1 Corinthians 14:2

The forum for those who still struggle with morphology, syntax, and idiom, or who wish to discuss basic questions about the meaning of Greek texts, syntax, or words.
Forum rules
This is not a place for students to ask for the answers to their homework assignments. Users who do that may be banned.

1 Corinthians 14:2

Postby Bob Stevens » June 10th, 2014, 12:26 pm

I have not been on the forum in a few years, so effectively am a newbie. I need to preface this post by saying it is not directed toward fueling the debate over gifts. It is purely for my attempts at understanding scripture. The verse reads: "ο γαρ λαλων γλωσση ουκ ανθρωποισ λαλει αλλα θεω:ουδεισ γαρ ακουει, πνευματι δε λαλει μυστηρια."

Most translators render ακουει as "understands". Is there a reason for that translation? It strikes me that this might be something like the tree falling in the forest with no one around. Couldn't it just as easily mean "no one hears"? If Paul prohibits speaking in tongues in public worship, unless there is an interpreter, it seems to me that verse 2 might just mean that one's private worship is for self-edification -- no one else hears.
Bob Stevens
 
Posts: 4
Joined: June 10th, 2014, 11:26 am

Gradations of "hearing"

Postby Stephen Hughes » June 12th, 2014, 7:23 am

Hi Bob,
Even if we first look at English, sometimes "not hearing clearly" is referred to as "not hearing". So we have some idea of gradations of "hearing":
Mother (to son): Say "Sorry." to your sister.
Son (to sister): Molly Bibder.
Mother (to son): I can't hear you. Take you hand away from your mouth, and say it clearly.


The Greek word ἀκούειν also has a range of gradations of meanings:
  • hear the sound of a voice (indistinctly)
  • hear the words clearly
  • hear and understand the words
  • hear, understand and obey them / take them to heart.

In another world where one-word translations would not be so highly favoured, it might be translated as "hear and understand" or "understand what they are hearing".
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
Stephen Hughes
 
Posts: 1087
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am
Location: China

Re: 1 Corinthians 14:2

Postby Bob Stevens » June 12th, 2014, 12:37 pm

Thank you for your explanation in response to my question. I appreciate the comments on gradations of meanings, which you articulated clearly. Until now, I concluded that the context demanded the "hear and understand" translation, but now I am not convinced that is the case. I don't want to belabor the issue, but do you see anything that compels us to amplify the translation beyond simply "hears"? Might not this simply refer to private worship where no one but the speaker and God hear?
Bob Stevens
 
Posts: 4
Joined: June 10th, 2014, 11:26 am

Silent prayer of the heart?

Postby Stephen Hughes » June 12th, 2014, 2:00 pm

Do you mean like 1 Samuel 1:13 and Rees Howels? I have no idea about that. I only know a few words of Greek.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
Stephen Hughes
 
Posts: 1087
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am
Location: China

Re: 1 Corinthians 14:2

Postby Bob Stevens » June 12th, 2014, 8:03 pm

I am embarrassed to admit that I am unfamiliar with his teaching on that verse. I can see, though, how it might be relevant. Because I haven't had time to get acquainted with your style, your comment about only knowing a few Greek words has me stumped. I am proceeding on the assumption that it is facetious.
Bob Stevens
 
Posts: 4
Joined: June 10th, 2014, 11:26 am

Re: 1 Corinthians 14:2

Postby Barry Hofstetter » June 12th, 2014, 9:03 pm

Bob Stevens wrote:I am embarrassed to admit that I am unfamiliar with his teaching on that verse. I can see, though, how it might be relevant. Because I haven't had time to get acquainted with your style, your comment about only knowing a few Greek words has me stumped. I am proceeding on the assumption that it is facetious.


Yes, even if he is being honestly humble instead of facetious, Stephen knows more than a few Greek words.

ὁ γὰρ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις λαλεῖ ἀλλὰ θεῷ, οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἀκούει, πνεύματι δὲ λαλεῖ μυστήρια· 3 ὁ δὲ προφητεύων ἀνθρώποις λαλεῖ οἰκοδομὴν καὶ παράκλησιν καὶ παραμυθίαν. 4 ὁ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ ἑαυτὸν οἰκοδομεῖ· ὁ δὲ προφητεύων ἐκκλησίαν οἰκοδομεῖ. 5 θέλω δὲ πάντας ὑμᾶς λαλεῖν γλώσσαις, μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε· μείζων δὲ ὁ προφητεύων ἢ ὁ λαλῶν γλώσσαις, ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ διερμηνεύῃ, ἵνα ἡ ἐκκλησία οἰκοδομὴν λάβῃ.

To me the context clearly indicates "hearing with understanding." I suppose you could make an argument that Paul has in mind private prayer, but then that doesn't seem to make sense of the contrast with prophesying. The context seems to be public worship. Can you indicate otherwise?
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Barry Hofstetter
 
Posts: 570
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

I don't understand negatives well enough to answer you.

Postby Stephen Hughes » June 13th, 2014, 1:43 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Bob Stevens wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:Do you mean like 1 Samuel 1:13 and Rees Howels? I have no idea about that. I only know a few words of Greek.
Because I haven't had time to get acquainted with your style, your comment about only knowing a few Greek words has me stumped. I am proceeding on the assumption that it is facetious.

Yes, even if he is being honestly humble instead of facetious, Stephen knows more than a few Greek words.

To me the context clearly indicates "hearing with understanding." I suppose you could make an argument that Paul has in mind private prayer, but then that doesn't seem to make sense of the contrast with prophesying. The context seems to be public worship. Can you indicate otherwise?

I mean that I'm more familiar with words than with grammar. I know what all of the words mean severally.

Your question, Bob, is an interesting one, but I don't see that what you are asking about the word ἀκούειν is going to get you an answer about the nature of prayer or church discipline regarding prayer.

From what I understand, what you want to know, has more to do with the nature of the negatives in Greek than with the meaning of ἀκούειν. Look at the verse:
ὁ γὰρ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις λαλεῖ ἀλλὰ θεῷ, οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἀκούει, πνεύματι δὲ λαλεῖ μυστήρια·

Your question is essentially, does οὐκ ἀνθρώποις λαλεῖ ἀλλὰ θεῷ mean ἀνθρώποις οὐκ λαλεῖ ὁ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ ἀλλὰ θεῷ μόνον.? That requires a knowledge of Greek grammar beyond my ability. Then on top of that, the word γὰρ explains the first negative with another negative. The relationship between negative elements in a sentence is not a well undestood area of the language

Your supplimentary question
Bob Stevens wrote:I don't want to belabor the issue, but do you see anything that compels us to amplify the translation beyond simply "hears"? Might not this simply refer to private worship where no one but the speaker and God hear?
Is the hurdle at which I balked at. There are too many brambles on the other side. You are asking if a series of negative statements lead to a positive (or definite) conclusion - the nature of church discipline / practice or the nature of prayer.

Then there is the question of the object of ἀκούειν. If it was οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἀκούει ἃ λαλεῖ, then it would probably be "hear and understand" because others are aware of the speaking. If it were οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἀκούει αὐτοῦ τὴν φωνήν, then it perhaps mean he was alone (κατ' ἰδίαν), but that he had a sound. Aside from Simon and Garfunkel speaking usually has (audible) words. That is said expressly here, with the repeated use of λαλεῖν.

That raises an added consideration of the meaning of λαλεῖν. There are some people who hold that λέγειν expresses the content of what is said and λαλεῖν refers to the sound which carry the content. It sounds like a plausible distinction, but apparently the people who wrote Greek weren't so keenly aware of that distinction. I have ideas about it, but not well formulated ones.

Then there is the consideration of tense / aspect, and how that affects the scale of gradations of meaning in these sort of graded meaning verbs. I have some ideas / obsevations of obvious things about that, but none really worth sharing.

Then there is consideration of the number of οὐδείς. My Greek is not good enough for me to say whether οὐδεὶς ἀκούει is the same as ἄλλοι οὐκ ἀκούουσιν. In fact, I'm not clear whether καθείς should be taken with a negative or positve sense, considering that the Modern Greek negative is expressed by καθένας followed by a verb with a negative particle.

I don't see translation with more than one word as amplification, but choice of a suitable meaning. Let's take a few examples
Matthew 2:22 wrote:Ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει ἐπὶ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἀντὶ Ἡρῴδου τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ, ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν· χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ’ ὄναρ, ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας,
This is a fairly strong meaning of ἀκούειν, like, "heard and understood (the implications)", which is a different type of understanding.

John 10:3 wrote:Τούτῳ ὁ θυρωρὸς ἀνοίγει, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούει, καὶ τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα καλεῖ κατ’ ὄνομα, καὶ ἐξάγει αὐτά.
Here, ἀκούειν probably means "to hear the sound of" (his voice).

Acts 11:7 wrote:Ἤκουσα δὲ φωνῆς λεγούσης μοι, Ἀναστάς, Πέτρε, θῦσον καὶ φάγε.
Here it probably means, "to hear distinct words". Another thing here is that he didn't eat raw meat! θύειν doesn't mean "to kill", it means "to kill and BBQ".

I'm not "facetious" or flippant, (or humble - which means different things to different people). I followed all the lines of reasoning that you can now see expressed, and saw that my (limited) knowledge of the language, I would not be of much help with either the question you are asking or the one that I think you should be asking. The best that I could offer - the only thing that I know, which could help you with, is to call to your attention the gradation of meaning for the verb. The other things are outside the present scope of my knowledge of Greek. I didn't want to bore you with my uncertainties and unresolved questions. The comment that I only know a few words was made after the realisation of the extent of my ignorance - if it is possible for a thing that does not in fact exist to have an extent.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
Stephen Hughes
 
Posts: 1087
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am
Location: China

Re: 1 Corinthians 14:2

Postby Stephen Carlson » June 13th, 2014, 5:41 am

Bob Stevens wrote:Most translators render ακουει as "understands". Is there a reason for that translation? It strikes me that this might be something like the tree falling in the forest with no one around. Couldn't it just as easily mean "no one hears"? If Paul prohibits speaking in tongues in public worship, unless there is an interpreter, it seems to me that verse 2 might just mean that one's private worship is for self-edification -- no one else hears.

BDAG has a huge section on ἀκούω with the meaning to hear and understand a message, with 1 Cor 14:2 as the leading example. I recommend that you (and others) consult the section there. If you don't have the BDAG (the Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich lexicon of New Testament Greek), I strongly recommend acquiring this book for anyone serious about reading and understanding the Greek of the New Testament.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
Stephen Carlson
 
Posts: 1817
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 10:51 am
Location: Uppsala University

Re: 1 Corinthians 14:2

Postby Barry Hofstetter » July 13th, 2014, 3:13 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Bob Stevens wrote:Most translators render ακουει as "understands". Is there a reason for that translation? It strikes me that this might be something like the tree falling in the forest with no one around. Couldn't it just as easily mean "no one hears"? If Paul prohibits speaking in tongues in public worship, unless there is an interpreter, it seems to me that verse 2 might just mean that one's private worship is for self-edification -- no one else hears.

BDAG has a huge section on ἀκούω with the meaning to hear and understand a message, with 1 Cor 14:2 as the leading example. I recommend that you (and others) consult the section there. If you don't have the BDAG (the Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich lexicon of New Testament Greek), I strongly recommend acquiring this book for anyone serious about reading and understanding the Greek of the New Testament.


Στέφανος τὶ εἶπεν... I wore my second edition out (although it still sits proudly on my bookshelf) and use the third edition electronically. It really is invaluable...
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Barry Hofstetter
 
Posts: 570
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm


Return to Beginners Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron