NOTE! 1 Cor 4:6 Don't go beyod things written

by peacefulpete 14 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • peacefulpete

    1 Cor 4:6 is a favorite verse for the WT. They of course have extended the application to include not just the Bible but also the rulebooks and written interpretations that they have produced. I myself have been suspiciously viewed when referring to older publications that the local Elders were unfamiliar with, being reminded not to "go beyond what is written". Even here we have used the verse to condemn the WT's practice of adding rules and volumes of interpretation to the Bible textsas "going beyond what is written" usuallly meaning the Bible. However a cursory check with online Bible translations reveals that the verse is not easily translated nor understood. Here's why. The phrase "don't go above the line" was inserted by a translator as an instruction to someone in the translation process!! The effort to make this copyist note fit the larger sentence has been clever and creative.

    Some translations have even dropped the phrase from the text.

    The verse reads much better without the inclusion. Ironically the writer was insisting that Christians not judge others as much remained secret to human eyes not to be scrutinizing others suspicious of an "independent spirit".

  • Narkissos

    There are several ways to explain the phrase to mè (h)uper (h)a gegraptai away as a scribal note. Two slightly different options from French translations:

    TOB: "the ("not") is written over the a"

    Jerusalem Bible (1998): "the is above the line (what is written)."

    However, this explanation is not unanimously accepted, and many still understand it as a kind of proverbial reference to "Scripture": "that in us you might learn the 'not beyond that which is written'." (cf. TDNT I, 760). E.g. NRSV, "so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, 'Nothing beyond what is written.'" But it is strangely formulated and fits poorly into the context.

  • AlmostAtheist

    Nice to have you back, Nark.


  • euripides

    Preliminary research hasn't shown that scholars conclusively agree this is an interpolation or scribal direction. www.blible-researcher .com shows a textual criticism as follows for 1 Cor 4:6: Omit "to think [of men]" before "above that which is written" and render 'learn in us, [Go] not above that which is written', according to eight different critical texts. Although there are textual problems, wouldn't the sentiment here be characteristic of Pauline agreement with Deuteronomy 4:2 or Deuteronomy 12:32?

    Deut. 4:2 "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."

    Deut. 12:32 ""Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it."


  • Neo

    It could be one of the three:

    1) A scribal "operational" instruction that made its way into the text;

    2) A later editorial interpolation;

    3) As Euripedes has said, it may be a reference to an OT theme of preserving the scriptures, as found in the deuteronomic passages he quoted.

    If the latter is the case, 1Co 4:6 also resonates what is found in Proverbs 30:5,6.

    Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
    Do not add to his words,
    or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
  • peacefulpete

    The first is the simplest.

    I have never heard of any critical analysis of the Bible as having complete concensus among scholars have you? In my opinion when everyone agrees, noone is thinking.

  • euripides

    I have never heard of any critical analysis of the Bible as having complete concensus among scholars have you?

    Well you're right, but I didn't quite say "complete consensus." I would settle for majority consensus.


  • Leolaia

    I just took a look at Conzelmann's commentary. He says: "The phrase TO MH hUPER hA GEGRAPTAI is unintelligible. Those who do not decide (with Baljon) to delete it as a gloss do not get beyond guesswork. The latter points more or less in the direction of the principle, MHTE PROSQEINAI MHTE AFELEIN ("neither add nor take away"). The second hINA clause, ("so as..."), with its shortened form, is likewise difficult to fanthom" (p. 86).

    Does this verse have a problematic textual history?

  • Leolaia

    Maybe Narkissos could help with it at all plausible to suggest as a possibility that a verb has been elided in this sentence? That is:

    " order that in us (hina en hémin) you might learn (mathéte) the not (to mé) [VERB-non-finite, such as poiésai] (e.g. to do) beyond what has been written (huper ha gegraptai)".

    This would make the negator a predicate modifier and would tie the prepositional phrase huper ha gegraptai to a verb. I'm thinking in terms of nominalizations such as in Romans 14:13, 21; 1 Corinthians 9:18; 2 Corinthians 2:1, 10:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:6. With respect to the construction, Romans 14:21 for instance has:

    "...[it is] fine (kalon) the not (to mé) to eat (phagein) meat (krea)", e.g. "It is fine/better to not eat meat".

    Along such lines, could one suggest that 1 Corinthians 4:6 means: " order that in us you might learn to not do [things] (or some other verb) beyond what has been written"? Or is there a grammatical difficulty that precludes this? (I would guess so, since this possibility is not mentioned in the commentary I looked at) One thing to note is that a second hina clause follows in the same verse, and it is partly paralleled in the problematic passage:

    1 Corinthians 4:6c: hina ... mathéte to <> huper ha gegraptai
    1 Corinthians 4:6d: hina heis huper tou henos phusiousthe

    The similarity in wording might have implications for the theory that 4:6c is a marginal note for copyists that has nothing to do with the content in the context, unless we suggest that 4:6d was altered to massage the gloss into the text. I also wonder if there is a link to v. 5, the injunction to "not be judging before the appointed time" (mé pro kairou ti krinete). In both cases, the text would admonish one to not do something. I don't know if this adds anything but I thought I'd try to explore other ways of looking at it...

  • IP_SEC

    This is verrrrry interesting to me. I have always hated the way that phrase is just thrown around, esp when it applies to some organizational mandate.

    Thank you for this thread.


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