1Thess 3:13

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Sat Jul 3 06:17:48 EDT 1999

At 5:17 AM -0400 7/3/99, MikeBzley at aol.com wrote:
>In a message dated 02/07/99 22:40:26 GMT Daylight Time,
>cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu writes:
>> On 07/02/99, "Steve Amato" <samato at cfa.harvard.edu>" wrote:
>>  > I wonder if someone might be able to tell me why the NIV translates
>>  3:12,13 as
>>  "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for
>>  everyone else, just as ours does for you."
>>  "May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in
>>  the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his
>>  holy ones." (NIV)
>>  but "strengthen" (or "establish") in vs 13 is infinitive, not indicative.
>>  Shouldn't it be "to strengthen (or "to establish") your hearts"?
>>  No: this is the relatively rare optative 3d sg., both PLEONASAI and
>>  PERISSEUSAI, expressing a wish, and "may" is the normal way to translate
>>  optative. It is true that the active infinitives would, in fact, have the
>>  very same forms, but these are unquestionably optatives. The optative is
>>  rare in the NT that many NT Greek books don't even teach it.
>In no way do I wish to be construed as disagreeing with Carl, however it
>seems to me that  Steve was asking a rather different question from that
>which Carl answered.
>Steve's original question was about STHRIXAI not PLEONASAI and PERISSEUSAI.
>He said:
>>but "stengthen" (or "establish") in Vs 13 is infinitive, not indicative.
>>Shouldn't it be "to strengthen (or "to establish") your hearts"?
>>It seems to me that the effect on the interpretation is that if it is
>>"may", then Paul is just listing another thing he is praying, not
>>necessarily related to vs 12.
>>But if it is "to", then the strengthening would be an effect of the answer
>>of Paul's prayer in vs 12, rather than a separate prayer.
>It seems to me to be a very fair question.  The NIV is treating the verses as
>though they are parallel constructions, which they aren't.  IMHO the second
>is clearly the end towards which the first is aimed.  A T Robertson says of
>the second verse, "To the end he may stablish ([eis to sterixai]). Another
>example of [eis] and the articular infinitive of purpose. Same idiom in
>#3:2|. From [sterizo], from [sterigx], a support."
>I like the BBE translation, "12And the Lord give you increase of love in
>fullest measure to one another and to all men, even as our love to you; 13So
>that your hearts may be strong and free from all sin before our God and
>Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints."

I'm sorry; I missed the essential point about STHRIXAI. Yes, this is
certainly an infinitive; in this instance it is articular and used with EIS
in a typical purpose/result construction (EIS + articular infinitive is
just about identical in meaning with hWSTE + infinitive, if not wholly so).
I think then, that a more literal version would be "so as to confirm your
hearts (as) blameless in holiness before God ..."  I got confused and
didn't really understand the import of the whole question.

I should add that, while I don't generally like the NIV and I do think
there's a slight distortion of the original Greek here, I don't think it is
a real misrepresentation of the intent of the original: Paul expresses his
wish regarding what the Lord should do to the Thessalonians--PLEONASAI and
PERISSEUSAI--and then in the purpose constructions indicates what the end
result of those wishes would be--STHRIXAI. But isn't that pretty much
equivalent to saying that what he really wishes that the Lord should
ultimately do is "confirm ..."? That is to say, the purpose expression
really is a completion of Paul's prayer and expression of what he wants to
happen to the Thessalonians.

In stylistic terms, I think this is rather characteristic of Paul. Compare
this instance Paul expresses a very similar sequence of hope/prayer for his
addressees; here, instead of the optatives of wish/prayer, he uses a hINA
subjunctive clause which is NOT a purpose clause but a substantive clause
in apposition to TOUTO, then proceeds to an EIS + articular infinitive
purpose/result construction (EIS TO DOKIMAZEIN hUMAS ...) and concludes
with a hINA purpose subjunctive clause expressing the eschatological
culmination to which he looks forward as the ultimate objective of his
wish/prayer. That is: he starts out with "I want this to happen so that X
may happen, so that all may come for you ultimately to the right
eschatological consummation; the purpose is really part of the wish/prayer.
And if this is the case, then I don't think the NIV has really
misinterpreted the writer's intent.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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