[B-Greek] 2 Cor 3:14b - subject of KATARGEITAI

Donald COBB docobb at orange.fr
Sat May 16 09:17:02 EDT 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>
To: "Elizabeth Kline" <kline_dekooning at earthlink.net>; "greek B-Greek" 
<b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Cc: "Paul Toseland" <paul at weakamongtheweak.org>
Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2009 10:27 AM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] 2 Cor 3:14b - subject of KATARGEITAI

I agree with Iver that the overall meaning of the passage is clear: Paul is 
contrasting the superiority of the New Covenant, the Covenant of life in 
Christ and through the Spirit, with the Old Covenant given through Moses.

I agree also--but I think that's where things become a bit fuzzy--that 
Paul's description of the "material" glory that shone on Moses' face becomes 
a metaphor (I think we should probably say an allegory, but that's another 
issue) for the glory of the Sinaï Covenant that is then contrasted with the 
superior glory of the New Covenant. So in talking about the glory that shone 
in Moses' face, Paul is also, simultaneously and especially, talking about 
the Covenant that came with glory. We get into trouble if we try to 
distinguish too clearly between Moses' glorified face and the Mosaic 
Covenant that came with glory. Paul is using one to talk about the other.

Some additional comments below:

> Paul uses KATARGEW 25 times and what is or is not being "done away with" 
> are very many different
> things. Most common are law (4 times), death (2), promise (2), rulers of 
> this world (2) and the
> following each one time: God's faithfulness, body of sin, existing things, 
> stomach, food,
> prophecies, knowledge, imperfect things, childish things, glory, old 
> covenant, relationship with
> Christ, stumbling block, lawless one. So, I disagree that Paul uses the 
> word in all the verses in
> this chapter to speak of glory. There is no constraint on collocation, and 
> it is the immediate
> context that tells us what is being done away with, not what was the 
> object connected to the word in
> other places.
This is true, but only to a certain extent. Τhe context of KATARGEW is not 
only the immediately surrounding verse or two, but the whole of Paul's 
development in this section (i.e., 2:14-3:18; actually, this should probably 
be extended to 4:4). In this passage, there is a cluster of occurences of 
KATARGEW that pick up on, and reinforce each other and drive the overall 
thought forward.

I think another thing to bear in mind is that, for the 1st century hearer, 
the natural thing to do, without a specific referent in v. 14, would be to 
run back in his or her mind to the last use(s) of KATARGEW (i.e., v. 13, 
etc.). Paul has been using the verbe in the preceeding sentences to get a 
point across; the natural thing to do as a hearer would be to connect the 
lines between the different occurences.

Incidently, there is a similar cluster in 1 Cor 13, where we can see the 
same phenomenon. The different referants are there specified, but the Paul 
uses KATARGEW to flesh out and drive home his one main (sub)thought.

> I would consider hOTI to be used in its common sense of "because" here.
> ANAKALUPTOMENON could refer back to PROSWPON, and that is enough to 
> explain the neuter participle
> which is probably nominative. Confer ANAKEKALUMMENWi PROSWPWi in v. 18.
> Whereas v. 13 talks about PROSWPON MWÜSEWS, that is then extended to point 
> to the covenant of Moses
> which is veiled whenever it is being read in the synagogues for the Jews 
> who have not believed in
> Christ. It is only when they believe in Christ that this veil over the 
> covenant of Moses is done
> away with -  EN CRISTWi KATARGEITAI.
> This is explained clearly in v. 16:
> ἡνίκα δὲ ἐὰν ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς κύριον, περιαιρεῖται τὸ κάλυμμα.
I'm not sure we can say *the* common sense of hOTI is "because". I haven't 
done a head count in Paul (!), but certainly the use of hOTI habitually has 
a sufficiently varied use that we cannot assume its "default" meaning will 
be as a marker of causality (which, BTW is only BDAG's fourth definition; 
its second meaning is as marker of explanatory clauses, "that"). The 
specific nuance really has to be gleaned from the logic of the 
sentence--which, I would suggest, is precisely part of the ambiguity here. 
M. Sim's work here is worth bearing in mind.

Can we take the accusative PROSWPON (v. 13) as the nominative subjet of 
ANAKALUPTOMENON at the end of v. 14? Perhaps. But it's not a very close 
antecedent (three sentences previous in NA27) and again, the preceeding uses 
of KATARGEW would seem to me to override it. Additionaly, at the beginning 
of v. 14, Paul shifts from the "physical" description of Moses' face to the 
spiritual application ("their hearts were hardened") concerning the failure 
to grasp the intent of scripture ("the reading of the old covenant"). It 
doesn't seem very natural, to me at least, to think would Paul suddenly 
shift back to the "physical" desciption of Moses' PROSWPON. This is all the 
less likely since, in v. 15, he continues with the "spiritual" 
(allegorical?) application.

BTW, notice that the veil has now shifted from Moses' face to the hearts of 
the hearers! Paul is not only mixing descriptive speech and metaphor, he 
also shifts geography.

>>> 2 Corinthians 3:11 εἰ γὰρ τὸ καταργούμενον
>>> διὰ δόξης, πολλῷ μᾶλλον τὸ μένον
>>> ἐν δόξῃ
> The neuter nominative makes it less likely that it links to DOXA. It could 
> refer to the neuter
> PROSWPON MWÜSEWS, and consequently to what the face of Moses represents 
> here, namely the old
> covenant. It could also be a more abstract neuter contrasting the concept 
> of the old temporary
> covenant with the new, permanent one (TO MENON). It can hardly refer to 
> glory, because the two
> concepts are described in terms of glory. The first arrived by way of 
> (through) glory and the second
> remains with/in glory.
Thank you Iver, I should have expressed myself more clearly. I think we have 
to understand (v. 11) TO KATARGOUMENON DIA DOCHS as the Covenant through 
Moses that, though coming with glory, is now eclipsed by the "surpassing 
glory" of the New Covenant. I follow you on your second suggestion. That 
which is disappearing is certainly not Moses' face (!); Paul is explaining 
the preceeding verse: "that which was glorious has become unglorious... 
because of the surpassing glory" (v. 10).

>>> 2 Corinthians 3:13 καὶ οὐ καθάπερ Μωϋσῆς
>>> ἐτίθει κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὸ πρόσωπον
>>> αὐτοῦ πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἀτενίσαι τοὺς
>>> υἱοὺς Ἰσραὴλ εἰς τὸ τέλος τοῦ
>>> καταργουμένου.
> Again, I think it is the old covenant (represented by the face of Moses) 
> that is being done away
> with. DOXA is only a description of the covenants.
Here again, I think we get into trouble if we try to distinguish in a 
clear-cut fashion what belongs to the face and what belongs to the Covenant. 
*Of course*, what was disappearing from Moses' face was the glory, not the 
covenant. *But*, Paul is using this as a metaphor to talk about the Old 

Where does that leave us as far as v. 14 is concerned? What is being done 
away with? Is it the Covenant with its passing glory? KATARGEW with no other 
explicit referant certainly draws us in that direction. Is it rather the 
spiritual veil that Paul seems to be saying is somehow tied to the Old 
Covenant itself and that hinders its readers from seeing that the glory is 
now shining in the face of another, i.e., Christ (4:4), his apostle 
(3:12-13) and his people (v. 18)? Maybe we should maintain the ambiguity and 
say, All of the above.

Donald Cobb
Aix-en-Provence, France 

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