[B-Greek] Col 3:19 PIKRAINW

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Thu Aug 12 02:08:12 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Oun Kwon" <kwonbbl at gmail.com>
To: "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>
Cc: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 11. august 2010 22:33
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Col 3:19 PIKRAINW

> See below:
> On Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 5:54 AM, Iver Larsen <iver_larsen at sil.org> wrote:
>> 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".
> OJK: Of course a husband can be 'bitter' against wife.  He can be
> sissy, can't he? However, even aside from Gk text and the Biblical
> context, it is my experience from almost four decades of interaction
> (or paucity of interaction) with my wife that tells me that the
> problem seen in family dynamics is with 'husband being harsh to wife'
> and 'wife being bitter toward wife'. I'm still having its lingering
> effect ;-<

There is more than one possible scenario in such relationships, but we need to
focus on what Paul is saying here.
It is quite possible that "become bitter" is not the best in English. Maybe
"harbor resentment" is better? Yancy mentioned that meaning in his citation of a
similar passive form from Acts of Peter. I do not find evidence for the meaning
"be harsh", even though being harsh may well result from harboring resentment. I
believe Paul wants to get to the root of the matter, not how it may be
expressed, namely do not become resentful or harbor resentment. Instead,
> Interestingly, Ann Nyland's Source NT reads 'to be insensitive' (the
> footnote in p. 526 - "used to describe a style which was rough around
> the edges. Dion. H. de Dem. 55). It seems to me 'to be insensitive'
> and 'to be harsh' go together hand in hand, different from 'rejecting'
> or 'ignoring', which is as equally as pathogenic.

I do not accept this as an accurate rendering of the Greek text according to the
evidence for the usage of the word.

>> 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
> OJK: The verb being a passive does put another twist. Is it then an
> passive injunction against the husband's 'affective disorder'?  It
> almost reads like a middle form (if there is any) - 'getting himself
> bitter over wife'.
> However, such reading would be strange, seeing that the context should
> require rather an active injunction - to deal with a 'behavioral
> disorder' on the part of the husband.

If the sense was "make the wife bitter/resentful" an active form would have been
use, possibly with DIAPIKRAINW. I am happy calling it an MP form or even middle.
It is the husband that must guard against becoming resentful, and it is also the
husband who is the semantic Undergoer/Patient or Experiencer. You could say that
in becoming resentful the husband acts upon himself. He lets something influence
him. He should not allow that to happen.

Iver Larsen

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