Meaning of Philippians 2:6- MORFH and hARPAGMOS

Benjamin Raymond braymond at
Tue Oct 27 17:21:16 EST 1998

If no one else mentions it, there is a good discussion of this in Ralph
Martin's revised monograph _Carmen Christi: Philippians 2:5-11 in Recent
Interpretation_.  I worked through it a couple semesters ago for a paper on
this passage.  If that doesn't help, the bibliography is quite extensive.

The difficulties with hARPAGMOS are especially thorny, as it is a hAPAX in
the NT and quite rare elsewhere.

At 03:27 PM 10/26/98 -0800, Kyle Dillon wrote: 
>What exactly is the meaning of Philippians 2:6? The Greek text reads:
>The KJV translates hUPARCWN as a causal participle (although it seems much
more likely that it functions as a concessive participle in the context),
and therefore hARPAGMON is translated "robbery." But this doesn't seem to
be in line with the definition of hARPAGMOS. hARPAGMA, a related form, is
defined as "prey," or "that which has been siezed" (which is in line with
the derivative hARPAZW, "to sieze"). Some have suggested that the ending
-MOS, as opposed to -MA, refers to the act rather than the result (that is,
hARPAGMOS would mean, as the NWT has, "siezure" or "that which is to be
siezed"). But I have heard of a reference to a work of Plutarch, where
hARPAGMOS is used in reference to the conquests of Alexander the Great and
carries the meaning of "booty," "spoil of war," or "something that is
exploited or abused." Does anyone know of this reference, or even any
extra-biblical reference to hARPAGMOS that could determine the exact
meaning of this word?
>The NIV translates MORFHi as "nature" instead of the traditional "form."
What exactly does MORFH mean? It would seem that the best translation of
this verse is "Who, although existing in God's form, did not consider
equality with God something to be siezed (or "exploited," depending on the
meaning of hARPAGMON)." Does this translation accurately convey the meaning
of the text?
>Kyle Dillon

Benjamin Raymond
senior, Harding University School of Biblical Studies
braymond at
HU Box 11871, 900 E Center
Searcy, AR 72149-0001

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