Reference in 1 Cor 7:8, 10, 12

Kimmo Huovila kimmo.huovila at
Sat Sep 8 02:09:31 EDT 2001


I think you are right that the original readers were in a very
privileged position over us in understanding the text. The problem is,
of course, that we tend to get out into speculation land so quickly.
Yes, here are strong contextual indicators that the Corinthians
possessed knowledge that we do not that would have helped them
understand the text. As for linguistic cues, one might be Paul's
reference to the command of the Lord. But this of course depends on how
Paul supposed the Corinthians to understand it - and this is hardly a
b-greek topic, so I drop it here.

Now, for the modern exegete the question is, are there alternative
construals that make as good sense in what we know about the context.

And a couple of comments to Ward:
"B. Ward Powers" wrote:
> Then we get to the TOIS LOIPOIS reference (7:12), concerning which I wish
> now to make my second comment.
> It could indeed refer to "other people", in which case we would understand
> it along the lines Steven has spelt out. However, it could also be taken to
> refer to "other situations" (that is, situations other than those which
> Paul has dealt with thus far in chapters six and seven), and not mean much
> more than that he is going on to a new topic.
> Another possibility though - and this is the one which appeals to me - is
> that Paul means "the rest of the issues which you raised with me", i.e., he
> is now about to address specifically the rest of the matters which the
> Corinthians had written about in their letter to him. I think it quite
> reasonable to see TOIS LOIPOIS as a reference back to the PERI hWN of 7:1.

I appreciate the fresh viewpoint you offered. This would avoid the
problem altogether. However, in my opinion it creates another. I do not
contest that the dative can be so used, but it is unlikely that people
would read it that way or that a writer capable of writing clear, well
readable text would have expressed himself thus. When people read texts,
they tend to buid cohesive ties if possible and there are no contrary
signals. In the near co-text we have LEGW TOIS... in verse 8, then a
shift to a different word order (TOIS...PARAGGELLW in verse 10), which I
take as an indicator that Paul construed the text around the different
groups addressed. Verse 12 continues in the same form (TOIS LOIPOIS
LEGW). Each has a group of people named with a performative verb of
saying and the same syntactic structure. The sentences are almost next
to each other with no intervening topics. Surely it builds strong
expectations of cohesion within this unit when it comes to interpreting
LOIPOIS, which is also topicalized here.

A cohesive tie to verse 1 would have been achieved much more easily by
switching the grammatical form to something dissimilar from the previous
datives to weaken the likelihood the readers see a cohesive tie to them.
Furthermore, PERI TWN LOIPWN would have been a much clearer expression
anyways for the sense you suggested, and even helped the readers link it
to 7:1 (though I do not stress this point as much, as there is more
intervening material).

For these reasons I doubt the likelihood that the thought of taking TOIS
LOIPOIS as a reference to PERI hWN in verse 1 even crossed the original
readers' minds.

Thanks for your thoughts, Steven and Ward.

Kimmo Huovila

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