’ve just spent about half of this section talking about the relationship between men and women, and a good chunk of that was spent discussing men’s hairstyles and whether women should pray without a veil. I mean, who even has opinions on theses things? So, once again, we end up probably learning more about Paul than about the Community. Here we have a deeply conservative man, who believes that custom = divine intention, an attitude that persists to this day.
But we also get, I think, some insight into the implications Paul had to deal with when he started accepting–more, actively seeking–converts who had been pagans rather than Jews. Pagan customs were very different from Jewish customs, and the customs of Greek pagans from an urban, cosmopolitan city would have been even more different. So some of the women apparently wanted to pray and attend services without wearing a veil. Paul is truly disturbed by this. It bothers him. He is trying to look past it, and he’s wheedling a bit to try to convince all members of the Community to come ’round to his way of looking at this. I’m not sure he’s succeeding.
And does anyone else find it a tad ironic that Paul is a victim of his own innovations? Or get the feeling he’s been hoist on his own petard? He’s found that if you accept pagans, don’t force them to conform to Jewish dietary practice and don’t make them get circumcised, pretty soon you get women coming to worship with uncovered heads. The horror! And really, there is rather a glaring inconsistency in Paul’s attitudes; on the one hand, waive certain restrictions, but OTOH get all uptight about others. Now, it would possibly be uncharitable to point this out, but do we notice that the innovations he objects to concern women? Is that a coincidence? Because let’s not forget Paul’s horror of sexual incontinence. A lot of the Church fathers had a real problem with women. They found them too alluring, and were way too willing to blame the woman for their own lack of self-control. Is Paul the one who originates this attitude? Or did Paul simply reflect what was pretty much the general opinion here?
I would guess the latter.
At the beginning of the second section, I expressed perplexity at what I consider the disjointed thought process of the epistle. We dealt with idol food back in Chapter 8, and we were back to that in 10:14. So I took a look back at the sequence of Chapters 8-10 and noticed something. Looking at these writings verse-by-verse, it’s very easy to lose sight sight of the forest by looking so closely at the bark of individual trees.
What I saw was that Chapter 9 was something of a digression. Or it contained a digression. Paul became so wrapped up in excusing his behaviour–and taking some very snide shots at the behaviour of other apostles–that he went off on a tangent. The idea was to discuss the idea of eating food offered to idols, and he got back to that here in Chapter 10 when he discussed how those who worked in the Temple, or the temples, were supported by the food offered. As such, it’s perfectly reasonable that he, too, should be supported by working in the mobile temple that his preaching creates. And really, this makes sense.
But in taking this meandering path, Paul introduced a number of very interesting and significant ideas. He tied Jesus to the Israelites; Jesus was the rock that provided drink in the desert. Or, rather, the Anointed was the rock. This opens up a very interesting question: if the Anointed was present on the Exodus, was he eternal, like God the Father? If so, what was the relation of the Anointed to the man Jesus? Are we seeing the genesis of the idea of the eternal Anointed One? The one that will become the Logos in John 1:1?
Chapter 10, which is our proper concern here, falls into two parts, reflecting the division in the text as I presented it. The first section is the history of the Jews. Paul discusses how the Exodus is a foreshadow of what will happen later. More, his division of Jews into some good, some not so good, is itself a foreshadow of where Paul will end up in Romans. There, only a remnant of Israel will be saved. This idea is already present in sort of a de facto way here, with the division into Good Jews/Bad Jews. This, in turn, effectively demonstrates how Paul no longer sees all of Israel as the Chosen People. That number has been reduced, by excluding a portion of the Jewish people, then expanded by opening salvation to non-Jews. This is a clear indication that Paul no longer hoped for any kind of reconciliation with overall “Judaism” (whatever that may have been). By this point, Paul has come to recognise that the future of the Community probably lies with pagans, rather than Jews. When he talked about Judaism in Galatians, he took the time to be encouraging and supportive of mainstream Jewishness, stressing that having been raised Jewish was an advantage. Here, the implication is that a Jewish background is more or less neutral: it may help, as it helped some of those in the Exodus, or it may not help, as it did not help those who gave way to fornication and idolatry on the journey out of Egypt.
There are two other issues of interest. The first is at the end: the idea that Paul will be all things to all people to save as many as possible. This is a wonderful sentiment; the problem is that we still don’t entirely know what being ‘saved’ means. It may mean being lifted into the air to meet the Anointed as he comes down from heaven, as foretold in 1 Thessalonians 4. But, even a generation later in Mark, ‘save’ meant ‘saving one’s mortal life’ as often as being saved in some other way. This, however, may tell us more about Mark than Paul, and especially the other tradition that Mark tapped into, the one in which Jesus may not have been the Anointed. Of course, Paul may not have felt constrained to explain what he meant by ‘saved’ because this was such a prominent part of his message to the Community.
The other issue is the idea of one bread/one body. Here we have the first mention of the concept that would become the Eucharist. I’m going to hold off on this until we get to Chapter 15, when the idea will come up again, and will be explained in more detail.
This leaves one last bit, and I’ve saved it till last because it will take some discussion. This is the idea of ‘all is permitted’. This is the second time that the phrase has come up. The first was in 6:12. I didn’t get into it so much there because it really didn’t strike me as much there as it did here. In the first iteration, it seemed much more obviously to be about dietary restrictions; as such, I didn’t see any broader implications. In 10:23, OTOH, these broader implications were much more obvious. At least, they seemed to be. This let to my conjecture that this may have come from Jesus himself. Unfortunately, I may have gone beyond what the text holds. Note that I will not go back and revise; it’s there, it will stay there, and shame on me for getting ahead of myself. A second–or more like seventh or eighth–reading of the whole section does make it seem like we’re still talking about dietary restrictions; or, more precisely, the lack thereof.
But the point remains: this seems like a quote. In fact, my portable NIV actually puts quotes around this. But, quoting whom? Contrary to what I said in the commentary, if this is about dietary restrictions, I still believe that it did not come from Jesus. Mark says it did; Matthew says it did; Acts names Peter and his dream as the source, but none of this can be squared with the discussion in Galatians 2. That Paul and James disagreed on the practice is, IMO, pretty conclusive proof that Jesus made no such statement. In fact, given how we now know that Paul was not averse to stating his own opinion (above, 7:12), it is more likely that Jesus stuck with the restrictions, and James simply followed his brother’s teaching. So if not Jesus, who? One real possibility is that Paul had taken this on as an axiom to state the outcome of his debate with James, and the compromise that was reached.
Honestly, though, I was very excited by the notion that this was meant in wider context. Or, even better, was the idea that it represented a quote from Jesus that could be taken in a wider context. Woo-HOO!. A real discovery. So, naturally, I twisted myself into knots trying to find away to make the facts, or the text, support my conclusion. I failed. But before reaching that conclusion, I checked several commentaries on 1 Corinthians. I will not mention the first couple; the line of reasoning in them was so specious and faulty that I’m embarrassed to expose the authors. So I turned to John Calvin. Yes, the John Calvin.
His take was instructive. Even in his day, it seems, there were many laboured opinions put forth by different commentators, some of whom took the narrow approach, that this was just about dietary rules; others, however, suggested that it was meant in a wider context. He doesn’t bother with the back-and-forth, but sets out his take. He is of the opinion that the Corinthians were using this in a wider way, as a means of justifying sexual licentiousness. And so Paul is quick to enjoin that, while all may be permitted, not all is beneficial. So, while I did definitely go too far, I’m not the first to do so. Unfortunately, this was all smoke and no fire.
At the end of the last section, Paul was talking about temptation, and how God will not tempt us beyond our power to resist. Thinking about that now, it does seem as if that rather came out of nowhere…
14 Διόπερ, ἀγαπητοί μου, φεύγετε ἀπὸ τῆς εἰδωλολατρίας.
Because of this, my most beloved. flee from idolatry.
And speaking of coming out of nowhere, this isn’t exactly a non sequitor with the previous verse, but it does hearken back more to Chapter 9. I guess this connects with the way some of the Jews grumbled, etc? I’m honestly not sure about that. It occurs to me that in Galatians, there were several very rough patches of Greek; I don’t seem to be encountering as many of those here; now, is that because Paul’s Greek has gotten better, or mine has? Whichever, what I seem to be running into here is that there are patches in which the thought process, or the connections between thoughts are a bit dodgy. It’s not that they don’t make sense per se; it’s that the train of thought is not exactly easy to follow.
14 Propter quod, carissimi mihi, fugite ab idolorum cultura.
15 ὡς φρονίμοις λέγω: κρίνατε ὑμεῖς ὅ φημι.
I speak as to wise ones: you judge what I say.
Not exactly fraught with theological import; commenting on this letter is as much about getting a handle on Paul as it is getting a handle on what the proto-church thought and taught. This is another example of Paul at his most sincere, where I truly feel like I can tell why this man was such an effective organizer, of why people would listen to him, and believe him, and convert.
15 Ut prudentibus loquor; vos iudicate, quod dico:
16 τὸ ποτήριον τῆς εὐλογίας ὃ εὐλογοῦμεν, οὐχὶ κοινωνία ἐστὶν τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ; τὸν ἄρτον ὃν κλῶμεν, οὐχὶ κοινωνία τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐστιν;
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the association of the blood of the Anointed? The bread which we broke, is it not the association of the body of the Anointed?
OK. This is a very important point in the development of Christianity. For those of you who belong to a denomination of Christianity that includes a Eucharist in the service will be familiar with the idea of the bread and wine as the body and blood of Jesus. The “cup of blessing” refers to wine and he’s explicit about the breaking of the bread. And the word I translated as “association” could be rendered as “communion”. So we are talking about what has become the sacrament of the Eucharist. So, as we’ll see in a bit, this is something that we can trace back to the historical Jesus.
16 Calix benedictionis, cui benedicimus, nonne communicatio sanguinis Christi est? Et panis, quem frangimus, nonne communicatio corporis Christi est?
17 ὅτι εἷς ἄρτος, ἓν σῶμα οἱ πολλοί ἐσμεν, οἱ γὰρ πάντες ἐκ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἄρτου μετέχομεν.
That to one bread (and) one body we are many, for all from the one bread we partake. (or– we many are one bread, one body…)
The metaphor of the body and bread is extended.
This is hugely important, and I do not believe that it gets, or has gotten all of the attention it deserves. The idea of a collective was not terribly common in the ancient world. It was not unprecedented: the Stoics held the idea of a universal siblinghood of all persons; and, really, this connectedness is a reasonable and logical inference from Plato’s idea of The One, the Unity of Everything. Still, this moves that idea ahead a notch, and we should expect that Christianity introduced some novel concepts, or some novel recombinations of older concepts. That’s why there are tens of millions of Christians alive today, and barely a handful of Stoics. And it’s those places where we move beyond what has come before that should interest us. Because, offhand, I cannot think of another ancient thinker who expressed the idea of community in these terms.
So seriously, this is obviously a very early bit of thinking. Just to peek ahead, we will come to this idea again in Chapter 11 of this letter, which is a big reason I wanted to do this letter after doing Mark. Because, like it or not, Paul does give us the most unfiltered look back at the real, live, historical Jesus. Yes, by Paul’s day, Jesus was being talked about, a lot, but the legend of Jesus had not had time to develop. One very interesting thing is that each sucessive gospel introduces a whole lot of information that was not in the one previous. What this indicates is the continued growth of the legend. A great analogy, I think, is the Arthur legend. It was added to for hundreds of years before it was written down, and then it grew even more. Merlyn, actually, was probably there from close to the beginning, and Launcelot and Guinivere may have accrued thereto early on, but Galahad and Bors and Perceval, the Holy Grail and Mordred (I’m a fan) were all literary creations of the 12-14th centuries, and many of these originated in countries other than England. This will be something we look at closely when we get to Matthew.
So, as I said, Paul is our most unfiltered look at what Jesus might have actually said. And, given what we will find in Chapter 11, this idea of e pluribus unum, from many the one, is very, very likely something that Jesus actually said.
Now, given that, the next step is to ask: is this what Jesus meant when he talked about the kingdom? The becoming one through the analogy of the bread? JD Crossan goes on and on (and on) about the significance of the shared meal in the ancient Mediterranean world. And I think he’s probably correct about this since RL Fox says much the same thing about pagans. Community meals were–and still are–a means of fostering, well, community. What perhaps is interesting, and most novel about Jesus’ idea of this shared meal is that it focused on bread, rather than a slaughtered animal. That certainly doesn’t get enough attention. Now, yes, Jesus himself provided the meat, or was the meat, as it were, but the act of substituting bread as symbolic meat is, truly, an innovation. We need to look a that in more detail.
17 Quoniam unus panis, unum corpus multi sumus, omnes enim de uno pane participamur.
18 βλέπετε τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα: οὐχ οἱ ἐσθίοντες τὰς θυσίας κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου εἰσίν;
Look at Israel, regarding the flesh (in this case, ‘meat’ would be better, IMO): are not those eating the sacrifice sharing of the altar?
I will discuss this in more detail in the summary to this chapter, but this actually goes back to Chapter 8. He’s still talking about the idea of eating meat sacrificed to idols. And he compares the Jewish practice, which was the standard practice for temple-based animal sacrifice: the priests and the staff essentially derived much of their sustenance–if not income–from the sacrifices. Jewish practice was basically the same as the practice in most of the Near Eastern empires, and the Greek practice was similar, even if done in many temples rather than in The Temple.
18 Videte Israel secundum carnem: nonne, qui edunt hostias, communicantes sunt altari?
19 τί οὖν φημι; ὅτι εἰδωλόθυτόν τί ἐστιν; ἢ ὅτι εἴδωλόν τί ἐστιν;
So what am I saying? That idol-sacrifice is something? Or that idols are anything?
Having made the comparison to Israel, he has to backpedal and clarify that he’s not actually comparing the worship of God in Jerusalem to be at all the same as the worship of gods in Greece (or elsewhere).
19 Quid ergo dico? Quod idolothytum sit aliquid? Aut quod idolum sit aliquid?
20 ἀλλ’ ὅτι ἃ θύουσιν, δαιμονίοις καὶ οὐ θεῷ [θύουσιν], οὐ θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς κοινωνοὺςτῶν δαιμονίων γίνεσθαι.
Rather, (I am saying) that they sacrifice to demons, and not to God they sacrifice, I do not want you to become communicants with demons.
The idea that pagan gods were actually demons has a long history in the Church. But let’s consider the implications of this. Calling them demons is very different from calling pagan idols inanimate objects of stone or wood. By being demons, Paul is acknowledging that they are indeed animate creatures, presumably ones with supernatural powers. Hence, Mark Chapter 3, when Jesus is accused of casting out demons via the power of Satan.
What this, in turn, entails is that these supernatural creatures had supernatural–or non-natural–powers, and so they were able to effect, for example, ‘miraculous’ healings. Except followers of Jesus would not call them ‘miracles’, but ‘wonders’ (at best). So, to call someone a ‘wonder-worker’ is not necessarily a neutral term. My God performs miracles; your ‘god’ performs mere ‘wonders’. But this latter is still an implicit admission that someone’s ‘god’ actually has the power to perform what could be called miracles. Unless, of course, one is going to argue that only the acts of a truly beneficent deity–in short, the Christian God–can be called ‘miracles’. I will concede that as a possible definition. Regardless, these demons could perform supernatural healings. Paul accepted this.
Now, think about this: Paul does not, or has not, credited Jesus with performing any miracles. One could argue that he did not think that Jesus rose from the dead. In fact, we suggested this way back at the beginning of Galatians: Jesus was raised from the dead by God.
20 Sed, quae immolant, daemoniis immolant et non Deo; nolo autem vos communicantes fieri daemoniis.
21 οὐ δύνασθε ποτήριον κυρίου πίνειν καὶ ποτήριον δαιμονίων: οὐ δύνασθε τραπέζης κυρίου μετέχειν καὶ τραπέζης δαιμονίων.
You are not able to drink the cup of the lord and the cup of demons; you are not able to partake of the table of the lord and the table of demons.
The use of ‘cup’ here should be noted. It’s similar to the way Jesus asked the sons of Zebedee if they could drink the cup that he was to drink back in Mark 10. But it’s more similar to the ‘cup of blessing’ back in V-15. And to the cup of the Last Supper coming up in Chapter 11.
Aside from that, this passage is either an echo of, or a presage of Jesus’ injunction about not being able to serve two masters, or that one cannot serve both God and Mammon? The latter, of course, is the closer fit. So which is it? An echo? Or a presage? I vote for the latter. This is such an excellent place for Paul to quote Jesus; why doesn’t he? Paul referred to Jesus earlier, when he was contradicting what Jesus said. Why not show that, here, he stood with the Lord? of course, why Paul doesn’t refer to Jesus more often is one of the more vexing questions of biblical scholarship, one that is very far from resolved.
21 Non potestis calicem Domini bibere et calicem daemoniorum; non potestis mensae Domini participes esse et mensae daemoniorum.
22 ἢ παραζηλοῦμεν τὸν κύριον; μὴ ἰσχυρότεροι αὐτοῦ ἐσμεν;
Or do we provoke the jealousy of the lord? Are we not stronger than this?
The verb << παραζηλοῦμεν >> can mean one of two things. It can mean ‘to emulate’–and note the Latin translation, ‘aemulamur‘, the root of ’emulate’. Or it can mean ‘to provoke jealousy’, as I have rendered it here. This is per Liddell & Scott, btw. How do these words intersect? Because, in Greek thought, especially in Greek tragedy, by attempting to emulate the gods too closely, one provoked their jealousy. Emulating the gods meant overstepping, thereby committing hybris, and invoking the jealousy of the gods, who thereafter sent down your punishment, your ‘nemesis’.
Because asking if we’re not stronger than being able to emulate the lord doesn’t, exactly, make much sense.
22 An aemulamur Dominum? Numquid fortiores illo sumus?
23 Πάντα ἔξεστιν, ἀλλ’ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει. πάντα ἔξεστιν, ἀλλ’ οὐ πάντα οἰκοδομεῖ.
All is allowed, but not all brings together (confers a benefit; = ‘profits’). All is allowed, but not all builds. (i.e., not all is ‘constructive’ as we would say. And, btw, the verb << συμφέρει >> literally translates to ‘confer’. )
First, ‘all is allowed’, or ‘all is permitted’. This is an echo of 6:12, when he was talking about disputes, and lawsuits between, and defrauding of, fellow members of the Community. It’s an interesting expression, and concept. The way it’s used, it almost sounds like Paul is quoting this? My hard-copy Greek text, which is normally well cross-referenced, does not show any cites for the OT. So I Googled it, and could not find another reference until we get to The Brothers Karamazov, although the translation I saw was ‘all is lawful’. Then it comes up under Nietzsche, in the context of “God is dead, everything is permitted’. I’m going to guess that this is not what Paul had in mind.
But, let’s face it, this does not sound like the sort of thing that Paul would normally say, does it? There is a decidedly libertine aspect of this; or at least, it could easily be interpreted that way. I’m hardly an expert on Herr Nietzsche, but this is the sort of thing that is used against atheists: if there is no God, then what is the basis of morality? If there is no God, can we not say that ‘everything is permitted’? And the use sounds like Paul is quoting the phrase. If that is the case, we have to ask ourselves, did Paul get this from somewhere, someone else? If so, then from whom? Asked another way, whom would Paul quote, or at least cite? Well, as a Pharisee, he’s well-steeped in Scripture; but it doesn’t occur there? Would he cite Greek philosophy? Possibly. But it doesn’t seem to occur in the works of anyone known. Then who?
Sherlock Holmes said that, once you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how implausible, is your solution. Eliminating the OT and Greek philosophy, the one source we are left with that Paul would consider authoritative is Jesus.
Ergo, we have to ask: is this a quote from Jesus?
23 “Omnia licent!”. Sed non omnia expediunt. “Omnia licent!”. Sed non omnia aedificant.
24 μηδεὶς τὸ ἑαυτοῦ ζητείτω ἀλλὰ τὸ τοῦ ἑτέρου.
No one seeks himself, but seeks the other.
This is reminiscent of the discussion of Love (Eros) in Plato’s Symposium. Love, Socrates says–or, rather, he concludes–seeks what it does not have. Since it seeks youth and beauty, it must be old and ugly.
24 Nemo, quod suum est, quaerat, sed quod alterius.
25 Πᾶν τὸ ἐν μακέλλῳ πωλούμενον ἐσθίετε μηδὲν ἀνακρίνοντες διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν,
Eat all (that is) sold in the meat market, not judging nothing on account of (your) conscience.
Here, it would seem, Paul is addressing Jews. He is telling them not to be concerned about the dietary laws. Or, he could also be addressing those of pagan origin. Perhaps they have been told by Apollos that they, too, need to follow the Jewish dietary laws to be members of the Community. The thing to note is that Paul says this as a matter of settled practice; he no longer has to take the time, nor make the effort to refute any arguments actually or hypothetically made by James and his group.
This seems to be a change from Galatians. I think the inference to draw from this statement is that, while the issue of dietary laws had been settled between James and Paul, the settlement was still recent enough that James or members of his group still thought they could circumvent the agreement. By the time Paul writes this, the issue had been resolved, with the exception of a few die-hards, like (perhaps) Apollos.
Now, let’s go back to the previous verse; what happened to that? What happened to no one seeking themselves, but the other? Should that be taken as why Paul needs to tell them it’s OK to eat from the meat market?
25 Omne, quod in macello venit, manducate, nihil interrogantes propter conscientiam;
26 τοῦ κυρίου γὰρ ἡ γῆ καὶ τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῆς.
For of the lord (is) the earth and the fullness of it.
I.E., all creation is from God; therefore, nothing edible is unclean.
26 Domini enim est terra, et plenitudo eius.
27 εἴ τις καλεῖ ὑμᾶς τῶν ἀπίστων καὶ θέλετε πορεύεσθαι, πᾶν τὸ παρατιθέμενον ὑμῖν ἐσθίετε μηδὲν ἀνακρίνοντες διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν.
If someone of the unfaithful calls you (apparently to a meal), and you wish to go, eat all the things set before you, not judging because of your conscience.
So dine freely with Gentiles. Eat what they serve.
27 Si quis vocat vos infidelium, et vultis ire, omne, quod vobis apponitur, manducate, nihil interrogantes propter conscientiam.
28 ἐὰν δέ τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ, Τοῦτο ἱερόθυτόν ἐστιν, μὴ ἐσθίετε δι’ ἐκεῖνον τὸν μηνύσαντα καὶ τὴν συνείδησιν
If someone says to you, this is from a sacrifice, do not eat it on account of the showing (= because of how it appears, how it looks to others), and your conscience.
Eat freely, except for food sacrificed to idols. We’re back to the themes at the end of Chapter 8. I will have more to say about that in the summary.
Paul is concerned about the message being given. Recall, I suggested that this is directed at the wealthier members of the Community, whose example is apt to be followed. And let’s face it, they are more apt to be asked to a meal than the poor members by virtue of the social circles to which each belonged.
28 Si quis autem vobis dixerit: “ Hoc immolaticium est idolis”, nolite manducare, propter illum, qui indicavit, et propter conscientiam;
29 συνείδησιν δὲ λέγω οὐχὶ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἀλλὰ τὴν τοῦ ἑτέρου. ἱνα τί γὰρ ἡ ἐλευθερία μου κρίνεται ὑπὸ ἄλλης συνειδήσεως;
I say your conscience is not of yourself, but of the other. For is it not in order that someone judges my freedom under the conscience of another? (…does someone not judge my freedom..)
First, sorry about the awkward translation. Just keep in mind that I am deliberately trying to maintain the grammar of the Greek to help someone else see how this works…
Secondly, that’s what happened to V-24. Paul didn’t forget about it, or put it in there for no reason.
Finally, as said before: Paul is concerned with the example being set. And he realizes that, too often, perception is reality, that it’s not what we do, or why we do it that counts; rather, what matters is how it’s judged by others. This is not fair, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate an observation.
29 conscientiam autem dico non tuam ipsius sed alterius. Ut quid enim libertas mea iudicatur ab alia conscientia?
30 εἰ ἐγὼ χάριτι μετέχω, τί βλασφημοῦμαι ὑπὲρ οὗ ἐγὼ εὐχαριστῶ;
For if I partake with thankfulness, why am I reviled about which I give thanks?
Here is a case of a passage that’s perhaps a bit too streamlined. He’s partaking in the meal mentioned previously. He’s being reviled, I guess, because he’s eating idol-food, for which he’s giving thanks because he was graciously asked to join the meal. And the answer is that he’s being reviled because of the appearance of it.
Now if you look at the Latin, you will notice ‘gratia‘ and ‘blasphemor‘; the first is the root of grace, the second of blaspheme, but I didn’t translate them as such. I make an effort not to translate either “gratia” or << χάριτι >> as ‘grace’, because the connotations are too much for the Greek to bear. It’s like an unseen planet: we can only tell it’s there because the orbit something else is affected. So, the gravitational pull of the English word “grace”, especially in context of the Bible, is so great that it distorts the meaning of the original text, I think. We cannot think of ‘grace’ without interpreting it in the context of 2,000 years worth of debate.
And the Greek root for ‘blaspheme’ is a lot like the whole ‘baptism’ thing. It’s a word with a varied, non-specific meaning in Greek that has come to have a single meaning in English. So, again, not to have the English meaning distort the original text, I chose another meaning for “blaspheme”. Most English translations do the same.
30 Si ego cum gratia participo, quid blasphemor pro eo, quod gratias ago?
31 εἴτε οὖν ἐσθίετε εἴτε πίνετε εἴτε τι ποιεῖτε, πάντα εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ ποιεῖτε.
Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.
Not much to say about that. Wish I knew more about Judaism. This thought became so embedded in Christian doctrine that I would like to know the degree to which this is a continuation of Jewish thought, or an innovation of Paul and/or Jesus, or something that subsequent Christians took and made into a big thing.
31 Sive ergo manducatis sive bibitis sive aliud quid facitis, omnia in gloriam Dei facite.
32 ἀπρόσκοποι καὶ Ἰουδαίοις γίνεσθε καὶ Ελλησιν καὶ τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ,
Be inoffensive both to Jews and Greeks and to the Community of God,
32 Sine offensione estote Iudaeis et Graecis et ecclesiae Dei,
33 καθὼς κἀγὼ πάντα πᾶσιν ἀρέσκω, μὴ ζητῶν τὸ ἐμαυτοῦ σύμφορον ἀλλὰ τὸ τῶν πολλῶν, ἵνα σωθῶσιν.
in this way I also please all in all things, not seeking my own profit, but that of the many, so that they will be saved.
33 sicut et ego per omnia omnibus placeo, non quaerens, quod mihi utile est, sed quod multis, ut salvi fiant.
Once again, use Paul as an example. He is all things to all people. But he does this to save as many as possible.
Feels like I’m going out with a whimper here, but I don’t think this requires a lot of comment. These last couple of verses give us further insight into Paul. They illustrate, very effectively, how passionate Paul was about his mission. Above all, he wanted nothing more than to bring the Good News to as many people as possible, so that he could save as many people as possible. To this end, he could justify any means necessary. (We probably should not take that too literally.) This has to be a major component in his success: his sincerity, and the depth of his conviction must have been clear to all who encountered him.
Note: Updates/Corrections made
1 Οὐ θέλω γὰρ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, ὅτι οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν πάντες ὑπὸ τὴν νεφέλην ἦσαν καὶ πάντες διὰ τῆς θαλάσσης διῆλθον,
For I don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, that our fathers all under the clouds were and all through the sea came through (redundancy deliberate),
The cloud and the sea are references to the Exodus: following the pillar of cloud, then passing through the (Red) sea when it parted. Now, the interesting part is that this seems to be implying that he’s speaking to an audience of Jews, which seemingly runs against the grain of my Greek thought hypothesis. But not necessarily. Minority cultures have some awareness of the thought-world of the majority; and, especially if a significant contingent of the Community were wealthy, there’s a good chance that they had received some Greek education. And remember, in the last chapter Paul talked about members of the Community attending idol sacrifices.
1 Nolo enim vos ignorare, fra tres, quoniam patres nostri omnes sub nube fuerunt et omnes mare transierunt
2 καὶ πάντες εἰς τὸν Μωϋσῆν ἐβαπτίσθησαν ἐν τῇ νεφέλῃ καὶ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ,
and all in Moses were baptized in the cloud and in the sea,
Recall Paul’s less-than-enthusiastic attitude towards baptism in Chapter 1. But also recall our discussions of “John the Dunker”; just because we see the word ‘baptize’, we cannot automatically assume the reference is to Christian baptism. Recall that Josephus, in describing John’s practice, said that the washing was for the body, and did not relate to cleansing sins. The outward washing (dunking) was the culmination, the outward sign that the sins had been repented (and absolved?). The point is, ‘baptise’ was a common verb, lacking our specialised meaning of the word. So, it would be appropriate for the Hebrews to have been symbolically ‘dunked’ by passing through the Red Sea. The idea of being ‘baptized’ by a cloud does not quite make sense in our understanding of the word. So the point is that to think of this in terms of later Christian baptism is an anachronism. I truly do not think that Paul is using the word ‘baptize’ in that sense, so I think it would be a bit of a misinterpretation to take it that way.
2 et omnes in Moyse baptizati sunt in nube et in mari
3 καὶ πάντες τὸ αὐτὸ πνευματικὸν βρῶμα ἔφαγον,
and all ate the same spiritual food,
Presumably a reference to the manna? Or to the inculcation of the belief system that became Judaism?
3 et omnes eandem escam spiritalem manducaverunt
4 καὶ πάντες τὸ αὐτὸ πνευματικὸν ἔπιον πόμα: ἔπινον γὰρ ἐκ πνευματικῆς ἀκολουθούσης πέτρας: ἡ πέτρα δὲ ἦν ὁ Χριστός.
and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from spiritual stones following (them); the rock was the Anointed.
Taking this with the spiritual food in the previous verse and I think we can figure out where this is going. It’s akin to the lengthy metaphor in Galatians, where he compared the Law as the precursor to the coming of Jesus; the pedagogue that was necessary to keep us on the straight-and-narrow during our youth, until we had matured spiritually enough to be able to stand on our own in the Faith in Jesus the Anointed.
[ And I’m going to be translating this as “the Anointed”; “the Christ”, or even “the Messiah” have too many connotations that were not in Paul’s text. These terms are now loaded for us; “the Anointed” doesn’t have all the baggage. ]
4 et omnes eundem potum spiritalem biberunt; bibebant autem de spiritali, consequente eos, petra; petra autem erat Christus.
5 ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐν τοῖς πλείοσιν αὐτῶν εὐδόκησεν ὁ θεός, κατεστρώθησαν γὰρ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ.
But God was not pleased by many of them; he cast them down in the desert.
Comment deferred. I’m going to discuss V4-11 as a unit below.
5 Sed non in pluribus eorum complacuit sibi Deus, nam prostrati sunt in deserto.
6 ταῦτα δὲ τύποι ἡμῶν ἐγενήθησαν, εἰς τὸ μὴ εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἐπιθυμητὰς κακῶν, καθὼς κἀκεῖνοι ἐπεθύμησαν.
These things became our examples, toward the not being desiring of evil things, in the way that even some of them desired (evil things)
This is a fairly long bit of extended metaphor. Or analogy. Or just moralizing.
6 Haec autem figurae fuerunt nostrae, ut non simus concupiscentes malorum, sicut et illi concupierunt.
7 μηδὲ εἰδωλολάτραι γίνεσθε, καθώς τινες αὐτῶν: ὥσπερ γέγραπται, Ἐκάθισεν ὁ λαὸς φαγεῖν καὶ πεῖν, καὶ ἀνέστησαν παίζειν.
Nor do not become idolaters, in the way some of them (did); as it is written, “The people sat down and ate and drank, and they stood up to play (lit= ‘to child’).
This probably doesn’t need to be pointed out, but this is a cite from Exodus. What gets translated here as “to play”, in my Revised English Bible and in the NIV is rendered here and in Exodus 32:6 as ‘to revel’, or ‘revelry’. Now, both the Greek and Latin (ludere) very much correspond to our word ‘to play’, in the sense of what a child does, or to play a game, or at a sport, or even ‘to jest’ or to ‘make a joke’. The KJV, the Vulgate, NASB and ESV all choose ‘to play’ in both places.
‘Revel’, OTOH, crosses–at least, it can cross–into the realm of ‘debauchery’. The cite from Exodus is the point where Moses is on the mountain and the Isrealites are about to make a Golden Calf. I seriously doubt that the author of Exodus was suggesting that the Isrealites got up to have a go at football, or even throw dice (a very common Latin usage: ludere alea, “to play dice”), so the choice of the Greek word to cover whatever it is that the Hebrew says is a bit of a problem. I mean, the idea of sexual ‘play’ is not out of the scope of the word, but it’s a concept that’s only on the fringe of the word ‘to play’. Perhaps in Hebrew, the association is closer? If you think about it, ‘besport’ is an archaic word in English which definitely has sexual connotations, or at least implications. Perhaps the Hebrew word is similar?
So here again, I think, is an instance where the literal meaning, or the most ‘accurate’ translation of the Greek may not be the most appropriate. I would like to think that, perhaps, the NIV and the REB went back to the Hebrew of the original passage, rather than translating directly from the Greek quote.
7 Neque idolorum cultores efficiamini, sicut quidam ex ipsis; quemadmodum scriptum est: “ Sedit populus manducare et bibere, et surrexerunt ludere ”.
8 μηδὲ πορνεύωμεν, καθώς τινες αὐτῶν ἐπόρνευσαν, καὶ ἔπεσαν μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳ εἴκοσι τρεῖς χιλιάδες.
No do we fornicate, in the way that some of them fornicated, and on a single day twenty-three thousand fell (as in, died in battle).
This is a reference to Numbers 25:1-6, in which the Israelites besported with Moabite women, and prostrated themselves before the Moabite gods, so Moses ordered Joshua and the judges to slay the offenders, and the REB says that 24,000 were slain before Moses could stop the carnage.
Now, here we get the explicit condemnation of fornicating; in the previous verse, when we encountered ‘revel’, I certainly took this to imply sexual activity. But, maybe not. Or, here is a really interesting thought: perhaps Paul, a Jew from Tarsus, was more familiar with the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the OT than he was with said scriptures in Hebrew. This was certainly true with Matthew and his rendering of the Hebrew ‘young girl’ as the Greek ‘parthena’, which is the English ‘virgin’. So, since the condemnation of ‘play’ wasn’t strong enough, or explicit enough, Paul felt it necessary to throw in this cite to allow the more explicit condemnation of fornication.
8 Neque fornicemur, sicut quidam ex ipsis fornicati sunt, et ceciderunt una die viginti tria milia.
9 μηδὲ ἐκπειράζωμεν τὸν Χριστόν, καθώς τινες αὐτῶν ἐπείρασαν, καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν ὄφεων ἀπώλλυντο.
Nor did we tempt the Anointed One, in the way that some of them tempted (him), and they perished under the serpent.
This is Numbers 21:5-6. Israelites complaining about the food were bitten by poisonous snakes.
9 Neque tentemus Christum, sicut quidam eorum tentaverunt et a serpentibus perierunt.
10 μηδὲ γογγύζετε, καθάπερ τινὲς αὐτῶν ἐγόγγυσαν, καὶ ἀπώλοντοὑπὸ τοῦ ὀλοθρευτοῦ.
Neither be grumblers, as some of them grumbled, and they were destroyed by the destroyer.
Numbers 14:35-36. The ‘destroyer’ was a plague.
10 Neque murmuraveritis, sicut quidam eorum murmuraverunt et perierunt ab exterminatore.
11 ταῦτα δὲ τυπικῶς συνέβαινεν ἐκείνοις, ἐγράφη δὲ πρὸς νουθεσίαν ἡμῶν, εἰς οὓς τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων κατήντηκεν.
These things came to pass as examples to them, and it was written as (lit=’towards’) admonitions of us, towards whom the end of the age approaches.
OK, let’s take a look at the whole section, starting with V-4. Paul is doing something very deft and very clever here. He is simultaneously identifying the members of the Community with the ancient Israelites, and separating the members of the Community from the ancient Israelites. Some of them were evil, or fornicators, or grumblers, but not all of them. And of course, we are like the non-fornicators and non-grumblers. In this way, Paul can connect the Community to the ancient traditions of the Hebrew tribes, but only with the best of them.
And being connected to these ancient ways was important to members of the Community. For the Jewish members, it connected them with their heritage; for the pagans, having this pedigree was very important. For pagans, the old ways were the best ways. It was very important that Paul could tie into a tradition that could rival Homer in its antiquity. Something new was something not proven by the test of time.
At the same time, however, Paul wants to dissociate and disengage from the Jewish tradition. Recall how in Galatians he referred to the traditions of the Law as the traditions of slavery. That the adherents of the Law were the descendants of Abraham through Hagar, the bondwoman, while those with faith in Jesus were the descendants of Abraham through Sarah, the free-born wife. IOW, Paul is trying to have it both ways. But then, in the last chapter he was trying to be all things to all people; why not have one’s cake, and eat it, too?
As a final note, this whole notion of ‘some of them’, as in ‘some of the Israelites’, will come to full fruition in Romans. There, he talks about a ‘remnant’ of Israel. When this concept comes to full fruition, not all of the descendants of Abraham will be the Chosen People; only this remnant will be. That is when we get into the whole notion of Predestination.
11 Haec autem in figura contingebant illis; scripta sunt autem ad correptionem nostram, in quos fines saeculorum devenerunt.
12 ὥστε ὁ δοκῶν ἑστάναι βλεπέτω μὴ πέσῃ.
This, let the one appearing to stand watch out lest he fall.
This, I think, is a flat-out warning to Jewish members of the Community who may think that their status as Jews gives them a leg up, or a free pass, or a get-out-of-jail-free card, or something. Now, at various points in past comments, I have discussed whether the Community of Corinth was Jewish or pagan. I think we have to conclude it was a mixed community, with members of both backgrounds. On this line, it seems like the idea of the dietary laws has become a settled issue; the problem with the pagan feasts wasn’t the meat itself; it was the associations. But then, the standard sacrifices for pagans were oxen and sheep, rather than pigs.
12 Itaque, qui se existimat stare, videat, ne cadat.
13 πειρασμὸς ὑμᾶς οὐκ εἴληφεν εἰ μὴ ἀνθρώπινος: πιστὸς δὲ ὁ θεός, ὃς οὐκ ἐάσει ὑμᾶς πειρασθῆναι ὑπὲρ ὃ δύνασθε, ἀλλὰ ποιήσει σὺν τῷ πειρασμῷ καὶ τὴν ἔκβασιν τοῦ δύνασθαι ὑπενεγκεῖν.
Temptation has not received you except in a human way; for God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above your power (as in ‘strength’), but he will also make with the temptation the power to bear (to) the end. (..but with the temptation he will give the strength to bear it [the temptation] to the end.
13 Tentatio vos non apprehendit nisi humana; fidelis autem Deus, qui non patietur vos tentari super id quod potestis, sed faciet cum tentatione etiam proventum, ut possitis sustinere.
I’m really a bit unsure of the Greek, especially in that clause. That is, I think I get what it’s saying, but it’s really hard to get it to work in English that in any way resembles the sense of the original. Still, I don’t think this is quite an example of a consensus translation.
As for the content of the verse, here we have, I believe, the original expression of the idea that God will not tempt us beyond our power to withstand. This is an important axiom of Christian thought. Note that it originates with Paul, and not in the gospels.
The chapter starts with a discussion about whether believers should partake of meat offered to pagan gods as a sacrifice. As R L Fox describes, many temples had banquet rooms, either attached or on the grounds, and groups would have communal sacrifices that would become, in effect, a communal meal. Paul does not see the harm, really, in eating the meat per se. What he eventually objects to is the conviviality, and the impression this might leave on more…impressionable members of the Community of Jesus. Paul fears, no doubt with solid justification, that this might be too much of a mixed message for some, especially if it were the wealthier, more substantial members of the Community who were participating in these meals. Paul’s concern, I believe, is well-founded.
However, the chapter takes an unexpected turn. It becomes another of Paul’s self-defence apologies. It starts early enough with Paul asking the (presumably) rhetorical question “Have I not seen Jesus?” << οὐχὶ Ἰησοῦν τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν ἑόρακα; >>. This leads us back into the discussion we had previously about celibacy: how much of what we get is attributable to Jesus? How much originated, and can be traced back to Jesus? And how much of this is Paul, sort of making it up as he goes along? This is, obviously, a huge question with an enormous amount of relevance for the Quest for the Historical Jesus. Now, I say that Paul is ‘making it up’, but that’s just me being (trying to be) humorous. Based on his question, “Have I not seen Jesus”, and what he has said in previous chapters about how he apparently prayed on questions, or that God would provide answers to those whom he loved, by no means do I want to appear to be disparaging Paul’s motives. By no means do I believe that Paul was ever being cynical, calculating a message based on his proclivities, or beliefs, or his opinions. At least, he did not do so consciously. Paul was, above all, sincere. Now, sometimes sincere people are so certain in their sincerity that they really and truly believe that the object of their affection must–simply must–feel the same way they do. The most cliche example is the person so in love that he is convinced that the other must–simply must–love him in return. Of course, this is a staple of all sorts of literature, movies, TV shows, & c.
Anyway, in this chapter we get another bit of indication that things we consider fundamental to Christian belief may have started with Paul, and not with Jesus. In this chapter, it’s not celibacy, but poverty. What is, possibly, in question is the idea of Apostolic Poverty based on Mark 6:8, when he sent out the apostles to preach, telling them to take nothing with them. Here, however, we are told that some apostles, apparently including Peter and the brothers of the lord, may have traveled with something like a retinue, or at least their wives, and then expected–demanded?–that the Community in question support them, possibly in some style. At least, Paul’s protests that he does not do this, would never dream of doing this, gives the definite impression that these other apostles were not modest in their expectations.
And so the bulk of the chapter is really Paul at his self-pitying, passive-aggressive, borderline whiny best. He does not make demands! He would never dream of this! He preaches the good news from conviction, not for pay!
The word Paul uses for the ‘right’ to expect support is not ‘right’, but ‘power’. The apostle has the power to make these demands. Which leads to (but does not beg) the question of who granted this power? It is just possible that this power did indeed originate with Jesus, as we saw in Mark 6:7-13. But, having just re-read this, section, I realize there is nothing in there about accepting what is offered. Now, Jesus does tell them to stay with whomever invites them in, and I suppose this could be taken as an indication that those sent out should expect to be supported as they preach, which Paul states explicitly in V-14 of this chapter. However, there is a very different feeling between that section of Mark, and what Paul seems to be describing. Remember: Paul came first. He was describing first-hand what he experienced. The author of Mark, OTOH, was telling a story a couple of generations old, describing, most likely, how he thought it should have been, rather than how it actually was. As such, I think we have to have serious doubts about Mark 6:7-13, and anything in Matthew and Luke and John that seem to depend on this passage of Mark.
Then, in wrapping up this section about the expected support, Paul describes how he tries to be all things to all people. Once again, this is a level of zealousness that, while admirable in and of itself, and in this context, put down a possibly dangerous precedent. This principle taken to a logical conclusion very easily becomes ‘the end justifies the means’. In the heated debates about slavery in the USA in the 19th Century, it was passages like this, and the earlier injunctions that Paul issued to ‘remain in our station’ were used by the pro-slavery faction as arguments to justify the continued existence of slavery. This, of course, was not Paul’s fault, but it does illustrate how perhaps incautious words can have unintended consequences.
Finally, we get to the distinction between a corruptible and and incorruptible crown. Athletes train for the former; followers of the Christ strive for one that is incorruptible. This is possibly the point at which an eternal–more or less synonymous with ‘incorruptible’–life became, continuing with Paul’s athletic metaphor, the “prize” for living one’s life…well, how, exactly? I mentioned this in the chapter commentary: in 1 Thessalonians 4 there is the idea of rising up to meet the Christ, but there is no indication of what might happen after that. Having checked Strong’s vocabulary list for words relating to ‘eternal’ or ‘life’ or synonyms thereof, there isn’t much before this. I also speculated that the location of this Community in Corinth, in Greece, where the idea of transmigration of souls was 500 or 600 years old by the time Paul wrote this letter, and the idea of an immortal soul had been fixed in philosophical thought for nearly half a millennium, may not have been accidental. But which way did the influence run? Did Paul choose the metaphor knowing it would likely resonate with his audience? Or did the audience provide the idea?
I recently started reading a book called France: The Dark Years 1940-1944. I’m not far into it; I’m still in the preliminary section describing the political situation in the inter-war period. I mention this because the author describes how all of the ideas floating around, about democracy, monarchism, socialism, fascism, & c, originally distinct and pure, all started to swirl around and interact and react and mutate. This is, I think, a good metaphor for how intellectual or spiritual ideas mix and mingle. (And I would suggest that the ideas of the inter-war period of 20th Century Europe were more spiritual than intellectual; I tend to view WWII as the last of the religious wars that broke out as a result of the Reformation).
So, it would pay to keep something like this in mind when we think about the thought-world of the First Century. Ideas mixed and mingled and influenced one another. Paul’s travels in Greece may have had enormous implications for the way Christian thought eventually developed. Recall that in the first part of Mark, the emphasis is not on salvation, but on Jesus the Healer, the Wonder-Worker. The idea of eternal life only rises to prominence in the second part, which may have reflected the influence of Paul. And Paul may have reflected the influence of Greece. Much depends on the idea of “the kingdom’. Was it Paul who transferred the kingdom into the next world?