Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

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dougknighton
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Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

Post by dougknighton » August 17th, 2018, 3:09 pm

γινώσκετε γὰρ τὴν χάριν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ [Χριστοῦ], ὅτι δι᾽ ὑμᾶς ἐπτώχευσεν πλούσιος ὤν, ἵνα ὑμεῖς τῇ ἐκείνου πτωχείᾳ πλουτήσητε. 2 Corinthians 8:9

Is there anything in the syntax of the clause beginning with ὅτι that tells us to construe the participial phrase πλούσιος ὤν as concessive? All of the major English translations render it as concessive: "though" he was rich, "yet" he became poor ... Is this a linguistic issue or just a hermeneutical one?

If χάριν indicates the activity that originates in the joy of Jesus and aims to create a corresponding joy in the Corinthians, how can πλούσιος ὤν indicate a concessive idea? Wouldn't that phrase indicate the reason he is able to give enough to make the Corinthians rich?
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » August 17th, 2018, 3:39 pm

NA27 2Cor. 8:9 γινώσκετε γὰρ τὴν χάριν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅτι δι᾿ ὑμᾶς ἐπτώχευσεν πλούσιος ὤν, ἵνα ὑμεῖς τῇ ἐκείνου πτωχείᾳ πλουτήσητε.
Is there anything in the syntax of the clause beginning with ὅτι that tells us to construe the participial phrase πλούσιος ὤν as concessive?
The short answer is no. IMHO, the only thing interesting in the syntax is the placement of πλούσιος ὤν after the verb ἐπτώχευσεν.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 17th, 2018, 6:36 pm

dougknighton wrote:
August 17th, 2018, 3:09 pm
Is this a linguistic issue or just a hermeneutical one?
The latter. Concessive interpretations come about when the information is counter to expectation. For example, rich people are not expected to become poor, but ...
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dougknighton
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Re: Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

Post by dougknighton » August 18th, 2018, 2:26 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
August 17th, 2018, 3:39 pm
IMHO, the only thing interesting in the syntax is the placement of πλούσιος ὤν after the verb ἐπτώχευσεν.
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Would this be a very dramatic way of creating a relative clause that contrasts Jesus' wealth by smashing the verb 'became poor' against the adjective 'wealthy'?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 18th, 2018, 3:46 pm

dougknighton wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 2:26 pm
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
August 17th, 2018, 3:39 pm
IMHO, the only thing interesting in the syntax is the placement of πλούσιος ὤν after the verb ἐπτώχευσεν.
Would this be a very dramatic way of creating a relative clause that contrasts Jesus' wealth by smashing the verb 'became poor' against the adjective 'wealthy'?
I think this parallelism is at the heart of it.
ὅτι
δι’
ὑμᾶς
ἐπτώχευσεν
πλούσιος ὤν,

ἵνα
ὑμεῖς
τῇ ἐκείνου πτωχείᾳ
πλουτήσητε.
The particular phrase you are looking at is a simple apposition:

δι’ ὑμᾶς ἐπτώχευσεν -- πλούσιος ὤν

I don't think it's complicated Greek, but it doesn't seem to have survived well in most English translations.
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timothy_p_mcmahon
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Re: Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » August 19th, 2018, 7:36 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 3:46 pm
The particular phrase you are looking at is a simple apposition:

δι’ ὑμᾶς ἐπτώχευσεν -- πλούσιος ὤν
Do you mean parallelism? I've always understood apposition as describing two words/phrases which specify the same referent.

Whatever the nomenclature, thanks for pointing out this structure.
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Re: Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

Post by dougknighton » August 19th, 2018, 11:47 pm

I think “parallelism” is the term Jonathan was looking for too, a structural parallelism of terms not grammar … Jonathan, you say this text has not been handled well in the English translations. So here’s one that tries to honor the parallel structure he outlined, even though the order needs to be reversed to make it good English:
You know the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ: namely,
he who is rich became poor for you,
so that
you could become rich through his poverty.
Or, did you have something else in mind?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

Post by Jonathan Robie » August 20th, 2018, 10:22 am

dougknighton wrote:
August 19th, 2018, 11:47 pm
I think “parallelism” is the term Jonathan was looking for too, a structural parallelism of terms not grammar … Jonathan, you say this text has not been handled well in the English translations. So here’s one that tries to honor the parallel structure he outlined, even though the order needs to be reversed to make it good English:
You know the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ: namely,
he who is rich became poor for you,
so that
you could become rich through his poverty.
Yes, I think that honors the parallelism better.

Here's an alternative that tries to mirror the original order more directly:
that
for
you
he became poor,
though he was rich,

so that
you,
through his poverty,
might become rich.
ὅτι
δι’
ὑμᾶς
ἐπτώχευσεν
πλούσιος ὤν,

ἵνα
ὑμεῖς
τῇ ἐκείνου πτωχείᾳ
πλουτήσητε.
Here, I said "was rich" rather than "is rich" because I am taking the absolute time from ἐπτώχευσεν. I added "though", which is obviously not stated in the Greek. I also tried doing this with punctuation without adding the word:

he became poor (he was rich), so that you, through his poverty ...
he became poor -- he was rich! -- so that you, through is poverty ...

Translation is hard.
timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:
August 19th, 2018, 7:36 pm
Jonathan Robie wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 3:46 pm
The particular phrase you are looking at is a simple apposition:

δι’ ὑμᾶς ἐπτώχευσεν -- πλούσιος ὤν
Do you mean parallelism? I've always understood apposition as describing two words/phrases which specify the same referent.
Hmmm, nice catch. That's not apposition, I would treat this as a verb with two adjuncts:

+ δι’ ὑμᾶς
v ἐπτώχευσεν
+ πλούσιος ὤν
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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dougknighton
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Re: Construing the participle in 2 Corinthians 8:9

Post by dougknighton » August 22nd, 2018, 3:20 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
August 20th, 2018, 10:22 am
he became poor (he was rich), so that you, through his poverty ...
he became poor -- he was rich! -- so that you, through is poverty ...
Translation is hard.
Jonathan, thanks for engaging with this ... Yes, translation is hard!
I like your second iteration best (--he was rich!--). It avoids the (to me) unwarranted concessive idea contained in the addition of "though." It allows the reader to understand two aspects of the grace of Christ which the ὅτι construction introduces: 1) that they have received a lot and 2) that his wealth is the reason he can give so much.
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