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A Precursor of the Nrsv?‘Sons and Daughters’ in 2 cor 6.18

  • John W. Olley (a1)

The phrase ‘sons and daughters’ in 2 Cor 6.18 provides the only instance of θυγάτηρ in all of the letters ascribed to Paul. It is argued that (1) the OT allusions in vv. 16–18 are from similar contexts of warning against combining the worship and service of God with that given to other gods, with (2) v. 18 being an echo of Deut 32.19, another instance of Paul's use of Deut 32. (3) Another influence is the OT practice, unlike that of the NT, of predominantly using both ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ in parenting and family contexts.

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1. From the preface, ‘To the Reader’, as in the 1990 edition published by Nelson, Nashville.

2 ‘Descendants’ is used when linked with Israel or Abraham.

3. The NRSV uses ‘brothers and sisters’ overwhelmingly in the letters (more than 80 times), but has ‘member(s)’ (of family or church) in Matthew (18.15 [2x], 21; 25.40; and also 1 Cor 8.12; Gal 1.2 and 1 Tim 6.2), and ‘believer(s)’ in Acts (15 times; only Acts 16.40 has ‘brothers and sisters’). ‘Believers’ is used only 11 times in letters (5 in a cluster, 1 Cor 6.5, 6 [2x], 8; 7.12; 8.11).

4 I do not include here verses such as Matt 15.22 where ‘son’ and ‘daughter’ refer to specific individuals.

5 The parallel in Luke 18.19–20 has only the masculine.

6 My colleague, Dr Richard Moore, first alerted me to the combination, ‘sons and daughters’, and its similarity to NRSV practice. I also have benefited from the helpful comments of the editor and a reader on an earlier form of this article.

7 A recent review is Bieringer R., ‘2 Korinther 6,14–7,1 im Kontext des 2. Korintherbriefes. Forschungsüberblick und Versuch eines eigenen Zugangs’, in Bieringer R. and Lambrecht J., Studies on 2 Corinthians (BETL 112; Leuven: University and Peeters, 1994) 551–70. He focuses on issues of authenticity and relation to context, and thus has very little on details of the catena of OT quotations.

8 Fee G. D., ‘II Corinthians vi.14–νii.l and Food Offered to Idols’, NTS 23 (1977) 140–61;Thrall M. E., ‘The Problem of II Cor. vi.14–νii.l in Some Recent Discussion’, NTS 24 (1977) 132–48; and Beale G. K., ‘The Old Testament Background of Reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5–7 and Its Bearing on the Literary Problem of 2 Corinthians 6.14–7.1’, NTS 35 (1989) 550–81.

9 Fee , ‘II Corinthians’, 144–7.

10 Thrall M. E., The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Volume I (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1994) 479.

11 Beale , ‘Reconciliation’, 572.

12 E.g., by Barrett C. K., The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Black's NT Commentaries; London: A. & C. Black, 1973) 201 (and citing Schlatter and Bonsirven); Furnish V. P., II Corinthians (AB; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1984) 364; and Martin R. P., 2 Corinthians (WBC 40; Waco, Texas: Word, 1986) 206. As noted already, Beale , ‘Reconciliation’, 572, and Thrall , Second Epistle, 479, also include Isa 49.22 and 60.4, similarly referring to ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ in a context of return from exile. Lambrecht J., ‘The Fragment 2 Corinthians 6,14– 7,1: A Plea for Its Authenticity’, in Bieringer and Lambrecht , Studies, 531–49 (reprint of Baarda T., ed., Miscellanea Neotestamentica. II [NovTSup 48; Leiden: Brill, 1978] 143–61), however says (543, n. 29), ‘No conscious reference to Is xliii 6 … is to be assumed here.’

13 Corinthians, 201.

14 ‘Fragment’, 543, n. 29.

15 2 Corinthians, 206; also citing in agreement Plummer, Hughes, and Héring.

16 II Corinthians, 374, giving as his reason that in Gal 3.26 Paul has only ‘sons’.

17 Hays R., Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven and London: Yale University, 1989), builds on Hollander's figure of ‘echo’ to describe the way ‘poets honor the voices of the dead even while forming echoes that transform their words in new acoustical environments’ (p. 19). Hays recognises that the volume of the echo may vary: ‘Sometimes … so loud that only the dullest or most ignorant reader could miss it.…; other times there will be room for serious differences of opinion about whether a particular phrase should be heard as an echo of a prior text and, if so, how it should be understood’ (p. 29).

18 ‘Fragment’, 543.

19 LXX unexpectedly has τῆν διαθήкην μоν). There is certainly a link between the presence of God and the covenant. Harlé P. and Pralon D., Le Lévitique (La Bible d'Alexandrie; Paris: Cerf, 1988) 206, suggest that LXX may be an echo of Gen 17.2 and Exod 34.10,12,15, 27.

20 Hartley J. E., Leviticus (WBC 4; Dallas: Word, 1992) 459–60, comments on the close connections between Lev 26 and Ezekiel, especially with Ezek 34.25–8; 36.28; and 37.24–7, and contends that Lev 26 is a source used by Ezekiel.

21 E.g., UBSGNT.

22 LXX often has είσδέξоμαι for MT οℶρ, all in the Later Prophets, probably because the context is gathering of exiles. See Link H.-G., ‘δέξоμαι’, NIDNTT 3.745; and Lust J., Eynikel E. and Hauspie K., A Greek–English Lexicon of the Septuagint. Part I (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1992) 100.

23 So Furnish , II Corinthians, 374.

24 Olley J. W., ‘Righteousness‘ in the Septuagint of Isaiah: A Contextual Study (SBLSCS 8; Missoula: Scholars, 1979) 144–5, discusses the meaning of both MT and LXX of Isa 55.3.

25 4 times in Revelation is the longer combination кύριоς ό θενςόπαντокράτωρ.

26 Here (but not in the parallel 1 Chron 11.9) MT has חואבצ הלא הוה.

27 Fee , ‘II Corinthians’, 156, cites Amos 3.13 LXX, as does the marginal notation in the 26th edition (1979) of the Nestle–Aland text. However, this has the longer form seen in Revelation, кúριоς ὀ θεὸς ὁ παντокράτωρ.

28 Beale, ‘Reconciliation’, has argued at length for a focus on ‘Israel’s restoration promises’ (p. 572).

29 Dodd C. H., According to the Scriptures (London: Nisbet, 1962) 45–6.

30 The LXX in fact seems to give two verbs, έξήλωσεν кαὶ παρωξύνθη for the single MT verb ץאא. See the discussion of the LXX and other early interpretations by Dogniez C. and Harl M., Le Deutéronome (La Bible d'Alexandrie; Paris: Cerf, 1992) 331.

31 דלי is commonly used for ‘being the ancestor of’, whether as father, or grandfather, or other legal links for inheritance. Older English versions have ‘beget’.

32 לוה (polel form) refers to going through the pains of birthing, and hence normally has woman as subject of the verb.

33 Hays , Echoes, 93–4. He points out that in 1 Cor 10.20 the later gloss τὰ ἒθνη (followed inter alia by NRSV and NIV ‘the pagans‘) is a result of failure to see the echo and weakens the point of Paul's argument which links the Corinthian behaviour with ‘Israel’s wilderness idolatry’ (emphasis mine).

34 MT, vv. 4,15,18, 30, 31 [2x], 37. The LXX has θεός on each occasion, including references to the ‘rock’ of those who worship idols.

35 Echoes, 164.

36 So the better texts. B, which follows MT and does not have кαὶ περὶ τῶν θυγατέρων μоυ, is not a good text for Isaiah.

37 LXX has no ‘to me’.

38 Over 100 instances in OT.

39 MT has the reverse order, ‘his mother and his father’, while LXX follows the more common ‘his father and his mother’.

40 Approximately 75 instances in the OT.

41 Despite the preceding words, τὰ τέкνα, γπαкоύετε τоîς γоνεῦσιν (ὑμῶν), in Eph 6.1 and Col 3.20, and the quote in Eph 6.2 of the OT form of the command, τίμα τὸv πατέρα σоυ кαὶ τὸν μητέρα.

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New Testament Studies
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