Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Wed Oct 3 03:01:43 EDT 2001

Dear B. Ward Powers:

I take PNEUMATIKOS as "spirituality." I do agree that the it is "circular
reasoning" when there is no immediate context for translating it as
"spiritual gift." 12:1-3, begins the foundation of the argument for "grace
gifts (CHARISMATA)" in 12:4ff, I think too many times there is the equation
of PNEUMATIKOS = CHARISMATA. I do not think that is sustainable, since the
primary emphasis of the passage is Unity with Diversity since we are all
members of the "body of Christ." It seems that the I Corinthians up to this
point is one continual harangue or severe rebuke of the constant carnality/
selfishness or abuse of the grace and love of God. The constant bickering
and cliques (ch. 1-4), misguided discernment/abuse of freedom in Christ
(5-10), partiality and abuse of the Lord's Table (11) are all used bring to
bear in 12-14. In fact, one could go on to say that 12-14 are the results of
the earlier problems in chapters 1-11. Yet, I must remind myself that
heathen examples of PNEUMATIKOS were seen at the Oracle of Delphi, and other
of the Greek temples, etc.
This is especially relevant with regards to the Oracle of Delphi, the Temple
of Apollo in Corinth, and probably elsewhere (cults of Dionysus, Pan, the
Mystery religions) where ecstatic frenzy, emotional highs, etc., were
considered the norm for a person to behave if one was to be considered
"spiritual." It is in this backdrop that Paul is addressing the issue
brought to him, and in which he gives a lengthy reply.

I also find it interesting that CHARISMATA (12:4, 9) drops out of the
discussion, so to speak, until it brought back in in 12:28, 30--31. This
leads me to the conclusion that both PNEUMATIKOS and CHARISMATA are the
same. One can have "grace gifts" and not be spiritual, but one cannot be
spiritual and have grace gifts. It is whether the use or misuse of these
"gifts" and how it fits into the whole concept of love (ch. 13) that is the

En Xpistw,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message -----
From: B. Ward Powers <bwpowers at optusnet.com.au>
To: Biblical Greek <b-greek at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2001 7:31 PM
Subject: [b-greek] What To Do With PNEUMATIKOS

> Fellow b-greekers:
> A couple of questions about what to do with PNEUMATIKOS.
> The adjective PNEUMATIKOS is found in 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 14:1 in the
> plural forms PNEUMATIKWN and PNEUMATIKA respectively, where this is almost
> universally rendered, in the different translations, as "spiritual gifts".
> Ditto lots of commentaries on this epistle. The first of these forms,
> PNEUMATIKWN, is thus being taken as neuter (the same form is also
> masculine), apparently on the basis that the second use is unambiguously
> neuter. The word also occurs in this epistle unambiguously in the
> masculine, with the meaning "spiritual person" (see 2:15, 14:37); and with
> the general meaning "spiritual" (see 10:3-4). See also its wider use in
> (e.g.) Ephesians 6:12.
> The standard lexica give as one of its meanings, "spiritual gift". Is this
> a case of circular reasoning? (Thusly: In 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 14:1 the
> word PNEUMATIKOS is being used to mean "spiritual gift". Therefore
> "spiritual gift" is part of its area of meaning. That is how we know it is
> valid to translate it in 12:1 and 14:1 as "spiritual gift".)
> Now a conclusion reached by a circular argument may possibly be correct.
> But it has to be established as correct by something outside of and
> independent of such circular reasoning: the circular reasoning does not
> establish it.

> Which leads to my first question:
> Is there any use of the word PNEUMATIKOS (of course, outside of 1
> Corinthians 12:1 and 14:1) where it clearly has the meaning "spiritual
> gift"? In this connection one will need to note that when Paul wanted to
> express the meaning "spiritual gift" he explicitly added in the word
> As noted above, almost all translations give "spiritual gifts" as its
> translation in 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 14:1. Those that insert section
> headings then almost all go further and insert here also "Spiritual Gifts"
> as the heading at the top of chapter 12. I am aware of only two exceptions
> to this pattern.
> J B Phillips's version translates in 12:1 as "in spiritual matters"
> in 14:1 he has "gifts of the Spirit").
> Richmond Lattimore, the renowned Classical scholar, renders 12:1 thusly:
> "But concerning matters of the spirit, brothers, I would not have you
> ignorant"; and for 14:1: "Pursue love, aspire to things spiritual".
> Here then is my second question:
> Are any b-greekers able to point me to any other translations which do NOT
> render PNEUMATIKOS in either 12:1 or 14:1 as "spiritual gifts"?
> I am of course well aware of the exegetical and theological significance
> this question: 12:1 and 14:1 are the only verses in the NT which give
> validation to the concept of "spiritual gifts", with all the connotations
> which have attached to this term. Elsewhere one only has "gift", CARISMA
> DWREA-DWRHMA-DWRON, which do not carry the special meaning "spiritual" but
> can refer to any kind of gifting. But please note: I am not wanting to
> initiate a theological discussion; I only want to raise the question of
> validity of "spiritual gift" as a translation for PNEUMATIKOS.
> Regards,
> Ward
>                                 http://www.netspace.net.au/~bwpowers
> Rev Dr B. Ward Powers        Phone (International): 61-2-8714-7255
> 259A Trafalgar Street          Phone (Australia): (02) 8714-7255
> PETERSHAM  NSW  2049      email: bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
> AUSTRALIA.                         Director, Tyndale College
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