Rom 12:9 hH AGAPH ANUPOKRITOS

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Thu Jan 7 04:41:59 EST 1999


At 9:46 PM -0500 1/6/99, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>I was doing a study of the attributes of love, and I ran into this verse:
>
>Rom 12:9 hH AGAPH ANUPOKRITOS
>
>I interpreted this as meaning "love is genuine" (or perhaps "love does not
>play-act", which changes the adjective into a verb, but seems to express
>the same thought). But when I turned to five translations (NRSV, REB, NAB,
>NJB, NASB), *none* of them interpreted it this way. They all said something
>like "*let* love be sincere".
>
>Why? What am I missing?

Context, I think, primarily. This little snippet is in a sequence of
ethical parenesis. If you'll look at the snippets preceding and following
it, you'll see, I think, that there's a quality of what I'd call Laconian
eloquence: participles here may serve as imperatives, as in the remainder
of verse 9: APOSTUGOUNTES TO PONHRON, KOLLWMENOI TWi AGAQWi--and continuing
all the way through verse 13, at the end of which we finally get a direct
imperative: EULOGEITE KAI MH KATARASQE. Then follows an infinitive
functioning as an imperative: CAIREIN META CAIRONTWN, KLAIEIN META TWN
KLAIONTWN. Much of this could be proverbial; certainly it has been argued
that the ethical parenesis in early Christian letters differs very little
in the behavior exhorted or admonished against from that of Stoic, Cynic,
or even Epicurean moral teachers, but differs rather in the underlying
foundation of the ethics. You might readily compare this "Laconian
eloquence" in this chapter of Romans with the Latin parenesis to be found
in Seneca's Epistulae Morales, where there's talk of a "pointed style." All
of this, I think, belongs to a chapter or two in the handbooks on the
rhetoric of ethical exhortation. Frankly, you'll find much of the same
style of exhortation in the last section of Hesiod's Works & Days and even
in those passages of Homer's Odyssey where traditional maxims of compassion
for the weak--outcasts and beggars--find expression, as in the talk of the
swineherd Eumaeus with Odysseus or even some of the warnings of Odysseus to
the suitors while he is disguised as a beggar in those late books prior to
the contest of the bow.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cconrad at yancey.main.nc.us
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/



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