Wednesday, July 26, 2017

2 Corinthians 12:1-4--ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ

Greek Text from NA28 (2 Corinthians 12:1-4):

1 Καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ, οὐ συμφέρον μέν, ἐλεύσομαι δὲ εἰς ὀπτασίας καὶ ἀποκαλύψεις κυρίου.
2 οἶδα ἄνθρωπον ἐν Χριστῷ πρὸ ἐτῶν δεκατεσσάρων, εἴτε ἐν σώματι οὐκ οἶδα, εἴτε ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος οὐκ οἶδα, ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν, ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ.
3 καὶ οἶδα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἄνθρωπον, εἴτε ἐν σώματι εἴτε χωρὶς τοῦ σώματος οὐκ οἶδα, ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν,
4 ὅτι ἡρπάγη εἰς τὸν παράδεισον καὶ ἤκουσεν ἄρρητα ῥήματα ἃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἀνθρώπῳ λαλῆσαι.

One question I am starting to research again is whether we should read ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ and ἡρπάγη εἰς τὸν παράδεισον as parallel expressions, which would suggest that the "third heaven" and "paradise" are to be closely identified.

Third heaven and paradise appear to be used as parallel terms to me, but I could be wrong. However, it's good to research how the "third heaven" was understood in ancient times. Furthermore, Jehovah's Witnesses understand "paradise" as a reference to heaven in Revelation 2:7. While I accept that explanation, there are questions I have about the potential connection between 2 Cor. 12:4 and Rev. 2:7. The other instance of "paradise" is Lk. 23:43.

Yet if Paul is saying that he was caught away to the third heaven and paradise, but these places are not the same, then possibly we have two separate ascents (in a visionary sense) mentioned in the account. While that is not impossible, I just wonder if it can't be read as one event (i.e., he was caught away to the third heaven, which is also known as paradise).

I've been told that the question is almost impossible to answer with any certainty.


Duncan said...

Was the the tree of life a physical tree?

Edgar Foster said...

Why not? Regardless, Rev 2:7 is clearly an allusion to Genesis and the Greek "paradise" is normally used to render the Hebrew Gan (גָּן).

Duncan said...

Why an allusion?

JimSpace said...

Hi Edgar, pursuing your comment that “it’s good to research how the ‘third heaven’ was understood in ancient times,” we have the Apocalypse of Moses (Life of Adam and Eve) which mentions both the “Tree of Life” and “Paradise in the third heaven,” the later combining “Paradise” and “3rd heaven” together.

Chapter 37: And he stayed there three hours, lying down, and thereafter the Father of all, sitting on his holy throne stretched out his hand, and took Adam and handed him over to the archangel Michael saying: ‘Lift him up into Paradise unto the third Heaven, and leave him there until that fearful day of my reckoning, which I will make in the world.’ Then Michael took Adam and left him where God told him.

Chapter 39: Then God spake to the archangel(s) Michael, (Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael): 'Go away to Paradise in the third heaven, and strew linen clothes and cover the body of Adam…

Regarding its dating, there is wide agreement that the original was composed in a Semitic language in the 1st century CE. (Johnson, M.D. (1985). "Life of Adam and Eve, a new translation and introduction". In Charlesworth, J.H. the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2.) Thus it may be possible that Paul had these expressions in mind and used them as an explanatory template to describe what he saw in vision.

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan, an allusion because 2:7 does not explicitly quote Genesis.

Edgar Foster said...

Thanks, Jim. Those references are helpful.

Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...

Thanks also, Duncan.