Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβραβε

How do I work out the meaning of a Greek text? How can I best understand the forms and vocabulary in this particular text?
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby Marc Possoff » January 27th, 2013, 9:16 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Marc Possoff wrote:I'm a newby but with the sources I read this is the way I see it. I'm not familiar yet with linguistic terms.

First the shadows Paul is referring too is future tense. These shadows which are yet future are in relation to the 'don't let anyone judge you in...'

I looked in the Greek and there doesn't seem to be the word 'but' present as in 'but the substance is Christ'. From an English standpoint in my mind when I see the word 'but' it means that there is a contrast per se and/ or an opposition per se.

So 'the substance is Christ' if I'm correct that the word 'but' isn't present in the original Greek? If I'm correct then it makes for a different meaning of the text in my mind.


Once again, here's the Greek text:

ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ

The Greek word translated "but" is δέ. It is postpositive, which means that it usually appears as the second (and occasionally the third) word in its clause. It shows the relationship of the clause or sentence in which it's found to a previous clause or sentence, usually showing contrast or continuance. The articles in LSJ (Liddel-Scott Jones, the standard classical Greek lexicon) and BDAG (Bauer, sometimes still referred to as Arndt & Gingrich, the standard reference work for NT Greek), will give you plenty of information on the word. Here, it appears to me clearly to be contrast, especially because of the semantic contrast between σκιά and σῶμα.


You're right my bad. However according to my sources it can mean 'but' and also moreover, and etc.

Perseus Project;

I. but: conjunctive Particle, with adversative force: it commonly answers to μέν, and may often be rendered by while, whereas, on the other hand, v. μέν:— but μέν is often omitted, δέ being used merely to pass on from one thing to another; ὣς Ἀχιλεὺς θάμβησεν, θάμβησαν δὲ καὶ ἄλλοι Il.; etc.; κινεῖ κραδίην κινεῖ δὲ χόλον Eur.
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby Marc Possoff » January 27th, 2013, 9:33 am

Here's something interesting I found about the word σῶμα. The best definition that fits with the context of the text is;

that which casts a shadow as distinguished from the shadow itself.

Interesting. Christ is shadow caster in which the shadows are food, drink, sabbaths etc

The way I see the text is Paul is saying don't let anyone judge you in what you eat, drink etc because of the reality is that the shadow caster which is Christ is yet to come.
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby Iver Larsen » January 27th, 2013, 11:17 am

Daniel Gregg wrote:ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

I can see the possibility of apposition here, by carrying the verbal sense to introduce the next clause.

which things are a shadow of things coming, that is, [which things are] the body/substance of Christ
(is does not appear that accusative is needed in the last phrase, nom. will do, after all σκιὰ is nom.

This would be taking shadows as a reference to messianic typology, though I find it a rather esoteric way of expressing it.

I am having difficulty with the contrastive part. It would appear to me that δὲ would be explanatory, hence the "that is" above.

I'm not "locked"into my original proposal..that was just to get exploring this difficult phrase that looks like a fragment if it is made to stand alone,
and that is what I see in a lot of translations, where a verb is supplied, e.g. " but the body [is] Christ's"



γάρ is an explanatory discourse particle, but δὲ is not. It may introduce a background comment, but does not do so here. Neither LSJ nor BDAG have an adequate treatment of such discourse particles, because these resources go back to the time before discourse studies. As far as I can see BDAG has not been updated to take recent Greek discourse studies into account.

It is fine to assume an implicit ἐστιν in the second clause. It is very common that such a word is to be understood and carried over from the previous clause where it is explicit. In English, we often use the very general word "things" as in "the coming things" or "good things" etc. Greek does not really have a word that corresponds to English "things" in this general sense, and the concept is usually to be understood, especially in neuter constructions like here.

If we agree that σῶμα refers to substance/reality rather than body, then we could ask why the sentence was not written:
ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα Χριστός (ἐστιν). Paul has just mentioned the old covenant ritual laws and laws about Jewish festivals. All these things are called a shadow. But they are not just a shadow of Christ, but a shadow of the new order of things that Christ brought with the new covenant. Since we could add "things" in the first clause, I suggest we can add the same in the second: "But the reality [is the things] of Christ" . .
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby Daniel Gregg » January 27th, 2013, 12:24 pm

Very well then gentlemen, I am persuaded of the consensus, and realize I have tripped over the tendency to understand the genitive with the word "of" too quickly, which got in the way of seeing predication of the nominative clause with the genitive clause.

but the body [is] Christ: τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. ● The words τοῦ Χριστοῦ are in apposition to τὸ δὲ σῶμα.

Please do correct me if you think I am using any of these linguistic terms incorrectly.
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby Marc Possoff » January 27th, 2013, 4:02 pm

Iver Larsen wrote:
Daniel Gregg wrote:ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

I can see the possibility of apposition here, by carrying the verbal sense to introduce the next clause.

which things are a shadow of things coming, that is, [which things are] the body/substance of Christ
(is does not appear that accusative is needed in the last phrase, nom. will do, after all σκιὰ is nom.

This would be taking shadows as a reference to messianic typology, though I find it a rather esoteric way of expressing it.

I am having difficulty with the contrastive part. It would appear to me that δὲ would be explanatory, hence the "that is" above.

I'm not "locked"into my original proposal..that was just to get exploring this difficult phrase that looks like a fragment if it is made to stand alone,
and that is what I see in a lot of translations, where a verb is supplied, e.g. " but the body [is] Christ's"



γάρ is an explanatory discourse particle, but δὲ is not. It may introduce a background comment, but does not do so here. Neither LSJ nor BDAG have an adequate treatment of such discourse particles, because these resources go back to the time before discourse studies. As far as I can see BDAG has not been updated to take recent Greek discourse studies into account.

It is fine to assume an implicit ἐστιν in the second clause. It is very common that such a word is to be understood and carried over from the previous clause where it is explicit. In English, we often use the very general word "things" as in "the coming things" or "good things" etc. Greek does not really have a word that corresponds to English "things" in this general sense, and the concept is usually to be understood, especially in neuter constructions like here.

If we agree that σῶμα refers to substance/reality rather than body, then we could ask why the sentence was not written:
ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα Χριστός (ἐστιν). Paul has just mentioned the old covenant ritual laws and laws about Jewish festivals. All these things are called a shadow. But they are not just a shadow of Christ, but a shadow of the new order of things that Christ brought with the new covenant. Since we could add "things" in the first clause, I suggest we can add the same in the second: "But the reality [is the things] of Christ" . .


The ritual laws and Jewish festivals are shadows which we agree on. But Perseus project has a definition that fits the context of the text which implies that Christ is the one casting the shadows. The shadows are the ritual laws and Jewish festivals being cast by Christ.

Shadows= ritual laws, Jewish festivals

Christ= the one that's casting the ritual laws, Jewish festivals

Now the trick is to tie in the shadows and the one casting the shadows.

Look at it this way. I'm standing and see my shadow on the wall. I'm the reality, the shadow is of myself the reality.

Apply this to Christ. Christ is standing and what his shadow is are the ritual laws and Jewish festivals. Once the shadow is gone, then you only have Christ. The text implies a future tense. The shadows that Christ is casting are stil present because Paul says 'shadows of good things to come'.

Thinking out loud here.
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 27th, 2013, 4:43 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:The Greek word translated "but" is δέ. It is postpositive, which means that it usually appears as the second (and occasionally the third) word in its clause. It shows the relationship of the clause or sentence in which it's found to a previous clause or sentence, usually showing contrast or continuance. The articles in LSJ (Liddel-Scott Jones, the standard classical Greek lexicon) and BDAG (Bauer, sometimes still referred to as Arndt & Gingrich, the standard reference work for NT Greek), will give you plenty of information on the word. Here, it appears to me clearly to be contrast, especially because of the semantic contrast between σκιά and σῶμα.


Yes, δέ is a particle that signals a (mild) discontinuity in the discourse, usually one of contrast. Stephanie Black has a great monograph on this.

With the punctuation of the NA27, the contrast is between σκιά and σῶμα. With the proposal in the original post, the contrast would have to be between the main verbs κρινέτω in v.16 and καταβραβεύτω in v.18.
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby Marc Possoff » January 27th, 2013, 5:03 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:The Greek word translated "but" is δέ. It is postpositive, which means that it usually appears as the second (and occasionally the third) word in its clause. It shows the relationship of the clause or sentence in which it's found to a previous clause or sentence, usually showing contrast or continuance. The articles in LSJ (Liddel-Scott Jones, the standard classical Greek lexicon) and BDAG (Bauer, sometimes still referred to as Arndt & Gingrich, the standard reference work for NT Greek), will give you plenty of information on the word. Here, it appears to me clearly to be contrast, especially because of the semantic contrast between σκιά and σῶμα.


Yes, δέ is a particle that signals a (mild) discontinuity in the discourse, usually one of contrast. Stephanie Black has a great monograph on this.

With the punctuation of the NA27, the contrast is between σκιά and σῶμα. With the proposal in the original post, the contrast would have to be between the main verbs κρινέτω in v.16 and καταβραβεύτω in v.18.


From Perseus; " Since “δέ” is normallv used in a purely connective capacity, a decision between progressive and adversative “δέ” must often be arbitrary"
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 27th, 2013, 5:14 pm

Marc Possoff wrote:From Perseus; " Since “δέ” is normallv used in a purely connective capacity, a decision between progressive and adversative “δέ” must often be arbitrary"


Not sure why you're looking at the Slater's 1969 lexicon for Pindar, but a lot of relevant work on δέ and other connective particles has happened in the past forty years.
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby Daniel Gregg » January 27th, 2013, 7:10 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:The Greek word translated "but" is δέ. It is postpositive, which means that it usually appears as the second (and occasionally the third) word in its clause. It shows the relationship of the clause or sentence in which it's found to a previous clause or sentence, usually showing contrast or continuance. The articles in LSJ (Liddel-Scott Jones, the standard classical Greek lexicon) and BDAG (Bauer, sometimes still referred to as Arndt & Gingrich, the standard reference work for NT Greek), will give you plenty of information on the word. Here, it appears to me clearly to be contrast, especially because of the semantic contrast between σκιά and σῶμα.


Yes, δέ is a particle that signals a (mild) discontinuity in the discourse, usually one of contrast. Stephanie Black has a great monograph on this.

With the punctuation of the NA27, the contrast is between σκιά and σῶμα. With the proposal in the original post, the contrast would have to be between the main verbs κρινέτω in v.16 and καταβραβεύτω in v.18.


Yes, I see this,sometimes I try to lighten "but" by glossing "still"or "yet"....which speaking of δὲ I have seen some structure the sentence like this:

Μὴ οὖν τις ὑμᾶς κρινέτω (....), τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ
Do not let anyone judge you .....except the body of Christ.

The trouble is I cannot see except = δὲ. I'll consider a no reply to this post as confirmation that nobody else does either.
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Re: Col2:17b-2:18a τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβ

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » January 27th, 2013, 9:47 pm

Marc Possoff wrote:First the shadows Paul is referring too is future tense.

How so?
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