Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby David Lim » October 24th, 2013, 7:13 am

Andrew Chapman wrote:
David Lim wrote: If we simply take the Greek genitive it does seem to imply "the might that is to his glory" ... "the earth of your glory" simply refers to "the earth that is for your glory"


I am not sure I understand this. I would have thought that 'to his glory' and 'for your glory' might be rendered by, say, εἰς, as in, for example:

εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ (Ephesians 1:12)

for us to be.. to the praise..

In all natural languages there are many ways to say essentially the same thing. Sometimes we can convey the same meaning with a more vague expression simply because there is the context to fill in the details. In this case a genitive would be one of the most vague ways of denoting a relationship, which would be determined by the context. You might of course say that the writer could have been more precise, but in fact the genitive already conveys the same thing sufficiently well. I chose to use the English phrase "to his glory" but that is not actually the meaning of the genitive, as I indicated when I said "seem to imply". The genitive just denotes a relationship, which is not a symmetric one but slightly directed, something like "X that pertains to Y" (the same caveats about English renderings apply). This explanation applies equally to all the examples of genitive phrases mentioned by Ken, and there is little validity in forcing any genitive to mean anything more precise. Even those who prefer to split the uses of the genitive into many different precise categories will have to categorize instances of the genitive (excluding verbal complements and other grammatical constructions) based on their context.
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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Andrew Chapman » October 25th, 2013, 12:59 pm

Thanks, David, for your explanation, which I appreciate. I came across this passage in Zerwick's 'Biblical Greek':

This book [Deissmann's Union with Christ in St Paul in the Light of his Use of the Genitives'] shows how the grammarians' classification of the uses of the genitive, useful as it may be, is inadequate and may become misleading. The author insists on the fundamental force of the genitive, namely the indication of the appurtenance of one notion to another. The exact nature of that ap­purtenance, of the relation between the notions, depends upon context and subject matter, so that of itself the use of the genitive may have as many varieties as there are ways in which two notions may be asso­ciated.


which is clearly very different from Daniel Wallace's approach, reminiscent of a little iterative computer program: Is there a verbal noun? If so, try subjective or objective genitive. If not, try possessive genitive, attributive genitive etc (the order may not be quite right). It's fascinating reading, since I have become aware of the great variety of ways in which we use the genitive in English without any awareness of what we are doing (the love of God (for us) vs the love of chocolates; a bucket of iron/ a bucket of water, etc). It surprises me actually how similar the two languages are, in this respect, it being possible very often to translate the Greek genitive with 'of' and get the right result. So, as a relative beginner in the language, I suppose I still tend to try this first, but I appreciate that somebody more proficient may be able to gauge the sense directly from the Greek text: I suppose this is an aspect of the transition from thinking in English to thinking in Greek.

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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » October 26th, 2013, 8:39 am

Andrew Chapman wrote:Thanks, David, for your explanation, which I appreciate. I came across this passage in Zerwick's 'Biblical Greek':


David's explanation was insightful, as was Zerwick's passage and Andrew's comment to it.

I wan't to add that it's always good to read Bullinger's Figures of Speech. This Col. phrase is classified as antimereia and Bullinger translates it as "his glorious power". Bullinger isn't any more trustworthy than any other in details or specific passages (and one could argue that he does to figures of speech the same that Wallace does to grammar, i.e. overcategorizes), but it's very useful to get familiar with the idioms of the Biblical languages and with different ways how the writers actuaclly used it. When read correctly Bullinger helps us get past "literal" grammar and translations to more idiomatic understanding.
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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Justin Cofer » October 30th, 2013, 5:09 am

Andrew Chapman wrote:I came across this passage in Zerwick's 'Biblical Greek':

This book [Deissmann's Union with Christ in St Paul in the Light of his Use of the Genitives'] shows how the grammarians' classification of the uses of the genitive, useful as it may be, is inadequate and may become misleading. The author insists on the fundamental force of the genitive, namely the indication of the appurtenance of one notion to another. The exact nature of that ap­purtenance, of the relation between the notions, depends upon context and subject matter, so that of itself the use of the genitive may have as many varieties as there are ways in which two notions may be asso­ciated.





Very pertinent quote. A.T. Robertson aptly explains the genitive. (emphasis mine)

One other remark is called for concerning the meaning of the genitive in Greek. It is that the case does not of itself mean all that one finds in translation. The case adheres to its technical root-idea. The resultant idea will naturally vary greatly according as the root-conception of the case is applied to different words and different contexts. But the varying element is not the case, but the words and the context. The error must not be made of mistaking the translation of the resultant whole for the case itself. Thus in Mt. 1:12 we have πετοικεσίαν Βαβυλῶνος. It is translated ‘removal to Babylon.’ Now the genitive does not mean ‘to,’ but that is the correct translation of the total idea obtained by knowledge of the O. T. What the genitive says is that it is a ‘Babylon-removal.’ That is all. So in Mt. 12:31, ἡ τοῦ πνεύματος βλασφημία, it is the ‘Spirit-blasphemy.’ From the context we know that it is blasphemy against the Spirit, though the genitive does not mean ‘against.’ When a case has so many possible combinations in detail it is difficult to make a satisfactory grouping of the various resultant usages. A very simple and obvious one is here followed. But one must always bear in mind that these divisions are merely our modern conveniences and were not needed by the Greeks themselves. At every stage one needs to recall the root-idea of the case (genus or kind) and find in that and the environment and history the explanation.

A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Logos Bible Software, 1919), 493–494.
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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Andrew Chapman » November 1st, 2013, 2:41 pm

The commentary on μετ’ ἀγγέλων δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ in 2 Thessalonians 1:7 -:

καὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς θλιβομένοις ἄνεσιν μεθ’ ἡμῶν ἐν τῇ ἀποκαλύψει τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ μετ’ ἀγγέλων δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ ἐν φλογὶ πυρός, διδόντος ἐκδίκησιν τοῖς μὴ εἰδόσι θεὸν.. (7-8a)

has striking parallels with that on the similar construction in Colossians 1:11. Is it correct to translate this as 'with His powerful angels', or not? The King James had it this way, the evangelical commentators of the nineteenth century said it was quite wrong because of the αὐτοῦ, F. F. Bruce said it was a 'Hebraism' without providing any justification for his view, and almost all the major translations (including NASB, ESV, NIV, NRSV etc) have 'mighty' or 'powerful' angels. The ASV, on the other hand, had 'the angels of his power'. But while there seems now to be a consensus among the translations that 'powerful/mighty angels' is correct, most commentators since Bruce seem to take the former view. Alfred Plummer is forthright:

'With his mighty angels' (A.V.) is certainly wrong, although it is advocated by Jowett. 'Angels of power' [ie ἀγγέλων δυνάμεως] might mean 'mighty angels,' on the analogy of the Hebraic or Oriental use of the genitive in place of an adjective (Winer, p. 297) like 'hearer of forgetfulness' [ἀκροατὴς ἐπιλησμονῆς] .. (James 1:25..) But 'angels of His power' [ἀγγέλων δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ] could not be thus used; the 'His' belongs to 'power' and not to 'angels.' 'His power' means the power of Jesus Christ, and the angels manifest it.. they are to execute His commands.


Ellicott:

the Lord will come accompanied with the hosts of heaven, who shall be the ministers of His will and the exponents and instruments of His power. The gloss of Theoph. and Oecum. 2, δυνάμεως ἄγγελοι, τουτέστι δυνατοί, followed by Auth., al., but found in none of the best Vv. of antiquity, is now properly rejected by appy. all modern commentators. The gen. appears to fall under the general head of the gen. possessivus, and serves to mark that to which the ἄγγελοι appertained, and of which they were the ministers;


And similarly, Lightfoot (the square brackets are mine):

'with the angels, the ministers of His power.' This expression is translated in the E. V. and by others 'with his mighty angels,' δυνάμεως being made to serve the turn of an epithet according to the common Hebrew idiom. Jowett who supports this view instances υἱοὶ δυνἀμεως (Judges 18:2 [Brenton: men of valour, בְנֵי־חַיִל, men of force. 1 Samuel 18:17, 2 Chronicles 25:13 [υἱοὶ τῆς δυνἀμεως, Brenton: men of the host, בְנֵי־הַגְדוּד, sons of the army]), ἄρχοντες δυνάμεως (1 Kings 15:20 [ἄρχοντες τῶν δυνάμεων, Brenton: chiefs of his forces], 2 Kings 25:23 [ἄρχοντες τῆς δυνάμεως, Brenton: captains of the host]). But the interpretation must be discarded, though the Hebraic tinge of the passage is prop tanto in favour of it; for the position of αὐτοῦ would thus be rendered extremely awkward. Moreover on this supposition the Apostle would dwell rather on the power of subordinate beings than of the Lord Himself.


Jowett himself only says:

a Hebraism like υἱοὶ δυνἀμεως, ἄρχοντες δυνάμεως in the LXX


But looking up the instances of these that Lightfoot gives to elucidate Jowett's view, Judges 18:2 is the only one I could find which shows the Hebraic adjectival genitive, and this doesn't have the pronominal suffix to parallel αὐτοῦ.

More recently, Wanamaker renders the phrase as ' "the angels of his power" in order to emphasize the character of the coming Lord, rather than the quality or nature of the angels who will accompany him.' Fee observes that:

Many have taken this genitive as adjectival (his powerful/mighty angels; see eg., NRSV, REB, NAB), but as Lightfoot put it, this "interpretation must be discarded.." Most likely the phrase here means, "the angels who are ministers of his power."


Best:

..the angels of his power. This is a difficult phrase:'his' by position probably qualifies 'power' only but may also qualify 'angels' ('his angels of power') though this is unlikely if 'power' is the major concept; the phrase does not mean 'his powerful angels' (a genitive of quality) .. or 'the angels by which he exercises his power' (genitive of the object), but probably the 'angels which belong to his power' (possessive genitive).


I am not sure I understand this last comment. If Best thinks that it is permissible (if unlikely) for αὐτοῦ to govern ἀγγέλων δυνάμεως, giving 'his angels of power', then he is more than half way to admitting 'his powerful angels', I would have thought. But is this good Greek, or are the other commentators right in saying that αὐτοῦ can govern δυνάμεως only (at least without 'extreme awkwardness', pace Lightfoot)?

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Re: Colossians 1:11 κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ

Postby Andrew Chapman » November 6th, 2013, 11:04 am

With regard to F. F. Bruce's opinion that τῆς δόξης is being used adjectivally in a way that is Hebraic, I found this in Moulton and Turner, Vol. 2, p.21 with regard to the likelihood of their being Semitic influence in Paul's Greek:

As to his Greek, it is obvious from all we know of him that he must have spoken Greek from the first as freely as Aramaic. He calls himself Ἐβραῖος ἐξ Ἐβραίων, " a Hebrew of Hebrew descent," and the term naturally implies the familiar use of the Semitic mother-tongue. But the most patriotic Jew of the Dispersion could not get on without Greek. It need not be added that for Paul's missionary work in the West, Greek had no possible alternative except Latin. A man thus accustomed to use the language of the West was not likely to import into it words or constructions that would have a foreign sound. The LXX had no such supreme authority for Paul that a copying of its language would strike him as natural. And if Greek was an alternative mother-tongue to him, he would use it too unconsciously to drop into Aramaisms, defective renderings of a language he could correct as well as any one. The a priori view thus sketched tallies satisfactorily with the observed facts. Paul very rarely uses phrases which come from a literal rendering of the Semitic. His Semitisms are secondary at most—defensible as Greek, and natural to a Greek ear.


They detect a few semitisms in Ephesians (p.22-23), but hardly elsewhere.

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