September 17, 2006

A Quick Note on the Particle de in Titus 1:1

I'm quite busy right now and haven't had much time for blogging, but I wanted to give a quick note about an issue I found that troubled me today.

The first line of the book of Titus reads Paulos, doulos theou, apostolos de Iesou Christou kata pistin kai epignosin aletheias tes kat' eusebeian ep' elpidi zoes aioniou. The particle de is a bit troubling, as it ordinarily has at least a slight adversative meaning. That is, it sets up at least some slight opposition between what comes before and what comes after. It is true that Matthew and many other writers, particularly those whose Greek is not so good, begin almost every sentence with de, even if there is no apparent connection with the previous sentence, and so we often translate it "and," and Smyth's Greek Grammar says that it is "the ordinary particle used in connecting successive clauses or sentences which add something new or different, but not opposed, to what proceeds" (sect. 2836). However, here we have it apparently in the middle of a sentence, and it wasn't clear to me at first why. If one wanted to say in Greek what the HCSB says - "Paul, a slave of God, and an apostles of Jesus Christ..." - I, at least, would expect to see kai for "and," not de.

One would expect to see de if there was some contrast between the two, and would therefore translate it "Paul, a slave of God, but an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the faith of the elect of God and [according to] the hope of eternal life," thus setting up a conrast between being the slave of God, but being the apostle of Christ, as if perhaps contrasting the low position of slave, but the high position of apostle. This doesn't seem to me to make very good theological sense, compared to Paul's other writings. What's going on? Smyth may just have the answer: he says that de is sometimes used "where a second relationship is added" (loc. cit.) and cites Aeschylus (Persians 151) and Thucydides (4.7) in support. Both cases describe a single object's relationships to other objects, and the de separates the two relations without contrasting. Thus here, "a slave of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ" may not be contrasting points, it may merely be an also. Still, it is troubling to be crediting Paul with a usage Smyth can cite only from Aeschylus and Thucydides. Does anyone know a reference closer to the New Testament that does this? Or do we really think that Paul would just use de in place of kai here? Or does a slight contrast make sense in this context in a way I don't see?

Posted by Kenny at September 17, 2006 9:59 PM
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