Strange conditional in 1 Thess 4:14

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Strange conditional in 1 Thess 4:14

Postby Daniel Watts » October 3rd, 2013, 7:45 am

εἰ γὰρ πιστεύομεν ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἀνέστη, οὕτως καὶ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ.

What do you guys make of this? Its a first class conditional so i guess something like "if, for the sake of argument, we believe Jesus died and rose".
My problem is that the apodosis does not seem to relate logically to the protasis. The protasis seems more like its introducing comparison. Rather than "if we believe x, then we also believe y" or "if we believe x, then y will happen" but "if we believe x, in the same way y".

Should we simply read "πιστεύομεν" back in to the protasis - "If we believe x, similarly we [should] also believe y"

Alternatively {i havent thought this through properly as it just popped into my head}, could the whole sentence be the condition
"If we believe that jesus died and rose and similarly that God will bring the sleepers back", which is then unpacked a little bit with the consequence being given in v.18 Ὥστε παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους ἐν τοῖς λόγοις τούτοις.
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Re: Strange conditional in 1 Thess 4:14

Postby David Lim » October 4th, 2013, 8:58 pm

Daniel Watts wrote:εἰ γὰρ πιστεύομεν ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἀνέστη, οὕτως καὶ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ.

What do you guys make of this? Its a first class conditional so i guess something like "if, for the sake of argument, we believe Jesus died and rose".
My problem is that the apodosis does not seem to relate logically to the protasis. The protasis seems more like its introducing comparison. Rather than "if we believe x, then we also believe y" or "if we believe x, then y will happen" but "if we believe x, in the same way y".

Should we simply read "πιστεύομεν" back in to the protasis - "If we believe x, similarly we [should] also believe y"

Alternatively {i havent thought this through properly as it just popped into my head}, could the whole sentence be the condition
"If we believe that jesus died and rose and similarly that God will bring the sleepers back", which is then unpacked a little bit with the consequence being given in v.18 Ὥστε παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους ἐν τοῖς λόγοις τούτοις.

I read it this way:
"for if we believe (don't we?) that Jesus died and rose up, in the same way [that he died and arose] also God will bring ( the ones who sleep in Jesus ) with him."
I would not consider your options to fit the text for the following reasons:
(1) "similarly we should also believe ..." should have been phrased using "ουτως και οτι ..."
(2) "believe ... and similarly that ..." should have been "πιστευομεν οτι ... και οτι ουτως ..."
(3) "ωστε παρακαλειτε αλληλους εν τοις λογοις τουτοις" corresponds with "τουτο υμιν λεγομεν εν λογω κυριου οτι ..."
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Re: Strange conditional in 1 Thess 4:14

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 5th, 2013, 10:33 am

Yes, the two parts of the conditional statement don't really line up. Paul not infrequently abandons a planned construction (anacoluthon), and this may be another instance of that. It's really a question of how much editorial intervention the exegete or translator allows themself to have in such situations. Should one be more faithful to the meaning or the text when they don't seem to quite line up?

I'm tempted to view the πιστεύομεν ὅτι as parenthetical to make the logical structure of the protasis match the apodosis: if (as we believe) Jesus died and was raised, so too will God bring .... The more typical solutions however seem to keep the anacoluthon (low level of editorial intervention) or impute the statement of belief into the protasis (a higher level of intervention, per NIV, NET).
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Re: Strange conditional in 1 Thess 4:14

Postby David Lim » October 6th, 2013, 7:20 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm tempted to view the πιστεύομεν ὅτι as parenthetical to make the logical structure of the protasis match the apodosis: if (as we believe) Jesus died and was raised, so too will God bring .... The more typical solutions however seem to keep the anacoluthon (low level of editorial intervention) or impute the statement of belief into the protasis (a higher level of intervention, per NIV, NET).

Yes, and I think that we often make such kind of "not very logical" statements in our own language as well.
In other words the statement is actually understood to mean: "If we believe that X is true, then since X is true to us, and Y is also, so we should not be grieved...".
Not many people consistently make an accurate distinction between "I believe X is true" and "X is true", so I believe that is the reason for this kind of conditional statements. ;)
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Re: Strange conditional in 1 Thess 4:14

Postby Jason Hare » October 7th, 2013, 2:53 am

I wonder if we should read a cohortative subjunctive into this.

ουτως και [πιστευωμεν οτι] ο θεος κτλ.

Is this a possibility?

Beyond that, he could just making the statement that if we believe this, it is also the case that we believe that..
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Re: Strange conditional in 1 Thess 4:14

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 7th, 2013, 4:14 am

Yes, it's a possibility, but to me the argument isn't really about what belief should lead to another but about what will happen.
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