DIAKRINW in 1Cor 11:29 and 11:31

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Aug 28 12:04:00 EDT 2000

At 9:11 PM -0400 8/26/00, Dmitriy Reznik wrote:
>Dear friends:
>In these two verses same word DIAKRINW is used. But it doesn't look like
>the meaning is same in both cases. Still the verses are located too close
>to each other to be coincidence. What did Paul want to achieve by using
>same word in 2 verses. Or I am wrong, and its meaning is same? But what
>is the meaning then?

KRINW and its derivatives are tricky; KRINW means essentially "draw a line
of demarcation between (2 or more) items" but the derivatives range over a
number of judicial/forensic senses (particularly "judge" and "condemn"
(KATAKRINW) through "answer"/"play a dramatic role" (APOKRINOMAI,
hUPOKRINOMAI). DIAKRINW, like its Latin cognates CERNO and DISCERNO (from
the same IE root) and the English "discern" means essentially "recognize
the importance/distinction of (something that may not be so obviously
distinguishable from other things)"

In 1 Cor 11:28-32 Paul is talking about taking the cup of the Lord's Supper
in terms loaded with forensic/judicial language: "a person needs to
examine/test/impeach himself (DOKIMAZETW hEAUTON) and so (i.e. only if and
when he does examine himself) eat from the loaf and drink from the cup.
(29) For the one who eats and drinks eats and drinks 'condemnation' (KRIMA)
upon himself when he doesn't discern/distinguish the body (TO SWMA = TO
CRISTOU SWMA) ... (31) And if we were in fact
recognizing/distinguishing/discerning (DIAKRINOMEN) each other, we would
not be condemned (EKRINOMEQA AN); (32) and when we are condemned
(KRINOMENOI) by the Lord, we are instructed." Perhaps "condemn" is too
strong for KRINW in this context--perhaps it should be "find fault with" or
"criticize" or "rebuke."

In any case, DIAKRINWN (TO SWMA) in 29 and DIEKRINOMEN (hEAUTOUS) in 31
really do have the same meaning, because "we ourselves"--the congregation
of believers = hH EKKLHSIA--are in fact the "body" of Christ. What Paul is
concerned with in this context is what he seems to me to be concerned with
throughout 1 Corinthians, namely, combatting the attitude of the members of
this congregation who want to practice an unwarranted individualism about
their entire existence as Christians and fail to recognize or support each
other in all the ways that they should.


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 

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