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A Variant Reading in 1Th 2:7

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  • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
    To: GPG Cc: WSW, Synoptic On: A Reading in 1 Th 2:7 From: Bruce Principled judicial dissent (I am thinking of Holmes, and lately of Brandeis) occupies somewhat
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 30, 2010
      To: GPG
      Cc: WSW, Synoptic
      On: A Reading in 1 Th 2:7
      From: Bruce

      Principled judicial dissent (I am thinking of Holmes, and lately of
      Brandeis) occupies somewhat the same position in American political
      life as virtuous remonstrance did, or tried to do, in Chinese
      antiquity. The nearest NT equivalent I find is the dissent of Bruce
      Metzger and Allen Wikgren ? two out of five ? in the matter of the
      Western Non-Interpolations (quaint term) in Luke and Matthew. See
      both editions of Metzger?s commentary on the UBS text. They certainly
      have the better of it. Another point at which those two registered a
      signed dissent from their brethren was in the matter of 1Th 2:7, the
      choice being between NHPIOI ?babes? and HPIOI ?gentle.? The majority
      view favored NHPIOI ?babes,? due to ?the stronger external
      attestation? in Vaticanus, not to mention Sinaiticus, Bezae, Ephraemi
      Rescriptus, and some others, including the Latin Vulgate. So
      interpreted, the resulting context would read:

      ?Nor did we seek glory from men, whether from you or from others,
      though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ, but we were
      babes among you, like a nurse taking care of her children. So, being
      affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you, not
      only the Gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had
      become very dear to us.? [1Th 2:6-8, RSV adjusted]

      Metzger notes that the choice, scribally, is between dittography from
      the preceding word, EGENHQHMEN (an original HPIOI picking up an
      initial n- by contact) and haplography (elimination of one of the two
      successive N). Considerations that seemed to the Committee majority
      evenly balanced were the following: (1) NHPIOI is more common in Paul
      (more than a dozen times), whereas HPIOI recurs in the NT only in 2Tm
      2:24, ?yet the apostle always applies NHPIOI to his converts, and
      nowhere else refers to himself as a NHPIOS.? (2) ?Again, though the
      shift of metaphor from that of babe to that of mother-nurse is
      admittedly a violent one, it is characteristically Pauline and no more
      startling than the sudden shift of metaphor in Ga 4:19.? These
      arguments are in fact not evenly balanced. ?Babe? in Paul is always
      and consistently a metaphor for one needing religious or other
      instruction; it is contrasted with the adult who needs no tutorship or
      guardian. As for the supposedly violent shift of metaphor in Ga 4:19,
      here is that passage:

      ?My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be
      formed in you!? [Ga 4:19, RSV].

      [For the record, in both 1Th 2:7 and Ga 4:19, the word for ?children,?
      those for whom Paul either directly or metaphorically feels
      solicitous, is TEKNA].

      I see no violent shift, in fact no shift at all, in Ga 4:19. The
      metaphor is dramatic, portraying Paul as a mother in labor, not once
      but twice, until the children are fully formed and viable in the
      world. It is surprising, if one likes to say to. But there is no
      shift: Paul in both parts of the sentence sees himself as the mother,
      and the Galatian converts as his children, a comparison which Paul
      frequently uses. Therefore, the evidence cited by the Committee in
      support of a deadlock which is to be broken by the thought that
      Vaticanus is the best text, does not suggest a deadlock, it suggests a
      situation which favors the reading HPIOI. So does the phonetic
      plausibility of an attracted ?n, if the scribe is pronouncing his text
      as he writes (a thing many of us do).

      Metzger goes on to argue that ?Despite the weight of external
      evidence, only HPIOI seems to suit the context, where the apostle?s
      gentleness makes an appropriate sequence with the arrogance disclaimed
      in v6.? In fact, so outrageously counterintuitive is the reading
      ?babes? that the RSV, and indeed the English text printed with the
      UBS4 interlinear Greek text, both read ?gentle? and not ?babes.?

      So what?

      Well, these minute deliberations can sometimes have their
      consequences, one way or another. One lengthy consequence is before
      me, in the form of Herbert M Gale, The Use of Analogy in the Letters
      of Paul (Westminster 1964). His first example is precisely 1Th 2:7.
      Based on the reading ?babes? in that passage, he goes on, throughout
      the book, to argue that Paul?s use of metaphors etc is often radically
      divorced from the implied reality, and indeed each usage from the
      others. Gale makes much of shifts of metaphor within one sentence, of
      which again the ?babes? of 1Th 2:7 is the prime example. He argues
      that we as readers are not entitled to draw anything of an
      interpretive inference from them. ?Babes? runs like a Wagnerian motif
      through the book; the final few pages of Conclusion are marbled with
      ?babe? fat. The whole thing is erected on the insecure foundation of
      one outrageous and attention-getting but nevertheless probably
      inferior reading.

      The text must be good before the sermon can be anything at all. The
      basics cannot be skipped; if nobody previously has done them, then the
      intending author must take them on. There is no third reputable


      We might follow Metzger?s data a little further. He had argued for the
      rare word HPIOI ?gentle? in 1Th. The only other instance of this word
      in the NT is at 2 Timothy 2:24, ?and the Lord?s servant must not be
      quarrelsome, but kindly [HPION] to everyone, an apt teacher, patient,
      correcting opponents with gentleness.? The contrast between the
      overbearing and the gentle teacher is the same as in 1Th. And the
      rare word characterizing the good teacher is the same.

      The next to last word on this and the other Pastorals has been said by
      P N Harrison, whose painstaking and protracted study of those and
      related texts deserved better from its several printers. His
      conclusion, resolving the paradox that some parts of these epistles
      are highly Pauline in language, and other parts are radically
      non-Pauline, but belong instead to the common Greek vocabulary of the
      early 2c, is that someone has used some genuine but merely personal
      notes of Paul, preserved we know not how, as the basis for church
      guidance memoranda written in the time of Trajan. Harrison?s work is
      not easy to read, or thus to summarize, but the relevant fact (dug out
      after 90 minutes more careful study than it should have taken) is that
      he finds that 2Tm, though based in spots on, and there simply
      incorporating, genuine Pauline material, has large areas of added and
      linguistically distinct material, and that 2Tm 2:24 falls in this
      latter category. The sentence in question, then, is not by Paul. But
      it may well be intentionally copying an obviously distinctive word
      from what the writer knew was a genuine letter of Paul, to give his
      work (for an audience who also knew the letters of Paul) a greater
      linguistic plausibility and acceptance.

      If so, then 2Tm as we have it is an early witness to the presence of
      HPIOI (rather than NHPIOI) in 1Th.

      Harrison does not include this cross-reference in the marginalia to
      his Greek text of the three Pastorals. (He does mention 1 Cor 7:22
      where the phrase ?servant of the Lord? also occurs). I thus suggest it
      as a new item. It slightly strengthens Metzger?s case, and it slightly
      adds to our sense of how the maker of 2Tm went about his business.

      Respectfully suggested,


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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