[B-Greek] Paul as Stylist

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 3 18:39:49 EDT 2010


Bart wrote:

<Die ‘ungefeilte Sprache’ des Paulus hat nämlich etwas auf das Papier
gebracht, was vor ihm niemand je zu Papier bringen wollte: gesprochene
Sprache; nicht unbeholfenes Schreiben in ungefügen Sätzen, wie es zahllose
Papyri bieten, sondern gesprochene Sprache eines kompetenten Sprechers mit
den typischen Erscheinungen der spontanen Rede.   (emphasis his)



      I’d be very interested in any reactions/responses to this claim.>

Hi, Bart,

By "any," I assume you mean not only reasoned, informed views from people who have
read a lot of Greek outside the NT, but also gut reactions from self-described dilettantes who
have no qualms offering opinions on topics they don't really know that much about.  If you are
interested in the latter, I'm your guy. 

I think Reiser in on to something here.  I say "think" because my German is even worse than
my Greek.  In fact, the only word from Reiser's analysis that I recognized is "ungefeilte" which 
looks a little like "gefilte fish."  My mother would serve us this for breakfast with horse radish
sauce.  We had no spice rack growing up.  Everything we ate had horse radish or sour cream
on it.  The woman would put sour cream in ANYTHING!  Fruit, pancakes, even our coffee cake
had sour cream in it.  It's to the point now where when I drink bourbon and water, I have to
put a little dallop of sour cream in it for it to taste right to me. 

On the one hand, I agree that Paul's style is no more unusual than any other Greek writer's 
style, but there is something about his passion, his urgency, his directness, that seems 
distinctive to me.  Carl is right that Paul himself varies in style from chapter to chapter even
among the "undisputed letters."  If only 1 and 2 Corinthians had survived, I bet there would
be folks who would argue that they were written by two different people.  Especially 2 Corinthians
is written in a style which to my subjective sense is harsh, stilted, not BAD Greek exactly, but different
not only from the polished style of Plato but from the conversational simplicity of Chariton.  I agree
that Epictetus is close, but nowhere as emotionally agitated.  And Ignatius strikes me as very similar, 
though one could argue he was himself imitating the Apostle.  A movie came out a few years back called 
"Something about Mary."  There is always, something, I suppose, about every Greek writer that is hard
to pin down and hard to etiologize about.  There is something slightly different about the Greek of the Odyssey than the Greek of the Iliad, but what one does with that difference depends on what assumptions one makes about what is probable.  It strikes me as improbable that Paul would be the first guy
it would occur to to write down Greek the way he spoke it.  But then, it strikes me as
improbable that there would be no Protestants on the U.S. Supreme Court.  You never know. 

 Mark L



FWSFOROS MARKOS




________________________________
From: Bart Ehrman <behrman at email.unc.edu>
To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Sat, July 3, 2010 10:27:34 AM
Subject: [B-Greek] Paul as Stylist

Colleagues,



        Apologies if this issue has been broached on the list before.
Marius Reiser, in his article “Paulus als Stilist” (SEÅ 66 [2001] 157) tries
to explain Paul’s unusual Greek, characterized by hyperbata (which he
defines specifically as forms of parentheses), anacoloutha , and incomplete
sentences, by claiming that it is representative of spoken rather than
written Greek.  Moreover, he insists that Paul is the first author of record
to have written texts as if he were speaking them (different from anything
in the papyri he insists; different from dictated letters; different from
speeches of rhetoricians; and so on).



      As he puts it: 



Die ‘ungefeilte Sprache’ des Paulus hat nämlich etwas auf das Papier
gebracht, was vor ihm niemand je zu Papier bringen wollte: gesprochene
Sprache; nicht unbeholfenes Schreiben in ungefügen Sätzen, wie es zahllose
Papyri bieten, sondern gesprochene Sprache eines kompetenten Sprechers mit
den typischen Erscheinungen der spontanen Rede.   (emphasis his)



      I’d be very interested in any reactions/responses to this claim.  (For
what it’s worth Armin Baum uses it to explain why the Greek of the Pastorals
– which he takes to be authentic -- differs from that of the “undisputed”
Paulines: the Pastorals were planned as written texts and are not
“Paul-as-if-speaking.”   But that view, I think, is less relevant to the NT
Greek list.  I’m interested in the stylistic claim of Reiser in se).  Many
thanks,



n  Bart Ehrman





Bart D. Ehrman

James A. Gray Professor

Department of Religious Studies

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



http://www.bartdehrman.com



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