Jesus in the genitive
After a rather exhausting weekend (including a 5 hour chess game yesterday that ended in a boring draw), here are some 'thought-experiments' in the light of Michael Pahl's and Mark Owens' comments to my post on 1 Thess 1:3
First, thanks for your thoughts as I found them very helpful.
"Chris, I think the concern with how these themes play out in the rest of the letter has more weight than you are giving it here".
Yes, you are quite right. Indeed, I was aware of this, but I had already written too much, so I decided to cut of a few corners. My fear was that if I had made it any longer, none would have read it!
If I understand you rightly, you are suggesting, among other things, that the objective genitive in 1:3 is best read as qualifying only 'hope' because this was precisely what the Thessalonians were lacking, and because 'love' is to be understood in terms of brotherly love, rather than love 'in the Lord Jesus'.
However (and I agree with you, I'm just testing some thoughts here), while Paul does want to emphasise the brotherly nature of love, the objective genitive may reflect something of the love worked out 'in Christ'. Cf. e.g. 1 Corinthians 16:24 'My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus', and notice how the genitive is translated in 2 Cor 5:14 and Rom 5:5. In other words, is it possible that the objective genitive in 1:3 qualifies love in a less straightforward manner than simply 'love for the Lord Jesus'? And is it not Pauline that a work of love done to a neighbour is an expression of love for Christ/God? In Gal 5:6, for example, Paul appears to bring faith and love together in just such a way. So, in sum, the 'love' in 1:3 can be related to the objective genitive if it is not understood simply as 'love for the Lord'. And some of the verses above suggest that it doesn't have to be read in such a way even if modified by this objective genitive. Arguably, Paul could be a good deal more flexible than we think in understanding what an objective or subjective genitive does (cf. Zerwick). However, the question then becomes, could Paul think of a number of elements being modified by the same genitive in a couple of subtly different ways? Is there precedent for that?
Additionally, there are the reasons for reading the triad as lumped together as I outlined in the first post. What are we to do with them? Is it not safer to argue that the meaning is simply ambiguous, and that the genitive could modify all three? Or, would you deny the possibility at all?
Thanks, Mark, for these thoughts and the book tip. And I'll get back to you soon in regard to the question you e-mailed me …
"I wonder if Paul is not here doing something similar to what he does in his introduction to the letter to the Philippians…? I'm thinking in particular of 1:9-11 where Paul prays that their love might grow, yet latter indicates that there is an absence of love within the congregation (4:2-3)."
Interestingly, Philippians 1:9-11, much in relation to the point I was experimenting with to Michael above, Paul prays for 'love to overflow' and links this to 'producing a harvest of righteousness through Jesus Christ'. And in verse 8, of course, he speaks of the affection of Jesus expressing itself through him. Once again, it is perhaps hasty to divide brotherly love from a love modified by 'Jesus in the genitive'!
I'm betting P. O'Brien, Introductory Thanksgivings, would have some helpful info.
I'll have another look at this one. Thanks for the tip.
So, a big thanks to you both for your comments; I was very grateful. And if at any point you would take particular issue with my thought-experiments above, then let me know! If I haven't been clear enough, I apologise. I just didn't want to qualify what I meant endlessly and write something so long you would never read it!