[b-greek]: Response (2) re PNEUMATIKOS

B. Ward Powers bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
Thu Oct 4 07:30:05 EDT 2001

Friends all:

My second posting to interact with some of the responses received (on list 
and off) to the question I raised about what to do with PNEUMATIKOS in 1 
Corinthians 12:1 and 14:1:

In my post, I said:

> > The standard lexica give as one of its meanings, "spiritual gift".

At 10:07 AM 011003 +0200, Iver Larsen wrote:

>I consider this is a misleading statement. It may be a reference to BDAG
>which gives "spiritual gift" as the meaning in the context of 1 Cor 12:1 and
>14:1. In other contexts a different sense is indicated. One cannot separate
>meaning from context.

I beg to differ from Iver Larsen. What I said is a fact; it is NOT 
misleading. You WILL find lexica and dictionaries (I have looked at quite a 
few) which give one of the meanings of this word as "spiritual gift": 
sometimes with a reference to 12:1 and 14:1; sometimes without (e.g., 
Newman's Dictionary).

Iver cites BDAG as giving the meaning "spiritual gift" in 12:1 and 14:1, 
and indicates his agreement that it has this meaning in this context. 
Indeed, he asserts this several times, in discussing the context factor. 
What my questions were asking about was the validity of this understanding 
of the meaning of the word here, in this context. One does not establish 
the validity of what is to be proven by asserting it as a starting point.

The next point of mine which he discusses is:

> > 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
>IMO, this leading question is asked from the position of faulty

I beg to differ from Iver Larsen. What I did is to ask an open question; it 
is NOT asked from the position of faulty presuppositions - or indeed of ANY 
presuppositions. In what I asked, I am not presupposing anything. I am 
simply asking whether there is any other place, any other context, in all 
of known Greek literature, in which it can be held that PNEUMATIKOS (in any 
of its forms) should be rendered as "spiritual gift". Actually, I have 
looked at all 26 GNT occurrences of the word, and am satisfied that there 
is no such place in the GNT, but I wanted to leave the door open for 
someone to present an argument to support the renderings of 14:37 in the 
Living Bible ("You who claim to have the gift of prophecy or any other 
special ability from the Holy Spirit ...") or the GNB/TEV ("If anyone 
supposes he is God's messenger or has a spiritual gift ..."). Otherwise, my 
question really is: whether anyone knows of any such use of the word in any 
Greek literature outside of the GNT.

So far, no respondent has mentioned any such usage of PNEUMATIKOS 
elsewhere, and it seems to be accepted that 1 Corinthians 12-14 is the only 
place in Greek literature where it has the meaning, or should be translated 
as, "spiritual gifts" - because of the particular context here.

Then my next comment, and Iver Larsen's response, are:

> > 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".
>Most translators, especially those who have general linguistic training,
>have learned the importance of context.
>Apart from context, PNEUMATIKWN can mean either spiritual things or
>spiritual people, whereas PNEUMATIKA means spiritual things, again apart
>from context. None of these mean "spiritual gifts" in and by themselves.


>has a focus on grace and it usually, and especially in the plural, refers to
>something given to an individual in order for that person to be a more
>effective servant of Christ. In Danish we use the word "gracegift" here, and
>this word will in the context of Rom 12 and 1 Cor 12,14 refer to what you in
>English call "spiritual gifts".

I accept that "gracegift" is a totally valid rendering of CARISMA. I most 
definitely do NOT accept that this has the same meaning as "spiritual gift" 
in English. The whole question under consideration is whether CARISMA means 
"gift" (indeed, "gracegift") is a wide sense, or "spiritual gift" - which 
has a much more restricted connotation. There are relevant comments on this 
in my Response (1) to Wayne Leman's post.

>PNEUMATIKON in itself does not mean spiritual gift, nor does CARISMA. But 
>when the two words are combined, we get the meaning "spiritual gift". Paul 
>makes this combination the first time he uses it in Romans: 1:11 METADW 

The "first time he uses it"? My understanding of biblical chronology is 
that Romans is to be dated a few years AFTER 1 Corinthians. Moreover, the 
expression "spiritual gift" as being used by Paul here in Romans does NOT 
have the same meaning as what is usually understood by that expression when 
used in relation to the teaching set out in 1 Corinthians 12. And 
furthermore, when Paul wants to say "spiritual gift" (a few years after he 
has written 1 Corinthians) he does not find it sufficient to use either 
CARISMA or PNEUMATIKOS on their own but uses both together to convey his 
meaning. I agree that when the two words are combined, they express 
"spiritual gift". That does not establish that either the one or the other 
will do it on their own.

>In 1 Cor 12, Paul starts in verse 1 with an introduction indicating that he
>is going to talk about "spiritual things", but already in verse 4 he
>specifies what kind of spiritual things he has in mind, namely CARISMATWN
>which are given by the Spirit. The context of chapter 12 as well as chapter
>14 makes it clear that the topic is spiritual gifts as they are discussed in
>these chapters.

Iver and I can agree on one thing here: that the context is determinative 
in this matter. If the context shows that "spiritual gifts' is the intended 
meaning here, then it is. Otherwise, there is no other reason (i.e., from 
use of PNEUMATIKOS elsewhere) for arriving at this meaning for the word.

Iver simply asserts this meaning here. From the context here he regards 
that meaning as self-evident. I do not. Very definiteIy not.  I regard it 
as the point to be established. I have discussed the question of the 
context factor in my Response (1) to Wayne Leman's posting. In this, I 
explain why I do not see that the context is all concerned with CARISMATA, 
and that this validates "spiritual gifts" in 12:1 or 14:1.

> From my perspective as a professional Bible translator, a translation that
>translates PNEUMATIKWN in v. 1 as "spiritual things" or "spiritual people"
>indicates a lack of awareness of the importance of context for meaningful
>translation. Or we could say that their goal is not to produce a linguistic,
>contextually accurate translation, but a decontextualized lexical
>translation. I am hesitant to call this last type of translation an accurate
>or faithful translation.
>A more accurate and faithful rendering of the intention of Paul is to
>translate it already in v. 1 as "spiritual gifts", and most English
>translations rightly do so. The same applies to 14:1.

I beg to differ from Iver Larsen. As has come to light in the responses 
which have been made by Wayne Leman, Paul Schmehl, Frank Gee, Rob Matlack, 
and others, there are quite a few translations which either put the word 
"gifts" in italics (indicating that it is an ADDITION to what is found in 
the Greek text that is implied (in the judgement of the translators) but is 
NOT a translation of anything in the Greek, or else the translators decline 
to use the word "gifts" in 12:1 or 14:1 at all.

In the paragraphs I have quoted above from his posting, Iver uses very 
strong language in criticism of translators and translations that do not 
say "spiritual gifts".  I have referred earlier, above, to how

> > 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".

Lattimore is a recognized authority on the Greek language and one of the 
most distinguished translators of the Greek Classics: he translated the 
Iliad and the Odyssey, the Odes of Pindar, Hesiod, Greek Lyrics, five plays 
by Euripides, and others by Aeschylus and Aristophanes. Towqrds the end of 
his life he completed his fresh translation of the Greek New Testament. His 
work in this connection has drawn favourable comment in b-greek in times 
past from those familiar with it.

I do not accept Iver Larsen's judgement, as cited above, upon Richmond 
Lattimore and his translation of 12:1 and 14:1, and that of others who 
similarly do not agree to render PNEUMATIKOS as "spiritual gifts".

>I am not expecting agreement by everyone on these comments, but this is my 
>perspective, FWIW.

And I respect Iver's views, and his scholarship. But for reasons as stated, 
I indeed do not concur with his comments.



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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