1 Corinthians 4:8

David Lee wrote: The author (both human and divine) would write in a way that the epistle could be understood by most readers, especially if it was meant to be passed around and read in different churches. I think languages have enough nuance that by using certain vocabulary, word order, and word patterns, a fluent immersed reader would be clear on what the epistle is saying, at least semantically.
The first statement of yours is an assumption, which may not be so easy to justify as you might have assumed. Your second statement is reasonable, but what if a rhetorical question and a rhetorical statement have almost exactly the same semantic meaning? Then there would be no need for the reader to attempt to distinguish between the two. Even in English not everything is a statement or a question... We see people using "...?", "?!", "!?!?" and so on, which seems to suggest that some exclamations are 'in-between'... Statistics: Posted by David Lim — May 16th, 2014, 5:18 am
 
David Lee wrote: What resources can I consult that tackle the question of how to recognize questions in greek?
Good luck with that. You can read the most detailed grammars in the world and they won't tell you the answer you want. It's ambiguous and you have to make a careful exegetical argument based on the context that reading a sentence as a question makes the sense of Paul's epistle. Statistics: Posted by Stephen Carlson — May 16th, 2014, 12:48 am
I don't think the epistles were written so that they could only be understood with the help of intonations of someone who was present during authorship. The author (both human and divine) would write in a way that the epistle could be understood by most readers, especially if it was meant to be passed around and read in different churches. I think languages have enough nuance that by using certain vocabulary, word order, and word patterns, a fluent immersed reader would be clear on what the epistle is saying, at least semantically. For a made up (but not necessarily wrong) example: the presence of ἤδη with 2nd person verbs, combined with the absence of δὲ, might have indicated to the fluent reader that these are questions. What resources can I consult that tackle the question of how to recognize questions in greek? Statistics: Posted by David Lee — May 15th, 2014, 8:46 pm
 
Stephen Carlson wrote: Well, the original recipient would have the letter read aloud. If the reader was the letter carrier on Paul's behalf, then he or she would know how to intone it.
Good point. But this also depends somewhat on the carrier being present or involved when the letter was penned. I don't recall anything in the letter that would indicate this definitively one way or another. If we assume that Sosthenes acted as the partial amanuensis and deliverer, it makes good sense. If perhaps the delegation in 16:17 returned with the letter, it may go either way. If a messenger of convenience were used, he might get it right or wrong. In any event, thanks for the thought. Statistics: Posted by Wes Wood — May 15th, 2014, 7:24 pm
 
David Lee wrote: Yes, but the recipients of the epistle would have unambiguously read it one way or the other.
Well, the original recipient would have the letter read aloud. If the reader was the letter carrier on Paul's behalf, then he or she would know how to intone it.
David Lee wrote: What cues are there (given that there are no punctuations in the original) that allow us to tell whether a phrase is a question or a statement? For example, in English, when we begin with "do you...", it's pretty clear that it's a question even though we don't hear the rest of the question or see the question mark.
The inversion of the subject and verb in English is a syntactic clue that there is a question. It does not work that way in Greek. There is no syntactic clue to be had. (I'm talking about yes-no questions. Of course, interrogative pronouns are a great clue that we have a question.) Statistics: Posted by Stephen Carlson — May 15th, 2014, 6:42 pm
Greek Majority Text shows commas (,), full stop (.), and colon (:), but no question marks (;). Charles Van der Pool's Apostolic Bible Polyglot shows only question marks (?). ESV shows only exclamation points (!). N-A1904 shows only colons (:). Berry's Interlinear GNT and N-A28 show commas (,) and colon (:). Rhetorical questions? Skepticisms? Proper pointing seems subjective. Statistics: Posted by Pat Ferguson — May 15th, 2014, 6:00 pm
I don't believe the audience would necessarily have "unambiguously" understood what is written here. We see examples almost daily of sarcastic or other types of conversational subtleties that are missed even with the benefit of nonverbal and verbal cues and intonations. I don't believe there is any definitive way to know in this or similar instances. I would suspect to find some degree of ambiguity present in all languages written or spoken. Statistics: Posted by Wes Wood — May 15th, 2014, 5:43 pm
Yes, but the recipients of the epistle would have unambiguously read it one way or the other. What cues are there (given that there are no punctuations in the original) that allow us to tell whether a phrase is a question or a statement? For example, in English, when we begin with "do you...", it's pretty clear that it's a question even though we don't hear the rest of the question or see the question mark. Statistics: Posted by David Lee — May 15th, 2014, 5:22 pm
 
David Lee wrote: Or more broadly, how can you tell if a positive phrase (lacking οὐκ/μὴ) is a question?
Presumably they could tell by the tone of voice, but without punctuation there's nothing in the writing system or syntax to convey it, except for the occasional and option particle. Statistics: Posted by Stephen Carlson — May 15th, 2014, 5:00 pm
I understand that in intent and effect that there's not much difference between a sarcastic statement and a rhetorical question. However, for my education, can you tell me how you can tell between the two semantically? Or more broadly, how can you tell if a positive phrase (lacking οὐκ/μὴ) is a question? Statistics: Posted by David Lee — May 15th, 2014, 1:38 pm
What Carl said... However, I simply wanted to point out that there is little difference in effect here between a rhetorical statement and a rhetorical question. There is nothing in the Greek per se which would suggest a question. It's more an issue of how the translator wants to express Paul's sarcasm in the target language. Statistics: Posted by Barry Hofstetter — May 15th, 2014, 7:30 am
 
David Lee wrote: 1 Corinthians 4:8 says:
ἤδη κεκορεσμένοι ἐστέ ἤδη ἐπλουτήσατε χωρὶς ἡμῶν ἐβασιλεύσατε καὶ ὄφελόν γε ἐβασιλεύσατε ἵνα καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν συνβασιλεύσωμεν
Most English translations take the short phrases to be sarcastic statements ...I was wondering if those phrases could be questions instead, like such:
Have you been filled? Are you now rich? Have you started reigning without us?
After pondering the question for a while, I am inclined to think that there's not really much difference, if there's any, between a rhetorical question and a sarcastic statement; the sarcastic statement seems to imply deep skepticism about the assertion and to carry a tacit "nest-ce pas?" with it: ἤδη κεκορεσμένοι ἐστέ ἤδη ἐπλουτήσατε: "You're altogether sated (aren't you?)! You've gotten rich (haven't you?)! I've noted heretofore in this forum that I sense a similar sarcastic hint in the "Thanksgiving" part of this letter:
1 Cor 1.4ff. wrote: Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 5 ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει, 6 καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν, 7 ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ·
There's hardly another letter of Paul so rich in rhetorical power as this one. Statistics: Posted by cwconrad — May 15th, 2014, 7:20 am
1 Corinthians 4:8 says:
ἤδη κεκορεσμένοι ἐστέ ἤδη ἐπλουτήσατε χωρὶς ἡμῶν ἐβασιλεύσατε καὶ ὄφελόν γε ἐβασιλεύσατε ἵνα καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν συνβασιλεύσωμεν
Most English translations take the short phrases to be sarcastic statements: NASB:
You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.
ESV:
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!
NIV:
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!
I was wondering if those phrases could be questions instead, like such: Have you been filled? Are you now rich? Have you started reigning without us? In fact, it seems like Wescott-Hort 1885 has question marks in there:
ἤδη κεκορεσμένοι ἐστέ; ἤδη ἐπλουτήσατε; χωρὶς ἡμῶν ἐβασιλεύσατε; καὶ ὄφελόν γε ἐβασιλεύσατε, ἵνα καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν συνβασιλεύσωμεν.
Statistics: Posted by David Lee — May 14th, 2014, 7:09 pm

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20 thoughts on “1 Corinthians 4:8

  1. Bible study tonight with the Lutheran’s it was nice to hear ’em talk about the dry bones. And ask what it meant.
    Sometimes you just gotta shut up and be nice.
    I’ll look up the verse but I don’t remember God asking me anything.

  2. Well it was never a topic of interest. I’m not sure it is now. I’ve been spared quite a bit. I have a good pastor. You know that man preached against pride and for humility for ten years. I asked when are you going preach something else? He said “when you get it”

  3. Troy Day says:

    Question from OP: NIV:
    Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!

  4. So if I understand correctly, Paul is saying he wasn’t rich or looking to reign, (in the natural) apart from Jesus Christ.
    I would think that lines up with Psalm 110 and other N.T. verses of that type.

  5. There has to be a balance. I think we are to be salt and light as best we are able. Some are more able. I think of school teachers, judges, law makers, even governor’s and presidents, soldiers etc. We are to have some influence for Christ some influence for Jesus Christ and Righteousness.
    Obviously the role of the law and morality is a huge subject.
    But I don’t think we are to just be idle without voice or passion or works of a Christian nature, i.e. charity

  6. Bible study tonight with the Lutheran’s it was nice to hear ’em talk about the dry bones. And ask what it meant.
    Sometimes you just gotta shut up and be nice.
    I’ll look up the verse but I don’t remember God asking me anything.

  7. Well it was never a topic of interest. I’m not sure it is now. I’ve been spared quite a bit. I have a good pastor. You know that man preached against pride and for humility for ten years. I asked when are you going preach something else? He said “when you get it”

  8. Troy Day Troy Day says:

    Question from OP: NIV:
    Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!

  9. So if I understand correctly, Paul is saying he wasn’t rich or looking to reign, (in the natural) apart from Jesus Christ.
    I would think that lines up with Psalm 110 and other N.T. verses of that type.

  10. There has to be a balance. I think we are to be salt and light as best we are able. Some are more able. I think of school teachers, judges, law makers, even governor’s and presidents, soldiers etc. We are to have some influence for Christ some influence for Jesus Christ and Righteousness.
    Obviously the role of the law and morality is a huge subject.
    But I don’t think we are to just be idle without voice or passion or works of a Christian nature, i.e. charity

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