Sunday, June 07, 2015

Asyndeton in 1 Cor 13:7

Originally dated Nov 7, 2003 (slightly edited on 6/7/15)

πάντα στέγει, πάντα πιστεύει, πάντα ἐλπίζει, πάντα ὑπομένει (1 Corinthians 13:7, Tischendorf 8th).

Notice that there are no conjunctions in the passage above--this literary device is called asyndeton. The Greek word ἀσύνδετον can mean "not bound together." The Latin historian Tacitus employs asyndeton (zero conjunctions)) in order to move a story along quickly or aid a reader's memory. As David A. Black likewise points out, a noted example of this rhetorical device reportedly comes from Julius Caesar: Veni, vidi, vici ("I came, I saw, I conquered").

Paul also uses asyndeton in Romans 1:29-32, but I find 1 Corinthians 13:7 especially easy to remember because of the stylistic device used there. For more info on asyndeton and its opposing device, polysyndeton, see D.A. Black's Linguistics for Students of NT Greek, p. 134.

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