[B-Greek] Col 3:19 PIKRAINW

yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Wed Aug 11 14:45:46 EDT 2010

The Acts of Peter 36 has the same construction as Colossians 3:19  Καὶ νῦν πρὸς τὸν Ἀγρίππαν μὴ πικραίνεσθε· KAI NUN PROS TON AGRIPPAN MH PIKRAINESQE; διάκονος γάρ ἐστιν τῆς πατρικῆς αὐτοῦ ἐνεργείας, DIAKONOS GAR ESTIN THS PATRIKHS AUTOU ENERGEIAS, καὶ πάντως τοῦτο γίνεται τοῦ κυρίου φανερώσαντός μοι τὸ συμβαῖνον KAI PANTWN TOUTO GINETAI TOU KURIOU FANERWSOANTOS MOI TO SUMBAINON. "And now do not be embittered against [express your disagreement harshly against or harbor resentment] Agrippa for he is a servant of his father's policy. And at any rate it is happening as Lord has shown me it would happen." The verb “to make bitter, embitter” (πικραίνεσθαι) occurs with an affective sense in an ethical context of moral commentary or exhortation only in Colossians 3:19 in the NT. It frequently occurs, however, in Greek literature in such contexts from the time of Plato. BDAG gives specific instances of the medial passive as well as Isaiah 14:9, where the dead who were previously sent to Hades by Babylon, in Hades now meet the king of Babylon with a sarcastic, harsh taunt instead of welcome (v. 10) to express their bitterness.  ὁ ᾅδης κάτωθεν ἐπικράνθη συναντήσας σοι, συνηγέρθησάν σοι πάντες οἱ γίγαντες οἱ ἄρξαντες τῆς γῆς οἱ ἐγείραντες ἐκ τῶν θρόνων αὐτῶν πάντας βασιλεῖς ἐθνῶν.  hO hADHS KATWQEN EPIKRANQH SUNATHSAS SOIk SUNHGERQHSAN SOI PANTES hOI GIGANTES hOI ARXANTES THS GHS hOI EGEIRANTES EK TWN QRONWN AUTWN PANTES BASILEIS EQNWN.
 "Hades beneath was embittered on meeting you;
all the mighty ones {GIGANTES} who have ruled the earth
rose up together against you— those who have roused from their thrones
all the kings of the nations."
So, even though the passive may focus on the "feeling" as Iver suggests, it may well be used as synecdoche for harsh treatment, since bitter feelings lead to bitter or harsh expressions.
The exhortation to refrain from outbursts of anger or harshness against one's wife was widespread and well known, whether or not it was heeded. b. B.M. 59a: “Rab [247] said: one should always be heedful of wronging his wife, for since her tears are coming (quickly) the revenge of her insult is close at hand” (cf. Billerbeck 3. 631); Plutarch, De cohibenda ira 8 (457a): “they rage bitterly against woman” (πρὸς γύναια διαπικραίνοντα PROS GUNAIA DIAPIKRAINONTA); Hermas, Mand. 10, 2, 3: “to become bitter” (πικραίνεσθαι PIKRAINESQAI) as an effect of “ill temper” (ὀξυχολία OXUCOLIA).

Yancy Smith, PhD
yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
yancy at wbtc.com
5636 Wedgworth Road
Fort Worth, TX 76133

On Aug 11, 2010, at 4:54 AM, Iver Larsen wrote:

> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Oun Kwon" <kwonbbl at gmail.com>
> To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: 11. august 2010 03:31
> Subject: [B-Greek] Col 3:19 PIKRAINW
>> Col 3:19
>> What an injunction!
>> Even though I don't like 'be bitter' and prefer 'be harsh' in the
>> meaning of PIKRAINW, what does it mean in the text?
>> Husband getting bitter because of wife,
>> or wife getting bitter because of husband?
>> Or I am not on a right track?
>> Oun Kwon
> An interesting question. I can see that most English versions have gone for "harsh". One problem I have with this is that I have not found anywhere else in the NT or LXX where PIKRAINW, PIKRWS, PIKRIA or PIKROS are used in the sense of "harsh". Another problem I have is that a passive verb form is used here. PIKROS refers to something painful to the senses or feelings. When used as an adjective qualifying a noun describing pain or sorrow, it can just be an intensifier ("strong").
> Because of the passive, I think there is an intended implicit cause for the husband to become bitter. True, he should not let that bitterness be expressed in a harsh treatment of the wife. The best antidote against bitterness is forgiveness, and I think Heb 12:15 with its bitter root is also relevant.
> I cannot help thinking of the preceding verse where Paul asks the women to be subject to their husbands. What if they don't? How does that affect to the husband? Is that part of the context?
> Iver Larsen 
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