Friday, January 12, 2007

Another punctuation question: 1 Cor 16.3

I am wondering whether in 1 Cor 16.3 I should take DI EPISTOLWN with the immediately preceding phrase, resulting in something like: 'those whom you have approved by letters, these men I shall send to carry your gift to Jerusalem'; or whether, with NA27, DI EPISTOLWN may be taken with Paul's own action: 'those whom you have approved, I shall send with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem.'

In favour of the latter option may be the fact that Paul will have arrived in Corinth himself (16.3 first phrase), so can be given a personal and verbal recommendation, no letter of recommendation is needed for him (although perhaps it might be thought that the letters of recommendation were from the church in Corinth to Christians in Jerusalem). In v4 he appears to be uncertain as to whether he would be able to accompany them, so letters of recommendation from Paul would have been appropriate.

Any thoughts on the punctuation in the manuscripts? Or the exegetical issues?


  1. While Souter punctuates DI' EPISTOLWN with DOKIMASHTE, I think the idea of whether or not Paul would accompany them to Jerusalem makes the letters of recommendation something that he himself would author or authenticate by his own presence. This event is after the Apostolic Council yet the uncertain situation in Jerusalem of the Church probably still made the introduction of unknown persons a precarious situation which necessitated such letters from recognized figures. I, therefore, incline to punctuate DI' EPISTOLWN TOUTOUS PEMYW KTL.

    This was a very good question though. A problem that has plagued many commentators.


  2. Would δι᾽ ἐπιστολῶν go better with ἀπενεγκεῖν than πέμψω?
    "I will send them to bring your grace to Jerusalem by letters." I know this is essentially what you said. I am a little hesitant to give διά the value of accompaniment, and want to keep it to cause or means.

  3. Christian asked: "Would δι᾽ ἐπιστολῶν go better with ἀπενεγκεῖν than πέμψω?"
    I don't think so; this does preserve a more normal understanding of DIA; but doesn't make a lot of sense here, since the grace-gift is obviously something concrete which can only be transported in person (also the distance from the verb).

    This seems to be a grammatical sticking-point: if the DIA means cause or means, i.e. DI EPISTOLWN = 'by letter' (as BDAG; cf. 2 Thess 2.15; also citing this passage), then it would seem that taking it with DOKIMASHTE is the only option.
    But perhaps DIA could be used here in a loose type of 'attendant or prevailing circumstance' which often seems to be close to accompaniment.