Author Topic: τὸ γὰρ μυστήριον ἤδη ἐνεργεῖται τῆς ἀνομίας· μόνον ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι ἕως ἐκ μέσου γένηται. (2Thess 2:7) -> For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work — just "at work" until the one who is now constraining it is taken out.  (Read 2144 times)

Ginsei

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Greetings!

The A part of the vers is quite easy to translate: τὸ γὰρ μυστήριον ἤδη ἐνεργεῖται τῆς ἀνομίας• = for the mystery of lawlessness works already.

However the B part is not so: μόνον ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι ἕως ἐκ μέσου γένηται. I tried to translate it but it lacks a verb. I want to catch the most exact meaning of it, and I think the Bible translations are not good ones.
My ideas:
1) but he who held it back so far (and who does so now as well), went away from the middle. - I took the sentence in active sense; and I retained the aorist meaning of ginomai and I used "go away" instead of it.

2) but he who held it back so far (and who does so now as well), goes/will go away from the middle. - I took the sentence in active sense; and I used a less literal translation (as if ginomai were not in aorist)

3) but he who held it back so far (and who does so now as well), it happened with him that he goes away/he is gone/will be gone from the middle. - I took the sentence in passive sense; and I retained the aorist meaning of ginomai.

4) but he who held it back so far (and who does so now as well), it happens/will happen with him that he goes away/he is gone/will be gone from the middle. - I  took the sentence in passive sense; and I did not retain the aorist meaning of ginomai.

Two remarks: First: probably "the middle" means "field of his activity". Second: I know there is no verb "go" in the sentence but there must be some kind of verb which suits there. I assume it must be a very simple verb like go, disappear, fly or be taken. – all which are in accordance with „happen xxx with him, from the middle”. So I inferred „go”.
« Last Edit: 31 Jul, 2011, 17:09:12 by billberg23 »


billberg23

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I should first mention that there's lots of helpful commentary on this verse here: http://bible.cc/2_thessalonians/2-7.htm

Not sure what you mean by "the aorist meaning of ginomai," Ginsei.  The verb γένηται is aorist subjunctive (after ἕως, "until"), so has no tense, only aspect.  (Only the indicative has tense.)  The ἕως-clause must mean "until he be out of our midst," i.e. "off the scene." 
The phrase μόνον ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι is indeed elliptical and needs, as you suggest, the simplest possible supplement in translation.  How about "There is only one keeping it down at the moment"?
I'm amused to find that Protestant theologians have a general tendency to interpret this "one" as the Roman imperial authority, which is preventing incipient Roman "popery" from gaining ascendancy in the early church.
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

Ginsei

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Thanks!

Well, I made some mistakes. I thought that "ἄρτι ἕως" is to be understood as "ἕως ἄρτι" because there is no clear word order in greek. And I missed as well that it is subjunctive, being after ἕως. 
But it is obvious now.

Besides, why are you amused on those interpretations?


billberg23

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Word order is still important in Greek, though you're right:  because it's a highly inflected language, word order isn't as strict as it is in English.
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Besides, why are you amused on those interpretations?
I've been reading and translating an awful lot of Paul lately, and I guess I've just got the giggles — both from reading Paul and (especially) from reading his commentators.  "Popery" seems a little anachronistic for the first century, but, hey, I guess anything's possible. I'm trying to wipe this silly grin off my face, Ginsei.
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

vbd.

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I'm not sure whether I read carefully enough, but I think nobody suggested the first translation that came to my mind:
"for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until he who possesses it is taken out"

Now i dont know about the context of the phrase, and i dont know what "the mystery of lawlessness" is supposed to be, but that seems to me the most correct translation. The "but" being optional, but useful, I think, to convey the contrast/opposition expressed by "μόνον". I don't know. Would that sentence work better for you if it started with ἀλλά μόνον, instead? I don't understand how else μόνον would make sense there. I mean, what is it supposed to be defining, "ὁ κατέχων"? It can't be... Furthermore, with my translation there is no need to assume a missing word. I'm surprised nobody translated "μόνον" as "only".

LSJ
II. neut. as Adv., μόνον alone, only, “οὐχ ἅπαξ μ.” A.Pr.211, etc.: freq. with imper., “μ. φύλαξαι” Id.Supp.1012; “ἀποκρίνου μ.” Pl.Grg.494d; so “μ. Κράτος συγγένοιτό σοι” A.Ch.244; “μὴ 'μὲ καταπίῃς μ.” E.Cyc.219, etc.; ἐὰν μ. if only, Arist.Pol.1292a3; οὐσίαν . . , οὐ χωριστὴν μ. only not separable, Id.Metaph.1025b28.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dmo%2Fnos




Oh, and I just had another idea. I'm just brainstorming here, really, so bear with me. Bill cautioned me in an email about κατέχων expressing some sort of violence. So I thought what if "μόνον" meant "only", but... were defining ἐνεργεῖται. Now ἐνεργεῖται is not a strong word. What if the author is trying to express a contrast between the plain ἐνεργεῖται and a more powerful word he could have used? So my other suggestion.
"for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; just "at work" until he who is constraining it is taken out"
implying that when he's taken out, that mystery will not just be "at work", it will be about to completely take over the world.

« Last Edit: 31 Jul, 2011, 14:47:59 by vbd. »
At last, I have peace.

billberg23

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The second solution proposed by vbd. ties right in with our discussion of word order, Ginsei.  He reads "Part B" as if it were written μόνον ἕως ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι ἐκ μέσου γένηται, literally "only until the one who is holding it back/down now is removed from the scene."  In other words, he has seen that ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι belongs properly inside the ἕως-clause, and that the adverbial μόνον actually modifies ἕως and its clause.
This interpretation has many virtues:  (1) it eliminates the need for us to see an "ellipsis" in the sentence that must be somehow filled in, (2) it takes full account of grammatical rules, and (3) it recognizes the flexibility of Greek word order, with the possibility of placing elements like subjects outside their proper clauses and out of their (to us) proper order.
It's quite possible that no one has proposed this solution before, which looks to me like the correct one.  Kudos to Alex, and kudos to Translatum ! 
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος


vbd.

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Your post made me rethink this. What if κατέχων does not mean "hold back" etc. I could suggest a different interpretation that would make more sense for this particular sentence. Don't know how it fits into the general context of Thessalonians. What a difficult sentence!

LSJ
κατέχω
9. master, understand, “οὐ κατέχω τί βούλει φράζειν” Pl.Phlb.26c, cf. Men.72d, Ceb.34; “περὶ φύσεως κ. πάντας τοὺς λόγους” Sosip.1.17, cf. 33; κ. νοῦν στίχων grasp the sense of . . , Puchstein Epigr.Gr.p.9.


which would lead us (or at least me) to the following translation

"the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; (but) only until he who masters it (the mystery) is taken out"
...something like "lawlessness will only prevail as long as the ringleader is alive".
At last, I have peace.

Ginsei

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Well, it is so, then: γὰρ ἤδη τὸ μυστήριον τῆς ἀνομίας μόνον ἐνεργεῖται - ἕως ὁ ἄρτι κατέχων ἐκ μέσου γένηται. It would have been much more understandable this way.

vbd: Let us stay at your first solution. Since the mystery of lawlessness means some kind of powers or works of the Devil (or the antichristian spirit).

But there is still a problem. It is known that Paul wanted to make his letters read out to the members of the congregations. In theory, they had to understand easily the purposes of Paul. Billberg23, you did not find the exact meaning at once, although you are an expert. What I am trying to say: was it really that hard for them to understand a simple sentence or it is just our mind, which is not greekish? 

billberg23

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γὰρ ἤδη τὸ μυστήριον τῆς ἀνομίας μόνον ἐνεργεῖται - ἕως ὁ ἄρτι κατέχων ἐκ μέσου γένηται. It would have been much more understandable this way.
If it helps you to put all the Greek words into English word order that way, then it should read γὰρ ἤδη τὸ μυστήριον τῆς ἀνομίας ἐνεργεῖται μόνον ἕως ὁ ἄρτι κατέχων ἐκ μέσου γένηται.
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Billberg23, you did not find the exact meaning at once, although you are an expert.
Neither did the other "experts," from Jerome onward (who translated solum tenens nunc donec e medio fiat, and he was fluent in Greek), until vbd came along (his mind is actually "greekish," by the way, and that might have helped).  It's just a damned difficult sentence, as vbd himself remarks. and not the only one in Paul, not by a long shot.  But how much does your congregation understand of what's read out to them? It was probably the same in those days.
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος