Monday, August 10, 2009
Speech Marks in 1 Corinthians 6:12
If you have a Bible that has been printed in the last century and you turn it to 1 Cor 6:12 you will probably see some inverted commas around the first few words of text. The general assumption has been that these words are Paul quoting the Corinthians and so they are placed in speech marks in order that the reader does not mistake them for Paul's own words. The problem with this is that Paul does no such thing. In the Koine Greek in which Paul was writing there was no speech marks as such, but they were more than able to show when they were starting a quotation by the use of some other signifier. In fact in 1 Corinthians Paul clearly signals that he is making quotations 32 times for the Corinthians' words, OT citations, and even for hypothetical dialogue partners. So why when no such signal is given do we still get quotation marks in our Bibles? Good question. It seems like it is just one of things that has been repeated so often that now no one questions it, but if you trace it back to the first person to suggest it, Johannes Weiss, you realise that he based it on a minor grammatical point, that doesn't hold any water. Now that is enoguh for me, but Brian Dodd goes further in his excellent article "Paul's Paradigmatic 'I' in 1 Corinthians 6:1" in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, (no. 59, 1995, 39-58) and also makes an excellent and thorough positive argument why these words are not a quotation but Paul's own.