A question on Philippians 4
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Jul 25 10:10:59 EDT 2001
At 6:11 PM +0100 7/25/01, Peter Osborne. wrote:
>a question on Philippians 4:5:
>it states - ...TO EPIEIKES hUMWN GNWSQHTW PASIN ANQRWPOIS.
>I'm a novice, so I hope I've got the characters right !
>As far as I can establish GNWSQHTW is aorist, passive, imperative, second
Actually it's 3rd person singular; the subject is TO EPIEIKES hUMWN.
Literally it's "Let your reasonability/fairness be discerned by all
people." If it WERE 2nd plural imperative passive, it would have to be
GNWSQHTE and would then mean "You should be discerned by all people"--and
the nominal phrase TO EPIEIKES hUMWN would then be left hanging without a
>I would appreciate comments on how best to translate this. The passive,
>imperative, second person, plural bit is straight forward enough, but the
>difficulty for me is with the aorist. To me the aorist must have some
>significance because GINWSKW crops up again in v6. In this case it is, I
>think, the same form but not an aorist.
We've discussed previously how best to translate the third person
imperative. Personally, I still think that standard formal English calls
for "Let X do Y"--or in this case, "Let reasonableness be known." Some have
argued that using "let" is misleading because it seems to be suggesting
allowance of a practice rather than demanding it, but I think that's
misunderstanding the historical nature of this inveterate English
Alternatively, we could reformulate the meaning in a way that expresses the
sense, perhaps as "You should make sure that all persons recognize your
The substantivized adjective EPIEIKES is itself an interesting item here;
originally it was used to describe judicial fairness when the letter of the
law didn't seem to permit an equitable resolution of a conflict. In the NT
Koine, ;the adjective EPIEIKHS seems to be used most commonly in the sense,
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Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
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