I Corinthians 7:27 - "loosed"

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Sun Nov 21 07:27:12 EST 1999

At 8:23 PM -0800 11/20/99, Marty Livingston wrote:
>Hello All,
>Would love and appreciate very much reading your
>comments regarding two terms - "loosed" and "loosed."
>"Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be LOOSED.
>Art thou LOOSED from a wife? Seek not a wife" (I
>Cor.7:27) KJV.


>Can you give me some definitions of the term(s) so
>translated "loosed," tense, noun or verb, etc., and do
>these things affect the meaning in any way.
>I understand that the second "loosed" is a verb,
>perfect passive, and this implies that action was
>taken against the man, PERHAPS by a woman who divorced
>him. Could this then actually imply, based on
>"loosed," that this man in part B may have been
>married at one time?

Actually both verbs (DEDESAI, LELUSAI) that begin these clauses have the
same form: perfect indicative second-singular middle/passive, and my own
inclination is always to take them as middle unless the passive is
indicated by some additional contextual element. While one could understand
them as emphasizing completion of the action (i.e. "Have you bound yourself
to a wife ... have you set yourself free from a wife ..."), my own
inclination is to see these as statives and underscore the present state
that is the consequence of completed action: "You are attached to a wife
... you are free from a wife ..."

And yes, I would understand the second phrase LELUSAI APO GUNAIKOS as
implying that the addressee has been married at one time; I do not think
that the language implies anything specific or concrete about HOW the
marriage has been dissolved in LELUSAI or how it might be dissolved in MH
ZHTEI LUSIN: death of a partner is at least as much a possibility as
divorce. But at any rate, I don't see how LELUSAI APO GUNAIKOS can have any
meaning at all unless we assume that the addressee has at one time been
married (or "attached to a woman"--since GUNH, GUNAIKOS may under
circumstances mean either "wife" or simply "woman." But the context of the
discussion is surely marriage.

I'd only add one thing that's probably obvious to anyone seriously reading
the text in context: Paul seems to understand the circumstances governing
one's choice to alter one's marital status to be the approaching cataclysm
of the return of Christ: an apocalyptic situation wherein what lies
immediately ahead is all uncertain (29:  TOUTO DE FHMI, ADELFOI, hO KAIROS
SUNESTALMENOS ESTIN ..."--i.e. "I tell you this, brothers, the 'season' is
'constricted'" -- the time period wherein we now operate is one that is
very short), Paul says (as I understand this passage) is not a situation
wherein one ought to be making long-term commitments regarding one's status.

>I am a beginning student of the Greek and new to this
>forum, so the more of your reply that is in English,
>the more I will be able to understand.

Welcome to you; I hope that enough of the above has been English that it
makes sense to you.

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
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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