ἡμέρα = tribunal 1Cor.4:3 external / parallel evidence?

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ἑκηβόλος
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ἡμέρα = tribunal 1Cor.4:3 external / parallel evidence?

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:25 am

1 Corinthians 4:3 wrote:Ἐμοὶ δὲ εἰς ἐλάχιστόν ἐστιν ἵνα ὑφ’ ὑμῶν ἀνακριθῶ, ἢ ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας· ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ἐμαυτὸν ἀνακρίνω.
Would ἡμέρα being in the context of ἀνακρίνω have been enough to prompt readers that it meant tribunal here? Are there other examples that establish "tribunal" as one if the ordinary meanings of ἡμέρα that language users of that period could easily choose from according to context?

Reference material.
LSJ wrote:5. a fixed day, τακτὴ ἡ. Act.Ap.12.21; ῥητὴ ἡ. Luc.Alex.19; “ἡ. ἔστησαν ἀρχαιρεσιῶν” D.H.6.48, cf. Act.Ap.17.31; “ἡ. Κυρίου” LXXJl.2.1, cf. 2 Ep.Pet.3.12, etc.; “ἡ. κρίσεως” Ev.Matt.10.15: so abs., ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας a human tribunal, 1 Ep.Cor.4.3; “ἡμέραι καὶ ἀγῶνες” Jahresh.23Beibl.93 (Pamphyl.).
BDAG page 438, column 1, states that this sense in First Corinthians is based on the Christian / Jewish usage of "the Day of the Lord" being a day of judgement.

Explication of the purpose of the question.
If the purpose of the question doesn't seem clear, let me explicate a little. There is a difference between arriving at a meaning from context, and recognising which out of a range of meanings understood in a context. Context is often bandied about as the way to decide meaning for us as language users with improperly formed understandings of the language and who read with only partial recignition of the range of meanings of words, but except in a very few cases of novelty, the way that context works for a fully-formed speaker of a language is that it determines which of a range of known meanings is to be invoked.

(A) In the case that "tribunal" is an established meaning in Greek, we could consider a fundamental difference between the way that we as partially formed users of the language differ in our use of context from well-formed users of the language...

That is to say, we learners of Greek following a line like LSJ presents, might start with the meaning "day", recognise that it is a "fixed day", further recognise that the fixed day could be a "day of judgement" then go on to to conclude that it is the "process of judgement" that takes place on the fixed day, ie the "tribunal" is the intended meaning. Alternatively, following BDAG, knowing that the eschatological Great Day is a day of judgement and the most important thing on the day is the judgement, the meaning of the day is judgement, ie a "tribunal". If a well-formed speaker of a language, on the other hand, had "tribunal" as one of the established meanings of ἡμέρα, they would choose between a range of meanings for ἡμέρα based on context, one of them being "tribunal".

(B) In the case that it is novelty on Paul's part, and ie not a meaning that well-formed speakers of the language would recognise, the familiar expression the Day of the Lord is (here being tongue in cheek) parodied / trivialised to into the Day of Humans. Like being as if he might have said in English, "(Speaking in confident tones) I live my life in fear of that coming Great and Terrible Day of the Judgement of the L.. (speaking incredulously) ?!?humans?!?, (Is this for real?), NOT".

In deciding whether it was confronting comic novelty on Paul's part, or a regular meaning that he expected his listeners to be familiar with, let me ask whether there is sufficient or (even) any extant evidence of ἡμέρα being used of "tribunal" in Greek (at Corinth or more widely), in Latin or as a loan word within one of the languages of the Jewish community to establish it as a regular meaning?
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
(Keats, Ode to a nightingale, 1819).

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Re: ἡμέρα = tribunal 1Cor.4:3 external / parallel evidence?

Post by Dralex » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:35 am

Hi ἑκηβόλος,
In deciding whether it was confronting comic novelty on Paul's part, or a regular meaning that he expected his listeners to be familiar with...
There's quite a broad excluded middle, here. That is, you've set your question up as one requiring a binary response, but surely the reality is more nuanced than that. It doesn't have to be an either-or case. If we sought an understanding other than "tribunal", there'd be options other than "comic novelty".

It's also more nuanced in that the word "tribunal" is not so much a translation as a gloss. Put another way, I have no sense that those who originally heard or read these words of Paul would take the primary meaning of ἡμέρα to be "tribunal", but translational needs may obscure that from us. Few of us are going to "get it" if it were translated as "day" in this context.

The sense of "tribunal" isn't noted in MM, nor does Spicq discuss the word, and it's not discussed in any of the six volumes of New Documents illustrating Early Christianity that I have to hand.

You yourself refer to BDAG p438. That reference points us to The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 43, No. 2 (Apr., 1950), pp. 165-168, which discusses evidence of the kind that you are looking for. Campbell Bonner writes,
The commentators, ancient and modern, have recognized, Robertson and Plummer say in the International Critical Commentary, that the phrase is in contrast to ἡμέρα (3.13), which means "the Day of the Lord," "the Lord's Judgment Day."
His view is expressed thus:
I have found nothing to show that ἡμέρα alone is a Greek way of saying "day of judgment," "court," or "tribunal."
The word "alone" is significant here - he is not trying to confound the usual interpretation of this passage, but rather is pointing out that its understanding is based on the context, which includes 3:13.

I was able to access Bonner's article through JSTOR. You might also find the entry in Kittel (vol II, pp943ff) of interest. Perhaps most pertinent is (p952):
The absolute use of ἡμέρα (without genitival attribute) is used for the day of judgment at 1Th 5:5; 1 C. 3:13 and Hb. 10.25. ... In this use of ἡμέρα we can see the tendency of Semitic languages to evaluate temporal terms from the standpoint of their content, and even to understand them as essentially charged with content.
You ask
Would ἡμέρα being in the context of ἀνακρίνω have been enough to prompt readers that it meant tribunal here?
In conclusion, I note that ἀνακρίνω is not the only contextual clue, and that those who favour the usual interpretation are not saying that ἡμέρα "means" tribunal here, but are taking a more nuanced view, namely that that is what is being referred to.

Regards,

Dralex
Melbourne, Australia

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Re: ἡμέρα = tribunal 1Cor.4:3 external / parallel evidence?

Post by jeidsath » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:34 am

Textkit's favorite Greek versifier (of modern times), T.S. Evans, wrote a commentary on First Corinthians that discusses this verse:
Spoiler!
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It's in Speaker's Commentary Vol. 9.

Unrelated, but some of his criticisms of the (brand new at the time) Revised Version are available here at The Expositor archives.
As one reads the Revised Version, there grows upon the mind an impression that it exhibits in its translations more labour than genius, more learning than judgment.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.

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Re: ἡμέρα = tribunal 1Cor.4:3 external / parallel evidence?

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:50 pm

Dralex wrote:If we sought an understanding other than "tribunal", there'd be options other than "comic novelty".
Thanks for an interesting and informative response.

"Comic novelty" is my appraisal of the text made more or less within Louise Rosenblatt Transactional Theory of reading. Negotiation of meaning from the text within the model's four-part approach of the reader's background, exerience, prior knowledge and the text itself is ultimately based on the text. As far as the text is concerned, the contrast between ἀνθρωπινὸς and τοῦ Κυρίου - the novelty of ἡμέρα's use in this passage - is fairly straightforward. My prior knowledge of rhetoric, Paul's style and the unknown background issues of these non-explicit (high-context) letters is my weakest aspect within this reading model. The choice of the comic character of this text from a range of contrasting literary devices / purposes such as sarcasm, shaming, encouragement is from the more personal aspects of this model of interacting with the text.
Dralex wrote:It's also more nuanced in that the word "tribunal" is not so much a translation as a gloss. Put another way, I have no sense that those who originally heard or read these words of Paul would take the primary meaning of ἡμέρα to be "tribunal", but translational needs may obscure that from us. Few of us are going to "get it" if it were translated as "day" in this context.
Unfortunately, with the chapter and verse references added to the lexicon entries, I guess that 99% of users of either LSJ or BDAG will simply / uncritically take the gloss "tribunal" as the appropriate meaning in English.

I think that what has happened here with the gloss "tribunal" happened in two steps. Early on, or at least when the text was read (by well-formed language users) to be understood in the original context, rather than translated, they would have recognised that Paul was using ἡμέρα in a novel way.

In compiling a translational lexicon, once the idea that the an interpretation needed to be explicitly glossed, something like "judgement". So far reasonable enough, but when the interpretative gloss was then chosen (or prefered) because of its relationship to "day", things went off the rails, so to speak. "Tribunal" as a judgement that took place on a fixed day is plausible, but actually a misleading step.
Dralex wrote:those who favour the usual interpretation are not saying that ἡμέρα "means" tribunal here, but are taking a more nuanced view, namely that that is what is being referred to.
Repeating myself a little, I think "tribunal" is too specific because it suffers from a feedback loop of sorts.

For an audience for whom, "the outback" meant the open road, open wide-open spaces and freedom, a parody like "peak hour traffic in the inner-city outback", would create a similar tension between contrasting images. By glossing "outback", as "narrow streets", a would-be lexicographer would lose the meaning, rather than make it clear. Since the full expression of "the outback" is the country "out (the) back of Bourke", preferring a gloss like "back streets" for "outback" in this (hypothetical) context, based on the literal meaning of the "back" in "outback" only further obscures the meaning of it for somebody struggling with the text. Even worse would be, "streets behind buildings" - an understanding about as specific as "tribunal".

Actual native speakers think more of the vastness of the country rather than the city of Bourke as a landmark, as I assume ἡμέρα meant more about judgement than about a diurnal cycle (or "day" as in a date that was expected to be predicted) in First Corinthians there.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
(Keats, Ode to a nightingale, 1819).

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