Taking a Stab at it!

LingaLinga was looking for some thoughts on 1 Cor 13.4-7. He asked these questions:

I’d be interested to hear from students of Greek what they think about the grammar of 1 Cor. 13:4-7:

  • Should these be a series of predicate adjectives or are they active verbs?
  • How would you translate Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ?
  • Is it appropriate to read 1 Corinthians 13 at marriage ceremonies?
  • Can you find thirteen commandments in 1 Cor. 13:4-7?

I’m not sure how we would translate these in English as active verbs, at least the first two. Maybe, Love waits, but that doesn’t hit the meaning exactly. The challenge of μακροθυμεῖ for me is that any translation I could think of to accurately express μακροθυμεῖ would destroy the pithy statements of the Greek. Looking at the usage of the word, it seems that the subject is (generally speaking, I don’t think love delays fits here, which is the third meaning) either:

μακροθυμεῖ for something still in the future”


μακροθυμεῖ toward someone whose rather obstinately uncooperative.”

Considering the cotext of the passage in the letter as a whole has a whole lot to do with strife among groups in the church and potentially also between the church and Paul, the second meaning seems most likely to me.

I don’t know, Love tolerates? Maybe not. Something that hits the meaning well, but I doubt anyone would understand would be: Love is longanimous.

What in the world does that mean?

longanimous – showing patient and unruffled self-control and restraint under adversity; slow to retaliate or express resentment; “seemly and forbearing…yet strong enough to resist aggression”; “was longanimous in the face of suffering”

It fits the intent really well. Ya gotta love the thesaurus.

But not exactly pithy.

What a terrible clause to translate!

Love sticks it out under pressure.

Love keeps its cool.

I don’t know LingaLinga. I’m stuck too! I can’t even get past question #2…

16 thoughts on “Taking a Stab at it!

  1. I wish I could edit comments.

    I think “does not lose heart” covers the first usage pretty well:

    “μακροθυμεῖ for something still in the future”

    Obviously, not losing heart assumes a future hope. I’m not sure that it covers the second:

    “μακροθυμεῖ toward someone whose rather obstinately uncooperative.”

    Possibly in the hope that said person will cooperate later, but that places it back under the first usage. Hmm.

    Perhaps, one wouldn’t “lose heart” in dealing with the obstinate person. *shrugs*

  2. I enjoyed Suzanne’s post – quite entertaining! Its interesting that the Hebrew translates it that way – and I was unaware of the connection with Psalm 103 & Exodus 34.

  3. ἡ ἀγάπη

    passions with distance
    pays it forward

    ἡ ἀγάπη
    οὐ ζηλοῖ

    rivals not

    ἡ ἀγάπη
    οὐ περπερεύεται
    οὐ φυσιοῦται
    οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ
    οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς
    οὐ παροξύνεται
    οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν
    οὐ χαίρει ἐπὶ τῇ ἀδικίᾳ
    συγχαίρει δὲ τῇ ἀληθείᾳ
    πάντα στέγει
    πάντα πιστεύει
    πάντα ἐλπίζει
    πάντα ὑπομένει

    braggadociously brags not
    postures not
    dishonors not
    seeks not for self
    jabs not
    states no evil
    thrills not at the injustices
    thrills with the unveilings
    protects each one
    believes each one
    expects each one
    stays with each one

    ἡ ἀγάπη
    οὐδέποτε πίπτει

    falls never

  4. I think its impossible to maintain the pithiness and still translate the meaning as fully as possible.

    Kurk’s and yours are the most creative and clever.

    But Suzanne’s is probably the most accurate.

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