Colossians 2:17 - ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων

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Re: Colossians 2:17 - ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων

Postby cwconrad » January 28th, 2013, 8:34 am

Stephen Carlson, in response (very slightly redacted) to a restatement of Iver's interpretation of this text, wrote:
I agree there's a contrast. But I still do not see any reason given, other than theology, for this particular interpretation of the contrast. And frankly the theological reasoning here does not appear sufficient[ly] thorough, for there are other viable possibilities. For example, τὰ μέλλοντα could refer to future things, say, at the parousia (explicitly in the context at 3:4), without any unusual grammatical moves like a future-in-the-past reading and a plural-for-singular construal for τὰ μέλλοντα.

This forum, of course, is about Greek, not theology, to the extent that it is feasible to keep them separate. In this case, I fear that the grammatical or linguistic argumentation has been exhausted, and I don't see that the topic has been decisively settled on that front.


I have nothing helpful to add, but I will offer a comment.I have followed with some interest the two meandering threads on this enigmatic passage in Colossians 2, hoping for some illumination -- I've never myself been able to make sense of τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ as following upon σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων. Forty-four posts in the two threads without much light at the end of the tunnel! I've been thinking throughout that this thread doesn't belong in the Beginners' Forum but rather in Koine Greek Texts, but now I'm not so sure that's the case, if it's a matter of spinning wheels or theological speculation. I confess that I still don't understand the sequence and, rather than settling upon an unconvincing piece of guesswork, I prefer to put this text into the expansive bin of as-yet-unsolved puzzles.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ἄτοπον, ἔφη, λέγεις εἰκόνα καὶ δεσμώτας ἀτόπους.
ὁμοίους ἡμῖν, ἦν δʼ ἐγώ. Plato, Rep. 7 (515a)
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Re: Colossians 2:17 - ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων

Postby Marc Possoff » February 6th, 2013, 7:11 pm

Here is an interesting exergesis...

σῶμα simply dosn't mean "substance." It means "body." Hence, τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, a common expression in the NT, means "the body of Christ."

Greek Text of Textus Receptus:

16 Μὴ οὖν τις ὑμᾶς κρινέτω ἐν βρώσει ἢ ἐν πόσει ἢ ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς ἢ νουμηνίας ἢ σαββάτων 17 ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ

My English translation:
Therefore, do not let anyone judge you in drinking, or in eating, or in a part of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath (which are a shadow of the coming thnigs), but the body of Christ.

I don't see profitability in devoting a lot of time to this particular scripture, so excuse my brevity. This is my understanding of the verses in question.

The idea is that those in the Church were being judged by outsiders, more than likely, non-believing Jews, about how they drink and ate, and about particulars of the feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths. Was the Church keeping any of the feasts, new moons, or Sabbaths? I don't know; the text is ambiguous. Moving along.

Again, we have outsiders judging believers about certain matters. Paul wants to address this issue in his epistle (letter) to the Colossians. So, he urges those in the Church to "not let anyone judge you in eating or in drinking, or in a part of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath...

Okay, so they were not to let outsiders judge them in these matters.

Then, Paul makes a parenthetical statement describing the relevance of the feasts, new moons, and sabbaths. He says they "are a shadow of the coming things." This isn't a difficult concept to understand. We all know that Passover was a type of the Messiah's death. Other feasts have significance as well. The new moon is a type of the resurrection. The Sabbath is a type of our rest in Christ. And so forth. So, the feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths are all "shadows" of coming things --- events to come --- affecting the body of Christ.

Again, the phrase "which are a shadow of the coming things" is parenthetical. Original Greek manuscripts were all uncials (capitals), all together (no spaces), and no punctuation.

In English, it would be like me writing,

THEREFOREDONOTLETANYONEJUDGEYOUINDRINKINGORINEATIN GORINAPARTOFAFEASTNEWMOONORSABBATHWHICHAREASHADOWO FTHECOMINGTHINGSBUTTHEBODYOFCHRIST

So parentheses did not exist, but that doesn't mean Paul or any other authors in the Bible never made parenthetical statements. For example, see Rev. 20:4-6.

Anyway, the last phrase "but the body of Christ" is in antithesis to "do not let anyone judge you." The idea is that nobody was to judge believers about their faith and practice but other believers. Well, that's a completely biblical concept, so it makes total sense. Thus, "Do not let anyone judge you, but the body of Christ."

The body of Christ is the Church.
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Re: Colossians 2:17 - ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » February 6th, 2013, 8:53 pm

Marc Possoff wrote:Here is an interesting exergesis...
Anyway, the last phrase "but the body of Christ" is in antithesis to "do not let anyone judge you." The idea is that nobody was to judge believers about their faith and practice but other believers. Well, that's a completely biblical concept, so it makes total sense. Thus, "Do not let anyone judge you, but the body of Christ.

Your 'exegesis' might appear to make sense in English. but it doesn't work in Greek at all.

Your interpretation, which seems to be growing wildly in popularity these days, is based on the word 'but' carrying a specific nuance in English, viz., 'unless' or 'except.' "Don't let anyone... but the body of Christ" means "Don't let anyone... except the body of Christ." However, the Greek particle δὲ does not carry such a nuance. To say "but" in the sense of "except" in Greek, one uses ει μη or εαν μη, or perhaps παρεκτος.
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Re: Colossians 2:17 - ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων

Postby Marc Possoff » February 7th, 2013, 4:05 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:
Marc Possoff wrote:Here is an interesting exergesis...
Anyway, the last phrase "but the body of Christ" is in antithesis to "do not let anyone judge you." The idea is that nobody was to judge believers about their faith and practice but other believers. Well, that's a completely biblical concept, so it makes total sense. Thus, "Do not let anyone judge you, but the body of Christ.

Your 'exegesis' might appear to make sense in English. but it doesn't work in Greek at all.

Your interpretation, which seems to be growing wildly in popularity these days, is based on the word 'but' carrying a specific nuance in English, viz., 'unless' or 'except.' "Don't let anyone... but the body of Christ" means "Don't let anyone... except the body of Christ." However, the Greek particle δὲ does not carry such a nuance. To say "but" in the sense of "except" in Greek, one uses ει μη or εαν μη, or perhaps παρεκτος.


Generally this is what I found δέ means.... universally, by way of opposition and distinction; it is added to statements opposed to a preceding statement:

Why can't the opposition in this case be 'don't let anyone judge you in....? The other opposition being 'but the Body of Christ'.

So you have 2 sides here; the ones judging versus the entity that should be doing the judging which is the body of Christ.

Now for me it's hard to come up with a meaning of a word without context. I'm told that Koine is a very broad language. However if I read Col 1 for me that helps set the context and might help what the Col 2:16-17 means. Even the proceeding verses might help.
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Re: Colossians 2:17 - ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 7th, 2013, 6:57 am

Marc Possoff wrote:Generally this is what I found δέ means.... universally, by way of opposition and distinction; it is added to statements opposed to a preceding statement:

Why can't the opposition in this case be 'don't let anyone judge you in....? The other opposition being 'but the Body of Christ'.


But the "Body of Christ" is not a statement, it is a noun phrase. That is why translations usually supply an understood form of the verb "to be" to make it read "but the body/reality is of Christ." If you want an opposition with a constituent that replaces or corrects a corresponding constituent in the preceding statement, you need a different word like ἀλλά or εἰ μή .
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Re: Colossians 2:17 - ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » February 7th, 2013, 1:16 pm

Marc Possoff wrote:Why can't the opposition in this case be 'don't let anyone judge you in....? The other opposition being 'but the Body of Christ'.

Find me an example where δέ means 'except' and we'll go from there.
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Re: Colossians 2:17 - ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων

Postby John Brainard » February 10th, 2013, 4:30 pm

I am reading through this and trying to understand this discussion. This is probably a stupi question but I am going to ask it anyways? :lol:

What is the referent of the Neuter pronoun ἅ in Colossians 2:17? Also does the δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ stand in some form of antithesis to the ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων?

ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Thanks

John
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Re: Colossians 2:17 - ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » February 10th, 2013, 4:56 pm

Not a stupid question at all, John.

The antecedent of the pronoun is the list of things in the preceding verse.

There is definitely a contrast between the shadow and the body.
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