1 Corinthians 13:8 - Why does Paul use different verbs?

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Nov 24 09:24:50 EST 1999


At 3:36 PM -0600 11/23/99, Dwayne Riner wrote:
>I am writing an exegetical paper on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 and I noticed
>that Paul uses KATARGHQHSONTAI for both PROFHTEIAI and GNWSIS. Yet, for
>GLWSSAI he uses the verb PAUSONTAI.  I was wondering if anyone has done any
>research concerning Paul's purpose in changing verbs.

I think you ought to consider that it may have no other explanation that
rhetorical variation--that's what I'm most inclined to think; on the other
hand, it may be that GLWSSAI is being perceived as something more of a
physical manifestation, since they are not declared to be intelligible in
their own right but to require interpretation. You might take EITE GLWSSAI,
PAUSONTAI to mean, "And if there are tongues, they will stop wagging." Ist
does appear to me that PROFHTEIAI and GNWSIS are more internal than
external, more spiritual than physical, as it were. But at the same time, I
think that KATARGEW is a more general term, used here in the future middle
in the sense of "atrophy." In the literary paraphrase of 1 Cor 13 that I
did for my daughter's wedding several years ago, I rendered verse 8 as
follows:

"Loving-kindness will always have a role to play.
	But someday great issues will no longer matter;
		someday eloquence will have nothing to say;
		someday throbbing angelic ecstasy will be hushed;
		and someday profound insights will be irrelevant."

I underscore that this is a paraphrase and that it glosses PROFHTEIAI and
GNWSIS in ways that some may think illegitimate, but I have tried to retain
the original "tongues of men and of angels" of verse 1 in two clauses on
GLWSSAI, and I have tried to exercise the same sort of rhetorical
"variatio" in the verbs that seems to me to be involved in the original of
Paul. The original is: hH AGAPH OUDEPOTE PIPTEI: EITE DE PROFHTEIAI,
KATARGHQHSONTAI, EITE GLWSSAI, PAUSONTAI; EITE GNWSIS, KATARGHQHSETAI.




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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