The opening of 1 Peter

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Mon May 20 08:30:12 EDT 2002


> On Fri, 2002-05-17 at 14:13, waldo slusher wrote:
> > PETROS APOSTOLOS IHSOU CRISTOU, EKLEKTOIS PAREPIDHMOIS
> > DIASPORAS PONTOU, etc........
> >
> > KATA PROGNWSIN QEOU PATROS, EN hAGIASMWi PNEUMATOS,
> > EIS hUPAKOHN KAI hRANTISMON hAIMATOS IHSOU CRISTOU
> >
> > Here is my question... what do all these prepositions
> > modify?
> >
> > KATA PROGNWSIN
> > EN hAGIASMWi PNEUMATOS
> > EIS hUPAKOHN
> > [EIS} hRANTISMON
>
> Hmmmmmmm...how about a totally different way of looking at it?  Allow me
> to think out loud, sort of green lighting here.  What if we think of the
> opening of the letter like this:
>
>     From:    Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ;
>     To:      The elect, the strangers--the ones scattered in Pontus,
>              Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia;
>     Subject: What God the Father knew beforehand specifically about
>              the Spirit's sanctifying power and how that concerns
>              our obedience and the sprinkling of (ie. purification by)
>              the blood (ie the death) of Jesus Christ.
>
>     Salutation:  May grace and peace increase for you.
>
> In other words, to answer your question about what the prepositions
> modify:  they state (modify?) the subject of the letter.

(snip)

> Also, note that there isn't a nice neat, strictly developed point 1,
> point 2, point 3.  There's some cyclic or iterative development of the
> points.  This makes sense to me since the topic really needs to hang
> together as a unit.
>
> Well, just thinking outside the box.  Read through 1 Peter a few times
> with the above topic in mind (or something similar) and see what you
> think.

Hi, Mike,

You have a good point about the rhetorical structure, but you can hardly
force it onto the syntactical structure in the way you greenlightingly try
to do.

Hebrew very often uses an overlay structure like you have two or more
overhead transparencies, each with one part of the picture. One needs to put
all the transparencies on top on one another before one can see the full
picture. This is different from Western thought pattern, where we tend to
put one OH on the projector at a time. You finish one, go to the next. That
is what we call linear structure.

Most, if not all NT letter, hint briefly at the topic in the introductory
verses. The hinted-at topic is then further developed in two or more rounds.
(All the NT letters and Revelation show an underlying Hebrew thought
pattern, some more than others.)

BUT, you cannot say that these prepositions modify "the subject". They
modify EKLEKTOIS. It happened in accordance with the foreknowledge of God -
KATA PROGNWSIN QEOU PATROS, by means of a spiritual purification - EN
hAGIASMWi PNEUMATOS, resulting in obedience to Christ and a cleansing
through the blood/death of Jesus Christ - EIS hUPAKOHN KAI hRANTISMON
hAIMATOS IHSOU CRISTOU. This last one could also relate to and be the result
of hAGIASMWi PNEUMATOS, I think. In fact, I prefer to see it that way.

The rhetorical, circular overlay structure of Hebrew is normally not
indicated in the grammar as such. It is a very important point, but
operating at a different level.

Iver Larsen




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