Thursday, January 29, 2009

What is Paul telling his readers to do in Phil. 3.2?

In my Intermediate Greek II class we're translating Philippians; you can follow along (and even participate) over at my wiki, GreekBible. While we've been having a number of conversations (some more interesting than others), I haven't really thought to post very many of them here. This one, however, I'd like to solicit view points from a wider group. So here's my comments and my question about Phil. 3.2:

We won't get very far at all translating Philippians 3 if we don't get βλέπετε right. Sumney (2007: 70–71) renders the three-fold imperatives "Consider [x]" on the basis of syntactical evidence (viz., in every instance of the imperative βλέπετε with an accusative, it means "look at, consider"). O'Brien (1991: 353–354) insists that "the present context is urgent and, superficially at least, appears as a warning" (354, ftn 42) and so translates βλέπετε as "Beware of [x]."

I'm not so sure that Sumney's argument is very persuasive. Βλέπετε + acc. occurs, in the Pauline corpus, at 1 Cor. 1.26; 10.18 and 2 Cor. 10.7, in which the usage here supports his point. Even so, I'm not sure this evidence means that Paul cannot be using βλέπετε + acc. in the sense of "watch out for." And yet I agree with his conclusion, in part because I'm not sure the "urgency" O'Brien finds here at the beginning of chap. 3 is really there. Having just exhorted is readers, χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ, Paul may be holding up non-Christian Jews as an example of people who do not rejoice or who are otherwise not very popular in the regions surrounding Philippi (cf. Acts 16). In that case, the whole of Philippians 3 isn't a warning but a contrast.

This is why I think it's so important for us to consider how we render βλέπετε (pun intended): This will determine what we think is going on in the rest of the chapter. If "Beware of," then dark clouds have come over the otherwise encouraging and joyful epistle to the Philippians. if "Consider," then the encouraged and joyful Philippians are contrasted with figures whom Paul does not consider very joyful. The answer to this question, then, will depend in large part on how each reading jives with the rest of the chapter. So . . . which do you think fits better?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SECSOR meeting (13–15 Mar 2009)

If you're planning on attending the 2009 SECSOR meeting (Chapel Hill, NC), and you're looking for someone to share a room with, leave a comment below and some way to contact you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Purchases (pt. II)

Much to my wife's chagrin, I haven't been able to avoid the stack of nearly-free books residing outside our bookstore. I've already commented on my last three purchases. This morning I gave in and purchased a fourth text:

Thiselton, Anthony C. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.

I paid $9.83 [best price on $52.19]

the beginning of classes

Today is the first day of the Spring 2009 semester at Johnson Bible College. I wish all our students a successful and challenging four months. I am blessed to be teaching two sections of Elementary Greek II and one section of Intermediate Greek II (along with my Graduate online courses). Besides my course load I am working on a book on Christian origins and the Parting of the Ways (more later, I hope) and putting the finishing touches on Structuring Early Christian Memory (T&T Clark, hopefully in time for SBL 2009). I'm also taking a Hebrew class here on campus, and I've started working my way through an Attic Greek grammar. So a lot's going on this spring. Here's to propitious beginnings . . .

Friday, January 09, 2009


As I walked to my office earlier today I went through the Gally Commons, the building on our campus that houses primarily our dining facilities (not our cafeteria, I have been told), our mailroom, and our bookstore. As I made my way past the bookstore, I noticed a cart out front loaded with discounted books. I picked up three commentaries for a grand total of $30.93, and I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself. Today I bought:

Dunn, James D. G. The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996.

I paid $10.00 [best price on $29.99]

Lincoln, Andrew T. Ephesians. Word Biblical Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990.

I paid $10.00 [best price on $18.74]

O'Brien, Peter T. The Epistle to the Philippians. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.

I paid $10.93 [best price on $29.99]

My Visual Bookshelf