1 Pet 3:21 EPERWTHMA

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Sun Mar 31 16:32:17 EST 2002

At 11:11 AM +0200 3/31/02, Iver Larsen wrote:
>Mike Sangrey has helped me to see why we didn't understand one another very
>well. The reason is that what in English is called an "issue" is in Danish
>called a "question". So, I was using the English word "question" to denote
>what you would call an issue. However, even these words do not match
>exactly. The English word "issue" has an element of problem or dispute in
>it. When I need to translate issue into Danish I have two choices:
>"spørgsmål" (question) or "problem". Sometimes "spørgsmål" is closer to
>English "matter".
>> >> >Baptism is contrasted to an ordinary bath which is a question
>> of removing dirt from the body, but baptism is different, although it can
>> be compared with a bath in a certain sense.
>> >> >Can it be understood as "but (baptism) is a question of
>> >> (having/gaining?) a good conscience towards God"?
>> >
>> >(snip)
>> >Carl:
>> >> In any case, "question" is
>> >> not the right sense here, inasmuch as the context is not interrogatory.
>> >
>> >I don't follow you here. The context involves a contentious issue and
>> >implies the asking of many questions as well as giving various
>> answers and explanations.
>> Sorry, but I don't really follow you here either, Iver.
>In order to see what Greek word might correspond to English "issue" I looked
>to see when an interlinear had used the gloss "issue". It occurred only in
>Acts for the word ZHTHMA.
>It looks like ZHTHMA relates to ZHTEW as EPERWTHMA relates to EPERWTAW.
>What is the difference between these two related pairs of words?
>As far as I can tell the difference is that ZHTEW and ZHTHMA involve a
>dispute or word-fight, the desire to be right or to win the argument. That
>is why the Danish literal version consistently translates by
>"stridsspørgsmål" in Acts, which means "contentious issue" in English.
>The other two words relate to questioning in an honest attempt to seek an
>answer. That is, one strives to unearth the facts in an objective way and
>hopefully get an answer. Sometimes the questions are asked of a god. For
>this meaning we would say "spørgsmål" in Danish and that corresponds
>somewhat to "uncontentious issue". So, re-reading my own post, I would like
>to withdraw my suggestion that this was a contentious issue. I had not at
>that time realized that ZHTHMA would be the word to use for that sense. It
>seems more to be an honest question some people had: "What is the meaning of
>I believe we agree that EPERWTHSIS would refer to the "act of questioning"
>just as ZHTHSIS involves the "act of investigating or discussing a
>contentious issue". In the same way EPERWTHMA would refer to the "matter
>under questioning" just as ZHTHMA would be the "matter under dispute".
>In a Pet 3:21, I and many others find the "appeal" option very unlikely and
>unfitting for the context. The "pledge" option is based on scanty papyrus
>evidence in legal contexts, and it is questionable, even contentious,
>although not impossible. That the obvious choice of taking the word
>EPERWTHMA in its normal sense of "question" or "matter under discussion"
>(not necessarily dispute) has had little support in the English speaking
>world, maybe because you would want to say "issue" instead?

I'm sorry, Iver; I think that I have understood what you meant originally
when you wanted to use English "question" for EPERWTHMA, and your
clarification that perhaps a better English word for what you want to say
might be "issue" does not really alter my objection; I'll grant that
EPERWTHMA may conceivably mean "the thing being asked about," "the matter
in question," "worum es sich handelt," "ce dont il s'agit"--but my problem
remains that I think the antithesis involved here is not "water bath for
cleansing from dirt" vs. "matter in question" but rather an antithesis
between two conceptions of baptism: (a) a material cleansing to rid the
body of soil, and (b) a spiritual request put to God for [or 'from' as some
prefer to understand the genitive SUNEIDHSEWS) a good conscience.



Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months:: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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