A Note On 2 Corinthians 1:9 -- By: Colin J. Hemer

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 23:1 (NA 1972)
Article: A Note On 2 Corinthians 1:9
Author: Colin J. Hemer

A Note On 2 Corinthians 1:9

C. J. Hemer

The article by Dr Murray Harris in the last issue of the Tyndale Bulletin1 raises incidentally the old problem of the nature of the θλῖψις in Asia (2 Cor. 1:8). On his view it marked a turning- point in Paul’s perspective on death and resurrection. Without entering here on speculation about the circumstances or on discussion of the problems of Pauline thought which he has treated so ably, I suggest that a verbal point in verse 9 may shed light on his contention that Paul’s experience was one of mortally critical import.

The traditional rendering of the phrase ἀπόκριμα τοῦ θανάτου is ‘sentence of death’ (so AV, RVMg., RSV, NEB).2 The RV text alone offers the literal, if obscure, ‘answer of death’.3 The usual version goes back to Chrysostom and Theodoret, and is supported by a gloss of Hesychius.4

ἀπόκριμα is a rare word for which only two early literary parallels are cited, but which occurs sparingly in inscriptions, including some close in time and place to the provenance of our text. They are sufficient to show that the supposed sense here is unparalleled. There is no ground in contemporary usage for seeing a judicial metaphor here. The comments of Dittenberger,

MM, and Deissmann all point in a different direction.5 ἀπόκριμα became a technical term for an official decision in answer to the petition of an embassy.

The surviving parallels illustrate the point clearly:

(a) The earliest reference is probably that in Polybius, 12.26b.1, who says that the representatives of the Greeks in assembly at Corinth πραγματικώτατον ἀπόκριμα δοῦνα τοῖς παρὰ τοῦ Γέλωνος πρεσβευταῖς (‘an answer straight to the point’).

(b) A lengthy but fragmentary series of documents of Pergamum, dealing with a dispute between Pitane and Mytilene and dating from the last years of the Attalid kingdom, mentions the word in a badly mutilated context: ‘. . .

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