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Expresii antinomice în antropologia paulină. O perspectivă teologică asupra textului din 2 Co 4, 16

Antinomic Phrases in Pauline Anthropology. A Theological Perspective on 2 Co 4, 7-18

Autor(i): Cezar UNGUREANU

The present article addresses the antinomic phrases in Pauline anthropology. Such a phrase contains the antinomy: ὁ ἔξω ἄνθρωπος – ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος (2 Co 4, 16; Rm 7, 22; Ef 3, 16). Our objective is to demonstrate that the conjunctional structure ἀλλ᾽ εἰ καὶ in 2 Co 4, 16 does not make suffering a sine qua non condition for the renewal of the inward man. The method employed is the analysis of textual structures facilitating the correct understanding of the relationship inward/ outward man.
The occurence of antinomic structures in the fragment 2 Co 4, 7-18, and even 5, 1-10, marks a section dominated by eschatology. In order to emphasize the contrast between the antithetical terms, St. Paul constantly employs the adversative conjunction ἀλλά. Thus, we reject any suggestion that the author of this epistle suffered gnostic or dualist influences; on the contrary, the conjunction ἀλλά introduces a simultaneity relationship between the terms it relates.
In the fragment 2 Co 4, 16-18 which is the most relevant for the present study, St. Paul approaches a number of interdependent themes. V. 16 formulates a unique anthropology in the entire New Testament, and v. 17 reiterates the paradox of achieving God’s glory by accepting the suffering (2 Co 3, 18), while v. 18 stresses the eschatological contrast between what is visible and transient, versus what is invisible and immutable. From the perspective of the entire section, the fragment of 4, 16 has a transitional character because on the one hand, it sums up the content of 4, 7-15, and on the other hand, it represents the beginning of the section 5, 1-10, which discusses the eschatological metamorphoses which the human person will undergo. We have analyzed verse 16 using three approaches:
The philological approach is centered on the conjunction εἰ καὶ, which the experts have investigated from the following standpoints:
– Normally, the presence in the protasis of the preposition εἰ + the indicative mode of any tense (διαφθείρεται), followed in the apodosis by the conjunction „then” + a verb in any mode and any tense (ἀνακαινοῦται), introduces a type I conditional clause. Daniel Wallace and James L. Boyer consider the construction εἰ καὶ to be a conditional clause; in their study they provide the list of the 308 conditional clauses in the New Testament. The logic of the conditional clause subordinates the idea in the apodosis, to the achievement of the notions formulated in the protasis. It is a construction type: if A, then B.
– A significant category of scholars considers that the juxtaposition of the con-junctions εἰ καὶ introduces a concessive clause. However, by its nature the concessive sentence is a conditional one, in which the apodosis is achieved irrespectively of the fulfillment of the condition formulated in the protasis. In this case, the Romanian translation of the phrase should be rendered by the construction „even though/whether”. The logical scheme of the concessive clause is: whether A or non-A, then B.
The exegetical approach focuses on the possible implications of the antinomy inward man/outward man, as well as the terms connecting them. Both the past century scholars and the contemporary ones equate the outward man with the visible, sensible, or physical dimension of the human person which may also be an instrument by which God’s power operates. Defining ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος either as alter ego, or as man’s soul or a Platonic expression of Christian lifestyle is still open to debate by specialized literature. Anyway, the similarities in Ef 3, 16 and Rm 7, 23 with both the issue of the first epistle’s author and the controversy of the Ego in Rm 7, 7-25, in the second epistle, render a holistic approach of the texts very difficult.
The theological approach aims to provide a conclusion concerning the type of clause (conditional or concessive), based on the theological themes present in the text. Our option, in agreement with that of most scholars, deems the conjunctional construction ἀλλ᾽ εἰ καὶ in v. 16 as peculiar to a concessive clause. Also, the double occurrence of the preposition ἀλλά in the Greek text enhances its concessive character. Thus the meaning of the text is: however, even though/ even if the outward man is wasting away, still, our inward man is renewed day by day.
The importance of 2 Co 4, 16 is proven by two strong arguments: Firstly, in the Pauline thought, the reality of a Christian’s transformation is not presented as a future event (cf. Flp 3, 21), to occur after man’s earthly life comes to an end; it is a present, ongoing event. Secondly, this is a fundamental turning point in the view on life from a Christian perspective. Suffering as a result of bodily frailty and weakness, becomes the means by which God’s power is manifest in our life and implicitly in the world (cf. 2 Co 12, 9). Clearly, thus the theological issue finds a solution in the realm of Christian ethics, because the difficulty of this fragment pertains to its actual achievement, rather than its discoursive clarification.
In conclusion, the presence in v. 16 of the conjunctional structure ἀλλ᾽ εἰ καὶ introduces a concessive clause by which the renewal of the inward man does not exclusively depend on suffering. Our tenet does not deny that suffering contributes to the inner man’s transfiguration; on the contrary, it has a very significant role (cf. 4, 17). However, man should not intentionally seek suffering or even maim himself (like Evagrius Ponticus and Origen), but accept the Cross because it is given by God. Afflictions are characteristic to the fallen world, so that they appear in Christian life as a consequence of sin, independently of man’s will.
In brief, the message of the biblical text could be formulated as: Suffering should not be sought, but accepted!

Pagini: 183-205