[B-Greek] 2 Thess 2:15
iver_larsen at sil.org
Fri Dec 31 02:06:31 EST 2010
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ehrman, Bart D" <behrman at email.unc.edu>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 30. december 2010 20:12
Subject: [B-Greek] 2 Thess 2:15
> In his commentary on 2 Thessalonians, W. Marxsen claims that since 2:15
> εἴτε δι' ἐπιστολὴς ἡμῶν lacks an article (as in εἴτε διά τῆς ἐπιστολὴς ἡμῶν)
> it does not refer back to a specific letter (e.g., to 1 Thessalonians) but is
> meant in a general sense to refer to any ole letter that he may have written
> (or not). If he had wanted to refer to 1 Thessalonians in particular, he
> would have used the article. I’m interested in the grammatical question.
> What do y’all think?
> Bart D. Ehrman
I would agree that the lack of article indicates that he is not focusing on any
particular letter, but teaching in a written form.
It is helpful to look at the fuller statement:
στήκετε, καὶ κρατεῖτε τὰς παραδόσεις ἃς ἐδιδάχθητε εἴτε διὰ λόγου εἴτε δι᾽
STHKETE KAI KRATEITE TAS PARADOSEIS hAS EDIDACQHTE EITE DIA LOGOU EITE DI'
Stand firm and hold on to the handed-down (teachings) which you were taught
either by means of a word or a letter from us.
What does the hHMWN qualify? TAS PARADOSEIS or EPISTOLHS or both LOGOU and
Is the genitive hHMWN possessive or a genitive of source?
It seems to me that both LOGOS and EPISTOLH are here general rather than
focusing on a specific word or a specific letter. It is somewhat similar to Phil
1:20: εἴτε διὰ ζωῆς εἴτε διὰ θανάτου EITE DIA ZWHS EITE DIA QANATOU. The words
are general, life or death, not THE life or THE death. Of course, the context
may well limit the reference to the life or death of a particular person, here
Paul. We need to distinguish between grammar, semantics and reference.
The main point in 2:15 is to "hold on to the the teachings you received from
us", so I would take the genitive pronoun as indicating source. Whether these
teachings came to you through oral or written means does not matter, but it does
matter that they came from "us" as we are the ones with apostolic authority to
The LOGOS would refer to when Paul (and other apostles) taught them in person,
and the EPISTOLH to one or more letters. That would include 1 and 2 Thess, but
we don't know if there were more letters. Paul has just warned them in 2:2 that
they should be critical about information whether by word or letter purporting
to come from "us" when in fact they did not. Therefore, the source is important,
not which particular letter or letters of his he was referring to. Compare 2:2:
μήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε δι᾽ ἐπιστολῆς ὡς δι᾽ ἡμῶν
MHTE DIA LOGOU MHTE DI' EPISTOLHS hWS DI' hHMWN
neither through a word (oral teaching) nor through a letter as if (it was) from
One of the ways that the recipients could judge whether a particular letter
truly came from Paul was that they could recognize his hand writing. This proof
of authenticity is what he refers to in 3:17:
Ὁ ἀσπασμὸς τῇ ἐμῇ χειρὶ Παύλου, ὅ ἐστιν σημεῖον ἐν πάσῃ ἐπιστολῇ· οὕτως γράφω.
hO ASPASMOS THi EMHi CEIRI PAULOU, hO ESTIN SHMEION EN PASHi EPISTOLHi. hOUTWS
The greeting is by my own hand, from (me) Paul, which is a sign/proof in every
letter (of mine). This is how I write.
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