[B-Greek] strange "men" construction 1 Cor 2:15

Barry H. nebarry at verizon.net
Sat Aug 28 06:58:17 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>
To: "N.E. Barry" <nebarry at verizon.net>; "hoshi411" <hoshi411 at gmail.com>; 
<b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2010 2:12 AM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] strange "men" construction 1 Cor 2:15

> Well, you got me confused by talking about the writer to the Hebrews when 
> we were discussing MEN in 1 Corinthians.

Ah good, my nefarious plan is working...  :)

Serously, I must have been tired or something -- if you had asked me after 
sending the note, I would have been sure that I wrote "Corinthians..."

> My point is that MEN is not like DE in terms of position. It does not have 
> to occupy the second or third slot in its sentence.

This is true, however...

> My point is that MEN is placed at the first pair of the two contrasted 
> items, and that may or may not be near the beginning of the sentence.
> Because of a recent discussion of DE and now in Hebrews 11:1, let me close 
> with one other citation from 1 Cor:
> 12:20 νῦν δὲ πολλὰ μὲν μέλη, ἓν δὲ σῶμα.
> Now, however, while there are MANY members, there is only ONE body. The 
> many and the one are contrasted.
> The MEN is usually left untranslated in English versions, which I think is 
> a pity. But then, it becomes an incentive to read the text in Greek.

I think it's interesting that the two verses in which we are discussing this 
are textually suspect -- N-A omits MEN and writes TA in 1 Cor 2:15, and a 
number of manuscripts omit MEN in 12:20.  Now, I'm not saying that having a 
sequence DE...MEN...DE is impossible -- it's not, but it is certainly 
awkward and unusual (you're other examples prove that MEN can appear later 
in it's clause, something I was not disputing).  In 1 Cor 2:15, one could 
argue that there is no contrast intended, that introducing a contrast even 
interrupts the sequence of thought (which the parallel DE's are meant to 
convey).  Here, NUN DE corresponds to the NUNI DE of vs. 18, and the 
MEN...DE then contrasts the two clases of 20.  But how strong a contrast is 
it?  ESV translates:

1Co 12:18  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of 
them, as he chose.
1Co 12:19  If all were a single member, where would the body be?
1Co 12:20  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

Nicely bringing out the parallel between the NUNI DE and the NUN DE.  It 
also highlights the contrast of the two clauses in 12:20, which should make 
you happy...  :) But if the MEN is omitted or ignored, it lessens the 
contrast, and gives the second DE an explanatory force, "As it were, many 
parts, one body..."

So I'll let it rest there. But thanks for the interaction -- I appreciate 
posters who introduce actual facts when discussing these things!

N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Classics and Bible Instructor, TAA
(2010 Savatori Excellence in Education Winner)
V-P of Academic Affairs, TNARS
bhofstetter at tnars.net


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