[B-Greek] 2 Thess. 2:6-7--two proposals

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Fri Mar 2 16:46:57 EST 2007

On Mar 2, 2007, at 2:42 PM, Webb wrote:

> Dear Carl,
> "Perhaps "leaves the scene" (as suggested in BDAG) might do, but
> that phrase and "gets out of the way" both suggest very strongly that
> hO KATECWN ARTI "leaves the scene" or "gets out of the way"
> voluntarily, and I think that is probably not intended. "
> Is your sense that hO KATECWN ARTI does not stop restraining  
> "voluntarily"
> based on the context and/or wider interpretive principles, or on  
> the basis
> of the grammar and vocabulary of the phrase hEWS EK MESOU GENHTAI  
> itself? I
> guess that if Paul hadn't made the restrainer personal, and I had  
> read that
> the impersonal restraining force will restrain hEWS EK MESOU  
> read that as "until it's out of the way". But since it is  
> personalized, the
> assumption that I bring to reading the sentence is that the  
> restrainer can
> and will restrain as long as he (sic) wishes to do so, and then he  
> will stop
> restraining. Unless something specific in the context informs me
> differently, I'm going to assume that he's going to "voluntarily"  
> get out of
> the way.
> I am reading between the lines that you don't think the writer  
> would have
> expressed that notion with the words hEWS EK MESOU GENHTAI, because  
> indicates not a voluntary change to a new condition or state, but an
> involuntary or at least quasi-involuntary transformation to a new  
> condition
> or state. I suppose I, who allow contractions in my translation could
> cleverly split the difference by rendering it as "until he's gotten  
> out of
> the way"--which expands to "until he has gotten out of the way" and  
> "until
> he is gotten out of the way". But I guess it would really help me  
> if you
> could say how you think the writer could more naturally have said  
> "until he
> gets out of the way" in Greek, if a voluntary cessation of his  
> restraining
> action had been what he had had in mind.
> I still am laboring under the assumption that GINOMAI can quite  
> naturally be
> used when the subject is, in Iver's terminology, the implied ACTOR.  
> For
> examples of GINOMAI being used where people are commanded to become
> something, see Mt. 10:16; 18:3 (ambiguous); 24:44; Lk. 6:36; 12:40; Jn
> 20:27; 1 Cor. 4:16; 10:32; 11:1; 15:58; Gal. 4:12; Eph. 4:32; 5:1;  
> Phil.
> 3:17; Col. 3:15; Jas 1:22; 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:15; Rev. 2:10; 3:2.
> For examples of GINOMAI being used where people are said to come,  
> or not to
> come, into such and such a state, for which change of state they  
> themselves
> would implicitly have been responsible, see Mk 1:4; Luke 13:2, 4;  
> 16:11, 12;
> Acts 7:52; Eph. 2:13 (ambiguous); Col. 4:11; 1 Thess. 1:5, 6; 2:5,  
> 7, 10, 14
> (ambiguous); Jas 2:4.
> "How about "until he is out of the way"?"
> I'm open to that, when you're finished persuading me that "gets out  
> of the
> way" conveys too active a sense.
> "Difficulties arise when the alteration of condition or the coming  
> into a
> new state SEEMS to depend upon an external agent or instrumentality. "
> As I said, there is no such difficulty for me when I read 2 Thess.  
> 2:7.
> Somebody's now holding somebody back, and unless something tells me
> otherwise, I'm going to continue to assume that he's going to do so  
> until he
> decides to stop holding that somebody back.

You are much more confident than I am of grasping what this author is  
saying -- between the lines, it seems to me, since it appears that  
there are unexpressed shared assumptions between the author and the  
audience for whom he writes. I really don't quite understand what is  
being said here, nor why there is the shift from the neuter KATECON  
to the masculine KATECWN. There doesn't seem to be a textual problem  
but I have to say that I'm not wholly convinced that the text we have  
is quite right. I simply think there's too much here that calls for  
speculation in an area of relative obscurity.

I'm content that GINOMAI can be used of voluntary change by the  
subject/actor, e.g. Mt 6:16 hOTAN DE NHSTEUHTE, MH GENESQE hWS hOI  
hUPOKRITAI ... That pretty clearly involves a choice of behavior. I  
think what bothers me most about any VOLUNTARY sense of GENHTAI EK  
MESOU is the phrase EK MESOU. I may well be wrong, but my intuitive  
sense is that it savors more of "removal" than of "withdrawal."

More natural expressions? Some form of EXERCOMAI, e.g. EXELQHi, would  
fill the bill very well, it seems to me -- or EKBAINW, e.g. EKBHi, or  
EKPOREUOMAI (which doesn't appear in the aorist in the GNT), or  

The most "neutral" expression still seems to me "until he's out of  
the way."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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