Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Greek Tidbits (καί and ἄνθρωπος)

Just a couple tidbits for you today.

I taught New Testament Survey up in Tacoma at Faith Seminary last week, and we concluded with Revelation. I don’t think that Revelation is necessarily sequential; I think it is more circular and so passages like Revelation 12 are important.

Rev 11:15-19 sounds like the Final Judgment in the second cycle of the trumpets. Rev 12:1-6 then goes back in time to the birth of the Messiah and Satan’s pursuit. The woman flees to the wilderness where God keeps her safe for 1,260 days (3.5 years). But look at v 7. The NIV translates it as, “Then (καί) war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.”

The first tidbit is a caution about how to translate καί. “Then” can only have one meaning: temporal succession. Vv 1-6 happen, and then vv 7-9. Dad takes this position in his commentary as does the NASB, NET, and NLT.

But Beale says the two paragraphs are simultaneous. “The actions described [in vv 7-9] are the heavenly counterpart of earthly events recorded in vv 1-6.” Frankly, I had always understood vv 7-9 as happening prior to vv 1-6.

Either way you go, the point is that the translation of καί as “then” makes the decision for you. Much better the ESV “now” (also the RSV) or “and” (NIV1984, NRSV, KJV). The HCSB views it more as a paragraph marker and omits it entirely.

The other tidbit has to do with a recent sermon I heard on 1 Tim 3:1. The NASB writes, “If any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” Of course, ἄνθρωπος does not occur in the sentence (the Greek has τις), and the NASB places too much emphasis on the maleness of the position. In my electronic edition, “man” is not even in italics as is their normal practice when inserting a word. Regardless of your view of whether elders are exclusively male or not, the text does not say “man.”

In addition, the pastor placed a strong emphasis on “man.” If you could hear me say it, you would know why I am having trouble knowing how to write it. He said the elder must be a “real man”: strong, decisive, “manly.” That use of “man” is a modern idiom, and we need to be careful reading modern idioms and slang back into the Bible.

When reading the chapter, you may feel that an elder needs to be a “real man,” but you’re not going to get that from v 1.