Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sun Aug 27 09:05:38 EDT 2000

At 5:03 AM +0000 8/27/00, Mark Wilson wrote:
>2 Cor. 8:13
>"For I do not say this so there would be relief for others and suffering for
>you, but as a matter of equality." (NET Bible)
>Contextually, it seems that Paul is assuring the Corinthians that he is not
>asking them to give (financially) to the extent that it creates hardship for
>them, while reversing the recipients’ current hardships. That is, Paul does
>not want to bring relief to the Jerusalem poor by bringing about suffering
>to the Corinthians due to their giving more than they are able. He is simply
>asking them to give, as they are able to do so, without creating hardships
>for themselves.
>Then, Paul says, ALL EX ISOTHTOS,  “but out of equity (equality).”
>I do not sense the idea here is to give in order to create (financial)
>equality among all believers. (as some translations imply)
>What then does this phrase ALL EX ISOTHTOS mean?
>One commentary I checked translates it:
>“but on the grounds of equity.”
>This did little to clarify it for me.

or "on a fair basis" or "on a basis of fairness" --which may well be equity
rather than equality--those better able to contribute contribute more,
those less able contributing less but nevertheless contributing

>However, of some interest was a footnote in this commentary where it
>mentioned that Philo thought ISOTHS was, in some way, related to DIKAIOSUNH.
>With this comment by Philo, I then imagined that this phrase was referring
>to “righteousness” somehow. I thought: Does this mean that the Corinthians
>should give to the poor on the grounds or basis of their being the
>recipients of God’s righteousness? Or, because this is the kind of behavior
>righteous people should demonstrate.

Any relationship is not lexical in the sense of derivative from a common
root or etymology. I think rather that DIKAIOSUNH in this Philonic context
is more akin to a Greek, and perhaps especially a Platonic conception of
DIKAIOSUNH. Plato's Republic is an endeavor to define and characterize
DIKAIOSUNH as a quality inherent in an individual or a community.
DIKAIOSUNH in the Republic is traditionally translated "justice" but I
think "integrity" or "organic integrity" might better express what (to me
at least) Plato seems to have in mind. His definition toward the climax of
the dialogue is TO TE hEAUTOU ECEIN KAI PRATTEIN: "having and performing
one's own"--which comes out to having one's appropriate personal share in
the community's (or organism's) prosperity and production. In that sense
ISOTHS would not be mathematical equality of all members of society but
appropriate distribution of income and tasks--and that could, I think,
illuminate the usage of ALL' EX ISOTHTOS in this passage; I'd prefer to
turn it as "on a fair basis."


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

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