Hebrews 2:10 DIA (repentance)

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Fri Jul 30 07:02:11 EDT 1999

hAI DEUTERAI PWS FRONTIDES SOFWTERAI; so says Euripides. I've rethought a
major part of what I submitted yesterday in response to Jonathan's
question. While I still think that the antecedent of both relative pronouns
in Heb 2:10 (DI' hON, DI' hOU) must be the same, I have to concede that the
AUTON which is their antecedent must refer to God; that referent is clearly
there in the phrase CARITI QEOU at the end of 2:9. Moreover, it is
impossible to understand (as I was trying to do speculatively yesterday
morning) TELEIWSAI as intransitive in the sense of "come to fulfilment." It
really must be transitive-active and causative and must have the sense that
-0W denominative verbs normally do have: "cause to be x"--in this instance
"cause to be TELEIOS". Although the verb TELEIOW does appear in the sense
of "come to fulfilment," all instances of that sense that I have found
involve a middle/reflexive form.

At 8:48 AM -0400 7/29/99, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>At 7:01 AM -0400 7/29/99, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>>This threw me for a loop this morning:
>>The phrase DI' hON TA PANTA KAI DI' hOU TA PANTA refers to God. The first
>>DIA, with the accusative, means "for the sake of"; the second, with the
>>genitive, means - at least I thought - "through the agency of". I remember
>>first encountering this use of DIA when reading John the first time, where
>>I thought the whole point of using DIA in this way was to distinguish the
>>primary agent of creation (God) from the secondary agent of creation
>>(Jesus).  Some verses where I thought this distinction was carefully made
>>using DIA occur in John 1:3, John 1:10, Colossians 1:16.
>>Hebrews 2:10 threw me for a loop because it uses DIA+genitive for God, who
>>would be the primary agent, using the distinction made above.  Other verses
>>that seem to use this in a similar way occur in 1 Cor 1:9, 1 Cor 12:8,
>>Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 13:11, 1 Pet 2:14, etc (references thanks to Zerwick,
>>section 113).
>I HOPE we can keep discussion of this question focused on grammatical
>possibilities and avoid theological ramifications. Having said that, I have
>to say that I'm not sure why it's necessary to assume that the relative
>pronoun in DI' hON and DI' hOU refer to different 'persons.' After all, the
>ultimate object of the verb in 2:9 is IHSOUN. To me it seems more natural
>to understand AUTWi and the two relative pronouns as referring to the same
>'person'--to IHSOUS. Moreover, I'd understand AUTWi not as a subject of
>TELEIWSAI distinct from TON ARCHGON THS SWTHRIAS. In fact, although
>TELEIWSAI is often enough a transitive active verb, it appears also to be
>used frequently enough in an intransitive sense, and I would understand it
>that way here too: not that God makes Jesus perfect, but that Jesus fully
>accomplishes his mission. It was appropriate for him/Jesus; what was
>appropriate? that He should complete his mission in a certain way; why was
>it appropriate for him? because he is the mediator and agent of all things.
>This is the way I read the grammar of the sentence, quite apart from how
>one wants to understand the theology of it.
>As for the distinction between DI' hON and DI' hOU, I'm not so sure that it
>is so simple a matter as the distinction between "for the sake of" and
>"through the agency of." I think that DIA with accusative is open to a
>broader variety of senses which might be most simply represented as
>"through the mediation of whom" "by way of whom"--i.e. the completion of
>the process requires involvement of the object of DIA. You might note, by
>the way, that the genitive with DIA at the end of the verse, PAQHMATWN,
>can't rightly be understood in terms of agency at all--it must mean
>something like "in the course of successive ordeals of suffering." One
>vivid memory from my own first year of Greek is the endeavor to understand
>prepositions and their cases in terms of geometrical diagrams: DIA with
>Genitive was represented by a dotted arrow intersecting both sides of a
>circle and indicating the passage from one side of something through to the
>other side of it; DIA with Accusative was represented with a dotted arrow
>passing through a point and indicating an essential point of intersection
>for the completion of an action. I'm not sure that really works in every
>instance, but I've always found it helpful when trying to sort out the
>range of senses which DIA may take in different contexts.
>So I'd understand the verse and convey its sense thus by way of paraphrase:
>"It was appropriate that he, inasmuch as all things are mediated by him and
>all things exist through his agency, that the author of their salvation
>should accomplish his mission through experience of suffering, thereby
>bringing many sons into glory."
>>At any rate, back to my question: to what extent does DIA+genitive
>>distinguish a secondary agent from a primary agent? How is it to be
>>understood in the verses discussed above, e.g. in Hebrews 2:10? Is it
>>legitimate to translate DI' hON TA PANTA KAI DI' hOU TA PANTA  as "for whom
>>and by whom"?
>I think I've explained my stance on the question: I do NOT think the intent
>is to distinguish a secondary agent from a primary agent, and while I think
>"for whom" is a legitimate possible understanding of DI' hON in Heb 2:10, I
>don't think it is NECESSARY to understand it that way: I'm more inclined to
>think that in this instance the difference between DI' hON and DI' hOU is
>the difference between MEANS and AGENT. That may seem like a trivial and
>redundant notion, but it's a distinction which in the older case system is
>signaled by use of the Instrumental for Means and the Genitive for Agent.

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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