Phil. 2.7 (first set of questions)

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Wed Aug 30 10:13:31 EDT 2000

At 1:48 PM +0000 8/30/00, Mark Wilson wrote:
>Phil. 2.7
>Oepke states that there is an omitted object that needs to be supplied.
>Ruling out ETAPEINWSEN hEAUTON as the implied object (which creates a weak
>tautology), Oepke opts for TOU EINAI ISA QEWi.
>Since we are dealing with a person and not a quality or thing, KENOW seems
>to me to mean, “to disrobe or divest oneself temporarily.”
>Which I guess would yield:
>“He disrobed himself of equality with God by taking on the semblance/form of
>a servant.”
>Is this how one would supply the missing object?

While there's nothing wrong with such speculative guessing at the meaning
of a word such as KENOW with a reflexive object, I think you'd do well to
consult the lexical resources before you start speculating: particularly
LSJ, BADG, and L&N should be consulted for other instances and even a
cataloging of views on the matter--and this particular word has been the
subject of an IMMENSE literature! Books and articles galore have been
written on "Kenosis" as an idea and a doctrine.

>Wallace indicates that taking LABWN as Means must explain how Christ could
>“empty” himself by means of “addition” (TAKING ON the form of a servant),
>rather than an implied “subtraction” of some kind. (GGBB, 630)

I think the common view is that hEAUTON EKENWSEN must be understood in the
context of EN MORFHi QEOU hUPARCWN--that it's the MORFH QEOU that he
divests himself of--BUT there are divergent interpretations of what is
meant by MORFH QEOU and at least two major interpretations of what EN

(a minor irritation: you're not using ordinary ASCII and your quotation
marks come out as non-characters on my screen--and I think my Eudora 5.0
beta does a pretty good job of making almost anything readable)

>Can KENOW be used in a Passive sense? In TDNT, pg. 661, I can not tell if
>the author is saying this or not, but he gives the following: pass. “to come
>to nothing.”

I don't know what this "passive sense" for EKENWSEN could possibly mean.

>I am having a hard time even exploring this possibility with the hEAUTON
>present. Does this reflexive pronoun eliminate any passive possibilities?
>Or, would it be acceptable to translate this like:
>“by means of receiving the semblance/form of a servant, he was disrobed of
>equality with God.”

Seems pretty strange to me: hEAUTON EKENWSEN surely does seem to put the
initiative with Jesus and not to make him the victim of somebody else's

>Again, I have no idea what to do with hEAUTON if I take this as passive.

Nor do I. But then, I can't conceive of the passive either.

>Also, are the following translations possible?
>Taking LABWN as Purpose:
>“He disrobed himself of equality with God in order to take on the
>semblance/form of a servant.”

That would, in more ordinary Greek, be done by means of a future
participle: LHYOMENOS, especially with hWS or with an infinitive with hWSTE
or TOU (if not with a subjunctive and hINA or hOPWS).

>or, Adverbially:
>“He disrobed himself of equality with God when he took on the semblance/form
>of a servant.”

Yes, your circumstantial participle (LABWN in this instance) tends to be
temporal ("when ..."), causal ("since/because ..."), or concessive


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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