συζωοποιέω; Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
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Scott Lawson
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συζωοποιέω; Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13

Post by Scott Lawson »

Bart Ehrman opines that 2 Timothy was not written by Paul and one reason he gives is that in Ephesians 2:1-5 Paul believes in a resurrection of sorts that is currently underway in his time and that the writer of 2 Timothy does not.

I note that a key word in Paul's discussion in Ephesians 2:1-5 is συζωοποιέω. It seems to be a word coined by Paul and only used in Christian literature. The definition given in BDAG is "make alive together with someone" and is found only in two places in the New Testament; Ephesians 2:5
Col. 2:13. The word is taken to be a composite of two words; the preposition συν and ζωοποιέω with the word ζωοποιέω being composed of ζωός + ποιέω meaning "make alive" with the result that συζωοποιέω is seen to mean "make alive with". However, I wonder if there isn't another possible construction for συζωοποιέω;
συζάω and ποιέω. The meaning of συζάω contains the idea of "live with someone" and it is used in the Shepherd of Hermas, Mandate 4, 1:9 in the context of living with a sinner and in other writings with the idea of bodyguards living with the king.
It is found at Romans 6:8; 2 Corinthians 7:3 and 2 Timothy 2:13.

With that in mind if it turns out that the meaning of συζωοποιέω could have the meaning of "cause to live with/together" what would that mean for the text in question (Ephesians 2:1-5)? Here is where I can use some help from more experienced readers of Greek. The main verb is so far removed from some of the important descriptors that it seems to me to minimize some of the contextual features that seem to become more salient in the English translation. In particular the very opening phrase of verse 1 "Καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν" but which is repeated before the main verb but with the personal pronoun ἡμᾶς (we) instead of the initial ὑμᾶς (ya'll). But in its repetition it again brings this important phrase to the foreground, so...the contrast of ὄντας νεκροὺς (being dead) with συζωοποιέω (made alive with) makes sense. But is it possible that the more complete phrase ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν (being dead in your sins) is evoking the image of the leprous walking dead who may be dwelling singly or as an outcast community are now συζωοποιέω (being made to dwell) with Christ? They are also elevated and seated in exalted positions (ἐπουρανίοις see Eph. 6:12 for evidence this word need not always refer to a position in heaven) because of the undeserved honor of "being made to dwell" with Christ.

Colossians 2:13 is easier reading and presents much the same thought. It also, presents a further reason for not being worthy to dwell (in the holy camp? temple?) with him; their uncircumcised state.
So rather than speaking of being made alive with the Christ (in some spiritual/symbolic way) Paul is perhaps making a different point; that they were being made to dwell with the Christ. Certainly the NT presents both God and Christ as proving to be in their midst, dwelling in the spiritual temple made up of spirit begotten Christians.
Scott Lawson
Stephen Carlson
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Re: συζωοποιέω; Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13

Post by Stephen Carlson »

The set up for this post is confusing because Ehrman doesn't think that Paul wrote Ephesians or Colossians either. I submit that issues of authorship are off-topic for B-Greek as well.

If the word is indeed coined, then its compositional meaning should be fairly transparent to others. The prefix συν- often expresses a comitative meaning when added to an existing verb (here, ζωοποιεῖν, e.g. Gal 3:21), hence be made alive with Christi. I'm not aware of ποιεῖν being used to make compounds with other verbs as proposed.

Also, I'm having difficulty with the context, which seems to be contrasting spiritual death (ὄντας νεκροὺς) with spiritual life, rather than different kinds of living or dwelling.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia
Scott Lawson
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Joined: June 9th, 2011, 6:36 pm

Re: συζωοποιέω; Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13

Post by Scott Lawson »

Stephen! Thanks for you reply! I guess I must have somehow misunderstood Ehrman's exact argument. But as you say this is not the best forum for discussing authorship.

Thanks for your observations on the composition of συζωοποιέω. It gives me more to chew on!
Scott Lawson
Stephen Hughes
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συζωοποιεῖν v. συζῇν

Post by Stephen Hughes »

These verbs have the same meaning, so far as I can tell. συζωοποιεῖν (τίνα τινί) is a transitive verb, while συζῇν (τινί) is intransitive.

Peeling to the core, it seems your question is,
Can a verb meaning "cause to live together" be created by adding -ποιεῖν to συζῇν, and
can the extra meaning that (you found in a passage and) συζῇν has ("live in the same house") be brought with it?
Let's consider a few things:
  1. How compounds of -ποιεῖν are formed (are they formed from verbs?)
  2. Did Greek need one? (or was there already a verb meaaning that?)
Just from looking through Perseus, it seems that combinations with -ποιεῖν are formed by adding nominal / adjectival forms. Aside from forms with preposotions, it seems that all compounds are with -ο-ποιεῖν (with a thematic vowel).

That is to say, that if you wanted to add ζῇν, you would need to change it to ζωο- first, then add it. So yes, the verb would be formed in that way, but it already exists and would be straight away confused with it. As for bringing the (specific) meaning of συζῇν (that you found in one passage), that might be a little more difficult. ζωή is the type of life you have inside yourself. συμβιοῦν doesn't have a cognate causative form.

The verb συνοικίζειν "make to live with" (cf. συνοικεῖν) is available, with the meaning of cause to live (dwell) todether.

Back to talking about texts not talking about language.
For the verses in which they are used, I think sometimes people want to use transitive verbs, and sometimes they want to use intransitive ones. It depends what what perspective you're looking at it from, and what other verbs the authours are trying to work into a sentence.

συζωοποιεῖν (transitive - God doing it)
Epesians 2:4-9 wrote: δὲ θεός, πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζῳοποίησεν τῷ χριστῷ — χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι σεσῳσμένοι — καὶ συνήγειρεν , καὶ συνεκάθισεν ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· ἵνα ἐνδείξηται ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις τὸν ὑπερβάλλοντα πλοῦτον τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἐν χρηστότητι ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς ἐν χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ τῆς πίστεως , καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν· θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται.
These verses are in contrast to all the other chopping and changing of subject in the previous verses, now everything is God doing it.
Colosians 2:13-15 wrote:Καὶ ὑμᾶς, νεκροὺς ὄντας ἐν τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν, συνεζῳοποίησεν ὑμᾶς σὺν αὐτῷ, χαρισάμενος ἡμῖν πάντα τὰ παραπτώματα, ἐξαλείψας τὸ καθ’ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον τοῖς δόγμασιν, ὃ ἦν ὑπεναντίον ἡμῖν· καὶ αὐτὸ ἦρκεν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου, προσηλώσας αὐτὸ τῷ σταυρῷ· ἀπεκδυσάμενος τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας, ἐδειγμάτισεν ἐν παρρησίᾳ, θριαμβεύσας αὐτοὺς ἐν αὐτῷ.
Again, from the point of view of what God is doing (has done).

συζῇν (intransitive - us)
Romans 6:8 wrote:Εἰ δὲ ἀπεθάνομεν (intransitive) σὺν χριστῷ, πιστεύομεν ὅτι καὶ συζήσομεν αὐτῷ·
2 Corinthians 7:3 wrote:Οὐ πρὸς κατάκρισιν λέγω· προείρηκα γάρ, ὅτι ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν ἐστὲ εἰς τὸ συναποθανεῖν (intransitive) καὶ συζῇν.
2 Timothy 2:11 wrote:Πιστὸς ὁ λόγος· εἰ γὰρ συναπεθάνομεν (intransitive), καὶ συζήσομεν·
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)
Scott Lawson
Posts: 363
Joined: June 9th, 2011, 6:36 pm

Re: συζωοποιέω; Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13

Post by Scott Lawson »

Stephen Hughes! Thank you so much for the heavy lifting of searching out more fully an answer to my question! I am fully satisfied with Stephen Carlson's observation that verbs don't compound in the way I suggested.
Scott Lawson
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