Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shape and Form

More Greek in honour of having received a pass mark for my Greek course! This is Philippians 2:7. For some reason e-sword extends the Greek of this verse into what is verse 8 in other versions. I like that, so I am going to keep it.
ἀλλα ἑαυτον ἐκενωσεν μορφην δουλου λαβων, ἐν ὁμοιωματι ἀνθρωπων γενομενος, και σχηματι εὑρεθεις ὡς ἀνθρωπος.

ἀλλα - but
ἑαυτον - himself
ἐκενωσεν - he emptied
μορφην - a shape or form
δουλου - of a slave/ servant
λαβων - having taken or received. The Greek word doesn't differentiate as English does. So one can't tell if Jesus initiated the action or not. Maybe I'll use appropriated, just to remind us to think about it. The verb is an aorist participle, which in Greek has the special implication that the action of the participle comes before the main verb. You'll see what I mean in the next line.

So far - but, having appropriated a slave's form, he emptied himself

ἐν - in
ὁμοιωματι - likeness or image (don't you like image!)
ἀνθρωπων -of people (this plural is a bit difficult to translate into English in this sentence)
γενομενος - having become/ after becoming (another aorist participle)

this bit - after becoming in the image of people

και - and
σχηματι - by means of shape or form (this 'by means' is awkward and 'in' might be better, but I want it this way!)
εὑρεθεις - having been found - another aorist participle, but passive voice this time
ὡς - as or like
ἀνθρωπος - a person (singular this time)

this bit - and having been found by means of shape as a person.

So the whole verse - note the three participles, the three words for shape or form and the three references to humanity. I'm going to leave the main verb (he emptied) to last because I think it reflects the intention of the Greek.

but, having appropriated a slave's form,
after becoming in the image of people
and having been found in shape a person,
he emptied himself.


markpenrith said...

emptied or veiled?

...or doesn't it matter?

Jenny Hillebrand said...

I don't have extensive resources and lexicons, but I don't find veiled as an option for κενοω in what I have. So in that sense, it does matter.
From a theological point of view I would say that the two words have vastly different implications so that it also matters!
But again, one needs to be clear about of what Jesus emptied himself. He remained divine - so people using 'veiled' might be trying to get to the same theological point.
Thanks for engaging with the Greek :-)