Thursday, October 6, 2011

1 Thessalonians 2:7, Gentle or Infants?

7 Although we had the power to throw our weight around as apostles of the Anointed One, we became children in your midst.

Here is an excerpt of a upcoming book on 1 Thessalonians.

       Not only did the three Apostles not “throw their weight around” in their visit in Thessalonica, they ἐγενήθημεν νήπιοι (became children).  νήπιος can mean “little child” or even “infant”.  It is a striking contrast for Paul to refer to himself and the other two apostles as “ones who had the power to thrown their weight around” to “little infants”.  The passage is debated by scholars due to the Nu (ν) of the word νήπιοι.  If the Nu is removed, then we have ἤπιοι which means “gentle”.  Some scholars think that “little infants” is too strong of a metaphor that is used in the context yet Paul uses “nursing mother” in the same verse (Fee, NICNT, 65).  In the textual tradition, “little infants” is the preferred reading Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 561-562), but it really seems that “gentle” fits the context better which probably lead to the variant reading “gentle”.  Since νήπιοι (little infants) is the preferred reading, a hard stop would need to appear at the end of 7b in the English sentence.  Even though νήπιοι is the preferred reading, it still could have risen from an error.  As Wanamaker states: “If  νήπιοι were the original reading, ἤπιοι could have arisen through haplography (deletion of a letter); If ἤπιοι were the original reading νήπιοι could have come about through dittography (adding of a letter) of the ‘ν’ of the previous word, ἐγενήθημεν.” (Wanamaker, NIGTC, 100).
“Little infants” provides a strong metaphor for Paul as opposed to “the weight that could have been thrown around as apostles”.  It probably means that Paul, Silas, and Timothy were “as innocent as little infants” (Fee, NICNT, 71).

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