Correct Translation of παρουσία

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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 2nd, 2014, 12:26 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:I think it's a big question mark whether a noun derived from a verb would carry over any Aktionsart at all. I don't think this is rocket science or even a complicated linguistic or discourse issue. Look at the way the word is used both in its NT contexts and elsewhere. That's what the lexicographers did, I think they've done a pretty decent job.
"Process" and "result" would be another way to express the same distinction. The logical categories from different models of interpreting meaning cross. Once you master the basic first three or four thousand words of any language (by rote and exposure), it can be helpful to discuss the structure of the meaning that various derived forms can have.
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Scott Lawson
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Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Scott Lawson » October 10th, 2014, 6:21 pm

It seems to me that παρουσία came to be used as a technical term as is indicated also by BDAG.

At Matthew 24:3 the παρουσία of Jesus is implied to be an invisible one, thus the need for a sign to identify it. The sign given, in my opinion, includes events that will involve a measure of time; wars on a large scale, famine, earthquake, tribulation for the disciples of Jesus including putting some of them to death, the appearance of false prophets and subsequent misleading of many, a need for the disciples of Jesus to endure to the end, and an earth wide proclamation of the good news of the kingdom. The phrase “at the manifestation of his presence” (τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ) also strongly indicates that, for a period of it, his “presence” is invisible but will be made unmistakably apparent. So, it would seem that Paul recognized it as including more than just the punctiliar event of “coming”. The events described at Matthew 24:7-22 and culminating with the event at 2 Thessalonians 2:8 would seem to define the beginning and end of Christ’s “presence”. Closely associated with the “manifestation of Christ’s presence” are his “revelation” (ἀποκάλυψις ) and “coming” (ἔρχομαι).
The word παρουσία appears some 12 times in Paul’s writings and his use of it a 1Thessalonians 3:13 is particularly interesting: "εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμῶν τὰς καρδίας ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ, [ἀμήν]." N/A-28

If one views παρουσία as meaning an invisible “presence” of some unspecified duration, then it would seem that Paul’s use of παρουσία at 1Thess. 3:13 has in view the climactic event of Jesus coming with the holy (angels? Ones?). Likewise with many of Paul’s other uses of it, it seems to be used in connection with powerful climactic events, such as the ἁρπάζειν at 1 Thess. 4:17. All of that being said, I think that “presence” works well as a translation, in part because it distinguishes it from Jesus’ ἔρχομαι and ἀποκάλυψις, and that a fuller understanding of παρουσία as a technical term helps us see how the manifestation (by means of powerful events) of an invisible “presence” shades off into the events often associated with Jesus' ἔρχομαι “coming”.



BDAG says in part:
"b. in a special technical sense (difft. JWalvoord, BiblSacr 101, ’44, 283–89 on παρ., ἀποκάλυψις, ἐπιφάνεια) of Christ (and the Antichrist). The use of π. as a t.t. has developed in two directions. On the one hand the word served as a sacred expr. for the coming of a hidden divinity, who makes his presence felt by a revelation of his power, or whose presence is celebrated in the cult (Diod. S. 3, 65, 1 ἡ τοῦ θεοῦ π. of Dionysus upon earth; 4, 3, 3; Ael. Aristid. 48, 30; 31 K.=24 p. 473 D.; Porphyr., Philos. {p. 781} Ex Orac. Haur. II p. 148 Wolff; Iambl., Myst. 2, 8; 3, 11; 5, 21; Jos., Ant. 3, 80; 203; 9, 55; report of a healing fr. Epidaurus: SIG 1169, 34).—On the other hand, π. became the official term for a visit of a person of high rank, esp. of kings and emperors visiting a province (Polyb. 18, 48, 4; CIG 4896, 8f; SIG 495, 85f; 741, 21; 30; UPZ 42, 18 [162 BC]; PTebt 48, 14; 116, 57 [both II BC]; O. Wilck II, 1372; 1481. For the verb in this sense s. BGU XIII, 2211, 5.—O. Wilck I 274ff; Dssm., LO 314ff [LAE 372ff]; MDibelius, Hdb. exc. after the expl. of 1 Th 2:20). These two technical expressions can approach each other closely in mng., can shade off into one another, or even coincide (Ins. von Tegea: BCH 25, 1901 p. 275 ἔτους ξ ἀπὸ τῆς θεοῦ Ἁδριανοῦ τὸ πρῶτον ἰς τὴν Ελλάδα παρουσίας).—Herm. Wr. 1, 26 uses π. of the advent of the pilgrim in the eighth sphere."
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Vladislav Kotenko
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Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Vladislav Kotenko » October 11th, 2014, 3:28 pm

What seems to help in understanding the implications of the word παρουσία as used in Matt. 24:3 is Mark 13:4 and Lu 21:7. It should be kept in mind that all three passages are parallel.

Mark 13:4 says: Εἰπὲ ἡμῖν, πότε ταῦτα ἔσται; Καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον ὅταν μέλλῃ πάντα ταῦτα συντελεῖσθαι.

Lu 21:7 says: Ἐπηρώτησαν δὲ αὐτόν, λέγοντες, Διδάσκαλε, πότε οὖν ταῦτα ἔσται; Καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον, ὅταν μέλλῃ ταῦτα γίνεσθαι.

The word μέλλω, which appears in the above texts, is usually translated as “be about to” or “be going to.” That is why many Bible translations employ such phrases as “be about to” or “be going to” at Mark 13:4 and Luke 21:4.

The following are a few other examples where μέλλω is often translated as “be about to; be going to”:

Matthew 2:13: Αναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν, ἰδού, ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾽ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσήφ, λέγων, Ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ, καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοί μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον, τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό.

John 7:39: Τοῦτο δὲ εἶπεν περὶ τοῦ πνεύματος οὗ ἔμελλον λαμβάνειν οἱ πιστεύοντες εἰς αὐτόν οὔπω γὰρ ἦν πνεῦμα ἅγιον, ὅτι Ἰησοῦς οὐδέπω ἐδοξάσθη.

Acts 11:28: Αναστὰς δὲ εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν ὀνόματι Ἄγαβος, ἐσήμανεν διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος λιμὸν μέγαν μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι ἐφ᾽ ὅλην τὴν οἰκουμένην ὅστις καὶ ἐγένετο ἐπὶ Κλαυδίου Καίσαρος.

Revelation 10:7: ἀλλ᾽ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ ἑβδόμου ἀγγέλου, ὅταν μέλλῃ σαλπίζειν, καὶ ἐτελέσθη τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ, ὡς εὐηγγέλισεν τοὺς δούλους αὐτοῦ τοὺς προφήτας.

Since Matt. 24:3, Mark 13:4, and Luke 21:7 are parallel passages, it is logical to deduce that they refer to the same things. Thus, the context seems to suggest that among the things that are “about to occur” is παρουσία mentioned at Matt. 24:3. Παρουσία appears there to be conceived of as a future event, in which case such renderings as “coming,” “arrival,” “advent,” and “arrival and subsequent presence” are appropriate. The context seems to demand this.

As explained in Greek dictionaries, παρουσία came to denote the arrival or visit of a ruler (so that the Latin equivalent “adventus” was used when translating from Greek into Latin), in addition to the meaning of “presence.”

Concerning the use of “adventus” synonymously with παρουσία, Adolf Deissmann writes in his book Light from the Ancient East, page 375: “In memory of the visit of the Emperor Nero, in whose reign St. Paul wrote his letters to Corinth, the cities of Corinth and Patras struck advent-coins. Adventus Aug(usti) Cor(inthi) is the legend on one, Adventus Augusti on the other. Here we have corresponding to the Greek parusia the Latin word advent, which the Latin Christians afterwards simply took over, and which is today familiar to every child among us.

In addition to the Latin word “adventus” (“arrival; advent”), the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια is said to have also come to be used quite synonymously with παρουσία, according to what Adolf Deissmann states on page 378: “Quite closely related to parusia is another cultword, ἐπιφάνεια, “epiphany,” “appearing.” How closely the two ideas were connected in the age of the New Testament is shown by the passage in 2 Thess. ii. 8, already quoted, and by the associated usage of the Pastoral Epistles, in which "epiphany" or "appearing" nearly always means the future parusia of Christ," though once it is the parusia which patristic writers afterwards called "the first." Equally clear, however, is the witness of an advent-coin struck by Actium-Nicopolis for Hadrian, with the legend "Epiphany of Augustus"; the Greek word coincides with the Latin word "advent" generally used on coins. The history of this word "epiphany" goes back into the Hellenistic period, but I will merely point out the fact, without illustration: the observation is not new, but the new proofs available are very abundant.

A consideration of how παρουσία and other words which became its synonyms were used with reference to the coming of a ruler appears to indicate that a similar meaning is given to the word at Matt. 24:3, namely, that a sign is requested by which it would be possible to determine that the coming and subsequent presence of the great Ruler and King is near.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 25th, 2018, 6:18 pm

From another thread.
Bernd Strauss wrote:
August 24th, 2018, 11:51 am
I am gathering linguistic evidence which proves that the word παρουσία does not mean “presence” only but can also mean “coming” in certain contexts. Therefore, I am collecting instances from ancient Greek writings where the word is used in parallel with such words as ἔλευσις, ἔρχομαι, ἥκω in the contexts where it is evident that the word refers to a coming rather than a presence. This evidence can be used in support of the correct view that at Mt 24:3, the word means “coming.”
Often the simplest approach is to go to a lexicon that already lists the senses of a word and gives examples of each sense.

I think there is good information in this thread, including BDAG, which Barry quotes:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 28th, 2014, 12:29 pm
From BDAG:

① the state of being present at a place, presence (Aeschyl. et al.; Herm. Wr. 1, 22; OGI 640, 7, SIG 730, 14; Did.; cp. Hippol., Ref. 7, 32, 8 ‘existence’) 1 Cor 16:17; Phil 2:12 (opp. ἀπουσία). ἡ π. τοῦ σώματος ἀσθενής his bodily presence is weak i.e. when he is present in person, he appears to be weak 2 Cor 10:10.—Of God (Jos., Ant. 3, 80; 203; 9, 55) τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ δείγματα proofs of his presence Dg 7:9 (cp. Diod S 3, 66, 3 σημεῖα τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ θεοῦ; 4, 24, 1).
② arrival as the first stage in presence, coming, advent (Soph., El. 1104; Eur., Alc. 209; Thu. 1, 128, 5. Elsewh. mostly in later wr.: Polyb. 22, 10, 14; Demetr.: 722 Fgm. 11, 18 Jac.; Diod S 15, 32, 2; 19, 64, 6; Dionys. Hal. 1, 45, 4; ins, pap; Jdth 10:18; 2 Macc 8:12; 15:21; 3 Macc 3:17; TestAbr A 2 p. 78, 26 [Stone p. 4]; Jos., Bell. 4, 345, Vi. 90; Tat. 39, 3).


Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

I suggest looking up each of the instances and asking the question "which usage sounds better in this context?"
Mounce's lexicon gives this definition:
presence, 2 Cor. 10:10; Phil. 2:12; a coming, arrival, advent, Phil. 1:26; Mt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 15:23
If you click on the link, Mounce also shows his translation of each instance. You can click on the following to see SBLGNT and ESV for each of the instances he cites as "coming, arrival, advent":

Passages with the sense "coming, arrival, advent"
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Bernd Strauss
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Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Bernd Strauss » August 26th, 2018, 6:53 am

Often the simplest approach is to go to a lexicon that already lists the senses of a word and gives examples of each sense.
This is one of the first sources to consult. The reason why I have been doing searches in Greek databases is because such searches allow to be more specific in finding instances of the word παρουσία with the meaning “coming.” While lexicons may list only the texts where the word occurs alone without synonymous words in the same context, a proximity search for the words παρουσία and ἔρχομαι yields many results where the words are used together in the same contexts where it is evident that the writer is speaking of a coming rather than presence. For example:

Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, lecture 15, extract from section 4: “Παρέρχεται τοίνυν τὰ φαινόμενα, καὶ ἔρχεται τὰ προςδοκώμενα τὰ τούτων καλλίονα. ἀλλὰ τὸν καιρὸν μηδεὶς πολυπραγμονείτω. οὐ γὰρ ὑμῶν, φησίν, ἐστὶ γνῶναι χρόνους ἢ καιρούς, οὓς ἔθετο ὁ πατὴρ ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ. καὶ μὴ τολμήσῃς ἀποφήνασθαι τὸ πότε ταῦτα γίνεται, μήτε πάλιν ὕπτιος κοιμηθῇς. ἀγρυπνεῖτε γάρ φησιν, ὅτι ᾗ ὥρᾳ οὐ δοκεῖτε ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἔρχεται. Ἀλλ' ἐπειδὴ ἔδει ἡμᾶς γνῶναι τῆς συντελείας τὰ σημεῖα καὶ ἐπειδὴ Χριστὸν προσδοκῶμεν, ἵνα μὴ ἀποθάνωμεν ἀπατηθέντες καὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ ψευδοῦς Ἀντιχρίστου πλανηθῶμεν, θείᾳ προαιρέσει κινηθέντες κατ' οἰκονομίαν οἱ ἀπόστολοι προσέρχονται τῷ ἀληθινῷ διδασκάλῳ καί φασιν· εἰπὲ ἡμῖν, πότε ταῦτα ἔσται, καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον τῆς σῆς παρουσίας καὶ τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος. προσδοκῶμέν σε πάλιν ἐρχόμενον.”

Translation from William Telfer’s Cyril of Jerusalem and Nemesius of Emesa: “Visible things will pass away and be replaced by a fairer order for which we look. But let none start investigating to find out when. For our Lord says, “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Be neither rash enough to venture an opinion when these things will come to pass, nor careless enough to go to sleep. For the Lord says, “Watch, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” However, we need to know the signs of the coming of the end, and we are to look for Christ, or we shall either die disappointed or be led astray by that false antichrist. For that reason the apostles were providentially moved, by the will of God, to approach the teacher of truth and say, “Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world.” In other words, we look for thy coming again.”

In the text, the writer uses the words παρουσία and ἔρχομαι synonymously with reference to the same coming. It is clear that in this instance, the word παρουσία is not used only with the meaning “presence.”
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » August 26th, 2018, 12:05 pm

Carl Conrad wrote:
For my part, I rather think we are beating a dead horse in this thread. Our fundamental concern here is not with how the translators have interpreted the texts and in what percentages they have favored particular interpretations, but rather with the reasons that we can adduce in support of an interpretation of the Greek text. That is to say, our concern is with the Greek text as a Greek text, not with justification or invalidation of what the translators have done with the Greek text.
And now years later this is an attempt to exhume the dead horse.

The notion that all one needs is a keyword into a lexicon to do lexical semantics is taken directly from "Bible Study 101" we might as well just revert to Strong's numbers and avoid any pretense of reading Greek. For well over a decade I was part of the bible study subculture before taking up biblical greek. Very familiar with that methodology.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 26th, 2018, 2:28 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 12:05 pm
And now years later this is an attempt to exhume the dead horse.
I wasn't trying to dig up that part, but there is good lexical discussion in this thread. I didn't want to have to repeat all that for Bernd.
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 12:05 pm
The notion that all one needs is a keyword into a lexicon to do lexical semantics is taken directly from "Bible Study 101" we might as well just revert to Strong's numbers and avoid any pretense of reading Greek.
Feel free to contribute information that will lead us on the right path. But starting with a solid lexicon is a good first step since few of us are professional lexicographers and they often know what they are doing.

But can I ask you a favor? Can we make this a friendly place to explore the question together? We can't get beyond this starting point if you shut down the conversation.
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